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Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

675 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 675
Reviews: 122
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 12.84%
Wants: 10
Gots: 68 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: notchucknorris on 11-04-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (25) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 675 | Reviews: 122
Reviews by mttaylor1066:
Photo of mttaylor1066
3.49/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

I seem to recall the head brewer at Anchor claiming that there are few options left for the Special Christmas Ale. I think it's true. How many different recipes have they gone through at Anchor? Not all of them can be successful.

Looks great, tan head. Delicious appearance.

Aroma is of dark malt an non-Noble hopping. Some burnt grass and pine sap.

The taste starts with a red plum skins, bitter and warming but this fades into a black licorice aftertaste with some malt coming along for the ride. The combination is not terribly annoying, but it overwhelms any spice that I can pick up.

Mouthfeel is OK. Fine carbonation.

Overall, this is not one of Anchor's better holiday efforts. The wrapping is pretty, but it's just another tie that Dad will be required to wear at family gatherings.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours into a standard pint glass a deep walnut brown with a deep amber tinge,a sticky half finger khaki colored head atop.Aromas have some molasses and cookie dough coming thru,a faint "woodsy" note lingers.Flavors of honey graham crackers and chocolate really stand out,I really like the graham cracker notes,ever so lightly medicinal and earthy in the finish.Anchor comes out with something new every year for the OSA and it doesn't always wow you but it's always something to look forward to.

Photo of ExtraStout
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Great color here--very dark amber with a beautiful tan head that stands tall and recedes rather slowly. The lacing is pretty good too.

Smell: There's a lot going on. Chocolate, roasted malt, molasses, ginger, fruit...and more aromas I'm sure. This is one unusual winter warmer, but I like the smell.

Taste: This is a letdown. There's a lot of flavors, but it leaves a weird taste in my mouth, and it finishes rather odd, and not in a good way. There is the roasted malt, chocolate, ginger, citrus...I don't know. It just doesn't work so well.

Mouthfeel: Things might come together better if this didn't have such a flat mouthfeel. A little more carbonation may have helped. Again, I don't like the finish at all.

Overall: I have a lot of respect for Anchor, as they are usually very consistent. I do appreciate the effort to provide a winter warmer that is unique, but not everything works too well here.

Photo of MadScientist
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: A gorgeous looking ale that is dark brown with a deep garnet hue and a persistent head of tan foam. The head pour a bout two finger tall and is made of compact bubbles.

S: A sweet malt aroma with a pomegranate fruitiness blending with a piney, citrus hops notes.

T: The flavor is similar to having the pine hops flavor, pomegranate with the addition of some deep, somewhat dark malt flavors including a touch of molasses, some dark treacle and a touch of dried fruit. The malt sweetness is slightly stronger than the moderate hops bitterness making for a balance that is slightly towards the malt. The aftertaste if of fruit and hops with a long medium finish.

M: A creamy, medium-full bodied beer with a medium level of carbonation.

O: The smell is great, it totally reminds me of the holiday season without smelling like a glass of potpourri.

Photo of mattt317
2.45/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Anchor Christmas is my pinecone in a bottle since my first sip in 1991. It has no real equal, unique. I love it. This year, my first taste, I thought it had a slight skunky flavor, sour and thin ... no pinecone at all. Still, I will head over to Tornado in the near future for the traditional happy hour pint or two...

Photo of Billolick
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle. An annual must try favorite, going back to my earliest days of fine beer appreciation.

Pours a rich shade of dark brown, mocha head, stays well then goes to a film, thicker collar and some decent looking tongues of sticky stuff.

Chocolate, licorice, juniper on the nose.

More of the above on the palate. Meh, tastes a bit off somehow, with the chocolate note being overpowered by an off putting burnt plastic hint.

Maybe it will improve some in the bottle, but its unlikely I'll be able to witness it. These tend to be a crowd pleasing holiday favorite

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.96/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Single bottle picked up at Premier Gourmet in Buffalo, part of our Christmas beer haul.

Pours a deep caramel brown colour into a short tasting glass. Half an inch of mocha head that recedes into a thick ring with lots of lace.

Nose is most certainly Christmassy - big malt, toffee, chocolate, and loads of spices, including ginger, allspice and cinnamon. I'm also getting a decent hit of evergreen boughs as well.

Very tasty Christmas ale that tends to emphasize spices over the malt. Spruce and cinnamon are the heaviest hitters for me, with nutmeg and toffee coming in the background.

