Beer

A tradition 43 years strong - always a new recipe, always a new tree

30 November, 2017

In 1975 Anchor Brewing released the first holiday beer in America since Prohibition. Every year, Anchor creates a new, secret recipe with a completely unique label for their Christmas Ale, but the intent with each brew remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life.

For the 43rd annual release of this Anchor tradition, the brewers created a smooth and creamy winter warmer with rich flavors of cacao, toffee, and roasted nuts, plus subtle hints of honey and herbal spice. With a heavily guarded, secret recipe, Christmas Ale is sold only from early November to mid-January. This highly anticipated seasonal delight is complex and full in flavor, with a velvety texture and an alluring aroma of coffee and roasted wood.

anchorholiday

“This year’s Christmas Ale has a strong malt profile that is enhanced with wintry spices,” said Anchor Brewmaster Scott Ungermann. “The beer pours a deep, dark, mahogany brown with a creamy, tan head. It has flavors of creamy bittersweet chocolate, coffee, roasted malts and toasted nuts, with a rich, smooth, velvety mouthfeel. This is the third year in a row that we peeled back the layers of spices, taking some ingredients out and making those remaining stand out even more. In the meantime, we added more specialty malts, some that we’re using for the first time. The combination of malts, spices, and hops add layers of complexity to the beer and bring this year’s ale to a new level.”

tree

Along with an evolving recipe, Christmas Ale portrays a new label every year. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew. This year’s tree is the Santa Lucia fir. Extremely rare, it is native and limited to California’s Santa Lucia Range along the central coast of California. The tree on this year’s label was hand-drawn by Bay Area artist James Stitt, who has been creating Anchor’s Christmas Ale labels since 1975.

If you live in the Bay Area you can probably find six packs on the shelf already and start to look for taps pouring at your favorite watering hole starting today. Outside of California it may be more of a challenge to get your hands on this years batch but you can try their Beer Finder (HINT: Click on "Advanced Search" and choose the special holiday beer option to the right of the normal advanced search filters).