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Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

506 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 506
Reviews: 353
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 13.04%
Wants: 7
Gots: 59 | FT: 1
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:
Beer added by: EgadBananas on 10-31-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (23) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 506 | Reviews: 353 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SickPythons
2.24/5  rDev -42.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

12oz poured at 50°

Dark Auburn color with nice lacing.
Smells of nutmeg and cinnamon.

Taste is almost all spice. It seems like the ingredients for a pumpkin pie. I get a little piney flavor in the middle but really not much at that point. Aftertaste is still nutmeg.

Mouthfeel is very dry, almost chaulky. The word "smooth" never comes to mind.

I won't be recommending this one to any of my friends.

Photo of phishgator
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a chalice with a dark hue like a baltic porter with a tan head that foams greatly and leave a lot of lacing. The spruce picked this year(I haven't looked yet) once again dominates the nose. The taste is that fresh bite, imagine watching Bear Grylls drinking spruce tips tea and that what you get up front. The body is full and the coating of the evergreen really is nice, but only one a night.

Photo of BigB415
4.06/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I enjoyed the spice and cinnamon added to this beer. It was very noticeable but didn't make it so it felt like it was the only thing there. When I poured the beer I was very surprised by the pitch black color since I was expecting a light color. I enjoyed it and wouldn't mind having a second or maybe even the magnum they sell.

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.38/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle pours a deep crimson color with a fluffy brown head. Average retention, but really does leave some awesome lacing all over the glass.

Nose is spruce tips, piney hops, chocolate and maybe some cinnamon-ginger. Not an overly big nose, but smells mouth-wateringly delicious.

Fucking tasty! Wow...the pine sap, chocolate and pie-like spices really play well off each other in this year's incarnation. Each year is strangely similar, yet different. I guess that what makes this beer a two-sixer purchase every year. 1 to keep and 1 to drink! This one is very well integrated fresh, it would be something amazing if it was better with some age. Vague egg-nog and cola notes as it warms, very Christmas-y. Awesome beer, OSAs are hands down my favorite beers made by Anchor.

Photo of DrewKid4
4.85/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Black as can be with a brown with orange tinted head. Leads on to being a chocolate stout or heavy porter based off of the appearance.

S: The smell of nutmeg and cinnamon is very Christmasy and not overpowering. If there were Christmas car fresheners, this could be one.

T: Slight nutmeg and cinnamon kick up front with a smooth clove finish.

M: Very smooth. Not exactly "milky," but surprisingly well bodied without any downgrading aftertaste (crisp finish that begs for more).

D: Probably my favorite winter beer (so far), and one I will sure be stocking up on for cold nights.

Photo of masey222
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had no idea what to expect but was pleasantly surprised...
Dark brown with an orangey off-white head,
The smell was amazing not even just for a beer just for a smell, boat loads of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, the smells of Christmas....
The taste was well preceded by the smell all those spices really hit you along with some fruitiness maybe something along the lines of candied orange peels and it has the depth of a coffee stout lying underneath it all, over all a very complex and interesting beer.
Honestly it doesn't matter to me that much how it felt it wasn't bad but it wasn't perfect I would have liked it thicker but there was so much else going on that kept me occupied.

I would not want to drink more than one at a time but it is a beer that captures the essence of Christmas and the Christmas spirit in a little 12oz bottle very very well I could see it going well with a turkey dinner or a ham, or some chocolate covered cherries.

Photo of RushChairman
4.39/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Gets high marks right off the bat for saying "Merry Christmas & Happy New Year" right on the bottle. Surprisingly poured an opaque black with a slight burnt orange head. Looks remarkably like a coca-cola in my glass with a little less carbonation and I would not be surprised if this was a stout from the appearance. Smells of clove and nutmeg hit me right away something else in there too - chocolate? First taste brought me clove right away and then nutmeg and cinnamon on the back end. Lots Sweet and spicy on the tongue can't help comparing to coca-cola but that is a complement. What coke wishes it could be. This is a great holiday brew from packaging to smell and taste.

Photo of matty
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown colored beer with a slowly fading head.Looks like a stout.Aroma is grassy.Taste is cocoa,coffee,bitters with maybe a hint of some kind of dark fruit.Relatively smooth and goes down easy for a dark beer.It's a pretty decent offering that I most likely would recommend and buy again.

Photo of DoktorZee
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Drunk from a sub-pint glass at a beer-tasting event. Didn't see the bottle to determine best before date, but it was the 2010 edition, and it's not Xmas yet so it's bound to be fresh.

