12/17/22: Anchor Brewing's 2022 Christmas Ale

1:03 PM

It's that time again for what's become a yearly tradition here on the blog. See, for the uninitiated, San Francisco, CA's Anchor Brewing does a special beer each year for Christmas. Each annual label bears a different hand-drawn tree each year the beer boasts a new secret recipe. This goes back to the first Anchor Christmas Ale, in 1975.

Since 2015 (when I drank the 2014 Christmas Ale out of season), each new variant of Christmas Ale's been around the blog. Some I liked more than others. Let's see how 2022 stacks up to the rest.

Anchor's been around in some form since 1871, when Gottlieb Berkle bought the brewery that would eventually become Anchor. Since then, the place has weathered the worst: fires, earthquakes, and prohibition. Through it all, Anchor survived.

Christmas Ale '22 (which you can [currently] find part-way down this page) boasts notes of honeysuckle, toasted malts, eucalyptus, and orange.  The label's tree (according to my bottle) is a blue gum tree. Also according to my bottle, this year's ABV is 7.2%. 

Those toasted malts are coming through strong in the ale's nose, presented as notes of chocolate and coffee (these are reminiscent of a porter). There're are also hints of caramel and candied almonds--maybe this is a product of the promised orange and honeysuckle notes combining with the roasted malt? Regardless, it's a delectable bouquet for those of us who aren't felines. Purrl only gave my bottle four quick whiffs, indicating that the beer isn't her thing.

That porter thing from the nose comes through into '22's flavor profile. That chocolate--all rich and real milk chocolate, by the way--is missing here, but the strong coffee is still kicking around and, when coupled with the mildly bitter hops in the ale's finish, you get something that's markedly porterish. I don't really find the orange, eucalyptus, or honeysuckle in any easily-identifiable ways, but I do get some marshmallow in the flavor, and something akin to bubblegum. And the booze? Sure, the ale's only 7.2% but there's a slight alcohol warmth caressing my throat.

'22's mouthfeel's like a blanket. It's robust and warm. It's big. This drinks like something to help you unwind after a hectic day of last-minute Christmas shopping.

And, that's what the beer reminds me of. Don't get me wrong; Christmas shopping isn't an activity that I find inherently enjoyable. I can do without the traffic and crowds, people arguing with underpaid cashiers in an attempt to get the best deal.

But on the rare occasion when I can find exactly what I need to tick of my list, Christmas shopping can be fun. It's the thrill of the hunt and accomplishing the task you've laid out for yourself. This would be a good beer to celebrate that. Or to drink while doing your holiday shopping online, like any normal person in this pandemic-laden world does.

Look, like I said, I've had every single one of Anchor's Christmas ales since the 2014 release. I always make sure to track down at least one bottle of each year's entry, even if it's only for the purpose of discussing it here on the blog. Some of these are misses, sure, but I can confidently say that Anchor's Christmas Ale 2022 is a hit. I'm giving it a 9.5/10. Cheers to you, Anchor, for making such a killer beer for this busy holiday season.

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