While many brewers have a special beer they brew each Winter, those recipes usually remain unchanged from year to year. Anchor Brewing "Our Special Ale" is one that changes each year, adding to the anticipation of it showing up on store shelves. Also known as Anchor Christmas Ale, each year's release features a unique tree-themed label. I've missed picking up the beer in some past years, but didn't make that oversight for the 2013 release.
"Our Special Ale" pours a deep mahogany brown color with a beige head. The aroma is roasted malt with notes of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, along with a hint of pine. The flavors follow suit, with caramel and brown sugar coming through as well. Despite the long list of the usual "Christmas spice," the beer doesn't come across as a spiced beer. The spices supplement the winter warmer flavor, without dominating. The 2013 edition checks in at a reasonable 5.5% ABV, making it somewhat unusual compared to a typical "Winter Warmer." There's little alcohol in the flavor, creating a mild but flavorful libation.
I am enjoying the 2013 Anchor "Our Special Ale" very much. If you're looking a Winter-flavor treat, in a balanced, moderately low alcohol beer, pick this one up. A glass of Anchor Christmas Ale, and a slice of leftover pumpkin pie, will had some brightness to a cold (almost) Winter evening.