Time was when today, the Monday before Thanksgiving, was the traditional day on which Anchor’s Our Special Ale — a.k.a. their Christmas Ale — was released each year. Every year since 1975 the brewers at Anchor Brewery have brewed a distinctive and unique Christmas Ale, which is now available from early November to mid-January.
From this year’s press release:
This is the forty-first annual Christmas 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.
Our tree for 2015 is the Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara), better known as the California Christmas Tree. Native of the Himalayas, it takes its name from the ancient Sanskrit devadaru, meaning timber of the gods. This coniferous evergreen, with its gracefully droopy branches and blue-green needles, has been a San Francisco favorite for over 150 years.
The annual search for the perfect tree for our Christmas Ale label usually takes us far afield. This one began and ended with the search for a parking space near the Brewery! Getting out of the car, we couldn’t help but notice the way the late-afternoon sun danced amid the branches of two lovely Deodars just half a block from Anchor’s front door.
Our longtime label artist Jim Stitt — who has been drawing trees for us since 1975 — loved “our” Deodars and, like us, was amused that they were about as local as local gets! His charming illustration evokes the radiant beauty of our arboreal neighbors as well as the spirit of the season. Cheers from the Anchor brewers!
Even though for the last several years, Anchor’s Christmas Ale is released in early November, I continue to observe Anchor Christmas Day on the Monday before Thanksgiving. I know I’m a sentimental old fool, but I liked that they used to wait that long to release it, even though I understand why they had to abandon it. But some things are worth waiting for. If you agree with me, please join me in drinking a glass of this year’s seasonal release tonight. Happy Anchor Christmas Day!