Anchor Christmas Ale (2014) aka Our Special Ale
Brewed by: Anchor Brewing
Beer Classification and Specs
- Style: Ale
- Variation: Winter Warmer
- Seasonal: Winter
- ABV: 5.5%
- IBU: N/A
Notes: The ABV varies year to year with each recipe.
Brewer’s Notes and Ingredients
This is the fortieth annual “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, 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.
Hops: Top Secret
Malts: Top Secret
More Anchor Christmas Ale Images
Artwork: A Giant Sequoia tree, hand-drawn by James Stitt.
Color: Chocolate but as the glass was tilted, it took on a beautiful dark red velvety tone.
Aroma: Gingerbread with sweet cloves.
Arrived in: 12oz. Bottle
Served in: Tulip
Now would be as good a time as any to raise our Anchor, and wish a happy 40th anniversary to Anchor Brewing’s Christmas Ale…
“2014 Anchor Christmas Ale. New tree. New recipe. Same traditions.”
As stated in their marketing, the beer recipe and tree artwork on the label are new every year. Anchor Christmas Ale was first brewed in 1975, and artist James Stitt has hand-drawn a unique arboreal creation for the label ever since.
You can learn more about James Stitt, and his long history with Anchor Brewing here.
Anchor never divulges what hops and malts they use to brew Our Special Ale. How Bah Humbug of them. But we can’t say we blame them, really. It’s okay to keep a secret in the name of holiday lore…
As mentioned above, the color of Anchor Christmas Ale was beautiful, and transformed itself with lighting conditions. Straight on, it appeared chocolaty, but as you looked down at an angle through the balloon glass, it took on a reddish hue.
Its thick, tan latte-like head lasted a few minutes, then faded away, with some light lace clusters. From there, pin sized gas bubbles preserved a razor thin layer of foam for the rest of glass.
Our Special Ale was medium bodied — a much lighter consistency than you would expect from its rich, mocha color. The mouthfeel was creamy, with tongue tingling effervescence at the end of each sip.
Anchor Christmas Ale did not taste as sweet as its aroma of gingerbread. It was malty up front, followed by earthiness, with clove and allspice. There was spruce in the finish, that left you with a slight hint of mintiness.
It never truly feels like the holiday season in our house until we drink a “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” The tradition of this beer warms us up inside.
Final Score: 4/5
This 40th anniversary edition of Anchor Christmas Ale was another quality entry to Anchor’s long line of well-crafted holiday ales. Our Special Ale 2014 was one of Anchor’s better blends of spices in recent years.