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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

505 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 505
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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 505 | Reviews: 353 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: clear dark mahogany brown w/a persistent thick tan head and lacing.
S: holiday spices, dark bread, fruitcake, and a touch of a piney/medicinal mote, but not enough to overshadow the aforementioned.
T: dark caramel malt sweetness is light to medium and balanced out by the spices and smooth underlying hop bitterness. holiday spices linger without overpowering in a mostly dry finish. a touch of cocoa as well.
M: well carbonated, light to medium-bodied. roundish.
D: not too big of a beer but the style in general lends itself more to contemplative sipping.

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

Poured from the beautiful stubby bottle, which resulted in a dark ruby red, mahogany in color with a very beautiful 2-3 finger fluffy dirty tan head. Quite beautiful to look at...I've never been so excited for a beer!

Smell - this...this is what totally got me going. First whiff and it was phenomenal! Lots of molasses, vanilla, brown sugar and roasted malts. Along with some cinnamin and ginger notes come across the nose...even more so when it warms up.

Taste - I didn't know what to expect with the taste...but it was very smooth...a lot of roasted malts show up, with the hops stopping in to say hi for a quick second before making an exit...just enough to balance out the malts. The flavor lingers a while after...which turns into some coffee/toffee notes that are absolutely a very nice surprise. I think I've also detected some citrus hops. Flavors come out more as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel - Medium at best, the carbonation is just perfect, not much but not too little either.

Drinkability - I could drink this all night long. This is a wonderful Christmas Beer that'll be perfect for everything this holiday season. Definitely just became one of my favorite Christmas Brews...I'll certainly be purchasing a bunch more 6'ers this season. It Truly is Christmas in a glass.

Photo of silver0rlead
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown with ruby edges and a thick and frothy cola colored head that leaves impressive lacing. The aroma is a melange of spices: ginger, cinnamon, spruce, raisins, molasses, vanilla, plums and figs, piney hops and some dark chocolate. The flavor is similar with notes of ginger and cinnamon upfront, as well as some molasses and spruce, burnt bread, dark fruits (plum, date, raisin), floral hops, chocolate, coffee and a hint of alcohol. The mouthfeel is medium, and the sharpness of the heavy carbonation limits drinkability a bit. This beer is solid year in and year out, it's probably my favorite winter warmer.

Photo of msubulldog25
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Among my favorite annual beer traditions is the first OSA each fall, a true harbinger of the the impending Holiday Season. Picked up a 6-pack of 12 oz. bottles this afternoon and poured one to my gold-rimmed and faceted 2007 Anchor pint. Coded dating: "0OA" = Oct. 1st, 2010 for the bottling.

This year's 'Cover Tree' is the proud and stately Ginkgo biloba (also known as Maidenhair or "Living Fossil", as it is believed to be one of the oldest lineage of trees on the planet). Seeds of the tree are often used in Chinese cuisine and its extracts are commonly used pharmaceutical plant, treating circulatory issues, memory and concentration issues, vertigo and dementia. How well one will retain memories of an evening spent consuming a few pints requires further study.

A: A luxurious mahogany - dull brown at first glance, but brilliant crimson when raised to light. Steady carbonation streams aren't glass-filling but help to replenish a once two-fingered tuft of dusty khaki cream as it settles to a lumpy half-coating blanket. Blotchy lace, a jigsawed randomness.

S: Oh geez, such an alluring aroma: dark fruit (figs, dates, raisins) and spiced molasses, vanilla and a whiff of booze, piney and woodsy finish. I rarely impose my beliefs on others, but I'll say this: if you dislike this aroma...well, there's something wrong with you. Just a little more strength and endurance and this reaches 'exceptional'.

T: A vibrant 'gingerbread'/spice cake flavor, hinting at barrel-aged rum even when none is present. Grassier and a bit more herbal than I recall, a dusting of cocoa and maybe some mint. Ends with a funky little tang that's like a squeeze of grapefruit, then a muddled tea leaves and lasting ground spices - dry and rather (black) peppery.

