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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
84
good

193 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 193
Hads: 714
rAvg: 3.71
pDev: 10.51%
Wants: 16
Gots: 67 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 193 | Hads: 714
Photo of mttaylor1066
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
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. (872 characters)

Photo of Scottyboy
4.18/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A Pours a deep mahogany red w/ one and a half finger tan head. Nice lacing remains 3/4 through the tulip glass then fades to nothing.

S Spicy, nutmeg, allspice and kind of woodyl

T Smoky, spicy, peppery, licorice, malty backbone and a touch of piney hops. Seems appropriately balanced. Wonderful finish and aftertaste. The spice retains its presence far behind the initial swallow.

Mf Bity and thick not too carbonated. Great substance.

O I love this ale thus far - far better than prior years effort.

A- (509 characters)

Photo of TheBigLebrewski
3.99/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Weird, interesting beer. Indeed, almost every aspect of the beer surprised me! Much darker than expected, though a lightly colored head. Necco wafers (!), berried hard candy and a touch of juniper in the smell, along with some mellow but certain root beer action. Summarily, smells like a root beer Necco wafer. None-the-less, not too sweet, nor junipery in the flavor. That being said, definitely on the sweeter side, but even as a guy who shies from such, I'm enjoying this one. Actually a pretty enjoyable flavor, if not a bit confusing. Indeed, this is a good example of a beer with a heavily accented flavor that is still well-balanced in it's overall taste. Mouthfeel was a bit sparse, and aftertaste suffered in comparison to the flavor, but these weren't detriments. My only complaint is that it never really occurred to me what I was drinking. Which, come to think of it, isn't necessarily a complaint.

Off to work on this very large bottle. Happy Holidays BAs. (972 characters)

Photo of DannyHartman
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
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. (847 characters)

Photo of jdb288
3.21/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Draft at Beer Exchange.

Pours muddy brown with minimal head. Aroma is chocolate, burnt hay. Taste is spicy - clove, coriander, grape must. Too spicy for my personal tastes.

The "bouquet" of spices was not my favorite combination and ultimately led to me ditching the bottle altogether. Too much flavor going on for and not enough balance. (342 characters)

Photo of Eisen
3.56/5  rDev -4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

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. (539 characters)

Photo of Chas58
3.55/5  rDev -4.3%
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. (1,082 characters)

Photo of Goatshaver
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very very dark red color with a nice light-reddish tan hued head to it. I smell dark fruit, slight malt with a little spice note. Taste is great with the dark fruits, ginger and juniper. Easily drinkable and appropriate for the season and a very good well balanced winter seasonal brew. (294 characters)

Photo of NovoAleMan
4.22/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Good head retention. 2 fingers of foam. Dark, black appearance, stout-like. 4.5/5

Smell: Rich smell, slightly sweet. Hoppy, and another smell I can't quite put my finger on. But I really like it. 5/5.

Taste: Interesting taste. Moderately bitter. Slight mint flavor, noticeable most of all in aftertaste. 3.75/5

Mouthfeel: Sits well in the mouth. A bit bubbly, but goes down smooth. 4/5.

Overall: Solid beer. 4.25/5 (430 characters)

Photo of BenjaminBlondbeard
3.43/5  rDev -7.5%
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. (958 characters)

Photo of sammygt
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

picked up a six pack of this beer and a 1.5L bottle. this review is based on the 12 oz bottles. this beer has a great brown caramel color and produced decent head. it was very aromatic, and was a definite reminder that this is a Christmas beer. I really like Christmas beers and this is one of my favorites (as a series). the 2012 felt a little thin while drinking it, but the flavor, color, and overall drinkability make it a great choice still. (446 characters)

Photo of andys_war_hall
3.62/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Poured a nice dark brown, with a finger head, that had nice retention.

S: Had a slight carameltoffee sent, along with an earthy toasty malt smell.

