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: 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.
View: Beers (26) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 193 | Hads: 714
Photo of chocosushi
3.72/5  rDev +0.3%
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. (394 characters)

Photo of MadScientist
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
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. (1,035 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
5.5% ABV, 2OC punched in back label.

A - Clear and nutty brown pouring, Our Special Ale becomes nearly opaque black in the snifter and is crowned by a tightly packed tan head. The foam seems to disappear rapidly but specks of lace are left around the glass.

S - Each year a new tree is featured on the label of the ever-changing Anchor Our Special Ale and it's a primer for what follows as this winter warmer introduces itself with a pine and bold woodsy aroma. Toast and dry chocolate malt combine for a dusty nose that has nuances of baker's chocolate and spent coffee grounds with a hint of nuttiness. I imagine enjoying this in a log cabin with a wood fire roaring as gentle snow falls.

T - Dry pinecone, moisture-starved firewood, and toasted whole wheat bread encompass much of the beer's flavor with nutty undertones and suggestions of cocoa or mocha on the finish with a subtle nod to pine needle. Hints of dry spice are suggested as well, but certainly no particular flavors come to mind, rather a muddled sprinkle, possibly attributed to the other ingredients' blend.

M - Malt forward, the deprivation of hops doesn't quite mean a lack of balance as this beer is not sweet at all, nor is it bitter. Instead, it's bone dry with a hard water and somewhat gritty feel, further reflecting it's outdoorsy, earthiness.

O - While Anchor's recipe for their annual Our Special Ale changes from year to year, this beer is incredibly reminiscent of how I remember last year's batch being with a big push towards rustic, woodsy notes of, well, wood, pine, and nuttiness. I can imagine a glass of this in my hand on a cold Christmas day, but outside of the immediate holiday time, it's too strange a flavor for me to get into on a regular basis. (1,783 characters)

Photo of acevenom
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a glass mug. Pours dark brown with a thick, light tan head. The beer is transluscent when held up to the light, revealing a nice reddish brown color. There are some tiny bubbles visible in the beer, but not many. The head recedes quickly, leaving some lacing on the side of the glass. There's some faint spice on the nose. I get cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. The malt is also there along with some molasses. The bready malt backbone is there, but the spices from the nose arrive pretty quickly in the taste. There's some roastiness also present from the malt and some molasses type sweetness. The flavors are more on the subtle side. The body is light with moderate carbonation. It's a smooth and drinkable beer. This is a good beer. It doesn't quite measure up to expectations of this style, but it is definitely worth a visit. (842 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
3.74/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

As I consider Anchor's "Our Special Ale" the godfather of American Winter Warmers, its the same irrational love and hate I have with this beer as I do that family member that I miss throughout the year, but once they're with me I see all of their warts.

True to form, the ale pours a deep "bark" brown color with tawny and russet brown low-lights about its edges. As the ale builds a tarnish brown but light and fluffy head, it recedes into a dense and fluid blanket within a minute or so. Its lace is scattered and random as artistic patterns emerge on the glass.

Charred toast, campfire wood and dry cocoa pangs on the olfactory senses with a spicy twinge of burnt caramel, molasses and ground coffee. Its earthy scent is tangy with elements of chicory, pine needles, roasted grapes, and pine cones as the first drink draws near.

Its flavor starts of quite robust with the taste of burnt sugars- molasses, toffee and honey leading the way. Its charred edges side with burnt toast, smoldering embers and root-like spices: chicory, fennel, aniseed and licorice all fade into the taste of red grapes, grape skin and grape seed. Couple that with common allspice, nutmeg, snappy ginger and cinnamon, and the ale sings a Christmasy tone. Somewhat tangy in its dry taste, its obvious that its charred astringency is as prevalent in taste as it is in mouthfeel- its tannin-rich character makes it seem like dry, oak-aged merlot in its finish.

