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 2008 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Our Special Ale 2008 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2008 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

452 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 452
Reviews: 395
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 10.88%
Wants: 2
Gots: 28 | 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: t0rin0 on 10-23-2008)
View: Beers (23) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 452 | Reviews: 395 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by pmcadamis:
Photo of pmcadamis
2.7/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tried this last weekend (just now getting to my "napkin notes") at Benjamin's in downtown Galena IL. We stay at my wife's family's cabin up there several times a year, and during the winter I always make it a point to hang out at Benjamin's since they always have several years of Anchor's Christmas Ale on hand. Vertical tastings are always fun!

A - Deep mahogany brown.... almost black really. The head is chestnut hued and pretty frothy, although retention isn't what it seemed to be in other iterations of this brew. Several minutes later, nothing but a small collar remained.

S - Smoke, sausage, and soy sauce. Not what I was expecting at all! Burnt rubber and burn-out smoke with a sour chemical tang in my nose. Not so sure about this.

T - Woody and wet doused-campfire and roasted nuts. Salty and medicinal. Soy sauce plays a much bigger role here than I would like. (I like the gentle soy notes found in other beers ... Baltic porters come to mind... but this is too much).

M - Medium bodied. Actually lighter than I would have guessed. Finishes with a slightly "off flavor."

D - Probably my least favorite year. Could have been a bad bottle ... even after only a year's aging. This is after all, not a high ABV beer, but I've stored other brews that were only 5% or so for over a year and never had any problems. Plus Benjamin's is not the type of place that would mistreat or improperly store their beer. Eh, they can't all be winners.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I always look forward to this annual brew,I waited til CHRISTmas eve to get it this year.Poured into a nonic a deep cola color with some reddish tint,a thick,frothy light mocha colored head atop that never totally settles.Vanilla was the main component in the nose,with light clove and roast as well.Flavors start out with the vanilla and clove spice,with a hint of nutmeg then the big heavily roasted malt flavors hit into the finish with some drying earthy notes as well.Again another well made OSA,the roasty/earthy finish is big,bigger than other years,to me its a robust spiced American porter basically.

Photo of Doomcifer
4/5  rDev +3.6%

Photo of Billolick
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A classic of the U.S. micro world and an old friend still doing quite well....Pours the expected darkest of dark amber, long lasting dark tan head, then gobs of splattered lace all over the glass. Spiced up nose, pine, nutmeg, spruce. Delicious, complex, winter sipper. More nutmeg, dark malty goodness, molasses, with a hint of dry dark chocolate. A welcome and comfortable part of the start of every winter season. This stuff likely will find its way into several thanksgiving dishes this year. (Just like last year) can remember

Photo of mrquartetman
4.9/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

We tasted this beer at the December Goose Island Clybourn Beer Academy ("Friuted/Spiced Beer 2008"). For a number of us at the event it was the hit of the evening among the 14 beers we sampled.

Even in the small sample cup it showed a beautiful dark color and a magnificent creamy tan head.

The aroma was intense: spicy, caramel/chocolate, and, well, just Christmasy. There was a distinct aroma of alcohol rising off the top, so it is probably reasonably high in the stuff, as a true winter warmer should be.

Its big, toasty malt start immediately morphs to a very complex and rich spiciness. After a swallow, the spice continues to rise off the tongue. The follow is persistent, also spicy. The mouthfeel is not at all cloying, at least to this palate. It is chewy and warming.

Anchor does not tell us what spices it uses or what the abv is. So, of course, we speculated about what the spices might be. I personally tasted cinnamon and ginger. Others picked up clove. Something else is going on in there too. I know! I'll drink a lot of it for spice research purposes!

This is a wonderful brew, substantially better than last year I think - something some of us will confirm soon by tasting at least 3 years' worth of Our Special Ale.

Photo of Kraken
3.48/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

My brother and I look forward to this seasonal offering every year. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Firm pour evokes 1/2 inch of very light tan frothy head. Head has good staying power and leaves a very nice lace. Very stout like in appearance, almost black with ruby edges.

Nose- Rich pine and peat notes. Smokey, hints of vanilla, and light coffee.

Palate- Chewy, coffee and chocolate notes. Some pine resin, bitter bite of hops in finish. Very smooth, although not as complex as I have come to expect.

