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Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

650 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 650
Reviews: 194
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 14.29%


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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Ratings: 650 | Reviews: 194 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of philbe311
philbe311

Pennsylvania

3.55/5  rDev -2.5%
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...

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2012 03:21:48 | More by philbe311
Photo of GarthDanielson
GarthDanielson

North Carolina

3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer is very dark and smooth in appearance, with ruby highlights amidst the dark brown. No head whatsoever on this brew. Aromas of pine tassles, fig and date sweetness, bubblegum, licorice, and oak. Smells aged and rich, with some meaty qualities sprinkled throughout, as well. Flavors are rich, like port wine rich, but with a more earthy and oaky tone. Some charcoal character throughout the roasted flavors, too. Very warm and dark flavors, with the old world fruit blending with molasses to provide a solid backbone to envelope and enrich the green and woodsy spicing. Rich, slightly tangy aftertaste that has a touch of bitterness at the end of it, possibly coffee and dark chocolate. Smooth and full in mouth, with a rich, clean finish.

Serving type: bottle

12-06-2012 23:14:55 | More by GarthDanielson
Photo of Stinkypuss
Stinkypuss

Pennsylvania

3.93/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anchor Brewing Company
Our Special Ale
2012 edition

LOOK: Pours a clear dark brown color with a solid topping of off white foam leaving plenty of lace. A very good looking brew.

SMELL: Molasses, brown sugar, roast, and the signature evergreen/spruce note.

TASTE: Roasted malts upfront along with an herbal spruce flavor, along with pine and measurable bitterness. Molasses and chocolate from the malts provide a hearty base for the beer. Light spices round out the flavor with some clove and dusty cinnamon.

FEEL: Full bodied and well carbonated. Clean crisp finish with just a small lingering sappy pine note.

OVERALL: As enjoyable as some of my favorite vintages. This is a classic holiday beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-06-2012 20:39:18 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of tkelley
tkelley

Massachusetts

3.5/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a large tulip glass.

A -- Pours really dark with a tan head. Way darker than most warmers I've seen. Okay lacing. Thin layer of foam retained well.

N -- Cloves and hops. Also, this beer's smell reminded me of my favorite farm stand... so I guess it smells kind of like potpourri? Sure. It's kind of neat and weird, but after I took a big sip, I got the scent in the back of my nasal cavity. Im not sure that's supposed to happen.

T -- Cloves again, but with a good malt roast backup. Sweet, nut not that sweet. Not too boozy.

M -- Slightly above-average heft. Swished it around a bit in my mouth and it got bubbly and tingly.

O -- Pretty good. Different from a lot of warmers I've had in that it was a little more hop forward and relied a lot on cloves instead of ginger, orange, and nutmeg. At least to me. I liked it and would drink it again gladly.

Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

12-06-2012 01:49:27 | More by tkelley
Photo of woodychandler
woodychandler

Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Brewed on September 13, 2012 according to the cryptic markings on the bottle's back label. Yes, I am still stuck in bottle mode, but I could not resist this one as I (generally) try to make a practice to review it every year.

From the bottle: "This is the thirty-eighth 'Our Special Ale' from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale's recipe is different every year, as is the tree on the label, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew."

I went with my usual aggro pour, netting me several fingers of dense, deep-brown head with excellent retention. For a short period there, I was getting what looked like a cascading action before things settled down. Color was a deep brown with garnet highlights and NE-quality clarity. Nose had a molasses-like sweetness, actually not entirely sweet, but with a tar-like bitterness. I also thought that I could discern clove (or cinnamon), nutmeg and perhaps allspice, but I would hate to be challenged on that. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full, approaching creaminess, but not quite achieving it. Lots of spices were discernible in the mouth, but I think that I now want to claim cinnamon, rather than clove. I will stand by the others, however. Finish was pretty doggone dry as a result of all of the spices. This is not a sweet beer by a long stretch.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2012 21:41:06 | More by woodychandler
Photo of BenjaminBlondbeard
BenjaminBlondbeard

New York

3.38/5  rDev -7.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2012 20:20:56 | More by BenjaminBlondbeard
Photo of mactrail
mactrail

California

3.2/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2012 07:23:04 | More by mactrail
Photo of KickbacksSteve
KickbacksSteve

Florida

3.9/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a snifter. Khaki head with moderate retention on a deep colored tudor brown body. Aroma includes caramel malts, slight roast and clove. Taste has a nice caramel sweetness, touch of brown sugar and clove, maybe even cinnamon. Pretty tasty and kinda puts me in the Christmas spirit for some reason. (Celebration does the same thing).