T: Big cocoa and toffee flavor up front. Right away the chocolate is what I noticed. On the back end I was reminded of raisins and cherries. There was also just a hint of plum.

M: Mouthfeel was just where I thought it should be. It was not overly thick, and not too watery. It went down smoothly, leaving the palate ready for the next sip.

O: Overall, I thought this was a really decent holiday brew. It was exactly what I expected from it and nothing more. I enjoyed this years, and look forward to the next. (709 characters)

Photo of brihenry
3.23/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured in tulip. A deep dark brown to dark amber when tilted with a firm off white head that leaves lingering lace. A very faint sweet aroma with a trace of nutmeg. Toast and a cracker-like bread flavor with strong nutmeg spice. There's a slight tart sweetness following the spice, and some mild pine hop character. The body is a bit thin, there's not much a malt base to it, fairly dry at the end, with tight, but not much, carbonation.

Overall the spice and toasty dryness do make it a dark festive beer, great for this dark, wet afternoon. (543 characters)

Photo of equinox
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

This has been a personal tradition for me since many years. It is possibly due to my taste becoming more sophisticated, but I have to admit to being a tad disappointed. The mouthfeel was thin. This years version seemed to have little hop-presence. I did not get that Christmas tree pine note that has been present in prior years. It approaches a "sessionable" quality.
I still enjoyed this Ale, and I intend to purchase it again and maintain the tradition. But in the past where I've bought several six-packs, I might just buy one six-pack in the future. My feeling is that Anchor might need to acknowledge that its customers are becoming more sophisticated and "up-their-game" in the future. Perhaps offer an entirely different style as a change of pace; maybe a belgian or IPA. (779 characters)

Photo of pchang90
3.2/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The color and smell was appealing and the unique juniper aromatics which makes it the perfect winter seasonal beer. Unfortunately, this did not appeal to me, so I did not enjoy it so much. If you don't like potpourri, then you won't like this beer. (248 characters)

Photo of chadaris
4.43/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite beers, although this year's in not as good as the 2010. Pours close to black, with a light grey-brown head. Great balance, and not just between malt sweetness and hops, but amongst the malt, hops, and the spices. Mild hop bitterness on the finish combined with some of the spices. As another reviewer noted, would like it to be a bit "bigger", but still an excellent beer and my perennial favorite in this class. (431 characters)

Photo of BumpinFuzzys
3.03/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Let me preface this review by saying that I think Anchor is one of the great breweries of the World. Steam Beer is my go-to beer of choice.

That being said, I think that for 38 years Fritz and company have been putting one over on us. That is, beer snobs have waxed poetically about a product that would be better suited for cleaning hubcaps (I'm speaking of the old school chrome variety)

Since the 70's, I've made my annual Monday-After-Thanksgiving pilgrimage to the brewery to purchase my 24 bottle case of this stuff. My beer-drinking friends and I were always convinced that the brewers threw every last bit of malt and hops they had in their warehouse into the kettle and topped it off with some spices. Quite the joke!

Now, Anchor has new owners. They seem to look at the bottom line a little differently. While the color and aroma are still there, the alcohol content and the aftertaste are less pronounced because of, I suspect, a reduction in ingredients.

Anchor Christmas Ale has always been a rite of passage. I've tried to pass this rite onto my sons. It was never about enjoyment.If you want enjoyment, hunt down some Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. It was more about persevering. Starting that case and finishing it.

So for that "Life's Lesson" , Anchor, I give you a 4.0 (1,292 characters)

Photo of HumulusLupulus
3.63/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown liquid topped with frothy topping of head. Nose gives off scents of black licorice along with dashes of assorted spices. The drink is both funky and weird with flavors of different spices, black licorice and green herbs that I don’t particularly care for. However, the dark malt profile of this beer makes up for the dizzying addition of spices and will probably hold up nicely during a year or more of cellaring. Hopefully some of those strong spice flavors will fade out with time and make this a more drinkable beer. (532 characters)

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Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 193 ratings.