Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company
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Ratings: 583 | Reviews: 111 | Display Reviews Only:
3.73/5 rDev +1.6%
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.
11-25-2013 07:17:20 | More by BEERchitect
3.55/5 rDev -3.3%
A: Oily black with a thick mocha head that shows a bit of reddish color as well. Lots of bubbles on the side of the glass, and a fair amount of lacing.
S: Smells strongly of ginger and fresh bread (although maybe not quite gingerbread, haha).
T: Robust spicy flavor- strong on the maltiness with a fantastically bitter finish. Very well balanced.
M: Smooth with medium-high carbonation and a wonderful slight burn from the spices upon finish.
O: My only complaint is that I wish OSA had a higher ABV so there would be the added element of alcohol warmth that I feel would really take this beer above and beyond. At 5.5%, it's a bit light for a winter warmer, but it still tastes fantastic, and I can be sure I'll be drinking a lot of these over the course of this winter.
11-25-2013 05:01:40 | More by Botulizard
4.44/5 rDev +21%
A: Pours a dark brown with some ruby highlights around the edges. A large rocky tan head forms with excellent retention. Spiderweb looking lace is left behind. I always love the wat this looks in my OSA Tumbler.
S: Toasted malts, baked bread, light chocolate aromas. Then the spices. Gingerbread, light anise, peppery cloves. Finishes with more toasty malty aromas. Excellent.
T: Like the nose a big old malty profile up front. Toasted malts, baked bread, and chocolate. Then the spices. Gingerbread cookies. Cloves, pepper spice. All with perfect balance. The spices are not out of wack at all. Finishes with a light bitter bakers chocolate.
M/D: A medium body with moderate carbonation. Ultra smooth. So easy to drink. I can take long gulps of this. I will be getting many more six packs.
Still one of my favorite Winter Warmers every year. So many other spiced winter releases have the spices so unbalanced with everything else. Here the spices are a great compliment to the rest of the malty base. I love it.
11-24-2013 21:40:58 | More by champ103
3.58/5 rDev -2.5%
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.
11-24-2013 21:10:32 | More by UCLABrewN84
3.78/5 rDev +3%
Red-black to very dark brown with a big fluffy coarse head of dried out bubbles. Lacing is plus.
Clove, star anise, wintergreen, dark bread, allspice, candied orange rind, maraschino cherry, and spearmint. Totally of the herbal/spice drop bent. Hints of dark fruit hint at figgy flavors. Pretty nice nose this year.
Lots of allspice, clove, star anise, and wintergreen with a citrusy hop this year, instead of the staple piny flavor. Orange peel, spearmint, clove, and light bubble gum are supporting characters. The malts are a little thinner than I would expect in a winter warmer, so this becomes a bit of a spice bomb. The recipe is well-integrated this year and it exhibits its own character.
Has a medium-to-wooly feel with okay heft and actively surging carbonation.
It's a really solid effort this year. I could easily polish off a six-pack.
11-24-2013 04:52:36 | More by thecheapies
3.53/5 rDev -3.8%
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.
11-24-2013 00:54:01 | More by ocelot2500
3.75/5 rDev +2.2%
Entirely original, spruce and christmas spiced beer from Anchor. The best Christmas styled beer I have tried yet. A review says it will improve with age, so put a couple down for years to come.
A: Poured out a walnut dark, body with moderate carbonation and a tan head that laces well, but doesnt las that long.
S: Wood, cedar, spruce, pine, cigar box, tobacco. Like a cigar room humidor. What's not christmasy about that? I didnt find it medicinal, and there's fruit and malt there too. I enjoyed my first one on the banks of the shark river and it was a great outdoors beer.
T: Follows the smell, stronger cedar, pine, woods floor. more dirt floor cabin than cathedral.
M: Original beer. Must try. Must age. Low carb, low ABV. BUt too much for a session. Good with coffee.
O: Looks like BA's try this every year, I'd like to cellar a series and taste off with friends. Worth a conversation. Definitely will completement turkey, ham, roasts and all sweetened holiday meals.
11-24-2013 00:18:13 | More by Act25
3.86/5 rDev +5.2%
12 oz. bottled poured into a pub glass.
A – Pours very dark, looks like a stout in the glass, with a finger or so of light brown/silver head.
S – Allspice and other seasonal Christmas spices
T – Maybe a little clove, allspice, and something else very familiar that I can't quite put my finger on....
M – Lingering finish, with that one thing I can't seem to put my finger on.... One of my favorite Christmas ales for sure. Sorry Nutcraker, Sam Adams and Shiner, you may have been replaced....
O - A better beer for the cold winter months. I am a fan for sure, it's the kind of beer that I will be looking for every Christmas to come. Unless something surpasses it...
11-23-2013 02:06:06 | More by V3XX069
District of Columbia
4/5 rDev +9%
My favorite Christmas beer. Sorry Troegs……
Served in a Port City glass.
A: Poured out extremely dark, EXCEPTIONALLY un-Christmas-like for sure, with a soft, pillowy, brown/grey/silver head that sat on top of the brew like mistletoe.
S: The signature, spice Christmas component that I've come to expect from this beer. So subtle, so awesome. A tinge of pine, Anchor's profile, and bunch of stuff that I can't even begin to describe.
T: Great stuff, as usual. To be honest, This wasn't as piney as I remember it from past years, but I know the recipe changes periodically. Dig the extremely smooth finish.
M: Beautiful beer. Low carb, low ABV overall, and slippery on the glass.
O: I look forward to this beer every year. I've noticed that this version hasn't gotten as much love as previous versions yet. Still, this is a great Christmas brew….. THE BEST!
11-22-2013 03:01:11 | More by Chaney
Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 583 ratings.