Certainly an enjoyable beer to be had around this time of year. Spices get a great chance to show off, and the brew has a sufficient malty base to provide some nice heft. Definitely will pick up a few more of these in the coming years to see how the recipe changes!

Photo of seymourcox
2.94/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I didn't open this beer with high expectations. I'm not much of a fan of the 'tastes like mulled something' class of beers, but I thought i'd give it a chance, anyway. It's actually decent. It's got a very mild smell to it that kind of reminds me of the way the furniture smells a couple of hours after my wife polishes it. The taste is a little stranger. It definitely has that 'Christmas punch' thing going on that I was worried about, but it's fairly mild. Without the spices, it would probably be a a pretty nice, light bodied, darkish red ale. If you do like that kind of 'seasonal spice', then you'd probably like this. My wife said it tasted like someone accidentally spilled cider in it.

Photo of bsp77
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Dark brownish-ruby with creamy tan head that mostly recedes with slight lacing lines.

Smell: Faintly sweet spices of allspice, clove and ginger. Nice chocolate and caramel undertones with a mild roastiness.

Taste: Bittersweet roasted malts with light notes of chocolate and caramel. The spices counterbalance the Porter-like base nicely, and include gingerbread, allspice, clove. A hint of a sour finish.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, medium body, somewhat dry finish.

Overall: Much better than last year, but not as good as 07 and 09, which remain my favorites.

Photo of MattyG85
4.26/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tall pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a very deep brownish amber with a moderate amount of bubbles. Huge four finger tan head that slowly settles into a thinner creamy layer. Leaves a lot of lacing clinging around the glass.

Smell: A spicy, sweet, and roasty winter ale aroma with lots of chocolate hints and winter spices. Upfront scent of holiday spices with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and ginger. Toasty and roasted malts with hints of chocolate, biscuit, toast, coffee, cream, caramel, toffee, grains, and nuts. Sweet scent of brown sugar and slight molasses. Some earthy hops with hints of pine and grass. A very solid aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a very spicy, roasty, and fairly sweet winter ale taste with good notes of chocolate and spice. Upfront mixture of winter spices with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and clove. Roasted barley malts with notes of chocolate, biscuit, toasted bread, coffee roast, caramel, toffee, cream, nuts, and grains. Sweet taste of brown sugar along with some light notes of molasses. Earthy hop presence with notes of pine and grass in the background. A pretty good taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Very creamy and spicy. Finishes dry and smooth.

Overall: Another good year for this winter brew. Good mix of spices and toasty sweet malt notes.

Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.31/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A 355ml bottle with a BB of Oct 2015. Picked up recently from the York Wine & Beer shop. The latest installment of Anchor's seasonal brew - I seem to recall reading that they were going to make significant changes this year. Let's see....

Poured into a Delirium chalice. A very dark reddish-brown hue with plentiful carbonation. Yields a large head of creamy beige foam that lasts for a few minutes before settling as a patchy surface layer. Slight lacing. Aroma of warm spicy notes: cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg and a touch of coriander, underpinned by fruity malt, earthy yeast and stewed leaves. A hint of harsh cardboard in the background.

Tastes of acrid spice and mildly fruity malt, with a dry, bitter finish. Notes of woody cinammon, clove, nutmeg, mild ginger, fruity malt, earthy yeast, stewed leaves and harsh cardboard. The dominant spice character is excessive and discordant. A leafy, herbal bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, with decent carbonation and a satisfactory body for the style. Rather astringent, followed by an aftertaste of dry, bitter spice/herbs, stewed leaves and faint malt.

Hmmm - not Anchor's best attempt at a Christmas ale. It looks OK and the aroma is pleasantly rounded, however the flavour possesses a harsh, dry bitterness that swamps any other contributing characteristics. Body is alright. Basically, the spice addition is a little heavy-handed. I've had better Christmas brews - no need to hunt this one down.

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Deep dark ruby brown hue with a big thicket of fine carbonated khaki tan head, fine even lacing. Aroma herbal mint, pine, citrus zest it's a joy to smell with mild spices noted as well nutmeg and cinnamon...always a great Christmas ale from Anchor. This is last year's though I've seen this year's out there already. Flavor like spiced christmas bread, and pine water very much a holiday ale it always holds up quite well with some age. Mouthfeel is medium bodied even flowing carbonation dry finish from the spruce and nutmeg notes I'm catching. Overall always a favorite will continue to pick up a six every year!

