Anchor changes the recipe slightly each year, so trying the new release is always a surprise. It has to be said that some years are better than others, but this is a beer that improves with age and, like Brooklyn Chocolate Stout, beer drinkers will buy a few extra bottles to put away, maybe at some point in the future trying four or five six years-worth of Anchor Christmas together in a vertical tasting.
Two years ago, here at South Lamar, we started a tradition of keeping two kegs of Anchor Christmas back and tapping one of them the following year, so every year now we’ll have not just the current release, but the past two years as well. Maybe, if we find another corner of the building that’s got a little free space, we could build that up to five years!
As well as changing the recipe Anchor also changes the label each year, putting a different species of tree on the front of the bottle with each release. This year’s - Gingko biloba - comes in at number 36.
I don’t know for sure whether Anchor still closes down for a few days and heads off, en masse, to northern California to watch the barley for Anchor Christmas being harvested. The Beer Hunter was filmed two decades ago and it’s hard to imagine that one field of barley could provide enough grain for a brew that has become so popular since then… unless it’s a really, really big field.
So, ladies and gentleman, there we have it. One advent calendar, 24 beers, and most of them available in Texas. Maybe this time next year we’ll have a few more under our belt as breweries beat a path to our door when they realise what a demand for good beer there is here.
Have a safe, prosperous and beer-filled (but not when you’re driving) 2011.
Jim Hughes, Head Beer Nerd, Alamo South Lamar
“If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink… I’d spend it on drink.” ~ Sir Henry Rawlinson