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2012 06:11:20 | More by KickbacksSteve
Photo of damndirtyape
damndirtyape

Ohio

4.05/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle (date stamp 2OP - 2012 October 16th) poured into a Shaker pint glass.

Appearance: Dark mahogany brown - clear but only when held up to the light. Thin persistent tan head upon pouring. Some strands and islands of lacing, but over time they slid back down the glass.

Smell: Mild. Roasted malt, hint of something spicy + spruce, some char/burnt smell. I found I had to let it warm up a bit to get all the aroma out. Despite being mild in aroma intensity, what I got was appealing.

Taste: Roasted malt up front, moving into a middle which was a combination of spice, pine, and char/leafy tobacco. The finish is surprisingly sweet, but balanced with some roasted bitterness and a bit of char.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation, a little bit sticky on the teeth and slick at the same time. Thickness underneath though is just a hair thicker than water.

Overall / Drinkability: Went great with food (Burgers and roasted root vegetables) but after the meal I'm finding this quite enjoyable as it warms up. A very good and flavorful version of their beer this year. I find it complex in all the flavors I'm getting. I also find it to be very drinkable. I could easily see myself having another 1 or 2 in a sitting over food and conversation. It's a wrap up with and savor beer, but not a sipping beer. Funny how the individual components are either just good or above average, but combined are quite impressive. I think this may be one of their better vintages, but I'll have to go back and read my other reviews to confirm this.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2012 00:08:58 | More by damndirtyape
Photo of RobertColianni
RobertColianni

Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Fresh 12oz. 2012 bottle held vertically and dumped straight into 36oz. Cognac Snifter for maximum agitated aeration

A: Smokey quartzite brew with a constant desert-khaki head. Thin with islands of bubbles that just don't go away. Spotty lacing. Literally speckled up the side wall. Brick red tones when backed by direct light.

S: Dried cranberries, raisins, nutmeg baked with honey, charred sugars, and figs.

T: Everything that comes through in the nose is there on the tongue. A surprising, heavy sour cherry comes forward.

M: Light, but rich. Bubbly, but smooth. Hops really make the tongue tingle. It's artfully perfect.

OVERALL: Anchor's "Our Special Ale" has become tradition in my holiday season over the past three years. It's everything a Christmas Ale/Winter Warmer should be and everything a connoisseur of beer should look for. It's the gold standard for late bloomers that just can't get into the season and a good friend on those cold, snowy nights late in December. To me, there is nothing like Anchor's Special.

NOTE: Live review.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2012 18:46:32 | More by RobertColianni
Photo of rangerred
rangerred

Tennessee

3.58/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass

An aggressive pour yields a deep clear ruby body with a nearly two finger tan head. Really good head retention and lacing.

The aroma is one of the thinks I love most about this beer. It is a like Christmas in a glass. Lots and lots of spices ranging from orange, to lemon, to pine along with nutmeg and cinnamon. It really is wonderful.

The flavor conveys what is found in the aroma although to a lesser degree. Orange along with liquorice seem to be prominent along with lots of spruce/pine. There are caramel and chocolate undertones. The spice is a little over the top compared to the malt, though, and I feel is is lacking a solid malt backbone. The mouthfeel is quite thin and even a bit chalky.

Overall, I don't feel like this stacks up to previous year. All the right components are there but malty body is seriously lacking. It is just ok.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2012 01:33:54 | More by rangerred
Photo of DannyHartman
DannyHartman


3.4/5  rDev -6.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2012 23:19:20 | More by DannyHartman
Photo of DavidST
DavidST

Texas

4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip/pint glass, 2012 edition. This pours a dark mahogany brown with a two finger tan head which has decent retention and leaves a lacing. The smells are full of spices, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, some bread malts. The feel is medium, a little tingly. The taste is good, you get a load of spices, the bitter cinnamon, some hazelnut, the bread malts, plenty of sweetness, nice winter drink.

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2012 05:45:13 | More by DavidST
Photo of Chas58
Chas58

New Jersey

3.55/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from my Growler filled at Joe Canal's Iselin into my Firestone Walker Nonic Pint Glass

Appearance: Dark mahogany with a moderate but tight inch high head with a brownish tint. The head leaves a nice persistent lacing and persists.

