Our Special Ale 2001 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Our Special Ale 2001 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2001 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

63 Ratings
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 63
Reviews: 53
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 15.7%
Wants: 4
Gots: 2 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.00% 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 11-12-2001)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 63 | Reviews: 53 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by pbrian:
Photo of pbrian
4.95/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Now THIS is what a winter beer is all about. Pour one after dinner and spend the next hour discovering different flavors every sip. Spruce/pine-tar type flavors are the most obvious.

More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Beautiful dark brown and thick with a large, tan, foamy head that went down slowly and covered the inside of my glass. This is something to look at.

Smell – The first thing that hit me was a strong eggnog aroma with a healthy dose of nutmeg sprinkled on it. The ABV isn’t on the bottle, but I’m guessing there’s some alcohol to be had in this one.

Underneath the big eggnog awaits some scattered dark fruit and allspice. Let it air out a bit and you’ll find some sweet malt. They’ve got everything but the kitchen sink in here.

Taste – Much more mellow in the mouth. The eggnog takes a big step back, although the nutmeg doesn’t relent. The malt turns out to be burnt to the bone. There’s also a hoppy-type of freshness to this one. Amazing.

Mouthfeel – Much smoother and creamier than I guessed from the nose. There’s little carbonation to this heavy-duty ale.

Drinkability – I know it’s a sipping ale, but I drained this one in no time. It’s much smoother than you’d think from the nose.

Photo of Jason
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Big change from previous years, not that big pungent piney aroma and flavour. Seems to be a softer spruce like flavour and aroma this year, it may be soft but it is very noticeable. Very smooth and drinkable with a lighter body than other years also.

Photo of far333
4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Murky dark chocolate colored with a full thick inch high head of brown dimpled and cratered foam that lingers very long.

Inviting aroma of plum and cocoa, with a fine spruce aroma, accented by hops.

Flavor matches the aroma closely - rich and balanced flavors of prune, plum and cocoa, piney spruce accents, and fine hop bitters in the finish.

Amazing silky mouthfeel, incredibly smooth with fine carbonation, rich and full feel.

Can't believe this is over 6 years old, what a treat. I may never drink it fresh again.

Photo of rastaman
3.2/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Kind of strange and unbalanced. Spicy/fruity christmas pudding flavour, but a bit sweet. Gingery nose and palate which was OK, but as i said a bit out of wack, i'd love to sample further vintages.

Photo of Sammy
4.18/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2001 picked up at Route 59 Liquor in Sufferin, NY. lots of depth and cola and barley prevalent, and carbonation. Near black, little head. Dry and spicey, good accompanyment to food with acidic bite. Notes: chocolate malt, figs, chestnut, nutmeg, cinammon, licorice/anise pepper. Medium mouthfeel.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.22/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

8 mos. old at tasting. Always a treat for the initiated (well, not always, some of the early year's were quite rough). Definitely a beer that takes some getting used to. And they do age very well. I've had bottles that were up to 8 years old, and found each of them to have improved. That said: The aroma is quite special, and definitely brings memories of the holiday season. It's almost nice enough to enjoy by itself; reading a leatherbound copy of "A Christmas Carol" in front of a low burning fireplace with its sweet and spicy aroma continually reminding you that your glass is sitting beside you. Full of sweet spices: clove, nutmeg and cinnamon with a light pine or spruce essence at the back. Alternating aromas of dark fruit, burnt sugars (and maybe bubblegum) waft about. The head is pillow-like at first, but receedes to a nice 1/16" that lasts to the end. The creamy tan colored head rests atop a ruby tinged deep brown body. The flavor is more sublime with a lightly burnt, bready, and caramel tinged maltiness. Some of the spices remain, as does a bit of a resiny evergreen, and an occasional licorice note. This year's seems to have much less hop flavor and a reduced bitterness which gives the malt and spice a rounder flavor. The finish is lightly dry with some pine, but not cloying. One of the best vintages yet!

Photo of Gonzoillini
2/5  rDev -49.4%

Photo of hooliganlife
4.15/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to John for bringing this! He never lets down.

Poured near opaque black with little to no head. appears a bit thin.

light scents of dark fruits and molasses. sweet spice notes as well

flavor was very interesting. quite tart actually overall. think black currant and dark cherries with molasses and various spices.

a bit thin but for such a low ABV, pretty spot on.

this was a treat. much different than the magnum of 2000 that was tasted fall of 2008. this was a 12oz serving so for a beer that is not bottle conditioned, this ages so well!

Photo of DrunkMcDermott
3.03/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Sample taste at Chicago Beer Society vertical tasting, Dec. 1, 2005. So this is a five-year old bottle. Pouring brings up more of a cherry smell than the 2002 had. This one comes up with a tough of ginger. This particular bottle, though, is just skating at the edge of drinkability.

Photo of nickd717
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review dated 2/4/2009.

Bottle at The Bruery, 2001 vintage. Dark amber color with an off-white head. Malty aroma with spices and dark fruits. Taste is malt, brown sugar, dark fruits, spices, and hints of Anchor Steam. Medium-full bodied. The best out of the three I tried (2001, 2002, 2008).

