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
83
good

706 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 706
Reviews: 194
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 14.52%
Wants: 17
Gots: 55 | 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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: beertunes on 10-22-2012)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 706 | Reviews: 194 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of spycow
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.85/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

Photo of Texasfan549
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of metter98
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark red in color and is close to appearing black when viewed from afar. It poured with a finger and a half high beige head that died down but left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface and lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Aromas of ginger snap cookies and nutmeg are present in the nose.
T: For the most part, the taste resembles the smell and is dominated by Christmas spices and some very subtle hints of sweetness.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is dominated by flavors of spices, but I really enjoyed the combination of flavors and could sip this beer all night long.

Photo of olradetbalder
2/5  rDev -45.2%

Photo of kjkinsey
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of BEERchitect
3.74/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

Photo of jaydoc
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of SocalKicks
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of oberon
3.48/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

Photo of biboergosum
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.33/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

come on BA people! this beer is so much better than an 84 overall. way better than last year i think, this pours a rich bred/brown with a small but easily excitable tan head. the nose is very complex, alcohol (5.5% ? no way!), brown sugar, spruce tips, caramel and amber malts, some smoke. is this an old ale? is it a belgian dubbel? i taste the candy sugar first, and some bright yeast. hard to classify this really, as there is an english and distinctly american malt vibe. the smoke is light, but reminds me of the ithaca cold front i had recently. so much going on here. more brown sugar and pine and plum notes as it warms. the feel is also right on, a little fuller in body than i remember last years being, and carbonated delicately, which is just about right. i could do a 6er of this no worries at all. also probably the best anchor beer going, dont know if these ratings will vindicate that or not, but im really enjoying this tonight. just loaded with class, this baby is elegant and proper, while being bold and daring at the same time. thats hard to get in a beer if you think about it, especially one you want to drink until your saturation point. this is phenominal, and i think its grossly underrated on here. this is the winter beer for people who dont normally like winter beers. minimal sweet, almost no spice, maybe just a slight hint of clove, or maybe its just rye malt at the end. really hard to tell. check it out before i buy it all up!

Photo of TMoney2591
3.3/5  rDev -9.6%
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.

Photo of zeff80
3.71/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Poured a dark burgundy color with a two-finger, light brown head of foam. Thin rings of lace.

S - It smelled of spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, nutmeg and spruce.

T - Good toffee flavor with lots of traditional Christmas spices.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A light to medium bodied ale.

O - This is an annual tradition. Haven't missed it since 2005.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a bright reddish brown color, with a short dense off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, vanilla, spices, some coffee and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a strong burst of vanilla and minty spices followed by a hearty roasted malt character and background flavors of coffee and chocolate. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, mild kick, good representation of style, it seems as though the spiciness has increased gradually each year for the past few years.

Photo of russpowell
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Batch 20 K pours chestnut with 4 fingers of caramel colored head. Amazing lacing & head retention

S: Sasparilla & juniper notes

T: Ligt juniper & pine notes, faint figgyness up front, along with slight leafy hopness. Some astringency & juniper as this warms, slight smokey notes that become a bit too much, plus dryness & stale jagermeister lurking in the background. Finishes slightly bitter & leafy wth horehound cough drops & pine needles

MF: Light, medium bodied with slight carbonation, balance is alright, starts to become watery as this warms, bummer

Hits above its abv weight, however, no one of the better versions. Interesting at times, but doesn't quite hold together

Photo of mendvicdog
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of drabmuh
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer shared by Thorpe429, thanks. I usually love these beers but this one is just a miss for me. It is too piny with a bitter aftertaste of roast and grain. Not a repeat for me.

Beer is brown and clear with a tan head of small bubbles, minimal lacing, looks good.

Aroma is mildly holiday spicy with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon and a little sweetness, pine is present as well.

Beer is a little thin and very piny up front, minimal spice contributions in the late palate and then there's an aftertaste of roasted grain that gives the beer this unpleasant out of place lingering bitterness. An odd beer for sure, not a repeat for me.

Photo of mactrail
3.2/5  rDev -12.3%
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.

Photo of MarkyMOD
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of drewone
3.25/5  rDev -11%

Photo of smcolw
3.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decent head but it leaves a minimum of lace. Deep brown but light does shine through.

Relatively mild aroma for this annual Xmas ale. Some biscuit and pine to the nose.

Darker malts and slightly sweet. Typical evergreen in the background. For the first, I think I detect a bit of hop in the swallow. Rich body with ample carbonation.

Overall, this not as nice as their typical offerings. It seems weaker than past years.

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of kojevergas
3.18/5  rDev -12.9%
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+

Photo of wrightst
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%

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Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 706 ratings.