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

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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:
73
For Trade:
2
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Reviews: 195 | Ratings: 722
Photo of jondeelee
3.98/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Our Special Ale 2012 opens to a spicy, fruity, sweet nose that is instantly reminiscent of fruitcake and mulled wine. Nutmeg, clove, allspice, candied ginger, and pepper are immediately noticeable, as well as slight hints of coriander. The fruits are, on the one hand, dark and complex, with dates, green maraschino cherries, and figs, and on the other, bring nice orange peel, lemon zest, and pink grapefruit overtones. All of these rest atop thick brown breads, vanilla, molasses, wildflower honey, and a lovely Christmas layer of fresh pine needles. Add to this a slightly alcoholic touch, as of mulled wine or white port, and the result is a tantalizing aroma that would make for a world-class candle scent, and in a beer, is exactly the sort of aroma one would want while opening presents. The aromas do seem to be somewhat lighter than those in previous years’ editions, but here that’s a good thing, since at least one of the previous bottles smelled so strongly of pine needles as to be overwhelming.

On the tongue, the beer begins with a spicy kick, the cloves, nutmeg, candied ginger, allspice, and pepper instantly blasting away at the tastebuds, joined by molasses and thick brown breads, as well as deeply roasted pecans and pine needles. The fruits come in a somewhat distant second, the green maraschino cherries and dates primarily, with touches of raisin next, and the orange and lemon zest second. The effect is less fruitcake here than spicecake, and the spices do unfortunately rather overwhelm everything else, and are even more potent in subsequent mouthfuls. The aftertaste is similarly dominated by spice, with remnants of brown breads, molasses, and lemon zest, and lingers on the tongue for a very long time. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium to medium-high, fizzing on the tongue and burning the soft tissues.

Overall, this is good Christmas beer, it’s just unfortunate that the spices were so dominant, as they detracted from what was a very nice fruit and dark bread belly. The beer is by no means unpalatable, but it is strongly spiced enough that it would be difficult to drink too many in a row.

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Photo of adamette
3.98/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Live Review. Poured from the 12 oz. bottle that I bought as part of a 6 pack from Heinen's in Mentor for $11.99 the other day into a clean, clear glass. No observed "best by" date but really, it is before Christmas so I am quite sure that it is fine.

A Nice light brown creamy head stays around for several minutes, leaving a nice lacing on the inside of the glass upon repeated sips. That sits atop a dark brown body that glows a mahogany partially translucent body in front of direct light. Very good look and I really like the quantity and quality of the head. 4.5

S Grainy sweet malt with very little hops to the smell. Warm and welcoming. 4.0

T Warmth of grainy sweet malt taste as it is far more barley malt rather than anything overly sweet. The taste succeeds as a Winter Warmer without going for the sweet malt that I find in others in this style. Challenging and interesting. 4.0

M Smooth feel as it goes down so easily. 3.5

D/O Drinkability quite good with manageable ABV and smooth, approachable feel and almost gentle tastes. Overall this is a fine Winter Warmer. I have enjoyed all of the Anchor Beers that I have tasted. 4.0

Notes: Another class addition to the lengthy series of Anchor "Our Special Ale."

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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 LiquidAmber
3.96/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Review from 1/2013 notes. Poured into a Seattle Beer Week pint glass. Pours a dark mahogany brown with a fine quarter finger of tan head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of sweet bock malt, light pine, cinnamon and nutmeg. Flavor follows, with sweet malt, holiday spicing heavy on cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, thins out out to a lighter, slightly tart and piney character. Lingering flavor of woody pine. Medium bodied with a mild creaminess. This year's version leans more toward piney spicing, but there is a nice background flavor leaning towards gingerbread that balances out the other spicy flavors. Lighter finish than I remember from last year, but as usual, interesting and very winter holiday oriented. A great annual tradition.

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Photo of raynmoon
3.96/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I'd consider this one of my favorite beers. I look forward to almost as much as Celebration ale. The perfect sessionable winter warmer. Time for a overall score.

It's a sexy beer. The head says it's a stout, but when held to the light, it has a super deep ruby color to it; awesome.

Tons of ginger and cinnamon, slight breadiness. It just came out of the refrigerator, so it will take some time to really become aromatic.

That ginger and cinnamon comes through right away, then it rolls over the tongue kind of watery/ lack-in-flavor, and then finishes dry and cocoa-like.

This beer uses it's spices better than I've seen any pumpkin ale. Those tend to taste like brown sugar and weird out of place spices. This one screams Holidays. I don't know how they do it.

Overall, it could use a little bit more character and body, but still a good beer to enjoy and will always recommend.

