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
83
good

714 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 714
Reviews: 196
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 14.52%
Wants: 16
Gots: 62 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 714 | Reviews: 196
Photo of Eisen
3.56/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

After one year aging: poured a dark brown/light black with thin white/tan head that faded rather quickly and left some light lacing. Smells of chocolate and spice and everything nice. Tastes like cardamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, a touch of ginger, and some trees with a bit of burnt toast, maybe molasses. Overall, not sure how aging effected the beverage, but it can be aged particularly if stored cold. Tried it side by side with 2013, and thought the 2012 was better. However, regardless of how it is, a must beer to try every winter.

Photo of chinchill
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

Photo of Lawl3ss
4.37/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Picked up in late 2013, nonetheless the 2012 vintage.

Chilled stubby into a shaker pint.

Look- big, frothy tan head on the pour. Sticks around forever, minimal lace.

Smell - loads of dusty fig, toasted rye, nutmeg. Very nice. Mild leather, doesn't seem overly oxidized.

Taste- also very nice. Brown bread, light spice, and currant. Something like caraway seeds. Mild spruce. Molasses finish. Lingering nutty-aromatic spices, warm sandalwood, tasty.

Mourhfeel- medium body, medium carbonation. Nice quench, a bit acidic but keeps it feeling clean.

Overall- it's held up quite well. I don't recall it being anything too flashy back in 2012, but today it's well above average for a spiced Christmas or old ale.

Photo of artoolemomo
3.38/5  rDev -7.4%
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.)

Photo of elNopalero
4.95/5  rDev +35.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one of my favorites and a real treat every year. This year’s batch is no exception.

The 2012 Our Special Ale pours a deep, intense ruby amber color. Looks amazing—and a surprise from the previous few year’s dark roast color. On the aroma I get some anise, cherry and a black licorice note as well as hints of pine and evergreen. Is it fair to say there’s some juniper tucked away in there? Whatever the case the mix of botanicals plays well on the nose.

The flavor carries more of the same, with everything balanced out by a nice sweetness. There’s hints of rootbeer and licorice root along with the warming spices. I’d consider this to be a sweet red ale with gruit-like spicing. The carbonation keeps this lighter than it at first may seem. Looking forward to seeing this one with some age on it. Utterly delicious, as I expected.

After six months the wintergreen menthol remains. However, the juniper has faded and definitely on the palate the more medicinal notes have come to the fore. A real treat—Christmas in July!

Photo of wl0307
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Purchased at a “city’super” supermarket in Taipei City, Taiwan; BB 30/10/2014, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.

A: pours a very dark brown to ebony colour, coming with very light carbonation and a creamy light tan frothy head to last.
S: longan-fruit, thick black sugar, jammy or caramelised chestnut, aromatic powdered herbs (nutmeg, licorice, cinnamon, etc.), black prunes, black dates and light fragrance from dried bamboo leaves are all mixed together; very sweet, syrupy even, although the aroma benefits from more fruity acidity as it warms up. Given a very good swirl, the piney hop fragrance emerges briefly but soon gets suppressed by the other fruity-malty elements. Unbalanced overall, and a tad too sweet for me.
T: the lightly effervescent foretaste is interestingly black prune-dominated laced by a tinge of smokiness as of the shells of dried longan-fruit, followed by lightly chewy root-herbs like nutmeg plus licorice, as well as roast malts, not at all sweet as the nose suggests; the herbal bitter-sweetness and bitter nuttiness linger in the finish, where the bitter hops also makes a belated entry.
M&O: semi-smooth on the palate, lightly-carbonated, medium-bodied, flavoursome, aromatic but not at all heavy. If only the aroma was not overwhelmed by the dark malts and syrupy sweetness, the overall enjoyment of this ale could’ve been fuller. Not bad.

Photo of chocosushi
3.72/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

Photo of cyclonece09
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a 14 oz "pint" glass. Pours a dark brown/black with a small brown head with nice lacing. Smells of chocolate and roasted grain. Tastes of some chocolate but with a little bit of hoppy bite, but it is still a bit bland. Beer is carbonated nicely and it is light/medium bodied. Overall, a slightly above average beer.

Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.81/5  rDev +4.4%
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!

Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.13/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours the darkest, warmest amber I've ever seen. The compact thick head is beige and I could put a quarter dollar on it and it wouldm't sink - it looks fantastic. Slow dissipation leaves decent lacings.

