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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.

193 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 193
Hads: 715
Avg: 3.7
pDev: 27.57%
Wants: 16
Gots: 70 | 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
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Reviews: 193 | Hads: 715
Photo of russpowell
3.64/5  rDev -1.6%
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

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Photo of curasowa
3.06/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark red color with a huge, tan head that fades slowly with thick chunks of lace.

Aroma: Grainy malt with some nutmeg and molasses and faint hints of grapefruit.

Taste: Starts off pretty thin with some astringent, grainy malt before becoming very festive with lots of spiced notes. The spices carry on right through the finish, where some hints of peppery bitterness show up. The finish is otherwise fast and clean.

The Rest: Quite a difference between this and the '07 I had along side of it. Granted, five years makes a big difference, but the '07 has a much fuller body with less spice. The '12 is pretty bleh and I don't see it getting better with age - the body just isn't there. The '12 to me is just a mediocre winter warmer.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.8/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

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Photo of JohnFatAss
2.68/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I really enjoyed this last year, but something does not seem right with this year's edition.

I love the bottle and label Anchor uses for this beer.
And it sure looks nice when poured in a glass.

After that, the experience is bit of a let down.

Christmas spices are what dominate the smell. I am guessing cinnamon and nutmeg. I am not very good at identifying the spices used, but the spice presence is strong in the smell.

The taste is malty and of dark fruit like raisins. And like the smell, spices are strongly present but hard to identify. I would say Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and maybe vanilla?

It is not terrible. It is actually an interesting beer to drink, I will give it that much.
All the different spices they throw in just don't work well together. Or maybe it is a little over spiced.
Overall, it is bit of a let down

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Photo of dfillius
3.7/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass
A: Aggressive pour yields nearly 1 finger of brown head with good retention. Clear dark-brown liquid.
S: Nutmeg, cinnamon, clove heavy. Slight fennel seed, caramel, black pepper.
T: Malt forward, slightly peaty,slight dark chocolate, maybe chili powder. Winter warmer/spiced ale riffed on a brown ale I think. Maybe coconut added? Flavor is a tad artificial.
M: Round, chewy
O: Pleasant, but a tad spice/natural flavoring heavy. Maybe I'd have another, I won't buy 6

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Photo of AdamBear
3.78/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

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Photo of Goatshaver
3.38/5  rDev -8.6%
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.

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Photo of garuda
3.85/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

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Photo of Gmann
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

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Photo of metter98
3.95/5  rDev +6.8%
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.

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Photo of MDDMD
3.7/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-dark brown with hints of ruby with a half inch tan head and good lacing

S-cinnamon, roasted malt, caramel, ginger

T-roasted malt, dark fruit, ginger, cinnamon, hint of chocolate, bitter finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth

O-a pleasant ale with some nice flavors to enjoy on a winter day

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Photo of barczar
3.18/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque brown with strong garnet highlights and a solid half inch toffee head that leaves sheets of lacing.

Ginger, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg dominate the initial aroma, giving a cola impression. Smells fairly sweet.

Cola follows in the flavor, with ginger, clove, and cinnamon accompanying caramel malt, leading to a slightly roasted, almost acrid, bitter finish. Dark fruits and pine emerge as it warms.

Body is a touch syrupy, with carbonation on the high side of moderate.

Definitely a spicy winter warmer. The finish cleanses the palate nicely, but the initial flavor is overwhelmingly spicy. It's just not my favorite style.

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Photo of Hibernator
4.38/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Anchor Our Special Ale - 2012
12 oz brown bottle
Freshness date - 2SY
Served in a Smuttynose Big Beer tulip glass

Anchor Our Special Ale is one of the most anticipated winter craft beers for me. I picked up a 6 pack last night, stored a couple for a later date and decided to review one this evening.

Pours a deep chestnut brown with excellent highlights. A fluffy, khaki colored head forms, leaving trails of sticky lacings that decorate the glassware.

The nose is inviting with whiffs of roasted malts, ginger, nutmeg and various spices.

A creamy and chewy malt backbone with distinct flavors of milk chocolate, cinnamon cookies, allspice and fresh pine. A remarkably smooth and complex winter warmer that captures all of the flavors of the season.

