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Beer Review #211 Brekle’s Brown

I know it seems like I just reviewed a beer from Anchor Brewing Company (and you are correct), but they had two new beers (to me) when I went to the store! Today’s beer is a brown ale that is an “all malt single hop brown ale.” As a homebrewer I am intrigued by single hop beers as they can really allow you to get the full flavor and aroma profile of a hop. Now in a brown ale, the aroma might not be fully complete, but you can learn a lot about hops by single hop brewing. For those of you not familiar with homebrewing, there are generally two additions of hops in a beer; one for bittering and another for aroma. Brewers usually have a mix of hops to use in their beers to get different qualities from each hop. In single hop brewing, only one variety of hop is used for the bittering and aroma hop (and any other) hop additions.

Getting back to the review, this one pours a nice ruby to deep copper color and comes with a light tan head. The nose is loaded with caramels. There is a really nice array of different caramel flavors. They start light and then come in heavy. A slight chocolate note then presents itself. I also got some slight toasted notes, but not a single aroma of hops. This beer is brewed with cirta hops, one of my personal favorites, and I’m suprised that I didn’t get any hint of it on the nose.

As with the nose, the first taste is loaded with lots of caramel. There is some great roasty and chocolate flavors on the backend of this one. On my first few sips I got very few hops, but as it warmed the hops came alive. They are nice and citrus and really add an interesting mix to the sweet and chocolate flavors going on. While the hops add a nice punch of brightness to the beer, they don’t dry it out very much and this one stays pretty sweet.

I enjoyed this beer but I would like to see just a touch more of hops added to this beer to help cut the sweetness a bit more. As with anything in the beer industry, I’m a sucker for marketing. Brekle’s Brown is named for Gottlieb Brekle who bought a saloon in 1871 which later turned into a brewery and then Anchor. With that story, I would happily share this beer with some friends to enjoy during those chilly spring nights. (more…)

Beer Review #172 Anchor Christmas Ale 2011

Happy Christmas Eve everyone. Last year I reviewed Anchor Brewing Company’s 2010 Christmas Ale and since they change the recipe every year, I just had to get it again this year. The brewery, located in San Francisco, California releases a new version of their Christmas Ale every year with the intention of spreading some holiday cheer. A new beer always brings cheer to my life.

Christmas Ale 2011 pours a deep copper to ruby color with a thin off-white head. The nose is strongly herbal with some notes of malt sweetness. There is a slight “twinge” at the end of the nose, but I honestly couldn’t decide what it tasted like.

On the first taste I got some sourness, but as I continued drinking I found that the original sour flavor that I tasted was actually a bit of smoke. The herbal notes are in the beer as well. There wasn’t much in the way of forward malt flavor by I did find some bready notes in there. The slight smoke and herbal notes really dominate the flavor in this beer. The best word that I could use to describe the flavor is earthy as it has a very primal taste to it.

I enjoyed this year’s offering of Anchor Christmas Ale. There are a ton of flavors going on and I really do enjoy trying to pinpoint them all. While this beer has earthy qualities, it is “refined earthy.” Anchor’s beer comes in at 5.5% so you could enjoy a few of these, although I found one at a sitting to be enjoyable. (more…)

Beer Review #82 2010 Christmas Ale

Every year Anchor Brewing Company out of San Francisco, California puts out a Christmas Ale. They have done it every year since 1975 and each year they use a different recipe. Very cool of a brewery of their size to do something special each year. I reviewed their summer ale a few months ago, let’s see how their Christmas Ale measures up.

2010 Christmas Ale pours a deep, dark ruby color with a solid tan head. The nose is very complex and brings up feelings of the holiday season. I’m reviewing this beer a month after Christmas, and I was transported to the thoughts of Christmas trees (which still needs to make its way to the dump) and lights. The aromas are very earthy and herbal. Anchor’s beer had a bit of berry in the mix. I  got a bit of mint in there, but there so much happening that I’m not sure if that is the exact smell I was getting. There is also some slight sweetness in there as well. I actually got a slight tingle on my nose when smelling this beer. No idea where that came from.

The taste doesn’t have a ton upfront but some really nice roasty flavors kick in about halfway through. The herbal flavors from the smell are in there as well. The mouthfeel is creamy and wonderful. 2010 Christmas Ale comes in 5.5% ABV so it is a beer that you could have a couple of. I really dig this beer. It is complex and tasty. I could drink this all winter long and it is an excellent example of a winter style beer. Grab this one while you can! (more…)