M: A minor 'fail' here: a fairly light feel, creamy but kinda forgettable. While I appreciate the smoothness, there's less carbonated 'sparkle' than in some past renditions. A musty spice does hold true and extends the flavors many minutes.

D: As a lover of the spiced and more malty beers, I anticipate this yearly like nothing else (imbibing-wise). So wonderfully 'seasonal', so perfectly modest in strength; OSA is once again a savor-worthy, extremely enjoyable winter treat that warms carefully and rewards constantly.

Photo of mcnabb0001
3.04/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

12 ounce bottle brewed in 2010

A - Pours a dark chocalate brown with deep ruby highlights when you hold it up to the light. Big fluffy tan head 3 inches.

S - smells like clove, blueberry, floral, licorice can also smell spices with sweet malt. As it warms you get a nice spicey burn in the nose probably from the cinnamon or nutmeg.

T - First sip is fruity followed by spice and clove. Then it tastes like potpourri pretty nasty over time..

M - Pretty carbonated and fizzy with a nice medium malt body to it

D - pretty delicious its a festive Christmas beer wouldn't want to drink these all night but one is enough to get in the spirit.

Overall little too sweet for my liking not the best winter seasonal I've tried won't buy again.

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

On tap at Max's today. I swear it seems this beer comes out earlier every year.

The beer pours what has now become the typical dark brown color for Anchor's X-mas ale. Head retention is good, and there is considerable sticky lacing all around. The bartender at Max's seemed to think Anchor had toned down the spice bill this year, but if so, I sure don't pick it up on the nose. As has become typical, there is a huge aroma of brown sugar, cinnamon, clove, vanilla and spruce tips. On the palate, it tastes like Anchor's X-mas spiced brown ale. I assume they tweaked the recipe somewhat from last year's version, but it certainly seems pretty similar to me. The flavor profile replicates the nose, though it's not nearly as pronounced and/or intense. The beer is at most moderately sweet, with the spice and light hoppy bitterness balancing the sweetness quite well. Mouthfeel is no more than medium bodied, with a fairly long, spice filled finish. This beer comes acrosss as a polished, well crafted beer, with a smooth, easy going flavor profile. Drinkability is pretty good, though as always, the amount of spice in this beer would make it a bit of a chore to drink a lot of. That being said, this is pretty much your typical, well made, easy to appreciate X-mas beer from Anchor. Clearly, Winter must be very, very near....

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

A much-anticipated seasonal that I've followed for many years. This year's version features the usual deep chestnut color and distinctive spicy aroma found nowhere else. Still quite a bit of rosin in the flavor, but very little spruce notes this year, much more focused on the gingerbread aspect of the beer - much more mellow this year, calling to mind prior year's after they have aged for a couple of years. Tasty now, but not as assertive and may not stand the test of time for a future vertical.

Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance -- Pours a deep burgundy hue, slight golden highlights, two fingers of stiff beige head. Better than average head retention, wide bands of thick lace. Not too shabby.

Smell -- Pine boughs, peppermint, figs, pepperkaker, spice cake, carob, anise, holiday potpourri. Additionally there's a clean vegetal aroma that I can't put my finger on - ginko biloba? In a word, Christmas.

Taste -- Moderate pine hop presence up front with a great depth of malt components: dark bread, carob, plum, dates and figs, ginger snap. Just the right amount of malt sweetness. Spruce tips and peppermint are present, which is critical as these flavors seem to really move this beer from just being 'spiced' to being a true Christmas beer. Spicing is well done and with a gentle hand such that it's hard to tell which elements are from the spice addition or from fermentation. Finish is pine, carob, and peppermint.

Mouthfeel -- Medium in body, a bit viscous, with ample carbonation - prickly up front, frothy in back. Slight woody astringency in the finish.