This seasonal should never be underestimated, a true legend in the ever growing market of seasonal beers.


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Photo of Billolick
3.58/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An old friend, alright, a really old friend....12 ounce bottle

Pours dark brown, dark tan head, leaves decent strips and blobs of lacing.

I get some Christmas cookie notes on the nose, and some bread.

More bready malts with some muted spicing. Not much of a finish and kind of light on the interest and intrigue. Decent winter brew, but really nothing special and kind off a disappointment this year

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Photo of beergoot
4.15/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep, dark mahogany red body crowned with a thick, creamy, sticky head; lots of lacing. Rye, cinnamon, molasses, pine, and brown sugar and spices in the nose. Taste is very similar to the aroma with the addition of some ginger. Medium-bodied and smooth.

A very tasty, well-done winter ale. Lots of sensory delights in this one. Nicely balanced with fine complexity.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.3/5  rDev +16.2%
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!

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Photo of hosehead83
4.2/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a "stubby" 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.
Dark brown/black in color, with ruby highlights, and a sturdy, tan head of foam.
Aroma-Spruce, chocolate notes
Taste-Subtle cinnamon and nutmeg,spruce tips, pine needles, chocolate, earthy hop notes. Big character and complexity in an arguably sessionable brew clocking in at a "mere' 5.5ABV. Finishes dry, and upon warming a bit, rather choclatey. A bit of a step down from previous years but still one of my Christmas-time favorites, equally at home with a holiday meal or a plate of cookies.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.78/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

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Photo of leokbelo
3.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark cherry wood into a pint glass.
2 inch creamy head fades into a1/2 inch lacing.
Gingerbread on the nose with hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar and figs.
Alive with carbonation on the palate, with a subtle tone of roasted coffee. Light bitterness kept at bay by the malts.
Very well balanced.
Highly drinkable.
Would recommend.

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Photo of Damian74Shensky
4.35/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Been having it the last 8 years. Bought the big 50 ounce bottle poured into an over size wine glass.Pours chestnut brown with a thick foam. Smell caramel malt. Nutmeg and clove. As it moves through a surprising bitterness emerges and provides balance. Great feel, aroma, great taste. 2010 was my favorite ( my favorite beer ever!) but the 2012 is a fine worthy beer! Definitely try this beer.

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Photo of BeardedBoffin
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another holiday tradition---Anchor's annual Christmas Ale. This year's version pours the usual deep chestnut brown with a thick pillowy cap of foam which decayed into a pock-marked surface and plenty of lacing. Spices from the aroma open the senses for the caramel malt. Ginger, nutmeg, clove, and perhaps some allspice form the blend. These scrub the palate and leave it open for caramel malt to lay down with a sheet of slightly bitter chocolate. As it moves through a surprising bitterness emerges and provides balance. Plenty drinkable. Middle of the road for this series.

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Photo of enfield249
3.46/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

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Photo of arizcards
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

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Photo of MadScientist
3.73/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of philbe311
3.56/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It truly isn't the holiday season until I pop my first one of these...

A - A finger plus some of crisp perfectly level slightly creamy medium khaki colored head comprised of medium sized bubbles... Impressive retention... The color is a translucent medium brown... A limited bit of micro bubbled rapid paced carbonation streaks within...

S - The aroma is fairly muted... The first distinct scents detected are holiday spice in the form of nutmeg and ginger... There are some warm bready toasted malts... Perhaps some light dark fruit notes... A layer of a caramel sweetness lies beneath the surface a bit... Very pleasant, but I wish it were a bit more pronounced...

T - The flavors mimic the nose identically... Ginger and nutmeg... Bread crust... Raisins... Some light tannin like notes as well... The sweetness is very muted... A greater than expected hop bitterness on the finish...

M - Starts medium bodied and quite smooth... Creamy and lush... The finish is a bit disappointing and turns thin and under carbonated...

D - Not my favorite Anchor holiday offering of recent years, but still a tasty brew and required right of passage to the holiday season... I will have no trouble finishing the six pack that I invested in, but will eagerly await next year's offering while dreaming of previous year incarnations...

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