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Beer: Anchor Christmas Ale

Where Spotted: Whole Foods, 1440 P St. NW

Price: $8.99/6-pack

a lump of cold: Every winter brings beer lovers a flood of seasonal batches, from spicy holiday-themed ales to intense imperial stouts and high-alcohol barleywines. The cutesy bottle and adorned label of Christmas Ale from San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing look like they came out of a Franklin Mint catalog, but for those who like their holidays kitschy, this could be a plus: Place a bottle among your commemorative ceramic Elvises, in front of the bubble lights.

christmas tastes like anise : Christmas Ale’s recipe varies from year to year. Past vintages have mixed flavors of fig, grape, and the occasional cola with the usual holiday dessert flavors. But Anchor Steam’s holiday brew always has a darker spice profile than most gingerbread wannabes, and 2008’s has hints of clove and ginger chiming in with the ever-present touch of anise. Pairs well with grandpa sweaters and Nick at Nite marathons.

Seen an interesting quaff lately? E-mail beerspotter@washingtoncitypaper.com