Drinkability -- This is my very first OSA. Gotta say I'm pleased. Not the first thing I'd reach for, but this is perfect for the season. Drinking this puts me in a different mindset. Christmas incarnate. Good balance between hops, malt, and spice. This is one of those beers that keeps you engaged, always finding some new flavor component in each sip. A beer best consumed in the presence of friends and family.

Anchor is one of those breweries I typically pass over, and for no good reason. This beer is a great reason for me to mend my ways.

Photo of mikey711
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Deep deep brown, with only a touch of tranparency at the bottom of the glass. it pours a good head but fades somewhat quickly without leaving any lace.

S: Pine comb notes, so earthiness, a bit of caramel and chocolate and some peppermint as well

T: Pine, but not a hoppy pine, like actually pine tree. cinnamon, nutmeg mixed with chocolate and toffee

M: Pretty smooth with a good amount of body

D: Much better than last years and one that i plan to pick more up of as we get closer to christmas

Photo of dolemite77
4.57/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

There is a short list of flavored/spiced beers I enjoy. This one joins that list.

Pours deep brown with reddish highlights. Nice lacing.
Smells of all sorts of stuff... cinnamon and cloves mainly are what I smell.
Tastes rich, but not too sweet, and there is the slight numbing of the tongue that I always get from cloves. With Highland Cold Mountain and terrapin's christmas brew, this one is near the top. Hope to find some more this holiday season.

There has been some arguing over the style, but who cares... it does what a winter warmer is supposed to do.

Photo of caddybuyer
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ahhh...it is that time of the year again...the best season for the seasonals, and here is one of my favorites, back for the 2010 version.

A-Pours a deep dark cola blackness, with ruby highlights when held to light. I don't remember it being this dark before. Thick tan head that settles rapidly.

S-I never can quite place this one in either taste or smell. Pine, a slight camphor background, a hint of cherry, raisins, orange peel and caramel malts

T-Nose carries over to the palate, with orange and nutmeg dominating. Slightly bittersweet, somewhat roasted malts, and an astringent bittering slightly sour finish.

M-Medium and slightly creamy. The mouthfeel of a beer with a much higher abv.

D-Bring it on!!!!

I don't know why I love this so much...it surely is an oddball, but nothing says Christmas quite like Anchor OSA....I probably would not normally rate this beer this high, but I look forward to it and enjoy it immensely every year.

Photo of bsp77
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Dark brownish-ruby with creamy tan head that mostly recedes with slight lacing lines.

Smell: Faintly sweet spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, orange and gingerbread. Nice chocolate and caramel undertones. Smells similar to 09 to me, but more subdued.

Taste: Bittersweet roasted malts with light notes of chocolate and caramel. The spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger) are subdued at first, but provide a nice counterbalance. The spices become a little more noticeable on the finish.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, creamy body, somewhat dry finish.

Drinkability: Do not detect as much coffee and roasting as last year, with maybe a tinge more sweetness and spice, but not sure how the spice profile is truly different. Almost the same beer in my book, as it is still a Christmas-spiced Porter. Great as always.

Photo of DaveHS
4.75/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

After last year's excellent release, I am excited to see what Anchor has come up with this year!

A-Dark molasses, with 1/4 inch of bubbly milk chocolate colored head. Leaves thin, soapy lacing.

S-Smells like my grandmother's attic. Mothballs, potpourri, earthy sweetness, and the requisite cinnamon and nutmeg.

T/M-Wonderfully complex, hard to nail down. There's a lot going on here. There's a pleasant, bready caramel malt thing going on here that I can't get enough of. The cinnamon and nutmeg are perfectly integrated. The carbonation is vibrant and chewy. Everything about this beer makes sense. It's an absolute success, and further proof that Anchor is one of the most consistent micro breweries on the West Coast.

D- I will be buying some of this for the cellar.

