Dec 202014
 

I’m riding in the MS 150  in 2015. It’ll be my third year participating in the event. I blogged about it last year and you can view a set of photos from 2013  and 2014.

MS 150 2014

MS 150 2014

If you’re unfamiliar with the event, it’s a 150 mile bike ride from Houston to Austin over two days to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. My company has sponsored this event for the past five years. It took me two years to work up the nerve to ride a bike from Houston to Austin after not touching a bike for more than 15 years and not doing much exercising for several years. I needed something to kick me in the butt. This certainly did it and it has really paid off. Since starting to train for last year’s ride in January of 2013, I’ve ridden 2938 miles (1,681 this year so far). I use Strava to keep track of rides. The first day is roughly 86 miles and the second day is 67. In 2014, I managed to take a video through one of the small towns, Fayetteville, where everyone comes out to celebrate and encourage the riders (here’s a shot of me taking the video). Hopefully this year, I’ll remember to shoot in landscape and not portrait. I also took the challenge ride on the second day which brings you through Bastrop State Park. My goal this year is to do all of that again and ride 100 miles the first day.

You can donate via my participant page. Any little bit helps and is much appreciated. Each rider has to reach a minimum fundraising goal of $400 prior to the event. This year, the ride is on April 18th and 19th and they’ve moved up the deadline for fundraising.

Since getting a bike for our oldest this past January, he’s been riding with me when he can. My hope is to get the entire family involved in one way or another so we can bike around Austin. The city has really added a lot of bike lanes in the past year.

We typically do at least one supported training ride in the lead up to the MS 150. I haven’t yet chosen which rides I will do this year, but it’ll likely be the LBJ 100. I also send e-mail updates to donors as the ride gets closer and during the ride itself.

Thanks for supporting an event that makes a difference in the lives of those with multiple sclerosis and for encouraging something that has given back so much to me.

Dec 192014
 

Welcome to day eight of fourteen days of Anchor Christmas spanning 14 years of the beer. You can view the back story and the tasting for 200120022003200420052006 and 2007.

Anchor Christmas 2008

Anchor Christmas 2008

Day 8: Anchor Christmas 2008

Tree: Jeffrey Pine, Pinus jeffreyi

Anchor Label

Neck Label Text: This is the thirty-fourth “Our Special Ale” from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. In ancient times trees symbolized the winter solstice when the earth with its seasons appears born anew.

Tasting Notes: Tulip glass. You know the one. Coffee is the first thing that comes to mind. A little orange on the nose. Some chocolate on the finish. This one also has a bit of that leather, tobacco, cherry, raisin, fig flavor to it. Things are definitely improving as we move closer to the present year. Six years out is pretty good. Not much spice on this one or much of the spruce/evergreen taste. The carbonation is definitely holding up better as well.

Cheers!

 

Dec 182014
 

Welcome to day seven of fourteen days of Anchor Christmas spanning 14 years of the beer. You can view the back story and the tasting for 20012002200320042005 and 2006.

Anchor Christmas 2007

Anchor Christmas 2007

Day 7: Anchor Christmas 2007

Tree: Valley Oak, Quercus lobata

Anchor Label

Neck Label Text: This is the thirty-third “Our Special Ale” from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. In ancient times trees symbolized the winter solstice when the earth with its seasons appears born anew.

This one has the worst water damage to the label from condensation on the bottle (see photo).

Tasting Notes: Guess which glass? I had some Jester King / Live Oak Kollaborationsbier before this one so hopefully that won’t taint my palate. Maybe I should try some water first. Ok, so this one has something off about the smell. It’s a lighter brown than the previous years. The taste is actually not bad, but I’m going to stop smelling this one. Since it had the most label damage, it might’ve been the most affected by the warm up when one of my lovely offspring left the garage refrigerator door open. I’m actually enjoying the taste though. It’s different and reminds me of something that I can’t quite place. I’m thinking leather. And tobacco. It’s really growing on me. The previous years had a harshness at the end. That’s completely missing from this one. I’d love to be able to find another 2007 to compare. Again, I’m going to go back and look at people’s notes when it was released in my recap at the end. This one might be the nicest so far.

Cheers!

 

Dec 172014
 

Welcome to day six of fourteen days of Anchor Christmas spanning 14 years of the beer. You can view the back story and the tasting for 2001200220032004 and 2005.

