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: 64 | 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 rawfish
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Intense garnet and ruby hue, beautiful as it pours out of the bottle. Nets a tan two finger high head, rocky lacing and average retention. Very inviting.

Roast and toasted bread, rhubarb, figs, cherries perhaps a bit medicinal and dank. I get some Dr. Pepper and Children's Tylenol but not too bad.

Ugh, nice bready and heavy malt but that's all that's pleasant about it. Hits with red spices, artificial cherry, chicory and rhubarb and a very dank medicinal hop character. Ugh, Dr. Pepper and Robitussen, medicine to the max. I know it's flu season but I don't need beer to cure what ails me.

Flat with a medium body, drinks like water but the flavor makes it drink like flat soda. Abv well hidden.

Anchor has disappointed me with this one, medicine in a bottle. My pharmacist would perscribe this one. (808 characters)

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.26/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep amber to black in color with a tan head. In the aroma, light pine, a small roast, and a caramel like presence. In the taste, pine like, roasty caramel, and a touch sticky sweet. A spice like bite and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry caramel and spice like aftertaste. Not as piney as years past, nice roast and average spices. (344 characters)

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.28/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Christ... Warm weather in Boise is making it difficult to wrap my mind around Christmas brews already... Poured into my slim tulip.. good tannish head.. nice lacing... the brew is deeep amber.

Nose is mainly nutmeg... maybe some juniper berry.. ???

Typical year to year malt profile with the abundant spice.. definitely nutmeg this year.. a bit of ginger? ... Asian cinnamon?

Body and carbonation are the same as last year's...

I am mind numbingly tired of trying to figure out the spices from year to year.... Spices do not belong in beer!! IMO ;-)

3.5/3/3.5/3.5/3 (571 characters)

Photo of mscudder
3.33/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a globe.

A - Deep chocolate brown, one may say black hue with a finger of amber-infused ivory head. Lace and retention were good.

S - Sweet Christmas spices, gingerbread and a touch of warmth. Almost smells like a cold Starbucks Gingerbread Latte.

T - Really nothing amazing here. I must say I was really sad when I dove in. Soft spices, cinnamon and a bit of caramel malts. Nothing is bold about this beer, just underwhelming.

M - Medium body with high carbonation to compliment the spices. Finishes quite dry.

O - I absolutely love the past few installments in this series and frankly, this is just a bust. I will not return to this for the remainder of the season. Tis a sad day. (699 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
3.33/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in an imperial pint glass.

Since I was planning to share this on Friendsgiving last night, I went with the magnum. Hell yes, I did. Anyway, this stuff pours a clear ruby-garnet-sienna topped by over a finger of dusty khaki foam. The nose comprises rye bread, brown sugar, light fig, light caramel, light graham cracker, and a kiss of dark fruits. The taste brings in more of the same, though it's mostly just rye bread with a coating of brown sugar and clove, though the fig and other dark fruits come through a bit more powerfully now. Just like most other years, this one just comes across overly spiced, with almost nothing of value beneath. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a limply fluid feel. Overall, a decent little winter warmer, but one that suffers from the same over-spicing that has become a trademark of this annual release. For some reason, it's still nice to try it and drink it every year, but enjoyment is never maximized. (981 characters)

Photo of equinox
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

This has been a personal tradition for me since many years. It is possibly due to my taste becoming more sophisticated, but I have to admit to being a tad disappointed. The mouthfeel was thin. This years version seemed to have little hop-presence. I did not get that Christmas tree pine note that has been present in prior years. It approaches a "sessionable" quality.
I still enjoyed this Ale, and I intend to purchase it again and maintain the tradition. But in the past where I've bought several six-packs, I might just buy one six-pack in the future. My feeling is that Anchor might need to acknowledge that its customers are becoming more sophisticated and "up-their-game" in the future. Perhaps offer an entirely different style as a change of pace; maybe a belgian or IPA. (779 characters)

Photo of artoolemomo
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Pours up two fingers' worth of head which seems, at the moment, to have pretty good retention. The head is a medium beige while the body is chocolate brown with hints of maroon and garnet which appears maroon with hints of dark amber when held up to the light. A bit of lacing with sheeting emerging from the surface.

