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Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) | Anchor Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
84
good
195 Reviews
THE BROS
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Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by beertunes on 10-22-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

BEER STATS
Reviews:
195
Ratings:
722
Avg:
3.7
pDev:
27.3%
 
 
Wants:
17
Gots:
72
For Trade:
2
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 195 | Ratings: 722
Photo of shand
4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This year's Our Special Ale gives off a huge spruce nose, along with cinnamon, chocolate, and the requisite spice rack. The taste is - go figure, heavy on spices. I could try to pick out all the individual spice notes, but that'd be an exercise in futility. If you've got a favorite winter spice, it's probably in here, hanging out with the vanilla and roast flavors. Mercifully, the spices don't linger too long, leaving a wholly pleasant roasted malt aftertaste with just a touch of cinnamon. Mouthfeel is spot-on, as Anchor tends to be, and the drinkability is great. Just like every year, Our Special Ale is a solid Winter Warmer. It's way past Christmas, but I'm glad I have this for the cold snap tonight.

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Photo of facundoCNB
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

bought a comically large bottle. pours a deep reddish black with lots of fluffy off white almost tan head. smells of spruce, nutmeg, ginger, a hint of gin (without the alcohol). the flavor is pretty much a blend of all of these.. which unfortunately do not blend well at all. it is quite a distinguished flavor, but definitely not something i believe i can drink the entire giant bottle of. definitely get a cinnamon taste, along with maybe nutmeg.. ginger is there, as is the spruce, chocolate notes, bitter with a really strange off putting aftertaste. watery porter-like mouthfeel.. medium body on the lighter side, moderate carbonation.

this was really not my type of thing this year. way different than what i remember from last year.. here's hoping for a better one in 2013

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Photo of gillagorilla
3.44/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle into a pint glass

A: Deep red if held up to the light. It has a strong head on the pour that diminishes quite rapidly.

S: Sweet, malty roast with a cherry rye.

T: Kind of like an old ale that seems like a cheap, old stale wine.

M: Crisply smooth with a few bubbles.

O: Not a fan. I couldn't finish it, but it might just not be my style.

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Photo of RickS95
4.11/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Extremely dark compared to a lot of the seasonals I've been seeing lately. Brownish, ruby, burgundy color. It's fairly clear, despite the darkness. The head is stellar. As large as you want it to be, looks like the head of A&W Root Beer, kind of IPA like.

Spice fest in the nose. Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg all dazzle. There's some malt in there, but hops take a backseat.

Tastes follows the nose in that spices are front and center with malt , and almost no hop presence.

Feel is a bit lacking compared to the other components because it's got a loose, watery feel. Obviously, it's spicy and the malt gives it some body, but it's just a bit watered down. Spices from beginning to end with a faint bitterness in the swallow.

Overall, another good winter beer from Anchor. Really tastes like the winter.

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

A: Dark leather broken pour with a hint of red. Good tan head that remains.

S: Initial floral smell much like jasmine.

T: Floral element continues into the taste. Dark malts and dried fruits like prunes. Very woodsy. Mild spices.

M: Dry finish. Moderate carbonation.

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Photo of ocelot2500
3.45/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cola color with a big, tan head that leaves little bits of lacing.

Smells of spices, brown sugar, and a some herbal notes.

Tastes of a good amount of roasted malts with some spices. Roasted malts lead off with cocoa, brown sugar, and toasted bread. A small amount of dark fruits come in and add a slight sweetness. Spice notes come on the end and add a little clove and cinnamon. Finishes fairly dry.

Mouthfeel is medium-light with an underwhelming amount of carbonation.

Overall, this fits in with the other beers in this series, and isn't anything different from years past.

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Photo of zac16125
3.57/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintager 2012

A: Appears black until held to light, when real pretty, dark ruby hues emerge. Just over 2 fingers width of light mocha colored head had good retention before dissipating down to a bubbly film with thick outer ring. Leaves lots of really cool cobweb lacing.

S: Spicy with tons of nutmeg and cinnamon, orange rind, sweetness in the form of brown sugar and molasses. Smells like my grandma's Christmas cookies. Love it.

T: Taste doesn't really follow the nose, unfortunately. Theres a prominent roasty malt flavor thats reminiscent of a porter. I also get some bakers chocolate, citrus zest, a generic spice component and a touch of hop bitterness. There is a somewhat astringent component as well. Big disappointment after the stellar aroma.

M/D: A touch thin, but not terribly so. Carbonation of the heavier side of the spectrum, but plays well with the lighter body. Drinkability is good.

O: Starts off strong, looking good in the glass and having a wonderful aroma, but the taste just isn't there. Certainly worth trying, but no where near one of my favorite Christmas beers.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.81/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass.

Appearance: Super dark brown, with medium bubbles on the body. Tan head roughly 1/3" with a vigorous pour.

