Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

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Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

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BA SCORE
83
good

654 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 654
Reviews: 115
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 12.84%
Wants: 9
Gots: 58 | 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)
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Ratings: 654 | Reviews: 115 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dbrauneis
3.74/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

Photo of woodychandler
4.65/5  rDev +27%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

As Winter begins to come to a welcome close here at Chez Woody, CAN Spring be far behind? I have fallen horribly behind in terms of my beer consumption and review and as such, I am not buying or trading until the backlog is sufficiently reduced.

From the bottle: "This is the thirty-ninth 'Our Special Ale' from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale's recipe is different every year, as is the tree on the label, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy, and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appear born anew."; "Merry Christmas Happy New Year"; "Abies concolor var. Lowiana".

The cap directed me to "Use Opener", so I employed one along with a quarter to avoid bending such a beautiful cap. I love using a heavy-handed pour, much to my Old Lady's consternation, but unless directed otherwise, that is how I roll. The pseudo-cascade began almost immediately and the resulting two-plus fingers of dense, light-brown head looked like I was making a root beer float. Ha ha. The nose smelled of anise, licorice, tar, dried dark fruits, pine tips and dark chocolate. Mmmm. Color was a deep, dark-brown with ruby highlights (SRM = > 27, < 34) and NE-quality clarity. Mouthfeel was medium and the taste was like anise biscotti! Yummy. Biscuit malt worked well with whatever spices and other adjuncts they may have added. It was much like the Christmas cookies that my late maternal grandmother used to bake. Lacing began to form in the glass as I drank and I was happy to see it. Finish was dry, especially thanks to the presence of all of the spices. A really lovely beer and one worth buying on an annual basis.

Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of Billolick
3.64/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle. An annual must try favorite, going back to my earliest days of fine beer appreciation.

Pours a rich shade of dark brown, mocha head, stays well then goes to a film, thicker collar and some decent looking tongues of sticky stuff.

Chocolate, licorice, juniper on the nose.

More of the above on the palate. Meh, tastes a bit off somehow, with the chocolate note being overpowered by an off putting burnt plastic hint.

Maybe it will improve some in the bottle, but its unlikely I'll be able to witness it. These tend to be a crowd pleasing holiday favorite

Photo of Georgiabeer
2.91/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Okay, this looks like the Our Special Ale of old, but that's about it. I've always looked forward to this beer coming out, and in most years will drink a case or so of it with my family around the holidays. Every year was different- some years you'd get sharp, sappy spruce (my favorites were those with heavy pine notes), some years you'd get nutmeg and , some years you'd get birch or wintergreen notes, some years were more mellow, others more intense. For the last few years I've felt this beer was going downhill, and this year takes the cake. The brown ale base is there- and that's about it. No pine at all, very light spicing, and a watery finish. Tastes like a weak and not very flavorful brown- noting very special or holiday about it all. Bah Humbug! Bring the real stuff back!

Photo of Gonzoillini
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of afsdan
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of jdhilt
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

2013 version, Pours a three finger khaki head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Clear deep brown/orange color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Spicy nose and flavor is burnt cinnamon, dry woody finish. $2.50 for a 12oz bottle from Tully's Beer & Wine Wells, Me.

Photo of smakawhat
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

Photo of brandoman63
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

Photo of iL0VEbeer
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of chinchill
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of tdm168
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at The Lark, East Northport, NY.

Poured a deep murky amber hue with a one finger foamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a medley of spices, including spruce, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg with a light earthy caramel.

The taste mimicked the aroma with a residual herbal hoppiness.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness.

Overall a pretty good Christmas ale.

Photo of sendbeer
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.71/5  rDev +1.4%
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!

Photo of PEIhop
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of chippo33
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of Boone757
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

Photo of wordemupg
4.23/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

355ml bottle poured into tulip 30/11/13

A dark brown with a deep maroon glow when held to the light, two fingers of dark tan foam hangs around for a few sips leaving a few partial rings on the way down

S anise, root beer, cola, herbal and leafy notes, dark toffee, faint coco, spruce, a pile of freshly chopped fire wood, fruit cake and winter spices I can't quite place

T more spice and some brown sugar and molasses I didn't smell, everything's still there in one form or another but the nose just has a little something over the flavor

M medium bodied, slightly foamy but manageable, spicy, herbal finish

O great nose, complex all-around, I could smash a 6er no problem and I just might right now

Another great Christmas ale from Anchor, I look forward to this one every year and I grab a magnum to age but I always seem to drink it before next years release

Photo of Bitterbill
3.96/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

Photo of dirtylou
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz (kyle) Singler

A winter staple - I could never pick one vintage apart from the rest as they always seem to taste identical to me. It's always been very pine forward - like you were ingesting a liquefied version of your x-mess tree. Gingerbread, spruce, a touch of cinnamon. I always have room for 1 or 2 of these suckers a year.

Photo of vfgccp
2/5  rDev -45.4%

Photo of xnicknj
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 654 ratings.