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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.

193 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 193
Hads: 717
Avg: 3.7
pDev: 27.57%
Wants: 16
Gots: 70 | 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.
View: Beers (28) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 193 | Hads: 717
Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.13/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours the darkest, warmest amber I've ever seen. The compact thick head is beige and I could put a quarter dollar on it and it wouldm't sink - it looks fantastic. Slow dissipation leaves decent lacings.

S: Roasted sweet malt, very bready. This is very X-masy; cinnamon, cardamum, nutmeg some chocolate, some dark dried fruits as well as rich raspberries.

T: Nice; sour cherries up front along with loads of spices; cardamum and cinnamon. Licorice, chocolate and dark dried fruits along side with rich raspberries. Surprisingly enough, not that sweet.

M: Atftertaste is long and sour as well as bitter. Body is medium while carbonation is low, rather smooth though.

O: Nice Christmasy Winter Warmer; with lots of spices of the season along with nice maltyness.

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Photo of beertunes
3.18/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into 10oz goblet. Poured a very dark brown, almost light black, color with less than 1/4 inch of tan head that had low retention and no lacing.

The aroma had a nice little roast scent at the front and just some soft malts in the background. The flavors followed along nicely, the bit of roast lingered at the back, there just a hint of yeast spice and maybe some liquorice?

The body was good, smooth, even and well-rounded, but a bit thinner than I look for in the style. Drinkability was good, the went smooth and easy and I'll be drinking a couple more of these while they're around. Overall, a nice brew, as the OSA generally is.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.97/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

355ml bottle poured into tulip 30/11/12

A dark brown liquid and you can nearly see the other side of the glass under the foam, a thumbs width of dark tan head sits for a few sips leaving no lace

S root beer, Christmas cake, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise and a little coco mix with some hazelnut and toffee, just a little earthy wood notes as it warms

T slightly more anise notes and coco with a little ginger, the flavor mimics the smell fairly well other then that, the nutty and earthy notes come out a little more as it warms

M medium bodied and any more bubbles it would be a little airy but it stops short, nice spiced finish lingers faintly for a while

O I like it and it's good beer but from memory the last few versions have been world class, I'm still pleased and look forward to the rest of the 6er but I'm not completely blown away

I think I was looking for big piney or spruce notes and its not really there this year, please don't get me wrong this is a very nice brew but perhaps I'm just trying to re-live old memories

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Photo of bark
3.02/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

The colour is deep warm brown, the liquid is clear. The pale brown three finger head is compact, it sinks slowly leaving almost no lacing.

The smell is spicy with some clean bitter notes and a powerful sweetness. Cloves. Ginger? Paradise grains? Nutmeg? Lemon peels? Some roasted malts and quite a lot of toffee. Liquid Christmas...

The taste is quite dry and very spicy, not in a harsh way although they got some fat phenolic notes. Some toffee and caramel. The body is light, it doesn’t really measure up with the spices. The aftertaste is dry, almost astringent with Christmas spices, some butterscotch and a touch of alcohol. The finish is astringent, phenolic and not very pleasant.

The carbonation is medium strong, the mid-sized bubbles fresh. The liquid is quite dry.

Too much spices and an overall harsh feel makes this beer very unbalanced. One of the less impressive vintages of Our Special Ale I have had.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.14/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

(A)- Pours an extremely dark brown color. Some good tan froth and lacing.

(S)- A festive spice of cranberry, juniper and a pinch of what seems like mulberry and nutmeg too. A nice combination.

(T)- Similar to the smell. Amidst a nicely balanced subtle juniper and mulberry-like fruits is a harmonious nutmeg and nutty cocoa-like profile.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Dark fruit and spice is well balanced between the two. Rich but smooth too.

(O)- This might be my favorite vintage I have had so far. Always like to try this each year and am pleasantly surprised how much I liked this one.

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Photo of avalon07
3.58/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a dark brown color and a somewhat cloudy texture. There was an inch and a half of foamy, off white, fairly long-lasting head. Pretty good lacing.

S: A slightly muted aroma of spices and malt. Decent, but not forward enough.

T: Tasted of malt, something sugary (caramel?), and some spices (cinnamon, e.g.). A decent enough flavor, but not overly spectacular. Like the aroma, the flavor could have used a little push.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a super dry finish. Medium-bodied.

O: Not a bad beer, and drinkable, but a bit on the forgettable side.

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Photo of barczar
3.18/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque brown with strong garnet highlights and a solid half inch toffee head that leaves sheets of lacing.

Ginger, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg dominate the initial aroma, giving a cola impression. Smells fairly sweet.

Cola follows in the flavor, with ginger, clove, and cinnamon accompanying caramel malt, leading to a slightly roasted, almost acrid, bitter finish. Dark fruits and pine emerge as it warms.