S: Roasted sweet malt, very bready. This is very X-masy; cinnamon, cardamum, nutmeg some chocolate, some dark dried fruits as well as rich raspberries.

T: Nice; sour cherries up front along with loads of spices; cardamum and cinnamon. Licorice, chocolate and dark dried fruits along side with rich raspberries. Surprisingly enough, not that sweet.

M: Atftertaste is long and sour as well as bitter. Body is medium while carbonation is low, rather smooth though.

O: Nice Christmasy Winter Warmer; with lots of spices of the season along with nice maltyness.

Photo of atomicbeer
2.99/5  rDev -18.1%
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.

Photo of gillagorilla
3.44/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

Photo of dheacck11
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a red muddy brown with dense mocha head, 1/2 finger, fading quickly.

Nose is pungent. Lots of bready, earthy, dense dark fruit. Sour cherry.

Taste is equally powerful. Lots of dark fruit: raisin, plum, cherry. Some subtle hint of spice at the end, but minimal. Mild roasty malt with some earthy components.

Feel is big and thick and full, but a little too sharp in the finish. Leaves a lingering acidity in your mouth.

A really unique beer. Happy I tried it, but will not get again. Just feels like the flavors are way to overdone and don't really marry into a balanced beer.

Photo of jondeelee
3.98/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Our Special Ale 2012 opens to a spicy, fruity, sweet nose that is instantly reminiscent of fruitcake and mulled wine. Nutmeg, clove, allspice, candied ginger, and pepper are immediately noticeable, as well as slight hints of coriander. The fruits are, on the one hand, dark and complex, with dates, green maraschino cherries, and figs, and on the other, bring nice orange peel, lemon zest, and pink grapefruit overtones. All of these rest atop thick brown breads, vanilla, molasses, wildflower honey, and a lovely Christmas layer of fresh pine needles. Add to this a slightly alcoholic touch, as of mulled wine or white port, and the result is a tantalizing aroma that would make for a world-class candle scent, and in a beer, is exactly the sort of aroma one would want while opening presents. The aromas do seem to be somewhat lighter than those in previous years’ editions, but here that’s a good thing, since at least one of the previous bottles smelled so strongly of pine needles as to be overwhelming.

On the tongue, the beer begins with a spicy kick, the cloves, nutmeg, candied ginger, allspice, and pepper instantly blasting away at the tastebuds, joined by molasses and thick brown breads, as well as deeply roasted pecans and pine needles. The fruits come in a somewhat distant second, the green maraschino cherries and dates primarily, with touches of raisin next, and the orange and lemon zest second. The effect is less fruitcake here than spicecake, and the spices do unfortunately rather overwhelm everything else, and are even more potent in subsequent mouthfuls. The aftertaste is similarly dominated by spice, with remnants of brown breads, molasses, and lemon zest, and lingers on the tongue for a very long time. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium to medium-high, fizzing on the tongue and burning the soft tissues.

Overall, this is good Christmas beer, it’s just unfortunate that the spices were so dominant, as they detracted from what was a very nice fruit and dark bread belly. The beer is by no means unpalatable, but it is strongly spiced enough that it would be difficult to drink too many in a row.

Photo of JMad
4.51/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a very dark brown with a lofty soapy tan colored head. Man, the smell is amazing, it's like some type of Christmas desert. I could taste mostly cinnamon and raisin with a hint of maple syrup and nutmeg. The taste is almost as good, it's like a gingerbread-sugar cookie with a little spice. Feels medium bodied with low carbonation and a candy like finish. I really enjoyed this beer, honestly, it's one of the best beers I've had in a long time.

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

This year's Our Special Ale gives off a huge spruce nose, along with cinnamon, chocolate, and the requisite spice rack. The taste is - go figure, heavy on spices. I could try to pick out all the individual spice notes, but that'd be an exercise in futility. If you've got a favorite winter spice, it's probably in here, hanging out with the vanilla and roast flavors. Mercifully, the spices don't linger too long, leaving a wholly pleasant roasted malt aftertaste with just a touch of cinnamon. Mouthfeel is spot-on, as Anchor tends to be, and the drinkability is great. Just like every year, Our Special Ale is a solid Winter Warmer. It's way past Christmas, but I'm glad I have this for the cold snap tonight.

Photo of thegodfather1076
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Really awesome bottle with a short fat appearance in the Anchor style. Front label has a very old school festive feel with an classy graphic of a pine tree also giving its scientific name. States 2012, Merry Christmas Happy New Year, a small description of the beer, ABV info. Also has the Anchor logo. Neck label gives an excellent back story of the beer and how they put a different tree on the bottle every year, also has a drawing of the cone for the particular tree on the bottle. Back label gives web info. Cap is beautiful as well.

