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RATINGS: 1821   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.54   SEASONAL: Winter   EST. CALORIES: 165   ABV: 5.5%
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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 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Dalle (1145) - SkÝrping, DENMARK - NOV 19, 2005
Bottle. Dark brown with short lasting beige-brown head. Dried ginger, nutmeg, liqourice, rasted coffee beans, slightly medicinal, malty and bitter finish. Full flavored, medium bodied, solid christmas ale.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
ElBorracho (472) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - NOV 19, 2005
On tap at The Village Tap. Poured nice and dark with a thin head. Lots of coffee, burnt wood, clove, and other spices. Finishes with a really nice hop kick that really makes this one stand out. This is good one that makes the impending cold a bit easier to take.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
PorterPounder (5340) - Tallahassee, Florida, USA - NOV 19, 2005
UPDATED: DEC 22, 2006 Marcello Wine Market, Baton Rouge, La. - 12 oz bottle. Pours a dark purple, almost jet black, with a tight, but long lasting khaki colored head. Aroma is spicy. Hints of licorice, coffee, some Karbona spot remover. Flavor is of course spicy and Christmasy. This year, I pick up a definite strain of Horehound candy. The old fashioned kind you find in old General Stores. Hints of licorice and Christmas spice as well. Mouthfeel is a tad thinner than expected. Good winter warmer. 2006 - (saving for future reference in case it becomes an actual entry). Dark purple pour - close to black tar, with a tight, but long lasting off-white colored head. Aroma is Christmasy spicy. Hints of peppermint in the aroma, some Karbona spot remover as well. Flavor is of course spicy and Christmasy. This year, I pick up a definite strain of peppermint candy - but not very pronounce. Brief hints of licorice and Christmas spice as well. Mouthfeel, like last year is a tad thinner than expected. Decent - but not as dood as 2005ís. 7 4 6 3 14 = 3.5

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 14/20
Kevin (2047) - New Mexico, USA - NOV 19, 2005
very dark almost black pour with a nice grey head. cinnamon cookie aroma with some maple syrup nutmeg is a major player here. first thing i noticed was not the flavor, but how thin this was. that surprises me. some bitter sweet cocoa floats around with some almond notes. nutmeg, and sugar cookie fill in the rest. iím glad the seaonals are here.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
JMerritt (1767) - Macomb, Illinois, USA - NOV 18, 2005
Dark garnet in color with a small, light-brown head that is mostly diminishing. Big nutmeg aroma (that always reminds me of sunblock) along with some lightly roasty malt and dark/bittersweet chocolate. Sprucy hops initially in the flavor, followed closely by a whole lotta spices: nutmeg, cinnamon & cloves. Lightly roasty malt flavor lingers with the mellow, creamy nutmeg and some bitter cocoa powder. A touch too thin on the palate, and the carbonation level can be distractingly high at times, but still a very good holiday offering.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
GuilTTy (728) - Cherry Hill, New Jersey, USA - NOV 18, 2005
UPDATED: NOV 15, 2006 2005 Bottle: Of all the holiday seasonals, this is the one I most look forward to seeing on the shelves and in my glass. That said, this yearís offering hasnít grown on me as quickly as any in the last few years, though it is still a very good beer. Clear dark mahogamy pour with ruby highlites beneath a firm light brown head with good retention and lacing. Classic "Anchor seasonal spices aroma" of roasted malt, nutmeg, cinnamon, anise, toasted oats and vanilla with the nutmeg taking a step back from last yearís version. Flavors start with a burst of cinnamon at the back of the tongue with powdered chocolate and nutmeg swirling around the roasty malt center. Hops play a definate supporting role this year though their presence is obvious in the finish - a finish which is otherwise medium long and sweet. I agree with some others in tha the mouthfeel is a bit thin and watery - definately thinner than any previous version I can recall. Overall, this is another fine Anchor holiday seasonal which I found mildly disappointing only because their previous offerings were all so spectacular. Any way you look at it, to a craft brew geek, the holidays arenít coming until Anchor rings them in by bringing their Special Ale out!

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
thedm (4920) - Fort Wayne, USA - NOV 18, 2005
This bottled brew poured a medium sized head of foamy light brown colored fine to medium sized mostly lasting bubbles that left behind a carbonated very dark ruby red brown colored body that was only transparent around its edges and a good lacing. The aroma was malty with brown malt, a light mild cherry and a mild spice note. The mouth feel is initially tingly and fades in the finish. The flavor contained a mild off note at the start but later flowed into a malty deep caramel malt hoppy slightly medicinal note. A true winter warmer yet only semi vinous.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 17/20
atpayne (615) - Zionsville, Indiana, USA - NOV 17, 2005
Pours deep brown with some amber red colors. Settles nearly black beneath a taill darker tan head. The aroma is noticable from a distance as earthy and spiced. A close snif reveals a full rich beer. Sweet malts and spicet tones dominate. Nutmeg and cinnamon are there. Roasted malts and spices are heavenly. Wonderfully assembled flavors. Malts linger and leave a roasted tongue while sweetness proceeds and a nutmeg flavor follows. Great earthy malts, spices, and hops. Rounded out with sweet malts and a chocolatey malt on the finish. A really great beer that I look forward to each year.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
11026 (1772) - Alabama, USA - NOV 16, 2005
Bottle. Pours a very deep brown color with just the barest hint of ruby showing through when backlit. Fantastic light brown head forms, very dense and composed of tiny uniformed shaped bubbles and never really fades away. Nice spice aroma with nutmeg and cinnamon being the dominant things I pick up. Lighter bodied, a touch thin and watery at times. Nicely done spice additions play well in flavor. Nutmeg, cinnamon and perhaps clove. Light dry hops in the finish. Other than mouthfeel this was a spectacular beer.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
TheBeerGod (5165) - Newport News, Virginia, USA - NOV 15, 2005
Bottle. Pours a ruddy murky brown with a fluffy tan head. Nose is slightly earthy, with dusty cocoa notes, light nutmeg, hint of cinnamon and light hops. Many other spices in there, but I canít seem to discern the others. Taste brings forth spiced cakes, light oatmeal cookies, brown sugar oatmeal, powdered milk and cocoa. Lots of spice throughout the taste as well - clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Body is medium with a creaminess about it despite the full carbonation feel at times. Finishes with lots of spices, cocoa, light herbs, piney hops, and oatmeal cookie notes. Very nice this year. Brings out the holidays indeed!

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