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Our Special Ale 2003 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Our Special Ale 2003 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2003 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

198 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 198
Reviews: 178
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 11.79%
Wants: 0
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: kbub6f on 11-07-2003)
View: Beers (23) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 198 | Reviews: 178 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Zraly:
Photo of Zraly
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, rich brown that has been "dirtied" a bit with a cherry-red hue. Nice tannish head. Wonderful, fragrant ale with heavy smells of dark chocolate, leather, spice, and a warm hint of smoke. Has a curious "woodsy" character that is just driving me nuts. Good Lord.

Extra fine flavor. Very complex. Very roasty. The most pronounced flavor is of dark chocolate that has a high cocoa content. Notes of coffee, fruit, caramel, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. Smooth, herby finish. The hop is tasty raw and have an ample aromatic backdrop to this beer; the perfect backbone. Even has a tiny bit of chew. Silky, velvet-like finish. Mouthfeel and finish are, overall, exceptional.

A gourmet beer. Something to savor. Something to save. Good, ecstatic lovin' in a 12 oz. bottle.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.28/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a ddep brown with a thin off-white head,the aroma I get is slightly roasted and brown sugar very nice.The taste packs a flavor wallup,a delicat spice flavor with some earthieness along with some raisin flavors.The earthy flavors makes this beer a winner in my books a pretty easy drinker I like this year's batch better than last.

Photo of BJ1833
4.72/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz bottle purchased 9/24/04 (almost a year of aging in refrigerated conditions)

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, almost black with tan colored and very thick two-finger head.

Aroma: Wow, this is my first Christmas beer from Anchor and it smells amazing. Very complex with smells of pine, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices. This just smells delicious.

Taste: Tastes like the holiday season! A strong cinnamon and nutmeg flavor upfront that reminds me of scented pinecones. Tastes of brown sugar and molasses are mixed with a strong, but not overpowering piney flavor. A bitter hop and slight citrus flavor is present in the finish as well as a faint sour flavor, although not unpleasant.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is thick and almost syrupy with low carbonation. This is almost like drinking a barleywine in respect to the feel and texture.

Overall: This is a really good brew. Very complex but still easy to drink while sitting back and relaxing. I think I'll save a couple of these for a while and see how the character changes more with time.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.38/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep brown pour with a small head and some nice lacing on the side of my glass. Borderline black. Spicy nose with hints of piney hops, cocoa, raisins and dark fruits.

First sip upfront with a nice melding of spiciness, cinnamon, nutmeg. All mixed in with a lush roasted malt background with hints of chocolate, dark fruits and a piney biterness. Very complex and porter-esque. A bit of smokiness on the back of the palate as well. Tasty.

Mouthfeel has a wonderful body and smooth creamy taste. Good carbonation. This is one that I could definetly drink a few of....a very nice winter warmer. Thanks to cretemixer for pointing this one out to me at the store...glad I picked it up!

Photo of grynder33
4.45/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very dark pour with very little head. Aroma was very intriguing with a mix of malt and all kinds of spice. Taste was malt raisin grape, with a fine brandy like aftertaste. As it warmed up a bit of anise came through. I bet this was fabulous on tap.

Photo of Beaver13
4.28/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The Our Special Ale (2003) poured a dark brown wih some dark red highlights. It had a nice creamy, light brown head that had good retention that laced the glass on the way down. The aroma was pretty strong and very pleasing - it had some nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove and maybe ginger. It's taste was a little milder than I expected. A little bitter up front with some nice maltiness, and a long finish full of spiciness. Overall, an excellent holiday brew! Already one of my faves after a first try.

Photo of shapudding
3.65/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Beige, cakelike head that reduced down to a finger's height of fluffyness. This was 11.2 oz of beautiful dark amber. Scents of caramel, little metallic. Overly carbinated so it does foam up way too much in the mouth to feel comfortable to me. Tastes of vanilla extract. One dimensional, but very nice. Saved my very last one in this batch to do my review.

Photo of Jason
4.47/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle with a 2003 vintage date on the label.

A- Deep brown hue with ruby edges, thick two fingered tan lace sticks to the glass very well.

S- Freshly baked hermit cookies with a lemon sugar glaze. Wow!

T&M- Velvety smooth with in a creamy full body. Rich cocoa maltiness, sharp twang of spice and hops with a mellowing earthy malt and yeast mix. Candied fruit and dark chocolate come to mind.

D- A lovely brew to savor on a cold winter night. It has held up well for two years cellaring.

