Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company
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Ratings: 673 | Reviews: 283 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by MrOH:
4.45/5 rDev +15.9%
Dark brown with lots of deep garnet when held to the light, khaki head. Gorgeous. Slippery splotches of lace.
Aromas of apple pie, gingerbread, and fruitcake. Grandma's kitchen in December, baking cookies and other sweets.
Deep malt backbone allowing spices to play. I can easily pick up the ginger, the rest would be just guessing. There a definite apple note that makes me think a small amount of cider was added. This would also explain the dryness, I don't remember it being this dry in the past. Herbal bitterness.
Medium-bodied, low carbonation. Suits the beer well.
Best I've had so far. I always look forward to this beer, and while something I couldn't drink a lot of, it's probably my favorite of the Winter Warmers.
11-29-2011 04:32:16 | More by MrOH
More User Reviews:
3.9/5 rDev +1.6%
Poured into a standard pint glass a deep roasted chesnut brown with nicely formed 1/2 finger tan head atop.Roasted in the nose with some chocolate malt and christmas spice,pretty well rounded.Dryer this year than in the past in my opinion,roasted and somewhat earthy with mild sweetness and mild spiced notes.This beer each year is just tweeked a little,this year being dryer and more roasted in my opinion.Another fine OSA.
12-10-2011 12:48:15 | More by oberon
4.45/5 rDev +15.9%
Beautiful deep brown pour capped with a sturdy head. The two finger head is tall with a ruddy tan hue. I like very much the deep reddish color to the foam and lace.
Sweet & spicey, maybe nutmeg, nose, just like any good Christmas themed beverage should be.
Wonderful flavors of holiday spice, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, sweet malt, with a mildly piney finish.
Great medium body and carbonation on this ale. My favorite seasonal effort by Anchor Brewing for sure. Really nice brew for the holidays.
12-09-2011 03:25:04 | More by ArrogantDeadGuy
3.95/5 rDev +2.9%
A - Pours a clear garnet color with over a finger of ran head. Decent retention but only small spots of lacing.
S -- Very unique. Pine, a bit of anise and root beer candy. Also a mix of other spices and quite floral. There's a lot going on, but if works well together.
T - A big mix of spices up front. Gives a bit of a drying jolt to the tongue. Then a big rush of pine and malt. Finishes very dry, with spices lingering.
M - Medium mouthfeel with a very dry finish.
O - Truly a unique winter warmer. This is the first vintage I have had, but I am definitely intrigued. 12 oz is also too much with all that is going on, but this is an enjoyable brew.
12-02-2011 01:31:31 | More by warnerry
3.9/5 rDev +1.6%
An old friend that returns to delight every year.
12 ounce bottle.
Pours cola in color with ruby hues, darker tan head that stays long enough, before turning into a thicker film and leaving ample splashes of fine lacing on the glass.
Herbal and winter spiced nose.
Tasty brew, with more winter spice, some chocolate, earthyness, some light cola, and a dry and long lasting finish. Flavorful and enjoyable year after year
12-04-2011 18:46:40 | More by Billolick
4.33/5 rDev +12.8%
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, vanilla and juniper. Nice chocolate and caramel undertones with a mild roastiness. Almost a touch of mead-like qualities.
Taste: Bittersweet roasted malts with light notes of chocolate and caramel. The spices counterbalance the Porter-like base nicely. Slight bitter finish, with pine, juniper and a light roasted bite. A little more tart and stale than I remember from recent years - I like that.
Feel: Moderate carbonation, medium body, somewhat dry finish.
Drinkability: Another winner. Hard to know how much I am making up the differences. They are probably fairly similar each year - Porter base with a slightly different spice profile. This year may be slightly more tart with a touch of juniper. I think '07 (pre-review days) and '09 were my favorites, but this may be a touch better than the '10. But I really may be making this all up.
