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The Story Behind Anchor Brewing Company’s 2022 Christmas Ale Label

Updated: Dec 15, 2022 10:09
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photo by @alexmaksf christmas beer anchor brewing

The iconic Anchor Christmas Ale is back!

The most wonderful time of year has arrived in San Francisco, and with it, the city’s seasonal icons. The tree is shining in Union Square, Tom & Jerry’s house is glowing bright atop Castro Hill, Ghirardelli Square is sparkling, and Anchor Christmas Ale is on shelves (find out how you can tour the brewery and get a magnum of Anchor Christmas Ale right here) .

The annual Anchor Christmas Ale label is a tradition going back to 1975.  Every year has a secret, unique recipe.

Anchor Christmas Ale has brought cheer to San Franciscans each and every holiday season since 1975 when the brewery, which was founded in 1896, released one of the first-holiday beers in America since Prohibition. Every year since, Anchor creates a new, secret recipe with a unique hand-drawn label featuring a symbolic tree.

2022 marks the 48th annual release of this Anchor holiday tradition, a seasonal release available October to January. Fans in San Francisco and around the country patiently await each year’s limited-edition brew, released in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles, and festive magnums.

photo by @alexmaksf christmas beer anchor brewing

The Christmas Ale bottles, magnums and pint glasses are available at Anchor Public Taps.

This year’s Christmas Ale showcases notes of orange, honeysuckle, toasted malts, and eucalyptus. Well-structured with botanicals and pleasantly herbaceous hops, this rye-forward brew finishes with a touch of spice like the warming bitter-sweet notes of Amaro, an Italian herbal liqueur often enjoyed as an after-dinner digestif. The 7.2% ale pairs well with hearty winter fare such as Roasted Achiote Chicken with Mole or a sweet treat like Chocolate Bundt Cake.

Old Bell Home, January 1925. The house dates to about 1870.  The Eucalyptus are on the left! Photo: Jesse Brown Cook collection, online archive of California

The new Christmas Ale label features a hand-drawn Eucalyptus, a nod to Mary Ellen Pleasant, the mother of civil rights in California.

The artist of the 2022 Christmas Ale label is Steven Noble.

Best known as an abolitionist and entrepreneur, Pleasant expanded the Underground Railroad westward during the California Gold Rush. Born into slavery in the early 1800s, she was the first self-made millionaire of African American heritage.

Mary Ellen Pleasant (1815–1904) a civil rights activist and abolitionist

Pleasant arrived in San Francisco in 1852 and quickly built a respected reputation as one of the city’s most shrewd and trusted businesswomen. Pleasant was able to create an empire of boarding houses, restaurants, laundromats, and flour stores. She used her money to support the underground railroad and fund abolitionists.

Shortly before her death, Pleasant planted six Eucalyptus trees outside her mansion. The home no longer exists, but the trees continue to tower above Bush and Octavia Streets in Mary Ellen Pleasant Memorial Park – the smallest park in San Francisco. In 1974 – just one year before the first annual Christmas Ale was released – the city designated the trees as a Structure of Merit.

photo by @alexmaksf christmas beer anchor brewing

Anchor Christmas Ale is available now at grocery and liquor retailers and for delivery via Instacart.

Get an Anchor Christmas Ale Magnum with your Brewery Tour

Weekends in December│Anchor Brewing Company, 1705 Mariposa Street

See the history, taste the beers, smell the hops, and take home a magnum of 2022 Christmas Ale! Tours begin in the festive tasting room with a taste of Steam Beer, the brew that started it all. Anchor’s awesome tour guides will take you through the brewery, its amazing history, so you can drink in the beautiful copper kettle brewhouse. This holiday tour also includes a tasting of 2018, 2019, and 2022 Christmas Ale paired with a seasonal cookie.

Book your tour and tasting here! 

photo by @alexmaksf christmas beer anchor brewing

This article is sponsored by Anchor Brewing,  Stuart’s Christmas sweater, scarf and of course the iconic Christmas Ale Magnum can all be found at

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