RATINGS: 437   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.64/5   SEASONAL: Winter   EST. CALORIES: 165   ABV: 5.5%
This is the thirtieth special ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is available 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. In ancient times, trees symbolized the winter solstice, when the earth with its seasons appears born anew.

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madvike (3260) - Middleton, Wisconsin, USA - NOV 25, 2010
Bottle - Looks beautiful, with a deep, dark mahogany cola pour with a massive foamy tan head that doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. The smell is intoxicating, with rich molasses and brown sugar, ginger, and a light allspice note. It’s a little too sweet, and there’s a hint of soy sauce, but it’s still a really nice smell. However, it’s something that I think I’d rather smell than drink...but here goes. Hmm...the taste is fairly muted in relation to the smell. Lots of malt, but pretty dry and flat until the finish, where the molasses comes out, along with burnt sugar, the ginger, and a little bit of toffee. Lightly bitter finish, with some anise and the molasses lingering around for awhile. Surprisingly thin in the mouth, with excellent carbonation, but such a watery mouthfeel that it detracts. I expected this to be a little heftier. All in all, much, much better than the 2003, but not totally my cup of tea.

Damico (3147) - Royersford, Pennsylvania, USA - JUL 9, 2010
The malty aroma still has hints of spices. The color is a bit darker ruby brown than the ’09 we drank. The flavor has lost a lot of spicrs and gained a lot more malty, abbey dubbel type flavor.

Ughsmash (7508) - Pewaukee, Wisconsin, USA - APR 22, 2010
Bottled. Poured rich mahogany with a creamy, well-retained beige head.. looked great in the glass! The aroma picked up toasted nutty notes with lesser molasses and oxidation, accented by herbal notes, allspice, and cardamom.. dry and airy overall impression.. this was miles different from the older vintages I drank recently. The flavor found lightly sour molasses and tarry sweetness at the core, with the sourness sticking all the way through the drink.. dry coffee bitterness, nutmeg, and a touch of oxidation around.. finished with dry, tacky spices and an almost barrel-ly impression. Medium-bodied with just an OK flow through the palate.. dry and weathered feel.. seemed like it was a ways downhill.

ditmier (1508) - Boise, Idaho, USA - MAR 18, 2010
2004 Bottle - Thanks IrishBoy!! - Pours dk brown with a large tan head...aroma is full of fruity maly and spice, cinnamon, dirt, cocoa...flavour is fairly dry, roasted malt, baking chocolate, more dirt, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove...finish is tight and tannic, with a lingering roasty, dark malt taste...

philbertk (1873) - Seattle, Washington, USA - MAR 10, 2010
Anchor Brewing Company--Our Special Ale--30 Years--2004 12 oz. Bottle. 5.35% ABV--50 IBU’s? (4.75 / 5.0) Winter Ale--Rich tan head. Clear dark red bronze black color. Roasted spicy nutmeg hop front. Tangy crisp rich dry sweet roasted black cherry toffee caramel spicy body. Clean dry mild citrus spruce spicy hop end. WOW! Sampled 12/15/2004.

theisti (4126) - Kansas, USA - FEB 5, 2010
All beers shared by csbosox, courtesy of his departed friend Mark. Cheers to you Mark.

Side by Side of the 1999, 2000 and 2001 Vintages:
1999 - Pour is a ruby brown, hazed, with a thin rim of an off white head. Aroma of big full nutmeg, soft, spiced coriander, bunch of yeast. Nice delicate and full nose. Taste is pretty metallic, oxidized, behind that, and after the oxidiation clears there is some of the spiced nutmeg of the nose. Palate is medium, lightly carbonated, with a lingering yeast aftertaste. (8,4,6,3,14 - 3.5)
2000 - Pour ditto to the 1999, though a bit flatter looking. Aroma is metallic showing substantial oxidation. After that clears, a bit of nutmeg, clove. Taste is showing the oxidation with a dry metallic nature, followed by spruce, nut, tree bark. Palate ditto the 1999. (6,4,5,3,11 - 2.9)
2001 - Pour ditto the 1999. Aroma is full and round, chestnut, vanilla, cinnamon, even some cranberry. Certainly the best nose of these three. Taste is really well integrated, some of the nut berry and yeast of the nose, along with a pleasant dry fruit character. However, there are also some phenols present that detract. Palate ditto the 1999. (8,4,6,4,16 - 3.6)

Side by Side of the 2002, 2003 and 2004 Vintages:
2002 - Pour is a hazed brown ruby with a 1/4 inch tan head. Aroma is big spice yeast, clove, hazel / nutmeg, dry fruit even. Nice. Taste is dry fruit light sweetness, along with the spice yeast, touch of oxidation in the back. Palate is thinner than some of the older vintages, medium to thin. (8,4,7,3,15 - 3.7)
2003 - Pour ditto the 2002. Aroma is the typical potpurri of spice, with some light metallic. Taste is showing oxidation, up front followed by the potpurri spices, dry fruit ester sweetness and a hint of vanilla. Palate is medium to thin, some light carbonation, long spiced finish. (6,4,6,3,12 - 3.1)
2004 - Pour ditto the 2002. Aroma ditto 2002. Taste is spice, cinnamon, earth, yeast and nuttiness. Nice integration of flavors, really get the malt in this more than others. Palate is medium, more full bodied than the 02 and 03. This was the class of the session. (8,4,8,4,15 - 3.9)

Tasted by itself:
2007 - Pour is hazed brown ruby with a 1/4 inch tan head. Aroma is softly spiced, potpurri, clove, yeast esters. Much more subdued than others. Taste is clove, light white pepper, general yeast. Not much malt, some faint pine hop. Palate is thin to medium, long dry pepper aftertaste. (7,4,6,3,14 - 3.4)

Sparky (2244) - Phoenix, Arizona, USA - JAN 29, 2010
Bottle by way of trade at least a year ago. Sorry I can’t remember who sent this to me. If you see this rating please let me know and I’ll update the rating. Pours cloudy brown with a one finger tan head after a vigorous pour, but that faded pretty fast. The nose is cinnamon, ginger, tobacco and light chocolate. The taste is spice, slightly sour fruit, dates, tobacco juice and faint cocoa. Thinner mouthfeel. Decent brew. Probably past its prime, but there foundation is still there and it’s still tasty.

evergreen0199 (3365) - Northwood, Greater London, ENGLAND - DEC 27, 2009
Bottle that I found in the back of my cupboard, originally bought at the Utobeer stand in Borough Market, London. Dark murky brown pour with a slight tan head. Aroma of chocolate, malt and dark fruit. Tastes of dark fruit, malty, rather thin and dull maybe due to age. Perfectly acceptable but nothing to get excited about in my opinion.

TeamTrappist (832) - jericho, New York, USA - DEC 7, 2009
Bottle. Poured a ruby reddish brown. Nose is caramel and port like. Some light carbonation. Fairly smooth but vinuous. Lots of dark fruit flavors with a sweet finish. Possibly past it’s prime.

1FastSTi (3360) - Glendale, Wisconsin, USA - DEC 1, 2009
Pours to a deep brown body with a nice tan head that mostly but not fully dissipated. The aroma is earthy and twiggy with some ginger and cinnamon. Subtle milk chocolate. The flavor is smokey and earthy with twigs and subtle chocolate. The palate is medium bodied with some sweet earthy overtones.

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