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

Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

650 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 650
Reviews: 194
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 14.29%


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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: beertunes on 10-22-2012)
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Ratings: 650 | Reviews: 194 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of kojevergas
kojevergas

Texas

3.18/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

5.50% ABV. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap (conveniently labelled "use opener" for the thick) acquired at Trader Joe's in Culver City for $1.34 (plus.05 CRV) and served into a .47l New Belgium stemgoblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, California. Consumed on the same night it was acquired. Labelled "20R" on the back label if that means something to anyone. I don't see a best before date; I'll check under the cap.

Served straight from the refrigerator. I'm excited; this is one of my favourite styles. Reviewed live. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Points on presentation for the bottle itself; I've always loved Anchor's bottle design.

Yields a satisfying "ksh" upon opening. No beer upsurging or other issues are noted.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger khaki colour smooth frothy head of good cream, thickness, and retention. Colour is a solid nontransparent opaque black. I wouldn't call it jet black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Lacing is decent but unimpressive. Looks a bit darker than most beers I've had in the style. Head texture is favorable.

Sm: Spice hits me - quite powerfully. I'm not great with spices, but I'd guess nutmeg, cilantro, rosemary, and..I don't know. It's brilliantly spicy though. One of the better Christmasy spice aromas I've experienced. Quite impressive. Biscuit malt aplenty, a bit of a woody tone (yuletide-esque, if you will), and a sort of vegetal plant note. Some bready and vinous notes. Wow, that spice is dominant. A strong, assertive aroma. I dig it.

T: It delivers on its spicy promise, incorporating all of its spices and ending on a raisin-y vinous note. Bready biscuity malt forms the simple foundation. Herbal even almost phenol notes throughout the second act. Some wood/tree character rides under the surface; I cna't quite place it. The vinous note is too powerful and kind of kills the finish for me. The raisin clashes with the spice. Imbalanced. Still, it's interesting. I think it'll grow on me as it warms and I acclimate to the spices. Too medicinal on the climax. Those phenols do punch through after all - and to ill effect.

Mf: Nicely coarse and wet. Even a bit chewy. Good thickness and carbonation. Suits the flavours generally. The finish is nicely chewy and smack-your-lips pleasant.

Dr: An interesting experiment with Christmasy spices, but ultimately a failure. That said, it remains enjoyable. I'm glad I tried it. A good effort from Anchor, and well priced at that. I'd recommend this as a budget beer. $7.99 for a six pack is probably worth it if you're in the mood for this style. It's certainly drinkable; I'll enjoy finishing this glass.

C+

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2012 05:28:27 | More by kojevergas
Photo of barczar
barczar

Kentucky

3.18/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque brown with strong garnet highlights and a solid half inch toffee head that leaves sheets of lacing.

Ginger, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg dominate the initial aroma, giving a cola impression. Smells fairly sweet.

Cola follows in the flavor, with ginger, clove, and cinnamon accompanying caramel malt, leading to a slightly roasted, almost acrid, bitter finish. Dark fruits and pine emerge as it warms.

Body is a touch syrupy, with carbonation on the high side of moderate.

Definitely a spicy winter warmer. The finish cleanses the palate nicely, but the initial flavor is overwhelmingly spicy. It's just not my favorite style.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2012 06:56:57 | More by barczar
Photo of tjsdomer2
tjsdomer2

Illinois

3.18/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2012 22:32:08 | More by tjsdomer2
Photo of pchang90
pchang90

California

3.18/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The color and smell was appealing and the unique juniper aromatics which makes it the perfect winter seasonal beer. Unfortunately, this did not appeal to me, so I did not enjoy it so much. If you don't like potpourri, then you won't like this beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2013 04:55:56 | More by pchang90
Photo of xnicknj
xnicknj

Pennsylvania

3.18/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

on tap at bainbridge barrel house - served in pint

Pours a hazy toasted caramel color with a beige head resting on top. Decent retention, sticky webbed lacing on the glass.

Very spicy in the nose with touches of pine. Gingerbread, caramel, bread crust, toasted grain and a little sweet.

Bready and spicy up front with pine and nutmeg. Cinnamon, gingerbread and caramel sweetness. Light toasted malt body, a little thin with holiday spice in the finish.

Lighter medium body, decent carbonation, chewy and sticky on the tongue. I continue to try this every year, although it's still a fairly average holiday beer.

Serving type: on-tap

01-07-2013 13:12:52 | More by xnicknj
Photo of BeerManDan
BeerManDan

California

3.15/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

In the last four years, this has to be the biggest disappointment for Anchor Steam Christmas Ale. The smell was of spices as usual, but not over powering. When tasted, the flavor was lacking spices that I've come to expect for this ale. Not a lot of flavor, but passable. Just a big disappointment for not exciding or matching the last couple of years! Shame on you!

