Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company
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Ratings: 578 | Reviews: 111 | Display Reviews Only:
3.15/5 rDev -14.2%
12 oz. bottle poured into nonic
(oct. 24, 2013 bottling date)
L: dark dark brown with amber highlights ... almost an old-ale purplish thing going, but more amber-red than purple; 1/4- to 1/3-inch head of thick tan foam, holds on for a bit, sticks to the glass nicely; some lacing; hard to tell if beer is clear or not, it's so dark, but it appears it might be 100% clear
S: ginger, nutmeg, bay leaves, salt ... hint of vanilla; sweetness to it
T: quite christmasy with nutmeg, ginger, clove flavors dominating; also has a pumpkin note
F: solid all around; at times i think it's a bit flat
O: the style is not for me ... i love all the spices just fine, but i'll keep them in my hot teas and lattes; the translation just doesn't work
with that said, this brew has a ton of different smell/taste notes, all fitting into that winter warmer category. loads of christmas spice that combines into a medicinal, bland prunes kind of thing for me, but i could see someone who loves old ales loving this brew
12-01-2013 08:19:05 | More by Premo88
3.15/5 rDev -14.2%
Appearance: Dark red color with one finger of tan head that fades to a thin cap with a nice curtain of lace.
Aroma: Sweet dough and holiday spice, mostly nutmeg and clove.
Taste: Roasted malt kicks things off, but the body is fairly thin. The spices show-up in the middle, Ginger builds to be the dominate flavor lingering on in the finish where there is also notes of brown sugar.
The Rest: I tend to be pretty hit or miss on the Anchor Special Ale, and this year is a miss for me. I like more body and sweetness from the malt to help balance out the spice in these beers and this one is lacking in that department.
12-30-2013 01:21:01 | More by curasowa
3.21/5 rDev -12.5%
Big nod to Duff27 for this review (inside joke).
5.5% ABV confirmed per the bottle's label. 12 fl oz snub-top brown glass bottle with standard intricate Anchor label art and iconic red/gold pry-off pressure cap acquired as a single for $1.79 at me local HEB grocery and served into an Avery stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average given the brewery. No indication as to the style is given on the lable. "Brewed with natural flavours & with natural flavors added."
Served cold - straight from me fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.
A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.
Pours a one finger wide head of khaki colour. Nice fluffy consistency. Good creaminess. Nice thickness. Has a soft appealing complexion. Head retention is good - about 4-5 minutes. Nice even consistent lacing coats the sides of the glass as the head recedes.
Body colour is an extremely dark amber, which borders on black. Opaque. No yeast particles are visible.
Overall, I didn't expect it to be quite this dark. I'm not sure what to consider it, but if it really is a winter warmer, it's atypical. Outside of style conventions, it looks pretty good but isn't unique or special. No egregious flaws are immediately obvious.
Sm: Christmasy spices are the first thing I notice: nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and sassafras root. Vanillicin (one of the "natural flavours," perhaps?). Ginger. Dark malts. Chocolate malts. Rootbark. Bananabread. There's some sort of stonefruit buried in there, but I can't quite place it. Maybe plum? It's not a dark fruit, but isn't juicy or citrusy either. As it warms, I pick up some caramel and light toasted character. Maybe some bready malts too. A kiss of anise. Some pine - not necessarily piney hops, but the actual leaves.
Overall, it's quite well balanced, if a biteen medicinal - there is a sort of spearmint toothpaste type note which isn't flattering.
No yeast character, alcohol, or hop character is detectable. A pleasant aroma of mild strength.
T: Vanilla (vanillicin, probably - not vanilla bean) and sassafras feel very artificial here. Plenty of roots and spices: nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, et al. Raisin. Plum. Dark malts and chocolate malts provide the foundation, with a bit of burnt character and bready malts lending it some complexity. Pine. Anise is present and is a bit overdone, but then I'm not a big fan of too much anise in a beer.
Definitely evokes Christmas. The spices are well chosen. Hop character is absent, but maybe there's some generic floral character buried beneath the malty base. In any case, no hop bitterness emerges. All the bitterness the beer has comes from the spices and is more than enough to balance the well-tamed malty sweetness. Sassafras is dominant.
A balanced, assertive flavour profile with an interesting build. Not a winter warmer in a traditional sense, but an interesting holiday brew. It's quite cohesive, but not gestalt. Plenty of complexity here, and some decent subtlety. Limited nuance/intricacy.
Depth of flavour is above average. Flavour duration and intensity are average. I like it.
No yeast character or alcohol comes through.
Mf: Smooth and wet, though the burnt sugars and raw spices do lend it a bit of rough coarseness in the second act and on the finish. Good thickness. A bit overcarbonated, but it's tolerable. Could be softer and creamier. Full-bodied. Not as approachable as I'd expect from Anchor, but interesting. Complements the flavour profile well, but doesn't feel custom-tailored specifically for it. A bit heavy on the palate for the flavour profile.
Not astringent, harsh, oily, gushed, hot, or boozy.
Dr: A drinkable Christmasy spiced ale from Anchor. This is pretty good year for this series based on those I've tried. I'd pick it up again if I was in the mood for a beer that isn't afraid to commit to its spices. It's only personal taste that prevents me from fully enjoying this beer; I just don't like anise that much. This wasn't what I expected, but it's an interesting beer from Anchor and if friends asked, I'd recommend trying it just for the boldness of the spices.
11-20-2013 23:21:37 | More by kojevergas
3.23/5 rDev -12%
Midnight black with thick tan head. Consistent retention throughout.
Holiday spices hit nose, some liquorice and notes of toffee.
Medium body with tastes of roasted malt, coffee. Very milky. Could use some more flavors.
Not too exciting, could be better, but overall okay.
11-07-2013 19:24:54 | More by happy4hoppybeer
Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 578 ratings.