Photo of chinchill
3.77/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served in a Belgian snifter.
Pours very dark mahogany but clear, looking like a porter.
The aroma is spicy; not so much as to mask the medium and dark roasted malts but enough to suggest it may be over-spiced. Thankfully, that is not the case. The spicing mixes nicely with the malts, and among other things has a clear if unexpected note of allspice. Still, I'd prefer this with less spice rather than more. There may be a dash of spice from the hops too which otherwise manifest themselves by controlling the sweetness.

Althoug allowed to warm for a while prior to uncapping, this changes and develops nicely with further warming.

O: a very winter beer from Anchor. If memory serves me, this is better than last year (and I recently helped kill a magnum bottle of that) but perhaps not as great as 2011.

Photo of CloudStrife
3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Pours a clear dark brown appearing black in the glass with a slightly tanned head on top. Leaves some nice lacing as the head slowly dissipates.

S: Initial spice aroma is what I notice. Hints of cinnamon and nutmeg blend with some dark fruitiness.

T: Well balanced winter warmer. All the spices compliment one another and none of them overwhelm. Malts make up a good portion reminding you this is a beer. Even has a touch of graham cracker crust.

M: Medium body with ample carbonation. A bit sticky on the finish but not too bad.

Overall its always fun to check out Anchor's Christmas Ale and this year is a must try.

Photo of biboergosum
3.87/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

355nl bottle. Whassup Wassail!

This beer pours a clear, dark, dark ruby amber hue, with two fingers of lazily puffy, and mostly creamy beige head, which leaves a bit of random splattered lace around the glass as it slowly ebbs away.

It smells of spicy, sweet toffee - like those twisted wrapped confections I used to get at Hallowe'en, with further toasted caramel malt, brown sugar-spiked baker's chocolate, a touch of black licorice, soft notes of coffee and cardamom, maple-syrup coated pine needles, and the faintest hint of cold wood smoke. The taste is quite consistent with the nose, if somewhat toned down - spicy, edgy butter toffee, roasted caramel malt, anise, clove, ginger, and a hint of metallic cinnamon spice, rather dry treacle, maple cookies, and a distant log fire, filtered through a mile or so of leafy pine forest.

The carbonation is a bit tight and flinty, but to no great disservice, the body on the wan side of medium weight, and mostly smooth, those swirling spices taking a wee pound of flesh here and there. It finishes on a strong drying trend, the metal of the spices combining with the dry roast to send things off thataway.

A rather pleasant seeming winter warmer, as ever was from Anchor's Our Special Ale annual. However, at this early juncture for the 2013 version, the integration is somewhat lacking, like a not quite mixed-up batch of cookies. Maybe after a few more weeks, one of these will be a salve after shopping. And after another few, for the big shebang itself.

Photo of dacrza1
3.09/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

DATE TASTED: December 25, 2013... GLASSWARE: Kisatsky Tavern pint...OCCASION: day two of an epic four-day Christmas family/friend celebration swing... APPEARANCE: dark black body fosters a tabletop of three-finger brown head that clings and cakes to the glass--clearly a beer of substance.. AROMA: immediate cinnamon, pinecone, spruce; malts are spoken for, if a bit dampened; much of the aroma bespeaks a brown ale... PALATE: medium-bodied, drinkable and consistent in its presence from first sip to swallow--a bit of soda fizz and cream...TASTE: brown, yes, and malty--a mellow, funky barnyard concoction forms in the mouth with each sip, leaving an undesirable aftertaste; trace elements of what the aroma promised; surprisingly suggests a Dickensian punch bowl--many unique leftover flavors producing an odd, alcoholic whole...OVERALL: hate to dis on a Christmas ale, much less while drinking it ON Christmas, but this beer promised big things and fell short once consumed; the last I had was 2005's offering, and I cannot recall the specifics of that brew, so maybe this batch had--what was for me and my tastes--a less-than-pleasing profile...

Photo of dirtylou
4.06/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz (kyle) Singler

A winter staple - I could never pick one vintage apart from the rest as they always seem to taste identical to me. It's always been very pine forward - like you were ingesting a liquefied version of your x-mess tree. Gingerbread, spruce, a touch of cinnamon. I always have room for 1 or 2 of these suckers a year.