Mouthfeel- Good, a bit dry.

Drinkabillity- Very Good

Photo of jondeelee
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The 2008-2009 release has a pleasant aroma, with notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, light cloves, and pine.

These flavors continue into the beer, though nutmeg and pine dominate the palate, along with a sugary current reminiscent of the candied fruits that often accompany Christmas stockings: specifically banana and mango. Hops are kept to a modest level, mostly providing a stabilizing effect to keep the sugars from becoming overwhelming.

Overall, quite a delicious beer; especially considering I'm not overly fond of beers that have added "natural flavors" and "spices," as per the label.

Photo of bpfrush
4/5  rDev +3.6%

Photo of Mantooth
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%

Photo of whoneeds8
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a off white head that stays the entire tasting. Very good lacing. The smell is of roasted chocolate, very sweet smell. The taste is sweet up front, that dies down to not much of anything, only to follow up with a roasted malt aftertaste. It seems like the middle flavor that is missing could be better if it had more of a hop bite. The roasted cocoa flavor almost makes it taste like a Coca-cola. The mouthfeel is very nice, just the right amount of carbonation. Over all this is a nice brew, but nothing great.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've been drinking this every year since at least 2001, althought I haven't been able to review every version this brew sits as a classic in the Christmas seasonals repotoire. Pours a rustic deep mahogany brown forms a thick tan head forming a dimpled doughnut like appearance as it rises above the rim of my imperial pint glass. Chunky sporadic bands of lacing form on the sides after each sip, great looking brew from Anchor. Smells of fresh cut pine needles with a big earthy component accompanying some Christmas spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. Mild roasted malt and chocolate notes transcend on my palate with a touch of citrus, possibly orange peel in the background, this stuff is decadent. Bitterness seems to arrive from light herbal hops and waves of those same spices noted in the aroma definitely nutmeg and cinnamon maybe even a touch of anise. Excellent tea like quality, mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a soft but ample carbonation nothing bears down to heavily on my palate. Drinkability is great like a christmas tree in a bottle definitely smooth with spruce tips, spices, and warming alcohol. There's no abv listed but I suspect since it's not available in West Virginia that it must be higher than 6%, go seek some out and save some for the holidays. It will definitely pair well with festive foods from that time of year, and I've aged bottles in the past with excellent results so keep it longer if you can.

Photo of glid02
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this from a friend.

Pours a dark brown color with dark amber highlights. Head is one-finger of tan foam that recedes into a patchy layer of bubbles on top and a thick ring around the glass. Lacing is decent.

Smells mostly of spices, with hints of vanilla thrown in there. The vanilla picks up steam as the beer warms.

Tastes very good. Spice flavors, nutmeg, brown sugar and others, quickly give way to a spicy vanilla flavor, then nothing. A bitterness manages to sneak up on me and some faint molasses comes through at the end.

Mouthfeel is good, although it's a bit on the thin side.

Drinkability is good. I finished one off pretty fast and could go for another.

Overall this is a very good beer, it reminds me of a pumpkin ale with more robust malt. If this was just a little thicker it'd be very good, but as it stands now it's just good. Still worth a shot.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer pours a black body with a big sticky tan head that last in the form of a big cloud that glides around the glass. This beer is dense but has a few tiny bubbles sticking to the base of the glass that are visible.

S- This beer has a smell of peaches and very faint smoke that lead to some roasted qualities but they are all well blended together. There is a nice pine needle and caramel aroma to the finish.

T- This beer starts with a tart yet bright cranberry quality that gives way to a smooth black malt flavor with some roasted almost smoky hints. The finish has a nice dry spice flavor that is light and only gives way to a soft bitter hop hint after the sip is finished.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a creamy texture that turns a bit watery after the head is gone. There is no alcohol heat noted.

D- This beer is a bit bigger and darker than typical for OSA and I have to say it is one of my favorites in this series. It has some mysterious flavor that blend well together so you don't get just one loud flavor but lots of soft notes. Very nice.

Photo of linnet
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Deep opaque colour, small creamy beige head, lots of lacing. Spicy and fruity aroma, sweet and roasted too, yeasty. Flavour is metallic, dry bitter and roasted. Notes of dark fruit and coffee and there is some funky acidity to it's taste. Mouthfeel is average with small bubbles. the beer is very drinkable without being extraordinary in any way. Actually it is pretty bad for being anchor, my expectations were higher than this.

