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
84
good

193 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

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Reviews: 193
Hads: 714
rAvg: 3.71
pDev: 5.39%
Wants: 16
Gots: 63 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 193 | Hads: 714
Photo of popery
3.7/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is one of my favorite winter spiced beers. This year's entry is an interesting take, though not particularly strong compared to recent years, in my opinion. It pours a dark, rich brown color, sort of a reddish wood shade. Outside of direct light, it looks nearly black. Good tan head. The aroma is a pleasant mix of dark malt and restrained spicing. It's woodier than most spiced beers, though it still tends toward the normal nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon range. There's some nice cocoa and caramel flavors. It smells a bit like a spiced Christmas pastry. Taste is similar. It's not too terribly sweet. There's a very light woody sour note. More caramel is noticeable and a bit less spice. It's almost porter-ish. Light band-aid note in the finish. Mouthfeel is good. A bit sticky but pleasantly so. I mostly just wish that the flavors were stronger. I would love to try a bigger version of this beer, particularly if they could brew it without increasing the sweetness too much. (983 characters)

Photo of MDDMD
3.7/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-dark brown with hints of ruby with a half inch tan head and good lacing

S-cinnamon, roasted malt, caramel, ginger

T-roasted malt, dark fruit, ginger, cinnamon, hint of chocolate, bitter finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth

O-a pleasant ale with some nice flavors to enjoy on a winter day (311 characters)

Photo of StoutHunter
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked up a bottle of Anchor's Our Special Ale, a couple weeks ago for $1.99 at The Lager Mill. I wanted to get a few different Christmas beers that I haven't had before and this one caught my eye so I thought I would give it a try, so lets see how it goes. 2012 Vintage. Poured from a shorter brown bottle into a tulip.

A- I like the label on this beer it's pretty simple, but it looks nice and isn't overdone and I like the extra info about the beer. It poured a dark brown color that took on some ruby hues when held to the light with three and a half fingers worth of fluffy dark tan head that died down to a thick ring that stayed till the end and left lots of nice lacing. This was a very good looking beer, the color and head were very nice.

S- The aroma starts off with starts off with loads of spices that are pretty strong and very unique, it's got the typical Winter Warmer spices with nutmeg sticking out, but there's also a heavy ginger aroma and combined with other spices make an almost spiced perfume like aroma that's pretty unique. After that comes some brown sugar and a slight bit of dark fruits followed by the malts which impart a pretty sweet roasted aroma. I liked the aroma of this beer, it's not the best I have ever encountered but it's so unique that I just can't stop smelling it and I think it's good.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma, it starts off with this unique burnt sugar flavor followed by a good amount of roasted malts that had a medium amount of sweetness to it and imparted some roasted and grainy flavors follows by a noticeable molasses flavor. After that comes the spices which mix with the unique burnt sugar flavor to make and even more unique flavor with ginger coming through. On the finish there's a slight earthy hop flavor followed by a slightly lighter amount of medium bitterness and some roasted, slightly charred and spiced flavors in the aftertaste. This beer tasted nice, I didn't love the taste of this beer, but it wasn't bad and it was pretty different.

M- Fairly smooth, creamy, a little sticky, medium bodied with a nice slightly higher amount of medium carbonation. The mouthfeel was nice and it worked well with this beer.

Overall I thought that was a nice beer and a slightly above average Winter Warmer, there's no confusing this beer with any other Winter Warmer the flavor and aroma were very distinctive. This beer didn't have the greatest drinkability, it went down fairly smooth, but the flavor was a little too much for me to want to have another one in a row, one is just enough for me. What I liked the most about this beer was the appearance, it was very good with nice color, great head, and good lacing. What I liked the least about this beer was the drinkability, the mouthfeel should help the drinkability, but the flavor really doesn't make me want to come back for more. I would buy this beer again for Christmas next year but I won't be getting any more of this years batch. I would recommend giving this a try, it a very unique Winter Warmer. All in all i was happy with this beer, I liked how different it was and that it just wasn't a heavily spiced brown ale, it was much more than that. Anchor made a pretty solid beer for this years Our Special Ale, and I am down to see how next years release is. I need to get around to trying more Anchor beers, their a pretty solid brewery. (3,394 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.67/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer is very dark and smooth in appearance, with ruby highlights amidst the dark brown. No head whatsoever on this brew. Aromas of pine tassles, fig and date sweetness, bubblegum, licorice, and oak. Smells aged and rich, with some meaty qualities sprinkled throughout, as well. Flavors are rich, like port wine rich, but with a more earthy and oaky tone. Some charcoal character throughout the roasted flavors, too. Very warm and dark flavors, with the old world fruit blending with molasses to provide a solid backbone to envelope and enrich the green and woodsy spicing. Rich, slightly tangy aftertaste that has a touch of bitterness at the end of it, possibly coffee and dark chocolate. Smooth and full in mouth, with a rich, clean finish. (788 characters)

Photo of smcolw
3.65/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decent head but it leaves a minimum of lace. Deep brown but light does shine through.

