Anchor’s 41st Anniversary holiday ale resembles a dry porter with its burgundy-browned body, roasted mocha malting and ashen hop char. Sweet sugared spicing and evergreen freshness of many previous “Special” offerings lags, relying instead on chalky dried cocoa, nutty chocolate, black coffee and raw molasses tones to enhance dried-fruited black cherry, fig and plum illusions.
On tap at Craft House, dewy dry-spiced dark fruiting muted by soft-toned pumpernickel toasting. Mild hop astringency, ginger-leafed nutmeg seasoning and crisp tobacco roast relegate delicate brown-sugared cinnamon sweetness. Dried fig, dehydrated apricot and green apple illusions casually drift off.
Admirable English-styled winter warmer blends Christmastime spicing with mocha nuttiness and dried fruiting. Creamy chocolate-caramel malting sweetens gingerbread-sugared nutmeg, coriander, clove and allspice seasoning as well as surging raisin, prune, black cherry, blackberry and red wine illusions. Cocoa-powdered chestnut, pecan and cola nut nuances saunter by.
On tap at Ambulance, wintry strong ale (7.6% ABV) brings sweet ‘n sour fruiting to pale-malted dryness and earthen hop astringency. Yellow grapefruit, orange rind, pineapple, mango, kiwi, guava and gooseberry illusions pick up light Scotch whiskey cadence.
On tap at Blue Ribbon Tavern, dryer than expected winter warmer lacks specificity as uncertain gingerbread-cinnamon-nutmeg spicing, murky raisin-plum-date neutrality and reserved nuttiness never come to the fore. Desolate orange peel bittering contrasts molasses-sapped mocha malts in the deep recess.
Intimate Christmas ale gathers wintry cinnamon-ginger-nutmeg seasoning for honeyed citric splendor. Maple-sugared caramel malting contrasts lilting orange and lemon peel bittering. Pine nut, plum, fig and date undertones casually stride by. Subtle ethanol burn lingers softly.
Supple updated 2013 version heightens Christmas spicing and wintry peculiarities to amplify overall taste sensation. Chewy caramelized chocolate malts and syrupy molasses sapping perfectly punctuate wintry brown-sugared cinnamon-gingerbread-nutmeg seasoning. Ancillary orange-peeled coriander, clove and cardamom tingle sweetens sticky anise minting as well as dark floral hop earthiness. Plastique black grape nuance slips thru serene holiday spicing.
Extraordinary whiskey-barreled holiday ale (2014) drapes cinnamon-spiced gingerbread sweetness atop rich chocolate-fruited panorama. Brown-sugared nutmeg, coriander and allspice seasoning awaits buttery raisin breading and brown chocolate fudging. Medicinal 8.6% alcohol acridity saturated by tertiary spice rum, bourbon, cherry, fig, baked apple, vanilla and coconut illusions.
Temperate autumnal-seasoned winter warmer makes fine honey-spiced holiday moderation. Halloween-spirited pumpkin pie entry greets Christmastime sugar cookie, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove accents. Peppery hop bottom contrasts muted vanilla creaming. Sherry hints perk up delicate honey-fruited finish. 2018 version: spruce-tipped honeyed ginger resonance deepened cinnamon, nutmeg and clove seasoning.
On tap at Ginger Man, soft-toned dry-bodied ‘old ale’ brings dewy peat mustiness to fig-sugared molasses breading, peppery rum-spiced nutmeg seasoning and soy-sauced chocolate malting. Chestnut, date and plum undertones fail to penetrate moldy earthen murk.
Totally ‘proper British bitter’ places expected dewy peat mossing, dry tea-leafed tobacco roast and reedy hop resins above holiday-styled fruitcake subtlety. Raw-honeyed astringency and fungi-like earthiness greet latent fig-dried sultana grape tartness.
On tap at Orlando’s House Of Beer, eager fruit-caked holiday ale sprinkles sweet seasonal spices across candi-sugared Belgian Abbey yeast and creamy caramel malts. Orange-bruised cherry puree tartness picks up ancillary rum raisin, sugarplum and fig illusions to elevate cinnamon-toasted nutmeg, gingerbread and allspice pleasantries.