A - beautiful dark ruby color with moderate head; not much obvious carbonation and the head dissipates fairly quickly with little lacing.

S - very interesting and hard to place spices on the nose; maybe some clove?

T - this is where it really falls down for me; after some promise on the nose and visually the mixture of spices is very hard to resolve, except for an intense bitterness mid-way through the experience. Again, a big mix of spices (clove, anise?) combined with a bit of coffee and bitter dried berries dominate after the first second.

M - mouthfeel just doesn't seem right, with the bitterness lingering excessively. Definitely "light" for a beer that initially appears dark visually.

D - really not a great drinkability for me; this first bottle will definitely be my last until perhaps next year, and even then i'll be challenged.

This was an interesting beer that I'm glad tried, but overal I'm fairly dissatisfied with the final result. This one just didn't do it for me: too complex with unresvoled bitter notes that ruined it for me.

Photo of thekoz
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this extremely dark beer (very deep brown, almost black) into a pint glass. Had a nice 1/4 inch tan head that hung around for a while.

Can smell some nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices. You

Nice warming flavor with a good mouth feel. The spice flavor is subdued and not in your face. Very malty. The beer is slightly sweet, and not dry. I get a tad bit of alcohol flavor, which is nice for the style. Would love to cellar some of this for a year or two, and let it really develop and open up.

Small tight bubbles got perfectly with the beer.

Very drinkable, but not thin at all. Not a session beer, but a perfect winter beer.

Photo of hustlesworth
4.45/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- deep dark brown with copper highlights. the rich tan head has both a wrinkly hoppy look and a raw biscuit roasted look. it's very sturdy and firm and slow to recede with heavy lace crusted to the glass.

S- smells very earthy and woodsy with a touch of brown sugary sweetness and allspice. toffee, caramel, molasses, vanilla, a toasted malt sweetness play around with some light smoke and cocoa.

T- bittersweet and woodsy and herbal with some fruity tartness on the back end. very much like herbed spiced porter. fleeting notes of smoke, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, allspice, pepper, and honey all give my brain funny ideas and it is hard to even speculate what's really in here. none of these spices, if any of them are even included in the reciape, are overbearing or anything more than extremely subtle and i like it that way. cranberry juice tartness works nicely with roasted and chocolate flavors that give way to damp wood, soil, cedar and stone. what's missing is the forward piney cypress that was used in the 2009 edition and i'm trying to figure out where the ginkgo comes in to play. were the seeds or leaves used? what the hell does ginkgo even taste like? was a small portion of the malt smoked with ginkgo wood? is that even possible? too many questions. finishes robust savory with lingering woodsy aftertaste with some herbal hop flavor.

MF- under medium carbonation and dry on the lips with some stickiness. body is soft and somewhat powdery with a creamy feel from the carbonation level.

D- nice to have a quality american winter warmer that isn't 700.5% abv, this year's offering is tasty and drinkable and the whole secret ingredients and different trees each year just adds intrigue that raises the D. if anyone knows exactly how the ginkgo was used freakin beer mail me cuz i'm dying to know.

Photo of DPhillips1027
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark brown almost chocolate in color with moderate carbonation and a creamy tan head.

A sweet piney nose like a rainy fall day in the woods, slightly earthy.

Malty sweetness with a hint of lingering spruce. No noticeably alcohol but a little bit of warmth. Gets a little more complex as the beer warms.

Smooth and not overly carbonated silky feeling. Not a creamy as Guinness.

Could easily stay with this all evening.

Photo of NorCalYeti
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

taste- licorice, cooked meats, coffee, roasted malts, raisins, brown sugar finish

color- chestnut

clarity- clear

smell- licorice, caramel, coffee, roasted malts, raisins

body- well balanced, nice clingy hoppy bite at the front of the mouth and a malt finish, medium-body and length finish

appearance- nice red color with a foamy off-white head

overall impression- i think a lightly more refined effort than last year's offering and a stellar performer that will age nicely

notes and comments- great holiday beer

glassware: pint

Photo of ejimhof
3.06/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pour deep dark black.

Smell: The only thing I smell is Spruce.

Taste: The only thing I taste is Spruce.

Mouthfeel: Thin tasting.

Drinkability: Every year I buy one of these hoping to like it but every year I am disappointed. Almost a drain pour for me.

Photo of drabmuh
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer is dark brown and mostly clear with a big tan head of medium bubbles, high carbonation and some lacing.

Aroma is sharp and spicy, almost peppermint but definitely mild cinnamon and something else I can't put my finger on.

