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

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. 

Anchor Christmas Ale has brought cheer to San Franciscans each and every holiday season since 1975 when the brewery, which was founded in Russian Hill in 1896, released the first holiday beer 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, which is only available October to January. Fans in San Francisco and around the country patiently await each year’s limited-edition brew, which is released in six packs of 12-ounce bottles, and festive magnums. 

This year’s Christmas Ale features a hand-drawn Eucalyptus, a nod to Mary Ellen Pleasant, the mother of civil rights in California.  

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. 

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

Related Stories