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RATINGS: 1971   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 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 17/20
Gusler (2653) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - APR 2, 2006
UPDATED: NOV 29, 2007 Release 2007 The beer departs the stubby 12-ounce bottle a clear brown with a portly creamy light tan head; as it evaporates, the lace provides a thin curtain to drape the glass. Nose has a sweet malt aroma, followed closely by the spices, cinnamon, and cloves, crisp and clean. Start is decently malted, sweet and a touch of bite at the back, top is moderate in feel. Finish has a determined acidity, the hops perfect; the spicy sweetness carries to the end, as always a good drinking beer that only gets better with age. Anchor Our Special Ale 2006 The beer pours from the stubby 12 ounce brown bottle a deep mahogany color, the head modest in size, the color a light tan and the texture creamy as it fades away, the lace forms a concealing blanket to cover the glass. Nose has a sweet malt presence, spicy and appetizing, hints of pine. Start has a nice malt profile, the top light to moderate in feel. Finish is sternly acidic, somewhat sweet, the hops delightful, and the aftertaste dry and lingering, a good beer, but one that improves with age. Release 2005 Upon its extraction from the 12-ounce stubby brown bottle, the beer sets in the glass jet-black with a creamy tan head that is mountainous in size as itís slowly fades to nothingness, the lace forms a thick blanket to obscure the glass. Nose is sweet with hints of Oak, Cherries, maple syrup, quite a treat for the old schnozzle, start is lightly sweet, the grain presence delightful, top is light to medium in its feel. Finish is delectable in its acidity, the hops pleasingly spicy, the aftertaste dry and long lasting, a fine drinking beer that does improve with a little age.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 15/20
after4ever (6913) - Brier, Washington, USA - MAY 22, 2006
UPDATED: JUN 12, 2006 12-oz bottle. Pours a deep piano-key ebony with a dense, substantial tan head that falls to lace within a couple of minutes. Definite soft fragrance of squash and some cinnamon. Creamy, pie-dough mouthfeel, with that spicy pumpkin coming through. Big roasty finish. Hops are there just enough to steady the flavor, rather than contrast or enhance it. Really a beautiful way to spend a winter evening...or, well, count down the last couple days before Memorial Day (put ice cubes in your pockets if you really need that frosty nip). Another Anchor triumph.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
MrBendo (1064) - Swedesboro, New Jersey, USA - NOV 20, 2006
UPDATED: NOV 7, 2007 2006 Bottle. Poured a cloudy deep burgundy, with a medium, long lasting head. Aroma of orange peel, cinnamon, sweet fruits. Taste of sweet caramel malts, raisins, finish of hops. Thick and mildly sticky texture. A very good christmas-time beer.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
HopDuvel99 (39) - Tennessee, USA - JAN 1, 2007
2006, bottle. Dark brown and ruby with a thick light brown head. Hoppy/spicey/alcoholic aroma. Full bodied, foamy mouthfeel. Hoppy but plenty of malt flavor, roasty/hoppy finish. Superb. Rich, festive, artfully crafted.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
yngwie (15759) - Kristiansand, NORWAY - APR 9, 2007
UPDATED: JUN 24, 2008 Bottle, 2005 vintage. Clear, brown body with a beige head leaving lacings. Beef-stock, christmas spices, malt and dried fruits in the aroma. The flavor has cloves, cardamom and beef-stock. A full-bodied beer with a spiced finish. A lovely Christmas beer. Rating: 7-4-7-4-15-3.7. (070331)

Bottle, 2007 vintage. It pours a beautiful clear, dark brown body with a reddish hue. Thick, creamy beige head on top, with good retention and leaving nice lacings. The aroma needs a little aeration to be really good I think, but then it gives cinnamon, cloves, some ginger, dried fruits, some chocolate and leather, a tiny alcohol note (), chocolate, roasted malt and a touch of metal. So tender on the nose, and so packed with different aromas. Thereís also a little earthy note. The surprising touch of alcohol from the aroma is present in the flavor too, in fact itís even more evident, but considering itís a beer for the darkest days of the year, itís only appropriate and pleasant. Itís velvely and next-to full-bodied, with a quite sweet backbone, some bitterness towards the end, and all the good from the aroma is present in the mouth as well. Spices, fruit, chocolate and so on, itís all there. Even the little metallic touch, but thatís only showing itselves in the finish, and itís quite weak and undisturbing. Thereís also a weak touch oxidation, or at least some earthy, cellary notes, but to me thatís just nice. At least in this way. Itís not a beer giving me the perfect Christmas feeling, but itís sure a lovely beer. Well suited for the long, dark nights of winter, and still smooth and refreshing enough to go well on a late summer night. Lovely. (080624)

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 16/20
oldstock23 (11) - Baltimore, Maryland, USA - NOV 2, 2007
2006 vintage. I have a magnum of 2005 I canít wait to open but thought Iíd try an 11 month old 12oz. Nose was not as spicey as I had expected. The chocolate had evolved a bit deeper than the initial level and still had faint hints of orange peel. After about three seconds I totally got the anise, nutmeg, and what I thought was ginger but is probably something else. Couldnít find any cinammon. Man do I love this beer.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
sthlm (1260) - Duluth, Minnesota, USA - NOV 6, 2007
UPDATED: FEB 3, 2012 [Bottle, thanks Guerde] Pours dark brown-amber with a thin beige head. Aroma is extremely spicy, with nutmeg strongest, but cinnamon also present. Taste is a little bitter up front, which is then followed by a strong bubblegum flavor. Medium mouthfeel. Pretty good finish. Very unique beer that I couldnít drink a lot of, but that would be nice to have again around Christmas. Old rating: 8/3/7/3/16=3.7

Re-rate: [í10 Bottle] Mulling spices integrated beautifully (more nutmeg than cinnamon), barley shows through towards the end. Fuller mouthfeel than I remember, long finish. A really, really enjoyable beer.

[í05 Screwtop bottle at 7 years old] Much more muted taste and aroma, and a little muddled compared to the í04. The spices especially are subdued and more oxidation is present. Still has nice underlying vinous character. Slightly thinner and finish length is shorter. I still enjoyed this, but I had it pegged in the mid 3 range at best.

[í08 Bottle at 4 years old] This one is a bit of a disappointment, and the least impressive vintage I have had so far. Oxidation is really showing, and the spices are buried. Low 3ís to upper 2ís.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
Optigon (562) - Bloomington, Indiana, USA - DEC 7, 2007
2007. Pours dark brown, a bit of lacing, moderate white head. Aroma is herby with a bit of a bubblegum quality. Mouthfeel is moderate. Flavor is again, akin to bubblegum with qualities of coriander and chamomile.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
LordCorkscrew (1774) - Ronco Scrivia (GE), ITALY - DEC 8, 2007
Straordinaria birra di Natale in stile dunkel con varie spezie, bottiglia da 33cl al Duca. Aroma speziato dominato dalla noce moscata, che si sente anche nel sapore abbastanza complesso e piccante con finale secco. Straordinaria.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
drpimento (2626) - La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA - DEC 18, 2007
Not a huge fan of spice beers, but this one is substantially better than the rest. Pours with a big dark tan frothy foamy head. Plenty of lace. The spice is definite but yet balanced with some good bitterness. Some sweetness there too. The finish is good with the flavor not too heavy. Not quite a session beer. Had this one on draft at Bodega Brew Pub downtown La Crosse, Wis USA. They have bottles of the í06 & í07 as well.

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