2011 marked the release of the 37th edition of Anchor Brewing’s Christmas Ale. Although I have only had this beer on one or two occasions, I was well aware that Anchor Brewing modifies the recipe every year. What I didn’t know was that they feature a different tree on the label of every new release. Here is what Anchor Brewing has to say about this year’s tree and the 2011 edition of their Christmas Ale:
Each year since 1975, Anchor Brewing creates a distinctive Christmas Ale, available from early November to mid-January. A rich, dark spiced ale, our secret recipe is different every year—as is the tree on the label—but the intent remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life.
Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew. Our tree for 2011 is the bristlecone pine. Found high atop California’s White Mountains, bristlecones are among the oldest living things on the planet. Some date back nearly 5,000 years, to the dawn of the ancient art of brewing.
Each year our Christmas Ale gets a unique label and a unique recipe. Although our recipes must remain a secret, many save a few bottles from year to year. Properly refrigerated, the beer remains intriguing and drinkable for years. Different nuances emerge as the flavor mellows slightly, much like the memories of great holiday seasons past. Celebrate the holidays with Anchor Christmas Ale, an Anchor tradition since 1975.
I love the bottle. I love the label art. Let’s see if I love what’s inside this über-photogenic packaging…
- Appearance: Ruby red color with dark brown highlights. Quarter inch, tan head that dissipates slowly.
- Aroma: Lots of spices. Smells a lot like a mulled wine with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, etc.. Mild, piney hop scent in the background.
- Taste: Light to medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Somewhat watery mouthfeel. Starts off with some mild, sweet maltiness. Mild hop bitterness from middle to end. Mildly sour and bitter finish. Where did all those spices go???
- ABV: 5.5%
I REALLY wanted to love the Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale, but sadly, I didn’t. It’s a beautiful pour, it smells really interesting, but the flavors just left me kind of cold. To be completely honest, it might be the style that I have a problem with. I’ve tried other Christmas/Holiday beers (i.e. Tröegs Mad Elf, which is very highly regarded), and they’ve all left a similar impression on me. In a word: meh.