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2012 22:26:16 | More by BeerManDan
Photo of BucannonXC5
BucannonXC5

California

3.1/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: Regular Firestone pint glass
From: BevMo in La Mesa (San Diego, Calif.)
Price: $9.99 for a 6-pack
Misc.: 38th “Special Ale”; 20H on the back of the bottle, which apparently means it was bottled on Oct. 8, 2012

Poured a brownish black color with about a finger of khaki tan head that dissipated in just under five minutes. About no lacing and no retention.

Smelled grape juice, pine tree, grape bubble gum, juniper berries (thank you recent Sam Adams Norse Legend Sahti!), apple cider, light nutmeg, light cinnamon and some other spices that I couldn’t put my finger on.

Tasted grape soda, grape bubble gum, juniper berries, cough syrup, nutmeg and some cinnamon. Not really what I was expecting coming into this beer.

Medium body. Oily texture. Fizzy (high)-to-lively (above average) carbonation. Abrupt bitter finish.

Pretty disappointed in this beer overall. Was expecting something a bit better. Not looking forward to the other five beers in this 6-pack.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2012 03:44:10 | More by BucannonXC5
Photo of Utica_Brew_Review
Utica_Brew_Review

New York

3.09/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Awesome caramel amber appearance with great head. Sweet earthy pine aroma. Smells almost like a porter / ale. Roasted chocolaty creaminess with a hint of hops. We feel like it's a bit confused. It takes elements of a porter and marries them with a spicy earthy ale. Finishes with a roasted nutty flavor.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2013 09:59:51 | More by Utica_Brew_Review
Photo of Moose90
Moose90

Colorado

3.08/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle into a shaker pint
Bottled - Fresh enough
Tasted 12/24/12

A - This is dark. I don't know what I was expecting, but its darker than I anticipated. Has a nice head that stayed around and left some lacing.

S - Complex, almost too much so. Lots of pine, pepper, cinnamon, and some chocolate malt underneath it all.

T - A lot going on here as well. Good christmas spice and nutmeg, but had a little too much pine and some gingerbread for me.

M - Drinkable, a little thick. Smooth beer, don't detect any alcohol.

O - It was okay, I wouldn't seek out this years batch again. Glad I got to try it though, had been searching for a while. I'm still a fan of Anchor.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2013 20:56:24 | More by Moose90
Photo of olfolxholme
olfolxholme

California

3.08/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

35

12 oz bottle in Delirium Noel tulip snifter

A - Beautiful dark cherry brown that glows when held up to the light. Attractive deep khaki head. Decent lacing. Ok head retention.

S - Smells like candy from the health food store, to me. Licorice is the flavor that comes to mind, but that's not quite it. Some spice. Some yeast esters. Not a particularly strong aroma, and not particularly inviting for me. Maybe even a hint of that band-aid smell mixed in.

T - A rather one dimensional flavor at first, mostly malt. A little bit of spice as the aftertaste settles. Nothing that offensive, except I don't like a lot of graininess in the flavor. Some do.

M - Decent smoothness. Nothing to write home about. No astringency, though.

O - It's fine. I bet it would be great with a hearty meal, especially at the holidays. This beer is different every year, of course, so it's always worth trying. If I see a giant bottle of this on a bottle list in a few years, I will be tempted to see how it has aged and/or how it tastes from the big bottle. If you can find it, you should give it a shot and support Anchor Brewing. But, for me, this wasn't that amazing. Also - drink it on the colder side, IMO.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2013 17:18:48 | More by olfolxholme
Photo of curasowa
curasowa

New York

3.05/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark red color with a huge, tan head that fades slowly with thick chunks of lace.

Aroma: Grainy malt with some nutmeg and molasses and faint hints of grapefruit.

Taste: Starts off pretty thin with some astringent, grainy malt before becoming very festive with lots of spiced notes. The spices carry on right through the finish, where some hints of peppery bitterness show up. The finish is otherwise fast and clean.

The Rest: Quite a difference between this and the '07 I had along side of it. Granted, five years makes a big difference, but the '07 has a much fuller body with less spice. The '12 is pretty bleh and I don't see it getting better with age - the body just isn't there. The '12 to me is just a mediocre winter warmer.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2012 01:21:14 | More by curasowa
Photo of Jaycase
Jaycase

Illinois

3/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

a:dark, dark brown. frothy 2 1/2 finger mocha colored head

s: spices galore (nutmeg, cinnamon, others). caramel & roasted malts

t: starts off with astringent malts and then turns into some peppery spiciness.

m: medium body, slight carbonation. slightly oily.

o: very disappointing. I drank an '11 the other day and while the spices have muted some, the body was so much fuller. The '12 is incredibly thin and the astringency coupled with the thinness is off putting. The spiced aroma is the only saving grace. I cannot recommend the '12 version and am very hesitant about next year's. Will have to taste the '13 first before committing to a sixer. Great Lakes Christmas Ale blows the '12 away imo.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2012 02:51:53 | More by Jaycase
Photo of bark
bark

Sweden

2.95/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

The colour is deep warm brown, the liquid is clear. The pale brown three finger head is compact, it sinks slowly leaving almost no lacing.