Photo of bditty187
4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown hue with a reddish tint, the color is plenty deep, very nice. The beige head reached a healthy finger in height; it faded rather quickly to a sparse soapy cap. The subsequent lacing was spotty and unorganized but prevalent. This is a lovely looking beer, which is typical of every OSA vintage I have had. The nose is wonderful with prunes and other dark fruits, candy notes, and of course spice which seems to consist of nutmeg, coriander, clove, and fig. Add in trace amounts of Washingtonia filifera. The aroma is complex and enjoyable. The palate clearly tells me that OSA 2001 has mellowed nicely. Wow, the malt backbone really shines. Yes, the spices and sappiness are still prevalent; they’re just not the focal point. Aside from what the nose expressed I detected awesome hints of citrus that coupled nicely with the sappy-spices. This is tremendously well rounded, none of the flavors dominate; instead they sing as one in a chorus of gleeful beery harmony. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with natural low carbonation. This is a very quaffable beer. It has aged well. I’m loving every last drop.

Thanks jtw5877 for the sample in the 2002 Holiday Beer Exchange.

Thanks Jables for another sample so I could reconnect with this dandy!

Photo of PhantomVodoo
3.6/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2001 edition at 1 year of age.
Dark brown in color with a brown head. Somewhat cloudy looking.
Nice aroma of spices and fruit (plum?). Somewhat medicinal: camphor and menthol?

Complex flavor. Lots of fruit and spice notes. Roasted malts as well. Hops are in good balance with the malt. Lingering fruit and spice flavors and slight sweetness. Sour notes detract from the flavor. Seems mellowed a bit in relation to a fresh 2002 edition.

Mouthfeel is somewhat light in carbonation and oily.
Heavy use of spices add to the character of the beer, but hurt it in the drinkability department. Sour tones also hurt the drinkability.

Overall, a unique and interesting beer well worth the sampling that just doesn't hit my personal preferences. Still a good beer, though.

Photo of BKotch
4.85/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

We're coming up on Thanksgiving and that means the Anchor folks have brought their Special Ale to the shelves. Their formula for the last few years has been very similar, it seems to me. A dark brew, heavy on the pine/spruce spicings. Real creamy, with a nice tan head. The nose is particularly awesome -- it reminds me of a walk through a forest in the Pacific Northwest. THIS is how to spice a beer.

Photo of AaronRed
4.75/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

What can be better than sitting home on a cold winter night (65 in NYC? on December 7?) drinking this wonderful brew. Smells of pine and other woody material. You can really taste the molasses as well as other spices.

Photo of Boilermaker88
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled this now three year old Christmas ale while stopping in at the Stuffed Sandwich in San Gabriel. Sam has a five year run of Anchor's X-Mas beer ('00-'04) on-tap and I was eager to give the '01 vintage a go.
A uniform dark brown color and an eternal tan head promised great things. The head left copious amounts of sheet lace behind. The nose was a bit mellowed from the more recent years but still had notes of molasses, nutmeg, cinnamon, and toasted malt. The piney hops aroma had faded a fair amount in contrast and now only lingering in the backgorund.
The taste had a similar trait in that the rather robust pine resin hoppiness of younger versions has mellowed considerably in the 2001 model. Most prominant were flavors of clove and nutmeg, molasses, and a lightly bready maltiness. Still, the overall package is quite delicious in a more mature and refined state. The feel was medium in body, creamy, with a real drying finish.
Overall, Anchor's 2001 OSA has matured nicely and is a pleasure to drink.

Photo of DearthVader
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle provided generously by amphion1065.

Poured into my Green Man Oversized Snifter

Pours an opaque brown with a small film of tan head forming atop. The head fades very quickly to a very thin crown that leaves no lacing. I pick up some ruby notes when held up to the computer screen.

Smell is of roasted molasses, toffee, plum, cherry, and something that is similar to bourbon. I can't put my finger on it though. Very interesting.

Taste is very nice. Starts with the nice roasted malts. The malts a backed by a heavy dark fruit body and molasses. I seem to pick up something different with every swig. Slight oak notes come out as well as the plum and cherry I found in the nose. Very interesting beer.

Mouthfeel is on the lighter side which kind of blows my mind when I think about this thing being 10 years old. I'm amazed this low ABV beer was able to hold up and throw out so many complexities.

This is the oldest beer I've ever had. I actually don't think my palate was anywhere ready for this. I feel like there are a ton of things in this beer that I missed out on. I still enjoyed it very very much and am extremely happy I got to try it. his was definitely a treat. Thanks again, Jason.

Photo of matjack85
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%

Photo of Brent
3.3/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I look forward to this every year, as soon as it was in my local store, I pounced on it. This year seemed a big change from past years, when this brew was like a christmas tree stuffed in a bottle. Poured - beautiful dark color. Aroma - huh? Kind of a plum, bubble gum smell. Where's the pine tree? Taste - Up front was pretty tart, and then kicked in a somewhat roasted malty finish. Pretty good, but not what I expected from past years.