With a year on this ale, it seems that the wine-like and spicy elements of the beer are joined with savory, almost-salty flavors that are common in more melanoidin-rich lagers and ales. There's a certain hard-to-describe "meatiness" to the beer that makes it even more memorable.

Its medium-light body, the beer is given a lift with its abundance of carbonation that creamies things up considerably. But once the carbonation wisps away, it leaves behind the spicy tannin from spices and grain char to clean the palate with spices that close powdery and malty-dry.

What's incredibly about the beer is how robust, woody and toasted that the beer starts out, but then how if finishes so dry and drinkable. It almost makes me want to ignore the powerful astringent properties that leave the palate unsettled. Just like that uncle that irritated you all weekend but you'll miss the heck out of him til next year. (2,351 characters)

Photo of Gmann
3.75/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky dark chocolate brown color with a short yet dense khaki head that settled into a light ring.

The aroma is of a brown bread malt with a caramel and buttery toffee note. Ginger spice with a candied orange scent. A hint of pine to complete the festive aroma. Not super strong.

The taste is pretty big on the spice notes. Ginger and candied fruit, along with the malt, give the beer a fruit cake type flavor. Some juniper and light anise notes give the beer some bitterness. Hint of light roast in the end. Not very hop flavorful, perhaps some pine notes to go along with the juniper flavor.

The feel is moderate to full with surprisingly spritzy carbonation. The carbonation helps break up the body a bit. Good balance between sweet, spice, and bitterness on the palate. Finishes slightly dry, bitter, and a touch sticky.

Another good version of the OSA. Spice dominate which seems to be the trend over the past few years. Nothing says "Christmas Ale" like OSA. (976 characters)

Photo of mdcrouser
3.76/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Love this pour - the head is like the icing on a dark gingerbread house, building like snowfall on the roof. It's just a much darker version, nearly black, with a ginger-brown head, fluffy like a new drift.

If I remember, it's a similar smell to previous years - balanced between bready malts and a spicy, juniper-like hops. Very seasonally influenced, as always. It's relatively muted in this version though.

Like dark juniper-soaked gingerbread in the mouth - imagine that. The vegetation, spice and molasses each seem to come through.

Exceptionally creamy, much like you'd expect from a stout, allowing the carbonation to lay back and the rest of the beer to showcase.

As expected, a good beer. Always a good tradition for the season. (745 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into block 15 snifter.

A: Pours a very deep maroon with a couple fingers of light brown head. Head slowly faded into a faint color leaving spotty lace down the glass.
S: Spruce tips, cinnamon and ginger come to mind with hints of clove, nutmeg, faint citrus, caramel, and dark fruits.
T: Follows the nose with pine, spruce, clove, caramel, ginger, cardamom, cocoa, orange zest, and brown sugar. I get hints of mint and allspice in the finish and ginger and spruce in the aftertaste.
M: Medium-full body, sweet but not cloying, soft and fluffy carbonation. Mouthfeel is sweet, definitely a dessert type beer.
O: Will likely age as well as the others. Flavors are bright and sweet. A little time some of the sweetness should die down. Drinks very good as is though. Cheers. (787 characters)

Photo of AdamBear
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A-very dark brown with a nice thick tan head

S-nutmeg, brown sugar, cinnamon, with an odd scent of curry. very bold and to the point. strong scent.

T-comes in with an okay flavor of slightly soured dark grains and coconut curry and white peppercorn. continues with after-taste mostly of peppery bread. good flavor, though not as strong as the scent.

M-really heavy carbonation with a slightly watery finish. the carbonation alone reminds me of a belgian.

O-this might always be one of my favorite winter warmers. I'm not particularly found of this year's as opposed to other years though. It has a certain spoiled flavor to it that does not belong. it gets stronger as i drink it. starting not to enjoy this actually. (723 characters)

Photo of buschbeer
3.79/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle
Bottled October 11, 2012
Served in a perfect pint glass

A - It is dark brown with dark amber highlights. Two inches of tan head cap it.

S - Clove is the most noticeable aroma. It smells like hard tack candy. I also get nutmeg and cinnamon.

