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

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722 Ratings
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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
anchorbrewing.com

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
Ratings:
722
Reviews:
197
Avg:
3.7
pDev:
14.32%
 
 
Wants:
17
Gots:
72
For Trade:
1
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 722 |  Reviews: 197
Photo of mdcrouser
3.76/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Love this pour - the head is like the icing on a dark gingerbread house, building like snowfall on the roof. It's just a much darker version, nearly black, with a ginger-brown head, fluffy like a new drift.

If I remember, it's a similar smell to previous years - balanced between bready malts and a spicy, juniper-like hops. Very seasonally influenced, as always. It's relatively muted in this version though.

Like dark juniper-soaked gingerbread in the mouth - imagine that. The vegetation, spice and molasses each seem to come through.

Exceptionally creamy, much like you'd expect from a stout, allowing the carbonation to lay back and the rest of the beer to showcase.

As expected, a good beer. Always a good tradition for the season.

 745 characters

Photo of Houser
3.25/5  rDev -12.2%

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.

 1,783 characters

Photo of Zkman87
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of ThirdEyePA
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.76/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I always enjoy drinking this new beer every year. Each year is different but they are all generally pretty similar. This is my 10th year in this series, so it is somewhat special to me. This one pours beautifully! Chocolate amber in color with a very nice, frothy, rather robust off white colored head. Nice lacing and even better retention.

The aromas was a bit lackluster. There are some seasonal spices but overall, there isnt really anything great. Plus, it smells like things are off just a bit. Kind of metallic, cloves, allspice, caramel and toasted bread.

Not a big fan of the flavor on this one. Quite bitter and astringent. Mouthfeel is a little thin and it finishes dry. I dont remember any of the others tasting this bad. Chalky with raw nutmeg, cinnamon bark, burnt grains. Kind of yeasty too. Its almost like they used cheaper ingredients or something. Something is definitely off and different. This one has to be the least attractive version of this beer I have had. I always cellar these as well, so hopefully it will improve; it cant get much worse.

 1,071 characters

Photo of OldTime
4/5  rDev +8.1%

Photo of HumulusLupulus
3.63/5  rDev -1.9%
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

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

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a cervoise glass

Pours a very dark brown topped with a fluffy, very light beige head. Excellent retention, large amounts of splotchy lacing. Malty nose with nutmeg perhaps some cinnamon, and toffee. Opens with toffee, joined by some nutty accents, cashew and almond, caramel maltiness, nutmeg, and a kiss of cinnamon. Light medium very smooth body, lively carbonation. I always look forward to each year's version of Our Special Ale. Definitely a solid brew this year.

 502 characters

Photo of jniagar1
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of pkalix
4.57/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

from belgium to san francisco . . . .
pours a very dar, slightly able to see thorugh at the edges, mahogany brown with small head on top.
smells AWESOME! malty with some bitter chocolate and hops....
tastes . . . . . almost like a porter (?), no? some dark chocolate, espresso(?), heavy malt, light hop finish.
heavy finish. overall, a nice brew which could have used a higher abv, but i suppose that would have added to the bitterness. never much a fan of anchor brewing (yes, i know they're a fan favorite) but i like this one a lot. i like the heavy, but smooth taste. just wish it were a little higher value abv . . . . .

 625 characters

Photo of vette2006c5r
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Our Special Ale pours pours a dark brown color, with a nice size lacing head. There are some nutmeg notes on a malty backbone. The taste has a nice burnt sweet malty backbone, with some cinnamon and nutmeg spices. The taste is slightly watery, but still drinkable. Overall this beer is enjoyable, has a unique taste so worth a try.

 331 characters

Photo of DouglasChasse
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of Tpsauer
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of discdueler
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is one of the few beers that I buy every year so I was pretty excited when this was out on the store shelves a few weeks back. Like so many others on here, I was a bit disappointed in this, as it did not seem as full or spicy as others in years past. It was unmemorable and went down easily, and even though I don't regret getting this, it was not as good as other Winter Warmers that I've enjoyed.

The pour to this was darker and less red than I remembered it being in years past, with some head and nearly no lacing to be seen. Just a bit of carbonation too but this still had the feeling of flat root beer. Some booze, caramel, and earthy spice in the nose but all of them fell flat when I tasted this. A molasses-like stickiness was here but not in body as the aftertaste felt like tree roots. Only a hint of raisin and other dark fruits without the accompanying spice and sourness. I actually had to pace myself during my review of this, as it was the fastest that I'd ever downed this beer. That's how weak it was.

