|image from wikipedia|
When I saw that the tree on the 2009 Anchor Christmas Ale was the Cupressus Macrocarpa (Monterey Cypress), I instantly recalled this trip. Though I didn't drink any beer on that vacation, I had a lot of chocolate. A lot.
And the 2009 Christmas Ale pays tribute to the Great Chocolate Consumption of 1995 with a heavy dose of cocoa in both aroma and flavor. Right away, you're met with aromas of chocolate and oranges, accompanied by molasses, anise, and cherries. While the 2010 was reminiscent of molasses crinkles, the 2009 brings forth images of well-made fruitcake (not the crappy kind with cheap candied fruit) and chocolate-covered orange rind.
The flavor is heavy on dark, rich, bitter cocoa - the kind you'd only get at a specialty shop... the kind grandma doesn't care for because it's so bitter. The orange character pops up again in the flavor, followed by some spices - notably, clove and mace.
And the body is quite different from the '10. This one is much drier, lighter in body, and more highly carbonated. That lightness in mouthfeel, the dryness - they pair extremely well with the bitter, dark cocoa components of the aroma and flavor.
So far, we favor the 2009. But we still have five more magnums to go.