Thursday, September 20, 2012

Beer Review: Our Special Ale 1987 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Reviewing the Our Special Ale 1987 from Anchor Brewing Company. In honor of my 25th birthday, I decided to trade for and open a beer almost as old as me. According to the bottle neck:
"WASSAIL! Every year since 1975 the brewers at Anchor have produced a special ale which we sell from early December to early January. These ales are different each year, and we hope our friends and customers enjoy the variety as we do. This year we offer a "wassail," following an ancient tradition of spiced ales at Christmas time."
Score: 79

This is the 1987 release of Anchor's annual winter warmer Our Special Ale. Served in a stemmed tulip wine glass and enjoyed on 07/29/12. Review is from notes.

Appearance: Pours a murky caramel color with tons of muddy dark tan flakes of sediment floating around the beer with a pencil thin fizzy tan ring of head around the glass. Poor lacing, average retention. Frankly, this is an ugly-looking beer. Then again, it is nearly 25 years old. 1/5

Smell: Ample caramel malt and almond nuttiness mixed with christmas spices. Some "pumpkin pie," peppermint and a touch of sweet plum. There is also a little "wet cardboard" in the nose (mild oxidation) that throws off an otherwise nice-smelling winter warmer. When I swirl the beer, more of the maltiness comes through, and there is less oxidation. 3.5/5

Taste: Surprisingly drinkable for a 25 yea old beer! There is a huge caramel-inspited malt profile mixed with pumpkin flavor and a faint hint of dark fruit. The christmas spices are less prevalent on the palate than the nose, but they are still there. There is also a mild fruitiness towards the finish. Less oxidation in the flavor than in the aroma, but it is still there throwing off the balance of the beer. 3.25/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, low carbonation. Very watery mouthfeel. Malty sweet. 2/5

Overall: Tastes surprisingly good for a beer that's almost as old as me, but it's hardly anything "special" outside the novelty of it's bottling date. The appearance of this beer is incredibly off-putting too. I would never trade $36 of beer, even off-the-shelf beer, for a bottle of this again, but it was really cool to celebrate my birthday with a beer from 1987. My father and girlfriend (neither are beer nerds), who I split this beer with, enjoyed the flavor of this more than me. Time to cleanse the palate and crack open something legitimately awesome.

Recommendation: Not worth seeking out.

Pairings: Pumpkin pie.

Cost: UNKNOWN cost (I traded two 2012 Goose Island Juliets for this and a four pack of Ghandi Bot) for a 12 oz bottle.

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