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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)

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BA SCORE
83
good

594 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 594
Reviews: 111
rAvg: 3.67
pDev: 12.81%
Wants: 8
Gots: 41 | 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: 594 | Reviews: 111 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of PKS
1/5  rDev -72.8%

PKS, Nov 24, 2013
Photo of thecheapies
3.78/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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.

thecheapies, Nov 24, 2013
Photo of XicanoBeerRun
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

XicanoBeerRun, Nov 24, 2013
Photo of ocelot2500
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

ocelot2500, Nov 24, 2013
Photo of Act25
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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.

Act25, Nov 24, 2013
Photo of V3XX069
3.86/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

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...

V3XX069, Nov 23, 2013
Photo of ironchefkook
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

ironchefkook, Nov 23, 2013
Photo of Drknight
3.25/5  rDev -11.4%

Drknight, Nov 22, 2013
Photo of Mullinger1980
5/5  rDev +36.2%

Mullinger1980, Nov 22, 2013
Photo of Smarty_Pints
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

Smarty_Pints, Nov 22, 2013
Photo of Chaney
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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!

Chaney, Nov 22, 2013
Photo of tree777
4/5  rDev +9%

tree777, Nov 21, 2013
Photo of WallE89
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

WallE89, Nov 21, 2013
Photo of TappaKeggaBrew
3.94/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours exceptionally dark, although holding it up to a bright light reveals it's clear, and more red than brown. The head was a finger of khaki-colored foam that lasted quite a while, although the lacing was a bit meager.

S: Initially, it's all about Christmas spices: cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and a hint of ginger. As I sniff repeatedly, I detect the grainy aroma of muffins, then caramel, and finally some sweet, fruity notes.

T: Minimal malty sweetness quickly yields to moderate-strength spices, with a mix of complexity, warmth, and bitterness -- but it's a pleasant gemisch, even if it doesn't immediately remind me of "beer" in its purest form. I'm also picking up some burnt grain, bitter cocoa, and even tart fruit. The finish is bitter, but I'm not sure how much of that is hops and how much is spice residual.

M: Moist, yet well-carbonated. Smoother than I was expecting, given the spices. I'm pretty sure the faint burn is spice, not alcohol. There's a slight dryness in the finish.

O: Like figgy pudding, this is enjoyable at Christmas, but not something I'd seek out year round. It's pretty good, but to be honest, I liked Anchor's 2012 version of the Christmas ale a bit more.

TappaKeggaBrew, Nov 21, 2013
Photo of kojevergas
3.21/5  rDev -12.5%
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 klimoja
4.51/5  rDev +22.9%
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.

klimoja, Nov 20, 2013
Photo of davegray
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

davegray, Nov 20, 2013
Photo of Adamostella
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Adamostella, Nov 19, 2013
Photo of abex44
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

abex44, Nov 19, 2013
Photo of Zach122
4/5  rDev +9%

Zach122, Nov 19, 2013
Photo of Rekrule
2.5/5  rDev -31.9%

Rekrule, Nov 19, 2013
Photo of bgoblue2
4/5  rDev +9%

bgoblue2, Nov 19, 2013
Photo of Beerme5
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Beerme5, Nov 18, 2013
Photo of Gregg_Kawakami
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

Gregg_Kawakami, Nov 18, 2013
Photo of dcbeers
3.25/5  rDev -11.4%

dcbeers, Nov 18, 2013
Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 594 ratings.