03 December 2010

Open It! II: Anchor Our Special Ale 1992 (Yes, 1992!)

There is no good reason that this beer should still be extant.  And now it won't be.

Anchor's annual holiday/Christmas beers are an easy target for the novice to try aging.  It's readily available, it's "special," and it's different.  But the alcohol content is low, and the "special" attributes of this beer are especially volatile, so this is really not a beer to age.  So why do I still have it eighteen years later?  Inertia.

Beer pours with razor-thin carbonation and dismal head retention.  Deep porter color.  Nose is lots of black pepper with notes of licorice, blackstrap molasses, and used cinnamon sticks.  Flavor is dry, spicy, but stale and a bit oxidized.  Bottle has a heavy coat of sludge on the bottom, but sample is bright.  Extremely tannic finish, like sucking on tea bags and cinnamon sticks.

If you learn nothing else: Don't age this beer.

RateBeer goes back to 2001 for this beer.

Glass: 2002 Anchor OSA glass, rimmed with gold leaf and an actual pint-holding shaker pint glass, as indicated by the 12 ounces shown.


Mark Dredge said...

1992?! That's an OLD beer. Shame it hasn't held up too well. It lasts a couple of years, doesn't it? Maybe 18 years is just a little too long! Cheers for Opening It! though.

JohnM. said...

"If you learn nothing else: Don't age this beer."

Not sure I agree Alex. Now if you said "don't age this beer for 18 years," then I'd definitely second your recommendation.

As I'm sure you know, Max's has some older vintages of OSA. Some years seem to hold up better than others (really not sure why; I think the abv. is pretty much the same every year and the recipe is fairly similar every year), but in any event, I went ahead and cracked open a bottle of the 2000 several years back at Max's (11/08 actually). I thought the beer absolutely superb and considerably better than what I recollected the beer tasted like back in 2000 (not that I remember that far back, but I didn't recall being particularly overwhelmed by its quality at the time).

Also, Anchor has been bottling this beer in both magnums and 6 packs for some time now, and my guess is that the magnums probably age better than the 12 ounce bottles (same with wine, due to the more limited air contact with the liquid).

That being said... whether in magnum or 12 ounce bottle, I'm pretty sure I would not want to drink a bottle of the 2000 in 2018. While I think OSA is fairly ageable, I think that's pushing things a bit too far. In other words, it may be ageable, but it ain't THAT ageable. :-)

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

Okay, I'll grant you: "Don't age it THAT long."