Smell: An initial pleasant but subdued aroma of spices, but with nothing overwhelming. A slight hint of malt and a subtle sweetness. A very well balanced beer likely awaits.

Taste: This is not an in your face spiced beer but a well balanced and well crafted beer. The beer has a nice balance of "winter" spices, but none are prominent in any way. There is a very complex mix of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, but so well mixed as to make them very hard to single out.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and clean feel with a limited amount of residual stickiness

Drinkability: This is so wonderfully drinkable, and bucking the trend of high alcohol winter beers. This is truly session able, and with the really nice balance you will certainly think about another. This is not as "spice" or "hopped" as in past years, but it is something I will seek out again.

Serving type: growler

12-02-2012 01:50:51 | More by Chas58
Photo of Darkmagus82
Darkmagus82

Virginia

3.58/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into pint glass

Appearance – The beer is poured a brown color with reddish hues shinning through. A huge tan head is present upon pouring. It has great retention, eventually fading to give a good level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma is sweet of cherry and some roasted brown bread aromas. Mixed with these aromas are spices of cinnamon and nutmeg with a god dose of pine hop. Rounding it all out is a light nut smell.

Taste –The taste begins with a roasted brown bread and light nut taste with a very small amount of toffee sweetness. A light dark fruit soon replaces the toffee. While the sweet taste changes, overall the sweet remains light throughout the taste. More roast flavors develop at the middle of the taste. These combined with an increasing spicy taste of cinnamon and nutmeg. At the end a good presence of pine and earthy hop come to the tongue. These create a green hop taste to linger on the tongue which mix with the spice and roast flavors to leave a slightly bitter roasted flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body is a on the slightly thicker side with a carbonation level that is on the lower side. They are rather good for the hop, roasted, and spice flavors of the brew and while only at 5.5 % make it more of a sipper then traditional brews of similar strength.

Overall – Not a bad more bitter and roasty winter ale. While I traditionally prefer something with a little more sweetness in a winter warmer, this beer has a nice blend of flavors and feel which are nice for the drier tastes.

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2012 01:22:46 | More by Darkmagus82
Photo of ianjsullivan
ianjsullivan

Maryland

3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

ST: 12oz poured into a pint glass.

A: a Very red brown; the head is slightly brown. The head sits on top like a marshmallow.

S: Sweet malt, caramel, fruit cake, dark fruit. It is a bit subdued.

T: Lots of sweet malt and spices upfront, and a lot of a dark fruit, bread, wood, and a hint of coco in the finish.

M: Medium

O: I love the finish: wood, chocolate nubs, and a bit of bitter coffee bean. Overall it is another solid winter beer. It seems to have a lot more of a cake taste in the finish than the year before.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2012 18:11:05 | More by ianjsullivan
Photo of wordemupg
wordemupg

Alberta (Canada)

3.98/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

355ml bottle poured into tulip 30/11/12

A dark brown liquid and you can nearly see the other side of the glass under the foam, a thumbs width of dark tan head sits for a few sips leaving no lace

S root beer, Christmas cake, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise and a little coco mix with some hazelnut and toffee, just a little earthy wood notes as it warms

T slightly more anise notes and coco with a little ginger, the flavor mimics the smell fairly well other then that, the nutty and earthy notes come out a little more as it warms

M medium bodied and any more bubbles it would be a little airy but it stops short, nice spiced finish lingers faintly for a while

O I like it and it's good beer but from memory the last few versions have been world class, I'm still pleased and look forward to the rest of the 6er but I'm not completely blown away

I think I was looking for big piney or spruce notes and its not really there this year, please don't get me wrong this is a very nice brew but perhaps I'm just trying to re-live old memories

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2012 06:32:11 | More by wordemupg
Photo of rawfish
rawfish

California

3.2/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2012 04:11:26 | More by rawfish
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
JoeyBeerBelly

New York

4.5/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle served in a glass beer mug.

L - deep brown with a khaki color head that stayed as a layer leaving trails of lacing behind.

S - sweet dark fruits - fig, date, raisin, plum.

T - a mouthful of delicious spices and fruits, I really enjoy the taste of this beer.

F - medium bodied, nicely carbonated, it goes down smooth and easy.

