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Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Educational use only; do not reuse.

193 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 193
Hads: 717
Avg: 3.7
pDev: 27.57%
Wants: 16
Gots: 70 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: beertunes on 10-22-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (28) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 193 | Hads: 717
Photo of IPAGeorge
3.71/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a tulip

A. Dark brown with a 2 finger khaki head.

S. Dark fruits fill the nose. Prune, raisin, fig and dark cherry.

T. The taste is very pruney. Dark malt. Finish tastes a little clove. About it.

M. Medium bodied. Kinda bubbly. Finishes clean.

O. A different beer. Fitting for the holidays. Would go good with some almond crescents.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.96/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Review from 1/2013 notes. Poured into a Seattle Beer Week pint glass. Pours a dark mahogany brown with a fine quarter finger of tan head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of sweet bock malt, light pine, cinnamon and nutmeg. Flavor follows, with sweet malt, holiday spicing heavy on cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, thins out out to a lighter, slightly tart and piney character. Lingering flavor of woody pine. Medium bodied with a mild creaminess. This year's version leans more toward piney spicing, but there is a nice background flavor leaning towards gingerbread that balances out the other spicy flavors. Lighter finish than I remember from last year, but as usual, interesting and very winter holiday oriented. A great annual tradition.

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Photo of FLima
3.81/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Aged for a year.
Dark brown ruby color with a thick caramel head with great retention and leaving some laces.
Delicious aroma with notes of prunes, mint leaves, chocolate and caramel malt, molasses, nutmeg and tangerines.
Flavor of chocolate malt, pepper, dark fruits, earth, lemon, herbal and citrus hops and Port Wine. Hints of smoke, ginger, cinnamon, oregano and licorice. Dry aftertaste with medium bitterness.
Light, though smooth body with low carbonation of tiny bubbles.
Original flavor and aroma, this would be a great Winter Warmer if it had more body and higher alcohol content. Damn! Another annual slavering beer.

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Photo of jdb288
3.21/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Draft at Beer Exchange.

Pours muddy brown with minimal head. Aroma is chocolate, burnt hay. Taste is spicy - clove, coriander, grape must. Too spicy for my personal tastes.

The "bouquet" of spices was not my favorite combination and ultimately led to me ditching the bottle altogether. Too much flavor going on for and not enough balance.

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Photo of flyingpig
3.46/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

355ml Bottle from Utobeer, London (£3.50):
Dark brown colour and opaque with a thumb sized, beige brown head on top that holds very well at about the same height.

Sweet malts and caramel with a helping pine as well as some further subtle hops. There is also a warming combination of spices to put you in the Christmas mood. The finish is a very sweet one with some fruits too.

Dark & sweet with plenty of malts and caramel coming through along side more than its fair share of spices. There is a few darker fruits in the mix as well and the hops from the nose make an appearance with maple too.

Spicy & warming, almost boozy feel to this one and the body is medium with carbonation about the same. The finish is again sweet and overall the beer is incredibly smooth on the palate.

Warming and spicy but with plenty of hops coming through as well, although they are quite subtle and not anything in your face. Very sweet and malty with a very smooth mouthfeel, pretty good in the cold weather.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.74/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

As I consider Anchor's "Our Special Ale" the godfather of American Winter Warmers, its the same irrational love and hate I have with this beer as I do that family member that I miss throughout the year, but once they're with me I see all of their warts.

True to form, the ale pours a deep "bark" brown color with tawny and russet brown low-lights about its edges. As the ale builds a tarnish brown but light and fluffy head, it recedes into a dense and fluid blanket within a minute or so. Its lace is scattered and random as artistic patterns emerge on the glass.

Charred toast, campfire wood and dry cocoa pangs on the olfactory senses with a spicy twinge of burnt caramel, molasses and ground coffee. Its earthy scent is tangy with elements of chicory, pine needles, roasted grapes, and pine cones as the first drink draws near.

