Last year I came across a magnificent beer that evoked the christmas spirit, that made me throw away my grinch hat and buy turkeys for Tiny Tim, that made me thank the warm weathered west coast for brewing a beer that evokes the essence of Christmas. That beer was Anchor Christmas Ale 2010 and I brought that beer to almost every gathering I could think of between December and February. I had the fortune of holding a bottle of 2010 Christmas ale without drinking it until Thanksgiving, when I tapped that bottle and showed my family what a real Christmas ale is.

A week later Anchor Christmas Ale 2011 arrives in my local beer mega mart and  I giggled like a school girl on the court yard trading secrets about Becky and Mike. I purchased a six pack brought it home and popped one open over dinner … Here’s where the party starts …

It pours dark like a stout and has about an inch of head … but that quickly dissipates and leaves you with little time to get that beer head mustache. Smell the beer and you get this malty woodsy smell …

“Once it hits your lips, its go good!” Ok now that we got that out of the way, it tastes like a lumberjack bathed in pine sap spilled pine needles all over him and captured his sweat in a bottle, without the musty I didn’t shower in two weeks smell (Don’t ask me how I would know what that tastes like). This beer smacks your in the face with a carbonated pine malty taste  and there’s really no way to describe it, unless you’ve had pine needle tea then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Its a different taste that evokes Christmas like no other beer does and doesn’t have those typical cinnamon, clove or all spice notes which is a good thing because it allows this beer to stand in a class all its own.

The finish is a slightly bitter pine dry taste and its the only time you taste the alcohol.

Every year is supposed to be brewed different but honestly I think someone cheated this year because this tastes almost exactly like last year. I can say that with confidence because I literally just drank the 2010 version and I can promise you its totally similar. Hell if I had such a quality brew as this I wouldn’t want to change the recipe either, so I’m ok with you guys cheating on this one.

Overall: Exactly like 2010 brew except slightly more pine flavor making this a quality brew but not as good as 2010. Last year was a little more malty which offset the pine taste. Is this a good beer? Yeah. Is it the best one so far? No, that crown still goes to Sly Fox but this is a close second.

Stay thirsty but Stay Different!