I’ve really been enjoying a wide variety of beers since Mac’s Brew is in very limited quantities right now. Here are a couple more, and I wanted to get the Our Special Ale review out right away because it’s currently in season and will be available for only a short time. I just finished drinking it (actually, I’m still drinking it while writing this).
Our Special Ale (2012): Anchor Brewing, San Francisco, California. 5.5% ABV. I am still drinking this ale as I write this review (11-26-2012) and am really enjoying it. Every year Anchor brews a winter warmer for the holidays, and every year it’s a different recipe. I still have a magnum of their 2011 release in my beer refrigerator (it was very good last year), but it’s time to drink a 2012 version.
This beer pours a deep ruby red, slightly lighter than Guinness. It has a creamy beige head, about 1.5″ deep. The aroma is quite sweet and fruity – very pleasant.
The flavor is well balanced, fruity, sweet, but not nearly as sweet as the aroma would suggest. There is no hoppiness noted in the flavor, but there is an ever-so-slight bitterness (maybe the dark grains?). The fruitiness fades, leaving a nice malty caramel aftertaste on the palate. It leaves nice lacing on the glass. The carbonation level is fairly low, and the beer has a light to medium body. I’m not sure what the spices are in this brew, and I won’t guess, but they lend a nice flavor to this winter warmer (winter beers are typically spiced with holiday type spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.).
This is a very enjoyable winter warmer, although at 5.5%, the alcohol content is a little lower than the typical winter warmer (usually over 6% ABV). That’s ok, as you could easily be tempted to drink much more of this beer (like a fairly strong session ale). I say go ahead , indulge yourself and drink a lot of it. It’s available in 12 oz bottles and 50.7 oz magnums. I think I just might buy a magnum and enjoy it with friends during the holidays. God bless Fritz Maytag (that’s another great beer story)!
Sublimely Self Righteous Ale: Stone Brewing, Escondido, California. 8.7% ABV. I’ve had this particular beer on numerous occasions, but on November 15th I got a growler filled at the Stone Brewery in Escondido. This review is based on the 2 liter growler I drank (and shared with others on Thanksgiving Day).
This ale is a dark, dark ruby red with a medium tan head about 1.5″ thick (poured into a pint glass). The foam was quite creamy, and remained forever. The aroma is hoppy, like an IPA.
The flavor is citrus, hoppy like a nice IPA. The body is medium to heavy. The hoppy bitterness fades to a nice chocolaty flavor. The chocolate lingers in the aftertaste, leaving a nice stout-like coffee/chocolate flavor in the mouth.
Overall, this beer is definitely an IPA, but with some nice additional dark grain flavors. When I initially tasted Sublimely Self Righteous (a couple of years ago), it was the first time I had ever had a black IPA, and I was not impressed. In fact, I didn’t like it, but forced myself to drink it, not wanting to waste high quality craft beer. I have had it several times since then, and have also had several other black IPA’s from numerous other breweries. I have come to really respect black IPA’s and now enjoy drinking them (that’s obvious – other wise I would not have filled a two liter growler with it). The draft version of Sublimely Self Righteous Ale is better than the bottled version. I really enjoyed it from the growler and would most likely fill a growler with it in the future. It’s a very tasty beer, and I highly recommend it.
Next Tuesday is Beer Appreciation Night at BJ’s in Brea. This will be their American Winter Warmers night (that’s always the theme for the December Beer Appreciation Night). I have gone to several December beer appreciations in the past, have always tasted some new/different winter warmers, and each time end up purchasing some during the holiday season. I have no doubt it will be the same this year and look forward to the event. Cheers!