There is a toffee like early note to this beer and the finish is bitter with roast and some ash. Its a medium bodied beer and the spices are mild and restricted to the midpalate of the beer. I like it, it will likely be the #1 Winter Warmer soon so I had to get some, plus these beers are a sign that its finally winter. I'll probably drink 6 - 24 of these before the thaw.

Photo of dwilson01
4.16/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured from a bottle into my arrogant bastard pint glass, a nice reddish mocha colored head tops the brew about a finger thick. The dissipation is slow and even leaving thick fingers of lacing on the sides of the glass. The body itself is a dark ember color, hellish red tints show up on the edges when held up to the light.

The scents are very subtle but I get a pine and spice smell right off the bat. The malt imparts some smaller amount of roasted nut to it which balances nicely.

The flavor is just what I expected from the smell plus some added sweetness. I get the holiday spices like crazy in the mid-late taste which remind me of sitting near the fireplace sipping some spiced tea. Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice all combined into one lighten the flavor. The woody pine forest flavor comes through in the fore, fades quite a bit and then comes back in the aftertaste to linger for a while. It tastes like it would if I bit into a chuck of douglas fir tree. The late flavors that I pick up are from the malt, a sweeter molasses and maple syrup come on strong to balance the pine and spice flavors that I love so much.

The mouthfeel is great, smooth and sweet, not too thick and not too thin it's just right.

Photo of ocelot2500
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep mahogany color with a tight mocha head that leaves plenty of lacing.

Smells of sweet, roasted notes with some spices as well.

Tastes of the roasted notes rounded out by spice. Notes of molasses, brown sugar, and chocolate come through. Some vanilla comes through as well and gives an almost cookie like taste. Spices are a bit subdued, but have some cinnamon and nutmeg characteristics. Finishes a bit dry.

Mouthfeel is medium-full with a smooth amount of carbonation.

Photo of bamadog
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I was excited to see this one on the shelves as I was curious to see how this year's would compare to last. Sadly, I came away a little disappointed. Review is from notes taken on 11/14/2010 and poured from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pour is a deep, dark, cola brown; starts with a big 2 and 1/2 finger light tan head with decent retention; body is dark, but it allows a little light through with some deep ruby highlights; head fades to a full and uneven cap; fair washes, strands and spots of lacing are left behind on the sides of the glass. Off to a good start.

Smell: Smell is nice and it really smells like Christmas! Lots of spicy gingerbread-like aromas; bit of a nutty scent in the back that brings about a bit of earthy bitterness. This smells great and leads me to believe that it's going to taste as good as it smells.

Taste: Unfortunately, not nearly as good as it smells... Comes across very thin and watery; the gingerbread flavors are there, but watery and muted; slight piney hop bitterness combines with an earthy nuttiness (walnuts?); bit of a sweet malty backing.

Mouthfeel: As mentioned above, it's thin and watery in the body and not quite what I was hoping for; the carbonation is pretty light, but still offers some effervescence to an otherwise dull body; a moderately thick and sticky coating is left on the roof of the mouth.

Drinkability: Not nearly as good as the '09 offering, but decent overall. Hopefully next year the flavors will be just as robust as the nose and the body will be more worthwhile and offer some substance. Moderate ABV would certainly not slow anyone down, so it's definitely drinkable, just not exciting in any capacity.

Photo of depechemode1983
4.14/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Poured out a Dark brown with reddish hues and a thick brown head. Theres a little lacing going on evenly around the glass.

Smell - Nutmeg, cinnamon and liquorice with slight nutty smell. This beer smells like Christmas day. Smells and reminds me of eggnog.

Taste - Roasted coffee malts with just a bit of hops in there to balance it out. Taste similar to what it smells like. Some nutty flavors some caramel and Christmas spices. Im sensing a raw honey presence but just slightly. It ends with a roasted coffee finish.

Mouthfeel - A bit lighter bodied that I would have wanted. Its not all that bad though.

Drinkability - Would only be able to enjoy a few of these. I could see the flavors becoming a litte overwhelming. Lots of spices going on.

