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

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 magictacosinus
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
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!

Photo of bump8628
3.43/5  rDev -6%
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.

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

Anchor Christmas 2012. Soon I'll be cracking open a bottle from last year and from 2010. Right now, just this year's vintage... into a pint glass.

Very dark brown with a fluffy cap that holds the pose for awhile. Looks like a big, soppy dark seasonal ale. Excellent, because it drinks down looking almost the same and leaving some lace, too.

Nutmeg is the number one aroma this year, for sure. Cardamom, ground clove, and star anise. The licorice and evergreen aren't as pronounced in the nose this year (from what I recall from the last two years). Still that great nose for a Winter Warmer.

Sandy nutmeg and clove with some cinnamon and star anise. Weaker roast than the appearance would suggest, so the spice rack nose becomes a spice rack taste. Nice maltiness with some maple-y notes that does well to sweeten the beer enough. There is a piney-ness, like spruce or wood bark, that distinguish Anchor's Our Holiday Ale from all of the other Winter Warmers out there on the market.

The body is lighter this year, but still medium. The carbonation is on the light side. Extremely easy to drink, maybe because I enjoy it so much.

Every year, I just love this beer. It's so well-crafted and ripe with Christmas-y spices in the perfect way that I like. This year's is a bit attenuated, but I still prefer it to Great Lakes or Sly Fox. A solid 4.0.

***

Enjoyed alongside Anchor Christmas 2011 and Anchor Christmas 2010 on Black Friday 2013

2012:
Pours out a deep red-brown with darkness. The head is a bright beige color and sits longly after peaking at over an inch height. Thin, pretty lace shows up unevenly around and above the beer surface. 4

Allspice, nutmeg, clove, light pine, and hints of licorice. A mild nose with a quiet festivity to it. I recall it being a little more forward last year, but it's really hard to say. Not as particularly pine-y as past years' offerings. Good solid roast maltiness with dark breadiness and caraway and complements the spiciness nicely. Not overmatched, but balanced, in that way. 3.75

Comfortably soft and warm and tasty with a good dose of nutmeg and clove spiciness. Great flavors composed of allspice and earthiness. Doesn't fall out of the pine theme too far, with a slight evergreen and wintergreen botanical note. Slight tanginess with the idea of fruit (lightly grape-y), but mostly there is a good bready maltiness that plays on the sweet side. 3.75

Drinks soft, yet bushy, with a semi-creamy mouthfeel. Medium-light carbonation and silken body. Works pretty well. 4

2012 turns out to be drinking really well right now. One year did this beer a lot of good. Mellow, yet spicy; warm, and malty rich. A good beer right now. 4

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

I'm rating this one a bit on the higher side but I can drink these so damm easy. A few pros and cons to say about this ale 1.) I usually like these winter warmers on the stronger side, at least 6 or 7%, to warm you up. 2.) I'm not a fan of the pine side of this but I do drink them anyway as they are usually so full of flavor, I get over their type of hops. 3). I like the carbonation, the dry end is enjoyable and balances the sweet side to me. 4.) love tasting the spices they create in their Christmas beers and this one just makes the ale very drinkable even though it is someone on the watery side, it has some creaminess to it and as it warms its releases all these dates, fig newtons, cinnamon, ginger, not an excellent take on winter warmers by any means but I would buy this Anchor Christmas again.

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 goblue3509
3.52/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a coppery color with a ruby twinge when held to the light. There is a half to one finger head which leaves some lacing on the glass. The aroma is big and bold. Caramel, winter spices, and floral aromas leave you wanting to dive into this beer. Very inviting. The taste follows suit with a nice sweet flavor up front, caramel, holiday spices, and floral flavors play beginning to middle. The end has a slight weird bitterness to it, like a wet hop almost. The mouthfeel is low to moderatly carbonated with a hint of dryness. Overall the look and aroma leave you wanting more but the flavor although good doesn't quiet deliver.

