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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 193 | Hads: 714
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 Giggy
3.7/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark leather broken pour with a hint of red. Good tan head that remains.

S: Initial floral smell much like jasmine.

T: Floral element continues into the taste. Dark malts and dried fruits like prunes. Very woodsy. Mild spices.

M: Dry finish. Moderate carbonation. (269 characters)

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 bsp77
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Ruby black with nice brown head that retains well.

Smell: Uh, smells like a pumpkin beer. Haven't really thought that in previous years. Still that stale Porter smell underneath.

Taste: Stale, dry chocolate Porter upfront, which is overtaken by spices that once again seem very pumpkin like. I am even getting that nutty and sweet mixture I get from pumpkin. Finishes with dry chocolate.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, with a body that is slightly thinner than I would like. But the very dry finish improves the feel a lot.

Overall: Not up to par with recent releases, but still very tasty and easy to drink. (676 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 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)

Photo of champ103
4.45/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is probably my favorite seasonal release. I Always look forward to my first six pack.

A: Pours a beautiful mahogany/ruby red color. A two finger Khaki head forms, and gently recedes. Rings of sticky lace is left behind. A looker.
S: Very reserved in the nose, but I still really enjoy it. Nutmeg with toasted malts. A light buttery aroma, quickly covered up by almonds, warm fresh backed bread. A deceivingly complex aroma emerges.
T: Like the nose, very reserved at first, but much more comes out as I work my way down. Toasted malts, baked bread , nutmeg and an almond nutty flavor. A light sweetness comes out toward the end, then a dry almost bitter coco. It is amazing how much delicate complexities emerge from this.
M/D: A medium body and carbonation. Very soft and velvety. So easy and enjoyable to drink. The bottle is gone in no time, and I am sure the rest of the six pack is not far behind.

Seems like the piney, almost allspice flavor is not there. Which has been a recurring theme. This release is more warm toasted and malty goodness. Again, a seasonal I look forward to every year, and for good reason. No doubt I will be getting more six packs again this year. (1,185 characters)

Photo of raynmoon
3.96/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I'd consider this one of my favorite beers. I look forward to almost as much as Celebration ale. The perfect sessionable winter warmer. Time for a overall score.

It's a sexy beer. The head says it's a stout, but when held to the light, it has a super deep ruby color to it; awesome.

Tons of ginger and cinnamon, slight breadiness. It just came out of the refrigerator, so it will take some time to really become aromatic.

That ginger and cinnamon comes through right away, then it rolls over the tongue kind of watery/ lack-in-flavor, and then finishes dry and cocoa-like.

This beer uses it's spices better than I've seen any pumpkin ale. Those tend to taste like brown sugar and weird out of place spices. This one screams Holidays. I don't know how they do it.

Overall, it could use a little bit more character and body, but still a good beer to enjoy and will always recommend. (888 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 Scottyboy
4.18/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A Pours a deep mahogany red w/ one and a half finger tan head. Nice lacing remains 3/4 through the tulip glass then fades to nothing.

S Spicy, nutmeg, allspice and kind of woodyl

T Smoky, spicy, peppery, licorice, malty backbone and a touch of piney hops. Seems appropriately balanced. Wonderful finish and aftertaste. The spice retains its presence far behind the initial swallow.

Mf Bity and thick not too carbonated. Great substance.

O I love this ale thus far - far better than prior years effort.

A- (509 characters)

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

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a deep red brown with a small off-white head. Solid spotty lace and head retention.

S: Herbal, lavender-like, with a hint of cocoa, malt and grass.

T: Lots of dark malt and clove, very spicy. Herbal grassiness, twigs, juniper like flavours throughout. Solid herb undercurrent.

M: Medium-bodied, frothy soft carbonation, an easy going beer.

O: A solid effort, though certainly not the best OSA I've ever had. Still one of the most reliable winter beers out there. (491 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 GuyIncognito
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a good beer made with a lot of care. It is heavier than the regular Anchor Steam, but not a stout. Subtly spiced, a solid ale. I like that the recipe is different every year, but this is my first year trying it, so I couldn't tell. The egg nog of beer, if egg nog was classy, drinkable, and made with skill. (315 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 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 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 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 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)

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