Nose- Still smells like Christmas. Juniper is the the primary aroma at first but other evergreens take over (pine, cedar, etc.). This is followed by deep red fruits- berries, plums, and cherry. Some raisin to the point of fruitcake from the bottle after the pour. Some medicinal notes from the botanicals that are still fresh and inviting. Light caramel in the background.

Taste- Sweetness from the red fruits begins the flavor profile with woodiness barging in almost immediately afterward. There's a distinct bitterness to it that hints at both oak and coffee. The red fruits seem candied but are quickly canceled out by the wood. As I drink more, the sweetness comes out more and balances out the wood. Some prunes (not really my thing), a little bit of raisin, but mostly prunes. A bit thin (it is almost a year old, though) but still has plenty of presence. It's not an amazing beer by any stretch of the imagination but I am impressed by how well it's held up over the course of a year. Slightly medicinal on the finish. Too much prune flavor for me but it's still an above average beer. Lots of pine and cedar. No real juniper in the flavor profile.

Mouthfeel- Close to medium bodied with loads of carbonation and some syrup to the texture. Maybe a little too much carbonation.

Drinkability- Pretty easygoing. Standard price of Anchor's products. Although, I can't understand why anyone buys magnums of this. To showoff?

Overall- Is it really fair to review a beer that is 11 months old? Given how well it's held up- I would have to say yes. Above average, but short of solid. Definitely worth a try and I will have to try it fresh. Great for someone who likes Christmas anytime of year. (Or someone who really likes prune juice.) (2,077 characters)

Photo of DannyHartman
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

As I pour a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass a nice 1-2" tan head appears atop a dark brown beer that has a beautiful red tint to it under light.... This brew has decent retention with little to OK lacing.

I take a whiff and get toasty malts upfront.... Following that, there's wood (bark), pine, spiciness like that of nutmeg and cinnamon, and a hint of dark cherry.

The taste is also that of mostly toasty malts.... There's a bunch of dark fruit like that of tart cherry, raisin, and plum.... Definitely spicy with some mintiness and a bit of ginger, as well.

I'd say this is a medium-bodied brew with low-to-medium carbonation.... A nice, crisp, easy drink.

Overall, I'd say Anchor did a good job with this seasonal.... Well balanced, easy drinking, and delicious.... It a refreshing holiday brew that represents everything it's supposed to. (847 characters)

Photo of TheMultiYeast
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I always look forward to this release. Dark reddish brown with two fingers of tan head.

Loads of spice notes in aroma, mainly nutmeg. Musty, dusty, dry, sweet smelling.

More nutmeg in taste with malty undertones, figs, light roasted character, plumbs, and distinct bitterness.

Light body on this one..semi dry finish with bitter aftertaste.

Pretty good but not a mind blower. Great session brew for the holidays. (416 characters)

Photo of Goatshaver
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very very dark red color with a nice light-reddish tan hued head to it. I smell dark fruit, slight malt with a little spice note. Taste is great with the dark fruits, ginger and juniper. Easily drinkable and appropriate for the season and a very good well balanced winter seasonal brew. (294 characters)

Photo of teromous
3.39/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown color, very hard to see through. A lush tan head that is thick and stands well. Pretty good lacing, leaving some lines and spots.

S: Huge malty sweetness and some alcohol burn in the nose. A hint of butter in the background. Not extremely complex but I would say it smells alright...pretty average. It smells like it should have a much higher ABV.

T: Lots of caramel flavor. There's some mellow coffee as well. It has a tea quality to it, where it's slightly bitter but like a tea leaf bitterness.