O - very good example of the style, a seasonal favorite of mine year after year.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2012 00:56:14 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of notchucknorris
notchucknorris

California

3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a deep brown with some ruby tinges. A thin light brown head disappears kind of quickly, leaving a thin ring of head around the rim.

S: Gingerbread, nutmeg, burnt brown sugar, vanilla and some fresh baked bread. Maybe the strongest part of this beer.

T: A quick hit of holiday spice upfront followed by a faint, weak sourness and some light medicinal hop notes. Finish leaves a lingering sour/bitterness. Mouthfeel is definitely on the light side. I think I liked last year's a lot better.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2012 22:55:00 | More by notchucknorris
Photo of TheMultiYeast
TheMultiYeast

Pennsylvania

3.35/5  rDev -8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2012 17:37:03 | More by TheMultiYeast
Photo of dogfishandi
dogfishandi

New York

3.58/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle at fridge temp poured into a snifter. bottling code "2OM" translates to Oct. 14, 2012.

pours out nearly black, but is actually a really dark ruby brown color. about one fingers worth of tannish colored head off the pour that eventually settles to a ring and some patchy foam, decent head retention. tiny bits of lace.

not too big of an aroma, but whats there is pretty interesting. a nice cherry aroma seems to be at the forefront with slightly muted holiday spices such as nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon following. pine as well with slight hints of anise.

again, not too big of a taste. i feel like past years were slightly more flavorful. holiday spices all around with sweet toasted malt, a bit of pine and bitterness (hops?), and cherry in the finish.

the mouthfeel may have been the biggest letdown of this years vintage. it seems lighter than i remember and the carbonation is just a touch high. also just a hint of tartness is apparent every other sip.

i remember past years being better, and never seemed to notice cherry flavors in any of them, but some nice flavors come together and make for a drinkable, enjoyable beer that ill continue to buy every year to drink and to keep the vertical going.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2012 23:15:14 | More by dogfishandi
Photo of oberon
oberon

North Carolina

3.48/5  rDev -4.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2012 22:15:29 | More by oberon
Photo of magictacosinus
magictacosinus

California

3.48/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Giving this a go, despite my usual hate towards winter warmers. I do love Anchor Steam though. Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Wow, fascinating presentation... The color is sort of a plumb, brownish dark tint that I can't quite describe. It looks a lot like a combination of molasses and pumpernickel. Enormous 2.5 finger head at first, but it sadly dies down to pretty much nothing over time. I can see some carbonation within the dark, murky color, but overall it's really festive and seasonal in appearance and looks ready for any merry occasion.

Okay, the smell is pretty intense though... Lots of spices going on here, but just as I had guessed by looking at it, this has a really strong molasses smell, combined with soured cranberries, clove, rosemary, raisins, roasted rich bread, and a phenolic aroma resembling bark (ranging from birch to oak). Caramelized dark cherries abound as well. Seriously, this is one of the most fascinating spiced beer aromas I've ever come across, but that molasses/medicated finish is rather brutal. There's so many spices I'm wondering if any hops were even *necessary* to add to the wort during the brewing process. Nevertheless, while a mixed bag of aromas, this still scores high for me in terms of creativity.

Starts out pretty smooth, combining roasted caramel malts with medicated spices. However, things turn a little bizarre, when, as I initially feared, the molasses and cherry aroma viciously attacks the back of the tongue, as well as slightly burn the throat in the process. This is like a peppermint-ginger-cranberry mayhem overall! The finish is sadly excessively malty (especially as it warms up), but it is drinkable as the aftertaste quickly subsides and leaves the good tasting spices behind - especially the cranberry and clove, if you're into that sort of thing. I think it's pretty easy to drink, save for the extremely bitter malt finish, but it's definitely not your typical spiced holiday beer. This is pretty crazy stuff.

I can drink strong ales no problem, but why I am having a lot of trouble here? If it weren't for those excessive molasses overpowering the other spices, I probably wouldn't have as much trouble drinking one of these. I think Anchor Steam has delivered the most fascinating and insane spiced beer I've had to date, but it is pretty intense, so I'm probably going to pair this with food to lower the astringency. It should go good with steak or roasted ribs, and it would be pretty fantastic to cook with dark meat or bean stews. Approach with caution - these spices will kick your ass!

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2012 04:34:04 | More by magictacosinus
Photo of bump8628
bump8628

Oklahoma

3.44/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2012 03:25:19 | More by bump8628
Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 650 ratings.