Photo of merlin48
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Didn't take long for this to become my favorite winter ale. Pours a ruby black with a respectable beige head and lots of lacing. Nose is a spectacular combination of spruce, excellent malts, and West Indies spices(nutmeg, etc.).Taste is much the same...full bodied like a stout, but with Grenadian spices and spruce balancing the fine malts. Dry finish is of some nice hops and the same sprucy West Indies spices. Incredibly drinkable for all the complexities.

Photo of Billolick
3.63/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Magnum bottle, mostly enjoyed at our local Disc golf Ice bowl, this sample reserved and reviewed at home. Pours blackish brown, thick dark tan head, leaves a load of lacing. Nose of winter spices and soft roasted malt. Notes of maple syrup, vanilla,smoke. Unfortunatly a hint of lactic sourness as crept into this bottle. Takes away from the complexity and typical enjoyability of this brew, Oh well, better get a few more bottles for next winter...

Photo of fdrich29
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle that says Merry Christmans & Happy New Year, Anchor Brewing CO. 2003

Pours a midnight black with a light frothy tan head that laces the glass quite nicely. Sweet smell of Holiday spices beckon the nose. Smooth like silk while it swims in your mouth as Santa leaves the mellow taste of raisins and chocolate for the good boy and girl BA's who drink this.

If there was more of this around I would have gone back and purchased more, alas it was the last bottle. A great drink to share with family and friends while looking back on a year coming to an end and looking forward to future good times.

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first OSA and I didn't know what to expect...

Poured a lovely near-opaque deep ruby in color. Slight layer of cocoa-colored head that left distinct rings in the glass. Aromas....Oh! the aromas! Different? Hell yeah! Christmas spices (cinnamon and nutmeg mostly) dance like sugarplums across the nose. Clinging to them is a bucket of tree sap. The result is excellent. Flavor is also very different, but in a very good way. Oily, sappy, resinous, bitter tree sap on the lips. More spices in the flavor, with some wood chips thrown in for good measure. Some chocolate-brown sugar smoothness as well. The flavor from the added spices really kicks up the complexity of this beer. Mouthfeel is strange. At times, very smooth and creamy, whereas at the end, it dries out the palate. Drinkability is very nice. Definitely not one that I'd drink with a meal...this is one to sip and savor in front of the fireplace waiting for St. Nick.

Notes: I snagged a few of these and would like to see how these change over a year or so.

Photo of far333
3.55/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Chestnut brown with ruby highlights. A small and fizzy head rises minimally up and sizzles quickly away like soda bubbles.

Rich and potent aroma of sappy spruce needles, some cinnamon and figgy malt.

Flavor of pine and prune, figgy and semi-sweet. Morphs to cocoa and some smoke, accented with bitter cherry and a fine hop finish. Tangy flavor lingers in the cheeks.

Thin mouthfeel, a bit watery with low carbonation, but a tingly finish manages to emerge at the end.

Photo of yankeeheel
3.78/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a very dark brown with a little white head. Thanks to the fine folks at the Great Lost Bear. Smells of nutmeg and a little bit of piney hops.

The taste is very nice but not quite as good as the 02 I had recently. It's a lot more raw and piney, but that's to be expected. Finishes slightly bitter with a lot of that nutmeg/coriander coming through.

Photo of TKEbeerman
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

Photo of ADR
4.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Deep ruby brown color, perhaps a shade darker than even usual. Head is almost orangey, drifts to a skim in 25 seconds. Laces in fat drips. Aroma is fruitier and less resinous than the 2002 -- juicy yam, molasses, nutmeg with a bit of apple cider. Powerful molasses dominates the flavor, viscous and cookie dough chewy. Thick and consistant mouthfeel, Picea seeming thicker than Populus of last year. Great bitter at the finish, helps to leaven and offset the tons of aftertaste. Certainly stands up to, and I believe, exceeds previous renditions -- who knows what the 30th Anniversary Special Ale will bring?

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Deep ruby brown with a nice tan head sitting on top leaving behind the most plentiful lacing in even strips. Aroma: Oh my how nice the pine cone spruce tip tones are immersive, with ginger and cinnamon spices playing a second fiddle amazing and not overly piney like last years version. Dark roasts give off a creamy malt base I likes it. Taste: Perfect blend of milk and cookies with the pine cone flavor not overbearing at all perfectly blended classic Christmas ale definitely very special. Mouthfeel: Medium bodied ale with a crisp carbonation nice finish. Drinkability: Is incredible you would think this would be to sweer or too piney or too something but no Anchor pulls it off with class making a very tasty complex Xmas ale with high drinkability factor especially on tap.