M: It has a pretty full mouthfeel. Sweet but not slick. The caramel and light buttery flavor start to wear on me while I drink it.

O: If you drink enough of this, it will fill you up pretty fast. The beer could really be a meal by itself. It's easy to drink because of its mellow blend of flavors and light bitterness, but I wouldn't be able to drink more than one because of its filling nature and sweetness. I would drink it again but it's not at the top of my to-buy list. Easily forgettable, but not a bad beer at all. (1,038 characters)

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.4/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Appearance - Pours a near black, dark cordovan brown. The head is a ight tan color, about a pinkie width thick, and with sub-par retention. Spotty lacing with fair stick.

Smell - Aroma hits on plenty of holiday notes: gingerbread, clove, cinnamon, molasses, and clove spice.

Taste - Woah, geez! Full on, in your face holiday spice attack. Malt forward gingerbread and molasses character with strong notes of clove, nutmeg, cinnamon. Finishes with an earthy, slightly grassy bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Light and fluffy in the mouth. Tingly carbonation.

Overall - This is a strange one. Somebody got spice rack happy. Unfortunately, it's just too abrasive, too muddled, and the result is a beer that pulls the tongue in too many different directions at once. It's a decent beer, but not one I'd necessarily recommend, nor try again. (832 characters)

Photo of ummswimmin
3.42/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

I poured this bottle into a snifter style glass. I was a little aggressive with my pour, which created over three fingers in my glass. It died down to about a finger and held that may for awhile. The nice result is that I had rings of lacing on my glass (really pretty). The coloring is very dark. I get some red at the edges.

The smell is very different. Off the top I get fruit (not sure what kind), spice, and sweetness akin to brown sugar. It comes together nicely with some pretty good balance.

The flavor is surprisingly thin. I get some woodiness at this point. I'm surprised that the body fell off this much. The flavor really doesn't match the nose.

This was really disappointing for me. I'm going to age a few bottles and see if this improves at all. (765 characters)

Photo of BenjaminBlondbeard
3.43/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Anchor Christmas pours a deep brown with ruby highlights, but the deep red is accentuated when held up to the light, and it is crimson with amber highlights. In the light is is one of the most beautiful colors I have seen in a beer. Atop there is under an inch of light tan foam that doesn't stick around long. There is little lacing, and sparse carbonation that rises slow, but steady.

There is sweet maple syrup, and coffee / toffee malts, with plumb / berry fruit on the nose.

Those flavors come about with the first taste, followed by a resiny hop spice that also imparts subtle bitters. On the back end the fruit rises, but maintains balance with the other lingering flavors. This medium bodied ale leaves a clean finish with brown sugar malt, and slight citrus bitters leftover.

The berry flavors were a bit much for my personal taste, so not my favorite winter warmer this year, but definitely an inventive, and enjoyable ale to have this season. (958 characters)

Photo of bump8628
3.43/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

St. Patrick's Day, what better day to break out a magnum of this? I guess Christmas Day might be better, but whatever. 50 ounce green bottle. Deep brown, thick meringue-like khaki foam - looks great. When fresh this beer had a pronounced spiciness, but with a few months of age things have mellowed considerably into a beer that basically resembles a decent English-style brown. Sourdough base malt with some chicory, toffee, and graham cracker thrown in. Mild earthy hops, bitterness runs about even with the malt. Spices are all but gone - faint juniper, tobacco, and an astringent tea-like flavor are all that remain. Eh, these Anchor Christmas beers never do much for me and a little age doesn't really improve things. A 12oz bottle is normally plenty for me each year, but when the magnums went on clearance I couldn't pass it up, mostly since the bottle will be awesome for homebrew purposes. (898 characters)

Photo of jaasen64
3.43/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into Lawsons glass.

A- Pours a darker brown that appears an opaque pretty much jet black in the glass with a thin beige head that recedes at a decent pace leaving thin layered lacing. About average carbonation of fast rising bubbles.