Photo of jera1350
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark crimson color with a yellowish tan head that leaves a fair amount of lacing.

Getting some citrus along with some sugar cookie, ginger and nutmeg.

Matches the nose well. Getting some more roasty malt along with cola notes. Some herbal tea as well. Pretty good, but seems a bit watered down.

Great carbonation, but feels a bit thin and watered down.

A fine beer, but doesn't seem to fit the style real well. Pretty unique and worth a try.

Photo of hopheadjuice
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, code: 0OR on the back ( October 18, 2010)

Pours a dark robust brown with hints of garnet when held to light. Nice looking frothy tan head sits atop and laces abound.

Aromas from this elixir are pungent and sweet, hints of gingerbread, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. A faint whiff of herbal hops and a sweet delicate malt backbone to support.

A dark roasted Malt bill is more apparent in the taste creating a base for all the spices to play around. spices transposed from the aroma mingle between one and other with not one overpowering the next.

Medium bodied slightly slick with a nice carbonation and a semi dry finish.

Great drinkability for a winter warmer, the perfect match for a hearty beef stew or a huge delicious corned beef sandwich.

Photo of musicman575
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

Everything started out very nicely. The pour revealed a thick mahogany beer with a tan head. The toasty malt and carmely aromas were nice. I was taken slightly back by the unique taste, but I kept drinking. I don't have a fancy enough palate to detect all these forest floor botanicals and whatnot that other reviewers name, but after a few more gulps, one dimension of this brew threw out a rope and caught ahold of my uvula (gag reflex included) and would not let itself down the pipe: PRUNE JUICE. Don't get me wrong, everything else in the brew was pretty great, save the sensation of drinking prune juice. I really regret that I couldn't finish the other half of the glass that I poured.

Photo of ktrillionaire
4.72/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ahhh. Anchor's Our Special Ale, one of the highlights of the winter season.

A - This year's incarnation is much darker than usual, pouring with an appearance that looks like a Porter, CDA or BSDA. Tan head sits upon a near-black body, depositing plentiful lace upon the glass' side.

S - A trifecta of malt, spice, and hop: big plum, carob and dark fruity notes (malt); spicy nutmeg, clove, cardamom, cinnamon (spice); sweetly herbal leafy tea impressions (hop); these are the dominant themes of the nose. It smells so delicious, so balanced, so masterfully created.

T - The balance and sublime quality of the nose is essentially transposed to the flavor. In the flavor there is an additional element of roastiness that is not readily apparent in the aroma; it works quite well (as does everry aspect of this brew.) The only thing holding me back from granting a '5' for taste is the notion that it could hypothetically be more flavorful.

M - Perfectly creamy, distinctly 'Belgian-esque' in feel.

D - I love this beer every year, but this may be the best yet.

Photo of hosehead83
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. "stubby" bottle into a standard pint glass.
Ruby-brown in color, with a big, thick tan head of inviting foam.
Aroma-Subtle cinnamon and spices
Taste-Spicy citrus, orange and cinnamon, nutmeg,caramel, cookie, subtle hop bite.
Very tasty and drinkable, perfectly balanced melange of flavors. A holiday classic that is always interesting and never dissapointing.
Get some for yourself and an appreciative friend or family member. Cheers! and Happy Holidays!

Photo of SolomonGrundy
4.34/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep, dark mahogany. Beautiful dark tan, creamy half-finger head. Minimal lacing. Minimal carbonation also. Deep pine needle aromas dominate the nose. Some spice - clove, nutmeg. Maybe even some very dark chocolate notes way in back. Nice as always. Delicious, creamy, cinnamony flavor upfront. Great roasted malt character balances the beer out very well. I really like the larger cinnamon/nutmeg character this year. Finish is long and has good hop bitterness along with the nutmeg notes. Best version of this in many years, imho...As always, super well-priced at $9.99/6-er...

What I like most: The price and wonderful spice notes in the flavor.

