Saturday, January 5, 2013
2010 Anchor Christmas Ale – Anchor Brewing – San Francisco, CA
Well I for one am extremely happy that 2013 is finally here. Thankfully, the Mayans were wrong, we wound up not going over the cliff, and I get to continue my mission in Craft Beer. Today’s review is a bit of a treat, as we go into the cellar to crack open a well-aged magnum of 2010 Anchor Christmas Ale.
A quick note here…some of you may be wondering what I’m talking about when I mention “aging” Craft Beer. You may think I’m crazy to consider storing beer. After all, don’t Big Beer companies talk about “freshness dates” and “born on” dates?
Yes, it’s true that certain beer (low alcohol content) are better served fresh, but it’s also true that some beers take on completely different flavors when aged. The most important thing to remember, should you ever decide to store a high ABV beer (10% is recommended), is the actual storage location. You want to avoid direct sunlight (this kills beer) and you want to find a cool, dark place to keep these treasures. That’s why they call it cellaring. Now, let’s get on to the brew.
Back in 1975, Anchor Brewing began celebrating the Christmas season by releasing distinctive Christmas Ales every year. These special brews are available from early November to Mid-January, and can be found at most Craft Beer establishments. Although the secret recipe is different every year, you can always count on two things: rich, dark, spicy Ale…and a different tree adorning the label each year. The tree signifies the joy and celebration of the newness of life, and is a gentle nod to the Winter Solstice. In 2010, the highlighted tree was the Maidenhair Tree, Ginkgo biloba.
Anchor Brewing does specify that with proper aging, their Christmas Ales can be enjoyed for many years, as different nuances emerge with time, as the flavors mellow slightly.
STYLE: Winter Warmer
MALT: Top Secret
HOPS: Top Secret
Availability: Limited (Brewed once).
This Beer is no longer brewed and is considered retired
The history of Anchor Brewing can be traced all the way back to 1849, and to the California gold rush, when German brewer Gottlieb Brekle purchased an old saloon on Pacific Street for $3,500, transforming it into a brewery, that 25 years later would be renamed Anchor.
In 1896, German Brewer Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, bought the old brewery on Pacific and named it Anchor. No one knows why it was renamed Anchor, but it was probably as a reference to the booming Port of San Francisco.
In 1965, after years of turmoil, the brewery appeared ready to close its doors. When a young Stanford grad named Fritz Maytag learned that his favorite brewery was going out of business, it shook him to the core. He immediately rushed in to purchase 51% of the brewery for just a few thousand dollars, rescuing it from bankruptcy, and ensuring that his favorite beverage would always be available at the Old Spaghetti Factory in San Francisco.
In 2010, after 45 years, Fritz Maytag, announced his retirement with the sale of Anchor Brewing to Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio. The new owners plan to preserve and expand the iconic brand’s operations and to maintain its position as a leader in craft brewing and artisan distilling.
Okay, first of all, let me say that I was a little weary when I finally was able to crack this one open. My fear was that it would not have fared so well after sitting for two years. But I was pretty surprised to see that it managed to keep quite nicely. The pour was clean, with a pretty good amount of carbonation…maybe a little too much, and the head was tight and maintained well throughout the whole bottle. What jumped out immediately once I got my first sip was just how soda-like the brew was. It felt like I was drinking a root beer at times. Flavors ranged from chocolate, to coffee, to toffee…and there was very little bitterness associated with the brew. Overall, this was a great, well-aged beer, to share with friends. I could definitely see how it’s a celebration brew.
8/10 – Reason to celebrate