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

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%

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)
View: Beers (21) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 135 | Reviews: 126 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of hopdog


4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I tried 5 vintages on tap at the Stuffed Sandwich ('00, '01, '02, '03 & '04). The '01 was my favorite with the '00 a close 2nd. Nice subtle, malty, caramel aromas and tastes. Molasses. Light spices. I'm glad I had the chance to compare the 4 vintages on tap.

NOTE: did a tasting on 1/15/05 that included years '87, '90, '94, '97, '98, '00, '01, '02, & '03. The '02, '01 & '94 stood out as the best of the bunch. The '94 had a nice whiskey taste to it that the others did not. I thought the older vintages held up well over the years.

Serving type: on-tap

11-13-2008 18:25:12 | More by hopdog
Photo of UncleJimbo


3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on tap at "Christmas in July" at The Blind Tiger.

This ale poured a dark brown (opaque) color with tan foam that left some lace on the glass. The smell was a light malty aroma. The taste was tart and sharp: malt, caramel, cocoa, figs. The mouthfeel was smooth and relatively dry. The body was medium and the carbonation was modest. There was a nice, lingering aftertaste. This was a good holiday ale.

Serving type: on-tap

07-18-2003 05:02:32 | More by UncleJimbo
Photo of jcalabre


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

Originally sampled on 28 December 2002. Anchor's annual Christmas present pours dark brown w/ a spicy aroma. It's Extremely drinkable, heck, my wife even liked it. The flavor is sightly sweet but it's a pleasure to take your time sipping it. This beer shouldn't be missed.

Serving type: on-tap

06-10-2003 20:55:47 | More by jcalabre
Photo of LarryKemp


3.7/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer was very dark, with a thick creamy head.

The hops came through in both the nose and the tongue. In both the malt was present but was muted by the hops. It was not overpowering hops but the hops stayed on the tongue long after the liquid was swallowed. The spices were overshadowed by the hops.

The mouthfeel was medium and somewhat creamy.

It was a very drinkable beer but I feel that for style the spices should be more dominate. Maybe next year the hops will have mellowed and the spices will be more forceful.

Serving type: on-tap

02-05-2003 19:34:10 | More by LarryKemp
Photo of Mick

New Jersey

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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-06-2003 13:01:23 | More by Mick
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!

Serving type: on-tap

12-22-2002 05:18:55 | More by goindownsouth
Photo of John

New York

3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2002 recipe. Dark and inviting color, dense and creamy tan head. Lace is decorative. Roasted malt, coffee bitterness is offset nicely by a healthy dose of chocolate malt. The chocolate malt lends a welcome semi-sweet quality. There may also be a sprinkle of nutmeg underneath. The mouthfeel is substantial, satisfying. This brew is full flavored and complex. A fulfilling seasonal treat.

Serving type: on-tap

12-16-2002 19:29:58 | More by John
Photo of QXSTER1


4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was advertised as Anchor Christmas Ale on the draught list.
It poured deep chestnut with some ruby highlights and a tan, creamy head. Plenty of roasted malt and spices in the nose. My first impression was this was a medium bodied hybrid porter brewed with seasonal spices. Dark fruits, coffee, chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger came to mind. Anchor threw some West Coast hops into the mix to balance out the sweetness and makes this a very drinkable brew. This was almost like a Christmas session brew when your ready for more than one or two holiday beers.

Serving type: on-tap

11-27-2002 12:22:00 | More by QXSTER1
Photo of bditty187


4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served with a smallish brown head resting on a rich, dark mahogany body. The daft-version laced exceptionally well. The nose was attractive, but a little more mild, the spice, tree sap/molasses, and malt were still present but more rounded. The flavors on the palate are similar to the nose; sap/molasses, spice, etc… the complexity was present but, again, more smoothed. Mouthfeel: silky as can be. The drinkability of this winter beer is increased exponentially on-tap. Seek it out.

Serving type: on-tap

11-27-2002 11:35:22 | More by bditty187
Photo of drabmuh


3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer poured from a bottle into a 2002 Anchor Our Special Ale pint glass with a gold rim. Yep, I have a 2002 Anchor OSA glass.

Beer is dark brown / ruby with these woody looking chucks on yeast that came out immediate, not settled at all. Nice tan head, some lacing, moderate carbonation.

Aroma is sweet and strong, mild soy-sauceness but nothing too horrible, malty, mild spiciness, good overall.

