Categorized under: Advent

Beer Advent Calendar – Day 19: Our Special Ale presented by Zach Rosen

@PairBeer @AnchorBrewing

To celebrate the Holiday Season, and have teamed up with beer bloggers around the country to host the third annual beer bloggers advent calendar. This is the season of sharing and we intend to share our love of beer with you.  31 Bloggers Bloggingclick here for the running list of beers/bloggers.

Let’s see who is spreading holiday cheer today!

Blogger: Zach Rosen
Blog Name: Pair Beer
Twitter/Facebook/Untappd: @pairbeer
Beer: Our Special Ale
Brewery: Anchor Brewing Co

Beer Details:

  • Style: Winter Warmer
  • ABV: 5.5%
  • ABV: Top Secret

Commercial Description:
Every year since 1975 the brewers of Anchor Steam Beer have brewed a distinctive and unique Christmas Ale, which is available 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 2013 is the California White Fir. It was hand drawn by local artist James Stitt, who has been creating Christmas Ale labels for us since 1975.

Not everyone who came to California in 1849 came in search of gold. A few came in search of trees. English botanist William Lobb was one such plant hunter. As a collector of California’s exotic flora for English nurseries, Lobb (born in East Cornwall in 1809; died in San Francisco in 1864) was responsible for the introduction of fifty-eight species of California plants to English gardens, including Giant Sequoia and California White Fir.

Each year our Christmas Ale gets a unique label and a unique recipe. Although our recipes must remain a secret, many save a few bottles from year to year. Properly refrigerated, the beer remains intriguing and drinkable for years. Different nuances emerge as the flavor mellows slightly, much like the memories of great holiday seasons past. Celebrate the holidays with Anchor Christmas Ale, an Anchor tradition since 1975.

Why I  selected Our Special Ale:
Our Special Ale is the gift you can never unwrap. The recipe is kept secret each year and beerdoes will keep on guessing about its contents but they will never be able to uncover the secrets inside. The mystery associated with this beer makes it one of my favorites. Each time I try it my opinion will change on what it contains, keeping me always guessing and forever interested.

The 2013 Our Special Ale has a burnt umber color with maroon undertones but features less red hues than some of the other vintages. The first thing to hit my nose was a peppery spiciness that seemed to come from dried ginger. Once my palate acclimated to the ginger tones, sweet orange peel and the citric, herbal flavor of coriander became apparent. I gave the glass a good swirl and a subtle minty, spruce-like note showed up. Many of the vintages have had this character in them with the intensity varying from year-to-year. The 2012 Our Special Ale had a dark fruity sweetness, but this year contains a more cocoa malt flavor. After having sit with the brew for a while, more traditional spices began to appear with cinnamon and nutmeg being identifiable.

Our Special Ale ages well and if you stock up on it you will receive a new gift every time you unwrap a bottle.

About Pair Beer:
Zachary Rosen is a beer consultant and writer living in Santa Barbara, CA. Rosen uses his background in chemical engineering and the arts to seek out abstract expressions of beer; pairing it with movies, music, and many other conceptual counterparts. His blog, Pair Beer, is a record of his work and illustrates how beer pairs with life.

For more information, please visit:

About Anchor Brewing Company:
Anchor Brewing Company is considered the first craft brewery and this classic establishment remains one of the most respected in the industry. Founder Fritz Maytag helped pioneer many of the ale styles and ingredients that has made American craft beers world famous. The steadfast anchor logo of this San Francisco brewery can be found around the world and Anchor’s iconic sparkling copper kettles are a shining example of the immaculate perfection that this brewery has become known for.

For more information, please visit:


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