ruffian (149) - montvale, New Jersey, USA - JAN 25, 2004
Dark red-brown, that is virtually opaque in the glass. Pours with a little creamy head. Full mouthfeel compliments the creamy head. Spices/natural flavors are well balanced and give way to a lingering bitter finish. A good holiday ale in that none of the adjuncts are singularly over powering. The label features a Sitka Spruce, "Picea sitchensis" so I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that they have used tips from Sitka Spruce in it. Subtly different year to year, it is an excellent beer to save a bottle or two of to compare side by side with the next years batch. (And to see how it aged on its own!) hershiser2 (3834) - Charlottesville, Virginia, USA - JAN 31, 2004
Paid $1.69 for a 12-oz single.
Dark brown with mahogany highlights. HUGE tan head, really fluffy.
OOOH interesting smell, very original. I don't recall ever having a beer that smelled quite like this. I can pick out: bread, caramel, pine, and maybe some sort of scented soap or candle. It smells pretty nice, whatever the heck it is.
OOOH that's interesting too... I've never had a beer that quite tasted like this either. I've been conditioning myself for ordinariness in spiced beers, because I seem to have been trying a bunch of bland ones lately. Smooth, creamy, piney, slightly unsweetened chocolate, slightly coffee, bready... pretty complex. Pine stands out from everything though; like eating a christmas tree, onlt it's good!
This is a nice Christmas brew, and so far, one of my favorites this season. DarkElf (3067) - La Jolla, California, USA - AUG 4, 2004
(Draft: O’Brien’s in San Diego, CA) I don’t know why this beer gets a new entry for each year; Anchor claims the recipe is different each year, but I’ve rated this beer every year since 1993, and my notes are always about the same, with only minor variations; Spicy nutmeg is front and center, closely matched by the moderate dark roasted flavor; This dark roasted flavor, along with a modest smokiness assert themselves in the finish; Of course, it’s fairly bitter from start to finish as well; It’s also moderately sweet, but it’s not something that you notice right away because the dark roasted maltiness, the bitterness, and the nutmeg are so potent; The palate is medium bodied and thinner than expected, but still has enough body for a winter; The nose is dominated by the nutmeg aromas; Dark, dark brown in color; Tan head is sizeable on the pour, exhibits excellent retention, but little to no lacing eboats (1115) - Omaha, Nebraska, USA - AUG 10, 2004
UPDATED: JAN 17, 2006 Oh man! Heavenly smell. Smells like Christmas time like the label suggests. Gingersnaps, cinamon, and cloves. Unbelievable smell. Tastes like roasted almonds, gingersnaps, cinamon and cloves. Has a somewhat bitter aftertaste. This appears black, but in the light you can see a brilliant ruby glow. It comes with a tan head that actually looks dirty yellow in areas. Definately a holliday brew. I will be drinking this on Christmas Eve for years to come. waveman352 (178) - Saratoga Springs, New York, USA - NOV 30, 2004
This was the first year that I tried their christmas brew and now i’m addicted. Wonderful flavor and smelled of malts and nuts. A very full bodied beer poured to an off white head and a dark brown color. Went down very smoothly with very little bitterness. I’m absolutley pumped to try the 2004 vintage.
ChillCoat (1029) - Concord, California, USA - DEC 22, 2004
Bottled- I drank this one side by side with a bottled version of the 2004. Both were similar in color but the 2003 is much more "gingery" (is that a word?). The aromas of the 2004 were stronger than the kegged version I rated earlier. Here’s the 2003 rating; Pours very dark with the slightest hint of an amber tint. Huge aroma of ginger, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spices, chocolate and port. Viscous mouth feel with huge notes of ginger.
Tastes like Christmas in a bottle.
mike mcneil (660) - St Augustine, Florida, USA - DEC 27, 2004
Have 2 sixers left over from 2003 which I’ve been ageing. As always a fatastic Holiday brew. Seems to have stood up well over the past year continuing to show lots of pumpkin pie spices, especially ginger. Smooth, silky mouthfeel; especially when enjoyed at about 60F in a snifter. sneagrams3 (2337) - St. Louis, Missouri, USA - JAN 31, 2007
Right in the middle of a verticle tasting. 1997-2006 (sans 2001). Lighter body comparitively. Still a nice deep ruby hue. More of a malty sugary toffee nose. Lively effervescence. Most thus far. Plummy and other deep dark fruit. Bitter hop profile. Fruity esters. Lively with a 7-Up ness. Citrusy and thick. On the cusp between fresh and aged. Could go either way, but still retained a lot of the fresh qualities. Gold metal winner of the evening. Perfect blend between sharp freshness and mellow melded aged brew! smcolw (617) - Boston, Massachusetts, USA - APR 11, 2009
The aroma is complex. My immediate thought is spruce, lots of pine. There is also a sweetness--caramel or melted sugar. I also detect some nutty smells, mostly macadamia.
Deep brown, too dark to shine light through a regular pint glass. Beige head that dies quick but leaves a thin layer of tiny bubbles and dramatic lace.
Very rich beer that offers multiple malt flavors--roasted nuts, slight chocolate, sweet crystal, a touch of black patent. Very low hop, but it doesn’t need it since the flavor is already so robust. Highly carbonated, but subtle because of the oily nature of the liquid. The post-swallow flavors are chewy, dark and dessert-like.
This is a beer to have by the fire with great friends and great conversation. slowrunner77 (13206) - Reno, Nevada, USA - SEP 5, 2014
one of the best Christmas beers ever, this is a solid beer in every way...smells, looks, and tastes great. right up there most years with old foghorn as my favorite anchor brew. try on tap if you can...it’s even fresher."