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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)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

624 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 624
Reviews: 113
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 13.11%
Wants: 8
Gots: 49 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: notchucknorris on 11-04-2013)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 624 | Reviews: 113 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 10/24/13.

Pours a murky orange-brown with a foamy dark-khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, gingerbread, spice, and dark fruit aromas. Taste is much the same with toasted malt and spice flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a nice blend of spices in this year's version.

UCLABrewN84, Nov 24, 2013
Photo of zestar
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

zestar, Jul 19, 2014
Photo of Texasfan549
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Texasfan549, Dec 11, 2013
Photo of metter98
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is black when viewed from afar and is clear and very dark garnet red in color when held up to a bright light with a moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger high tan head that quickly died down, leaving a patch of bubbles in the center of the glass, a collar around the edge and a thin layer of bubbles in between along with some lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: The smell has bits of sweetness along with aromas of fruit cake and ginger along with hints of cloves and molasses.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, except that the spices seem to stand out more prominently and little if any sweetness is detectable.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I really enjoyed the complexities in the smell and taste of this beer. It reminded me a little of a maltier and spicier version of a gingerbread cookie.

metter98, Dec 19, 2013
Photo of kjkinsey
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

kjkinsey, Dec 11, 2013
Photo of BEERchitect
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Its a curiosity-love relationship that I have with Anchor's, "Our Special Ale". Each year their similarities are going to be close and I'll always enjoy them. But I'm always going to expect more from them.

Again, the beer pours a deep bark brown hue as it builds a dense but short-statured head of sandy-tan foam. As the beer seems to dissolve into the ale only halfway through the sessioin, it amounts to pocketed lace scattered about the glass.

Wood, toast and cocoa reaches the noes in that respective order- its nose is spicy-sweet, with burnt toffee, dry molasses, coffee grounds and earthen chicory root really digging into its dry, dark and earthy tones. Obvious burnt pine needles, sap, and char round out its scent.

Its taste is of burnt toffee and dry black-strap molasses mixed with fresh ground coffee, cocoa powder, walnut oil, and a certain burnt dirt taste. Its middle is of charred toast, but not roast. Dry in its malty middle, the ale drifts into a roasted pine cone finish with resin-like bitterness, campfire and burnt embers. Even a pep of cinnamon spice with nutmeg and allspice echo in its dry wood finish.

Medium-light in body, the beer is given a bit of heft from its malty and dry chocolate upstart. But its dry finish sips over its middle development and into a woodsy-earthy-spiciness that provides an overcast of any would-be savory sweetness. Its finish is sprucy, gin-like in its warmth and with certain grain-derived astingency that impedes its drinkability somewhat.

Our Special Ale is one of those enigmas of an ale. There's nothing to suggest that this beer would improve with age, but these ales do. As this fresh example is rough about the edges and is largely immature and unrefined, versions up to five years old have proved to mature and mellow with taste and texture to all them to improve. Though nice in its fresh state, it could turn "world class" in a few years if you have better patience than I.

BEERchitect, Nov 25, 2013
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

ygtbsm94, Nov 26, 2013
Photo of jaydoc
4/5  rDev +9.3%

jaydoc, Dec 02, 2013
Photo of kylehay2004
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

kylehay2004, Nov 09, 2013
Photo of SocalKicks
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

SocalKicks, Nov 27, 2013
Photo of oberon
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

oberon, Nov 25, 2013
Photo of biboergosum
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

biboergosum, Nov 26, 2013
Photo of zeff80
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

zeff80, Jul 20, 2014
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!

WVbeergeek, Nov 09, 2014
Photo of Slatetank
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

thanks to tenderbranson69 for sharing this on Christmas Day '13, enjoyed chilled in a goblet.

the color is dark brown, translucent with thin beige cap with fine bead. The aroma is nicely spiced with woody esters and light malt scent with slight toasted odor. The feel is dry spiced and has a mild sweetness with moderate carbonation and mild alcohol with dry tannin in the finish.

The taste is very good with a nice juniper type fruity woody taste with mild dark sugar complimenting with a mild hop and cinnamon-look spice taste with a very mild alcohol flavor in the finish. Overall it seems a little less intense than previous years however still just as complex and very drinkable with nice balance of spice and woody elements with a dry finish that may allow for multiple samples

Slatetank, Dec 25, 2013
Photo of russpowell
3.74/5  rDev +2.2%
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

russpowell, Dec 02, 2013
Photo of MarkyMOD
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

MarkyMOD, Jan 05, 2014
Photo of DrunkinYogi
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

DrunkinYogi, Dec 17, 2013
Photo of InspectorBob
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

InspectorBob, Dec 08, 2013
Photo of kojevergas
3.21/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Big nod to Duff27 for this review (inside joke).

5.5% ABV confirmed per the bottle's label. 12 fl oz snub-top brown glass bottle with standard intricate Anchor label art and iconic red/gold pry-off pressure cap acquired as a single for $1.79 at me local HEB grocery and served into an Avery stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average given the brewery. No indication as to the style is given on the lable. "Brewed with natural flavours & with natural flavors added."

Served cold - straight from me fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a one finger wide head of khaki colour. Nice fluffy consistency. Good creaminess. Nice thickness. Has a soft appealing complexion. Head retention is good - about 4-5 minutes. Nice even consistent lacing coats the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Body colour is an extremely dark amber, which borders on black. Opaque. No yeast particles are visible.

