Friday, December 20, 2013

Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

In the spirit of getting the Spadanuta Family Christmas Tree last weekend, I decided to drink a beer that was very festive in appearance. It even says Merry Christmas and Happy New Year on the bottle's label. Thanks to Erica for getting me this one.

Before you is a beer created by Anchor Brewing Company for the last 39 years. It's called Our Special Ale and this one was their 2013 edition. This offering is truly special each year as every batch is brewed using a different recipe from year to year.

Right out of the bottle the smell of Christmas spices is evident and the dark color of the beer alluring. I was expecting it to be lighter in color and more like an IPA since there was a Christmas tree on the label and I always associate IPAs with a fresh pine scent.

The aroma of Our Special Ale is so complex that it was hard for me to put a finger on all the different smells I was experiencing. I associated the smell with a variety of holiday treats you might enjoy, including gingerbread men, molasses cookies and the delicious caramel and toffee bars my aunt likes to make each Christmas. There was also a sweet maltiness that was noticeable as well.

This is beer form? Yes please.

The smell complimented the taste perfectly and it had a very rich and robust flavor with a sweet aftertaste. Nutmeg and gingerbread flavors stuck with me throughout the drinking process, while caramel and molasses also came through with each sip. Simply put, I loved Our Special Ale and couldn't get enough of it. Before I knew it my glass was empty and I was down to my last sip of this delicious beer. 

One thing is for certain though. I will be drinking this beer this time again next year.

Anchor's Our Special Ale is only sold from November to mid-January each year and has an ABV of 5.5%. I highly suggest it to any beer lover looking for something new to try or anyone who loves the aroma and taste of holiday spices and Christmas cookies.

Phil tested, Phil approved for your holiday enjoyment

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Take the Black Stout: A Game of Thrones inspired beer

Winter is coming!! Or at least the final showdown in the console war between Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One. The third and final episode in South Park's "Game of Thrones" trilogy airs tonight at 10 PM on Comedy Central, so what better way to send off Matt and Trey's playful nod to Game of Thrones than to talk about a Game of Thones inspired beer?

Called Take the Black Stout, this Belgian Dark Ale was brewed by the Brewery Ommegang located in Cooperstown, NY. It stands at 7% ABV, is brewed with star anise and licorice root and is as dark as the carpets of the palace were after the Red Wedding took place.

Robert Baratheon tested, Robert Baratheon approved

In addition to the licorice root and star anise, Take the Black Stout is also brewed with chocolate, caramel and roasted barley malts. This results in a variety of flavors that start sweet, become hoppy and finish with a roasted fruity taste. It could also be described as earthly.

To simplify, Take the Black Stout has the hoppy aroma and taste that you would expect from an IPA with chocolate and caramel flavors coming through as well. There is also a sort of raisin like flavor and aroma that accompanies it throughout the drinking process. The roastedness makes up the majority of the aftertaste. 

Needless to say I enjoyed drinking Take the Black Stout out of my gold rimmed Ommegang goblet as I watched the first two episodes of South Park Game of Thrones. If the beer was this good every night for the members of the Night's Watch I wouldn't hesitate in joining them, well maybe if it wasn't for the White Walkers and their zombie minions wanting to decapitate us at any given moment.

Almost worth dying for

Unfortunately, if you're hoping to try a bottle of Take the Black Stout it will be very hard to find. It was released at the beginning of November and only one batch was brewed by Ommegang. Such is the story of all their limited must-have beers. If you're lucky though you may be able to find a bottle at a beer store hidden on the shelf among all the commoner beers.

South Park's final Game of Thrones episode which pits the boys against one another to try to get an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 as part of a 96% off Black Friday deal airs tonight. HBO's Game of Thrones is expected to come back late April or early May 2014. Until then happy beer hunting and try your best not to cross the path of Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons.