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Our Special Ale 2002 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Our Special Ale 2002 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2002 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

135 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 135
Reviews: 126
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 12.69%
Wants: 2
Gots: 0 | 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: kbub6f on 11-07-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Our Special Ale 2002 (Anchor Christmas Ale) Alström Bros
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Ratings: 135 | Reviews: 126 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of matjack85
1.75/5  rDev -56.5%

matjack85, Feb 12, 2013
Photo of Gonzoillini
2/5  rDev -50.2%

Gonzoillini, Jan 29, 2014
Photo of jackndan
2.23/5  rDev -44.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Anchor Brewing Christmas Beer 2002: Why does this beer taste and smell like the strongest ginger snaps I ever saw? It is clearly a heavily spiced herbal beer, which is not at all bad looking. Jagermeister! That’s it; it tastes a lot like Jagermeister. It’s got a long lasting aftertaste, which is no bargain. Upon further review, its worse than I thought. I cannot get over the turpentine taste, and I could still taste it several hours later. I woke up at 2:00 a.m., and could still taste it. Sorry, but I’ll pass.

jackndan, Nov 20, 2002
Photo of Mick
2.33/5  rDev -42%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I'm not being very objective by giving this the rating and review that I am, but I'm being honest.

This one pours nicely. Rich, deep, dark mahogany color. A great head. Soft and foamy. Dissipates, rather quickly, to a thinly veiled head. The smell is where they lost me. All nutmeg and nothing else. I couldn’t detect the malt at all. All nutmeg and nothing else. Although I could place the roasted scents. This is eggnog as a beer. I didn't enjoy the flavor at all. Once again, all nutmeg.

Perfect for those who enjoy holiday spices.

Mick, Jan 06, 2003
Photo of BColton1
3/5  rDev -25.4%

BColton1, Mar 16, 2014
Photo of fattyre
3.1/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

This beer pours a clear very dark ruby brown with a medium clingy dark tan head. The mouthfeel is clingy dark tan head. The smell is anise, strong cedar, slightly malty and cloves. The taste is spruce, peppery alcohol middle and pumpkin spice(?). A fairly decent Christmas ale that probably has a little too much going on. Maybe the flavors will settle down a bit after a year of aging but for now are a little much.

fattyre, May 01, 2003
Photo of KarlHungus
3.18/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This brew pours an opaque black color. The head is dark tan, creamy, two-fingers in height, and recedes slowly into nice thick lacing. The aroma screams of pepper that doesn't leave much room form anoything else to shine through. The taste is like the aroma: way too much pepper. The mouthfeel is mdeium bodied and very smooth. Overall, this is decent, but not the best OSA.

KarlHungus, Mar 15, 2006
Photo of TMoney2591
3.25/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

The Fourth Day of Beermas... It pours a dark ruby-tinted black-brown topped by a minor bit of dirty white foam. The nose comprises cocoa powder, brown sugar, walnuts, and maple syrup. Unfortunately, there is a twinge of fishiness, of staleness weaving its way through everything. The taste holds notes of nutmeg, brown sugar, figs, red apples, cocoa, and a light bi of vinyl. The body is a chunky medium, with a light carbonation and a slightly oily feel. Overall, things are definitely progressing, but there's still a ways to go.

TMoney2591, Dec 20, 2010
Photo of aracauna
3.33/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Nice big khaki wet foamy head. Body is blackened ruby. Aroma is candy-like, life fruit hard candy. Surprisingly low in malt aromas considering the color. The flavor has a sprucey smell, but lacks the harshness that's usually associated with it. That blends with a candied lemon flavor, minus the tartness. The flavor is also candy-like but not really sweet. I had expected a higher malt profile. Very low bitterness and flavor is a bit thin underneath the spices.

aracauna, Nov 23, 2002
Photo of Bunnyhop
3.38/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A very dark ruby/brown clear ale with a medium clinging dark tan head. I smell fig, as well as several spices, definitely clove. The taste is peppery with clove, fig, cinnamon, and other spices, with a cedary finish. It had a moderate fullness in the mouth. Overall, I found this to be a very good winter ale, but it seemed there might be too many flavors all at once. On the other hand, the flavors (especially the spices and cedar) pleasantly remain in you mouth after drinking.

(source: Broudy's; Jacksonville Beach, FL)

Bunnyhop, Jan 24, 2003
Photo of NorCalYeti
3.43/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

taste- creamy roasted malts, licorice, bitterness, complexity, prunes

color- deep chestnut

clarity- clear

smell- chocolate, licorice, prunes, spice, roasted flavors

body- medium-full, hop bitterness at the front of the palete

appearance- dark, clean, slight foam ring

overall impression- interesting

notes- amazing how this beer still holds up with six years of age in a 12oz bottle. bottle still characteristic of anchor's beers, carbonation is still present. 28th release of this beer. this review is for a 2002 vintage tasted in 2008

glassware: pint

NorCalYeti, Oct 17, 2009
Photo of hotstuff
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer had a small sized tan head that consisted of fine sized bubbles.The body was carbonated and the hue was dark brown.The nose was spicy and also of gingerbread.It had a malty, spicy and chocolate flavor to it and the mouthfeel was very smooth and it was medium bodied.There was excellent lacing with this beer.

hotstuff, Sep 09, 2003
Photo of eberkman
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pretty dark brown that glows reddish when held to the light. Deep, stoutlike tan head -- about a finger's worth that reduces within 2 minutes to a thin island on the surface.

Pleasant, warming smells of plums, prunes, dates and holiday spices.

Also tastes of wintery spices and dark fruit, but with kind of an unpleasantly astringent finish that's almost vinegary.

Medium bodied for such a dark beer. Moderate carbonation. Feels reasonably substantial in the mouth.

Not the most drinkable because of the odd finish.

But it's a 2002, so it's been sitting aroudn for a while and it's not particulary high ABV, so maybe it's really not meant to cellar this long.

I'll try the 2003 soon for comparison purposes.

eberkman, Oct 24, 2007
Photo of goindownsouth
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

An odd, odd brew. That is not to say that there was anything wrong with it. Oh, no. The thing I noticed, aside from the dark amber color, was the aroma and consequently, the flavor. I cannot mince words on this one. The cinnamon/nutmeg in this beer reaches up out of the pint glass and smacks you dead in the face. It is strangely and interestingly good. Then there is the steam mouth feel. Awesome. This is something you have to try to believe. This could be one of the most unique biers I have ever tried. Prost!

goindownsouth, Dec 22, 2002
Photo of aaronh
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

An almost black beer that pours with a creamy, tan head that shows very good retention. The head fades to a thin layer of foam, which leaves a thin lace on the glass. Ruby highlights are apparent around the rim of the glass that gradually slide back to rejoin the beer. The aroma is very strong on the nutmeg, with some nice malt, cinnamon, and some fruity plumlike scents blended into the nutmeg. The taste is hard to pinpoint. It has a strong roasted character to it, but with some sort of spice that clouds the flavor. Some sweetness and nutmeg are on the finish, but one flavor I can't seem to place overpowers the beer. As the beer warms, abit more fruit and alcohol are apparent, but the same flavor profile is there. Actually a great disappointment, as previous years were so complex. The initial mouthfeel is thinner than previous years, but it expands nicely in the mouth. Due to the overpowering but unidentifiable (to me) flavor, the drinkability suffers as well. Perhaps I'll get the opportunity to try this beer in six months and revisit it then. Not a bad beer, but not the holiday treat I experienced in previous years.

aaronh, Dec 23, 2002
Photo of imperialking
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%

imperialking, Jan 08, 2012
Photo of oberon
3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Looks like something you could pour out of a Quacker State bottle,seemed really thick coming out but when drinking didnt seem quite as heavy.Smelled like I was walking through the woods with pine trees everywhere,picked up the nutmeg as well in the smell.Very christmasy in flavor nutmeg cinnamon,and fruitcake flavors are almost overwhelming.Was pretty good but couldnt handle more than say 2 or 3.

oberon, Feb 04, 2003
Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from Inaugural Issue of Beeradvocate Magazine.

An oddity, Anchor Christmas Ale is a beer that tries to defy time. Who would have thought you could cellar a beer that is less than 6 percent? It is simply amazing that most of the vintages have held up well over the years. Sure, you get a bit of oxidation and the hops fade too, but all in all the age does this beer good. When we tried it back in 2002 we noticed this version was not has hoppy as previous years.

