The 2008 release is the thirty-fourth of Anchor Brewing‘s annual Christmas ale, Our Special Ale. It pours a deep dark sepia with mahogany notes. The lusciously thick fallow head leaves heavy rings as I drink. The aroma is rich and spicy of licorice, caramel, anise, and coriander.
A strong roast malt flavor is followed by spices: cloves, anise, and cinnamon. A light sweetness balances the roasty bitterness. A slight hint of medicinal flavor (probably the spices) is all that bothers me. Good alcohol warming sensation, not too sharp. The palate is thick, bordering on chewy. There is a bit of a coating sensation gone almost before you notice.
For over three decades this has been pretty much the standard American Christmas beer, and this year it lives up to that role.
Anchor Our Special Ale