T - The first thing that I notice is some chocolate in the taste. That kind of surprised me. I was expecting a spicy beer. Don't get me wrong. The Christmas spices are present, but I didn't notice them at first because of my surprise. The cocoa taste comes through more as it warms.

M - Moderate with a slight chalky sensation on my tongue.

O - I've enjoyed the last four renditions of this beer. I always think I find some new twist on each year's version, but once I go back and read the previous reviews they are quite similar. (792 characters)

Photo of biboergosum
3.8/5  rDev +2.4%
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. (1,274 characters)

Photo of BigBry
3.81/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I has been hit and miss whether we get the Anchor Christmas beers, luckily both 2011 and 2012 releases have made it here. Bought a 6 pack - a couple for now, a couple for aging and an eventual vertical tasting.
12 oz. bottle.
Deep dark, mahogany brown with lighter tan brown foam. Head of small bubbles, long lasting foam with thin sheet lacing. Smell has lots of spices, some dark fruit with nice roasted malt. Slight touch of hops at the end. Taste has all ther same components (though not as pronounced) as the smell. Dark fruit, almost dried fig or prune. A bit of smoky element as it warms. Earthy, slightly bitter finish and aftertaste. Mouthfeel and body are medium, would not have minded it a bit heavier or thicker. Good level of carbonation, slightly dry finish. Overall a well balanced and flavorful beer, already looking forward to next year's recipe.

Next up is a side by side with 2012 vs 2011. (909 characters)

Photo of FLima
3.81/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Aged for a year.
Dark brown ruby color with a thick caramel head with great retention and leaving some laces.
Delicious aroma with notes of prunes, mint leaves, chocolate and caramel malt, molasses, nutmeg and tangerines.
Flavor of chocolate malt, pepper, dark fruits, earth, lemon, herbal and citrus hops and Port Wine. Hints of smoke, ginger, cinnamon, oregano and licorice. Dry aftertaste with medium bitterness.
Light, though smooth body with low carbonation of tiny bubbles.
Original flavor and aroma, this would be a great Winter Warmer if it had more body and higher alcohol content. Damn! Another annual slavering beer. (628 characters)

Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.81/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass.

Appearance: Super dark brown, with medium bubbles on the body. Tan head roughly 1/3" with a vigorous pour.

Smell: Light nutty smell, like I'm sniffing almonds and pecans with a mix of sweet hops.

Taste: Honestly I can indulge into how smooth this brew is. Bitter with pieces of spice like a small light dose of nutmeg to it plus a hit of pine.

Mouth: Medium carbonation, not exactly what I expected as far as how sticky I would like.

Overall: After sitting on the shelf for all these months it's an honor and a pleasure to finally have this. All you need is a glass...Salud! (608 characters)

Photo of stakem
3.82/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Standard anchor stubby brown bottle into a tulip shaped pint glass. The brew appears a dark mahogany with a tan cap less than a finger strong. A light swirl revives less than a finger that produces some spotty lacing effect on the glass. When held to the light, the brew shows some lighter brown clarity and ruby coloration through the body.

The nose is quite pleasant with a mixture of holiday spicing. A bit of pine, anise and cinnamon work together quite well with a dark sweetness of caramel or toffee maltiness. Some dark fruity alcohol emerges as the brew warms up.

The taste is dark burnt sugary caramel/toffee and molasses. Some cinnamon flavors are quite natural almost like bark mixed with earthy nutmeg. Enough hops are present providing some herbal to pine bitterness backing that gets slightly medicinal at times. But overall it is balanced quite nicely.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. It is quite a nice holiday brew that is not over the top with spicing to really drive home that holiday feel. This is worth trying even if not for the holidays. (1,097 characters)

Photo of chinchill
3.83/5  rDev +3.2%
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. (427 characters)

Photo of RonaldTheriot
3.83/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anchor Christmas Ale (2012) has a very thick, creamy, beige head, a dark, reddish-brown appearance, and lots of thick lacing left down the glass. The aroma is very fruity, spicy, and those the predominate odors. Taste is of fruit (maybe, juniper?), brown bread, a touch of hop bitterness, spice, and sweetness. The mouthfeel is medium and sort of slick, and Anchor Christmas Ale (2012) finishes wet, pleasant, and drinkable. Overall, this is very good.

