Jan 30, 2017

Anchor Brewing 2016 Christmas Ale

Every Winter, I look forward to two annual releases. Sierra Nevada’s fresh hop Celebration is always a nice break from porters and stouts while Anchor Brewing’s Christmas Ale has proven to be an annual tradition. Each year, I purchase a single case of Anchor’s winter warmer, stealing a handful over the course of the Winter before allowing the rest to mellow and rest over the next few years. I’ve been pretty good about not pilfering the cellar and am lucky enough to still have a couple of the 2009 vintage remaining. Each release is different, but still carries the similar theme of seasonally appropriate flavors.

For 2016, Anchor has produced a beer that looks and smells porter-like in nature. It’s a dark beer, nearly opaque in color with a soft, smooth roastiness to accompany an array of spices, cocoa and soft pine notes. The medium bodied beer isn’t as robust as some previous efforts or as dynamic as others, but it does still deliver that seasonal flavor profile that is expected from the Anchor each Winter. The spices aren’t over the top, sitting quite comfortably within the roasty malt backbone, cocoa and soft hoppy bite.

Each annual release of Anchor’s Christmas Ale is different and as such, each vintage has aged differently. Some have done well while others haven’t quite maintained expectations — that’s fairly standard for any beer, really. It just makes it a bit more unpredictable when projecting how the 2016 bottling will turn out one, two or more years down the road. That said, I have high hopes for this one based on what I’ve tasted over the past month or so.