Well what do you know? Anchor Brewing Company now has two seasonal winter beers. Everyone, of course, should be familiar with Anchor Our Special Ale, their classic spiced winter warmer that this year celebrated its fortieth anniversary. Now, though, Anchor has added another treat for the colder months, Anchor Winter Wheat. I hadn’t heard a peep about this one, but stopping by Mink’s package in Marietta, Georgia the other day I saw it and snapped up a six-pack posthaste.
Anchor Winter Wheat is of course new for 2014, a fitting sister beer for Our Special Ale and perhaps added to honor its sibling. This is indeed a dark and mysterious brew, and chances are it is unlike any that you might have had. It’s complexity is derived from the 5 different varieties, malted and unmalted, roasted and unroasted, from a variety of nations. Anchor tells us more on the neck label:
We've been making wheat beers since the summer of 1984. They've all been golden summer refreshers instead of dark winter warmers—until now. Anchor Winter Wheat™ is made with a unique blend of malted barley and five wheats from Belgium, Germany, the Midwest, and a family farm just 75 miles away, where we get our soft red winter wheat. Sown in November and harvested in June, it is used in artisanal flatbreads, cakes, and pastries.
In 1848, California farmers forsook their amber grain for golden fortune. By 1878, California wheat was back big-time, winning gold at the Paris International Exposition. There was even a wheat beer brewery in North Beach, one mile from our first home. Today, the robust flavor, malty complexity, enticing aroma, ebony color, and thick, creamy head of Anchor Winter Wheat™ reflect this delicious heritage. Cheers!
In fact, I was so intrigued by this beer after buying it that I was scouring the label and six-pack carrier for whatever I could learn about it as soon as I got back to the car. A trip to Anchor’s website revealed more about the wheat varieties used as well as barley malt and hops:
Blend of 2-row pale barley malt, Belgian roasted wheat malt, German pale spring wheat malt, "Midnight" and hard red wheat malts from the Midwest & unmalted soft red winter wheat from a local biodynamic farm
Hops Northern Brewer
American Wheat beers are of course based on German weizen beers, and many like this one use cleaner strains of yeast during fermentation. Most people are familiar with pale wheat beers, but the classic German dunkelweizens are more complex and I prefer them. Anchor Winter Wheat is closer to those in nature.
Anchor Winter Wheat has an alcohol content of 7% by volume, in line with an American winter warmer, but since the accent here is so much on the dark wheat I would style it as a dunkelweizen. I paid $8.99 for a six-pack, and that is a very nice price indeed. The beer was bottled on September 9th 2014 with a bottling code of 4SI. Want to know how that works? See my review of Anchor Liberty Ale for more details.
Anchor Winter Wheat pours to a dark black color with a very thick head of rocky, creamy tan foam and a rich chocolaty nose. Talking a sip, I get more of that chocolate up front with a hint of smoke followed by the tartness that wheat is known to impart. The beer is quite crackery with the tangy wheat, right on into the very appetizingly crisp finish. The roasty chocolate permeates the beer as well, and the two work very well together to provide a smooth, satisfying beer that is not unlike Our Special Ale without the spices.
An excellent beer indeed, and one I will certainly buy again. I would love to see it on tap at Taco Mac. I’ll get back to you if I do.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.