S- Lots of spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, some malts. About average aroma strength, spices definitely dominate a lot.

T- Follows suit of nose- very spicy. Lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices with a fairly malty backbone. Not much complexity, just lots of spices and malts.

M- Medium bodied, easy drinking, a slight bit watery, lots of carbonation.

O- I wasn't a huge fan of this beer. It was dominated way too much by the spices and very little of anything else. Since this came in a 6-pack I'll put a few of these in the cellar and see how it tastes once the spices mellow out a bit, but I have a feeling it's still not going to be that great. An interesting try, but definitely not something I would stock up on. (974 characters)

Photo of gillagorilla
3.44/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle into a pint glass

A: Deep red if held up to the light. It has a strong head on the pour that diminishes quite rapidly.

S: Sweet, malty roast with a cherry rye.

T: Kind of like an old ale that seems like a cheap, old stale wine.

M: Crisply smooth with a few bubbles.

O: Not a fan. I couldn't finish it, but it might just not be my style. (354 characters)

Photo of ocelot2500
3.45/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cola color with a big, tan head that leaves little bits of lacing.

Smells of spices, brown sugar, and a some herbal notes.

Tastes of a good amount of roasted malts with some spices. Roasted malts lead off with cocoa, brown sugar, and toasted bread. A small amount of dark fruits come in and add a slight sweetness. Spice notes come on the end and add a little clove and cinnamon. Finishes fairly dry.

Mouthfeel is medium-light with an underwhelming amount of carbonation.

Overall, this fits in with the other beers in this series, and isn't anything different from years past. (588 characters)

Photo of matjack85
3.45/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I picked this up at Trader Joe's because they allow you to buy just one bottle at a time there if you want. Come back for more later if you like it. $2.37 for a 12oz squatty brown bottle with no freshness date on it, but these Christmas ales usually hold up for years, so that is no concern. They change the tree on the label and the recipe of the beer each year to keep it interesting. This year's tree is the Norfolk Island pine for those who are curious.

The beer poured a dark burgundy color, almost wine looking except for the 1-finger creamy tan head on top. The head lasted a little over a minute before settling to a thin rim. Not much lacing, but what there was clung nicely to the glass.

Not as spicy smelling as most of the other Christmas ales. What I am getting is some chocolate, vanilla, and caramel aroma, but very faint smelling overall.

I think for the first time in years (or maybe for the first time ever) the brewers at Anchor Steam decided to brew a Christmas ale without any of the traditional Christmas spices. I can't detect any cinnamon or nutmeg this year. Instead, what I get is a bit of chocolate, some toffee sweetness, plums, and a bit of black licorice anise in the finish. It's not bad but it lacks oomph. There's just not a lot of anything that grabs your attention.

Medium body with medium carbonation.

It will be interesting to see if this one improves with age, but as of now I don't find it one of the better Christmas ales.

(1,471 characters)

Photo of flyingpig
3.46/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

355ml Bottle from Utobeer, London (£3.50):
Dark brown colour and opaque with a thumb sized, beige brown head on top that holds very well at about the same height.

Sweet malts and caramel with a helping pine as well as some further subtle hops. There is also a warming combination of spices to put you in the Christmas mood. The finish is a very sweet one with some fruits too.

Dark & sweet with plenty of malts and caramel coming through along side more than its fair share of spices. There is a few darker fruits in the mix as well and the hops from the nose make an appearance with maple too.

Spicy & warming, almost boozy feel to this one and the body is medium with carbonation about the same. The finish is again sweet and overall the beer is incredibly smooth on the palate.

Warming and spicy but with plenty of hops coming through as well, although they are quite subtle and not anything in your face. Very sweet and malty with a very smooth mouthfeel, pretty good in the cold weather. (997 characters)

Photo of enfield249
3.46/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a very clear brown, with a ever so slight reddish tint. No head to speak of, but an off-white ring of foam.

