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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.
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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 193 | Hads: 715
Photo of denver10
2.53/5  rDev -31.8%
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. (473 characters)

Photo of palma
2.65/5  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. (341 characters)

Photo of JohnFatAss
2.68/5  rDev -27.8%
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 (843 characters)

Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.76/5  rDev -25.6%
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. (1,071 characters)

Photo of atomicbeer
2.99/5  rDev -19.4%
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. (592 characters)

Photo of bark
3.02/5  rDev -18.6%
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. (926 characters)

Photo of BumpinFuzzys
3.03/5  rDev -18.3%
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 (1,292 characters)

Photo of curasowa
3.06/5  rDev -17.5%
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. (747 characters)

Photo of Jaycase
3.07/5  rDev -17.3%
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. (701 characters)

Photo of Moose90
3.08/5  rDev -17%
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. (673 characters)

Photo of olfolxholme
3.08/5  rDev -17%
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. (1,198 characters)

Photo of Utica_Brew_Review
3.11/5  rDev -16.2%
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. (303 characters)

Photo of BucannonXC5
3.12/5  rDev -15.9%
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. (1,001 characters)

Photo of BeerManDan
3.18/5  rDev -14.3%
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! (366 characters)

Photo of barczar
3.18/5  rDev -14.3%
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. (644 characters)

Photo of beertunes
3.18/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into 10oz goblet. Poured a very dark brown, almost light black, color with less than 1/4 inch of tan head that had low retention and no lacing.

The aroma had a nice little roast scent at the front and just some soft malts in the background. The flavors followed along nicely, the bit of roast lingered at the back, there just a hint of yeast spice and maybe some liquorice?

The body was good, smooth, even and well-rounded, but a bit thinner than I look for in the style. Drinkability was good, the went smooth and easy and I'll be drinking a couple more of these while they're around. Overall, a nice brew, as the OSA generally is. (646 characters)

Photo of TheCondor
3.2/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I picked this brew up at a new liquor store not too far from my house. Relatively impressed. I will review that store later. But for now, I must review this beer, fr I have heard so much and wanted to try it.

Appearance - Pours the color of Coca-Cola, but when the light is put to it it is almost a deep red color. It could be like a black cherry style. No head, no lacing. A little carbonation can be seen at the edges of the glass. About the only thing that saves this is the packaging.

Smell - I did not get quite the nasal cornucopia that it seems some of the other readers did. While I did pick up on hints of dates, dark fruits, and a little pine, that was about it. Nothing special at all.

Taste - The dark fruits are again present, but not towards the end of the drink. A little candy, a little sugar, then the dark fruits (namely black cherries and plums) take over the palate. Not too bad.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, finishes with a dark fruit zip. But kind of watery and thin. It has a little creaminess to it, but I would like to see a little more robust quality.

Overall - Pretty unimpressive, if you ask me. I certainly would not buy it again, and I like winter warmers. Nothing about the brew really caught my attention at all. Had I not drank it 10 minutes ago, I wold have likely forgotten it by tomorrow. Not recommended for the money. (1,351 characters)

Photo of xnicknj
3.2/5  rDev -13.7%
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. (618 characters)

Photo of pchang90
3.2/5  rDev -13.7%
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. (248 characters)

Photo of jdb288
3.21/5  rDev -13.5%
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. (342 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
3.22/5  rDev -13.2%
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+ (2,713 characters)

Photo of tjsdomer2
3.23/5  rDev -12.9%
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. (288 characters)

Photo of mactrail
3.23/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a nice big head in the Saxo tall glass. Sort of a red-brown-golden hue with plenty of lacing. Quite light bodied and sudsy in the mouth. A pleasant pumpkin pie nose.

The spice is assertive but not overwhelming. The usual cloves seem to dominate. It gives a sense of sweetness without much actual sweetness. The malt seems rather thin and the aftertaste a bit harsh with that spice-driven finish. Not much actual hop flavor, but seems quite bitter in the aftertaste along with a dirty note with a hint of butter. I liked these Christmas beer a lot in decades long gone by, but not much in recent years.

It's interesting that Anchor has stayed with the modest alcohol content over the years when we get used to such high-octance winter brews. It's a nice reminder that less can be plenty.

From the 12 oz bottle bought at Bine & Vine in San Diego. (853 characters)

Photo of brihenry
3.23/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured in tulip. A deep dark brown to dark amber when tilted with a firm off white head that leaves lingering lace. A very faint sweet aroma with a trace of nutmeg. Toast and a cracker-like bread flavor with strong nutmeg spice. There's a slight tart sweetness following the spice, and some mild pine hop character. The body is a bit thin, there's not much a malt base to it, fairly dry at the end, with tight, but not much, carbonation.

Overall the spice and toasty dryness do make it a dark festive beer, great for this dark, wet afternoon. (543 characters)

Photo of tony223366
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Really dark brown, no light shines through this beer at all. It's not quite black, but a very rich brown. The head has a smooth frothiness to it. Tan in color with a dynamic mix of bubble sizes. Lacing is gorgeous and follows the receding head. That being said the retention is very good, but not quite perfect.

S: This smells like... Christmas, just like last years! Not quite as much as last year though. I primarily get nutmeg and some kind of citrus, like orange zest or something. Maybe even a little ginger on the finish? There's a very light amount of burnt sugary malt aroma in there too.

T: Whoa... actually... kind of a let down! The first thing I get tastes off, but that would really surprise me coming from them. There's way more phenols than I would expect from a Christmas beer like this. Maybe a little black licorice mixed with raisins too. There is your nutmeg and ginger though, so that's fitting. That leads to a more standard chocolate malt that turns to a brown sugar grainy flavor. The finish is surprisingly dry like an unsweetened chocolate.

M: Too thin and the carbonation is only ok. There is practically no richness to this beer, which is a huge disappointment.

O: For one of my favorite categories, this is one of my least favorite that I've had in a long time. It seems all over the place without really finding it's own character. It's a bit of the "little bit of this, little bit of that" mentality that keeps it from being cohesive. Certainly not bad, but the big bottle will certainly not make it to the table this year. (1,562 characters)

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