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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no score

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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 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 ANIMOUL
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I've been 'following' Anchor's holiday offering for many years now (many = 6 yrs). While my palate (and memory) is not refined enough to notice the differences between each year's batch, I do know that I enjoy trying each edition. If nothing else, I eagerly await the anointing of the specific tree that will grace each year's label. Great fun.

My first introduction to this beer was while reading a 'beer for dummies' type book several years ago whilst I came upon a critique of Anchor's Our Special Ale. While I don't recall the specific ratings, notes, or other BS usually populating reviews, I do recall the author's phrase used to describe the beer - "tastes like a Christmas tree'. For me, that about sums up this beer... and yes, Christmas trees are delicious. (769 characters)

Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up in Totowa last night because this is one of the few beers that I buy every year and can't wait to pour out and enjoy. This was a bit off this year but given that this has annual variations to it and that its relatively consistent, this was still enjoyable. The mouthfeel was a bit lighter than I remember and some of the dark fruit wasn't here but besides that, this was just as enjoyable as ever, and a great example of what a Winter Warmer should be!

Nice dark hue to this as I emptied the bottle out, with just a hint of light seeping through around the edges. The head was moderate and not as good as the lacing, which did its best to stick to the sides of my pint glass as I worked my way through this. Not a terribly strong aroma either, as faint traces of spice and dark chocolate could be detected. Lots of earthiness to the taste, along with the faint reminder of a Wassail and a bit of pine. The aftertaste was where the currant came out, but it wasn't that strong and slowly faded away. A trace of Anchor's hops could be detected as well, which was where the bitterness was in this beer.

Alcohol? It's in here somewhere but you wouldn't know it through the taste. A hint of fermented fruit was the only hint that were was any booze in this beer. Even though the mouthfeel wasn't as full as it was in past years, this has just right amount of consistency and variation from year-to-year to make it a must-buy come holiday time. There's just enough pine cone and nutmeg to give this some spice and not a lot of carbonation to overpower everything. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without this beer! (1,628 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
3.82/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Real nice dark amber, and hinting of deep burnt red body, pours out like chestnut milky brown though for the body color. Head is three fingers and a perfect styrofoam light tan and slight hinting red accented cap color. Slow retention and falling nicely.

Christmas herbs and warmth in a glass. Spicy warmth and cherry tones, hints of spruce and milk sweetness. Very light chocolate and hinting fruit cake sensations also.

Palate comes with a little bit of light chocolate milk action. Slightly wet with a YooHoo character, but some real nice spice action. Finish has a soft lingering pine and sweet spruce like quality that matches nicely. Some light cinnamon and a faint earth like hop just want to squeak out on the finish as well, some faint herbality makes an appearance also.

Overall, it's always fun to try these guys out, but I think I may have enjoyed previous versions, but that being said is splitting hairs either way. (990 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 rlee1390
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A-Clear brown when pouring but black in the glass, one finger off white head.

S-Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, chocolate, roasted malt.

T-Roasted and burnt malt. Not much of the spices that were present in the nose. Balance worsens as it warms

M-Lighter, watery and not much carbonation.

O-A poor showing for the Christmas Ale from Anchor. They have been better. If the spice came through in the taste it would have been a better beer. (445 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 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 MadScientist
3.78/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: A gorgeous looking ale that is dark brown with a deep garnet hue and a persistent head of tan foam. The head pour a bout two finger tall and is made of compact bubbles.

S: A sweet malt aroma with a pomegranate fruitiness blending with a piney, citrus hops notes.

T: The flavor is similar to having the pine hops flavor, pomegranate with the addition of some deep, somewhat dark malt flavors including a touch of molasses, some dark treacle and a touch of dried fruit. The malt sweetness is slightly stronger than the moderate hops bitterness making for a balance that is slightly towards the malt. The aftertaste if of fruit and hops with a long medium finish.

M: A creamy, medium-full bodied beer with a medium level of carbonation.

