At the end of November, courtesy of the brewery, I attended the release of Anchor Brewing’s Barrel-Aged 2017 Christmas Ale at an event held in the Brewery’s tap room and brewhouse on Potrero Hill in San Francisco.
The event included small bites, and a vertical flight of four years’ of Anchor Christmas Ale – 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018- in addition to a taster of the featured barrel-aged beer. (It was crowded so I didn’t get to try the 2018, but the 2017 and 2016 aged well. The 2015, not so much.)
I did make sure to try the barrel-aged release, and I came away with a couple of bottles of it; one of which I have opened and am drinking tonight.
The Barrel Aged 2017 Christmas Ale was created by aging the 2017 Christmas Ale in bourbon, red wine, and brandy barrels, and then blending them. It has 10.3% abv and 30 IBU (the original, unaged, version had 6.7% abv and 40 IBU).
It is a dark ale. Dark, dark brown, almost like a really dark cola, but with a hint of green to it.
It smells smooth, not alcoholey -which is a good sign, considering that it is pretty high in alcohol. There is a bit of dried fruit in the nose, a bit of aroma of fried bananas.
It is malty, and a bit sweet, with flavors of vanilla, raisins, dark cherries, red wine, maybe a bit of port. There is just a hint of roastiness and barrel char. Hop bitternes is quite moderate, with a slight note of evergreen.
As the beer warms, some of the vinous character dissipates, and a bit of dried apricot starts to show up.
It is very pleasant. It has good body but is not too heavy; not cloying at all. It goes down smoothly, and is pleasantly warming. A good choice for this cold winter’s eve.