Beer is medium in body and has this nice chewy finish to it, I don't drink hte yeast bits but the rest of the beer tastes old, malty, sweet, mild tobacco again, mildly bitter but not dry on the back palate. Nice. I'm excited to try a few more older ones.

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2011 15:13:34 | More by drabmuh
Photo of nickd717


4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review dated 2/4/2009.

Bottle at The Bruery, 2002 vintage, drank it December 2008, vertical with 2001 and 2008 vintages. Dark amber color with an off-white head. Aroma of roasted malt, nutmeg, ginger, and brown sugar. Taste is the same, malty and spicy, not quite as mellow as the 2001. Medium-full body.

Serving type: bottle

08-26-2011 20:40:19 | More by nickd717
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2010 01:02:53 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of lackenhauser


3.7/5  rDev -8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Notes on an aged 2002 OSA.

Pours a dark brown, slightly muddy color. Still a decent carbonation level. Slight woodsy and "herbed" aroma-reminds me of a very mild Jagermeister like smell. Decent malt and slightly spiced flavor. Faint hint of treacle and caramel. Some molasses fading into the backround. Again somewhat woody and grainy tasting. Mild lingering sweetness of the lips. Decent enough body. Has aged quite well considering the low abv. Still very drinkable and enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2009 01:20:44 | More by lackenhauser
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

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2009 22:13:45 | More by NorCalYeti
Photo of aerozeppl

New York

4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle given as an extra by ianslee. Thanks!.

A: Super dark brown with no hints of light getting through until held up directly to the light. Impressive 3/4 finger of brownish head. Not bad for a 7 year old bottle. Impressive lacing as well.

S: Little bit of sweetness. Starting to get a touch oxidized. Some spruce is there. Not nearly the christmas tree in a bottle this beer can be fresh. Has that aged flavor as well which is always a plus for me. Quite a bit of malt and a touch of molasses.

T: This really melded together nicely. Wow the christmas tree and the malt have come together well. I have never tasted something like this in a beer before. Little bit of black pepper in there at the end. Leather maybe as well.

M: Glorious. So creamy and good. Reminds me of a cask pour.

D: For a 7 year old 5.5% beer...damn. This has held up like a champ. I have a few more bottles and I will savor them during a nice blizzard in the next 10 years.

Serving type: bottle

09-02-2009 22:10:14 | More by aerozeppl
Photo of Floydster


3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle purchased from the Stuffed Sandwich in San Gabriel for around six dollars, consumed 12/27/08 alongside the 2003 vintage, reviewed from notes, both were poured into small snifters, color is a dark brown with slightly red tint, minimal 1/4 inch bubbly light tan head that goes away rather quickly, no lacing, aroma is dark fruit, pepper, slightly oxidized malt, tons of different spices, brown sugar, and caramel, taste was rather spicy, malt in the middle, then pepper, tobacco, and molasses in the finish, mellows out as it warms and sugary caramel comes out, spicy and sweet mouthfeel, thin to medium body, low level of carbonation, could have drank a few more of these, especially on a cold night, not too heavy, spiciness could become overpowering after a while maybe, I like the recipe for this year but it came up short to the 2003 drank right next to it, would drink again though, recommended

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2009 04:15:36 | More by Floydster
Photo of UnionMade


4.65/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Opaque dark brown, nearly black. Thin topping of beige head. Laces the glass well with a scattered speckling of foam.

Aroma is sweet, with nutmeg readily apparent. Deep and woody, with some gingery, plum-like notes. Mellowed roastiness.

Flavor opens up soft and elegant, with caramelized malt sweetness. Spices are well present, namely nutmeg and ginger, along with some prune fruitiness. Not nearly as much of an oxidized presence as I expected from a seven year old beer. In fact, this almost tastes fresh if not for the mellowed gentleness. Very woodsy, in the best possible sense. The overall flavor is reminiscent of a nice hike in early fall. Foresty, damp soil and pine trees, earthy, soothing and warm enough to still wear a t-shirt. Finishes bittersweet, spicy and soft. This one has aged to develop those kindly laugh-wrinkles around the eyes.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2009 09:47:08 | More by UnionMade
Photo of Crosling


4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark mahogany colored ale with a long lasting white head. Very nice aroma showcases notes of fruit cake, vanilla, nutmeg and mint. Flavor is very nice and brilliantly balanced. Notes of cinnamon, pine, juniper and fruit cake. Very nice body to it and well as a nice finish.

