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 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

405 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 405
Reviews: 340
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.42%
Wants: 4
Gots: 23 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

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

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: blackie on 11-02-2009)
View: Beers (24) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 405 | Reviews: 340 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of t0rin0
t0rin0

California

4/5  rDev -0.7%

08-18-2012 14:31:20 | More by t0rin0
Photo of UCLABrewN84
UCLABrewN84

California

4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1.5 liter magnum shared with my fiance and friends at Father's Office in Culver City, CA.

A - Pours an opaque black with a 1 inch chocolate milk colored head that fades to a small cap. There is very pretty chunky lacing on this beer.

S - Smells of pine trees, gingersnaps, figs.

T - Bittersweet and sour chocolate, gingerbread, dark candied fruits (fruitcake?), with a slight medicinal aftertaste.

M - Good carbonation yet somehow thick and creamy.

D - Very, very good beer. One of the best Christmas beers I have ever had. I am sad that the recipe changes every year as the 2009 batch is extremely delicious.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2010 01:10:07 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of Thorpe429
Thorpe429

Illinois

4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes. Consumed within a few days of Christmas 2009.

Pours an amber brown with an off white head. Nose is dark fruits, teas, gingerbread spicing, and a bit of citrus. A bit of a roasted characteristic as well. The spices along with a bit of sweetness dominate the taste. Quite complex and what a winter warmer should be. I love that ever year Anchor brings this forward with a different recipe, yet it never seems to be overspiced like the majority of winter warmers. Looking forward to verticals involving this.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2010 11:57:34 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of BuckeyeNation
BuckeyeNation

Iowa

3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark walnut brown that becomes dark brick red mixed with dark burnt orange when bright sunshine is allowed to stream through the glass. The firmly creamy crown is golden ecru in color and is developing a mesa-like surface as it melts. Good looking beer.

The nose features the usual nut brown maltiness and seems to have less pine than usual, although there's still some foam in the way. Besides, so much time passes between OSA reviews that comparisons are difficult at best.

This '09 version (Cupressus macrocarpa) tastes less bold and definitely less evergreeny than previous iterations. It also has a more distinct nuttiness and maybe even a little cream ale-vanilla vibe. Either my palate is off today or the boys at Anchor deviated farther from their basic blueprint this time around.

The beer is sweetish early and bitterish late, though neither one makes a big push. Guess that makes it balanced. Of all the OSAs to date, this one might be the most drinkable... in the sense that several bottles in a row wouldn't be any trouble at all. That doesn't mean the flavor profile is so all-fired amazing.

The mouthfeel seems thinner than remembered and this version hasn't even seen its first birthday. While the bubbles are fine, more substance would improve things considerably.

Our Special Ale 2009 is my 12th OSA. Anchor deserve kudos for changing things up this time (assuming they actually did), but I'll never be a huge fan of this particular seasonal. That said, it was still an enjoyable brew on this sunny May morning, so far removed from Christmas '09.

Serving type: bottle

05-15-2010 12:13:52 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of metter98
metter98

New York

4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is mahogany in color and poured with a finger high dense beige head that slowly died down but never completely faded away.
S: The smell is moderately strong and has aromas of dark fruits and spices.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and also has a slight amount of nuttiness; there are some hints of bitterness in the finish.
M: It feels medium-bodied and smooth on the palate with a light amount of carbonation.
O: The beer is easy to drink for the style although the taste makes it interesting enough to be savored and slowly sipped.

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2011 12:48:16 | More by metter98
Photo of BEERchitect
BEERchitect

Kentucky

4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

What a tremendously complex beer for a 5.5%er. With a foocus on burnt woods, spices, and a Brown Ale base, Anchor hits another home run.

Dark brown and nearly opaque, this Brown has a daintyy but persistent tanned head that leaces convincing amounts of lacing behind.

The Brown ale gives a lot of aroma and flavor of rch colas, root beer, and caramelized molassas. Laced with charred cedar, burnt cocoa, roasted almonds, nutty coffees, aand light peat; this is one largeky complex malt profile.

