Beer Review: Anchor Brewing Company Merry Christmas & Happy New Year (Our Special Ale) (2012)

merryxmas1Brewery: Anchor Brewing Company
Beer: Merry Christmas & Happy New Year (Our Special Ale) (2012)
Style: Winter Warmer
ABV: 5.5%
Character: Since 1975, this beer gets a different recipe and different label featuring a different tree
Metal Connection: KING DIAMOND – No Presents for Christmas


Not truly paying attention to the label when I purchased this beer at a local grocery store, I did not see that this was actually a 2012 release, not the most current. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but when unexpected, it really throws of the drinking experience. I do believe this ha a lot to do with my review as I found more bad than good with this beer, as maybe it was not properly stored for the past year. I don’t know where the problem lies, whether it was the distributor holding on to this beer in their warehouse, or the actual grocery store holding onto it. Over time, I have heard both sides to that story with other beers that definitely should not be aged. This beer is known to be aged and drank in comparison to other years. I for one don’t find Winter Warmers or Christmas Ales a good choice for aging. I know this topic is debatable, but that’s just my opinion on it.

Bad choice in glassware for this beer. I chose to use my Twisted X Brewing Company pint glass which features their logo in black on the glass, which of course made it impossible to see the logo when the glass was full. This beer poured an opaque dark brown with hints of ruby red shining through it with light. There was a finger wide tan foamy head which quickly disappeared, leaving absolutely no lacing down the glass.

The aroma of this beer at first smelled like a skunky New Castle. After letting this beer warm up, hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and spices came forward, and so did a strong caramel malt aroma. Not a very pleasing aroma, as the spices were a bit muted.

With the taste, the body is all caramel malt driven, and is very overpowering. The spices are gain muted, and hidden behind the strong caramel flavor here. There is a hint of cinnamon at the end, but then it fades back to caramel on the aftertaste. Again, I am sure it had to do with improper storage for a year.

The body is a medium thickness with a faint smooth feeling, but mostly watery. This drinks like a flat soda. Not much else going on here.

Overall, this was not a drain pour, by any means, but it wasn’t very pleasing either. I was able to sit and drink a whole pint glass, but judging every sip as it went down. I did let the beer warm up a lot about half way down, and it was way better overall at that point. I do plan on seeing if my local stores have a 2013 version of this beer, so I can drink it in comparison. I know it says each year the recipe is different, but I’m assuming not by much as most/all Winter Warmer styled beers have the caramel, and spices (cinnamon/nutmeg, etc).

I will say this, I was hesitant to put this review up on the site, since I’m sure the fault of the bad lies heavily on improper storage wither by the distributor (most likely) or the store itself, but then I also wanted to show you all the outcome of such treatment to a beer. I am sure there are those of you who have properly aged this beer at home and it smelled and tasted just fine, but I had a bad experience and I wanted to share it with you. Pay attention to the labels and ask the proper questions before buying.

Metal Connection: What better song to pair with this beer to help redeem this post than “No Presents for Christmas” by King Diamond! The choice of this song is for obvious reasons, and I am happy to show you all this amazing song by one of the legends in the Metal genre. I am sure there are those of you reading this who have never heard the man, the myth, the legend sing before. Now, here is your chance!


Author: BeerMetalDude

Owner of Beer Metal Media. Creator/Host of The Beer Metal Show Podcast & It Came from the Cellar Podcast

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