It's time for Anchor Brewing's Christmas ale again, and if you haven't tried this year's recipe yet, what are you waiting for? The recipe of the ale has changed every year since the brewery started making it in 1975, and this year's brew is rich, spicy, reminiscent of pine needles (in a pleasant way), and all in all feels like something one should be drinking in a cabin in the woods, heated by a roaring fire while snow falls all around. Or something. Anyway, these magnums are all around town -- we've seen them at beer stores, Whole Foods, and even at a few bodegas -- and it's on tap at least at Toronado.
When you get it on tap, though, you don't get the benefit of the label -- which is drawn by local artist Jim Stitt, who's drawn nearly every Anchor Brewing label since the 1970s. Just like the ale recipe changes annually, so does the label, which features a new pine tree every year. This year's tree is the Norfolk Island pine, tropical conifers first planted in the state in the 1850s and now can be found in Golden Gate Park.
Anchor made a charming video about Stitt, his philosophy of drawing, and his approach to Anchor's beer labels.
If you're curious about labels past, you can view 'em all on the Anchor website.