The smell is spicy with some clean bitter notes and a powerful sweetness. Cloves. Ginger? Paradise grains? Nutmeg? Lemon peels? Some roasted malts and quite a lot of toffee. Liquid Christmas...

The taste is quite dry and very spicy, not in a harsh way although they got some fat phenolic notes. Some toffee and caramel. The body is light, it doesn’t really measure up with the spices. The aftertaste is dry, almost astringent with Christmas spices, some butterscotch and a touch of alcohol. The finish is astringent, phenolic and not very pleasant.

The carbonation is medium strong, the mid-sized bubbles fresh. The liquid is quite dry.

Too much spices and an overall harsh feel makes this beer very unbalanced. One of the less impressive vintages of Our Special Ale I have had.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2012 20:29:18 | More by bark
Photo of BumpinFuzzys
BumpinFuzzys


2.93/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Let me preface this review by saying that I think Anchor is one of the great breweries of the World. Steam Beer is my go-to beer of choice.

That being said, I think that for 38 years Fritz and company have been putting one over on us. That is, beer snobs have waxed poetically about a product that would be better suited for cleaning hubcaps (I'm speaking of the old school chrome variety)

Since the 70's, I've made my annual Monday-After-Thanksgiving pilgrimage to the brewery to purchase my 24 bottle case of this stuff. My beer-drinking friends and I were always convinced that the brewers threw every last bit of malt and hops they had in their warehouse into the kettle and topped it off with some spices. Quite the joke!

Now, Anchor has new owners. They seem to look at the bottom line a little differently. While the color and aroma are still there, the alcohol content and the aftertaste are less pronounced because of, I suspect, a reduction in ingredients.

Anchor Christmas Ale has always been a rite of passage. I've tried to pass this rite onto my sons. It was never about enjoyment.If you want enjoyment, hunt down some Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. It was more about persevering. Starting that case and finishing it.

So for that "Life's Lesson" , Anchor, I give you a 4.0

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2012 19:13:25 | More by BumpinFuzzys
Photo of atomicbeer
atomicbeer

New Mexico

2.93/5  rDev -19.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2013 23:48:25 | More by atomicbeer
Photo of SaCkErZ9
SaCkErZ9

Florida

2.73/5  rDev -25%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I always enjoy drinking this new beer every year. Each year is different but they are all generally pretty similar. This is my 10th year in this series, so it is somewhat special to me. This one pours beautifully! Chocolate amber in color with a very nice, frothy, rather robust off white colored head. Nice lacing and even better retention.

The aromas was a bit lackluster. There are some seasonal spices but overall, there isnt really anything great. Plus, it smells like things are off just a bit. Kind of metallic, cloves, allspice, caramel and toasted bread.

Not a big fan of the flavor on this one. Quite bitter and astringent. Mouthfeel is a little thin and it finishes dry. I dont remember any of the others tasting this bad. Chalky with raw nutmeg, cinnamon bark, burnt grains. Kind of yeasty too. Its almost like they used cheaper ingredients or something. Something is definitely off and different. This one has to be the least attractive version of this beer I have had. I always cellar these as well, so hopefully it will improve; it cant get much worse.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2012 19:12:21 | More by SaCkErZ9
Photo of JohnFatAss
JohnFatAss

New Jersey

2.6/5  rDev -28.6%
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

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2012 04:38:45 | More by JohnFatAss
Photo of palma
palma

New York

2.6/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Not very good this year. Taste is pine, citrus, twigs, roots and dirt. A poor job trying to make this beer "earthy" in any way. Pricky soapy hops. Juniper flavor only worsens it. Thin. Astringent throughout and gets even more astringent at the end. Some malt complexity saves this beer. If you could look past the astringency, its drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2012 17:43:48 | More by palma
Photo of denver10
denver10

Colorado

2.49/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours brown with an amber hue to it, a dirty white head. Aroma is spicy and bready maybe a touch of some spruce there, but not much. Flavor started off with a wall of spices, it transitioned into a sweet, dark bread middle, and then closed with some of the spruce tips offering some slight bitterness in the finish. A medium body. Overall, not a fan of this one. The spices hit way too hard and I just couldn’t get beyond them even when the flavor transitioned elsewhere.

Serving type: on-tap

01-15-2013 16:48:32 | More by denver10
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Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 650 ratings.