RJT (457 characters)

Photo of M_C_Hampton
3.83/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

A: poured from a 12 oz bottle into a nonic pint glass, pours a dark red brown almost black with a huge tan head that dissipates slowly leaving good lacing, clear

S: vanilla, pine, mulled wine spices, cinnamon, nutmeg,

T: vanilla, chocolate, raisins, cranberry, cherry, cola, some malt sweetness, a little hop bitterness at the end

M: surprisingly thin feeling

O: this beer has a wonderful smell that screams holiday season, the flavors ate subtle but complex, it feels like drinking a soda much more than a beer though (523 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.83/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark copper with a foamy khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, citrus zest, herbs, and some mild spice aromas. Taste is much the same with a slight medicinal flavor on the finish. There is a mild roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that has a different set of aromas and flavors than other OSA beers from the recent past. (566 characters)

Photo of arizcards
3.83/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a sixer at Total Wine in early November for $11.99.

Beer poured brown with a nice off white head that is leaving lacing behind.

Nose has hints of allspice and nutmeg.

Taste has a molasses malt backbone with nutmeg to lend some bittering and allspice for the Christmas cookie effect.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied and pretty smooth.

Overall this is a pretty decent rendition of this annual treat. Fun to try as always. (438 characters)

Photo of vette2006c5r
3.83/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Our Special Ale pours pours a dark brown color, with a nice size lacing head. There are some nutmeg notes on a malty backbone. The taste has a nice burnt sweet malty backbone, with some cinnamon and nutmeg spices. The taste is slightly watery, but still drinkable. Overall this beer is enjoyable, has a unique taste so worth a try. (331 characters)

Photo of Treyliff
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A- pours a dark cola-like brown with a huge frothy dark tan head with good retention and lacing.

S- sweet toasty malts with some winter spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, old fashioned hard candy, and just a bit of hope, very nice.

T- earthy piney hops with some roasted malt character. Sweet toffee, coffee, nutty, yeasty, dark fruits. Finishes bitter and dry with a roasted linger. Lots of flavors can be picked out of this one.

M- light-med body with medium carbonation and a bit creamy on the finish. Would like a little more body as the finish is a little slick.

O- this one had more complexity in flavor than many of the style, quite unique and enjoyable. (657 characters)

Photo of garuda
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Deep ruby, lighter highlights, tan head has little retention, but laces well.

S/T - Bready malts, creamed coffee, dark fruit, chocolate, finishes with spiciness.

M - Medium body, medium carbonation, smooth consistency, finishes mostly clean.

O - Pretty drinkable, a nice winter warmer. I'd get it again. (310 characters)

Photo of atigerlife
3.86/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown with light brown highlights. Creamy brown head that has good lasting power.

Aroma is of spices, malts. Having a hard time picking up what is going on here.

Taste is malty, hops bitterness that is not overpowering, vanilla, clove, fig newtons.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, cleansing, lively.

Overall, it is quite drinkable but I don't see this as sessionable. A couple is fine. (398 characters)

Photo of BEERMILER12
3.86/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Date code of 2OC, so bottled on October 3, 2012

A: Pours a dark ruby red color with a massive tan head that leaves some nice lacing and retains well

S: Get a bunch of spices along with the typical Anchor yeast. Get some cinnamon and nutmeg, with some other spices. Slightly woody

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with with a nice earthiness and goes into the spices. Finishes with a grainy breadiness and lingering spice notes

M: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation

O: Smells like most of the other years I've had, but the taste is definitely earthier and less spiced. Enjoyable as always. Worthy of a purchase (623 characters)

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