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.
very good

120 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 120
Hads: 679
Avg: 3.75
pDev: 12.8%
Wants: 10
Gots: 77 | 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: 679
Photo of jngrizzaffi
4/5  rDev +6.7%
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..

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Photo of taylor714914
3.99/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured at Always’s Rons, this burgundy liquid smells of straight butterscotch in the middle with bready malts wrapping each side. Taste is interesting. A sweet bready malt character with the butterscotch sweetness I smelled in the nose, but a faint hint of pine, not quite hops, but Christmas tree pine-esque. Caramel and toffee along with some dark dried fruits (prune and fig) follow the spruce flavor. Mouth feel fell short, feeling a little thin. I big bold thick mouth feel could have really carried these flavors.

Overall though, a solid winter warmer.

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Photo of TheMarkE
3.99/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark amber with a decent head of foam and good lacing.

Smell: Pine, dark fruits, spices, licorice.

Taste: Dark fruits, spice, herbs, and root beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, creamy, with a root beer aftertaste.

The Verdict: Very good. This complex offering from Anchor is by far my favorite from them. Way better than a fruitcake, this brew even smells like Christmas.

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Photo of HarryPotHead
3.99/5  rDev +6.4%
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!!!

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Photo of foglemgs
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint class, this beer is a lovely, dark brown color. There is a substantial, two-finger light brown head that dissipates into a thin (though not unpleasant) film that leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

S: The sweet roasted malt really comes through, and I get undertones of coffee and anise.

T: Very rich, with a strong flavor of anise (black licorice). Coffee finishes the flavor and lingers on the tongue.

M: Considering the smell and taste, the mouthfeel is surprisingly thin, though there is a nice dryness that lingers.

O: I think I'm in the minority here, but I've never considered any Anchor Steam beer to be excellent, though this Special Ale is quite tasty on a cold winter evening.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a dark russet brown with a fine two finger tan head with great retention and lacing. Aroma of sweet bready, lightly toasted malt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice very seasonal. Flavor is a nice blend of caramel and lightly toasted malt, cinnamon, ginger, light nutmeg and allspice, a hint of pine. Finishes with an herbal bitterness and residual seasonal spices. Surprising light creaminess and medium body. A pleasant and well spiced winter ale, lying in style somewhere between a dark bitter and very light brown ale. I liked the spicing this year and it fit well with the malt body. A nice light ale for the holidays. This was one of the better tasting years for me, although I miss the pine element that is frequently.

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Photo of TappaKeggaBrew
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.96/5  rDev +5.6%
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!

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.96/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This pours a very dark brown with a 1 finger head of tannish foam that doesn't leave a lot of lacing behind. The brew itself looks very nice. The foam is rather short lasting.

The smell is nice, notes of a gingerbread man come to mind. Nice amount of cinnamon and nutmeg make the small very holiday like.

The taste gives what the smell promises. Gingerbread with the right spices, malt forward overall with very little bitterness, if any.

What I have here is a very nice Winter Warmer. I'll get to try it on draught at the local Old Chicago but the bottles are satisfying. A + is the good lowish abv so I can enjoy a few without getting blasted. I like.

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Photo of Myles603
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Was pleasantly surprised to see this on the shelves so soon! It's usually much later in the season when I first try it. Let me start by saying if you tried last year's and did not enjoy it, please give it another go because I wasn't crazy about last year's either, but this year's is fantastic. On the nose, I got a molasses and cocoa, with a slight nuttiness. Very light on the palate, and finishes extraordinary smooth. This beer is by far one of my holiday favorites, and I have even started collecting the bottles over the past few years.

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Photo of MrBoh
3.94/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark, yet tranaluscent, Brown with a thin beige cap. Rampant lacing.

Scent of clove and pine dominate. Nice sweet, caramely backdrop.

Clove and all spice re the main flavors. Finishes with just a little malty sweetness. A fruity, maybe cherry, flavor starts to come thru.

It starts so dry, but a kiss of sweetness at the end. Just a little bitterness.

Maybe I should have poured more violently, but the head was lacking, and it is noticeable after being out a short while. Other than that, not really my style, bit very well done for what it is.

