Anchor Brewing Company

Strange Brew: Anchor Christmas Ale

Welcome to back Strange Brew, where each month we’ll take a close look at a new or notable brew, or just one we think you should be drinking...

The holiday season may arguably be my favorite time of the year for beer drinking, as each year I look forward to the release of would could possibly be one of my all-time favorite beers, Anchor Brewing Company’s Christmas Ale. Since 1975, the San Francisco-based brewery has celebrated the season with the release of their annual Christmas Ale, which from year to year tastes familiar, but is in fact “distinctive and unique” each and every year.

Founded all the way back in 1896, Anchor Brewing has been credited with helping to jump start the craft beer revolution in the United States thanks in no small part to Fritz Maytag, who purchased the struggling brewery in 1965, and is considered the father of modern microbreweries. Anchor produces five year-round, and four seasonal offerings, but initially built its reputation around its signature beer Anchor Steam, named for a  a brewing style that was distinct to Northern California and even more specifically to the city of San Francisco, that dates back to the 1800s.

Why You Should Drink It?: The 36th edition of their Christmas Ale pours a deep dark ruby red, with a thin light tan head. There is something about this beer that when you go in for your first sip you get the smells and tastes of Christmas – it’s sweet, pine-y and smoky all in one. Upfront, you immediately get chocolate and cherry flavors mixed with the subtly spiciness of clove and cinnamon. Christmas Ale finishes with dry hoppy pine notes and a distinct lingering smokiness. This “winter warmer” is perfect for drinking in front of the fireplace during the colder months, but can also be aged with different flavors emerging as the flavors mellow.

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