Christmas Ale 2009 has a rich dark malt nose that is lightly resonant with dark fruit and some sort of conifer aromatics. It is a deep rich clear brown with ruby highlights and a creamy tan head. The beer starts sweet with dark fruit flavors running across the palate, moving into an even sweet middle, and finishes clean and almost lager-like with some dark fruit and evergreen tang along with some light pitch-iness. Christmas Ale has a medium body that is rich and dry on the mouth and a bright, tight, and clean carbonation that bites sharply but freshly in the second third of the beer through the finish. As it warms, the dark fruit expands and dominates in the nose, and some low level cola flavors emerge in the middle. While Elli is not a fan, my holidays are not complete without at least a six pack of this every year—it is the only holiday beer I like drinking on a regular basis—not only is it well crafted, it stays away from giving me a big fat mouthful of potpourri. I mean, if I wanted potpourri, I’d eat a Glade air freshener.
From the beer: “This is the thirty-fifth ‘Our Special Ale’ from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it 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.”
From the Anchor website: “The brewers of Anchor Steam Beer are proud to announce the release of our thirty-fith annual Christmas Ale. Every year since 1975 the brewers at Anchor have brewed a distinctive and unique Christmas Ale, which is available from early November to mid-January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year—as is the tree on the label—but the intent with which we offer it 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. Each year our Christmas Ale gets a unique label and a unique recipe for the Ale itself. Although our recipes must remain a secret, many enthusiasts save a few bottles from year to year—stored in a cool dark place—to taste later and compare with other vintages. Properly refrigerated, the beer remains intriguing and drinkable for years, with different nuances slowly emerging as the flavor mellows slightly.”