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Photo of CloudStrife
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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Photo of ONUMello
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Dark brown color, 1/2-finger head
S: Pecan pie, brown sugar, molasses, ginger and licorice
T: Lighter & less complex than the nose, lots of baking spices with malt & ginger
M: Medium-bodied, smooth & spicy
O: Not my favorite but a great nose/mouthfeel and a pleasant flavor profile

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Photo of beergoot
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Dark mahogany body with an exceptionally thick, rich, creamy head. Spice and fruit aromas; coriander, cinnamon, allspice; orange and lemon peel; Christmas pine. Toasted malt flavors with all kinds of residual fruity esters and a twinge of alcohol warmth; further savoring reveals some licorice and anise. Medium-light body; juicy.

Quite the mouthful of aromas and flavors. Surprisingly light bodied for a big winter ale yet jam-packed with taste bud treats. If a winter holiday fest beer is what you're in the mood for, this would be a prime candidate.

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Photo of Bernoulli
3.9/5  rDev +4%
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.

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Photo of sommersb
3.89/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Tasted On: 12-08-2013
Freshness: Bottled 10-18-2013
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Shaker pint
Purchased: 6-pack from Frugal MacDoogal, Nashville

A: Dark brown beer, nearly black, with red highlights. Head is nicely sized, with very good retention and a fine lace.

S: Aromas have sweet caramel, plus fennel, pine and rosemary. Hops have woody and earthy hop notes.

T: Taste is spicy and earthy, with bitterness of pine and also roasted malts.

M: Body is medium, with lots of carbonation and a finish that is woody and piney for an earthy bitter aftertaste.

O: The high levels of woody, earthy and pine favors make for a unique brew. It feels kind of like you're drinking a tree. I liked the beer but wouldn't want to drink it all the time due to the novelty.

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Photo of HopBomb515
3.89/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Dark brown, not quite black, dark ruby hue, 2 finger off white head from the pour.

S - Spice, pine, toasted malt, burnt crust, fruity in the back ground.

T - All spice, clove, ginger, spices all over met immediately by big pine flavor and some hop bitterness, finishes slightly bitter with some of that fruit sweetness from the aroma.

M - Thin, medium carbonation, falls just shy of creamy and finish is smooth.

O - First of these yearly special ales for me. Complex and interesting and I love how well the intense pine flavors work with a balanced level of spice and fruity malt sweetness.

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Photo of oberon
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

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Photo of Sam-VW
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

When you pour this beer, it's a nice dark ruby colour, a medium to large tan coloured head with great retention. Once it does recede you get a lot of spotty lacing on the sides of the glass and a nice uneven surface foam on top of the beer. On the nose there's lots of Chocolate malt aromas, mild roastyness and some caramel. I'd say it's pretty Christmassy so far! When you taste this beer, initially you get a strange mint flavour which is actually quite nice and refreshing, after this Vanilla and a touch of Fruity Fig like flavours. After this the Roasted and Chocolate malts kick in, ending with a bitter Hoppy finish. This beer feels extremely smooth and ends with a medium-sweet finish with a touch of bitterness. This year's one really is balanced and great, with a superb malty backing.

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Photo of V3XX069
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
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...

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Photo of biboergosum
3.87/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

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Photo of Jevers
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 50.7 oz magnum at 49 F
Appearance - very dark, almost black with a reddish cast. Pours with a strong head that dissipates after a few minutes. Nice lacing all the way down.
Smell - strong nutmeg (like egg nog), other spices that i can't identify. Slight malty flavor, no hops that I really notice.
Taste - excellent winter warmer flavor, spices and malt. No noticeable alcohol flavor.
Overall - very good Christmas beer. Will make this one a holiday tradition.

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Photo of 312HopBomb
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep chestnut/blackish with fluffy mocha head three fingers tall. there's some nice lacing as it settles.

The aroma consists of dark malt and toasted biscuit with moderate/strong spices of anise and dates.

The taste follows the nose. Strong anise and date flavor then a nice malty finish with some brown sugar and molasses.

It has a medium body and moderate carbonation.

I liked this year's spice flavors and tasty, sweet and malty backing.

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Photo of PedalFuel
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle in 20oz tulip. Dark brown, some light passes at the edges. Fluffy tan head, great lacing, moderate retention.

Fantastic aroma, nutmeg, cinnamon, and two other spices I can't identify.

Taste is excellent, mirroring aroma and adding caramel sweetness, a bit of roasted malt, and ending in a pleasantly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is just a little bit off.... slimy/sticky quality, but otherwise light on the palate, smooth, with good body and carbonation.

A very Christmas-ey and moderately dark winter warmer.

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