Smell: Light nutty smell, like I'm sniffing almonds and pecans with a mix of sweet hops.

Taste: Honestly I can indulge into how smooth this brew is. Bitter with pieces of spice like a small light dose of nutmeg to it plus a hit of pine.

Mouth: Medium carbonation, not exactly what I expected as far as how sticky I would like.

Overall: After sitting on the shelf for all these months it's an honor and a pleasure to finally have this. All you need is a glass...Salud!

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Photo of RobertColianni
4.1/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

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Photo of Hibernator
4.38/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Anchor Our Special Ale - 2012
12 oz brown bottle
Freshness date - 2SY
Served in a Smuttynose Big Beer tulip glass

Anchor Our Special Ale is one of the most anticipated winter craft beers for me. I picked up a 6 pack last night, stored a couple for a later date and decided to review one this evening.

Pours a deep chestnut brown with excellent highlights. A fluffy, khaki colored head forms, leaving trails of sticky lacings that decorate the glassware.

The nose is inviting with whiffs of roasted malts, ginger, nutmeg and various spices.

A creamy and chewy malt backbone with distinct flavors of milk chocolate, cinnamon cookies, allspice and fresh pine. A remarkably smooth and complex winter warmer that captures all of the flavors of the season.

This seasonal should never be underestimated, a true legend in the ever growing market of seasonal beers.

Cheers!

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

Poured into a pint glass
A: Aggressive pour yields nearly 1 finger of brown head with good retention. Clear dark-brown liquid.
S: Nutmeg, cinnamon, clove heavy. Slight fennel seed, caramel, black pepper.
T: Malt forward, slightly peaty,slight dark chocolate, maybe chili powder. Winter warmer/spiced ale riffed on a brown ale I think. Maybe coconut added? Flavor is a tad artificial.
M: Round, chewy
O: Pleasant, but a tad spice/natural flavoring heavy. Maybe I'd have another, I won't buy 6

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Photo of AdamBear
3.78/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A-very dark brown with a nice thick tan head

S-nutmeg, brown sugar, cinnamon, with an odd scent of curry. very bold and to the point. strong scent.

T-comes in with an okay flavor of slightly soured dark grains and coconut curry and white peppercorn. continues with after-taste mostly of peppery bread. good flavor, though not as strong as the scent.

M-really heavy carbonation with a slightly watery finish. the carbonation alone reminds me of a belgian.

O-this might always be one of my favorite winter warmers. I'm not particularly found of this year's as opposed to other years though. It has a certain spoiled flavor to it that does not belong. it gets stronger as i drink it. starting not to enjoy this actually.

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Photo of artoolemomo
3.38/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Pours up two fingers' worth of head which seems, at the moment, to have pretty good retention. The head is a medium beige while the body is chocolate brown with hints of maroon and garnet which appears maroon with hints of dark amber when held up to the light. A bit of lacing with sheeting emerging from the surface.

Nose- Still smells like Christmas. Juniper is the the primary aroma at first but other evergreens take over (pine, cedar, etc.). This is followed by deep red fruits- berries, plums, and cherry. Some raisin to the point of fruitcake from the bottle after the pour. Some medicinal notes from the botanicals that are still fresh and inviting. Light caramel in the background.

Taste- Sweetness from the red fruits begins the flavor profile with woodiness barging in almost immediately afterward. There's a distinct bitterness to it that hints at both oak and coffee. The red fruits seem candied but are quickly canceled out by the wood. As I drink more, the sweetness comes out more and balances out the wood. Some prunes (not really my thing), a little bit of raisin, but mostly prunes. A bit thin (it is almost a year old, though) but still has plenty of presence. It's not an amazing beer by any stretch of the imagination but I am impressed by how well it's held up over the course of a year. Slightly medicinal on the finish. Too much prune flavor for me but it's still an above average beer. Lots of pine and cedar. No real juniper in the flavor profile.

Mouthfeel- Close to medium bodied with loads of carbonation and some syrup to the texture. Maybe a little too much carbonation.

Drinkability- Pretty easygoing. Standard price of Anchor's products. Although, I can't understand why anyone buys magnums of this. To showoff?

Overall- Is it really fair to review a beer that is 11 months old? Given how well it's held up- I would have to say yes. Above average, but short of solid. Definitely worth a try and I will have to try it fresh. Great for someone who likes Christmas anytime of year. (Or someone who really likes prune juice.)

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Photo of mscudder
3.33/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a globe.

A - Deep chocolate brown, one may say black hue with a finger of amber-infused ivory head. Lace and retention were good.

S - Sweet Christmas spices, gingerbread and a touch of warmth. Almost smells like a cold Starbucks Gingerbread Latte.

T - Really nothing amazing here. I must say I was really sad when I dove in. Soft spices, cinnamon and a bit of caramel malts. Nothing is bold about this beer, just underwhelming.