Photo of LXIXME
4/5  rDev +3.6%

Photo of caddybuyer
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Deep dark and rich clear ruby when held to the light. Thick tan rocky head that settles with moderate lacing. This is a very, very pretty beer.

S-Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and malt. A real holiday smell!

T-Malts and spices carry through along with a hint of chocolate, toasted cocoa, cherries and anise, with enough hops to balance it all out. Vanilla kicks in midway through the taste, imparting an almost cola-like taste, which may be the only drawback.

M-Well balanced, with carbonation on the lighter side. I expected this to be a bit more robust in the mouth, but the medium texture makes it much more drinkable.

D-Very drinkable in every way. This will be amply stocked this Holiday for my guests.... It is widely available in my area, and I think it will be well received, and consumed.

Photo of racer2k
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Dark brown ale with a deep reddish tint; creamy cake batter colored frothy head

S- Pine, clove, malt and winter spices

T- A brief bitter hop tasted that smooths out and becomes sweet. Winter spices are present with a hint of coffee, caramel, and molasses.

M- Moderate carbonation but overall a thinner beer than the appearance.

D- Nice complex winter warmer beer that is easy to drink. Anchor always brings a nice different twist to their flagship Christmas Ale. Well done!

Photo of TheycallmeTim
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into an American pint glass.

A--Deep garnet, molasses body under a puny half finger head that was cola in both color and fizz.

S--Lots of fig, lots and lots of fig, with some blackberry jam and maybe even prunes or plums. Deep mellow dark fruits and honey that doesn't come out of a plastic bear--smells like fancy dark brown clover honey, the kind you get at a farmer's market. It's weird, but this almost smells like wine, like a Merlot or a Malbec or even a less fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon. I don't know if that's heresy to say in a beer tasting context, but I said it anyway.

T--Fruits smooth out into rich toffee overtones that are rich and satisfying--super caramelized malt. That's all at the top of the profile. In the middle you get more of a rounded fruit that's more black cherry than fig as well as a spice that might actually be coriander. There's some zing there amid the toffee and molasses character. Then at the back on the end there's a touch of hops, just a little citrus to freshen you up for the next taste. Accomplished flavor profile.

M&D--Both are fine in my book, although this feels a bit boozy. Don't know if that's par for the course as it is brewer for winter. I'm an amateur at this style so I don't know how this year's measures up to past years, but I have no complaints for this year's model!

Photo of weasbri
3.6/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darker than I expected, deep brown with ruby reflections. Solid head hanging around, nice lacing.
Not getting a whole lot from the aroma. Roasted malts, small hints of some spicing.
Taste is pretty good though. There's a decent amount of piney hops in there to give it a little bit of a bite on top of the roasted flavors. A bit of cocoa, molasses, perhaps some spices milling about in there, but nothing striking me at the moment.
It's not too shabby, but I might find another warmer more to my liking this season.

Photo of GilGarp
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I've always liked darker spiced beers that come around during the winter months. This is one I remember liking years ago but haven't tried it since. Let give it a try...

Pours a dark brown with red highlights and ample head. Nice clarity is evident upon holding it to the light.

Aroma has a spiced fig thing going on with more than a hint of fruit cake. Not unpleasant but certainly unusual.

Flavor is heavy on the spices and dark fruits. Cherries, apples, and oranges mix with cinnamon, clove, and ginger.

Mouthfeel is not too heavy and not too carbonated. Drinkability is only hindered by the spice. That is, I wouldn't want to eat ginger snaps all night and I wouldn't want to drink this beer all night either.

Photo of asabreed
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ah, the time is here. I wish I would've been aware of these years ago, but only recently did I jump on the train.

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Dark amber with a mocha-colored head, nice carbonation shooting to the top, and some scant circular blobs of lacing kicking around the glass.

Smell: Initially almost a cherry chocolate rum cake concoction, with lots of sweet, malty, chocolate flavors, and honey and candied-fruit, along with cake a cookie dough batter. A bit of booze and some hops to give it some sourness in the nose and citrus flavor. Certainly fitting for the season.

