Beer of the Weekend #647: Anchor Christmas Ale 2014

It is finally time. Presents have been opened, chocolate dessert has been made, and I have busted out my gold-rimmed 2009 Anchor Christmas Ale pint glass…

The beer this Christmas Eve is Anchor Christmas Ale 2014, brewed by the Anchor Brewing Company of San Francisco, California.

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. “4SR” is the bottling date code on the back label, which translates to September 18, 2014.

Appearance: Pours a deep mahogany color into my 2009 Christmas Ale pint glass. Two fingers of dense, frothy, head dissipates slowly and unevenly, leaving thick patches of foam along the edges and a center covered only by skim.

Smell: The first whiff is festive and arboreal, and I cannot shake the suspicion that this is very familiar. Spicy red cinnamon, peppermint, nutmeg, ginger, and a little pine. Underneath are scents of caramel, cocoa, and a little dark fruit.

Taste: The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. The spice is most prominent and makes the taste buds stand at attention. It almost masks a pretty robust bitterness, which lingers after the spice fades. There are flavors of red cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, pine, a little peppermint, and perhaps some spruce. Caramel, cocoa, and a little dark fruit slowly emerge, but the spice remains prominent.

Drinkability: Spicy and complex once again, but, like I said, it get the feeling that it is very familiar. I drank a bottle of 2012 Christmas Ale last week. Though that 2012 was not as spicy as 2014, they seem very similar. It is still very tasty, though.

Fun facts about Anchor Christmas Ale 2014:

-Style: It is classified on BA as winter warmer.

-Price: $11.99/sixer at John’s Grocery in Iowa City. Looking at this receipt, which I have kept for about three weeks, I noticed that John’s charged me a 30-cent deposit fee for a single bottle of Great Divide Lasso. That is the second time in a month that’s happened to me. Mmm…

-Alcohol content: Not listed.

-This year’s Christmas Ale is the 40th edition.

-The tree on this year’s bottle label is the Giant Sequoia, the same tree that appeared on the first edition in 1975. Here’s some info from the beer’s webpage:

Our tree for 2014 is the Giant Sequoia. It was hand-drawn by James Stitt—who has been creating Christmas Ale labels for us since 1975—to look as a "Big Tree" planted in 1975 might look today.

"The Big Tree is Nature's forest masterpiece, and…keeps its youth far longer than any of its neighbors. Most silver firs are old in their second or third century, pines in their fourth or fifth, while the Big Tree growing beside them is still in the bloom of its youth, juvenile in every feature at the age of old pines, and cannot be said to attain anything like prime size and beauty before its fifteen hundredth year, or under favorable circumstances become old before its three thousandth."–John Muir

We chose the Giant Sequoia for our fortieth Christmas Ale in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Act. Signed into law by President Lincoln during the Civil War, it granted the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the State of California "for public use, resort, and recreation." The first such land grant in American history, it marked the beginning of the California State Parks.

If you have never seen a Giant Sequoia up-close and in person, you are missing out.

The Quiet Man’s grade: B+.

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