Body is a touch syrupy, with carbonation on the high side of moderate.

Definitely a spicy winter warmer. The finish cleanses the palate nicely, but the initial flavor is overwhelmingly spicy. It's just not my favorite style.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.47/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, pours dark brown with a thin, beige head that dissipates quickly leaving minimal lacing. Spicy aroma with molasses, brown sugar, anise. Tastes are complex with dark malt, smoky, burnt caramel, molasses, brown sugar, plum, clove, allspice, faint cinnamon, faint pine, roasted chestnut perhaps; Christmasy nonetheless. Thin-to-medium body, moderate carbonation, finishes clean. Overall, good winter warmer & is actually the first time I've tried this perennial Anchor offering.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.73/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
5.5% ABV, 2OC punched in back label.

A - Clear and nutty brown pouring, Our Special Ale becomes nearly opaque black in the snifter and is crowned by a tightly packed tan head. The foam seems to disappear rapidly but specks of lace are left around the glass.

S - Each year a new tree is featured on the label of the ever-changing Anchor Our Special Ale and it's a primer for what follows as this winter warmer introduces itself with a pine and bold woodsy aroma. Toast and dry chocolate malt combine for a dusty nose that has nuances of baker's chocolate and spent coffee grounds with a hint of nuttiness. I imagine enjoying this in a log cabin with a wood fire roaring as gentle snow falls.

T - Dry pinecone, moisture-starved firewood, and toasted whole wheat bread encompass much of the beer's flavor with nutty undertones and suggestions of cocoa or mocha on the finish with a subtle nod to pine needle. Hints of dry spice are suggested as well, but certainly no particular flavors come to mind, rather a muddled sprinkle, possibly attributed to the other ingredients' blend.

M - Malt forward, the deprivation of hops doesn't quite mean a lack of balance as this beer is not sweet at all, nor is it bitter. Instead, it's bone dry with a hard water and somewhat gritty feel, further reflecting it's outdoorsy, earthiness.

O - While Anchor's recipe for their annual Our Special Ale changes from year to year, this beer is incredibly reminiscent of how I remember last year's batch being with a big push towards rustic, woodsy notes of, well, wood, pine, and nuttiness. I can imagine a glass of this in my hand on a cold Christmas day, but outside of the immediate holiday time, it's too strange a flavor for me to get into on a regular basis.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.2/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

on tap at bainbridge barrel house - served in pint

Pours a hazy toasted caramel color with a beige head resting on top. Decent retention, sticky webbed lacing on the glass.

Very spicy in the nose with touches of pine. Gingerbread, caramel, bread crust, toasted grain and a little sweet.

Bready and spicy up front with pine and nutmeg. Cinnamon, gingerbread and caramel sweetness. Light toasted malt body, a little thin with holiday spice in the finish.

Lighter medium body, decent carbonation, chewy and sticky on the tongue. I continue to try this every year, although it's still a fairly average holiday beer.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
3.99/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

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Photo of champ103
4.45/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is probably my favorite seasonal release. I Always look forward to my first six pack.

A: Pours a beautiful mahogany/ruby red color. A two finger Khaki head forms, and gently recedes. Rings of sticky lace is left behind. A looker.
S: Very reserved in the nose, but I still really enjoy it. Nutmeg with toasted malts. A light buttery aroma, quickly covered up by almonds, warm fresh backed bread. A deceivingly complex aroma emerges.
T: Like the nose, very reserved at first, but much more comes out as I work my way down. Toasted malts, baked bread , nutmeg and an almond nutty flavor. A light sweetness comes out toward the end, then a dry almost bitter coco. It is amazing how much delicate complexities emerge from this.
M/D: A medium body and carbonation. Very soft and velvety. So easy and enjoyable to drink. The bottle is gone in no time, and I am sure the rest of the six pack is not far behind.

Seems like the piney, almost allspice flavor is not there. Which has been a recurring theme. This release is more warm toasted and malty goodness. Again, a seasonal I look forward to every year, and for good reason. No doubt I will be getting more six packs again this year.

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Photo of Bung
3.53/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.58/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into pint glass

Appearance – The beer is poured a brown color with reddish hues shinning through. A huge tan head is present upon pouring. It has great retention, eventually fading to give a good level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma is sweet of cherry and some roasted brown bread aromas. Mixed with these aromas are spices of cinnamon and nutmeg with a god dose of pine hop. Rounding it all out is a light nut smell.

Taste –The taste begins with a roasted brown bread and light nut taste with a very small amount of toffee sweetness. A light dark fruit soon replaces the toffee. While the sweet taste changes, overall the sweet remains light throughout the taste. More roast flavors develop at the middle of the taste. These combined with an increasing spicy taste of cinnamon and nutmeg. At the end a good presence of pine and earthy hop come to the tongue. These create a green hop taste to linger on the tongue which mix with the spice and roast flavors to leave a slightly bitter roasted flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body is a on the slightly thicker side with a carbonation level that is on the lower side. They are rather good for the hop, roasted, and spice flavors of the brew and while only at 5.5 % make it more of a sipper then traditional brews of similar strength.