Beer offers an amazing lace from a good two fingers of tan froth, a few shades lighter than black. The deep brown tone doesn't let much light in. Spicy, sweet aroma. Smells of hermit cookies, a fresh slice of fruitcake and faint spearmint. Very smooth, with a lush medium body. Baker's chocolate and toasted bread crust come to mind. Spicy, mildly minty, with a toasty flavor throughout. Twang of citrus with a dark, roasty, sweet maltiness, reminiscent of orange peels and burnt sugar. Very little hop character, but the slight vinous and fruity undertones keep things balanced. Four years of cellaring have certainly not harmed this beer at all.

BeerAdvocate, Jul 23, 2008
Photo of Dogbrick
3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Courtesy of the Hollingshead Deli in Orange, CA. I liked this one a little less than the 2001 version, which I tried yesterday. I'm not sure if it is because the recipe is different, or because the 2001 version had some time to mellow out. This one just seemed more rough around the edges. Pours a nice dark ruby/brown with a medium thick and lasting beige head. Minimal lacing. Aroma is nicely spiced and heavy on the nutmeg. Flavor is seriously spiced, mostly ginger and nutmeg, and a little cinnamon. Had a sweet finish that kind of reminded me of a flat cola. Overall this was decent but a little too much spice.

Dogbrick, Jan 21, 2003
Photo of mickeymac
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a Magnum, it's quite dark with a good sized beige head. The smell is all spice, almost overwhelmingly so. It also tastes a bit like someone dumped the entire contents of the spice rack into it. Fortunately, it has enough malt to keep things, if not balanced, at least in the ballpark. It certainly makes for an interesting flavor, especially when taken in moderation.

mickeymac, Dec 26, 2002
Photo of warriorsoul
3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Truh for this unexpected goodie.
Dark brown in color with a full finger of light beige head...all but a fine layer fades rapidly and some thin lacing forms.
Spices in the nose...cinnamon, mild allspice, chocolate malt sweetness.
Taste is more of the same...has soured just a bit, but by no means distracting. Dry and quite clean in the finish...that sweetness in the nose is not present as I consume the pint.
Mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I was expecting...the carbonation could be less for me.
Either way, this one has held up pretty well after a few years, but I prefer it at no more than a year.

warriorsoul, Apr 10, 2006
Photo of Billolick
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

thick, dark and rich with spices, this is not my favorite style, but over the holidays, after a big holidaze meal, this one would foot the bill. Nicely balanced for this style, anchor allways puts out a nice product. Got this one in late 2003, (at a reduced price at my local beer dealer)must have been left over from last years batch. So this one came "pre-aged"

Billolick, Jan 24, 2004
Photo of Wildman
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a almost black ruby color and formed an amazing Guiness style cascading dark tan head and formed circular lace. The aroma was of malt and spices, possibly nutmeg. The flavor was of malt, spices and burnt chocolate. There was a touch of sourness in the finish that I think subtracted from the beer and hurt it's flavor. Fairly light for this style. I wanted to like it, but I just wasn't as impressed with this Anchor offering.

Wildman, Dec 16, 2002
Photo of PhantomVodoo
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown in color with a brown head.
Aroma is hard to describe: spices and roasted malt with a floral, fruity addition. Somewhat medicinal: menthol and camphor.

Taste is also complex and hard to describe. Very unique. Roasted malts, spices, and fruit flavors. Hint of sourness that detracts from the overall flavor. Well balanced.

Good mouthfeel. Medium body.
Drinkability takes a hit due to the sour notes.
Overall a solid, very unique brew.

PhantomVodoo, Jan 27, 2003
Photo of DrunkMcDermott
3.7/5  rDev -8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sample taste at Chicago Beer Society vertical tasting, Dec. 1, 2005. The 2002 vintage, at age 3, is another beer with a nice fruity smell. A bit of alcohol volatility, and this one’s a bit light on the Christmas spices. Some of the other tasters remark on a tobacco smell.

DrunkMcDermott, Dec 13, 2005
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Our Special Ale 2002 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 135 ratings.