Spices of spruce, sage, nutmeg, orange peel, and cinnamon give a varying balance to the malts especially with the lighter hop contributions.

Crisp and well attenuared for the most part; maybe too much so. The beer kinda empties its creaminess too early; allowing the astringencies and flatness to dominate a large portion of the mid-palate. Later, the dry and crisp texture is appreciated, but this comes in too late.

Still the best annual Christmmas beer on the market.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2009 04:41:06 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of womencantsail
womencantsail

California

4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This is a damn good looking beer. A deep, dark brown with a thick light brown head.

S: All the smells of Christmas in a glass. Cinnamon, all-spice, chocolate, caramel, toffee, and a nice, sweet maltiness.

T: So much going on here. Chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, spices, and maybe a bit of nuts.

M: A solidly medium body with mild carbonation.

D: I'm not usually the biggest fan of winter warmers, but Anchor always does right with these beers.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2009 06:13:21 | More by womencantsail
Photo of jaydoc
jaydoc

Kansas

4/5  rDev -0.7%

10-20-2013 13:41:37 | More by jaydoc
Photo of oberon
oberon

North Carolina

4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Obviously Anchor OSA is a beer alot of folks look forward to each year,once again it doesnt disapoint.Poured into a small tulip glass a deep chesnut brown with reddish/orange tint when held up to the light,a thick,creamy off white head atop that settles very slowly.A mix of nutmeg,roast,and cadied fruit in the nose.A nice blend of sweet and and dry graininess on the palate,light nutmeg, candied ginger, and orange flavors up front,a tinge of pine,roast,and earthiness comes through in the finish.A slight citric hop presence is felt as the beer warms a little,as well as some roasted nut.Nice complexities this year,another winner.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2009 19:48:42 | More by oberon
Photo of TMoney2591
TMoney2591

Illinois

3.48/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

The Tenth Day of Beermas... It pours a murky black-brown topped by over two fingers of dirty ecru foam. The nose comprises rye bread, dark wheat, gingerbread, brown sugar, and a touch of cocoa. The taste does not stray far from this formula, especially the heavy amount of rye bread and wheat, though some ginger makes a strong appearance, as does a vague sense of peppermint in the aftertaste. Were it not for that, this might not be so bad, but instead it's as though I'm eating a poorly baked gingerbread cookie that happens to be dotted with candy canes instead of gumdrops. The body is a lazy medium, with a light carbonation and a nearly slimy feel. Overall, a relative disappointment, considering this vertical has trended upward with the years. The spices just didn't do it for me this time.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2010 08:17:07 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of zeff80
zeff80

Missouri

4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out an opaque, deep, dark mahogany color with a thick, bubbly, light brown head of foam. It left sudsy trails of lace on the glass.

S - It actually smells like Christmas, if that's possible. Aromas of chesnut, nutmeg and spruce dominate with a subtle caramel sweetness.

T - Those Christmas aromas come through in the taste. Spruce/pine, juniper and a nutty maltiness. A touch of bitterness adds to the great flavor.

M - It was crisp, sharp and very smooth. A medium-bodied ale.

D - This is the best OSA that I've had ('06-'09). Really an amazing aroma that comes through in taste, too.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2009 21:42:28 | More by zeff80
Photo of biboergosum
biboergosum

Alberta (Canada)

3.58/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Christmas Eve, nasty drive to get to the folks', hit me with some of that holiday cheer - now, dammit!

This beer pours a clear, very dark mahogany colour, with lots and lots of foamy, creamy beige head, which leaves some sparse lace in its tenuous wake. It smells largely of caramel malt, with some candy toffee, fruitcake (the fruit and the cake), and candy cane spice. The taste is caramel malt, bitter fruitcake spices, and a somewhat tart candy essence. The carbonation is quite light, the body soft, smooth, and fairly hefty, and it finishes with more of the sweet malt, and kind of bitter spice.

Definitely redolent of the Christmas experience - a whole lot of sweetness and candy, tempered by some strange bitterness and overall fullness.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2009 08:29:21 | More by biboergosum
Photo of TheManiacalOne
TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of spices (mint, clove, ginger), roasted malts, vanilla, coffee some dark fruit and a touch of hops.

