I ended up casting the deciding vote, and Great Lakes moves to the finals!
Great Lakes Brewing Co. – Christmas Ale
Medium copper and very clear, with a thin, off-white head.
Ginger and cinnamon on the smell and taste. Not as strong of a smell than the other beer.
Lightly warming. Balanced sweetness with a drying finish. Very drinkable.
I believe I know what this one is…
J: 9/10 E: 8/10
Anchor Brewing – Our Special Ale 2013
Dark brown with ruby-red highlights. Clear, as far as I can tell, with a thick, tan head.
Pretty heavily spiced. Clove and anise, with some cinnamon and maybe nutmeg behind. There’s something in this we just can’t place, though…
Similar taste, with the cinnamon stepping up a bit. Nicely malty, with a little fruitiness (Erin suggests raisin?) as it warms. Moderately sweet throughout, with some bitterness–maybe from the spices?–coming in on the finish
Lightly warming. Medium body and carbonation.
I don’t know that I’d want to drink more than one of these in a sitting, but this is a really nice beer.
J: 9/10 E: 9/10