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

Quite tasty this year. Usually, this leans either toward "gnaw on a Christmas tree trunk" piney resin or gingerbread/holiday spice in character. This year the emphasis is strongly on the gingerbread aspect, with almost no spruce notes. Typical dark pour with a slight ruby cast. Creamy mouthfeel. caramelized cookie notes with ginger and allspice - fading to a slightly sharp sour note at the finish. Some years' editions need a year or so to settle down, but this incarnation is already quite mellow, so good for drinking now but not for putting back.

Photo of Optifron
3.57/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had 11/25/2012 from the bottle

A: Pours dark brown (but not quite porter dark). Thick cream colored head. Decent lacing. Thin foam sticks around to the end.

A: smells like Christmas beer! very sweet aroma, seems like lots of caramel malt. Few gentle spices. Can’t pinpoint them.

T: Nicely balanced sweet and bitter. Not as sweet as I would guess from aroma. Interesting bitter, unfamiliar to me. Not a typical cascade, etc. American hop bitter. The spices come through in the middle

M: Pretty middle between dry and sweet. Maybe a touch drier than I’m used to.

O: Very drinkable. Nice beer, but I was hoping for more flavor for a christmas beer. EDIT: So I had this again, and wow, did the christmas spices come through this time. Maybe I ate something to mask my palette the first time, I don't know how, but the holiday spice is quite forward.

Photo of GRPunk
3.89/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a Duvel tulip

A- A normal pour created a 1-finger brown head that drops to a thin foam quite quickly. Mahogany body when the light gets through, away from the light it's near pitch through the middle. Light stick. Body's great, but head retention and stick are big in my book and lacked a little in this pour.

S- The crack of the cap releases lots of baking spice and orange zest. It opens up to something of pumpkin pie spices. I'm terrible at picking out the details, but get something like cinnamon, clove, and allspice.

T- More bready malts than I would have expected given the scent. Somewhere between a rye or pumpernickel and a holiday loaf based on the spices, maybe without the fruit (though I pick up a little of that later on). Hints of citrus at the finish (orange/lemon). Hopping's there too and approximates pine.

M- Full bodied, especially at 5.5%. Moderate carbonation. More dry than chalky, which I can get from highly spiced beers.

O- Met expectations based on previous experiences. Definitely a favorite winter warmer/holiday ale. I always look forward to its availability.

Photo of garymuchow
4.08/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An almost annual tradition, but I couldn't resist this year, or maybe it was just the most appealing beer on the shelf. Who knows, but here I am with this annual enjoyments.
Of course it holds the spruce, spice and berries. And of course it's the same attractive beer with that thick tan head capping a deep, deep clear liquid. Malt character seems the same. Just the little additional element of the Norfolk Island Pine with a flavor that seems to approach vanilla, with a little more spiciness and a really drying quality that helps the flavors linger very nicely on the finish.
Super creamy, esp. for a lighter beer. Soft carbonation.
Always an enjoyable beer, but this one seem even more with the unique element this year.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.28/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Christ... Warm weather in Boise is making it difficult to wrap my mind around Christmas brews already... Poured into my slim tulip.. good tannish head.. nice lacing... the brew is deeep amber.

Nose is mainly nutmeg... maybe some juniper berry.. ???

Typical year to year malt profile with the abundant spice.. definitely nutmeg this year.. a bit of ginger? ... Asian cinnamon?

Body and carbonation are the same as last year's...

I am mind numbingly tired of trying to figure out the spices from year to year.... Spices do not belong in beer!! IMO ;-)

3.5/3/3.5/3.5/3

Photo of TheCondor
3.2/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I picked this brew up at a new liquor store not too far from my house. Relatively impressed. I will review that store later. But for now, I must review this beer, fr I have heard so much and wanted to try it.

Appearance - Pours the color of Coca-Cola, but when the light is put to it it is almost a deep red color. It could be like a black cherry style. No head, no lacing. A little carbonation can be seen at the edges of the glass. About the only thing that saves this is the packaging.

Smell - I did not get quite the nasal cornucopia that it seems some of the other readers did. While I did pick up on hints of dates, dark fruits, and a little pine, that was about it. Nothing special at all.