Its flavor starts of quite robust with the taste of burnt sugars- molasses, toffee and honey leading the way. Its charred edges side with burnt toast, smoldering embers and root-like spices: chicory, fennel, aniseed and licorice all fade into the taste of red grapes, grape skin and grape seed. Couple that with common allspice, nutmeg, snappy ginger and cinnamon, and the ale sings a Christmasy tone. Somewhat tangy in its dry taste, its obvious that its charred astringency is as prevalent in taste as it is in mouthfeel- its tannin-rich character makes it seem like dry, oak-aged merlot in its finish.

With a year on this ale, it seems that the wine-like and spicy elements of the beer are joined with savory, almost-salty flavors that are common in more melanoidin-rich lagers and ales. There's a certain hard-to-describe "meatiness" to the beer that makes it even more memorable.

Its medium-light body, the beer is given a lift with its abundance of carbonation that creamies things up considerably. But once the carbonation wisps away, it leaves behind the spicy tannin from spices and grain char to clean the palate with spices that close powdery and malty-dry.

What's incredibly about the beer is how robust, woody and toasted that the beer starts out, but then how if finishes so dry and drinkable. It almost makes me want to ignore the powerful astringent properties that leave the palate unsettled. Just like that uncle that irritated you all weekend but you'll miss the heck out of him til next year.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.7/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, with a more than obvious vintage date. Code on the back label appears to read PSY. My eighth of these yearly winter releases from Anchor. Expectations are decent based on my experience with the others.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours a dark ruddy caramel colored body; opaque in the glass. One finger of creamy tan head that thins to a ring quickly. Some thin spotty lacing. Looks alright.

S - The spice rack notes seem to take center stage of this years' vintage. Allspice, basil, nutmeg, cloves, & some licorice / anise. Chocolate malt. Cream. Some vanilla. Caramel. Toffee. Wood. And some earthy yeast.

T - Taste follows the nose. Caramel malt. Chocolate malt. Toffee. Cola. Wood. Candied raisins / dates / figs. Some earthy / bubblegum yeast. And lots of herbal spice rack notes - allspice, cloves, licorice, oregano, nutmeg. Sprucey, vinous, dirty, and herbal.

M - Feel is crisp and medium bodied with good carbonation that has held up well.

Overall, not my favorite vintage, but this is undeniably a must have winter beer each and every year. This years' vintage takes the more spice forward approach, which I am less fond of, but I would be very interested to see how this beer holds up in the years to come.

Anchor Brewing Our Special Ale 2012 ---3.5/5

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Photo of Eisen
3.56/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

After one year aging: poured a dark brown/light black with thin white/tan head that faded rather quickly and left some light lacing. Smells of chocolate and spice and everything nice. Tastes like cardamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, a touch of ginger, and some trees with a bit of burnt toast, maybe molasses. Overall, not sure how aging effected the beverage, but it can be aged particularly if stored cold. Tried it side by side with 2013, and thought the 2012 was better. However, regardless of how it is, a must beer to try every winter.

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Photo of chinchill
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge bottle served repeatedly in a .2L Peroni glass.
Pours clear dark brown with a towering, dense tan head. Excellent patterns of sticky lacing are left on the glass.
"Holiday spicing" favors nutmeg, with some cinnamon, with the latter being more obviou in the taste than th nose. Solid malt backbone but not as rich as I would like. As is, the spicing is a tad high. Still, a very drinkable and enjoyable winter holiday ale.

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Photo of Lawl3ss
4.37/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Picked up in late 2013, nonetheless the 2012 vintage.

Chilled stubby into a shaker pint.

Look- big, frothy tan head on the pour. Sticks around forever, minimal lace.

Smell - loads of dusty fig, toasted rye, nutmeg. Very nice. Mild leather, doesn't seem overly oxidized.

Taste- also very nice. Brown bread, light spice, and currant. Something like caraway seeds. Mild spruce. Molasses finish. Lingering nutty-aromatic spices, warm sandalwood, tasty.

Mourhfeel- medium body, medium carbonation. Nice quench, a bit acidic but keeps it feeling clean.

Overall- it's held up quite well. I don't recall it being anything too flashy back in 2012, but today it's well above average for a spiced Christmas or old ale.

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Photo of artoolemomo
3.38/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Pours up two fingers' worth of head which seems, at the moment, to have pretty good retention. The head is a medium beige while the body is chocolate brown with hints of maroon and garnet which appears maroon with hints of dark amber when held up to the light. A bit of lacing with sheeting emerging from the surface.