Day 6: Anchor Christmas 2006

Anchor Christmas 2006

Anchor Christmas 2006

Tree: European Beech, Fagus sylvatica

Anchor Label

Neck Label Text: This is the thirty-second Our Special Ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. In ancient times trees symbolized the winter solstice when the earth with its seasons appears born anew.

Tasting Notes: Tulip glass once again. You know the glass. And the eight year old Our Special Ale also tastes like raisins. There’s a little spice at the end, but it’s very similar to 2005.

I need to go onto Beer Advocate or another one of those sites to check the reviews to see if the flavors at the time of release show the same pattern with age or not. I’ll probably do a table at the end with comparisons, but I don’t want to taint my opinion until I’m done with all of these.

 

 

Dec 172014
 

Welcome to day five of fourteen days of Anchor Christmas spanning 14 years of the beer. You can view the back story and the tasting for 200120022003, and 2004.

Day 5: Anchor Christmas 2005

Anchor Christmas 2005

Anchor Christmas 2005

Tree: California Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia

Anchor Label

Neck Label Text: This is the thirty-first Our Special Ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. In ancient times trees symbolized the winter solstice when the earth with its seasons appears born anew.

Tasting Notes: Tulip glass once again. The same glass. Because. Anyway, I have one word for the thirty-first incarnation after sitting for nine years: raisins. It tastes like raisins. The carbonation continues to improve as we get to the more recent years. There’s not much on the nose this time either.

 

Dec 152014
 

Welcome to day four of fourteen days of Anchor Christmas spanning 14 years of the beer. You can view the back story and the tasting for 20012002 and 2003.

Day 4: Anchor Christmas 2004 (3o years)

Anchor Christmas 2004

Anchor Christmas 2004

Tree: Inspired by the original Christmas Ale tree

Anchor Label

Neck Label Text: This is the thirtieth Special Ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. In ancient times trees symbolized the winter solstice when the earth with its seasons appears born anew. 30 years is prominently printed in the center of the neck label.

Tasting Notes: Tulip glass. 2o04 is the thirtieth year. I’m sounding a bit repetitive here, but 2004 pretty much falls in line with the previous three years. I think the carbonation is holding up a bit better this year. There’s more of the spruce / evergreen spice taste this year than last. I’m also noticing that the nose much more closely matches the taste for me this year. I’m also getting more chocolate notes this year. I missed tasting yesterday, so I had to taste 2003 and 2004 back to back. I think I’m enjoying 2004 the most so far.

This year also has the green label on the back with what I assume is a lot number along with the bar code, government warning and the recycling information.

Dec 152014
 

I started my fourteen days of Anchor Christmas spanning 14 years of the beer. You can view the back story and the tasting for 2001 and 2002.

Day 3: Anchor Christmas 2003

Anchor Christmas 2003

Anchor Christmas 2003

Tree: Sitka Spruce, Picea Sitchensis

Anchor Label

Neck Label Text: This is the twenty-ninth Special Ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold from early November to January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. In ancient times trees symbolized the winter solstice when the earth with its seasons appears born anew. Pine cone drawn by Meriwether Lewis on Feb. 18, 1806 – Courtesy American Philosophical Society

Tasting Notes: Tulip glass. Hardly any nose on 2003. A bit of coffee. A bit of spruce. A bit of chocolate. It’s pretty thin. Again, there’s not much carbonation left. I think there’s a bit less of the aging aftertaste that I got with ’01 and ’02. I plowed through this one more quickly than the first two, so I’ll say that this one was a bit more drinkable. That probably goes with it being a little thinner. I’d be curious if old reviews agree that this was not as full bodied as the previous two years.

Note that the neck label is a bit different than the previous two years with an extra note along the bottom about the pine cone. There’s also a green label on the back.

Stay tuned for 2004 up next.

Dec 132014
 

I started my fourteen days of Anchor Christmas yesterday. You can view the back story and the tasting for 2001 here.

Day 2: Anchor Christmas 2002

Anchor Christmas 2002

Anchor Christmas 2002

Tree: Fremont Cottonwood, Populus Fremontii

Anchor Label

Neck Label Text: This is the twenty-eighth Special Ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from late November to early January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. In ancient times trees symbolized the winter solstice when the earth with its seasons appears born anew.

