Beer of the Weekend #743: Anchor Christmas Ale 2015

Ah, it’s Christmas Eve again. Though my mom and I have postponed the making of our traditional chocolate dessert until tomorrow, the presents have been opened, we watched It’s a Wonderful Life, and I have busted out my Anchor Christmas Ale 2009 glass for the traditional Christmas Eve tasting.

The beer tonight is Anchor Christmas Ale 2015, brewed by the Anchor Brewing Company of San Francisco, California.

Anchor Christmas Ale 2015 pours a very deep brown that is leaning toward black into an Anchor Christmas Ale 2009 pint glass. Two fingers of dense, buttery, tan-colored head dissipates evenly, leaving a bubble-spotted, shiny skim, a ring around the edge, and trails of lacing on the glass. The aroma is very familiar with lots of festive spices. There are scents of cinnamon, ginger, toasted malt, and cocoa. The flavor is like a spicy, festive brown ale. There are flavors of toasted malt, cocoa, cinnamon, ginger, dark fruit, and some peppermint, reminiscent of a candy cane. This is a good and festive beer, but it’s starting to taste the same year after year after year. If it is not much different after next year, I may find another Christmas Eve tasting tradition.

Fun facts about Anchor Christmas Ale 2015:

• Style: Winter warmer.

• Price: $11.99 per six-pack of 12-ounce bottles at the “Drug Town” on First Avenue in Iowa City.

• Alcohol content: 5.5 percent ABV.

• The tree adoring this year’s bottle label is a Deodar Cedar, better known as the “California Christmas Tree.” More from the beer’s webpage:

Native of the Himalayas, it takes its name from the ancient Sanskrit devadaru, meaning timber of the gods. This coniferous evergreen, with its gracefully droopy branches and blue-green needles, has been a San Francisco favorite for over 150 years.

The annual search for the perfect tree for our Christmas Ale label usually takes us far afield. This one began and ended with the search for a parking space near the Brewery! Getting out of the car, we couldn't help but notice the way the late-afternoon sun danced amid the branches of two lovely Deodars just half a block from Anchor's front door.

Our longtime label artist Jim Stitt—who has been drawing trees for us since 1975—loved "our" Deodars and, like us, was amused that they were about as local as local gets! His charming illustration evokes the radiant beauty of our arboreal neighbors as well as the spirit of the season.

• Drinking an Anchor beer means I once again need to decode the bottling code printed on the back label. Ugh! PRINT THE FUCKING DATE, ANCHOR! Anyway, the code printed on the back label of the bottles in this six-pack is “5OE,” which translates to a bottling date of October 5, 2015.

The Quiet Man’s grade: B+.

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