Nose- Still smells like Christmas. Juniper is the the primary aroma at first but other evergreens take over (pine, cedar, etc.). This is followed by deep red fruits- berries, plums, and cherry. Some raisin to the point of fruitcake from the bottle after the pour. Some medicinal notes from the botanicals that are still fresh and inviting. Light caramel in the background.

Taste- Sweetness from the red fruits begins the flavor profile with woodiness barging in almost immediately afterward. There's a distinct bitterness to it that hints at both oak and coffee. The red fruits seem candied but are quickly canceled out by the wood. As I drink more, the sweetness comes out more and balances out the wood. Some prunes (not really my thing), a little bit of raisin, but mostly prunes. A bit thin (it is almost a year old, though) but still has plenty of presence. It's not an amazing beer by any stretch of the imagination but I am impressed by how well it's held up over the course of a year. Slightly medicinal on the finish. Too much prune flavor for me but it's still an above average beer. Lots of pine and cedar. No real juniper in the flavor profile.

Mouthfeel- Close to medium bodied with loads of carbonation and some syrup to the texture. Maybe a little too much carbonation.

Drinkability- Pretty easygoing. Standard price of Anchor's products. Although, I can't understand why anyone buys magnums of this. To showoff?

Overall- Is it really fair to review a beer that is 11 months old? Given how well it's held up- I would have to say yes. Above average, but short of solid. Definitely worth a try and I will have to try it fresh. Great for someone who likes Christmas anytime of year. (Or someone who really likes prune juice.)

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Photo of elNopalero
4.95/5  rDev +33.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one of my favorites and a real treat every year. This year’s batch is no exception.

The 2012 Our Special Ale pours a deep, intense ruby amber color. Looks amazing—and a surprise from the previous few year’s dark roast color. On the aroma I get some anise, cherry and a black licorice note as well as hints of pine and evergreen. Is it fair to say there’s some juniper tucked away in there? Whatever the case the mix of botanicals plays well on the nose.

The flavor carries more of the same, with everything balanced out by a nice sweetness. There’s hints of rootbeer and licorice root along with the warming spices. I’d consider this to be a sweet red ale with gruit-like spicing. The carbonation keeps this lighter than it at first may seem. Looking forward to seeing this one with some age on it. Utterly delicious, as I expected.

After six months the wintergreen menthol remains. However, the juniper has faded and definitely on the palate the more medicinal notes have come to the fore. A real treat—Christmas in July!

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Photo of wl0307
3.63/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Purchased at a “city’super” supermarket in Taipei City, Taiwan; BB 30/10/2014, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.

A: pours a very dark brown to ebony colour, coming with very light carbonation and a creamy light tan frothy head to last.
S: longan-fruit, thick black sugar, jammy or caramelised chestnut, aromatic powdered herbs (nutmeg, licorice, cinnamon, etc.), black prunes, black dates and light fragrance from dried bamboo leaves are all mixed together; very sweet, syrupy even, although the aroma benefits from more fruity acidity as it warms up. Given a very good swirl, the piney hop fragrance emerges briefly but soon gets suppressed by the other fruity-malty elements. Unbalanced overall, and a tad too sweet for me.
T: the lightly effervescent foretaste is interestingly black prune-dominated laced by a tinge of smokiness as of the shells of dried longan-fruit, followed by lightly chewy root-herbs like nutmeg plus licorice, as well as roast malts, not at all sweet as the nose suggests; the herbal bitter-sweetness and bitter nuttiness linger in the finish, where the bitter hops also makes a belated entry.
M&O: semi-smooth on the palate, lightly-carbonated, medium-bodied, flavoursome, aromatic but not at all heavy. If only the aroma was not overwhelmed by the dark malts and syrupy sweetness, the overall enjoyment of this ale could’ve been fuller. Not bad.

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Photo of chocosushi
3.72/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Tasted w/ Saramisu
Magnum->Watou Chalice
A ~ Brown w/ a cream colored head & light spots of lace.

