Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale 2009
I am a little late with this brief note on a great holiday beer, but there is still some of it floating around the market and it’s worth picking up to drag out your festivities for a few more days! Anchor is a pioneer in the U.S. microbrew scene, making its first beer (Anchor Steam) in 1896. However, in my opinion it is Anchor’s Christmas Ale that is their true paean to craft brewing. This is a special beer that sees a change in recipe every year and carries with it significant aging potential. They also change their label every year, but consistently keep the hand drawn tree as the basis. This year the tree was based on San Francisco’s famous Monterey Cypress near where the Panhandle meets Golden Gate Park. The 2009 ale is the 35th edition of Anchor’s Christmas Beer.
This year the recipe is a darker sweeter style (as opposed to last year’s piney version), with a nose filled with spice, cloves, and a hint of forest nettles. The palate returns some pine, but also plenty of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg, rendering this a distinctly Christmas beer rather than simply a dark winter ale. I love the mouthfeel and balance of this beer even more, and it is very drinkable at a modest 5.5% ABV. In fact, I would say this is the best and most drinkable Christmas beer I’ve yet had (with Taylor Crossing’s Christmas Cake Ale poured at Caskival this year in second place). The only thing better is some of the older renditions of this same beer.
$17.50 / 6 pack at BCLDB and private liquor stores (Viti, Brewery Creek, etc.)