What I like least: The lack of carbonation.

Verdict: Very delicious and worth tracking down.

Photo of champ103
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours an opaque brown, almost black color. A two finger tan head forms with really good retention. Light lace is left behind.
S: Orange peal, cinnamon, pine, toasted malt and brown sugar. There are lots of layers in the aroma. Like always very nice, maybe a little more fruity orange and pine coming out than I remember in the past.
T: Big on the orange peal, a bit more spicy hops, and plenty of pine flavors. Lighter on the cinnamon and not as much toasted malt as I would like.
M/D: A medium to full. Crisp, creamy, and smooth all at the same time. So easy to drink. I will go through many six packs again this year.

A release I always look forward to every year. One of my favorites. This is of the same quality as years past, and I am really enjoying it. Maybe not my favorite in recent years, but still highly recommended.

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

Ye Olde anchor OSA, in stores today. Picked up 6 at Whole Foods. Poured into a Bernardus wide chalice, this is a quite dark brown beer, with good head retention: a half-inch thick layer of foam formed and is long lasting. Typical spruce-laden nose, with a blend of spiciness that's difficult to identify: thyme? ginger? This year seems a tad bit more hoppy than usual, but spiciness trumps that. Like usual, I have a hard time picking out individual flavors--it's more than a sum of its parts. This year is a good one, worth buying more.

Photo of Halcyondays
4.29/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. single,

A: Pours a dark ruddy red brown with a big off-white head, good retention and lace. A tad frothy on the first pour.

S: Spiced orange is the major scent, rum, toffee candies.

T: Dark malt with a lot of cinammon it has the classic "OSA" flavour so to speak that all the versions do in the background. Cola upfront. Some interesting allspice and nutmeg flavours come out with caramel candy on the surprisingly sweet and tasty finish.

M: Soft carbonation, creamy, medium-bodied, easy to drink.

D: Possibly the best fresh version I've had of the OSA, up there with the '05 for sure. OSA is a must buy for me every year and is always a treat.

Photo of philbertk
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Anchor Brewing Company Our Special Ale Brewed With Natural Flavors & With Natural Flavors Added--Merry Christmas & Happy New Year--2010 12 oz. Bottle. 5.50% ABV. 45 IBU's? (3.75 / 5.0) Winter Ale--Spiced. Tan medium mild lace head. Clear dark bronze red color. Spicy mild hop roasted pine spruce burnt nutmeg clove ginger all spice front. Mild sweet burnt toffee fig malty unbalanced spicy roasty toasty classic Winter Ale body. Dry mild hop rich Winter spice end. Tasted 11/6/2010 from 6-Pack Purchased @ Fremont, Seattle PCC for $12.00 on 11/6/2010.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.4/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12'er picked up at the COOP a few nights ago.. Poured into my Old Guardian goblet.. good lite brown head.. the brew is walnut brown... descent lacing.

Nose shows plenty of clove and sorta barky cinnamon.. I would guess ginger, but I guess every year and am always left depleted.

Flavor mirrors the nose with some orange peel... maybe some juniper berries..

BAhhh... I don't believe that these are different beers from year to year....

One ... maybe two is my limit every year... as a collector and ticker, I just don't understand this one.


Photo of thebrood1987
4.44/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Wow this beer creates a huge head when poured. The smell is fantastic and smells like no other beer I've really smelled before. I first pick up this nice minty smell with some caramel like pie smells. Also it has this spruce like pine smell too that blends in very well. The taste is so smooth is ridiculous. You can taste the roasted thick malts with subtle spices of nutmeg cinnamon and that caramel sweet taste. It finishes with that piney spruce taste from the hops which completes the beer. The hops are spicey and mix in perfectly with the spices used in the beer. This is a very unique beer and such a full flavor for only 5.5 percent. This is so well crafted its absurd. I had this beer last year but don't remember it having that earthy hop back up like it does this year.

Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 505 ratings.