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I’m a fan of Anchor Christmas. Not just the beer, but the concept is almost too simple to comprehend; and yet many don’t even try to imitate it. Release a beer every year, letting the variance in raw materials dictate the flavour of the singular recipe, and celebrate each release like a new one. Its release rounds off the year, and it’s probably the only beer I actively try to seek out at Christmas. It’s old, but new – and even the different label is something to look forward to every winter.
To me ’2011′ seems better than the last few. I don’t refer to my tasting notes that often, but I recall (and bear in mind this is just my hazy, addled memory) 2010 being darker, and with more bitter chocolate flavour going on. Holding your glass up to the light reveals a ruby heart underneath the plum-dark cloak and tan collar. The nose only hints at cinnamon and clove, and carries an almost cola-like note. The taste, as I said previously, seems fruitier than past years; more clove, less Cinnamon, but bursting with fresh black cherry and almond notes. It rolls around your mouth, letting off little fireworks of juicy, jammy fruits, before finishing dry. As you get further down the beer, Nutmeg appears, warming the taste ever-so-subtly. I’ve been impressed this year, for sure.

When enjoyed with Stollen (Shop-bought, I must confess – I haven’t had time to make any this year), all those flavours get an extra bready, yeasty hit *- and the thick, gooey Marzipan in the bread enhances the Almond notes in the beer. It’s all very seasonal, very comforting and very German – by way of San Fransisco. Enjoying all this whilst there’s frost on the ground, novelty songs on the radio and the bauble-laden Christmas Tree looming *in the corner of the room seems very right.
While we are on the subject, why are those German Christmas treats so bloody good with Seasonal Beer? From Stollen to Lebkuchen, Cinnamon-spiked Zimsterne to spicy Pfefferkuchen; they all go so well with darker, sweeter, fruitier beers. I guess when you consider the ingredients, they share a lot of common ground.
All to often when we think of Germany and beer, our minds (well mine, anyway) turn to salty pretzels, Spaetzle and Ham Knuckles with a huge Dunkel on the side. Consider, perhaps, Germany’s lighter touch – all those sweet, sweet goodies.
Merry Christmas!