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)

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BA SCORE
83
good

713 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 713
Reviews: 196
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 14.52%
Wants: 16
Gots: 60 | 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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 713 | Reviews: 196
Reviews by chocosushi:
Photo of chocosushi
3.72/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.48/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nice to have this annual again today.Poured a deep roasted chesnut brown with a tinge of ruby,very little head to speak of.Some graham cracker and ginger notes in the nose along with some woodiness and roast,pretty light.The feel was pretty sharp and fizzy,a little rough in the mouth.Flavors of vanilla and brown sugar mainly with a drying woodiness in the finish.It's not bad but for me a notch down from past OSA's,I will keep buying them every year though.

Photo of MadScientist
3.73/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: A very dark brown with excellent clarity and a deep garnet hue. The persistent, medium-tan head is velvety and rocky at the same time leaving sticky lacing on the glass

S: The aroma is like spiced fruit with a fair amount of spice and pine dominating; a ginger note and cloves being the strongest smells. There is some allspice and a caramel malt a medium level. Some esters of prunes come through.

T: Malty but not sweet with the spice and citrus hops being about on par. The spice has some ginger and clove to it like in the aroma with an allspice flavor coming though towards the end. The balance is somewhat bitter and spicy. The finish is off-dry with a spice aftertaste.

M: A surprisingly medium-light body with moderately-low carbonation. There is a slight astringency from the spice addition but not unpleasant.

O: If you want to enjoy a spiced beer pick up an "Our Special Ale" The spice dominates but toes over power. I look forward to a couple of these every holiday season. Pairs wile with a fruit or pumpkin pie.

Photo of Billolick
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An old friend, alright, a really old friend....12 ounce bottle

Pours dark brown, dark tan head, leaves decent strips and blobs of lacing.

I get some Christmas cookie notes on the nose, and some bread.

More bready malts with some muted spicing. Not much of a finish and kind of light on the interest and intrigue. Decent winter brew, but really nothing special and kind off a disappointment this year

Photo of bsp77
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Ruby black with nice brown head that retains well.

Smell: Uh, smells like a pumpkin beer. Haven't really thought that in previous years. Still that stale Porter smell underneath.

Taste: Stale, dry chocolate Porter upfront, which is overtaken by spices that once again seem very pumpkin like. I am even getting that nutty and sweet mixture I get from pumpkin. Finishes with dry chocolate.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, with a body that is slightly thinner than I would like. But the very dry finish improves the feel a lot.

Overall: Not up to par with recent releases, but still very tasty and easy to drink.

Photo of jondeelee
3.98/5  rDev +9%
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.

Photo of dogfishandi
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle at fridge temp poured into a snifter. bottling code "2OM" translates to Oct. 14, 2012.

pours out nearly black, but is actually a really dark ruby brown color. about one fingers worth of tannish colored head off the pour that eventually settles to a ring and some patchy foam, decent head retention. tiny bits of lace.

not too big of an aroma, but whats there is pretty interesting. a nice cherry aroma seems to be at the forefront with slightly muted holiday spices such as nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon following. pine as well with slight hints of anise.

again, not too big of a taste. i feel like past years were slightly more flavorful. holiday spices all around with sweet toasted malt, a bit of pine and bitterness (hops?), and cherry in the finish.

the mouthfeel may have been the biggest letdown of this years vintage. it seems lighter than i remember and the carbonation is just a touch high. also just a hint of tartness is apparent every other sip.

i remember past years being better, and never seemed to notice cherry flavors in any of them, but some nice flavors come together and make for a drinkable, enjoyable beer that ill continue to buy every year to drink and to keep the vertical going.

Photo of MattyG85
4.3/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams "Perfect Pint" glass. 2012 Bottle.

Appearance: Pours a dark brownish black with a little ruby color. Lots of rising bubbles and a huge five finger light tan head with decent retention. Leaves a lot of creamy lacing around the glass.

Smell: A toasty malt driven aroma with a lot of Holiday spicing. Upfront is a big scent of spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. Roasted malts with hints of chocolate, burnt caramel, toffee, nuts, yeast, and a slight hint of coffee. A moderate amount of brown sugar adds to the sweetness. Subtle hints of dark fruit including prune, raisin, and dates. Good presence of earthy hops with hints of pine and grass. Pretty solid aroma.

Taste: Like the smell hints, a nicely roasty and spicy taste with a good dose of earthy piney hops. Lots of spicing with a taste of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Dark roasted malts with notes of burnt caramel, toffee, bitter chocolate, toast, coffee, nuts, and yeast. Light presence of brown sugar. A little bit of subtle dark raisin, prune, and date. Solid hop notes that provide some drying bitterness. Earthy pine and some grass. A good and well balanced taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Very creamy, slick, and smooth.

Overall: Another good version of this Holiday ale. Nice taste of roast, spice, and hops.

Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.47/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A 355ml bottle with a BB of July 2014. Picked up recently from Trembling Madness in York. As always with the Anchor Xmas brew, I love the label art.