Taste - The dark fruits are again present, but not towards the end of the drink. A little candy, a little sugar, then the dark fruits (namely black cherries and plums) take over the palate. Not too bad.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, finishes with a dark fruit zip. But kind of watery and thin. It has a little creaminess to it, but I would like to see a little more robust quality.

Overall - Pretty unimpressive, if you ask me. I certainly would not buy it again, and I like winter warmers. Nothing about the brew really caught my attention at all. Had I not drank it 10 minutes ago, I wold have likely forgotten it by tomorrow. Not recommended for the money.

Photo of ocelot2500
3.45/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cola color with a big, tan head that leaves little bits of lacing.

Smells of spices, brown sugar, and a some herbal notes.

Tastes of a good amount of roasted malts with some spices. Roasted malts lead off with cocoa, brown sugar, and toasted bread. A small amount of dark fruits come in and add a slight sweetness. Spice notes come on the end and add a little clove and cinnamon. Finishes fairly dry.

Mouthfeel is medium-light with an underwhelming amount of carbonation.

Overall, this fits in with the other beers in this series, and isn't anything different from years past.

Photo of mttaylor1066
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This year's "Special Ale" certainly brings the spice...but the thin mouthfeel leaves me wanting more than what's in the glass.

Appears as a very dark blackish red with a colored, persistent foamy head. Ruby shines through when held to the light in my Belgian goblet.

Smells of piney resin with a date-like aroma. Another sniff reminds me of dark cherries and roasted black malt. I'm guessing that there are juniper berries in this year's boil.

Tastes like dark cherries and resinous hops. This brew is better than last year's recipe... but:

The mouthfeel is thin. There's a lot of spice that could benefit from a heavier body to carry it through on the palate. It's what's missing in this ale.

Overall, a better effort than 2011. Enjoyable but certainly less than great. I'd buy another six if I thought some of my friends would like an introduction to holiday ales.

Photo of psuKinger
4.18/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First Christmas beer of the Holiday season, and I start with this season's rendition of Anchor Christmas. Bottle poured into one of my Bruery tulips.

A: Pours a deep deep dark shade of ruby red. At first glance it's very much "black". Only on closer inspection can you see hints of that ruby-red glistening around the edges. A big thick frothy off-white head sits on top. The pour looks the part.

S: Pine. Licorice. Candied Sugar. Dates. This promises to be a spicy concoction.

T: Dry resiny pine with notes of cinnamon and black cherry cordials. The spices tingle and dance on the tongue. A good deal of malt sweetness, but it arrives in reverse order of what I typically expect. Here, the roasted malts make the presence felt late in the experience.

M: A bit thin for my tastes, but good carbonation and a nice creaminess in the mouth keep it from slipping below a 4.

D/O: An enjoyable seasonal offering. The only thing standing between this beer and holiday greatness was that it was just a little bit too light/thin in the body.

Photo of McStagger
4.07/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Loved the 2011. Let's see what this year has brought us.

A: Aggressive pour leads to two fingers mocha head. Moderate carbonation. Beer itself is a very dark garnet/ruby color. Looks like a porter, honestly. Retention is solid, with a nice pillow of foam gently receding.

S: Holiday spices. All spice, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. Caramel, toffee, raisined fruit and a bit of licorice. Has a bit of a candied smell. This sucker smells like Christmas.

T: Spices are more subtle in taste. Starts off with a huge bang of roastiness. Mid palate of darkened fruit and a candied taste reminiscent of a Belgian Quad. Subtle, but there. Fairly robust flavor of burnt toffee, coffee and a touch of smokiness. Noticeable amount of hop bitterness on the end, as well.

M: While I wouldn't call this a light beer by an stretch, the moderate carbonation and ABV are more than enough to carry the flavors across the palate. Neither watery nor unctuous, this beer has struck a nice balance of flavor and drinkability.

O: Went great with Thanksgiving dinner. Now to try it with the Christmas ham. Nice to get the smells of a Midwest Christmas in Southern California.

