Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company
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Ratings: 407 | Reviews: 340 | Display Reviews Only:
5/5 rDev +24.4%
A-Pours pitch black with a huge HUGE rocky/creamy ivory colored head that has great retention and excellent lacing. Very impressive appearance.
S-This beer always has such an interesting, complex aroma. It has strong notes of earthy herbal pine trees and chocolate and earthy hops and some faint sweet coffee notes as well, and toffee and cream.
T-The flavor reflects the aroma to the t. Lots of earthy herbal pine trees and chocolaty earthy hops with sweet toffee and faint coffee and cream. With very soft hop bitterness.
M-The mouthfeel and drinkability both get way better as the beer warms. The mouthfeel is creamy and full/medium body with a lingering sweet finish. Very nice.
D-This could be sessioned so easy. I would love a whole sixer of this bad boy. I'm glad I let it age for a while. I love this beer on a cold day. I'm now changing the mouthfeel and drinkability to perfect scores. This beer really deserves a perfect score imo.
02-01-2010 04:15:23 | More by hoplover82
4.83/5 rDev +20.1%
Purchased a case of this great holiday beer and of course two sixes to my beer cellar to savor in the upcoming years.
Pours a deep brown with ruby hightlights and a big thick dense head that lingers through to the end. Looks to be well carbonated.
Smells of malty sweetness like a gingerbread cookie.
Drinks with sweet maltiness with some roasted notes. Spices come through nicely but not overpowering like gingerbread or pumpkin pie. A dry puckering finish awaits you.
Smooth and heavy mouthfeel but a bit thin around the edges.
Looks and drinks great. A good swirl will towards the end will get you some more foam head proving it is well carbonated plus some additional flavor. Drink it in a wide mouth goblet next to your fire for best results.
11-21-2009 11:11:50 | More by micromaniac129
4.78/5 rDev +18.9%
I picked this up at Hi-Times in Costa Mesa on the recommendation of the beer guy there (he always makes great recommendations). The color was darker brown than I expected and the smell was very pleasantly bready, sweet, and roasty. The head was puffy and left a nice thick lacing. Delicious taste! Toast and molasses up front. A very nice, sweet, citrus tartness toward the end. Extremely impressive brew from a brewery I don't regularly give my patronage. This is fantastic with the sesame-seeded baguette and chevre I'm eating! The beer guy recommended this for its hops and arboreal flavors. Those aspects are a bit understated for me, but I couldn't care any less. This is a wonderful beer!
12-05-2009 23:56:25 | More by PhiloPsych
4.78/5 rDev +18.9%
12oz bottle purchased at McKinnon's in Salem. Pours a slightly hazy red-brown body with a good inch of light tan head. Citrus, berry, nutmeg, cloves, and toffee dominate the aroma, with some chocolate, vanilla, and graham cracker. Tastes fruity for sure, with graham cracker, chocolate, nut, citrus peel, nutmeg, cloves, and hunts of toffee, chocolate and coffee. Medium-bodied with ample carbonation to make this one an easy-drinker despite the complexity. Stellar. Their best yet that I've had. Complex, balanced and very quaffable. Superb. My favorite Christmas beer yet again.
11-19-2009 23:56:32 | More by MrHurmateeowish
4.75/5 rDev +18.2%
So I have a bottle with 903 etched in the back of the bottle. Don't know what it means - but it seems to be a pertinent detail in some reviews. Anywho, I have bottle 903!
The beer was poured into a frozen 12oz dimpled beer mug this time. Poured dark caramel mahogany brown with a 1/2 finger head. Mild carbonation remains for a good 7 minutes which helps keep the thin head retention.
First taste and smell is of gingerbread, nutmeg, and cinnamon coated pine-needles, caramel - with caramel being the least strong of the 4. I also get a faint chocolate/coffee note and aftertaste. At first it tastes almost like a Russian Imperial Stout, a lighter one albeit, but still full of it's own unique set of flavors as usual with the Special Ale.
It seems less malty than the past few years' brew - maybe not. Which is not bad or good. But no matter that, at 5.5% alc./vol. this one could be a session ale to some crowds, including me. Makes for a great 2009 Special Ale from Anchor Brewing!
Update: and I agree with Hoplover82..the beer stays so tasty the entire time!
11-22-2009 23:45:47 | More by BeerMeHearMe
4.7/5 rDev +16.9%
Now this is a Christmas Beer!
