Beer Revisited: Anchor Christmas Ale 2015

For the second straight year, I did not drink the most recent release of Anchor’s Christmas Ale on Christmas Eve, as is my tradition. My fridge was full of beer last year, so I postponed the tasting for later. This year, I learned that Anchor is not being distributed in Johnson County. Long story short, it has to do with distributor changes and archaic wholesaling laws. I can buy a sixer of Anchor Christmas Ale 2017 in Linn County, but not in Johnson or Washington counties.

Needless to say, a visit to Benz Beverage Depot in Cedar Rapids may be in the works. However, is Anchor Christmas Ale worth a 30-mile drive?

Anyway, it’s time revisit the series’ two previous editions. Up first is Anchor Christmas Ale 2015.

The color is very dark brown, almost black. A finger of dense, buttery, bubble-spotted, tan-colored head settles slowly and leaves trails of lacing. I needed to slow the pour to keep the head under control. The beer looks amazing!

It smells like Christmas Ale—definitely a testament to how little the recipes have changed the last handful of years. There are scents of nutmeg, cinnamon, peppermint, ginger, and cocoa.

The mouthfeel is thick and creamy, but the flavor upon first sip seems light. On second thought, I think it is that flat soda flavor that seems to plague these aged Christmas Ale bottles. Toasted malt is noticeable. The festive spices stand out, too, tickling the taste buds. There are flavors of nutmeg, not much cinnamon, ginger, light cocoa, and some peppermint.

Comparison to 2015 and early 2017 tastings
Dark fruit, caramel, cherry licorice, and candy cane are scents and flavors that I mentioned in the past but are missing this year. I assume that means this beer did not age well in year two—or at least those characteristics did not have staying power. It was a tasty pint, but it was not delicious this time around. The flat soda element is a new development this year, so it’s probably a good thing that this is the last bottle of 2015 in my fridge.

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