S ~ Sweet bread..Citrus peel..faintly maple..slightly metallic.

T ~ Candied Orange/Lemon peel, Faint clove-y phenols & a malt backbone very reminiscent of Breckle's SMaSH Brown Ale...Caramelized sugar

M ~ Smoooth feel.

D ~ Even better than when It was first came out at the Holiday season.

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Photo of cyclonece09
3.53/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a 14 oz "pint" glass. Pours a dark brown/black with a small brown head with nice lacing. Smells of chocolate and roasted grain. Tastes of some chocolate but with a little bit of hoppy bite, but it is still a bit bland. Beer is carbonated nicely and it is light/medium bodied. Overall, a slightly above average beer.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.81/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass.

Appearance: Super dark brown, with medium bubbles on the body. Tan head roughly 1/3" with a vigorous pour.

Smell: Light nutty smell, like I'm sniffing almonds and pecans with a mix of sweet hops.

Taste: Honestly I can indulge into how smooth this brew is. Bitter with pieces of spice like a small light dose of nutmeg to it plus a hit of pine.

Mouth: Medium carbonation, not exactly what I expected as far as how sticky I would like.

Overall: After sitting on the shelf for all these months it's an honor and a pleasure to finally have this. All you need is a glass...Salud!

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.13/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours the darkest, warmest amber I've ever seen. The compact thick head is beige and I could put a quarter dollar on it and it wouldm't sink - it looks fantastic. Slow dissipation leaves decent lacings.

S: Roasted sweet malt, very bready. This is very X-masy; cinnamon, cardamum, nutmeg some chocolate, some dark dried fruits as well as rich raspberries.

T: Nice; sour cherries up front along with loads of spices; cardamum and cinnamon. Licorice, chocolate and dark dried fruits along side with rich raspberries. Surprisingly enough, not that sweet.

M: Atftertaste is long and sour as well as bitter. Body is medium while carbonation is low, rather smooth though.

O: Nice Christmasy Winter Warmer; with lots of spices of the season along with nice maltyness.

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Photo of atomicbeer
2.99/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown, a shade darker than cola, with a tan cap that fades rather quickly. Many aromas: christmas pudding (dates, figs, raisins, clove, allspice, cinnamon, mace), licorice, black bread, and hints of pine hops. Taste and mouth are surprisingly thin and cardboardy. Dominant flavor is cocoa powder with bits of watery christmas pudding flavors (with mace leading) trying to poke through. Some molasses and pine/citrus skin on subsequent sips. The mouth is somewhat drying and a bit flat - not much carbonation. Interesting aromas and flavors but the mouth takes away the enjoyment.

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Photo of gillagorilla
3.44/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle into a pint glass

A: Deep red if held up to the light. It has a strong head on the pour that diminishes quite rapidly.

S: Sweet, malty roast with a cherry rye.

T: Kind of like an old ale that seems like a cheap, old stale wine.

M: Crisply smooth with a few bubbles.

O: Not a fan. I couldn't finish it, but it might just not be my style.

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Photo of dheacck11
3.63/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a red muddy brown with dense mocha head, 1/2 finger, fading quickly.

Nose is pungent. Lots of bready, earthy, dense dark fruit. Sour cherry.

Taste is equally powerful. Lots of dark fruit: raisin, plum, cherry. Some subtle hint of spice at the end, but minimal. Mild roasty malt with some earthy components.

Feel is big and thick and full, but a little too sharp in the finish. Leaves a lingering acidity in your mouth.

A really unique beer. Happy I tried it, but will not get again. Just feels like the flavors are way to overdone and don't really marry into a balanced beer.

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Photo of jondeelee
3.98/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Our Special Ale 2012 opens to a spicy, fruity, sweet nose that is instantly reminiscent of fruitcake and mulled wine. Nutmeg, clove, allspice, candied ginger, and pepper are immediately noticeable, as well as slight hints of coriander. The fruits are, on the one hand, dark and complex, with dates, green maraschino cherries, and figs, and on the other, bring nice orange peel, lemon zest, and pink grapefruit overtones. All of these rest atop thick brown breads, vanilla, molasses, wildflower honey, and a lovely Christmas layer of fresh pine needles. Add to this a slightly alcoholic touch, as of mulled wine or white port, and the result is a tantalizing aroma that would make for a world-class candle scent, and in a beer, is exactly the sort of aroma one would want while opening presents. The aromas do seem to be somewhat lighter than those in previous years’ editions, but here that’s a good thing, since at least one of the previous bottles smelled so strongly of pine needles as to be overwhelming.

