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)

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BA SCORE
84
good

120 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 120
Hads: 677
rAvg: 3.74
pDev: 11.76%
Wants: 10
Gots: 72 | 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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 120 | Hads: 677
Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.31/5  rDev -11.5%
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. (1,483 characters)

Photo of Bernoulli
3.9/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque dark amber. Quarter inch head.

Nice odor of Christmas spices.

A lot of heft.

Lingering taste of spices dominates any ale-i-ness without being overpowering. Some caramel in the background? No taste of alcohol (which isn't surprising given the ABV).

A nice sipping beer. Slows you down for the amount of body, not the alcohol. (338 characters)

Photo of seymourcox
2.94/5  rDev -21.4%
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. (695 characters)

Photo of mfnmbvp
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, with a more than obvious vintage date. Code on the back label appears to read 30H, but I could be wrong. My ninth, and last (for now) of the annual winter warmer releases from Anchor Brewing Co. Expectations are decent based on my experience with the others.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours a dark mahogany cola colored body, nearly opaque in the glass, with just a hint of caramel showing around the edges. One finger of mocha tan head. Some okay lacing.

S - Smell is of chocolate malt, caramel, some artificial cherry / cola / Dr. Pepper sort of aromas, twiggy earthiness, and lots of herbal spice rack notes - allspice, oregano, nutmeg.

T - Taste is of bitter baking chocolate, powdery cocoa, caramel, wood, cola, and herbal holiday spices - allspice, nutmeg, oregano, licorice.

M - Feel is crisp, malty, sticky, and lightly bitter. Medium bodied with good carbonation.

Overall, a good entry in this ongoing series of winter warmers. I would be very interested to see what some serious age would bring to some of these bottles, since in my experience with drinking these beers, I enjoyed the 2005 vintage the best out of all of them. I would be glad to come back to this one in about ten years from now just to see what it's like. A must have winter beer.

Anchor Brewing Our Special Ale 2013 ---4/5. (1,340 characters)

Photo of jwhancher
3.56/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a wide mouth chalice glass. Appears a clear garnet amber with fluffy off white head that laces the glass rim. Good carbonation. Smells of vanilla, cinnamon, clove, and allspice. Maybe a little nutmeg in there as well. Reminds me of a cinnamon Christmas cookie. Tastes sweet & spicy with supportive malts. Caramel and light cocoa flavors atop spices as found in the nose. Feels a bit thin. Light to medium feel. Wish this one had some more oomph for a winter warmer. Overall, a decent beer. Not bad, but not great. Would be a great choice to bring a sixer to a holiday party. (600 characters)

Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at The Lark, East Northport, NY.

Poured a deep murky amber hue with a one finger foamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a medley of spices, including spruce, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg with a light earthy caramel.

The taste mimicked the aroma with a residual herbal hoppiness.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness.

Overall a pretty good Christmas ale. (407 characters)

Photo of ExaltedNecrosis
4.11/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into tulip glass.

A - Pours a dark brown with a reddish tint. One and a half fingers of light brown head.

S - Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, caramel, and toast are all apparent in the aroma. A bit of sweetness along with the spice.

T - I get a lot of the holiday spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, with pine / spruce, caramel, toasted malt, earthiness, and a hint of chocolate. I can definitely see how this is a Christmas ale. Great amount of complexity yet it remains balanced between sweetness and spices.

M - Thin-to-moderate body with moderate carbonation. It feels a bit sticky at times, but is not as thick as I would have hoped. Nice earthy aftertaste.

O - I was pleasantly surprised at this one, not knowing what to expect as this is my first one. Has a great complexity and range of flavors with the spices, sweetness, and earthy tree notes. I will be looking forward to future vintages of this. (922 characters)

Photo of jngrizzaffi
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer when it was first introduced but did not rate it at that time. It is no longer brewed but remember liking it at the time. Good beer with a hoppy edge.. (169 characters)

Photo of superspak
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, bottled on 10/24/2013. Pours crystal clear dark reddish brown color with a 2 finger dense and rocky khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of big caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, raisin, ginger, nutmeg, juniper, spruce, brown bread, licorice, floral, and herbal earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt and spice notes; with good strength. Taste of caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, raisin, ginger, juniper, nutmeg, herbal, floral, brown bread, and herbal earthiness. Lingering notes of caramel, toast, toffee, raisin, brown sugar, juniper, ginger, nutmeg, brown bread, and herbal earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Nice balance and complexity of malt and spice flavors; with solid robustness and no cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a moderately creamy and smooth mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very good winter warmer style. Good balance and complexity of malt and spice flavors; and very smooth to drink. A nicely enjoyable offering. (1,261 characters)

Photo of Eisen
3.36/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

From notes. Poured a light black with a thin white head that faded quickly with little to no lacing. Smells of chocolate, toasted coffee, and a plethora of spices. Nothing in particular stands out. Taste like chocolate, nutmeg, a touch of ginger, toast, slight hops, perhaps juniper and pine or other evergreen foliage. Never the best tasting or drinkable beer, but definitely a must try every winter. (401 characters)

Photo of 57md
3.7/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown color with ruby edges. There was over a finger of tan head that took some time to dissipate and left nice lacing behind. The nose has distinct molasses notes. The flavor is also dominated by molasses. The taste is unique but very unbalanced. The sweetness of the molasses simply does not work with the mild malt profile.

The is a noble effort, but it just did not work for me. (396 characters)

Photo of curasowa
3.2/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark red color with one finger of tan head that fades to a thin cap with a nice curtain of lace.

Aroma: Sweet dough and holiday spice, mostly nutmeg and clove.