Poured into a Duvel tulip. A dark reddish-brown hue with medium carbonation (darker than previous incarnations IIRC). Produces a huge head of creamy beige foam with good retention; this slowly reduces to a surface layer. Aroma of caramel malt with hints of brown sugar, dried fruit, cinnamon, clove, spice, mild pine and stewed hops. Herbal and earthy; the spice is a touch overdone and lends it a bitter background note. But it's certainly seasonal!

Tastes of caramel malt with a distinctly spicy character and a dry, bitter finish. Notes of brown sugar, dried fruit, mild roasted malt, cinnamon, clove, spice, herbs, mild pine and stewed leaves. The spice comes on a bit strong and dominates the flavour, while also giving it a harsh, herbal quality. A dry bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth, tingly and dry, but rather thin and watery. The spices also result in an unusually astringent sensation on the palate. An aftertaste of spice, bitter herbs and caramel malt.

An OK brew but not great, and not as good as in previous years. The spice is just a bit too strong, as if someone went overboard with the exotic ingredients. The aroma is quite nice, but the flavour is unbalanced and has an acrid herbal quality to it. The body also leaves something to be desired - it's too thin for the strength and flavour. I'm glad I tried this but I wouldn't have it again. No need to seek it out.

Photo of Jeffwildcat
3.99/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

Photo of chinchill
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

Photo of ianjsullivan
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

ST: 12oz poured into a pint glass.

A: a Very red brown; the head is slightly brown. The head sits on top like a marshmallow.

S: Sweet malt, caramel, fruit cake, dark fruit. It is a bit subdued.

T: Lots of sweet malt and spices upfront, and a lot of a dark fruit, bread, wood, and a hint of coco in the finish.

M: Medium

O: I love the finish: wood, chocolate nubs, and a bit of bitter coffee bean. Overall it is another solid winter beer. It seems to have a lot more of a cake taste in the finish than the year before.

Photo of Brenden
3.61/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The looks is thick, about a medium-fairly dark brown with a bit of a red hue and barely opaque if even that. The head is as thick as the body and heavy, rising higher than two fingers and showing good, if not very good, retention. It leaves some excellent lacing as it drops, even after fading to a fairly thick foam.
This beer offers a bit of caramel and toffee, but almost with less sweetness, as though the elements of the flavors are there but most of the sugars have been cooked out. it's still got a touch of sweetness, though. In equal effect are also less sweet, kitchen-type spices (nutmeg comes to mind, and a mustiness like certain poultry rubs (it sounds bad, but i don't mean it to). A touch of ginger and some evident clove notes are also present in the spicing. Some piney Northwest hops sit in there, and it's fairly strong, but even stronger is an extremely roasty malt backbone setting it all down. Ultimately, I think a touch more sweetness would do it good. As is, it's definitely a solid beer.
The feel is good, thick and creamy with a nice body, weighty enough to carry the load but without being overly heavy. There's also enough crispness to give it some life without being too crisp for a malt-forward beer, and a nice complement to the smoothness. If anything takes away, it's a bit of a sticky/slick mixture flashing in and out, first at the beginning then coming in at the finish.

Photo of CloudStrife
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. 20K on the label of this 2012 batch.

A: Pours a dark brown with a hint of ruby on the sides of the glass. A 1.5 finger lightly tanned head. Leaves some good lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: First time I've actually been reminded of wet dog. Not sure if its the chocolate malts or one of the spices.

T: Licorice and malt seem to dominate this beer. Some dark fruits get through and there is also a hint of hop at the end. Takes a few minutes to get adjusted to.

M: Feels good on the mouth, creamy with just the right carbonation.

Overall an interesting winter blend. Happy I picked up just one but still happy I tried. Give it a go for an interesting take on a winter warmer.

Photo of Ryanm1
4.23/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This might have been my first anchor Christmas on record, dispite hearing how awesome it was in years prior.

I was taken aback when I visited the Anchor Brewery in San Francsico when my tour guide told me each year Anchor Christmas is a different recipe each year along with a different local tree on the bottle each year by the same artist. I knew I had to jump at the chance when I saw this on Tap at the Penn Valley Pub.

This poured crayola black from the tap into a 20oz pint. Not much head aka lacing at all. This was an amazing brew though. Absolutely loved it. Sweet, malty, thick not excessively bitter. Great winter warmer to go along with my Chipoltle chicken cheesesteak. Worth the $6.50.

Photo of biboergosum
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 20oz pint at the Underground in YEGDT.

This beer appears a clear, very dark ruby amber hue, with two fingers of dense foamy chocolate milk head, which leaves some pleasant Swiss cheese walls of lace around the glass as it slowly ebbs away.

It smells very much like those semi-hard caramel toffee candies universally available in convenience and drug stores, with some mild clove and nutmeg spicing, citrus cream, and soft pine resin. The taste is more musty caramel candy, a slight oily nuttiness, muddled nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, tame orange citrus flesh notes, and fresh-hewn pine tree trunk. Maybe that last one is just the tap handle sitting right in front of me, but I did saw off the base of a real fir tree not that long ago.