11-01-2011 22:30:18 | More by bsp77
4.43/5 rDev +15.4%
Anchor's 2011 Christmas Ale opens with a pleasant, herbal-spicy aroma that reminds me instantly of homemade gingerbread cookies and pine needles. The spicy winter aromas are upfront and immediate, with touches of ginger, anise, black pepper, allspice, and clove mingling with good citrus-and-pine-sap notes from the hops. A heavy molasses-based sugar undercurrent brings the beer a great earthiness, with dark fruit esters such as plum, fig, prune, and black cherry rounding out the sugars. Thick marble-rye breads and yeasty wheat breads nicely complement the sugars and spices. As a whole, the nose is enticing and invigorating, making this a shoe-in for a Christmas morning eye-opener.
On the tongue, the first notes are spices, with ginger, anise, clove and black pepper taking the stage first and foremost, joined in shortly after by fruit esters including orange peel, fig, plum, and black cherry. A heavy pine needle-like cloud floats over all of the spices, almost as if the beer had been aged on a bed of spruce tips, lending the beer a pleasant Christmas feel (though I should note that, unlike some of the previous incarnations of this beer, the pine needle notes are complementary here, and not at all overwhelming). Touches of vanilla and molasses add to the gingerbread cookie feel, and the marble-rye and yeasty wheat breads help the beer taste more like a beer and less like, well, a cookie. The aftertaste is a continuation of mainly the spicy and dark fruit ester portions of the main mouthful, heavy on black pepper, pine needle, ginger, and clove, and lingers for a long time. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium-high.
Overall, this is one of the better of Anchor's Christmas ales that I've tried. Here the flavors mingle well and play off each other, as opposed to some previous versions where one flavor dominated so intensely that it reminded me of playground bullies. The beer is quite spicy, but the spices blend well, and the cookie-and-bread base is delicious. Highly recommended for fans of winter spiced beers, as well as Anchor's seasonal offerings.
12-15-2011 18:25:10 | More by jondeelee
3.98/5 rDev +3.6%
12oz bottle just above fridge temp poured into a snifter. bottling code "1SV" translates to Sept. 22,2011.
pours out a very dark brownish color with some wonderful deep ruby colors when held up to the light. a big 3 fingers of a biege/ khaki head that slowly receded to some nice looking creamy, patchy retention and some very thick lace left on the glass.
aww.. that classic winter spice and raisony, dark fruity malt ive come to love over the years. anise as well as bits of a sweet toasty malt.
pine and a little spruce, raisony, figgy dark fruits, sweet toasted malt, a rounded flavor of cinnamin, nutmeg, anise, and other such winter spices. finishes with just a slight fruity ester and an even bitterness.
mouthfeel seems a little weak this year, more light bodied than i remember and perhaps even a slightly lighter color. i remember it a bit more black with maybe a little roasted malt in there.
overall, just the staple of the winter warmer style. i look forward to this every winter. this is also a great one to throw in the cellar, i look forward to my vertical, 3 years so far.
11-13-2011 23:14:12 | More by dogfishandi
4.03/5 rDev +4.9%
The Vine Cottage
La Mesa, CA
Dark brown and ruby with a thick, persistent light brown head that eventually leaves sheets of lace down the glass. Near perfect per the style.
A well balanced aroma consisting of fruitcake and Coca Cola, along with a mild roasted malt character, and a bit of cinnamon. Very nice.
The flavor follows the aroma, with the earthy spices being a bit more dominant than in the aroma. The sweet Coca Cola and fruitcake flavors emerge along with a low level of bitterness. Incredibly drinkable.
Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.
A definitive version of the Winter warmer style. I like to have one every year.
12-11-2011 17:02:55 | More by ehammond1
4.25/5 rDev +10.7%
Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.
Appearance: Pours a very dark brown with some ruby red. Lots of rising bubbles and a big six finger tan head with good retention. Lots of lacing around the glass.
Smell: Very spicy. Dark roasted caramel and toffee malts form a bready base. Big aroma of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and other spices. Also some roasty nuts. Hints of earthy hops in the background. Winter spices stand out the most.
Taste: Starts out with the winter spices including cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Some hints of dark raisins, fig, and prunes follow along with some spicy herbal hops. The dark roasted elements take over midway with a good taste of dark roasted caramel and toffee along with a strong presence of nuts. Tastes both spicy and sweet.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Very creamy, nutty, and smooth. Nuts linger in the aftertaste.