Overall – Not a bad more bitter and roasty winter ale. While I traditionally prefer something with a little more sweetness in a winter warmer, this beer has a nice blend of flavors and feel which are nice for the drier tastes.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.64/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a brandy snifter. Stamped 2OP.

A: Light head fades quickly atop a dark beer with ruby highlights.

S: Spicy, slightly sweet, and pleasant. This reminds me of Christmas...pine needles, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

T: Not my favourite...it's oddly-flavoured, with a slightly thin-sour taste that is not-quite metallic. The flavour is pervasive but brief, disappearing immediately when I swallow. The aftertaste is more pleasant, with the same herbal-earthy-spiciness noted in the nose.

M: Interesting, the mouthfeel is quite competent, offering a bold presence on the palate, a dry-spiciness that mitigates the lack of carbonation, and a silky texture at times.

O: Not a bad holiday ale, but nothing I'll rush back to. Not recommended; would have another.

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Photo of Brenden
3.61/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The looks is thick, about a medium-fairly dark brown with a bit of a red hue and barely opaque if even that. The head is as thick as the body and heavy, rising higher than two fingers and showing good, if not very good, retention. It leaves some excellent lacing as it drops, even after fading to a fairly thick foam.
This beer offers a bit of caramel and toffee, but almost with less sweetness, as though the elements of the flavors are there but most of the sugars have been cooked out. it's still got a touch of sweetness, though. In equal effect are also less sweet, kitchen-type spices (nutmeg comes to mind, and a mustiness like certain poultry rubs (it sounds bad, but i don't mean it to). A touch of ginger and some evident clove notes are also present in the spicing. Some piney Northwest hops sit in there, and it's fairly strong, but even stronger is an extremely roasty malt backbone setting it all down. Ultimately, I think a touch more sweetness would do it good. As is, it's definitely a solid beer.
The feel is good, thick and creamy with a nice body, weighty enough to carry the load but without being overly heavy. There's also enough crispness to give it some life without being too crisp for a malt-forward beer, and a nice complement to the smoothness. If anything takes away, it's a bit of a sticky/slick mixture flashing in and out, first at the beginning then coming in at the finish.

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Photo of popery
3.7/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is one of my favorite winter spiced beers. This year's entry is an interesting take, though not particularly strong compared to recent years, in my opinion. It pours a dark, rich brown color, sort of a reddish wood shade. Outside of direct light, it looks nearly black. Good tan head. The aroma is a pleasant mix of dark malt and restrained spicing. It's woodier than most spiced beers, though it still tends toward the normal nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon range. There's some nice cocoa and caramel flavors. It smells a bit like a spiced Christmas pastry. Taste is similar. It's not too terribly sweet. There's a very light woody sour note. More caramel is noticeable and a bit less spice. It's almost porter-ish. Light band-aid note in the finish. Mouthfeel is good. A bit sticky but pleasantly so. I mostly just wish that the flavors were stronger. I would love to try a bigger version of this beer, particularly if they could brew it without increasing the sweetness too much.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.26/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep amber to black in color with a tan head. In the aroma, light pine, a small roast, and a caramel like presence. In the taste, pine like, roasty caramel, and a touch sticky sweet. A spice like bite and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry caramel and spice like aftertaste. Not as piney as years past, nice roast and average spices.

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Photo of FLima
3.81/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Aged for a year.
Dark brown ruby color with a thick caramel head with great retention and leaving some laces.
Delicious aroma with notes of prunes, mint leaves, chocolate and caramel malt, molasses, nutmeg and tangerines.
Flavor of chocolate malt, pepper, dark fruits, earth, lemon, herbal and citrus hops and Port Wine. Hints of smoke, ginger, cinnamon, oregano and licorice. Dry aftertaste with medium bitterness.
Light, though smooth body with low carbonation of tiny bubbles.
Original flavor and aroma, this would be a great Winter Warmer if it had more body and higher alcohol content. Damn! Another annual slavering beer.

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Photo of gtermi
3.58/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

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Photo of Suds
3.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This year's ale is a dark brown color with a tan, large-bubbled head. The aroma is of Christmas spices and malt. It's a bit of a muted smell, but mulling spice is evident, backed by a brown malt and moderately roasty scent. The taste is pleasant...brown sugar, malt, orange peel and clove. It has a tongue numbing sensation that's somehow appropriate. Firm and full in body. This is a very enjoyable holiday ale.

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Photo of Gmann
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky dark chocolate brown color with a short yet dense khaki head that settled into a light ring.

