For the 40th year in a row, Anchor Brewing Company is releasing its Christmas Ale.
Modeled after a traditional wassail beer that was first made in medieval England, Christmas Ale is a 5.5 percent ABV beer brewed with natural spices, malted barley and fresh whole hops. Like every previous year, the 2014 incarnation of the San Francisco, Calif.-based brewery’s holiday tradition is a different recipe than previous years. It is expected to be available from early November to mid-January.
“For the past few years we’ve evolved the recipe to perfect a particular style of dark spiced ale and I believe we succeeded,” said Mark Carpenter, Anchor’s brewmaster, in a press release. “So this year we went on a different path, exploring new possibilities and making larger changes. We’re happy with this year’s Christmas Ale and while I don’t yet know where we’ll take it next year, we’ll continue to keep Anchor fans guessing as we do every year.”
Not only is the beer different every year, but the tree depicted on the label has changed as well. The tree drawn for the 2014 Christmas Ale is the giant sequoia that was hand-drawn by James Stitt, who has been creating Christmas Ale labels since 1975. A sequoia was chosen to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Act signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, which granted the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the State of California and was precursor of the California State Parks.
Christmas Ale will be available in 12-ounce six-packs, on draft and in 1.5l bottles across the continental United States and Alaska.