M - Medium body with high carbonation to compliment the spices. Finishes quite dry.

O - I absolutely love the past few installments in this series and frankly, this is just a bust. I will not return to this for the remainder of the season. Tis a sad day.

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Photo of BeerManDan
3.18/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

In the last four years, this has to be the biggest disappointment for Anchor Steam Christmas Ale. The smell was of spices as usual, but not over powering. When tasted, the flavor was lacking spices that I've come to expect for this ale. Not a lot of flavor, but passable. Just a big disappointment for not exciding or matching the last couple of years! Shame on you!

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.05/5  rDev +9.5%
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.

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Photo of magictacosinus
3.55/5  rDev -4.1%
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!

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Photo of M_C_Hampton
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

A: poured from a 12 oz bottle into a nonic pint glass, pours a dark red brown almost black with a huge tan head that dissipates slowly leaving good lacing, clear

S: vanilla, pine, mulled wine spices, cinnamon, nutmeg,

T: vanilla, chocolate, raisins, cranberry, cherry, cola, some malt sweetness, a little hop bitterness at the end

M: surprisingly thin feeling

O: this beer has a wonderful smell that screams holiday season, the flavors ate subtle but complex, it feels like drinking a soda much more than a beer though

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Photo of axeman9182
3.55/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, poured into my NEBCO tulip.

Our Special Ale 2012 pours not quite entirely black, with a decent amount of ruby highlights. Somewhere between one and two fingers of khaki colored foam crowns the beer. Head retention and lacing are both solid, yet unspectacular. The nose is nice, with roasty and caramel aromas providing a base for the cinnamon and ginger to featured over. There's some more caramel, plus a light dusting of chocolate at the front end of each sip. Bitterness is minimal, and the spicing provides the close. Here it's more cinnamon dominant, with ginger coming across in clearly a supporting role. It's also a little bit more muted than in the aroma. The body is way too light. The way it's almost watery is especially noticeable when the spices come in at the end. The carbonation is alright given the body, but if the beer had a more substantial body it probably wouldn't be adequate. I'm a bit let down by the 2012 vintage of OSA from Anchor. It's just not a particularly impressive winter warmer.

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Photo of GRPunk
3.89/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

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Photo of DavidST
4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip/pint glass, 2012 edition. This pours a dark mahogany brown with a two finger tan head which has decent retention and leaves a lacing. The smells are full of spices, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, some bread malts. The feel is medium, a little tingly. The taste is good, you get a load of spices, the bitter cinnamon, some hazelnut, the bread malts, plenty of sweetness, nice winter drink.

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Photo of TheMultiYeast
3.38/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I always look forward to this release. Dark reddish brown with two fingers of tan head.

Loads of spice notes in aroma, mainly nutmeg. Musty, dusty, dry, sweet smelling.

More nutmeg in taste with malty undertones, figs, light roasted character, plumbs, and distinct bitterness.

Light body on this one..semi dry finish with bitter aftertaste.

Pretty good but not a mind blower. Great session brew for the holidays.

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Photo of teromous
3.39/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown color, very hard to see through. A lush tan head that is thick and stands well. Pretty good lacing, leaving some lines and spots.

S: Huge malty sweetness and some alcohol burn in the nose. A hint of butter in the background. Not extremely complex but I would say it smells alright...pretty average. It smells like it should have a much higher ABV.

T: Lots of caramel flavor. There's some mellow coffee as well. It has a tea quality to it, where it's slightly bitter but like a tea leaf bitterness.

M: It has a pretty full mouthfeel. Sweet but not slick. The caramel and light buttery flavor start to wear on me while I drink it.

O: If you drink enough of this, it will fill you up pretty fast. The beer could really be a meal by itself. It's easy to drink because of its mellow blend of flavors and light bitterness, but I wouldn't be able to drink more than one because of its filling nature and sweetness. I would drink it again but it's not at the top of my to-buy list. Easily forgettable, but not a bad beer at all.

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Photo of tjsdomer2
3.23/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Appearance: Extremely dark for a winter warmer. Basically a stout with excellent tan/white foam and lacing.

Smell: Sugar plums and nutmeg.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Tastes like coke and coffee. Really flat overall though, which ruins the flavor.

Overall: Very promising, but very disappointing.

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

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. 20K on the label of this 2012 batch.

A: Pours a dark brown with a hint of ruby on the sides of the glass. A 1.5 finger lightly tanned head. Leaves some good lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: First time I've actually been reminded of wet dog. Not sure if its the chocolate malts or one of the spices.

T: Licorice and malt seem to dominate this beer. Some dark fruits get through and there is also a hint of hop at the end. Takes a few minutes to get adjusted to.

M: Feels good on the mouth, creamy with just the right carbonation.

Overall an interesting winter blend. Happy I picked up just one but still happy I tried. Give it a go for an interesting take on a winter warmer.

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Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 195 ratings.
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