S - Sweet, with dark fruits, cookies, brown sugar.

T - Very tangy sweet up front, with some of the roast flavors in the middle. Leaves me with a sweet taste in my mouth

M - Cloying, but not out of the range for this style.

O - Not the best showing of the OSA, but very drinkable. (401 characters)

Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.47/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A 355ml bottle with a BB of July 2014. Picked up recently from Trembling Madness in York. As always with the Anchor Xmas brew, I love the label art.

Poured into a Duvel tulip. A dark reddish-brown hue with medium carbonation (darker than previous incarnations IIRC). Produces a huge head of creamy beige foam with good retention; this slowly reduces to a surface layer. Aroma of caramel malt with hints of brown sugar, dried fruit, cinnamon, clove, spice, mild pine and stewed hops. Herbal and earthy; the spice is a touch overdone and lends it a bitter background note. But it's certainly seasonal!

Tastes of caramel malt with a distinctly spicy character and a dry, bitter finish. Notes of brown sugar, dried fruit, mild roasted malt, cinnamon, clove, spice, herbs, mild pine and stewed leaves. The spice comes on a bit strong and dominates the flavour, while also giving it a harsh, herbal quality. A dry bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth, tingly and dry, but rather thin and watery. The spices also result in an unusually astringent sensation on the palate. An aftertaste of spice, bitter herbs and caramel malt.

An OK brew but not great, and not as good as in previous years. The spice is just a bit too strong, as if someone went overboard with the exotic ingredients. The aroma is quite nice, but the flavour is unbalanced and has an acrid herbal quality to it. The body also leaves something to be desired - it's too thin for the strength and flavour. I'm glad I tried this but I wouldn't have it again. No need to seek it out. (1,552 characters)

Photo of MaximalC
3.47/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque cola color with a moderate amount of tan froth on top. Aroma smells sweet and fruity, almost like bubblegum or some other candy. The taste is very difficult to describe, and I think it's fair to say I've not had a beer that tastes similar to this. It tastes akin to what I imagine potpourri would taste like if I was ever inclined to try it. There's a prominent but indefinable spiciness to it, along with the bubblegum detected in the nose. Cinnamon may be the most recognizable spice here. The finish has a clean, sharp bitterness to it, but it's neither citric nor piney; chemical may be a more apt descriptor. There is something vaguely familiar here, but I can't put my finger on it, possibly because I'm not used to encountering it in beer. This is a peculiar animal indeed, and I'm eager to see what more experienced imbibers have to say, because my vocabulary is sorely lacking in this case. At least I can say the mouthfeel is smooth and velvety thanks to the just-right carbonation.

I've had several recent prior iterations of this brew from Anchor, and this is quite different than those, and not in a positive way, unfortunately. Whereas previous versions have had tastes in the arena of brown sugar and nutmeg, this is more akin to flowers, candy, and chemicals. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little disappointed. (1,356 characters)

Photo of barnzy78
3.47/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, pours dark brown with a thin, beige head that dissipates quickly leaving minimal lacing. Spicy aroma with molasses, brown sugar, anise. Tastes are complex with dark malt, smoky, burnt caramel, molasses, brown sugar, plum, clove, allspice, faint cinnamon, faint pine, roasted chestnut perhaps; Christmasy nonetheless. Thin-to-medium body, moderate carbonation, finishes clean. Overall, good winter warmer & is actually the first time I've tried this perennial Anchor offering. (488 characters)

Photo of oberon
3.48/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nice to have this annual again today.Poured a deep roasted chesnut brown with a tinge of ruby,very little head to speak of.Some graham cracker and ginger notes in the nose along with some woodiness and roast,pretty light.The feel was pretty sharp and fizzy,a little rough in the mouth.Flavors of vanilla and brown sugar mainly with a drying woodiness in the finish.It's not bad but for me a notch down from past OSA's,I will keep buying them every year though. (460 characters)

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