I thought it’d be neat to kick off December by doing a "Beer Advent Calendar" here, featuring a different Christmas beer each day up to Christmas. So, the first beer is Anchor Christmas Ale.
Each year the recipe Anchor uses to brew this beer is different, as is the label. The website says:
Each year our Christmas Ale gets a unique label and a unique recipe for the Ale itself. Although our recipes must remain a secret, many enthusiasts save a few bottles from year to year—stored in a cool dark place—to taste later and compare with other vintages. Properly refrigerated, the beer remains intriguing and drinkable for years, with different nuances slowly emerging as the flavor mellows slightly.
Anchor has been brewing this seasonal since 1975. Expect a spicy, malty, strong-ish winter warmer.
On BeerAdvocate it racked up a total score of 86 (out of 100), with a solid 94% approval. A good number of the comments mention an overall gingerbread character. If you can find this beer, buy several—one to drink, the rest to save and age for later Christmases. (If you do plan to save them, store them in a cool, dark place.)