Photo of Star80
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a deep mahogany color, with an inch or so tan head. Beautiful bottle! I guess that effects appearance somehow, right? Anyway, the smell is rich yet not overpowering, some vinous qualities as well as some dark ripe fruits, some faint spice, is that allspice? Perhaps some nutmeg or ginger in there, it is quite complex and difficult to isolate, this beer has always been a bit "mysterious" to me. Could also be some lemon zest in the aroma too. Bottle says natural flavoring added, not sure what exactly that means, I hate the idea of flavoring rather than whole ingredients being used, but I trust Anchor knows what they are doing. Taste is rich and malty, yet not too sweet, with the odd flavor I totally cannot identify in the middle there, which is not great yet not bad, I think it is ginger actually, but like I said there is so much going. Nice clean hops cleans the palate, and if I aged this beer I bet I wouldn't get that, yet I do feel the flavors might need to "meld" a little longer. Would be interesting do one tasting in six months, another in a year etc. I think I might do that! A Christmas in July sort of thing....mouthfeel is full and rich. I think this Ale has a porter base but I could be wrong. I do find these go down very smoothly despite all those flavors which are happening. Taste is similar to what I remember it about five years ago or so, and I will be very excited about letting this beer cellar awhile.

Photo of emagana
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

this will be my first christmas bottle from anchor.
poured a Dark brown with a one and a half finger of tanish foam. foam lingered for about a minute.
Aromas of damp wood. some nut meg in the back. also some mint.
Wow now that i tasted it i can see why this one is special. I get ginger bread. some medicinal tones that are pleasing to the tongue.
great body and smoooth. highly drinkable. i sure enjoyed this one.

Photo of bohemiandonut
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh bottle Nov. 19th, 2010.

Almost a shame to drink it this fresh, but 2009 was great at birth so this might be as well.

Ahhh... That incomparable Anchor Christmas aroma! Pure Lupulins! Utterly beatific appearance with an immovable head. Treesap black and tan cream ceiling.

I am so happy to revisit this beer! It is amazing! Smells like snow and rum (spiced), with the faintest hint of cedar, nutmeg, pine, and earth. I am not just fucking around when I say it smells like snow.

Tastes of brighter fruit than it likely will when aged, but it's still damn smooth. Roasted malts come through in the finish, rounding out the spice (undefinable) with chocolate and coffee.

When I drink this beer I am instantly transported to my grandparents' home in Michigan. I plan to obtain a case of this as soon as possible. Anchor's best annual offering, and by far the greatest Christmas annual of all time. Brrrrang.

Photo of BeardedBoffin
3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

It's time for the annual tradition of tasting Anchor's Christmas Ale. I love the beer this time of year.

The 2010 version pours a dark brown with some lighter hues around the edges. A nice centimeter of tan foam swirled above. The nose offers sweet caramel and toffee. The mouthfeel is a little lighter than I would have liked for this brew.

Malty flavors, almost chocolate-like, on the palate. Caramel and toffee abound. Spices build toward the end with a dash of clove and cardamom. As the beer warms cookie and molasses components emerge making it more festive. Balanced, seasonable, and fun. I will enjoy the six pack.

Photo of Morey
4.26/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This fresh sample pours almost black in color. However, when held up to a light this beer reveals it's beautiful red hues and wonderful clarity. Great lacing leaving rings around the glass. Easy on the eyes to say the least.

Smells is a bit more mild than in years past, but the classic molasses and dark brown sugar notes still come through. I'm also getting a Black Mission Fig type of fruitiness.

Ahhhh...the taste. Rich, fruity, slightly sweet, a hint of burnt sugar. I find this beer hard to describe. It's so unique and complex. There isn't any other beer like it.

Medium body with medium to soft carbonation. The dark appearance may scare some non-craft drinkers off, but this would actually be a good beer to have them try. Tis' the season, and it sure beats Bud Light Lime.

I could easily drink a few of these.

Morey's Bottom Line: A must every holiday season. This and Great Lakes Christmas Ale remind me of Christmas the most. I like alot of other winter ales too, but this one is special (hence the name).

Photo of wordemupg
4.52/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

355ml bottle poured into tulip nov16 2010

A dark brown with a nice two finger dense mocha head that has good retention slowly falling to a thin film leaving a few patches of lace

S nutmeg, cinnamon, some dark toffee and a little bit spruce and pine almost like your walking down a path deep in the forest, its subtle but once you pick it up it's hard to ignore

T thankfully the tastes mimics the smell quite well but I get a little licorice and it's still quite earthy but the forest gets chopped down a little
Edit: a few days later and a slightly warmer bottle I can't shake a chocolate mint flavor, very nice

M not as thick as the color would lead me to believe but still quite far from thin, the bubbles give it a creamy feel that thickens it up a bit

edit: after checking I gave it the exact same 4.4 as last year, keep it up Anchor

D a 4.75 would have been dropped somewhere if I had the option and this one did go down very fast so here's a rare 5

great beer for sure, I can't remember what I gave this beer last year but but from what I recall I enjoyed that one too

Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 506 ratings.