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RATINGS: 1810   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 Ale’s 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.

Editor’s 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 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 can’t wait to open but thought I’d 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. Couldn’t 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 (1224) - Iowa, 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 couldn’t 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: [’10 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.

[’05 Screwtop bottle at 7 years old] Much more muted taste and aroma, and a little muddled compared to the ’04. 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.

[’08 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 3’s to upper 2’s.

   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 (2098) - 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 ’06 & ’07 as well.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
ultraspank (867) - Alverca, Lisboa, PORTUGAL - DEC 22, 2007
2007. Excellent nose of spice & malt, perfume, roasted coffee, cola, and fruit (both berries and dried). The brew pours a clear ruby. The tall dense beige head is fully lasting and ultra creamy with decent lace. The brew is malty and roasted through and through. The middle has a moderate acidity and the finish is both spicy and roasted. The full body is lively and chewy like a stout. The finish feels dry. This is a very exceptional offering, I wish I would have taken home more than one bottle.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
radagast83 (4125) - Fairfax, Virginia, USA - DEC 22, 2007
2007 bottle. Aroma of spices, malts, coffee, mint, and cinnamon (among other holiday spices). Pour is a deep dark brown color with a medium thick brown head. The flavor just wowed me. Complex, and enjoyable.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
fredjaz (112) - Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA - DEC 23, 2007
What a great holiday brew! Great pour with lasting head and lacing throughout. Medium bodied, full of spices like drinking gingerbread. Just the right amount of hops to balance and complete an excellent brew.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
Brix (633) - DENMARK - JAN 26, 2008
Tasted 2007-12-28. 2007 version. Pours clear red/brown/black with beige head. Spices and hops are very present. It reminds me a lot of Nøgne Ø’s Underlig Jul. Very tasty!

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
wyzzywyz22 (1873) - Wirral, Merseyside, ENGLAND - JUN 29, 2008
UPDATED: NOV 21, 2008 Bottle, Corks of Cotham, Bristol. Poured a dark brown with a reddish hue and a creamish biege head. Aroma is jam packed with christmasy spices, cinnamon, brandy sodden raisins, herbs, ginger, orange peel, the list goes on. Really wonderful. Silky smooth mouthfeel. Many of the characteristics of the aroma were evident in the flavour and this is undoubtedly a very complex and well crafted brew. I loved it and would happily drink this at any time of the year ! A worthy bottle to bring up my double century !

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