Overall: A very good winter warmer. Probably the best spice forward brew I've tasted so far.
12-08-2011 04:59:04 | More by MattyG85
United Kingdom (England)
3.63/5 rDev -5.5%
A 355ml bottle with a BB of July 2013. Purchased a few weeks ago from my local beer specialist. I had the 2009 brew last year and missed out on the 2010, so time to catch up with the latest one (just as the 12 days of Xmas have ended).
Poured into a Delirium chalice. A dark coppery-red hue with good carbonation. Produces a large head of tan foam with a fine texture and good retention; this lasts for a few minutes before collapsing to a surface layer. Aroma of rich, fruity malt with notes of cinammon, spice, brown sugar, bananas, dried fruit and yeast esters.
Tastes of sweet, dark malt with a subtle spiciness and a fruity finish. Notes of spice, roasted malt, brown sugar, dried fruit, bananas and yeast. A hint of stewed hops in the background, accompanied by a warming alcoholic note. Mouthfeel is smooth and full-bodied, with light carbonation. Slightly astringent. Aftertaste of fruity malt, spice and stewed hops.
Rather nice - a quality seasonal beer. The smell reminds me of Yorkshire parkin. Quite different from the 2009 bottle that I had last year, which was a hoppy, piny affair. Smooth, rich and well-balanced, with a restrained use of spice. Highly drinkable, and well worth your while.
01-07-2012 01:04:31 | More by jazzyjeff13
3.43/5 rDev -10.7%
Nice chestnut appearance, red, but overall, dark brown fits well, thin tan head about 1/2". Smell was a little woody, brown malt, usual hard to describe entity that is the special ale series.
Taste, almost no hops to it, lots of toffee, maybe some nutmeg. Carbonation is just right. No one big flavor leads the way, this is a lot of stuff in small amounts I'd guess. Substantial earthiness to the beer. Some cola like aspect to the beer, not just the appearance, shares some similarities with Rodenbach.
Even if they change the recipe every year, it is pretty consistent in terms of what to expect, this year's offering was right on the money as far as what I thought I was getting into. A neat winter warmer in a 12oz excursion during a Marquette/UConn game (at 9AM PST!). . . so its also fittingly nice in the morning, but I wouldn't go out and buy an entire 6 pack of this stuff, especially for a price which doesn't seem cheaper than $11.
02-18-2012 17:17:43 | More by Beerandraiderfan
3.88/5 rDev +1%
Something I have tasted every year for at least the last ten years. Definitely less pine and more dark chocolate roasted malts with a hints of bready caramelized sugars. Finishes with bitter pine and dry roasty cocoa notes. Aroma has a big spiced christmas feel even though I'm sure there's not any actual spices added but there may be spruce tips or at least that kind of flavoring. This year's is enjoyable but extremely balanced not much sweetness at all, it almost seems like a ancient gruit ale spiced with pine. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with ample flowing carbonation going on, finishes bone dry with ample bitterness from the green pine needles. Overall an enjoyable experience, never tasted the Christmas tree water but it may have similar qualities to this. Deeply resinous with after thought hop/pine burps coming out after my first bottle finished.
11-19-2011 13:36:04 | More by WVbeergeek
4/5 rDev +4.2%
It has only been about a week since I had a 2010 Anchor Xmas Ale, so I can say with confidence that the 2011 edition is very similar. I really liked the 2010, so this is a good thing.
Pours a near black but, holding it to the light, one can see a clear, very dark brown ale. The tan head has moderate retention and leaves a good amount of sticky lacing.
Anchor has put plenty of holiday spicing in this ale, but not so much that it masks the dark malts. There's a trace of hops too; perhaps more than 2010, or this may reflect a freshness difference [just released versus about a year old]. In anny case, there is a clear hop presence in the finish and aftertaste that I do not recall from the 2010. The spice profile seems identical; the body a tad thinner.
O - a fine seasonal. despite a seemingly hoppier and improved finish, the ale seems slightly less rich a tad thinner -- overall, a tiny bit less enjoyable than last year.
11-11-2011 00:28:02 | More by chinchill
Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 673 ratings.