The 40th Anniversary Of Anchor Christmas Ale


Anchor Brewing Company has a colorful history.  Originally opened by German immigrant Gottlieb Brekle during the California Gold Rush, it was purchased in 1896 by Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr. who named it Anchor.  The brewery burned down during the great quake of 1906, just 10 years later, but was rebuilt (in a new location – but still in San Francisco) in 1907.  During the 1950’s Anchor Struggled to hold their own as American beer tastes shifted towards light, mass-produced lagers (Bud, Coors, etc.).  They closed briefly in 1959 but opened again later than year under new ownership, after which the brewery burned down yet again and was rebuilt yet again a few block away.

Lacking interest in his own family’s appliance business, Fritz Maytag purchased the struggling Anchor Brewing in 1965, saving it from closing, and things only got better from there on out.

(Note: Anchor was sold to former Skyy vodka executives Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio in 2010, who plan to expand Anchor’s business while keeping its commitment to artisan brewing.)

Today, Anchor produces a wide variety of beers but their most notable is still the original Anchor Steam.  In 1975, Anchor Brewing first brewed their Anchor Christmas Ale and have done so every year since.  This year marks the 40th Anniversary of Anchor Christmas Ale.

Here is some more information from Anchor Brewing Company:


New recipe, new hand-drawn tree, same intent: joy & celebration of the newness of life


The release of the 2014 Anchor Christmas Ale marks the 40th annual beer in this Anchor tradition, and to this day, the recipe remains a closely guarded secret. Yet, over the years, we’ve received passionate declarations about the ingredients from ginger to spearmint to spruce flavoring, but our favorite claim is that Christmas Ale “captures the Holidays in a pint!”

Christmas Ale is a traditional “Wassail” of medieval England. In the olden days, brewers often used delicious blends of natural spices to give their Christmas ales a distinctive character. Our Christmas Ale is always brewed using malted barley, fresh whole hops and a true “top-fermenting” yeast.  Its deep, rich color derived from a blend of roasted malts, carefully selected to achieve not only the color of this ale, but also to provide much of its distinctive malty flavor.  The whole-cone hops provide a balanced back-end bitterness, as well as a subtle piney hop aroma accompanied by citrus fruit and herbal spices.

Of course, a handcrafted brew deserves a handcrafted label! Artist James Stitt has been creating Christmas Ale labels for us since 1975. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew; thus, a new tree is selected for our Christmas Ale every year.  The Giant Sequoia is depicted this year and it was hand-drawn by the artist to look as a “Big Tree” planted in 1975 might look today.

We chose the Giant Sequoia for our fortieth annual Christmas Ale in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Act. Signed into law by President Lincoln during the Civil War, it granted the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the State of California “for public use, resort, and recreation.” The first such land grant in American history, it marked the beginning of the California State Parks.

Available in 6-packs, magnums and on draught. Use our beer finder to search near you and get yourself in the festive mood with our Christmas Ale Video.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Anchor brewers!

Anchor Christmas Ale was actually the first ‘holiday ale’ I ever had, sometime back in the early 90’s.  I don’t pick up a bottle every year, but I’ll have to definitely grab one of these special 40th Anniversary bottles.  Anchor 2014 Christmas Ale is in stores now.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s