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2008 07:05:14 | More by Crosling
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-23-2008 16:48:59 | More by BeerAdvocate
Photo of iasanlee


4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Cloudy dark dark brown with a beautiful brown 3 finger head

S- Loads of dark fruit and malty sweetness,

T- Medicinal and floral. Black cherries and dark fruit is abundant. Coffee, Very sweet. Carmel. Wow. Absolutely delicious

M- Thick and coating. Carbonation is low, but not non-existant. A lasting malty finish.

D- A real treat, I love it. Almost barleywineish. I am so glad I found a six pack of this in my regular bars cooler (It had been there since 2002). Time has done it wonders.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2008 06:47:24 | More by iasanlee
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2007 03:41:15 | More by eberkman
Photo of blitheringidiot


3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark brown eggpalnt hue topped with a craggy collar of khaki foam dripping down to leave no trace in the glass.

Earthy herbal nose of dirt, sawdust, caramel and red apple.

First swigs: Light apple vinegar meets a carrot cake malt backing. Dark fruits of fig, ripe pear and finishes off with a touch of lemon tea herbal notes. Dry soft cotton finish.

Soft subtle light carbonation almost seems like this is flat.

Last swigs: Sure it's interesting and fun to try after a few years, but it's more of an experiment.

Serving type: bottle

07-31-2007 20:59:19 | More by blitheringidiot
Photo of Vancer


4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2002 – 5 years ago. How time flys and only ages these beauties like fine wine (or beer).

Classic pour of mahogany brown, deep cola like. Thin topper cap.

This was the year of the winter spices, along with plenty of dark fruits – heavy on the cherry. One of the better anchor brews, but donno if the aging really brought this one around. I’m a lucky stiff to be enjoying this thanks to Timtheechanta.

Serving type: bottle

06-29-2007 02:22:20 | More by Vancer
Photo of Hibernator


4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Anchor Our Special Ale (2002)
12 oz brown bottle
Brewed on date for 2 O K [October 11, 2002]
Served in an Allagash tulip glass

I stopped by a new liquor store this morning while I was in the area doing some shopping. To my surprise there were some nice selections like Stone Imperial Stout and Anderson Valley’s Brother David’s Double Abbey. I scanned the singles cooler at the end for the heck of it and on the bottom I spotted an Anchor OSA. I immediately realized that the label was not a 2006, but assumed maybe a 2005. After further inspection I noticed it was a 2002 and I slowly uttered '“holy shit!' to myself.” Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised to find this gem at such an unassuming store.

Pours a fabulous shade of rustic, dark brown with light ruby highlights on the bottom of the glass. A nice sized head forms on top then turns to a thin lacing that leaves random trails of spotted lace across the tulip glass.

The nose is not as pronounced as I was expecting. Mainly because I’m so used to enjoy the latest OSA release. I detect some whiffs of holiday cookies & spices, chocolate bar sweetness and black pepper.

Juicy malt profile up front with sweet caramel drizzle, brown sugar bombs, milk chocolate flavors, all spice, cinnamon sprinkles and a touch of ginger. Very similar to the 2005 & 2006 versions that I’m used to, but the major difference is how MELLOW this is. All of the complexity and depth that I love about this beer, but it’s very subdued overall. A mini hop presence comes through on the finish, but the mouthfeel and the corresponding carbonation is really enjoyable.


Serving type: bottle

12-16-2006 21:14:50 | More by Hibernator
Photo of objectivemonkey


4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2002 edition sampled 12-1-06.

Into a pint glass, pours a mcuh darker than expected black, dark tan head that stuck around for a few minutes, leaving a nice film. Aroma is strong, immediately struck by a noticable alcohol, warm, nice chocolate and espresso notes, as it warmed a very distinct brown sugar sweetness, very nice complexity in all. Taste is thick, again good complex almalgamation of flavors, a bit xmas spicy, warming malty middle with a dry end. Mouth is thick up front, but somehow sometimes dries out, thins out, or otherwise loses that first hearty mouthfeel, kind of a wierd thing going on in an otherwise great beer. For whatever reasons, I've never been turned on by Anchors brews, but this one gets an OK high five from me.

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2006 03:20:09 | More by objectivemonkey
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Our Special Ale 2002 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 135 ratings.