Holiday Beer Cheer 2007
CHOW rates this year’s winter warmers
By Kurt Wolff
Beer-lovers look forward to winter, for the one-of-a-kind seasonal beers that appear in liquor stores across the country. These ales and lagers are an opportunity for brewmasters to take risks and let it all hang out. The seasonals are only around until January—and while some will reappear next year, others may never be seen again. ¶
Though holiday beers tend to be heavier and darker—and also higher in alcohol (they’re not called winter warmers for nothing)—there is no standard style, per se. ¶ To investigate the 2007 crop, CHOW staff tasted 10 holiday ales from the United States and Europe. We conducted the survey blind (tasters didn’t see the bottles), and rated the beers on appearance, aroma, taste, and aftertaste, with extra credit for “seasonal” and “festive” qualities.
Anchor Christmas Ale
Topping our survey is Anchor’s annual Christmas Ale, a dark, fragrant, and unabashedly spicy brew that also had the most “holiday” appeal. The aroma burst with pumpkin-pie-type spices, and the flavor mixed a dark, roasty character and hints of sweetness (“cola,” “licorice,” “gingerbread,” said tasters). A few detractors, though, found it “medicinal,” and even fans noted they’d likely “only have one.”