Relatively mild aroma for this annual Xmas ale. Some biscuit and pine to the nose.

Darker malts and slightly sweet. Typical evergreen in the background. For the first, I think I detect a bit of hop in the swallow. Rich body with ample carbonation.

Overall, this not as nice as their typical offerings. It seems weaker than past years. (426 characters)

Photo of notchucknorris
3.65/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a deep brown with some ruby tinges. A thin light brown head disappears kind of quickly, leaving a thin ring of head around the rim.

S: Gingerbread, nutmeg, burnt brown sugar, vanilla and some fresh baked bread. Maybe the strongest part of this beer.

T: A quick hit of holiday spice upfront followed by a faint, weak sourness and some light medicinal hop notes. Finish leaves a lingering sour/bitterness. Mouthfeel is definitely on the light side. I think I liked last year's a lot better. (499 characters)

Photo of ONUMello
3.65/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Pours an opaque brown with a lingering 1/2 finger head
T: Warming aromas of toasted malt, brown sugar and spice
T: Matches the nose with brown sugar, malt & a bit of toasted marshmallow towards the finish. A bit sweeter & thinner than I would like
M: Medium-bodied, this feels toasted if that makes sense, which I like, but again a bit thin in texture
O: Tasty but I would prefer a bit more structure (441 characters)

Photo of BeardedBoffin
3.65/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another holiday tradition---Anchor's annual Christmas Ale. This year's version pours the usual deep chestnut brown with a thick pillowy cap of foam which decayed into a pock-marked surface and plenty of lacing. Spices from the aroma open the senses for the caramel malt. Ginger, nutmeg, clove, and perhaps some allspice form the blend. These scrub the palate and leave it open for caramel malt to lay down with a sheet of slightly bitter chocolate. As it moves through a surprising bitterness emerges and provides balance. Plenty drinkable. Middle of the road for this series. (576 characters)

Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.65/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is one of the few beers that I buy every year so I was pretty excited when this was out on the store shelves a few weeks back. Like so many others on here, I was a bit disappointed in this, as it did not seem as full or spicy as others in years past. It was unmemorable and went down easily, and even though I don't regret getting this, it was not as good as other Winter Warmers that I've enjoyed.

The pour to this was darker and less red than I remembered it being in years past, with some head and nearly no lacing to be seen. Just a bit of carbonation too but this still had the feeling of flat root beer. Some booze, caramel, and earthy spice in the nose but all of them fell flat when I tasted this. A molasses-like stickiness was here but not in body as the aftertaste felt like tree roots. Only a hint of raisin and other dark fruits without the accompanying spice and sourness. I actually had to pace myself during my review of this, as it was the fastest that I'd ever downed this beer. That's how weak it was.

Even the alcohol could have been upped by a bit, to compensate for the lack of bite and depth to this. While it's not a drain pour, buying six of these might not be a good idea. I do appreciate the subtle changes in this beer from year to year but this time around, it just didn't click. Maybe the Mayans were right about the end of the World after all... (1,384 characters)

Photo of facundoCNB
3.65/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

bought a comically large bottle. pours a deep reddish black with lots of fluffy off white almost tan head. smells of spruce, nutmeg, ginger, a hint of gin (without the alcohol). the flavor is pretty much a blend of all of these.. which unfortunately do not blend well at all. it is quite a distinguished flavor, but definitely not something i believe i can drink the entire giant bottle of. definitely get a cinnamon taste, along with maybe nutmeg.. ginger is there, as is the spruce, chocolate notes, bitter with a really strange off putting aftertaste. watery porter-like mouthfeel.. medium body on the lighter side, moderate carbonation.

this was really not my type of thing this year. way different than what i remember from last year.. here's hoping for a better one in 2013 (780 characters)

Photo of russpowell
3.64/5  rDev -1.9%
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 (683 characters)

Photo of AgentMunky
3.64/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a brandy snifter. Stamped 2OP.

A: Light head fades quickly atop a dark beer with ruby highlights.

S: Spicy, slightly sweet, and pleasant. This reminds me of Christmas...pine needles, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

T: Not my favourite...it's oddly-flavoured, with a slightly thin-sour taste that is not-quite metallic. The flavour is pervasive but brief, disappearing immediately when I swallow. The aftertaste is more pleasant, with the same herbal-earthy-spiciness noted in the nose.

M: Interesting, the mouthfeel is quite competent, offering a bold presence on the palate, a dry-spiciness that mitigates the lack of carbonation, and a silky texture at times.