Photo of DagFishHead
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark ruby-brown body. Fizzy and generous tan head fades to a very thin and broken cap with sheets of lace.
Smell: Spicy like peppery pine/cedar, aged/charred sap woods, clove, cinammon, nutmeg, and bitter chocolate. Oh, and some sweet malt holding it all up there for the noze to enjoy. Refreshing and not over-done. Very christmas-y.
Taste & Mouthfeel: Smooth, slick medium bodied malt with restrained sweetness to start, piney/sappy tanginess with fluffy carbonation at the top. Finish very dry with bitter/toasted spices (cinammon, clove, nutmeg) and a bitter chocolate aftertaste.
Drinkability: Scary drinkable. One of the best seasonals I've tasted. Looking forward to this again year after year.

Photo of mbunje
4.7/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This 2005 Anchor Special Ale (Christmas Brew). 12 oz bottle poured into an pint glass. Reviewed as a "winter" brew

Appearance: Daaark brown. Can't see through it, but it's not cloundy. Small head but nice lace. Looks heavy.

Smell: Malt, Nuts, Pine, Smells like a day in the woods. A bit of spice to it. Great smell for a "winter" ale.

Taste: Adult root beer, but less sweet. Spicy, malty, bitter chocolate and cherry. Again, good traits for a "winter" ale. Earthy.

Mouthfeel: You chould chew this beer. Smooth and rich. coats your tongue, then drys at the finish. Nicely done.

Drinkability: Personally, 2 pints is about it. Very rich/heavy, but very satisfying.

Overall: I am not usually a porter/stout drinker and this beer is up there. This nails the idea of "winter" brew. Warms you up, fills you up, and smells like a day in the woods. Well done Anchor.

Photo of cokes
3.13/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark rust with a dying, yellow head.
Aroma of ferms, nutmeg and ginger. Seasonally appropriate, I suppose.
More of the same in the mouth. Evergreen sap sprinkled with holiday archetypes. Nutmeg primarily. Cinnamon too, with maple notes as it warms. The problem here is in the malting (and subsequently the texture). It's far too thin and oily to support the spice levels. Touches of black malt harshness, but that's it. If this was bolstered in either the caramel/toffee or roasted direction, the interplay would be more pleasing. I'd like more out of the hops too. A bit of back-end bite would do some nice things.
However, it's just spice as it is.

Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark, ruby toned brew with a light brown/beige colored head and a strong, heavily-spiced aroma. This tastes like it belongs in a pie crust or fruitcake pan, with layer after layer of sugar (brown sugar and a bit of caramel) and spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and on and on). There’s a fruity element to it as well—a dark one, like black cherries or plums.

This is a beautiful, full dessert beer – very rich, but not overly heavy. I put two bottles away for next year.

Part #2 of the 12/8 Hebrew Hammer Holiday Threeway.

Photo of Sammy
3.3/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Apparently their best OSA. My mates and me took a while to drink this one. But it had a nice dark roast appearance and spicy pine roasted chestnut aroma. On sweet side with seasonal spices of nutmeg, cinammon, sugar, pine, almond, ginger.
Thanks for fulfilling my wish list Irondjinn.

Photo of ElGordo
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, rich mahogany color topped by a flourish of a creamy tan head. Complex aroma of rich roasted malt, brown sugar, and a hint of spruce. Palate is again rich and complex - a big backbone of roasted malt, accented by brown sugar, treacle, clove, spruce, and a lingering hint of hops. A warming alcohol presence is detected on the finish, even though this is not a particularly strong beer. The body is creamy, rich, and perhaps the best thing about this beer. Compared directly to the 04 and 05 versions, the individual flavor notes are more discernable here. Pretty damn tasty.

Photo of beerluvr
4.68/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a large rocky & long-lived light brown head that thrives upon deep crimson/brown liquid...slight resemblance to Coke here. The nose...ahh the wonderful nose, notes of fruitcake, nutmeg, brown sugar, slight resinous pine aroma, and I swear I can get a whiff of alcohol coming off it. Taste is just as grand, with flavors of roasted malt, with a brief sweetness, flowery hoppiness whisked away by a wave of spicy notes and a malty dryness returns. Finishes long, spicy and dry...very complex this year, moreso than recent years IMO. An American classic if ever there was!

Many thanks to bditty187, and the Holiday Beer Exchange program!

Photo of Gonzoillini
3/5  rDev -26.3%

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Our Special Ale 2003 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 198 ratings.