The Brew Site

Advent Beer Calendar 2016: Day 9: Anchor Christmas Ale

Today is Christmas Card Day, honoring Sir Henry Cole who introduced the world’s first commercial Christmas card in 1843. Christmas cards are perhaps a fading tradition these days, which is a shame because it’s always fun and a bit like opening a present when you receive one in the mail.

Today’s Advent beer selection is Anchor Brewing‘s Christmas Ale (also known as Our Special Ale), in part because the label—which changes each year to feature a hand drawing of a different tree—is reminiscent to me of a Christmas card. In fact looking over their past labels, they would make a terrific series of cards!

I also selected Anchor Christmas Ale as it is the one beer that is featured every year on this calendar. In many ways it is the most traditional and prototypical of the American holiday beer tradition, and it is one Christmas beer I look forward to drinking every year.

Our tree for 2016 is the “1,000 Mile Tree” or the lone pine found during westbound construction of the transcontinental railroad. Discovered in 1869, it was a lone pine amidst a vast and desolate landscape. 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. His charming illustration of the 1,000 Mile Tree includes a person at the top of the tree with a mug of beer, honoring an old legend that railway passengers sometimes attempted to climb the tree.

The 2016 Christmas Ale is a deep mahogany brown with a creamy, tan head and boasts aromas of fruitcake, molasses, and fresh cut wood. The beer tastes of a roasted caramel malt, with notes of spiced chocolate and nuts. And it has a rich, smooth, and velvety mouthfeel. Every year the Anchor brewers look forward to formulating a new Christmas Ale recipe and tasting the fruits of their labors. We are always excited to please beer fans with its ever-changing recipe and label. Cheers from the Anchor brewers!

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