O: The smell is great, it totally reminds me of the holiday season without smelling like a glass of potpourri. (852 characters)

Photo of BEERMILER12
3.78/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a dark mahogany color with 2 fingers of head that slowly fades down to a nice cap that leaves decent lacing

S: The usual anchor yeast along with a good bit of spices and maltiness. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger stand out for the spices. Complex as always

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with the spices and maltiness, along with a solid chocolate malt presence. Some roastiness presents itself as well. The cinnamon and nutmeg compliment the roast very nicely. Finishes with a lingering roastiness

M: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation

O: This seems a lot like the 2011 version in terms of spicing, with chocolate and roasted malts thrown in the mix. Very drinkable and a solid holiday brew. There's no reason not to pick some up, simply because of the fact that these brews are known to age very well and they are always very Christmas-y (860 characters)

Photo of thecheapies
3.78/5  rDev +1.1%
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. (853 characters)

Photo of chinchill
3.77/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served in a Belgian snifter.
Pours very dark mahogany but clear, looking like a porter.
The aroma is spicy; not so much as to mask the medium and dark roasted malts but enough to suggest it may be over-spiced. Thankfully, that is not the case. The spicing mixes nicely with the malts, and among other things has a clear if unexpected note of allspice. Still, I'd prefer this with less spice rather than more. There may be a dash of spice from the hops too which otherwise manifest themselves by controlling the sweetness.

Althoug allowed to warm for a while prior to uncapping, this changes and develops nicely with further warming.

O: a very winter beer from Anchor. If memory serves me, this is better than last year (and I recently helped kill a magnum bottle of that) but perhaps not as great as 2011. (824 characters)

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

Picked up a single in mid-November for $2.99.

Beer poured dark brown with a nice tan head that dissipated quickly.

Nose is cinnamon and nutmeg.

Taste is roasted malts, coriander, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and pretty smooth.

Overall this is a pretty decent rendition of Our Special Ale. I used to buy sixers of this but over the last couple of years find that more than one is overwhelming. (417 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 scotorum
3.76/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

The 2013 version, but not bought that long ago.

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Unibroue stemmed flute

a; Clear very dark ruby to copper, inch and a half thick tan head receded to rocky surface foam and lots of spotty lacing.

s: Fruit cup, mainly pear.

t: Medium fruit up front to a mildish degree, followed by a significant hop bite. Bitterness lingers at the sides of the tongue at first like a moderate IPA. Fruity finish. Later slight smoke and ripe dark fruit notes emerge.

m; Light to medium, pretty good body, some carbonation tingle.

o; An unusual and seemingly complex holiday brew. Would like to try this with a grilled steak! (651 characters)

Photo of tillmac62
3.76/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

2013 - Pours a rich dark brown with a caramel head that lingers and laces well. Nose is of spices, mostly clove, and fruit - maybe raisins - against a slight dark malt undertone. Body is thin. Taste is of spice, mostly ginger and cardamom but a prune flavor is also present. Not complex at all. More dark malt would improve this beer quite a bit. Good carbonation. Finish is of spice with a slight lingering spice induced aftertaste and bitterness. Good but not great. (468 characters)

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%

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! (620 characters)

Photo of russpowell
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
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 (543 characters)

Photo of KYGunner
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

So deep brown it appears black the head rose to a thick finger of foam with a stout look but a short life.

The scent is very fruity with dark fruit aromas like plum and prune. A touch of spruce and anise round out the spicy scent of Christmas.

The anise or licorice flavor hits the front of the palate as a dried fruit holds nearer the end. The spruce or pine tree hits with a sharpness as I detect a ginger or nutmeg.

The feel is very thin, astringent and highly carbonated with a touch of booziness.

I found this to be a good ale with all the trappings of a winter warmer but the feel is simply not up to snuff. (618 characters)

Photo of Act25
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
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. (983 characters)

Photo of dbrauneis
3.74/5  rDev 0%
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. (1,253 characters)

Photo of metter98
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
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. (889 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
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. (1,948 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 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)

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