Overall, I didn't expect it to be quite this dark. I'm not sure what to consider it, but if it really is a winter warmer, it's atypical. Outside of style conventions, it looks pretty good but isn't unique or special. No egregious flaws are immediately obvious.

Sm: Christmasy spices are the first thing I notice: nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and sassafras root. Vanillicin (one of the "natural flavours," perhaps?). Ginger. Dark malts. Chocolate malts. Rootbark. Bananabread. There's some sort of stonefruit buried in there, but I can't quite place it. Maybe plum? It's not a dark fruit, but isn't juicy or citrusy either. As it warms, I pick up some caramel and light toasted character. Maybe some bready malts too. A kiss of anise. Some pine - not necessarily piney hops, but the actual leaves.

Overall, it's quite well balanced, if a biteen medicinal - there is a sort of spearmint toothpaste type note which isn't flattering.

No yeast character, alcohol, or hop character is detectable. A pleasant aroma of mild strength.

T: Vanilla (vanillicin, probably - not vanilla bean) and sassafras feel very artificial here. Plenty of roots and spices: nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, et al. Raisin. Plum. Dark malts and chocolate malts provide the foundation, with a bit of burnt character and bready malts lending it some complexity. Pine. Anise is present and is a bit overdone, but then I'm not a big fan of too much anise in a beer.

Definitely evokes Christmas. The spices are well chosen. Hop character is absent, but maybe there's some generic floral character buried beneath the malty base. In any case, no hop bitterness emerges. All the bitterness the beer has comes from the spices and is more than enough to balance the well-tamed malty sweetness. Sassafras is dominant.

A balanced, assertive flavour profile with an interesting build. Not a winter warmer in a traditional sense, but an interesting holiday brew. It's quite cohesive, but not gestalt. Plenty of complexity here, and some decent subtlety. Limited nuance/intricacy.

Depth of flavour is above average. Flavour duration and intensity are average. I like it.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through.

Mf: Smooth and wet, though the burnt sugars and raw spices do lend it a bit of rough coarseness in the second act and on the finish. Good thickness. A bit overcarbonated, but it's tolerable. Could be softer and creamier. Full-bodied. Not as approachable as I'd expect from Anchor, but interesting. Complements the flavour profile well, but doesn't feel custom-tailored specifically for it. A bit heavy on the palate for the flavour profile.

Not astringent, harsh, oily, gushed, hot, or boozy.

Dr: A drinkable Christmasy spiced ale from Anchor. This is pretty good year for this series based on those I've tried. I'd pick it up again if I was in the mood for a beer that isn't afraid to commit to its spices. It's only personal taste that prevents me from fully enjoying this beer; I just don't like anise that much. This wasn't what I expected, but it's an interesting beer from Anchor and if friends asked, I'd recommend trying it just for the boldness of the spices.

High C+

kojevergas, Nov 20, 2013
Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev +9.3%

GClarkage, Jul 09, 2014
Photo of wrightst
5/5  rDev +36.6%

wrightst, Jun 02, 2014
Photo of imperialking
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

imperialking, Mar 15, 2014
Photo of woodychandler
4.65/5  rDev +27%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

As Winter begins to come to a welcome close here at Chez Woody, CAN Spring be far behind? I have fallen horribly behind in terms of my beer consumption and review and as such, I am not buying or trading until the backlog is sufficiently reduced.

From the bottle: "This is the thirty-ninth 'Our Special Ale' from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale's recipe is different every year, as is the tree on the label, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy, and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appear born anew."; "Merry Christmas Happy New Year"; "Abies concolor var. Lowiana".

The cap directed me to "Use Opener", so I employed one along with a quarter to avoid bending such a beautiful cap. I love using a heavy-handed pour, much to my Old Lady's consternation, but unless directed otherwise, that is how I roll. The pseudo-cascade began almost immediately and the resulting two-plus fingers of dense, light-brown head looked like I was making a root beer float. Ha ha. The nose smelled of anise, licorice, tar, dried dark fruits, pine tips and dark chocolate. Mmmm. Color was a deep, dark-brown with ruby highlights (SRM = > 27, < 34) and NE-quality clarity. Mouthfeel was medium and the taste was like anise biscotti! Yummy. Biscuit malt worked well with whatever spices and other adjuncts they may have added. It was much like the Christmas cookies that my late maternal grandmother used to bake. Lacing began to form in the glass as I drank and I was happy to see it. Finish was dry, especially thanks to the presence of all of the spices. A really lovely beer and one worth buying on an annual basis.

woodychandler, Jun 25, 2014
Photo of dbrauneis
3.74/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a clear but opaque very dark reddish brown (almost black) in color with moderate amount of active visible carbonation rising along the edges of the glass and garnet red highlights. The beer has a three finger tall dense foamy dark beige head that slowly reduces to a mottled thick and thin film covering the entire surface of the beer and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of malty sweetness combined with fruit cake + spiciness (ginger and fennel seem to stand out to me).

T: Upfront there is a moderate to strong flavor of caramel/toasted malts with a light to moderate amount of molasses sweetness. That is followed by moderate flavors of fruit cake with some ginger, anise and fennel spices/herbs. There is a light to moderate flavor of rye spiciness and spicy hops in the finish. Light amounts of bitterness in the finish which fades quickly.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: There are really nice amounts of complexity to the aromas and flavors of this beer which make it very enjoyable. As always, I look forward to seeing what the new year brings in this beer and it did not disappoint. Also a big hit with my wife and mother-in-law.

dbrauneis, Jan 19, 2014
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Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 624 ratings.