Taste: I'm thinking in its green state the hops are coming on a bit too strong, lending a tartness, sourness, and bitterness too much to the malt flavors, which come through later in the long finish with bitter chocolate and hints of cookies and sweet dough. The wonderful aroma I was hoping would come out in the taste, but it seems to be too far in the back, with the sour cherries and citrus and mildly acrid bitterness coming up. Don't get me wrong: it adds an interesting hoppy element to a celebratory and usually maltier kind of brew, but it seems a little too strong to me. That said, I can see the hops dissipating and this sucker being fantastic a few years down the road. I'm going to try my best to save some.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with nice full carbonation overall, which means I can see it holding up in the cellar for years to come.

Drinkability: The 2004 I had about 6 months ago was wonderful, and seemed almost perfect to me. I wonder what some age will do to balance out the bitter chocolate and sour fruit flavors, which are nice now if you're into that sort of thing, but I have a feeling this could be great in a few years. Why not try it fresh and lay some down? I'll be trying to do that, but I'm not sure I'll be able to.

Photo of Stigs
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16oz pour into a pint glass, on tap at Fat Heads Pittsburgh

A - dark brown with a ruby outline when held up to the lights. about half an inch of bubbly, loose and soapy foam which laced all the way down. seems to have a bit of a body for the style.

S - lots of holiday spices...nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, some sweet fruits and citrus...tiny bit of hops if you seek it out.

T - very sweet and malty at first before the spices kick in. pepper, cinnamon, and licorice are dominant near the end. a bit overly "holiday"...would benefit from some subtlety.

M - nice and creamy at first but wears a little thin...not helped by a slight over-carbonation. doesnt ruin the experience...just doesnt help it much.

D - christmas in a glass without messing around. could have benefitted from some balance or a bit less seasoning. not one of the better Anchor OSA's.

Photo of Aaron58
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

First ever Anchor Christmas for me, very excited.

A-Dark, almost black chocolate pour. Good frothy head, i feel like the head will stay forever.

S-Im battling a cold, but I smell a lot of chocolate, pine, and some holiday spice. As some have said before, its hard to describe, it just smells like Christmas.

T-Chocolate and spice. Really smooth flavor. A hint of sweetness at the back of my tounge really makes it. Not sure what the ABV is but it is def. a warmer.

M-Not really the feel I like. A little thin for me.

D-All in all, I will have a few of these. Im really happy with it.

Photo of LordHammer
3.73/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: A deep, nearly opaque mahogany with about an inch of tan head. Held up to the light, it is a deep ruby. Head lingers a significant time.

S: Nose is mainly spices (cinnamon and clove) and stone fruit. A barely discernible bit of hops hide at the back. Certainly smells enticing.

T: This is a complex sucker. Opens with mild to moderate hops, tart fruit notes, and a bit of the spices, although much less than in the aroma. Finishes with roasted malts and a pleasant sweetness, as if scrubbing the palate for the next sip. Really a bit much in the fruit department for my taste.

M: A nice, heavy brew that is a good pair for a winter day. Carbonation is light but present.

D: This is one that really should be savored, although I've been guilty of having three on occasion.

My first year of OSA, and this was not disappointing, given the tradition associated with the brew.

Photo of cokes
3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours to a darkened crimson-brown with a fat rise of khaki suds.
It noses of gingerbread, allspice, sassafras, smoked pinecones, vanilla pod, dried leaves, and yams. It shows a touch more hoppiness than most OSAs, as such I think it is one of the more rounded and better smelling I've run across.
It flows into the mouth with a burnt cookie dough sweetness that gathers molasses, ginger, chicory, anise root, sassafras, pine bark, spruce, and clove. At this point, it is all spice (and oddly, allspice too, forgot that). Hops bring, presumably, a continuation of the pine, but the spice overlord doesn't allow for a clear seperation.
The mouthfeel is thin and reedy, with some small moments of tacky pastiness. The lack of gumption in feel makes this appear virtually maltless. Like some uncalled-for ginger ale / rootbeer hybrid.
I've griped in the past about the acrid black patent and rooty vegetal traits of previous OSAs, this has none of that. It's just too much spice, and not enough beer.

For full disclosure: I've never been a big fan. I like to try them, just to see. I thought the '07 was considerably better, for what it is worth.

« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Our Special Ale 2008 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 452 ratings.