O: Not a bad holiday ale, but nothing I'll rush back to. Not recommended; would have another. (785 characters)

Photo of HumulusLupulus
3.63/5  rDev -2.2%
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. (532 characters)

Photo of wl0307
3.63/5  rDev -2.2%
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. (1,397 characters)

Photo of dheacck11
3.63/5  rDev -2.2%
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. (586 characters)

Photo of andys_war_hall
3.62/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Poured a nice dark brown, with a finger head, that had nice retention.

S: Had a slight carameltoffee sent, along with an earthy toasty malt smell.

T: Big cocoa and toffee flavor up front. Right away the chocolate is what I noticed. On the back end I was reminded of raisins and cherries. There was also just a hint of plum.

M: Mouthfeel was just where I thought it should be. It was not overly thick, and not too watery. It went down smoothly, leaving the palate ready for the next sip.

O: Overall, I thought this was a really decent holiday brew. It was exactly what I expected from it and nothing more. I enjoyed this years, and look forward to the next. (709 characters)

Photo of Brenden
3.61/5  rDev -2.7%
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. (1,408 characters)

Photo of rangerred
3.6/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass

An aggressive pour yields a deep clear ruby body with a nearly two finger tan head. Really good head retention and lacing.

The aroma is one of the thinks I love most about this beer. It is a like Christmas in a glass. Lots and lots of spices ranging from orange, to lemon, to pine along with nutmeg and cinnamon. It really is wonderful.

The flavor conveys what is found in the aroma although to a lesser degree. Orange along with liquorice seem to be prominent along with lots of spruce/pine. There are caramel and chocolate undertones. The spice is a little over the top compared to the malt, though, and I feel is is lacking a solid malt backbone. The mouthfeel is quite thin and even a bit chalky.

Overall, I don't feel like this stacks up to previous year. All the right components are there but malty body is seriously lacking. It is just ok. (882 characters)

Photo of Billolick
3.58/5  rDev -3.5%
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 (402 characters)

Photo of dogfishandi
3.58/5  rDev -3.5%
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. (1,226 characters)

Photo of CloudStrife
3.58/5  rDev -3.5%
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. (721 characters)

Photo of hooliganlife
3.58/5  rDev -3.5%
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 (359 characters)

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

A: Pours a nice dark black cherry body with a thick tan head that slowly fades and leaves a nice amount of lacing on the glass.

S: I am getting a nice amount of spice smell, some black licorice, sweet malt and sort of pine type smell.

T: Pretty faint compared to the previous years, but it is still pretty nice. I am picking up some strong malt and some spice and just a nice sweetness.

M: The beer is nice and creamy and leaves a dry feeling in my mouth. It has a full body and a tiny bit of crispness on the back of the throat.

O: This a solid beer and I will be throwing a few in the cellar to continue my Vintage. Not too bad, but not great either. (657 characters)

Photo of avalon07
3.58/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a dark brown color and a somewhat cloudy texture. There was an inch and a half of foamy, off white, fairly long-lasting head. Pretty good lacing.

S: A slightly muted aroma of spices and malt. Decent, but not forward enough.

T: Tasted of malt, something sugary (caramel?), and some spices (cinnamon, e.g.). A decent enough flavor, but not overly spectacular. Like the aroma, the flavor could have used a little push.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a super dry finish. Medium-bodied.

O: Not a bad beer, and drinkable, but a bit on the forgettable side. (605 characters)

Photo of Darkmagus82
3.58/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into pint glass

Appearance – The beer is poured a brown color with reddish hues shinning through. A huge tan head is present upon pouring. It has great retention, eventually fading to give a good level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma is sweet of cherry and some roasted brown bread aromas. Mixed with these aromas are spices of cinnamon and nutmeg with a god dose of pine hop. Rounding it all out is a light nut smell.

Taste –The taste begins with a roasted brown bread and light nut taste with a very small amount of toffee sweetness. A light dark fruit soon replaces the toffee. While the sweet taste changes, overall the sweet remains light throughout the taste. More roast flavors develop at the middle of the taste. These combined with an increasing spicy taste of cinnamon and nutmeg. At the end a good presence of pine and earthy hop come to the tongue. These create a green hop taste to linger on the tongue which mix with the spice and roast flavors to leave a slightly bitter roasted flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body is a on the slightly thicker side with a carbonation level that is on the lower side. They are rather good for the hop, roasted, and spice flavors of the brew and while only at 5.5 % make it more of a sipper then traditional brews of similar strength.

Overall – Not a bad more bitter and roasty winter ale. While I traditionally prefer something with a little more sweetness in a winter warmer, this beer has a nice blend of flavors and feel which are nice for the drier tastes. (1,556 characters)

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