Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

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.
BA SCORE
84
good

193 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 193
Hads: 715
rAvg: 3.71
pDev: 10.51%
Wants: 16
Gots: 66 | 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 (26) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 193 | Hads: 715
Photo of elNopalero
4.95/5  rDev +33.4%
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! (1,048 characters)

Photo of pkalix
4.57/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

from belgium to san francisco . . . .
pours a very dar, slightly able to see thorugh at the edges, mahogany brown with small head on top.
smells AWESOME! malty with some bitter chocolate and hops....
tastes . . . . . almost like a porter (?), no? some dark chocolate, espresso(?), heavy malt, light hop finish.
heavy finish. overall, a nice brew which could have used a higher abv, but i suppose that would have added to the bitterness. never much a fan of anchor brewing (yes, i know they're a fan favorite) but i like this one a lot. i like the heavy, but smooth taste. just wish it were a little higher value abv . . . . . (625 characters)

Photo of JMad
4.51/5  rDev +21.6%
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. (460 characters)

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.5/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle served in a glass beer mug.

L - deep brown with a khaki color head that stayed as a layer leaving trails of lacing behind.

S - sweet dark fruits - fig, date, raisin, plum.

T - a mouthful of delicious spices and fruits, I really enjoy the taste of this beer.

F - medium bodied, nicely carbonated, it goes down smooth and easy.

O - very good example of the style, a seasonal favorite of mine year after year. (423 characters)

Photo of BlackBelt5112203
4.48/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass at cellar temperature.

L – Brown color with a 3-finger frothy tan head. Fantastic retention and lacing. Clear with a good amount of bubbles.

S – Lots of malts with toasted bread, caramel, and nutty aromas along with nutmeg and cinnamon. There’s also a scent of something like evergreen. It must be some piney hops.

T – Starts off sweet with caramel and nutty malts, followed by toasted malts and spicy cinnamon and nutmeg. Bitterness builds toward the finish with piney, resinous hops.

F – Medium-bodied with good carbonation, a sticky sweet mouthfeel, and a sweet, slightly bitter, and slightly dry finish. Toasted and caramel malt flavors linger.

O – I don’t know how the other OSAs have been, so I don’t really have a frame of reference, but I don’t see why this isn’t a plus-4 rating. It has everything I look for in a winter warmer – rich and hearty malts, seasonal spices, and something different to make it stand out. In this case, that something is also very seasonal – piney hops that are reminiscent of evergreen. I think this beer is terrific and I’m looking forward to trying next year’s OSA when it comes around. (1,196 characters)

Photo of champ103
4.45/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is probably my favorite seasonal release. I Always look forward to my first six pack.

A: Pours a beautiful mahogany/ruby red color. A two finger Khaki head forms, and gently recedes. Rings of sticky lace is left behind. A looker.
S: Very reserved in the nose, but I still really enjoy it. Nutmeg with toasted malts. A light buttery aroma, quickly covered up by almonds, warm fresh backed bread. A deceivingly complex aroma emerges.
T: Like the nose, very reserved at first, but much more comes out as I work my way down. Toasted malts, baked bread , nutmeg and an almond nutty flavor. A light sweetness comes out toward the end, then a dry almost bitter coco. It is amazing how much delicate complexities emerge from this.
M/D: A medium body and carbonation. Very soft and velvety. So easy and enjoyable to drink. The bottle is gone in no time, and I am sure the rest of the six pack is not far behind.

Seems like the piney, almost allspice flavor is not there. Which has been a recurring theme. This release is more warm toasted and malty goodness. Again, a seasonal I look forward to every year, and for good reason. No doubt I will be getting more six packs again this year. (1,185 characters)

Photo of chadaris
4.43/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite beers, although this year's in not as good as the 2010. Pours close to black, with a light grey-brown head. Great balance, and not just between malt sweetness and hops, but amongst the malt, hops, and the spices. Mild hop bitterness on the finish combined with some of the spices. As another reviewer noted, would like it to be a bit "bigger", but still an excellent beer and my perennial favorite in this class. (431 characters)

Photo of NuclearDolphin
4.4/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Pint Glass

Appearance - Dark Brown with a Ruby Tinge when held up to light. Head is about 2 fingers in width and there is a decent amount of lacing on the sides.

Smell - Cinnamon, Spices, Licorice, Figs and Malts. Smells reminds me of Snickerdoodle Cookies and Christmas. Very rich and vibrant smell!

