1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

568 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 568
Reviews: 111
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 13.11%
Wants: 8
Gots: 32 | FT: 3
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)
View: Beers (24) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 568 | Reviews: 111 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Georgiabeer
Georgiabeer

Georgia

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!

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2014 19:33:56 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of superspak
superspak

Michigan

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.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2013 00:24:01 | More by superspak
Photo of brandoman63
brandoman63

Illinois

3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

12-23-2013 15:50:35 | More by brandoman63
Photo of Gonzoillini
Gonzoillini

Illinois

3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

01-29-2014 01:22:37 | More by Gonzoillini
Photo of plaid75
plaid75

New York

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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-01-2014 00:34:40 | More by plaid75
Photo of smakawhat
smakawhat

Maryland

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2014 00:10:23 | More by smakawhat
Photo of tdm168
tdm168

North Carolina

3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

01-26-2014 00:59:34 | More by tdm168
Photo of sendbeer
sendbeer

Georgia

3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

12-15-2013 21:14:11 | More by sendbeer
Photo of PEIhop
PEIhop

Massachusetts

3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

01-06-2014 02:48:19 | More by PEIhop
Photo of afsdan
afsdan

Colorado

4/5  rDev +9.3%

04-21-2014 06:44:31 | More by afsdan
Photo of chinchill
chinchill

South Carolina

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2014 01:07:50 | More by chinchill
Photo of dirtylou
dirtylou

Washington

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.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2013 00:04:12 | More by dirtylou
Photo of xnicknj
xnicknj

Pennsylvania

3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

12-31-2013 12:50:56 | More by xnicknj
Photo of wordemupg
wordemupg

Alberta (Canada)

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

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2013 04:06:52 | More by wordemupg
Photo of GarthDanielson
GarthDanielson

North Carolina

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!

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2013 00:25:39 | More by GarthDanielson
Photo of GraduatedCashew
GraduatedCashew

California

3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

02-03-2014 19:00:31 | More by GraduatedCashew
Photo of BeerFMAndy
BeerFMAndy

Wisconsin

4.04/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
5.5% ABV

A - Dark chocolate brown with ruby highlights, the 2013 vintage of Our Special Ale is almost black looking and crowned with an off-white head that dots the snifter in lacing as it subsides.

S - Deep toasted malt pulls through the woody, pine-like aroma of Our Special Ale, introducing rich complexities of raisin and plum into the beer. Hints of ground nutmeg and ginger add a subtle spice to the beer while a swirl releases brown sugar and caramel sweetness for a lingering complexity.

T - Substantially more shallow in flavor, Our Special Ale has a somewhat thin malt base consisting of toast and hints of roast which work well with the beer's overall earthy profile, sprinkled with spice but, sweetness is strangely absent as are the fruit complexities.

M - With a medium-light body this Winter Warmer has a smooth, easier drinking flavor profile than that of some of the more robust, truly warming winter beers but, that doesn't stop it's earthiness and delicately lingering spice from completing the seasonal beer.

O - Despite the recipe changing from year to year, Anchor's Our Special Ale always seems to remain familiar; robust earthy, pine-like aromas and malty, toasted flavor with a sprinkle of holiday spice. This year has a fantastic and complex, welcoming aroma that unfortunately dies off slightly in flavor but the smooth body allows the beer to finish out nicely for a winter treat.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2013 19:47:29 | More by BeerFMAndy
Photo of Bitterbill
Bitterbill

Wyoming

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.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2013 16:47:06 | More by Bitterbill
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber

Washington

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.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2014 01:02:47 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of chippo33
chippo33

Vermont

3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

12-10-2013 12:12:41 | More by chippo33
Photo of iL0VEbeer
iL0VEbeer

New Jersey

4/5  rDev +9.3%

12-05-2013 00:00:04 | More by iL0VEbeer
Photo of claspada
claspada

New Jersey

3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

11-11-2013 14:36:32 | More by claspada
Photo of wrightst
wrightst

Maryland

5/5  rDev +36.6%

06-02-2014 01:23:38 | More by wrightst
Photo of vfgccp
vfgccp

New York

2/5  rDev -45.4%

12-12-2013 23:49:26 | More by vfgccp
Photo of champ103
champ103

Texas

4.44/5  rDev +21.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2013 21:40:58 | More by champ103
Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 568 ratings.