T: The taste likewise starts out with a burst of spice flavors such as mint, clove & ginger that are quickly followed by a hearty roasted malt breadiness. There are background flavors of vanilla and coffee. The hops presence is mild but complementary. The after-taste is slightly spicy and slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, it looks like Anchor kept the spiciness on the stronger side as they did with the '08 release, but somehow this one seems a little bit better than that to me overall.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2009 04:56:30 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of russpowell
russpowell

Oklahoma

4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a crimson-hued chestnut with 3fingers of fluffy tan head. Great lacing & average head retention

S: Medicinal notes, cinnamon & vanilla, just smells like Christmas!

T: Spruce, cinnamon, brown sugar & nutmeg up front. Herbal & woody hops as this warms along with dryness & brown sugar. Finishes with slight figgyness, medicinal & herbal notes along with some leafy hops

MF: Medium bodied & minimal carbonation

Drinks really easy, maybe not my favorite version of this, but very solid across the board. Odds are if you didn't like prior iterations of this, you won't like this. This one just gets better as it warms

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2009 05:05:47 | More by russpowell
Photo of drabmuh
drabmuh

Maryland

4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a shaker pint. Beer is dark brown and clear, forms a tan head of medium bubbles about two fingers thick. The head has some staying power, great retention. Some lacing is left on the glass, carbonation is mild to moderate.

Aroma is strong and sweet. There is some spice in there and almost a nutty character to it. Smells good.

Beer is smooth and medium bodied, almost tastes like a nitrogen beer. There is some roast in the back, very subtle, slight coffee. A nice sweet / almost cinnamon flavor in the front. The drinkability is high. Second taste, there is a bright flavor in the midpalate that is probably the spice, I wish the roast were a little higher and more connected to the rest. Overall a good beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2010 22:56:40 | More by drabmuh
Photo of WVbeergeek
WVbeergeek

West Virginia

4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black completely opaque body with a nice tan head sitting thick above the body. Speckled lacing is even but fine with each sip. Aroma is presented as a christmas tree in a bottle once again gotta love this beer. The nose is minty and pine with fresh cut spruce tips trapped in the bottle with dark cocoa roasted malts in the back ground an awesome Christmas beer full of ginger bread spice character. Something I've had every year since around 2000 or so. This one has a bit of lactose or heavy caramel flavor in addition to the dark roasts and spruce tips regulary featured in this seasonal offering. Mouthfeel is medium bodied creamy textured carbonation just works well, I can't hate on the spruce tip finish this is Christmas. Drinkability again another knock out Christmas beer that I've come to love and look forward to each year. God bless Fritz Maytag and his small brewing empire that brought out a whole generation of mavericks.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2009 08:10:10 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of WesWes
WesWes

New York

4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a really nice spice aroma that's big on nutmeg and cinnamon. The taste is good as well. It has a mellow porter flavor with an excellent spice character that's not overly spicy like recent years past. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine seasonal. It's just spicy enough for my liking.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2010 04:33:04 | More by WesWes
Photo of Rifugium
Rifugium

Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Casey's, Newtown Square, PA

I like this slightly more than the '07 batch, mainly because it definitely wasn't a Mad Elf rip-off this year. Dark brown pour, semi-opaque with a tan head and some lacing. Aroma is more sugars and spices, and less fruits. Taste similarly yields less honey and fruit than previous years, and more light brown sugar and coffee taste to it, with a dash of spice. Medium bodied, slightly syrupy with moderate carbonation. Pretty easily drinkable.

Serving type: on-tap

12-10-2010 20:06:34 | More by Rifugium
Photo of oline73
oline73

Maryland

3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark reddish brown with a finger of fluffy off white head. There is some good retention and mild lacing.

Smell: Sweet and malty with a strong molasses presence. Some mild spice that has faded a bit over time. Also some mild brown sugar.