Photo of russpowell
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours an effervescent chestnut/mahogany with 2 fingers of tan head. Great lacing & head retention

S: Juniper branches & sasspirilla

T: Follows the nose, a touch of brown bread, cinnamon, brown sugar & faint leafy hops up front. Dryness & herbal notes as this warms, faint tobacco notes, Finishes with a touch of gingerbread, herbal notes & dryness

MF: Medium bodied with assertive carbonation, starts thinning out as it warms

Drinks easy, I'm always good for a sixer every year, this one seems a bit middle of the pack for winter warmers

Photo of Gmann
3.59/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour a very deep brown color with a tight beige creamy head that settled into a light cap with lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of sweet malt, quite bready. There is a candied orange sweetness with a pine or spruce earthiness. There is a very much a fruitcake aroma to this beer.

The taste is of a pumpernickel bready base. Lots of candied fruit sweetness. Orange and pineapple seem to stand out. Some scorched caramel provides some additional sweetness. Not very hoppy, perhaps a touch of pine.

Moderate to full feel with noticeable carbonation. The beer is sweet but there is enough of an earthy bitterness. A touch sticky in the finish.

The beer captures fruitcake very well but it screams for needed hoppy flavor.

Photo of klimoja
4.51/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

This is a seasonal favorite of mine. The bottle label is a thing of beauty and is a gift to the drinker who can't help reminisce of Christmas's past, 39 years to be exact. Jim Stitt is getting up there in age but still producing great designs annually for Anchor. The bottle IS part of the experience. I poured this into a pint glass with a side pour and minimal head. The look is brown with a purple hue. The smell is vanilla, prunes and licorice. The sip, pause, and there it is again-welcome back to to last year and the year before and the year before that...back into Christmases past where the warmth of home soothes, and family is close, where all is peaceful and calm as the new fallen snow.

Photo of KYGunner
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

So deep brown it appears black the head rose to a thick finger of foam with a stout look but a short life.

The scent is very fruity with dark fruit aromas like plum and prune. A touch of spruce and anise round out the spicy scent of Christmas.

The anise or licorice flavor hits the front of the palate as a dried fruit holds nearer the end. The spruce or pine tree hits with a sharpness as I detect a ginger or nutmeg.

The feel is very thin, astringent and highly carbonated with a touch of booziness.

I found this to be a good ale with all the trappings of a winter warmer but the feel is simply not up to snuff.

Photo of ANIMOUL
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I've been 'following' Anchor's holiday offering for many years now (many = 6 yrs). While my palate (and memory) is not refined enough to notice the differences between each year's batch, I do know that I enjoy trying each edition. If nothing else, I eagerly await the anointing of the specific tree that will grace each year's label. Great fun.

My first introduction to this beer was while reading a 'beer for dummies' type book several years ago whilst I came upon a critique of Anchor's Our Special Ale. While I don't recall the specific ratings, notes, or other BS usually populating reviews, I do recall the author's phrase used to describe the beer - "tastes like a Christmas tree'. For me, that about sums up this beer... and yes, Christmas trees are delicious.

Photo of puboflyons
3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle marked 801. Sampled on December 22, 2013.

I love how it looks with its dark mahogany brown pour and cream colored head even though the head fades quickly.

The aroma is very nice with dark malts, molasses, fig, egg nog (really), and a thin earthy hoppiness.

The body is about medium but also rather acidic, which is a slight letdown.

The taste has a nice boldness to it with sweet and dark caramel malts along with nutmeg and molasses. Mild bitterness but enough to give this one a little character. I am quite surprised that this is the first year I have reviewed this one.

Photo of Spikester
3.64/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Handsome dark beer with a two finger tan head with modest lacing. Smell is fruitcake with a touch of herbal hops. Taste is malty dark fruit with a slight earthy hop bitterness on the back end. A touch of brandied raisens come out in the middle. Mouthfeel is toward the thin side and carbonation is barely enough. Overall a better than average winter warmer and well worth a taste.

Photo of ocelot2500
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep cola color with a lot tight, tan head that leaves good sized bits of lacing.

Smells of a bit of roasted malt with some spices.

Tastes of a nice roasted malt character with some sweetness. Leads off with a bit of molasses and dark fruits. This gives way to a little brown sugar sweetness and toasted bread. Finishes with a bit of spices.

Mouth feel is medium with a smooth amount of bitterness.

Overall, I find this enjoyable, but it could use a little more oomph.

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Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 675 ratings.