12/22/19: Anchor Brewing's 2019 Christmas Ale

2:20 PM

Each year I look forward to a very specific beer here on the blog. That beer sees an annual release, but the recipe is never the same. I started drinking this stuff with the 2014 offering and now, five iterations of it later, here we are with 2019. I'll not mince words with the intro--it's probably best to get into it. Today's beer is Anchor's 2019 Christmas Ale.


Anchor Brewing's been around forever. While it officially acquired its moniker in 1896, the brewery itself had been producing beer since 1871. Based in San Francisco, CA, Anchor's seen just about everything: fires, earthquakes, Prohibition. Nothing's been able to stop the place from permanently making beer and, if the brewery's "Our History" page is any indication, nothing will for some time.

Christmas Ale's been around for some time, too. Started in 1975, the ale drops every year and the recipe's different for each release. This year's is a 6.9% ABV ale that features Mexican chocolate, spices, roasted malt, and strong piney notes.

Really, the pine's the biggest aroma on the nose. I know there's supposed to be chocolate, caramel, and spices, but the pine shines the brightest here. A second waft nets me some of that chocolate but, again (sorry this is getting repetitious; I just want to drive home how prominent it is in my bottle), the pine is the strongest aroma. Purrl must not be a fan of pine--she gave my bottle two whiffs before focusing her attention elsewhere.


I get the pine in the flavor profile, too, but it's not as strong here. The chocolate and caramel come in quickly--all three flavors combined impart bitter dark chocolate. Those mild Mexican chocolate notes bring a slight bit of spiciness to the ale, imparting something that mingles with the pineyness in an unexpected way. Usually, I can pinpoint what the combination of two disparate notes is, but this is something else. It's a new taste to me, and one that I think more brewers need to explore.

The mouthfeel is nearly what I would've called from a reading of the ale's bouquet and flavor profile. Nearly. Odds are, you have some idea in your head for this. Now, take that only make it slightly creamier. That's what 2019 is.

I've mentioned that I used to snowboard a few times previously on the blog. I've even talked about the central-Ohio ski resort I used to frequent. What I haven't mentioned in how it was devised. See, it was all one hill (a giant hill, though. Almost mountainous), with different trails serving as the place's various slopes. My favorite of these was, when looking from the foot of the hill to its top, to the far right. It was a ways off, distant from the lodge, poorly-lit, and largely unfrequented by the masses.

See, we'd only go to the resort at night (well, usually. There were a handful of occasions when I was there during daylight hours), on Fridays after school had let out for the weekend. That trail was quiet and calm, which was good, because I wasn't super great at the sport, so the less people focused on me, the better off I was. But, those orange-lit winter nights at that far-right trail were peaceful, and exactly what I'm thinking about as I sit here pulling swig after swig from 2019 Christmas Ale.

I have to say, Anchor's 2019 Christmas Ale is my favorite of the series (that I've had). Sure, it's tied with '17 and '18 with a score of a 9.5/10. But still, it's both fantastic and the Anchor Christmas Ale to beat. And, it's one of two beers I've had on the blog this season that are Christmasy. So, that's definitely something, too.

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