Taste: This beer is really smooth. Just a touch of sweetness, the molasses still really stands out. Some spice and mild dark fruit notes. There is a mild bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with smooth carbonation and a finish that is a bit gritty.

Overall: I didn't remember liking this very much fresh, but I'm a big fan now. I would definitely have another.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2011 23:10:41 | More by oline73
Photo of jwc215
jwc215

Wisconsin

4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip glass:

Pours black with a rich tan head that desends to a thin, lasting cover. Trailing lace sticks.

The smell is of pine dipped in chocolate (hint of coffee) with spiced freshly baked bread.

The taste is of bittersweet chocolate, underlying pine with Christmas spicing (that doesn't overpower). Sweet in the taste, it has a spicy, minty semi-dry finish.

It is more effervescent than I remember in past years, but holds well-into medium bodied. Very smooth, though.

Another winter winner from Anchor - leaning chocolatey with a nice spicing that fits the season well, but not overdone. An excellent winter warmer!

Serving type: bottle

12-06-2009 14:24:00 | More by jwc215
Photo of smcolw
smcolw

Massachusetts

4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Gorgeous thick beige head that recedes very slowly.

Mellower than past Christmas ales from Anchor. Less pine and more molasses/caramel.

Far more sweet than previous versions but not too coy. Rich, full body with a lower carbonation. The flavor profile does feature the "pine" I've come to expect from this annual offering. Darker malt flavoring without any burnt elements. I love getting this every year; it's one of the great annual pleasures.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2009 21:30:59 | More by smcolw
Photo of Halcyondays
Halcyondays

California

3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark ruby brown with a full light tan head, creamy, good lace.

S: Christmas spice, pine, cinnamon.

T: A lot of dark malt, gingerbread men, cookie like initially. Good amount of spice, not overdone - nutmeg, cinnamon dominates the spice flavours. Light note of cedar/pine, but nowhere near the '05 in that flavour. Very good overall.

M: Medium-bodied, smooth, creamy, can feel thin at times.

D: Another solid OSA from Anchor. This is the 6th different one I've had from them, a beer I wasn't as into on the initial taste, but really got into on the finish. It certainly can bring some Christmas cheer in these times. Wassail!

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2009 19:11:27 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of BlackHaddock
BlackHaddock

United Kingdom (England)

3/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My first review of 2011.

The house is calm again, so I can relax and have a quiet beer, slowly. My football team won 6-1 today and 7-2 on New Years Day, so this is my celebratory drink for both games.

Poured into my Westmalle chalice, the brown 355ml bottle had a best before date of 20 Oct 2011. Imported into the UK by James Clay and Sons.

The beer was a lovely ruby red when held up to the light, darker in the dull lighting of my living room. The full cream coloured head soon left, leaving behind a small wisp and nothing else. The beer seemed to be in good condition, so I was suprised the head 'did a runner' so swiftly.

No great smells, some hints of coffee and malty molasses, expected more.

The taste was all malt, well carbonated (again, why the disappearing head), with a hop roughness more than bitterness in the aftertaste.

The 5.5% ABV sat nicely within the brew and could be found easily as the beer warmed in the glass, not so obvious when the beer was colder.

I was expecting more to be honest, not a bad beer by any standards, but not the rich, creamy special I hoped for!

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2011 18:30:36 | More by BlackHaddock
Photo of Gavage
Gavage

New Jersey

4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: clear brown in color with a 2" head that slowly falls to a spotty surface foam.

Smell: big pine, evergreen, and roasted malts leap from hte glass into the nose.

Taste: hearty roasted malt profile with prunes, licorice, evergreen branches, pine, and a nice bitterness. A bit of chocolate arrives very late.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Lightly crisp to start, smooth and a bit dry at the finish. Aftertaste is very long as the flavors linger in the mouth.

Drinkability: this is the beer you look for annually to warm you on a cold winter day. Easy to consume two to three in a session.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2010 11:58:54 | More by Gavage
Photo of GClarkage
GClarkage

California

3.25/5  rDev -19.4%

07-02-2014 18:16:54 | More by GClarkage
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 405 ratings.