Taste - Spruce, Cinnamon, Licorice, Spices and Malts. Aftertaste is surprisingly resiny too. Flavor is quite nice and warms you up very fast.

Mouthfeel - Light Bodied and Mildly carbonated. Very easy to drink as well.

Overall - Flavor is nice and rich & it's easy on the palete. This is probably one of the best Winter Warmers I've had thus far and I would check it out if you still can manage to find it. (726 characters)

Photo of Greywulfken
4.38/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had the 2010 or 2011? but didn't review it. I don't recall it being very much like this, but my memory could be faulty...

2012 bottling:

A: stout porter black body with ahalf-glass of dark tan head that left laces and motes behind

S: dark and roasted malts and espresso, some fennel, some smoke

T: almost like an american black ale - I've never had a "winter warmer" before - I actually didn't even know that was a style - this had a roasted, dry bittersweet character with notes of carob and some deep, dark fruit

M: very medium bodied and moderately carbonated, smooth, crisp, nice dry roast aftertaste; creamy but with some fizz

O: Super beer - a great holiday offering, something I will try every year - but not knowing what a typical winter warmwer is supposed to be like, maybe this interpreatation will leave something to be desired among devotees of the style. I was just delighted with its porter-like presentation and flavor/feel profile. Very drinkable. (970 characters)

Photo of Hibernator
4.38/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Anchor Our Special Ale - 2012
12 oz brown bottle
Freshness date - 2SY
Served in a Smuttynose Big Beer tulip glass

Anchor Our Special Ale is one of the most anticipated winter craft beers for me. I picked up a 6 pack last night, stored a couple for a later date and decided to review one this evening.

Pours a deep chestnut brown with excellent highlights. A fluffy, khaki colored head forms, leaving trails of sticky lacings that decorate the glassware.

The nose is inviting with whiffs of roasted malts, ginger, nutmeg and various spices.

A creamy and chewy malt backbone with distinct flavors of milk chocolate, cinnamon cookies, allspice and fresh pine. A remarkably smooth and complex winter warmer that captures all of the flavors of the season.

This seasonal should never be underestimated, a true legend in the ever growing market of seasonal beers.

Cheers! (872 characters)

Photo of Lawl3ss
4.37/5  rDev +17.8%
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. (714 characters)

Photo of Damian74Shensky
4.35/5  rDev +17.3%
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. (392 characters)

Photo of MattyG85
4.3/5  rDev +15.9%
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. (1,395 characters)

Photo of micromaniac129
4.3/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drink this on Christmas eve, after mass.
Pours a deep brown color with some ruby high lights. A ta;;ish tan head sits on top, dense and mousse like it coats the glass with lacing.

Aroma is piney with cinnamon nutmeg and ginger.
Taste is similar with piney notes. not really all that spice and lingers just below the pine tree.
Malty but not very balanced.
Feels almost thick on the palette and finishes semi dry and semi bitter with a very light amount of cloying,
As with pass years, very good. Ill put the remaing in my cellar for good keeping (546 characters)

Photo of Chris_Cali_2o9
4.3/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Sam Adams cup

A- Deep mahogany body with an 1 1/2" dark khaki head

S- Ginger, nutmeg, juniper berries, nutty malts, citrus hops

T- Follows the nose, spicey nutty malts balanced with citrusy hops that coat the tongue, and leave the sides tingling.

M- Medium bodied, good carbonation

O- Very nice brew and well balanced, never too spicey, sweet, or bitter. They roll in waves, separately. When i think of what a christmass beer should taste like, this is it. (495 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.3/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

come on BA people! this beer is so much better than an 84 overall. way better than last year i think, this pours a rich bred/brown with a small but easily excitable tan head. the nose is very complex, alcohol (5.5% ? no way!), brown sugar, spruce tips, caramel and amber malts, some smoke. is this an old ale? is it a belgian dubbel? i taste the candy sugar first, and some bright yeast. hard to classify this really, as there is an english and distinctly american malt vibe. the smoke is light, but reminds me of the ithaca cold front i had recently. so much going on here. more brown sugar and pine and plum notes as it warms. the feel is also right on, a little fuller in body than i remember last years being, and carbonated delicately, which is just about right. i could do a 6er of this no worries at all. also probably the best anchor beer going, dont know if these ratings will vindicate that or not, but im really enjoying this tonight. just loaded with class, this baby is elegant and proper, while being bold and daring at the same time. thats hard to get in a beer if you think about it, especially one you want to drink until your saturation point. this is phenominal, and i think its grossly underrated on here. this is the winter beer for people who dont normally like winter beers. minimal sweet, almost no spice, maybe just a slight hint of clove, or maybe its just rye malt at the end. really hard to tell. check it out before i buy it all up! (1,461 characters)