Photo of StevieW
4.68/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle of the 2001 edition. Stored in my fridge nearly 1 year.
2 bottles of 6 remain behind to compare to the '02 version.

Deep shiny black color with a ruby or garnet hue as it pours into the glass. Head is initially large fluffy, and powerful. It settles quickly and laces the glass all the way down. Smell erupts with a combination of spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, slightly and lots of rich piney or spruce tree smells. Smells just like a christmas tree. Taste is a wonderful shot of spices. Rich nutmeg, resin oily hops, to the point of nearly a hot pine nut taste through your nose after you taste it. Hint of rich chocolate malt and slight bitterness also make a pass at your tastebuds. Feel is moderatly bubbly, surprising after a year. Slightly oily and somewhat thin on the finish. Pine nut flavors and chocolate bitterness, then a sweetness lingers. One of the more complex beers I have had. I remember it being more full bodied when I had it "fresh" last year. I can't wait to compare it to the 2002 version.

Photo of Gusler
4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Note Reviewed (11/21/01)
The pour is a nice cloudless dark brown, the head is monstrous in size, spumescent in texture and a somewhat dark tan in color, as it dissipates the lace forms a nice and sealing sheet upon the glass. Nose is caramel, floral, malt, and a tad earthy. Front is sweet and malt laden with the top middling in feel. Finish is purposeful in its acidity, the hops powerful in their spicy bite, dry and long lasting aftertaste. A damn fine beer as always, and one I sample each year.

Photo of marc77
4.47/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Deep chestnut hue, with hazy crimson ebbs when held to light. Mountainous, pitted, stiff, light bister head leaves attractive lace. Sweet ginger and crystalized pine sap dominate the aroma, and are bolstered by notes of buttery milk chocolate and singed caramel. Well rounded and judiciously spiced aromawise. In flavor, the malt profile is of obvious dark chocolate laden burnt cookie. Subtle black patent sharpness is offset by equally mellow butterscotch. The spices ride parallel with the hop profile. The former is akin to lightly sweetened candied ginger with a drop of pine essence. The latter, I presume (can't remember what it was like fresh), has softened considerably into a token, but sufficiently balancing citrus rind presence. Full bodied, viscous, but pleasantly creamy in mouthfeel. Chocolate malt character and diacetyl augment as the beer breathes, and eventually supercede the stately spicing. Finishes slowly, with notes of buttery dough and muted rosemary. A delicious brew, and quite different from 2002 or 2003. The unexpected, but welcome diacetyl is well integrated and complementary to the hefty malt backbone. Quite gentle in spicing. There's a touch more alcohol warmth to this release as well. Richer and more satiating than the 2003. Perhaps my favorite OSA thus far, but then again, I always drink my allotment too fast to cellar any. Thanks, AKSmokedPorter, for this fine brew.

Photo of Thunder
3.25/5  rDev -17.7%

Photo of Loki
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from a Magnum on 12/13/03. Shared with friends and co-workers. Enjoyed by all that tried it, loved by two. (Not surprisingly the beer lovers of the bunch.)

Appearance: Clear, roasted brown color with a creamy beige huge head. Very nice lacing that clings to the glass.

Smell: Fresh pine and evergreens, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Hints of an evergreen forest on a cold, winter morning with crisp pine and smell of winter.

Taste: Roasted malt, piney hops, holiday spices, and a slight bitterness with a clean finish. A little sweet finishes with a small touch of syrup.

Mouthfeel: Good medium body with a smooth finish.

Drinkability: Excellent. The balance of hops and malt seem to be nearly perfect and maybe close to its peak.

Photo of eberkman
3.83/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured ever-so-slightly chilled into a Chimay chalice. Appeared a deep, opaque brown with some red highlights, producing a one-finger tan head that dissipated to a ring and a thin island of surface foam fairly quickly.

An initial alcohol smell quickly gave way to a gorgeous candylike bouquet of nutmeg, ripe dark cherries and gingerbread. Blew me away. One of the most aromatic beers I can recall.

The taste has similar notes at the front, with some big, malty, butterscotch-and-toffee waves in the middle, but gives way to an odd, slightly metallic, slightly unpleasant astringency at the finish. I'm wondering if the bottle I received (which my brother-in-law purchased 2 weeks ago) had been cellared properly for the past 6 years. The taste is good enough and certainly complex, but a bit of a letdown after the smell.

The mouthfeel was nice, thick and creamy but slightly flatter than I would have liked. Sounds like that's to be expected, but I would have liked a little bit more carbonation bite.

In terms of drinkability, the odd finish detracts a bit. Not sessionable (the richness is a little much for more than one at a time), but certainly enjoyable to have one at a time.

I have to admit I was kind of disappointed by the drinking experience, especially given the incredible nose that presented itself at the start. But I am impressed by how well a 5.00 ABV beer has kept for such a long time.

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Our Special Ale 2001 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 63 ratings.