Tasting Notes: Again, I’m using the tulip glass. The nose on 2002 is not as prominent as 2001. This one definitely has more of a molasses taste to it. I can still tell that it’s been sitting for a while. Again, there’s not much carbonation left. Honestly, there’s not much of a difference between 2001 and 2002 in taste profile. I do get a little more of the evergreen / spicy taste on this one if I drink out of the bottle. Maybe a bit more chocolate too.

Part of the fun of doing this is also trying to remember what I was doing the year that it was released. Late 2002 would’ve been the birth of our second child.

Here’s my untappd profile where I’m also checking in with these and trying to keep up with my beers in general.

Dec 122014
 

Back in 2001, I decided to keep a bottle of Anchor Christmas on a whim to possibly do a comparison tasting. Fourteen years later, I’ve got fourteen versions of Anchor Christmas. Starting today, I’m going to do a tasting of one per day leading up to Christmas Day 2014. I had toyed with the idea of throwing a vertical tasting party with some friends and trying them all at once over the course of an evening, but after searching around, it seems that the beer’s ability to survive that many years is very hit or miss. I didn’t want to throw a party, invite people and find that half of them are undrinkable. Plus, I still have all but one of the Stone Vertical Epics that I need to taste and that one’s worth throwing a party.

Here’s a quick roundup of the multi-year tastings that I could find:

There’s also this recent feature on Anchor Christmas from the San Jose Mercury News.

I’ll be interested to see if I notice some of the same patterns as I try out all fourteen of these. One note on my batch, one of the kids left my garage fridge open enough one summer several years ago that at least half of these on the older end were exposed to some Texas summer heat. I don’t know if that will affect my results. That’s also why some of the labels are a bit warped, especially 2007. The bottles sweat, making the labels wet, which caused some of the label to separate from the bottle.

Fourteen years of Anchor Christmas

Fourteen years of Anchor Christmas

Let’s get started with 2001, shall we?

Anchor Christmas 2001

Anchor Christmas 2001

I’m using a tulip glass to get the full aroma and flavors of each beer as I taste it. I’m also going to power through each one even if I’m not very fond of it. I’m aiming to see if the flavor profile changes over time as the temperature changes and as I’ve had more of the beer.

Day 1: Anchor Christmas 2001

Tree: California Fan Palm, Washingtonia Filifera

Anchor Label

Neck Label Text: This is the twenty-seventh Special Ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from late November to early January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. In ancient times trees symbolized the winter solstice when the earth with its seasons appears born anew.

Tasting Notes: 

My first reaction is that it’s not great. I deliberately poured it a bit vigorously to ensure some head, but the carbonation died off pretty quickly as you can see from the photo. The taste and especially the nose reminds me a bit of what I remember Sam Adams Triple Bock tasting. There’s a bit of a molasses flavor. It’s still pretty sweet and full up front, but the finish is metallic. I don’t get much of the pine that I remember from other years. I’m noticing some tastes that I’ve typically attributed to bourbon barrel aging, but perhaps some of that is just the affects of aging? This has just been in the bottle in my fridge. My wife thinks the smell is great but is underwhelmed with the taste. She says there’s not much body. I have to agree with her that it’s pretty thin. I started eating a carrot ginger curry soup towards the end and it totally overpowered the beer.

Anchor Christmas 2001 Opened

Anchor Christmas 2001 Opened

Part of me wishes I had done tasting notes with each of these at the time that they were released so I could compare them to what I thought when it was released. Perhaps an idea for 2014-2028?

Come back tomorrow for 2002’s tasting!

Oct 022014
 

The first episode of Austin City Limits‘ 40th season airs this Saturday on your local PBS affiliate. This week, it’s Beck. Check out the TV Schedule page for the other air dates. Here’s a listing of the dates, bands and reviews of the original tapings that I did for the Austin Metblog.

ArtistAir DateTaping DateTaping Review
BeckSaturday, Oct. 4thSunday, Apr. 27thReview
TweedySaturday, Oct. 25thFriday, June 20thReview
Nick CaveSaturday, Nov. 1stMonday, July 21stReview

There are a bunch of new tapings during the Austin City Limits music festival weekends. Eric Church and Future Islands were last week. Jenny Lewis and Sam Smith are this week. Avett Brothers and Spoon are both doing one next week.