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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.
BA SCORE
83
good

711 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 711
Reviews: 196
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 14.52%
Wants: 16
Gots: 59 | 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: 711 | Reviews: 196
Photo of avisong
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.67/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.91/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

Photo of circus_cat
3/5  rDev -17.8%

Photo of bbadger
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of tkelley
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
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!

Photo of woodychandler
4.11/5  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.

Photo of BenjaminBlondbeard
3.43/5  rDev -6%
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.

Photo of drewone
3.25/5  rDev -11%

Photo of solarbeers
3/5  rDev -17.8%

Photo of baconman91
4.75/5  rDev +30.1%

Photo of ObeMaltKinobee
3.25/5  rDev -11%

Photo of mactrail
3.23/5  rDev -11.5%
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.

Photo of crownrl28
3/5  rDev -17.8%

Photo of KickbacksSteve
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
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).

Photo of DougRFlowers
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of Salacioussiren
3.25/5  rDev -11%

Photo of RhodyNative
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of drtth
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of damndirtyape
4.05/5  rDev +11%
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.

Photo of acp21178
4.5/5  rDev +23.3%

Photo of RobertColianni
4.1/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

Photo of ryser2k
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of IPAFrankieH
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of Gehrig13
3.25/5  rDev -11%

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Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 711 ratings.