beer reviews

More winter warmers


Service update: no internet in the Boak and Bailey household, so updates will be intermittent until it’s sorted. Virginmedia’s service and customer service is terrible. 

Just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean the winter warmers stop coming. Here are some of the good ones we’ve had in the past month or so.

Meantime Winter Warmer

Finally got hold of this one in a Sainsbury’s on the outskirts of London. Worth the trouble, as it’s very pleasant and packed full of flavours – smoke, hints of chocolate, some fruitiness. We thought it was like a smoother, milkier version of their London Porter. Bottled conditioned and 5.4%.

If you want more poetical and detailed descriptions, the Beernut has reviewed it here, and Zythophile has reviewed it here.

Anchor “Our Special Ale” 2007

This is brewed to a different recipe each winter, according to the Anchor website. The 2007 version is 5.5% and very tasty. It’s a red-black colour, with excellent head retention and full body. The aroma reminded us of pine trees and candyfloss. We noted burnt gingerbread flavours (that’s a good thing!), with some spices that were difficult to identify – possibly allspice? Nutmeg? There was also some fruitiness – a little bit like peaches. We wouldn’t be surprised if there were cranberries in it.

It had a bitter dry finish – almost certainly C-hops, but the citrus isn’t particularly pronounced.

All fantastic examples of how lots of flavour can be achieved with a *relatively* low ABV.

7 replies on “More winter warmers”

Took a detour home via Sainsbury’s last night on the strength of your Meantime Winter Time review above. Very glad I did too – it really is a glutanous beauty of a dark winter warmer, currently beer of the month, which would suggest it won’t be available any longer after January – thanks for the headsup!

I picked up a number of other previously unseen bits & bobs too, including the Meantime Porter (a massively disappointing no-show at a festival we went to last year – also ‘gawjus’) and Harviestoun Haggis Hunter, which they bottle exclusively for Sainsbury’s. Must say I’m impressed with the big supermarkets’ commitment to stocking more interesting ales of late, particularly Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.

P.S. I’m also a very long-suffering Virgin Media customer (ex-ntl). Hope you get sorted out soon.

Glad you enjoyed it. I must admit, Zythophile’s review, and especially the suggestion that it’s what a 19th century porter might have tasted like, got me quite excited.

Good to see Anchor is making its way out of my home state, and glad to hear you liked the winter special — I miss California only sometimes, but I miss that beer just about every Christmas. You lucky dogs!

I could Google this, but I’ll ask you instead — what’s Czech Christmas beer like?

Basically, it’s a strong golden or amber lager, usually brewed at 13° or 14°, but sometimes as high as 17°, in the case of the delicious Christmas special from Opat. We actually had a special event in Prague, the Christmas Beer Markets, which hosted about 20 of these beers, including a Czech version of Old Ale. Usually the Czech Christmas beers are not spiced, though they could be. They are almost always stronger, sweeter and hoppier than the standard Pilsner-style brew, roughly in the area of Helles Bock, Helles Doppelbock or Maibock.

Coincidentally, when a local magazine did a story on the Christmas beers, I specifically mentioned this year’s Anchor brew:

Byly to letos krásné Vánoce. Nejlépe na n? zavzpomínat nad p?llitrem. Tak t?eba pro Evana Raila má každý ježíšek trošku jinou pivní p?íchu?. „U nás v Kalifornii máme pivovar Anchor a každý rok p?ed Vánoci tady ud?lají jiné pivo. N?kdy chutná po ko?ení, n?kdy po pomeran?ích,“ vypráví. Letošní rok je léko?icové a pije se od Vánoc do ledna s cílem „oslavit novost života“, jak píší na etiket?.

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