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RATINGS: 2050   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.53/5   SEASONAL: Winter   EST. CALORIES: 165   ABV: 5.5%
This is our special ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Aleís recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons appears born anew.

Editorís Note: due to the significant similarity in style and strength from year to year (despite potential differences in the exact spice blend), this beer is no longer separated by vintage.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 20/20
NickVega (154) - Eugene, Oregon, USA - AUG 19, 2007
Perfect. I have had every year since I can remember. Usually in bottle and on tap. Also -- at Stuffed Sandwiches in CA you can usually try different years (aged) side by side. Wish I had it everyday.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
hopsaddict (6) - USA - AUG 16, 2007 does not count
This beer brought back fond holiday memories with its nutmeg and vanilla rich nose/taste. Its has a regal appearance in a glass -- not the darkest beer, but the dark, thick head is certainly intriguing. Much lace is left on the inside of the glass. I recommend letting it warm up some from fridge temperature as the alcohol gives a warm, cheery compliment to the flavor as you reach the end of the beer and it has warmed up some.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 5/20
Gregis (1281) - Stilwell, Kansas, USA - AUG 10, 2007
Bottle of the 2006 vintage. If simply being "complex" made a beer great, this would be one of the greats. I, however, have a difficult time espousing the complexities of a beer that I didnít enjoy drinking. I actually opted to pour the remainder of this one out to move onto another beer. It looks nice: a ruby-brown with a large, creamy, tan head. It smells quite nice: sweet roasted malt, gingerbread, allspice, and other minty/spicy notes. It reminds me much of a scented candle that my wife would burn around the holidays. The mouthfeel and flavor, however, left me wishing that Iíd just stopped at the pre-drinking phase of the rating. Medium-bodied and oily it finishes dry/astringent and bitter. The flavor is unique, but itís certainly not my cup of tea. Dark roasted malt, black tea and an astringent, plastic soapiness that tastes like Iíve just popped a handful of potpourri in my mouth. Not a pleasant experience; this is an example of a beer that can receive a higher rating than my overall impression simply because it looks and smells nicely. I have no desire to try this one again.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
natedoggkc (164) - Overland Park, Kansas, USA - AUG 1, 2007
2006 bottle. Poured a really nice dark brown/red with a big tan head. Aroma is malty, spiced, and some fruit. Taste is roasted, dark chocolate, and a slight fruit. This is a nice winter beer. Too bad I had it in the summer but it was still good.

   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
SamuraiArtist (292) - portland, Oregon, USA - JUL 22, 2007
Draft: Pours dark dark brown with a big white foamy head. Aromas of chocolate, malt and spruce. Flavor is slightly chocolatey but not roasty, subtle but noticeable spices. A little bitterness at the finish. Perhaps some minty like Northern Brewer hops.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
ElGaucho56 (394) - USA - JUL 20, 2007
UPDATED: DEC 2, 2007 2006 variety. Pours a opaque black with discernible brown/red facets, slight head. Xmas spices noticeable in all stages, on the nose, palate, and finish. Nutmeg, cinnamon, maybe ginger?, accompany medium body and hop bitterness, though no flavor, in the finish. Good stuff for the holidays. 2007 vintage seems even better balanced, rich and complex spices in great balance with sprucy hops. Delicious.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
thenick (766) - North Bellmore, New York, USA - JUL 18, 2007
Pours a deep brown to almost black with a lacy, tan head. Aroma is largely of nutmeg, with slight cinnamon characteristics as well. Taste is heavily nutmeg, though the beer becomes more complex as it travels across your tongue. I caught some vanilla, chocolate, and a slight citrus/hoppy characteristic as well. An excellent beer, a perfectly heavy companion while sitting next to a fire on a cold winterís day.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
gunhaver (1030) - Tampa, Florida, USA - JUL 11, 2007
UPDATED: JUN 5, 2008 2006. Some fresh aromas, albeit a bit muted, including apple, chocolate, citrus. Pours lovely into the glass; dark brown, nice two fingers of head. Taste is light, with some vanilla, citrus, chocolate. Has a tiny tart bite at the end. Good beer.

2005 bottle, opened Feb/08. Pours black, but not pitch black. Red highlights. Very fluffy, comfy-looking tan head. Nice lacing. Ginger, coriander, zest, and chocolate in the nose. Very interesting. Malts, raisin, ginger, brown sugar, caramel, zest, molasses. Very smooth body, watery finish. Well-balanced. Enjoyed this more than í06.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Padron4KM (800) - Chandler, Arizona, USA - JUL 7, 2007
2006 version.

Dark brown with a tan head. clumps of lace

Aroma is interesting and complex, roasty, chocolate, liquorice, prune, spice.

Flavor is along the same lines, but the liquorice stands out more, with a little vanilla in the finish.

Interesting beer, but the heavy liquorice makes it hard for me to drink more than one.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
adrian910ss (2565) - philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA - JUL 6, 2007
2006 vintage. Pours a dark brown with red tints and a medium beige head. Xmas spicy aroma with hints of dark berries, dark bread, figs and black licorice. Taste is malty with hints of dark cherries, faint chocolate, black licorice and light xmas spices. Not bad, but nothing special either.

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