Anchor Christmas Ale is an oddly named beer. I’m really not sure what the ‘technical’ name for it is. I’ve seen it called “Our Special Ale”, and the label has a mouthful of a name printed on it. “Anchor Brewing Company 2010 – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”. I always thought that’s what is was called as I did the last time I tried their Christmas Ale back in 2008.
Getting over the name bit, I think its really cool that Anchor Steam cranks this stuff out year after year. 2010 is, in fact, the 36th year they’ve done it! The other cool think about this Christmas Ale is its really a one-time-only event as they change the recipe each year to keep you on your toes. If you particularly like a batch, you should stash some away for yourself because that’s the last time you’ll be able to buy it!
Another interesting tidbit of information is that the tree on the label is different every year as well. 2010 features a ginkgo baloba tree if you were wondering. So, its traditional but actually quite different each year! If you want to check out the different labels from over the years, this link is where its at!
Looking back to my 2008 review of the beer (linked above) I gave it a very solid 3.5/5 star rating. I do recall that the 2008 was a a little more hoppy than I had liked, and I think that’s why I skipped it for 2009 which doesn’t really make sense because of the reasons I just went though about the beer being different each year.
So, smartening up a bit, this year I grabbed a single of the 2010 Anchor Christmas Ale, and am I ever glad that I did!
This beer poured a very dark brown color, and held up to the light only a wee bit of light passed through. Dark beer. There was a thick, foamy head that formed, and some decent lacing too – this beer ended up being able to lace the glass to the end. Impressive! The aroma is where it gets even more interesting for me.
Spices, of course come to play (this is a Christmas beer!) Nutmeg, some cinnamon, roasty malts and the ever so slight scent of sweet dark fruits. You know, raisin, plum – that sort of thing. To me, it reminded me of one of those dark Belgian Christmas Ales, just not as bold. The beer also smelled very, very fresh to me which is always a good thing.
Taste was very similar and quite enjoyable. Sweet, spicy, roasty – very nice. I’ll suggest that you let this ale warm up a bit too as I found the flavors really came out nicely as it warmed. I was thinking how, altogether this beer didn’t really blow me away, but it was very, very enjoyable. It was a smooth beer, easy to drink, and not that complicated, and I do think they nailed the Christmas beer concept with the 2010 edition. (At least in my mind!)
So, I’m glad I picked up a bottle of the Anchor Christmas Ale for 2010, and I’ll be heading back for some more in the near future. I have a friend who likes good beer, but nothing too challenging. I’m confident she’ll like this one and I think you will too! I’d say its the perfect beer to introduce people who may not be ‘beer pros’ to something different and tasty, while not pushing anything too far.
How about you? Did you like the 2010 Christmas Ale better than other years?