Photo of BeerManDan
3.18/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

In the last four years, this has to be the biggest disappointment for Anchor Steam Christmas Ale. The smell was of spices as usual, but not over powering. When tasted, the flavor was lacking spices that I've come to expect for this ale. Not a lot of flavor, but passable. Just a big disappointment for not exciding or matching the last couple of years! Shame on you!

Photo of Cyberkedi
3.99/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Comes out of the tap a luscious sable with a thick, fine-bubbled and persistent tan head. Roast malt aroma has a strong woody overtone with a hint of cloves. Flavor has a roast malt core with firm spicy notes, cloves, a little cinnamon, horehound, a hint or more of caramel, a hint of licorice, a bit of a varnishy note. Smooth, firm mouthfeel has plenty of fizz. Once again, a good holiday brew from Anchor.

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

Filled up at Grapevine in Fort Mill.
Extremely dark cola brown. Frothy off white head that disappears pretty quickly.

Aroma, a little bit of christmas spices, but even more juniper berry. Maybe a little anise.

Taste, Some near burnt graham cracker up front. Juniper berry again, very woody. Some molasses and cocoa later. These sweeter notes seem to increase as it warms. Still pretty "barky" or burnt.

Heavy side of light body, good carb. A little watery feeling however. Drinks pretty easy, maybe just a few too many forest ingredients.
I actually like it for a pretty easy drinker, but it is far from my favorite in the series.

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 UCLABrewN84
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
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 gtermi
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice dark black cherry body with a thick tan head that slowly fades and leaves a nice amount of lacing on the glass.

S: I am getting a nice amount of spice smell, some black licorice, sweet malt and sort of pine type smell.

T: Pretty faint compared to the previous years, but it is still pretty nice. I am picking up some strong malt and some spice and just a nice sweetness.

M: The beer is nice and creamy and leaves a dry feeling in my mouth. It has a full body and a tiny bit of crispness on the back of the throat.

O: This a solid beer and I will be throwing a few in the cellar to continue my Vintage. Not too bad, but not great either.

Photo of CloudStrife
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. 20K on the label of this 2012 batch.

A: Pours a dark brown with a hint of ruby on the sides of the glass. A 1.5 finger lightly tanned head. Leaves some good lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: First time I've actually been reminded of wet dog. Not sure if its the chocolate malts or one of the spices.

T: Licorice and malt seem to dominate this beer. Some dark fruits get through and there is also a hint of hop at the end. Takes a few minutes to get adjusted to.

M: Feels good on the mouth, creamy with just the right carbonation.

Overall an interesting winter blend. Happy I picked up just one but still happy I tried. Give it a go for an interesting take on a winter warmer.

Photo of Chris_Cali_2o9
4.3/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Sam Adams cup

A- Deep mahogany body with an 1 1/2" dark khaki head

S- Ginger, nutmeg, juniper berries, nutty malts, citrus hops

T- Follows the nose, spicey nutty malts balanced with citrusy hops that coat the tongue, and leave the sides tingling.

M- Medium bodied, good carbonation

O- Very nice brew and well balanced, never too spicey, sweet, or bitter. They roll in waves, separately. When i think of what a christmass beer should taste like, this is it.

Photo of zac16125
3.57/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintager 2012

A: Appears black until held to light, when real pretty, dark ruby hues emerge. Just over 2 fingers width of light mocha colored head had good retention before dissipating down to a bubbly film with thick outer ring. Leaves lots of really cool cobweb lacing.

S: Spicy with tons of nutmeg and cinnamon, orange rind, sweetness in the form of brown sugar and molasses. Smells like my grandma's Christmas cookies. Love it.

T: Taste doesn't really follow the nose, unfortunately. Theres a prominent roasty malt flavor thats reminiscent of a porter. I also get some bakers chocolate, citrus zest, a generic spice component and a touch of hop bitterness. There is a somewhat astringent component as well. Big disappointment after the stellar aroma.

M/D: A touch thin, but not terribly so. Carbonation of the heavier side of the spectrum, but plays well with the lighter body. Drinkability is good.

O: Starts off strong, looking good in the glass and having a wonderful aroma, but the taste just isn't there. Certainly worth trying, but no where near one of my favorite Christmas beers.

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