Pours a dark, cola color with effervescent bubbles and thick, creamy taupe head that lasts and lasts.
The nose is brilliant. Warm pumpkin bread with coffee and a hint of pine.
My palate loves this beer. Lots of molasses and a homestyle biscuity flavor. Perfection!
Anchor Xmas is thick and bubbly without being cloying. Thoroughly enjoyable. A nice cyprus tree on the label.
12-02-2009 00:16:31 | More by NStLincoln
4.68/5 rDev +16.4%
OSA...along with Troegs Mad Elf, probably the Holiday beer I most look forward to each year.
Appearance is as it usually is each year, a deep, deep brown that is not quite opaque when held to the light, showing tinges of ruby highlights. The solid inch of tan head fades after a few minutes to a sticky lace, but each swirl of the glass brings it back up nicely. Maybe it's that I was really looking forward to this year's OSA, but the aroma appears to be much stronger than before. Ginger, cinnamon...a swirl of the glass brings up anise and chocolate.
Flavor is roasty but not overpowering, and blends well with the malt sweetness, lingering chocolate and holiday spices mentioned in the aroma. Carbonation is there but relatively minimal and utterly smooth. I can't get enough of this right now. I only bought two bottles, but it might be a good idea to get a case. And start looking for a good homebrew clone so I can enjoy something close to this year round. Excellent as always, but seemingly better than recent years.
12-13-2009 00:59:03 | More by IrishRedRock
4.65/5 rDev +15.7%
A: Mahogany in color with a reddish head. Great retention.
S: The bouquet is pungent, filled with gingerbread, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
T: One of a kind. Very reminiscent of gingerbread cookies, or gingersnaps. There are hints of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and earl gray tea.
M: Thin mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. I would have liked something thicker.
D: Another great Special Ale from Anchor. I love tasting these every year to see how they change. Worth picking up!
11-22-2009 22:10:51 | More by Avagadro
4.65/5 rDev +15.7%
A - 1" of foamy head. This beer is nice and dark, very porter-like. Shining some light through it gives the ale a red color.
S - Oh the smell! This thing is spicey. It smells like a christmas candle my mom would burn. You can also smell the hopiness of the brew, and compliments the spices well.
T - The tastes is almost exactly what the smell suggested: spices. This brew seems to pull all the familiar smells and tastes of christmas into a beer. It's sweet when you first sip it, then as it reaches the back of the mouth, the hops come through, adding some depth to the taste.
M - A fair amount of carbination, and is definitely on the heavy side of life. It has a bit of roughness to it, but it's certainly not a bad thing.
D - Very drinkable. This is a beer that I can easily drink a six pack of, and probably spend my Christmas day in a recliner with. The only thing that maybe disappointed me is that it seemed to lose taste as the beer warmed, but that might be my cold interfering with my taste.
12-21-2009 01:39:27 | More by beertownbaron
4.65/5 rDev +15.7%
Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.
A - Dark. Copper brown and red when held to the light. A thick head that dies down very quickly. As I drink it down it leaves a strong lacing around the glass. Good looking beer.
S - I get a strong scent of Coffee, malt, Chocolate and some kind of spice... nutmeg and cloves?
T - My God that is a good beer. I get some malt and chocolate.... the spice really comes through in the after taste. There is also something earthy about the taste... maple or pine. What I really love is that no taste is too overpowering and all the tastes blend so well together.
M/D - Good mouthfeel and very drinkable. I love this beer. I would recommend this to everyone.
11-30-2009 04:18:02 | More by k3punk
4.63/5 rDev +15.2%
Poured a deep, deep brown with a reddish hue, awesome carbonation and a dirty whte head. Nose is cinnamon, nutmeg and thyme perhaps. Taste is a warming tingle with some pine, cedar, nutmeg, cinnamon, peppermint and some caramel. Mouthfeel is nice and warming. I love this beer and do not recall being suh a huge fan of it before. Better than last years IMHO. Drinkability is out of this world, tastes awesome, low ABV and well donr all the way around.
11-28-2009 15:50:07 | More by barleywinefiend
4.63/5 rDev +15.2%
Poured from their twelve ounce "stubby" bottle into a standard pint glass
Dark brown/ruby in color with a thick, tan cloud deck of foam that waits very patiently before finally settling and allowing a sip
Aroma-Subtle spices; chocolate,cinnamon,nutmeg,spruce
Taste-Nutty,cinnamon,nutmeg-Christmas cookie, subtle hop notes
Nicely balanced and delicious. Complex, yet very drinkable and delightful. One of my favorite holiday brews. Would be great with Christmas cookies or a holiday dinner. Grab a sixer or two and share this fine offering from Anchor with family and friends who appreciate great beer.
