Kegs & Legs Beer of the Week: Christmas Ale by Anchor Brewing (San Francisco)

I love beer. After now having visited over 465 different breweries, it’s fair to say I have sampled a lot of beer (follow me on Untappd). From post-race pints and run club meeting locations, to beer miles and relays, running and the kegged nectar seem to go hand-in-hand in Oregon. Our Kegs and Legs feature is where beer drinking runners like me can go to find some new favorite beverages.

Check out previous posts here!

I don’t know about you, but we are really starting to get in the Christmas mood right about now. With three young kids, it’s unavoidable. From the trees and decorations to holiday treats starting to spring up, it’s really quite a great time of the year. While darker beers aren’t necessarily my first choice, from November through January I generally take a journey to the “dark side” for some seasonal beers that just seem to keep in line with the holidays. Anchor’s Christmas Ale, which has been around sine 1975, is up the task.

Here’s a snippet about Anchor from our previous feature:

Enter Anchor Brewing, a brewery out of California, and one that put San Francisco on the map. You may have seen their stuff in tap houses and bottle shops, and I really like how “old school” the bottles look – simple, yet with a rustic flair and throwback to the times when Anchor was just getting started. In fact, here’s a little bit of the history of Anchor:

The rich history of Anchor Brewing can be traced all the way back to the California gold rush, when German brewer Gottlieb Brekle arrived in San Francisco with his family.

Gottlieb Brekle bought an old beer-and-billiards saloon on Pacific Street near Russian Hill for $3,500, transforming it into the American brewery that, twenty-five years later, would be renamed Anchor. German brewer Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr., bought the old brewery on Pacific (the first of six Anchor locations around the City over the years) and named it Anchor. No one knows why Baruth and Schinkel chose the name Anchor, except, perhaps, for its indirect but powerful allusion to the booming Port of San Francisco.

This beer is an aptly named winter warmer that has a new secret recipe each year. It stays true to the genre but, like the passing seasons, showcases something unique each time. This year, there is a definite cozy taste profile to it – a malty touch that is reminiscent of holiday cheer. I pulled out some chocolate/cocoa notes and even a little pine. Anchor describes it also as having “rich flavors of brûléed sugars, holiday spices and freshly baked banana bread with a velvety finish”.

Another cool theme is that the label is hand drawn every year by long-time Anchor Illustrator Jim Stitt. He has been doing this since the start of the beer and is still going strong. This year, the image is a “brimming Korean Pine Tree for the label. Native to both North and South Korea, the Korean Pine Tree is a symbol of peace and a reminder of the spirit of the season.”  This is a cool touch to a nice holiday beer!

Anchor’s Christmas Ale is only available until January, so I recommend grabbing some ASAP!



About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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