Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company
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Ratings: 674 | Reviews: 192 | Display Reviews Only:
3.74/5 rDev +2.5%
As I consider Anchor's "Our Special Ale" the godfather of American Winter Warmers, its the same irrational love and hate I have with this beer as I do that family member that I miss throughout the year, but once they're with me I see all of their warts.
True to form, the ale pours a deep "bark" brown color with tawny and russet brown low-lights about its edges. As the ale builds a tarnish brown but light and fluffy head, it recedes into a dense and fluid blanket within a minute or so. Its lace is scattered and random as artistic patterns emerge on the glass.
Charred toast, campfire wood and dry cocoa pangs on the olfactory senses with a spicy twinge of burnt caramel, molasses and ground coffee. Its earthy scent is tangy with elements of chicory, pine needles, roasted grapes, and pine cones as the first drink draws near.
Its flavor starts of quite robust with the taste of burnt sugars- molasses, toffee and honey leading the way. Its charred edges side with burnt toast, smoldering embers and root-like spices: chicory, fennel, aniseed and licorice all fade into the taste of red grapes, grape skin and grape seed. Couple that with common allspice, nutmeg, snappy ginger and cinnamon, and the ale sings a Christmasy tone. Somewhat tangy in its dry taste, its obvious that its charred astringency is as prevalent in taste as it is in mouthfeel- its tannin-rich character makes it seem like dry, oak-aged merlot in its finish.
With a year on this ale, it seems that the wine-like and spicy elements of the beer are joined with savory, almost-salty flavors that are common in more melanoidin-rich lagers and ales. There's a certain hard-to-describe "meatiness" to the beer that makes it even more memorable.
Its medium-light body, the beer is given a lift with its abundance of carbonation that creamies things up considerably. But once the carbonation wisps away, it leaves behind the spicy tannin from spices and grain char to clean the palate with spices that close powdery and malty-dry.
What's incredibly about the beer is how robust, woody and toasted that the beer starts out, but then how if finishes so dry and drinkable. It almost makes me want to ignore the powerful astringent properties that leave the palate unsettled. Just like that uncle that irritated you all weekend but you'll miss the heck out of him til next year.
01-02-2014 17:27:36 | More by BEERchitect
3.73/5 rDev +2.2%
12 oz. bottle, with a more than obvious vintage date. Code on the back label appears to read PSY. My eighth of these yearly winter releases from Anchor. Expectations are decent based on my experience with the others.
Poured into a clear balloon snifter.
A - Pours a dark ruddy caramel colored body; opaque in the glass. One finger of creamy tan head that thins to a ring quickly. Some thin spotty lacing. Looks alright.
S - The spice rack notes seem to take center stage of this years' vintage. Allspice, basil, nutmeg, cloves, & some licorice / anise. Chocolate malt. Cream. Some vanilla. Caramel. Toffee. Wood. And some earthy yeast.
T - Taste follows the nose. Caramel malt. Chocolate malt. Toffee. Cola. Wood. Candied raisins / dates / figs. Some earthy / bubblegum yeast. And lots of herbal spice rack notes - allspice, cloves, licorice, oregano, nutmeg. Sprucey, vinous, dirty, and herbal.
M - Feel is crisp and medium bodied with good carbonation that has held up well.
Overall, not my favorite vintage, but this is undeniably a must have winter beer each and every year. This years' vintage takes the more spice forward approach, which I am less fond of, but I would be very interested to see how this beer holds up in the years to come.
Anchor Brewing Our Special Ale 2012 ---3.5/5
01-01-2014 02:41:38 | More by mfnmbvp
3.59/5 rDev -1.6%
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.
12-30-2013 21:01:54 | More by Eisen
3.83/5 rDev +4.9%
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.
11-30-2013 22:35:45 | More by chinchill
Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 674 ratings.