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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)

Educational use only; do not reuse.

121 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 121
Hads: 680
Avg: 3.74
pDev: 30.21%
Wants: 10
Gots: 79 | 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.
View: Beers (28) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 121 | Hads: 680
Photo of dar482
3.61/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

The beer comes in a dark brown color.

The aroma has tons of spice of lots of ginger and orange peel. Lots of spiciness. Toasty malt, a bit of caramel sweetness, lots of cedar woody notes.

The flavor follows with the spice again. Ginger, nutmeg, dried orange peel. The sweetness of brown sugar, a bit of caramel, along with wood. The wood is almost cedar or aromatic wood instead of a stiff aggressive wood bitterness.

A decently balanced beer. Good for those who love spiced ales.

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Photo of champ103
4.44/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of Gmann
3.59/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour a very deep brown color with a tight beige creamy head that settled into a light cap with lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of sweet malt, quite bready. There is a candied orange sweetness with a pine or spruce earthiness. There is a very much a fruitcake aroma to this beer.

The taste is of a pumpernickel bready base. Lots of candied fruit sweetness. Orange and pineapple seem to stand out. Some scorched caramel provides some additional sweetness. Not very hoppy, perhaps a touch of pine.

Moderate to full feel with noticeable carbonation. The beer is sweet but there is enough of an earthy bitterness. A touch sticky in the finish.

The beer captures fruitcake very well but it screams for needed hoppy flavor.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.16/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours a deep cola brown with a huge, dense, and fluffy looking light brown head that took forever to fade into a thin collar that left sticky patches of lace down the glass.
S: Very inviting notes of forest spices, holiday baking spices, and fruity hops and yeast. The nose is complex and it’s hard to nail any one scent down, but I get notes of cardamom, peach, mint, wood, forest floor dirt, clove, cookie dough, brown sugar, nutmeg, and antique shop.
T: Follows the nose with complex flavors of spice rack mixed with dough and forest. Bitter citrus pith, spearmint, tropical hops, and a touch of powdery chocolate come through as well. The finish is full of green leafy spices, and the aftertaste reminds me of a dark Belgian ale except more bitter. Reminds me of mint chewing gum at times.
M: Medium body, smooth and drinkable mouthfeel with a good dose of bitterness to it. The carbonation is frothy but soft and splashy.
O: Hoppier than I remember in years past with a good dose of bitterness and complex spice flavor. Very delicious, as usual.

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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.

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.04/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep brown color with ruby hues when held to light. A tightly laced sand colored foam head stays at about half a finger.

S: Has a great blend of baking spices mixed with some bready malt and some dark fruit notes. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, banana bread, cola, light chocolate. Digging it.

T: Bready with some spices poking through. Some molasses, dark bread, cinnamon and a rich nuttiness throughout. Mouthfeel is a touch thin, but this is really good. I'm liking this a lot more than last year's.

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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.

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Photo of wedge
3.61/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown mahogany color with plentiful tan creaminess on top. Smells of mellow spiced fruit, toffee, molasses, pine resin, and gingerbread. Dry, spiced, somewhat gingerbread-y flavor. A little tart fruit, spruce, bitter chocolate, orange peel, and faint maple. Medium body, creamy texture, with a slickness that sticks to the tongue. Always fun to see what the next year's OSA will bring. Definitely better as it warms up.

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Photo of shigg85
4.24/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Lots of woodsy berry flavors in this! This is no easy-drinking winter warmer, and I like it that way! Forces you to come to terms with juniper, clove, molasses, pine, roots, twigs, and branches in the flavor! Definitely complex and unique. Would complement an apple pie or something like that.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.67/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 FL. OZ. bottle
Served in a tumbler

A - It is a dark mahogany color with three to four inches of tan head.

S - I get a concoction of cocoa, juniper, and clove.

T - I am hit with a blast of spices. Clove and cinnamon are the easiest to identify. It finishes with roasted malt and some chocolate.

M - Medium

O - This beer always reminds me of Christmas. I know it is different each year, but my sensory experience is about the same each year when I look back at past year's reviews.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Chaney
4/5  rDev +7%
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!

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Photo of elNopalero
4.82/5  rDev +28.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This pours a wonderfully dark amber-malty red hue with a cap of creamy cocoa-colored foam. Seriously, the beer looks amazing.

The aroma has a light medicinal, gruit-like aroma, with some juniper and pine notes standing out.

Flavorwise there’s a bitter intensity which complements the herbaceous mix. Some juniper, pine and a resiny yet drying finish round it out. Love, love, love this beer.

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Photo of beergoot
3.92/5  rDev +4.8%
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 Karibourgeois
3/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Deep black pour with a one finger brown head. Spicy initial taste with a hint of roasted bitterness. Creamy body has a bit of nut, gingerbread and dark cherry.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Photo of bsp77
4.15/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Dark brownish-ruby with creamy tan head that mostly recedes with slight lacing lines.

Smell: Faintly sweet spices of allspice, clove and ginger. Nice chocolate and caramel undertones with a mild roastiness.

Taste: Bittersweet roasted malts with light notes of chocolate and caramel. The spices counterbalance the Porter-like base nicely, and include gingerbread, allspice, clove. A hint of a sour finish.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, medium body, somewhat dry finish.

Overall: Much better than last year, but not as good as 07 and 09, which remain my favorites.

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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!

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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.

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Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 121 ratings.