Blog of an aspiring foodie

Tasting Notes – Anchor Xmas 2004-2006

Posted by beer_chris on 4-December-2009

So in preparation for a beer tasting shindig this weekend, Im cracking open the old beer cellar, and trying to put together a reco for one of my aged Anchors to pair up with a tasty main dish.

Unfortunately, the brew the last few years hasn’t been nearly as tasty as it was in the early ‘oughts (IMHO), so my later years are a little thin. However, I have a vertical selection of 2004-2006, and that’s what I’m cracking open tonight.

2004 Anchor Our Old Special Ale

Aroma: Still a good balance of roasted malt, nutmeg, a hint of juniper, and that locely sweet musty aroma (barn basement? hay loft in the winter?) that makes it so old-aleish. Some nice aroma of brown sugar and molasses as well as it warms.

Appearance: Poured to a small half finger head which dissipated quickly. Dark walnut brown – no real red hues at all.

Flavor: Malt sweetness coming out nicely. Oxidation slightly evident (some cidery, winey kind of flavors, but these are mellow). Hop bite still noticeable at the back of the palate, but just slightly. A nice balance of crystal malt sweetness at the front, fading to a light chocolate flavor at the back and finishing with the nice combo of hop, roasted malt bitterness/astringency and the same ‘hay loft’ flavors (sweet mustiness) that characterized the aroma. Alcoholic warmth not especially noticeable. Flavor is dominated by malt – and there is a lot going on there.

Mouthfeel: Moderate, very much like an English style session beer in terms of drinkability and mouthfeel. Carbonation a little out of balance – perhaps from the aging.

Overall: A fantastic example of how well this beer ages. Amazingly in balance – nothing has come too far out of balance to dominate the flavor profiles, except perhaps for the malt – and this has only gone to show how complex the grain bill must be for this brew. Surprised this does not have more piney/juniper type flavors, as this is usually a dominant spice in the beer. Perhaps this one was an ‘off’ year for that flavoring, or perhaps it has mellowed out and come down somewhat. I can’t wait to pour the 2005 now 🙂

2005 Merry Christmas Happy New Year

Aroma: Definitely a more dominant musty aroma. More barn than hay loft. Not getting any alcohol, malt, hops or other spices. Color has a red hue – a slightly dark mahogany.

Appearance: About the same as the 2004 – poured to a one finger head, which dissipated a little slower. Some large Co2 bubbles evident, probably from the extended aging. Beer did foam a bit into the neck when I opened it, but it has warmed as I left it out on the counter while I drank the 2004 🙂

Flavor: A much more straightforward malt profile. Malt hits the front of the tongue, fades slowly to a slight sweetness in the back of the palate. Some astringency late in the palate. Much lower perceived hop bitterness. Some chocolate and roasted malt flavors in the middle of the profile.

Mouthfeel: Light-moderate. A thin bodied beer, flavors are over fast, but are complex enough I don’t want to gulp it down.Carbonation a little over the top, but again I think this is mainly driven by the bottle conditioning.

Overall: Not as good as the 2004. Grain/malt flavors not nearly as dominant, and the flavorings used are not as in balance. An easier drinking beer, but probably isn’t going to get much better.

2006 Anchor Merry Christmas Happy New Year

Appearance: Very similar to 2005. A dark black with ruby/red undertones. Pours to a thinner head that dissipates quickly. Not as much evidence of large CO@ bubbles as in the earlier vintages.

Aroma: Watery. Smells kind of like washed apples/slightly cidery. Some cinnamon.

Flavor: A rich, nutty flavor on the front of the tongue. Some nice chocolate malt finishes. Slightly sour/astringent at first, but balances out quickly. Hop bitterness much less noticeable than the other vintages. Some ginger ‘fullness’ (buttery flavors?), but no ginger spice flavors. No alcoholic warmth noticeable. Definite toasty flavors, but not getting any juniper/piney flavors. here’s some nutmeg hiding in there in the middle of the taste profile, but the spices are really mellowed.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly moderate, especially given the aroma. Carbonation just right – better than the 2004 and 2005.

Overall: Not bad. The 2004 was definitely the best of the three. What’s impressive about this beer is not that it stands on its own today as a great beer, but that it has aged so well.


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