The aroma is of a brown bread malt with a caramel and buttery toffee note. Ginger spice with a candied orange scent. A hint of pine to complete the festive aroma. Not super strong.

The taste is pretty big on the spice notes. Ginger and candied fruit, along with the malt, give the beer a fruit cake type flavor. Some juniper and light anise notes give the beer some bitterness. Hint of light roast in the end. Not very hop flavorful, perhaps some pine notes to go along with the juniper flavor.

The feel is moderate to full with surprisingly spritzy carbonation. The carbonation helps break up the body a bit. Good balance between sweet, spice, and bitterness on the palate. Finishes slightly dry, bitter, and a touch sticky.

Another good version of the OSA. Spice dominate which seems to be the trend over the past few years. Nothing says "Christmas Ale" like OSA.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.78/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into block 15 snifter.

A: Pours a very deep maroon with a couple fingers of light brown head. Head slowly faded into a faint color leaving spotty lace down the glass.
S: Spruce tips, cinnamon and ginger come to mind with hints of clove, nutmeg, faint citrus, caramel, and dark fruits.
T: Follows the nose with pine, spruce, clove, caramel, ginger, cardamom, cocoa, orange zest, and brown sugar. I get hints of mint and allspice in the finish and ginger and spruce in the aftertaste.
M: Medium-full body, sweet but not cloying, soft and fluffy carbonation. Mouthfeel is sweet, definitely a dessert type beer.
O: Will likely age as well as the others. Flavors are bright and sweet. A little time some of the sweetness should die down. Drinks very good as is though. Cheers.

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Photo of rlee1390
3.7/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Deep brown in the glass, amber when pouring, one finger tan head.

S-Candied sugar, pine, caramel with some burnt notes.

T-Starts with some candied sugar, tad bit of caramel, not much spices.

M-Light and a tad watery not much carbonation.

O-Anchor dropped the ball on this Christmas, Usually I look forward to this brew but this year it was a let down.

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Photo of StoutHunter
3.68/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked up a bottle of Anchor's Our Special Ale, a couple weeks ago for $1.99 at The Lager Mill. I wanted to get a few different Christmas beers that I haven't had before and this one caught my eye so I thought I would give it a try, so lets see how it goes. 2012 Vintage. Poured from a shorter brown bottle into a tulip.

A- I like the label on this beer it's pretty simple, but it looks nice and isn't overdone and I like the extra info about the beer. It poured a dark brown color that took on some ruby hues when held to the light with three and a half fingers worth of fluffy dark tan head that died down to a thick ring that stayed till the end and left lots of nice lacing. This was a very good looking beer, the color and head were very nice.

S- The aroma starts off with starts off with loads of spices that are pretty strong and very unique, it's got the typical Winter Warmer spices with nutmeg sticking out, but there's also a heavy ginger aroma and combined with other spices make an almost spiced perfume like aroma that's pretty unique. After that comes some brown sugar and a slight bit of dark fruits followed by the malts which impart a pretty sweet roasted aroma. I liked the aroma of this beer, it's not the best I have ever encountered but it's so unique that I just can't stop smelling it and I think it's good.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma, it starts off with this unique burnt sugar flavor followed by a good amount of roasted malts that had a medium amount of sweetness to it and imparted some roasted and grainy flavors follows by a noticeable molasses flavor. After that comes the spices which mix with the unique burnt sugar flavor to make and even more unique flavor with ginger coming through. On the finish there's a slight earthy hop flavor followed by a slightly lighter amount of medium bitterness and some roasted, slightly charred and spiced flavors in the aftertaste. This beer tasted nice, I didn't love the taste of this beer, but it wasn't bad and it was pretty different.

M- Fairly smooth, creamy, a little sticky, medium bodied with a nice slightly higher amount of medium carbonation. The mouthfeel was nice and it worked well with this beer.

Overall I thought that was a nice beer and a slightly above average Winter Warmer, there's no confusing this beer with any other Winter Warmer the flavor and aroma were very distinctive. This beer didn't have the greatest drinkability, it went down fairly smooth, but the flavor was a little too much for me to want to have another one in a row, one is just enough for me. What I liked the most about this beer was the appearance, it was very good with nice color, great head, and good lacing. What I liked the least about this beer was the drinkability, the mouthfeel should help the drinkability, but the flavor really doesn't make me want to come back for more. I would buy this beer again for Christmas next year but I won't be getting any more of this years batch. I would recommend giving this a try, it a very unique Winter Warmer. All in all i was happy with this beer, I liked how different it was and that it just wasn't a heavily spiced brown ale, it was much more than that. Anchor made a pretty solid beer for this years Our Special Ale, and I am down to see how next years release is. I need to get around to trying more Anchor beers, their a pretty solid brewery.

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