Appearance: I poured this from its 12oz bottle into a 16oz English pint. Pours a cola brown with a 2 finger brown foam head of an airy light density. Head retention was 2min 45sec before fading to a frothy coating and thick ring. Good lacing.

Smell/Aroma: Smells of clove and oranges with hints of cinnamon. Scent is fairly sweet with a slight chocolate aroma and herbal notes.

Flavor/Taste: Taste is sweet and herbal with a spicy bite. Hints of vanilla on the start that turns to a roasted flavor and finishes with a herbal tone.

MouthFeel/Drinkability: Medium bodied and smooth with a medium carbonation. Very drinkable.

Overall/Comments: This was my first time having this and I thought it was very very good. Very nice nose and flavor that is very inviting. The flavors in this are a bit different than many other winter warmers that I have tried. Classified as a Winter Warmer at 5.5% ABV. Consumed 2-5-13.

Photo of Jeffwildcat
3.99/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown. Foam head sticks till the end. Christmas spicy notes like plums and brown sugar. Nutty notes and roasted carmem malts. Nice carbination. Light to.medium body . This one was certainly different compared to the 2011 version. A solid good beer.

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

Ba Review #256
Served On: 2/20/2013
Glassware: DFH Chalice
Labeled ABV: 5.5%
Date/ Code: 2012 Release

This was a 12oz bottle from a sixer from Ye Old Spirit Shop in Frederick.

Look: The pour rendered a pitch-black color with a thin light-tan head. Lacing started almost immediately. It could have passed for a stout.

Smell: Strong notes of mint and pine made up the aroma. Also a bubblegum quality that seemed almost uncalled for.

Taste: Super smooth mouth feel. The pine notes came through first. Then a roasted note that was completely unexpected. A spicy mint made up the finish. Aftertaste was more roasted notes mixed with pine.

This was a very unique beer; A fine representation of the Christmas season.

Photo of matjack85
3.45/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

.

Photo of farrago
3.57/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a solid froth of smaller bubbles with a couple of islands of larger bubbles, crests at less than a finger, decent enough retention, the lacing comes in random streaks and fares better in terms of sticking around. The dark brown hued liquid shows its transparency up close, pure and clean, fades to a yellowish orange at the rims and glass bottom. The nose is based in caramel, cola, chocolate, cinnamon stick and orange spice, there’s a presence of plum and candied cherry scents, it’s not over-spiced and displays a natural restraint, no real hoppiness but perhaps a metallic note before it all dissolves. Medium-bodied, there’s a steady carbonated fizz through the mouth entry which lessens the overall sweetness. More emphasis here on milk chocolate, cola and vanilla, the spices come across as caraway or anise more than holiday dessert baking spices. Light orange citrus, here the black fruits take a step back. In its place are some soda bread and scone nuances. Turns very dry through the finish, losing a good bit of its flavor. Overall, seems regal like fallen nobility, wants more to command than ingratiate.

Photo of sammygt
4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

picked up a six pack of this beer and a 1.5L bottle. this review is based on the 12 oz bottles. this beer has a great brown caramel color and produced decent head. it was very aromatic, and was a definite reminder that this is a Christmas beer. I really like Christmas beers and this is one of my favorites (as a series). the 2012 felt a little thin while drinking it, but the flavor, color, and overall drinkability make it a great choice still.

Photo of buschbeer
3.79/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

Photo of Utica_Brew_Review
3.11/5  rDev -14.8%
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.

Photo of NuclearDolphin
4.4/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Pint Glass

Appearance - Dark Brown with a Ruby Tinge when held up to light. Head is about 2 fingers in width and there is a decent amount of lacing on the sides.

Smell - Cinnamon, Spices, Licorice, Figs and Malts. Smells reminds me of Snickerdoodle Cookies and Christmas. Very rich and vibrant smell!

Taste - Spruce, Cinnamon, Licorice, Spices and Malts. Aftertaste is surprisingly resiny too. Flavor is quite nice and warms you up very fast.

Mouthfeel - Light Bodied and Mildly carbonated. Very easy to drink as well.

Overall - Flavor is nice and rich & it's easy on the palete. This is probably one of the best Winter Warmers I've had thus far and I would check it out if you still can manage to find it.

Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 714 ratings.