Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale 2016

Anchor Christmas Ale 2016 1
Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale 2016. 6.5% abv. Deep ruby color with a finger of bubbly tan head that gradually falls to a thick sustaining collar. Moderate retention, excellent lace. Nose of anise, allspice, pine, dark fruit, some coriander. 

Front taste of cola, sweet bread, licorice, notes of evergreen on the back end. Aftertaste is dark chocolate, botanicals, caramel, bittersweet herbal hoppy sustain. Medium body. Mouthfeel is warm, bright, carby, rich, slightly creamy.

This is a wonderful winter beer. The spice and pine are expressed throughout the complex profile of rich sweet, malty, and fruity tastes. Flavors of warm spiced bread, bubbly cola, and molasses are among the myriad of tastes that emerge as the temperature rises to room.

Like many craft beer enthusiasts, I eagerly await this annual holiday favorite, one of the first of its kind going back 42 years. I've been enjoying it for 26 of those years, making it a beloved Christmas tradition for me. With its ever-changing secret recipe, each year's release is an entirely new brew, for better or worse. I can say that they've been mostly better - a joy - and this year ranks among the better recipes. 

I look forward setting up a flight of several consecutive aged years for a truly unique journey., something I've done for the past several years. Until then, I will surely be having the 2016 ale again before the season's supply runs out, and I suggest you do likewise. Strongly recommended. 

From the brewery:

"2016 Anchor Christmas Ale. New tree. New recipe. Same traditions. A deliciously smooth winter warmer with notes of seasonal spices and a malty backbone, our 2016 Christmas Ale marks the 42nd annual release of this celebrated Anchor tradition.

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. With a heavily guarded, secret recipe, Christmas Ale is a highly anticipated seasonal delight, complex and full in flavor with a velvety texture and alluring, yet subtle, spiced aroma.

The 2016 Christmas Ale is a deep mahogany brown with a creamy, tan head and boasts aromas of fruitcake, molasses, and fresh cut wood. The beer tastes of a roasted caramel malt, with notes of spiced chocolate and nuts. And it has a rich, smooth, and velvety mouthfeel. Every year the Anchor brewers look forward to formulating a new Christmas Ale recipe and tasting the fruits of their labors. We are always excited to please beer fans with its ever-changing recipe and label. Cheers from the Anchor brewers!"

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