Photo of Ryanm1
4.23/5  rDev +14%
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. (702 characters)

Photo of NovoAleMan
4.22/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Good head retention. 2 fingers of foam. Dark, black appearance, stout-like. 4.5/5

Smell: Rich smell, slightly sweet. Hoppy, and another smell I can't quite put my finger on. But I really like it. 5/5.

Taste: Interesting taste. Moderately bitter. Slight mint flavor, noticeable most of all in aftertaste. 3.75/5

Mouthfeel: Sits well in the mouth. A bit bubbly, but goes down smooth. 4/5.

Overall: Solid beer. 4.25/5 (430 characters)

Photo of sammygt
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
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. (446 characters)

Photo of hosehead83
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a "stubby" 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.
Dark brown/black in color, with ruby highlights, and a sturdy, tan head of foam.
Aroma-Spruce, chocolate notes
Taste-Subtle cinnamon and nutmeg,spruce tips, pine needles, chocolate, earthy hop notes. Big character and complexity in an arguably sessionable brew clocking in at a "mere' 5.5ABV. Finishes dry, and upon warming a bit, rather choclatey. A bit of a step down from previous years but still one of my Christmas-time favorites, equally at home with a holiday meal or a plate of cookies. (558 characters)

Photo of psuKinger
4.18/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First Christmas beer of the Holiday season, and I start with this season's rendition of Anchor Christmas. Bottle poured into one of my Bruery tulips.

A: Pours a deep deep dark shade of ruby red. At first glance it's very much "black". Only on closer inspection can you see hints of that ruby-red glistening around the edges. A big thick frothy off-white head sits on top. The pour looks the part.

S: Pine. Licorice. Candied Sugar. Dates. This promises to be a spicy concoction.

T: Dry resiny pine with notes of cinnamon and black cherry cordials. The spices tingle and dance on the tongue. A good deal of malt sweetness, but it arrives in reverse order of what I typically expect. Here, the roasted malts make the presence felt late in the experience.

M: A bit thin for my tastes, but good carbonation and a nice creaminess in the mouth keep it from slipping below a 4.

D/O: An enjoyable seasonal offering. The only thing standing between this beer and holiday greatness was that it was just a little bit too light/thin in the body. (1,037 characters)

Photo of Scottyboy
4.18/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A Pours a deep mahogany red w/ one and a half finger tan head. Nice lacing remains 3/4 through the tulip glass then fades to nothing.

S Spicy, nutmeg, allspice and kind of woodyl

T Smoky, spicy, peppery, licorice, malty backbone and a touch of piney hops. Seems appropriately balanced. Wonderful finish and aftertaste. The spice retains its presence far behind the initial swallow.

Mf Bity and thick not too carbonated. Great substance.

O I love this ale thus far - far better than prior years effort.

A- (509 characters)

Photo of beergoot
4.15/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep, dark mahogany red body crowned with a thick, creamy, sticky head; lots of lacing. Rye, cinnamon, molasses, pine, and brown sugar and spices in the nose. Taste is very similar to the aroma with the addition of some ginger. Medium-bodied and smooth.

A very tasty, well-done winter ale. Lots of sensory delights in this one. Nicely balanced with fine complexity. (366 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
4.14/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

(A)- Pours an extremely dark brown color. Some good tan froth and lacing.

(S)- A festive spice of cranberry, juniper and a pinch of what seems like mulberry and nutmeg too. A nice combination.

(T)- Similar to the smell. Amidst a nicely balanced subtle juniper and mulberry-like fruits is a harmonious nutmeg and nutty cocoa-like profile.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Dark fruit and spice is well balanced between the two. Rich but smooth too.

(O)- This might be my favorite vintage I have had so far. Always like to try this each year and am pleasantly surprised how much I liked this one. (647 characters)

Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.13/5  rDev +11.3%
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. (767 characters)

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 193 ratings.