Happy Holidays and Cheers!!
11-16-2009 14:02:08 | More by hosehead83
4.6/5 rDev +14.4%
Pours a dark brown with ruby highlights with a nice khaki colored head with good retention and nice sticky lacing. Smell is an amazing complx whiff of dark fruit (plum and cherry), gingerbread like spicing of nutmeg, cinnamon,ginger and clove and a pleasent roasted pecan scent. Taste just takes the components of scent to another level. I may have never tasted a beer a rich and complex as this, while still not overpowering. Nice taste of roasted pecans, prunes and figs, cane sugar, gingerbread. Hints of apple, nutmeg, cinamon and dates. Great balance. Prickly at first, but develops into a slick and semi oily mouthfeel with a nice medium body to it. An excellent beer, one which sadly i may never get to experience again due to its limited availability and ever changing recipie.
12-28-2009 14:45:14 | More by rfgetz
4.6/5 rDev +14.4%
This beer pours a dark brown color. The head is a mammoth three inches in height, and recedes slowly into nice, thick lacing. The aroma is of ginger, lavender, malt, bread, and a plethora of other spices. The taste is like the aroma with a ton of spices, and vibrant malt. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a silky texture, and moderate carbonation. Overall, this is, as always, one of the most interesting beers I review each year. I would love to learn what Anchor actually does to their Special Ale every year that makes it so unique and awesome. As far as this years compares to years past, this is one of the best. Others might be better due to the fact that they have aged well, but this years version tastes like it has already been aged even though it certainly hasn't.
12-27-2009 01:48:01 | More by KarlHungus
4.58/5 rDev +13.9%
A- rich dark blackish reddish brown with auburn highlights, and a nicely structured tan head. foam is big and expansive and firmly holds its ground, becoming airy and spongy as it settles. an insane amount of lace is left on the glass and this one definitely just looks great.
S- unique nose to this one. spicy, floral, woodsy, lots of toasty malt, brown sugar sweetness, vanilla, creamy, marshmallow, raisin, date, fig, and a bit of spruce and cinnamon and fresh grated nutmeg.
T- a complex blend of caramel, roasted, hoppy, toasty, and spice flavors layer over one another with subtleties fading in and out. cinnamon would have to be the most notable spice, but there are also nuances akin to nutmeg, ginger, anise, curacao peel, and cardamom, making it very difficult to even speculate the spice mix used here. a pronounced leathery earthy wood flavor is in the forefront, like a cross between cedar and mesquite. other roasted flavors comprise of dark chocolate and chicory coffee, soil, and charcoal. tart dried berry and raisin flavors linger in the background as a robust sprucey hoppy bitterness reveals itself in the finish, off on a cali sleigh ride with all the other complexities.
MF- dry and crisp with significant body with no residual sugar feeling that is too often found in spiced beers. this one is savory and woodsy and piney and that's the best way to describe the feel. it feels like something that is old school christmas. something i just can't explain. delicate carbonation is just freakin joyous.
D- this one knocks last year's OSA out the box in my opinion, and whatever the secret recipe is, it's a winner. i've read other reviews proposing that the monterey cypress depicted on the label is in fact an ingredient, but no amount of internet research i've done can verify this. it is very sprucey and woodsy and that definitely appeals to me. this beer is so masterfully crafted and drinkable that it seems of no use to me to further ponder the recipe. get em, fritz.
11-18-2009 00:18:43 | More by hustlesworth
4.55/5 rDev +13.2%
Pours a very dark red, almost black. Nice creamy head with decent retention. Smells of mellow holiday spices, some nutmeg, cinnamon, touch of fruitiness, roastiness. Subtle spices give way to a rich malt with a nice earthy backbone. Bitterness is fairly low with a great chocolate component near the finish. Finishes a little sweet with a nice blend of spices and chocolate. Nice full mouthfeel, carbonation fairly low.
This years OSHA is fantastic, the best i've ever tasted. There is a more chocolate richness in this years version that works beautifully with the spices. Probably my favorite Christmas beer so far. Highly recommend.
11-23-2009 02:28:40 | More by bum732
Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 407 ratings.