Cigar Aficionado

'Tis the Season for Anheuser-Busch's Seasonal Beers

The winter months are nearly upon us, and for beer drinkers that means holiday ales, winter lagers and seasonal brews spiced up for snowy nights around the fire are beginning to find their way into suds shops around the country. For its part Anheuser-Busch is front and center with the yearly release of its Brew Masters Private Reserve and Michelob Celebrate.

This is the third year that A.B. has released Private Reserve. A traditional doppelbock, it features a blend of four malts, including Munich and caramel, and Hallertau hops for a brew that the company says is "something different" for beer consumers and loyal Budweiser drinkers. It has a deep, ruby red color and is high in alcohol (8.5 percent alcohol by volume), and brewed with holiday fare such as Christmas goose in mind.

The Private Reserve also has a tabletop presence that's ideal for the holiday table or for post-prandial sipping with dessert. It is packaged in a 46.5 ounce bottle with a resealable top (think Grolsch) or as part of a gift set with two fluted beer glasses, which retails for $21.99.

Complementing the Private Reserve are two beers under the Michelob Celebrate brand name. The Celebrate Cherry debuted this year, and it is aged with real cherries. Celebrate Chocolate lager, which was originally released last year, is aged with cocoa beans. Both beers are also 8.5 percent ABV and recommended as dessert beers to pair with cheesecake and other rich holiday delectables. They are available in gift packs that include one 24-ounce bottle of each and two snifters.

"We don't stray very much," said Eric Beck, a brewmaster at Anheuser-Busch, acknowledging that its brewers must focus most of their attention on brands such as Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob in order to maintain the quality and consistency of those beers the company produces in such mass volumes. "But we can do more than what we are known for, and we don't want to limit the ability of our brewers.

"It's all driven by taste," Beck adds, noting the recent rise of craft beers. "We are giving the consumer what it wants. We are constantly tweaking and improving, and always willing to try something different."

Brew Masters Private Reserve and Michelob Celebrate are available nationwide for a limited time.