credit: Anchor Brewing Company

Anchor Brewing Company was founded in a San Francisco brewery in the late 19th century. It’s famous Steam Beer is known for its amber color and characteristic taste derived from fermentation using lager yeast and natural carbonation. Since 1975, Anchor has released special holiday beers with unique, secret recipes and custom label artwork.

This year’s Christmas Ale, made with a combination of roasted malts, hops and spices, delivers a balanced, complex beer with distinct malty aromas and dark spice notes. In the glass, it exhibits an appetizing dark brown color capped with a creamy head. Upon initial tasting, I picked out several rich flavors including caramel toffee, dark chocolate, and roasted coffee. Holding a mouthful of the beer for a little longer, I was rewarded with the subtle hint of warm spices followed by a little honeysweet backdrop on the palate.

Anchor Brewmaster Scott Ungermann comments: “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.”

While you’re enjoying your Christmas Ale, I recommend checking out the bottle artwork. Each year, bottles are adorned with custom artwork. The 2017 edition displays the rare Santa Lucia fir tree, hand-drawn by Bay Area artist James Stiff, who has been creating Anchor’s Christmas Ale labels since 1975.

Availability: November through January

Formats: 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 50.7 oz. magnum bottles and draft.

Locations: In my Los Angeles neighborhood, I can find Anchor’s Christmas Ale at several bars and restaurants, including:

You can also find the beer at national stores, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Total Wine.

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