On the tongue, the beer begins with a spicy kick, the cloves, nutmeg, candied ginger, allspice, and pepper instantly blasting away at the tastebuds, joined by molasses and thick brown breads, as well as deeply roasted pecans and pine needles. The fruits come in a somewhat distant second, the green maraschino cherries and dates primarily, with touches of raisin next, and the orange and lemon zest second. The effect is less fruitcake here than spicecake, and the spices do unfortunately rather overwhelm everything else, and are even more potent in subsequent mouthfuls. The aftertaste is similarly dominated by spice, with remnants of brown breads, molasses, and lemon zest, and lingers on the tongue for a very long time. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium to medium-high, fizzing on the tongue and burning the soft tissues.

Overall, this is good Christmas beer, it’s just unfortunate that the spices were so dominant, as they detracted from what was a very nice fruit and dark bread belly. The beer is by no means unpalatable, but it is strongly spiced enough that it would be difficult to drink too many in a row.

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Photo of JMad
4.51/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a very dark brown with a lofty soapy tan colored head. Man, the smell is amazing, it's like some type of Christmas desert. I could taste mostly cinnamon and raisin with a hint of maple syrup and nutmeg. The taste is almost as good, it's like a gingerbread-sugar cookie with a little spice. Feels medium bodied with low carbonation and a candy like finish. I really enjoyed this beer, honestly, it's one of the best beers I've had in a long time.

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Photo of shand
4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This year's Our Special Ale gives off a huge spruce nose, along with cinnamon, chocolate, and the requisite spice rack. The taste is - go figure, heavy on spices. I could try to pick out all the individual spice notes, but that'd be an exercise in futility. If you've got a favorite winter spice, it's probably in here, hanging out with the vanilla and roast flavors. Mercifully, the spices don't linger too long, leaving a wholly pleasant roasted malt aftertaste with just a touch of cinnamon. Mouthfeel is spot-on, as Anchor tends to be, and the drinkability is great. Just like every year, Our Special Ale is a solid Winter Warmer. It's way past Christmas, but I'm glad I have this for the cold snap tonight.

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Photo of thegodfather1076
4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Really awesome bottle with a short fat appearance in the Anchor style. Front label has a very old school festive feel with an classy graphic of a pine tree also giving its scientific name. States 2012, Merry Christmas Happy New Year, a small description of the beer, ABV info. Also has the Anchor logo. Neck label gives an excellent back story of the beer and how they put a different tree on the bottle every year, also has a drawing of the cone for the particular tree on the bottle. Back label gives web info. Cap is beautiful as well.

Appearance: I poured this from its 12oz bottle into a 16oz English pint. Pours a cola brown with a 2 finger brown foam head of an airy light density. Head retention was 2min 45sec before fading to a frothy coating and thick ring. Good lacing.

Smell/Aroma: Smells of clove and oranges with hints of cinnamon. Scent is fairly sweet with a slight chocolate aroma and herbal notes.

Flavor/Taste: Taste is sweet and herbal with a spicy bite. Hints of vanilla on the start that turns to a roasted flavor and finishes with a herbal tone.

MouthFeel/Drinkability: Medium bodied and smooth with a medium carbonation. Very drinkable.

Overall/Comments: This was my first time having this and I thought it was very very good. Very nice nose and flavor that is very inviting. The flavors in this are a bit different than many other winter warmers that I have tried. Classified as a Winter Warmer at 5.5% ABV. Consumed 2-5-13.

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Photo of Jeffwildcat
3.99/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown. Foam head sticks till the end. Christmas spicy notes like plums and brown sugar. Nutty notes and roasted carmem malts. Nice carbination. Light to.medium body . This one was certainly different compared to the 2011 version. A solid good beer.

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Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 193 ratings.