The carbonation is quite sedate, providing lowkey support, the body a strong medium weight, smooth, a little slick, and a bit creamy. It finishes off-dry, the caramel gaining a bread pudding character, the spices on the wane, and the bitterness of the citrus and pine coalescing into an aura of, well, Christmases past, present, and hopefully future.

A tasty enough offering, once again from Anchor for the holiday season, and of the holiday season. Maybe a tad sweet, but my palate is well-accomodating of that at the present time.

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Appearance - Pours a near black, dark cordovan brown. The head is a ight tan color, about a pinkie width thick, and with sub-par retention. Spotty lacing with fair stick.

Smell - Aroma hits on plenty of holiday notes: gingerbread, clove, cinnamon, molasses, and clove spice.

Taste - Woah, geez! Full on, in your face holiday spice attack. Malt forward gingerbread and molasses character with strong notes of clove, nutmeg, cinnamon. Finishes with an earthy, slightly grassy bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Light and fluffy in the mouth. Tingly carbonation.

Overall - This is a strange one. Somebody got spice rack happy. Unfortunately, it's just too abrasive, too muddled, and the result is a beer that pulls the tongue in too many different directions at once. It's a decent beer, but not one I'd necessarily recommend, nor try again.

Photo of tjsdomer2
3.23/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Appearance: Extremely dark for a winter warmer. Basically a stout with excellent tan/white foam and lacing.

Smell: Sugar plums and nutmeg.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Tastes like coke and coffee. Really flat overall though, which ruins the flavor.

Overall: Very promising, but very disappointing.

Photo of Damian74Shensky
4.35/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Been having it the last 8 years. Bought the big 50 ounce bottle poured into an over size wine glass.Pours chestnut brown with a thick foam. Smell caramel malt. Nutmeg and clove. As it moves through a surprising bitterness emerges and provides balance. Great feel, aroma, great taste. 2010 was my favorite ( my favorite beer ever!) but the 2012 is a fine worthy beer! Definitely try this beer.

Photo of RickS95
4.11/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Extremely dark compared to a lot of the seasonals I've been seeing lately. Brownish, ruby, burgundy color. It's fairly clear, despite the darkness. The head is stellar. As large as you want it to be, looks like the head of A&W Root Beer, kind of IPA like.

Spice fest in the nose. Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg all dazzle. There's some malt in there, but hops take a backseat.

Tastes follows the nose in that spices are front and center with malt , and almost no hop presence.

Feel is a bit lacking compared to the other components because it's got a loose, watery feel. Obviously, it's spicy and the malt gives it some body, but it's just a bit watered down. Spices from beginning to end with a faint bitterness in the swallow.

Overall, another good winter beer from Anchor. Really tastes like the winter.

Photo of JohnFatAss
2.68/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I really enjoyed this last year, but something does not seem right with this year's edition.

I love the bottle and label Anchor uses for this beer.
And it sure looks nice when poured in a glass.

After that, the experience is bit of a let down.

Christmas spices are what dominate the smell. I am guessing cinnamon and nutmeg. I am not very good at identifying the spices used, but the spice presence is strong in the smell.

The taste is malty and of dark fruit like raisins. And like the smell, spices are strongly present but hard to identify. I would say Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and maybe vanilla?

It is not terrible. It is actually an interesting beer to drink, I will give it that much.
All the different spices they throw in just don't work well together. Or maybe it is a little over spiced.
Overall, it is bit of a let down

Photo of hooliganlife
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a seasonal favorite of mine

this years pours the similar cola black with about a half inch of creamy head

bright fresh dark fruit, light faint citrus hops on the nose.

similar bright ripe dark fruit, with an added roasted char. some light spice carries through the finish.

mild to moderate carbonation, smooth feel

good stuff, not my favorite year though

Photo of sammygt
4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

picked up a six pack of this beer and a 1.5L bottle. this review is based on the 12 oz bottles. this beer has a great brown caramel color and produced decent head. it was very aromatic, and was a definite reminder that this is a Christmas beer. I really like Christmas beers and this is one of my favorites (as a series). the 2012 felt a little thin while drinking it, but the flavor, color, and overall drinkability make it a great choice still.

Photo of russpowell
3.64/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Batch 20 K pours chestnut with 4 fingers of caramel colored head. Amazing lacing & head retention

S: Sasparilla & juniper notes

T: Ligt juniper & pine notes, faint figgyness up front, along with slight leafy hopness. Some astringency & juniper as this warms, slight smokey notes that become a bit too much, plus dryness & stale jagermeister lurking in the background. Finishes slightly bitter & leafy wth horehound cough drops & pine needles

MF: Light, medium bodied with slight carbonation, balance is alright, starts to become watery as this warms, bummer

Hits above its abv weight, however, no one of the better versions. Interesting at times, but doesn't quite hold together

Photo of HumulusLupulus
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown liquid topped with frothy topping of head. Nose gives off scents of black licorice along with dashes of assorted spices. The drink is both funky and weird with flavors of different spices, black licorice and green herbs that I don’t particularly care for. However, the dark malt profile of this beer makes up for the dizzying addition of spices and will probably hold up nicely during a year or more of cellaring. Hopefully some of those strong spice flavors will fade out with time and make this a more drinkable beer.

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Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 713 ratings.