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

BA SCORE
84
good
722 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
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
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 722 |  Reviews: 197
Photo of thecheapies
4/5  rDev +8.1%
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

 2,687 characters

Photo of sd123
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of littlebibs
4/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

 808 characters

Photo of drabmuh
3.53/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

 634 characters

Photo of ScubaSteve00
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of ste5venla
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of goblue3509
3.52/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

 631 characters

Photo of Brent
4/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

 552 characters

Photo of esdeebrew
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of Optifron
3.57/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

 855 characters

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.

 1,116 characters

Photo of garymuchow
4.08/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

 727 characters

Photo of Larrydoherty
3.25/5  rDev -12.2%

Photo of Heronn
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%

Photo of carnoustie7
2.25/5  rDev -39.2%

Photo of sailorsaint
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.28/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Christ... Warm weather in Boise is making it difficult to wrap my mind around Christmas brews already... Poured into my slim tulip.. good tannish head.. nice lacing... the brew is deeep amber.

Nose is mainly nutmeg... maybe some juniper berry.. ???

Typical year to year malt profile with the abundant spice.. definitely nutmeg this year.. a bit of ginger? ... Asian cinnamon?

Body and carbonation are the same as last year's...

I am mind numbingly tired of trying to figure out the spices from year to year.... Spices do not belong in beer!! IMO ;-)

3.5/3/3.5/3.5/3

 571 characters

Photo of XavierMuskies
4/5  rDev +8.1%

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

I picked this brew up at a new liquor store not too far from my house. Relatively impressed. I will review that store later. But for now, I must review this beer, fr I have heard so much and wanted to try it.

Appearance - Pours the color of Coca-Cola, but when the light is put to it it is almost a deep red color. It could be like a black cherry style. No head, no lacing. A little carbonation can be seen at the edges of the glass. About the only thing that saves this is the packaging.

Smell - I did not get quite the nasal cornucopia that it seems some of the other readers did. While I did pick up on hints of dates, dark fruits, and a little pine, that was about it. Nothing special at all.

Taste - The dark fruits are again present, but not towards the end of the drink. A little candy, a little sugar, then the dark fruits (namely black cherries and plums) take over the palate. Not too bad.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, finishes with a dark fruit zip. But kind of watery and thin. It has a little creaminess to it, but I would like to see a little more robust quality.

Overall - Pretty unimpressive, if you ask me. I certainly would not buy it again, and I like winter warmers. Nothing about the brew really caught my attention at all. Had I not drank it 10 minutes ago, I wold have likely forgotten it by tomorrow. Not recommended for the money.

 1,351 characters

Photo of redleg64
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

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.

 588 characters

Photo of mttaylor1066
3.95/5  rDev +6.8%
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 abex44
4/5  rDev +8.1%

Photo of mkeene78
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of psuKinger
4.18/5  rDev +13%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First Christmas beer of the Holiday season, and I start with this season's rendition of Anchor Christmas. Bottle poured into one of my Bruery tulips.

A: Pours a deep deep dark shade of ruby red. At first glance it's very much "black". Only on closer inspection can you see hints of that ruby-red glistening around the edges. A big thick frothy off-white head sits on top. The pour looks the part.

S: Pine. Licorice. Candied Sugar. Dates. This promises to be a spicy concoction.

T: Dry resiny pine with notes of cinnamon and black cherry cordials. The spices tingle and dance on the tongue. A good deal of malt sweetness, but it arrives in reverse order of what I typically expect. Here, the roasted malts make the presence felt late in the experience.

M: A bit thin for my tastes, but good carbonation and a nice creaminess in the mouth keep it from slipping below a 4.

D/O: An enjoyable seasonal offering. The only thing standing between this beer and holiday greatness was that it was just a little bit too light/thin in the body.

 1,037 characters

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.