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Photo of metter98
3.95/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark red in color and is close to appearing black when viewed from afar. It poured with a finger and a half high beige head that died down but left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface and lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Aromas of ginger snap cookies and nutmeg are present in the nose.
T: For the most part, the taste resembles the smell and is dominated by Christmas spices and some very subtle hints of sweetness.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is dominated by flavors of spices, but I really enjoyed the combination of flavors and could sip this beer all night long.

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Photo of bmwats
3.95/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint.

A: Very dark brown, or black. Pours about a 1 finger, foamy, whit-ish head. Craters unevenly, and fairly quickly, leaving a bit of a foamy blanket and a ring. Sporadic lacing.

S: Roasted espresso malt, nuts, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

T: Hearty roasted coffee. Nutty, with a little fall spice.

M: Full and robust. Lightly bitter finish.

D: Sip and enjoy.

Atmosphere is pretty good. Great hue, really nice head, and fair lacing. Nose is roasted nuts and coffee with plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg. Tastes like it smells...only not sweet (which is a good thing). Char roasted malt, nuts, and fall spice. Overall, this is a really good quaff.

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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.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
3.92/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into my personalized New England Patriots Mug. Mahogany brown with slightly lighter brown highlights . Tan head with mostly small bubbles, but they vary a little bit. I'd say above average to decent lacing.

Smell is good. I love how it changes every year. Plenty of winter spices, figs, other dark fruits, roasted malts and a slight touch of hops at the end. The blend is very nice, sort of subtle.

Taste is good, on par, but not quite as good as the smell. The winter spices and dark fruits are the dominant feature again, but there is sort of an earthy, bitter aftertaste that is a little close to the unpleasant end of bitter.

Mouthfeel is pretty good, medium bodied, good carbonation and pretty well balanced. Earthy bitter finish that is slightly dry. Overall a nice beer, I was glad to get a six pack this season and finally sit down to review it. Not the best year I've had, but certainly worth getting.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.91/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anchor Brewing Company
Our Special Ale
2012 edition

LOOK: Pours a clear dark brown color with a solid topping of off white foam leaving plenty of lace. A very good looking brew.

SMELL: Molasses, brown sugar, roast, and the signature evergreen/spruce note.

TASTE: Roasted malts upfront along with an herbal spruce flavor, along with pine and measurable bitterness. Molasses and chocolate from the malts provide a hearty base for the beer. Light spices round out the flavor with some clove and dusty cinnamon.

FEEL: Full bodied and well carbonated. Clean crisp finish with just a small lingering sappy pine note.

OVERALL: As enjoyable as some of my favorite vintages. This is a classic holiday beer.

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Photo of bsp77
3.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Ruby black with nice brown head that retains well.

Smell: Uh, smells like a pumpkin beer. Haven't really thought that in previous years. Still that stale Porter smell underneath.

Taste: Stale, dry chocolate Porter upfront, which is overtaken by spices that once again seem very pumpkin like. I am even getting that nutty and sweet mixture I get from pumpkin. Finishes with dry chocolate.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, with a body that is slightly thinner than I would like. But the very dry finish improves the feel a lot.

Overall: Not up to par with recent releases, but still very tasty and easy to drink.

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Photo of Arborescence
3.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Served in room temperature.

Appearance: Virtually black. Pours a massive foamy head with a brown tint.

Aroma: Sweet and floral, but not overly sweet by any means. Herbs and medicinal characteristics. A hint of peat?

Taste: Quite light, but very robust medicinal flavour, with herbs and aromatic hops.

Mouthfeel: Average; smooth but uninteresting. Light to medium bodied.

Overall: Not as tasty as last year's, as I recall. Very strong medicinal and herb aromas and flavours, but leaves something out on the malt side.

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Photo of leokbelo
3.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark cherry wood into a pint glass.
2 inch creamy head fades into a1/2 inch lacing.
Gingerbread on the nose with hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar and figs.
Alive with carbonation on the palate, with a subtle tone of roasted coffee. Light bitterness kept at bay by the malts.
Very well balanced.
Highly drinkable.
Would recommend.

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Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.89/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. The bottling code printed on the label is “2OH,” which is deciphered to mean October 8, 2012. (It may also be “2OM,” which would be October 13, 2012.)

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass. The color is brown with ruby tones. Two fingers of dense, cappuccino-colored head left a lacing, ring around the edge, and trails of foam along the glass.

Smell: I got a whiff of the spice the moment I popped the cap. Loads of festive cinnamon, pine, brown sugar, and ginger. Underneath is a solid foundation of toasted malts, caramel, toffee, dark fruit (I get plum and fig), and molasses. It is pretty solid — exactly what I want from an Anchor Christmas Ale — though I get the impression it is very familiar.