Even the alcohol could have been upped by a bit, to compensate for the lack of bite and depth to this. While it's not a drain pour, buying six of these might not be a good idea. I do appreciate the subtle changes in this beer from year to year but this time around, it just didn't click. Maybe the Mayans were right about the end of the World after all...

 1,384 characters

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

Had the 2010 or 2011? but didn't review it. I don't recall it being very much like this, but my memory could be faulty...

2012 bottling:

A: stout porter black body with ahalf-glass of dark tan head that left laces and motes behind

S: dark and roasted malts and espresso, some fennel, some smoke

T: almost like an american black ale - I've never had a "winter warmer" before - I actually didn't even know that was a style - this had a roasted, dry bittersweet character with notes of carob and some deep, dark fruit

M: very medium bodied and moderately carbonated, smooth, crisp, nice dry roast aftertaste; creamy but with some fizz

O: Super beer - a great holiday offering, something I will try every year - but not knowing what a typical winter warmwer is supposed to be like, maybe this interpreatation will leave something to be desired among devotees of the style. I was just delighted with its porter-like presentation and flavor/feel profile. Very drinkable.

 970 characters

Photo of Jaycase
3.07/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

a:dark, dark brown. frothy 2 1/2 finger mocha colored head

s: spices galore (nutmeg, cinnamon, others). caramel & roasted malts

t: starts off with astringent malts and then turns into some peppery spiciness.

m: medium body, slight carbonation. slightly oily.

o: very disappointing. I drank an '11 the other day and while the spices have muted some, the body was so much fuller. The '12 is incredibly thin and the astringency coupled with the thinness is off putting. The spiced aroma is the only saving grace. I cannot recommend the '12 version and am very hesitant about next year's. Will have to taste the '13 first before committing to a sixer. Great Lakes Christmas Ale blows the '12 away imo.

 701 characters

Photo of RyanSBrennan
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of TCJosh
2/5  rDev -45.9%

Photo of BlackBelt5112203
4.48/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass at cellar temperature.

L – Brown color with a 3-finger frothy tan head. Fantastic retention and lacing. Clear with a good amount of bubbles.

S – Lots of malts with toasted bread, caramel, and nutty aromas along with nutmeg and cinnamon. There’s also a scent of something like evergreen. It must be some piney hops.

T – Starts off sweet with caramel and nutty malts, followed by toasted malts and spicy cinnamon and nutmeg. Bitterness builds toward the finish with piney, resinous hops.

F – Medium-bodied with good carbonation, a sticky sweet mouthfeel, and a sweet, slightly bitter, and slightly dry finish. Toasted and caramel malt flavors linger.

O – I don’t know how the other OSAs have been, so I don’t really have a frame of reference, but I don’t see why this isn’t a plus-4 rating. It has everything I look for in a winter warmer – rich and hearty malts, seasonal spices, and something different to make it stand out. In this case, that something is also very seasonal – piney hops that are reminiscent of evergreen. I think this beer is terrific and I’m looking forward to trying next year’s OSA when it comes around.

 1,196 characters

Photo of nsfalam
4/5  rDev +8.1%

Photo of auggie
4.25/5  rDev +14.9%

Photo of BucannonXC5
3.12/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: Regular Firestone pint glass
From: BevMo in La Mesa (San Diego, Calif.)
Price: $9.99 for a 6-pack
Misc.: 38th “Special Ale”; 20H on the back of the bottle, which apparently means it was bottled on Oct. 8, 2012

Poured a brownish black color with about a finger of khaki tan head that dissipated in just under five minutes. About no lacing and no retention.

Smelled grape juice, pine tree, grape bubble gum, juniper berries (thank you recent Sam Adams Norse Legend Sahti!), apple cider, light nutmeg, light cinnamon and some other spices that I couldn’t put my finger on.

Tasted grape soda, grape bubble gum, juniper berries, cough syrup, nutmeg and some cinnamon. Not really what I was expecting coming into this beer.

Medium body. Oily texture. Fizzy (high)-to-lively (above average) carbonation. Abrupt bitter finish.

Pretty disappointed in this beer overall. Was expecting something a bit better. Not looking forward to the other five beers in this 6-pack.

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Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
3.7 out of 5 based on 722 ratings.
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