The end of the Christmas season signals the end of winter and the beginning of spring, right? Say goodbye to the big beers of winter and hello to the spring seasonals?
Not so fast.
To me, November and December make up the "holiday" season, and it's really January and February when we get to experience winter outside of Christmas. In light of this, I've worked with Anchor Brewing, Sonoma Cider, and DRAMBUIE to create winter beer cocktails appropriate for the next couple of months.
I should start off by admitting my love for Anchor's Christmas Ale. It perfectly encapsulates the winter spirit and is a beer I look forward to all year. So when it came time to create a winter drinks article, I had to start with Anchor's 2013 Christmas Ale. Without further ado, here are a couple beer cocktails to get you through the winter season.
Cider is interesting to me, both because of its status as the cousin of beer, and also its mirrored rise in number of local "brewers." When asked about the increased popularity of craft cider, Robert Cordtz of Sonoma Cider said, "Craft cider is a natural progression from the craft beer explosion. The craft beverage industry is all about experimenting and creating great tasting new things, and cider is one of them." It is certainly the case with Sonoma Cider, who has the beverages and the mindset of local breweries. Just take a look at their website where they tout their organic apples and refusal to use concentrates.
I worked with Sonoma Cider to create a cocktail using their Anvil cider (apple base with a smoky bourbon finish) and Anchor's Christmas Ale. The result? A tart drink that benefits greatly from the mouth feel and flavor from Anchor's Christmas. The Winter Storm over Sonoma goes down easy and blends together a unique group of flavors.
Winter Storm over Sonoma
2 parts Sonoma Cider Anvil
1 part Anchor Christmas Ale
1 part ginger beer
Garnish: lime slice
Creating a more traditional beer cocktail was a little difficult, as my expertise in liquor is not as extensive as my beer knowledge. I wanted to keep the drink simple, and DRAMBUIE's whisky liquor allowed me to do just that. If you've never had DRAMBUIE, it tastes sweet and herby, especially for a whisky. In fact, those herbs and that honey sweet aftertaste mashed perfectly with Anchor's Christmas Ale. Put simply, nothing else was needed besides the two flavorful drinks. It's an easy cocktail to make, and it packs a hidden, surprisingly powerful, punch.
Rusty Anchor Ale
1 part Anchor Christmas Ale
1 shot of DRAMBUIE
Of course, you could keep things simple and just enjoy Anchor's Christmas Ale on its own. But where's the fun in that? If you're going to go this route, I'd recommend picking up the magnum for maximum celebration.
Beer of the moment: Black Diamond's Mosaic Session IPA