Taste: At first it is not as spicy as the smell led me to believe; the cinnamon, pine, and ginger are relegated to the background and hints in the aftertaste. The brown sugar, though, remains prominent. However, the spices slowly emerge as the beer warms. It is maltier than I was expecting, too; lots of toasted, and even roasted, malts. Caramel, molasses, cocoa, and burnt syrup. I also get a hint of flat Coke. A roasted aftertaste lingers after each sip.

Drinkability: Much better than the 2011 edition. The flavor lacks the punch of the aroma but it is still a good brew.

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

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a snifter. Khaki head with moderate retention on a deep colored tudor brown body. Aroma includes caramel malts, slight roast and clove. Taste has a nice caramel sweetness, touch of brown sugar and clove, maybe even cinnamon. Pretty tasty and kinda puts me in the Christmas spirit for some reason. (Celebration does the same thing).

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

A: Dark brown, with a slightly ruddy character in the light, and a good sized tan head. Some lacing.

S: Crisp and clean and malty, some vegetal spice notes, maybe some caramel and brown sugar for sweetness.

T/M: Very sweet and creamy and malty. Nice layered flavors with sweet malts up front, spices and leafy, piney notes at the edges, gradually giving way to a roasted character at the end.

O: A very good winter ale, much better than I remember last year's being, with less big spice flavor and more creamy malt texture.

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Photo of DIM
3.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

a: This was a clear, dark mahogany color. It poured with a smallish, fizzy cap.

s: Gentle, potpourri like spices, apple cider, plus some other dark fruits.

m: Nice balance between the lightly sweet figs/spicy apple cider and cinnamon/nutmeg spiciness.

m: Light body and gentle fizziness.

o: While I don't generally go for spiced beers, I have a weakness for this one.

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Photo of atigerlife
3.86/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown with light brown highlights. Creamy brown head that has good lasting power.

Aroma is of spices, malts. Having a hard time picking up what is going on here.

Taste is malty, hops bitterness that is not overpowering, vanilla, clove, fig newtons.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, cleansing, lively.

Overall, it is quite drinkable but I don't see this as sessionable. A couple is fine.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
3.86/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Date code of 2OC, so bottled on October 3, 2012

A: Pours a dark ruby red color with a massive tan head that leaves some nice lacing and retains well

S: Get a bunch of spices along with the typical Anchor yeast. Get some cinnamon and nutmeg, with some other spices. Slightly woody

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with with a nice earthiness and goes into the spices. Finishes with a grainy breadiness and lingering spice notes

M: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation

O: Smells like most of the other years I've had, but the taste is definitely earthier and less spiced. Enjoyable as always. Worthy of a purchase

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Photo of Treyliff
3.85/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A- pours a dark cola-like brown with a huge frothy dark tan head with good retention and lacing.

S- sweet toasty malts with some winter spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, old fashioned hard candy, and just a bit of hope, very nice.

T- earthy piney hops with some roasted malt character. Sweet toffee, coffee, nutty, yeasty, dark fruits. Finishes bitter and dry with a roasted linger. Lots of flavors can be picked out of this one.

M- light-med body with medium carbonation and a bit creamy on the finish. Would like a little more body as the finish is a little slick.

O- this one had more complexity in flavor than many of the style, quite unique and enjoyable.

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Photo of garuda
3.85/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Deep ruby, lighter highlights, tan head has little retention, but laces well.

S/T - Bready malts, creamed coffee, dark fruit, chocolate, finishes with spiciness.

M - Medium body, medium carbonation, smooth consistency, finishes mostly clean.

O - Pretty drinkable, a nice winter warmer. I'd get it again.

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Photo of chinchill
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge bottle served repeatedly in a .2L Peroni glass.
Pours clear dark brown with a towering, dense tan head. Excellent patterns of sticky lacing are left on the glass.
"Holiday spicing" favors nutmeg, with some cinnamon, with the latter being more obviou in the taste than th nose. Solid malt backbone but not as rich as I would like. As is, the spicing is a tad high. Still, a very drinkable and enjoyable winter holiday ale.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anchor Christmas Ale (2012) has a very thick, creamy, beige head, a dark, reddish-brown appearance, and lots of thick lacing left down the glass. The aroma is very fruity, spicy, and those the predominate odors. Taste is of fruit (maybe, juniper?), brown bread, a touch of hop bitterness, spice, and sweetness. The mouthfeel is medium and sort of slick, and Anchor Christmas Ale (2012) finishes wet, pleasant, and drinkable. Overall, this is very good.

RJT

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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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