Taste: Roasted malt kicks things off, but the body is fairly thin. The spices show-up in the middle, Ginger builds to be the dominate flavor lingering on in the finish where there is also notes of brown sugar.

The Rest: I tend to be pretty hit or miss on the Anchor Special Ale, and this year is a miss for me. I like more body and sweetness from the malt to help balance out the spice in these beers and this one is lacking in that department. (619 characters)

Photo of david18
3.01/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

If I'm not mistaken this beer changes every year and can range from ipa-like to the more likely christmas style. This was definitely in the latter category. It was very malty, very dark, lots of dark fruits and a bunch of other aromas and flavors that you're more likely to find on a cake recipe list. Overall it's great for the style, i just wasn't sure what I was getting. If you like Christmas/Winter beers, try it. (418 characters)

Photo of HarryPotHead
3.99/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

ST - Single bottle received in a holiday "mix" pack received from my wife's step mother for Christmas....She knows i love beer. God bless her soul! :D

A - Dark...not quite black with a khaki head. Poured into Nonic tumbler....looks more like a porter or stout. Head is sticky but leaves minimal lacing. Still a great looking beer.

S - Out of this world! Best smelling beer i've come across in a while...Blackberries, oak, cinnamon, malt. Very earthy too. Close to perfection! Hop character is next to zero.

T - The nose wins over the palate on this one...not sure what it is. The nose is so damn nice, but the taste just doesn't hold its own. Flavor is not as pronounced and is much more one dimensional than the smell. Not what i expected from a winter warmer. I would expect more burn too from a "warmer", but at 5.5% it's just not there. Don't get me wrong, this beer is still very enoyable and an easy drinker, even though it does leave behind a mild aftertaste as others have described. I honestly don't mind the aftertaste although it is slightly out of character with the rest of the beer. Would really like to have one or two more right after this one, but no such luck on this day!

M - Crisp from the moment it hit the lips. Decent amount of carbonation...

O - My first holiday ale from Anchor. Really enjoyed it....would definitely pick this up again, but it will be off the shelves before i clean out all of the other holiday "cheer" in my fridge!! [ii]D cheers!!! (1,480 characters)

Photo of TeamMathis
3.77/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Either pitch black or pitch brown. Nice, thick tan head.
Smell: Spice. Cinnamon. Vanilla.
Taste: Spices and malt. Pine.

I really like this year's offering. The spices, both in the smell and in the taste, are quite inviting. I believe cinnamon is the dominate characteristic. Overall, it's a delicious seasonal. The label and tree this year are also good looking. I would get this again. (400 characters)

Photo of dacrza1
3.09/5  rDev -17.4%
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... (1,149 characters)

Photo of jdhilt
3.51/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

2013 version, Pours a three finger khaki head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Clear deep brown/orange color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Spicy nose and flavor is burnt cinnamon, dry woody finish. $2.50 for a 12oz bottle from Tully's Beer & Wine Wells, Me. (278 characters)

Photo of Etan
3.79/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Coopers Tavern.

A. Pours a reddish chestnut with a small tan head.

S. Toasted grain, nutmeg, caramel, a little raisiny.

T. Dry spice, nutmeg, whole wheat bread, a bit of cocoa.

M. Medium-bodied, creamy.

O: Drier and more drinkable than most American winter warmers. Nothing exceptional but certainly quaffable. (325 characters)

Photo of JulianBaughman
3.49/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer poured a deep dark brown mahogany, the color of the fretboard on my first guitar and it left a small tan head.

The smell was like raisins, baked sweet rolls with a little clove or coriander smell that I couldn’t quite place.

The taste was a big malty ball of awesome. Spicy, with a bready finish and a hint of chocolate. (333 characters)

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.96/5  rDev +5.9%
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! (860 characters)

Photo of MattyG85
4.26/5  rDev +13.9%
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. (1,392 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.71/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a huge bottle (gallon I think) into a shaker pint, the beer is a very dark, ruby-amber coloring with a tall, frothy, light, clingy, off-white head. A lot of carbonation and head left to settle pouring from that monster magnum bottle. Good looking once settled, though. Aromas of dark roast caramel, candied sugar, pine tassels, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice. Very heavily spiced nose. Flavors are rich on the forward tongue, with a solid molasses backbone that is dark and sweet, with roasted caramel highlights, woody notes, and a more subtle spicing of pine tassel, cut grass, peppery hops, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Smooth, rich, robust bodied, with a tangy sweet and rich aftertaste. This beer is heavy. The finish is smooth, with a subtle dryness and bitter that helps cut the otherwise cloying linger. Very tasty, and I seem to like this one more than recent year's versions. Cheers Anchor! (913 characters)

Photo of MarkQ617
3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Split a six-pack of this with the Mrs on Christmas Eve. Typically, I prefer a bit more spice in a warmer, but this one was very good despite a relatively simple flavor profile. Very crisp, just a touch of nutmeg. A bit more carbonation than I'd like, could have been smoother. Overall, a nice holiday brew. (306 characters)

Photo of Slatetank
3.84/5  rDev +2.7%
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 (789 characters)

Photo of vkv822
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12oz : tulip

Pours a clear, dark mahogany red with a thick, billowy, sloping, beige head.

Lightly spicy, herbal, piney notes with sweet, toffee and caramel malt.

Lightly herbal, spices, with a sweet, caramel, toffee malt backbone.

Medium+ body, mild carbonation.

Another well done winter warmer from Anchor. I unfortunately missed the last 2 years versions, but am happy I got back in the spirit and will make it a point to pick some up each year from here on out. (469 characters)

Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 120 ratings.