1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

682 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 682
Reviews: 192
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 14.25%
Wants: 14
Gots: 48 | 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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: beertunes on 10-22-2012)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 682 | Reviews: 192 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of oberon
3.48/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

oberon, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of FLBEERGUY25
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

FLBEERGUY25, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of WritersBlock
4/5  rDev +9.6%

WritersBlock, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of magictacosinus
3.48/5  rDev -4.7%
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!

magictacosinus, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of bump8628
3.44/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

bump8628, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of Sooch222
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Sooch222, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of MarkyMOD
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

MarkyMOD, Nov 28, 2012
Photo of dcook11
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%

dcook11, Nov 28, 2012
Photo of doucmehu
2.75/5  rDev -24.7%

doucmehu, Nov 28, 2012
Photo of DukeX13
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

DukeX13, Nov 28, 2012
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

thecheapies, Nov 28, 2012
Photo of sd123
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

sd123, Nov 28, 2012
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.

littlebibs, Nov 27, 2012
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.

drabmuh, Nov 27, 2012
Photo of ScubaSteve00
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

ScubaSteve00, Nov 27, 2012
Photo of ste5venla
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

ste5venla, Nov 26, 2012
Photo of goblue3509
3.45/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

goblue3509, Nov 26, 2012
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.

Brent, Nov 26, 2012
Photo of esdeebrew
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

esdeebrew, Nov 26, 2012
Photo of Optifron
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
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.

Optifron, Nov 26, 2012
Photo of GRPunk
3.85/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

GRPunk, Nov 26, 2012
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.

garymuchow, Nov 25, 2012
Photo of Larrydoherty
3.25/5  rDev -11%

Larrydoherty, Nov 25, 2012
Photo of Heronn
4.5/5  rDev +23.3%

Heronn, Nov 25, 2012
Photo of carnoustie7
2.25/5  rDev -38.4%

carnoustie7, Nov 25, 2012
Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 682 ratings.