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Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

285 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 285
Hads: 698
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 6.75%
Wants: 11
Gots: 61 | 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: Daniellobo on 10-19-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 285 | Hads: 698
Photo of CaptJackHarkness
4.97/5  rDev +29.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured deep brown with reddish tinge and beige/tan head. Aroma of spices, maybe a hint of spruce or pine. Tasted malty, lightly spiced, nutmeg, cinnamon; the usual holiday flavors. Nicely balanced and very enjoyable. No aftertaste, warming and welcoming. I am going out to buy more! (282 characters)

Photo of BeerVikingSailor
4.7/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally picked up one of my all time fav holiday brews at the Mustard Seed Mkt in Montrose...same day they received it - 11/16

I love love this beer, never dissapoints; have several years past versions in the cellar, it always seems to improve well with age...

Great looking as usual, dark and delicious looking, small head and little lacing after the pour....

Smell is great, lots of bready dried figgy spiciness, some vanilla and mild sweetness coming through

Taste is great, as always, Anchor always does this one to my liking, and this year is no exception! Perfect as a Christmas beer should be, no complaints at all

Mouthfeel is where is should be for a beer in this style, not too thin or too heavy, nice carbonation

Overall, I cannot recommend this enough...I will be picking up several more 6 pks and a magnum or 2 for gift giving....a great holiday beer! (870 characters)

Photo of JuicesFlowing
4.63/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a New Belgium globe from 2011 magnum bottle. The beer is a deep mahogany-black, with barely a tint of ruby through the light. The frothy, off-white head is delightfully intact for the longest time with sticky lacing. The beer smells of bubblegum sweetness with soft pine notes interwoven. The beer tastes just as delicious as it smells. Some bubblegum notes at the beginning with various spices in the middle. It finishes with some pine and hop bitterness. The mouthfeel is well balanced.

Overall, this is probably the best Our Special Ale I've had to date. It's complex and has some delicious holiday spices and notes interwoven. (643 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
4.62/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Anchor Steam Christmas Ale, where any day can be Christmas! Let's check out 2011, into a nonic pint glass you go.

A wonderful absolutely light tan to almost light creme colored head forms, so perfectly, so uniformly of pin head bubbles all throughout, leaving a cap of creamy retention and staying power. Body color is deep garnet red and brown. Just fantastic looking.

What a nose on this beer. Pine cone and spruce, mixed with sweetness. Faint airy dry nutmeg, maple sugar so hidden. Just out of this world smelling for a warmer.

What a great tasting brew. Rolling slightly velvet malts, mix with a dry pine spice, finishing with classic brown spices, nutmeg, allspice, clove and so forth. Tea like muted oolong richness on the finish. Even some sarsaparilla like cola and root beer.

Second time I tried this brew after having a very long aged 2010, man I am really enjoying this. I will look forward to trying this every year with much anticipation. I am almost eager for Christmas if I can try this now. (1,012 characters)

Photo of CrystalShipMS3
4.61/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's one of the prettiest beers I've ever seen. Red, Christmas red, dark with crimson highlights. Nice somewhat fluffy tan head. Beautiful lacing all they way down.

Dark rich caramel malt smell. Slight warm alcohol and mostly bitter hops. Some spice and resinous pine.

This beer really comes alive as it warms up, in fact I'd serve it only lightly chilled.
Rich and complex malt and grain. Slightly sweet and dark fruitiness. Dark caramel. Hints of spice, not much but it's very definitely there and adds a third dimension which rounds out the malt profile perfectly. The hops are not as rich and play second chair to the malt, but they have a resin-pine bitterness to balance the sweetness.
The aftertaste is so good it gets it's own paragraph. There's a nice roasted malt earthiness and oily pine. It remains perfectly balanced even after the beer is long gone from your mouth. Perfect.

It's got a heavy mouthfeel but remains somewhat crisp. The warmth of the alcohol is supported nicely by the carbonation.

Overall it's a great beer. Nearly perfect except that it's gone and there will never be another just like it, but next year there will be an equally as good one with a different Christmas tree on the bottle. (1,222 characters)

Photo of elNopalero
4.55/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is the 2011 vintage, as their recipe changes every year. And yet every year its absolutely fantastic. A real delight in bottle form!
This pours a burgundy brown with thin lacing. It has a wonderful and wonderfully complex aroma of clove, nutmeg, and is that spruce? Cardommon? Jasmine? All three? Coming through on the finish.

There’s a malty backbone to the spices that balances everything out when tasted. Spicing isn’t heavy or overpowering, but enough to let you know its there and keep things interesting. Spruce comes through, menthol/eucalyptus as well. It has a great finish.

Wishing I drunk this one out of my Our Special Ale commemorative pint glass so I could have inaugurated it in style!

Update:
I revisited this in December, 2012.

Must say I’m impressed with my pour—bravo! Job well done! Good show old chap!
Seriously, thought, it looked amazing. This dark ruddy-amber with the longest lasting foam cap atop. It has a wonderful aroma with juniper berries, some wintergreen menthol, and a cinnamon-nutmeg hint rounding it out.

The flavor has more juniper and some pine mingling with wintergreen resin and a hint of …allspice? Or that all-too-vague ‘holiday seasoning’, cloves, allspice, nutmeg et al. followed by unexpected but incredible eucalyptus and wintergreen flavors. Whatever the case, the beer retains great carbonation and effervescence even after a year. Always fantastic and this iteration is no exception.

Revisited July, 2013
This held up exceptionally well, as I would expect. More of the same above, although the raisin and fig notes have come to the front, with some date-caramel sweetness rounding it out. There’s a hint of menthol and eucalyptus as it finishes. Fantastic brew from a fantastic brewery. (1,763 characters)

Photo of andrewinski1
4.52/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Happy Chinese New Year! Poured into a pint glass. The color is dark brown with amber hues. There is a one inch tan head that leaves a lot of sticky lacing behind.

The aroma is a nice blend of sweet molasses and fig, nuts and dates. This does smell like Christmas.

The taste is drier than the aroma might indicate. There is a nice hoppy undertone throughout that leaves some grass and some mintyness. There is a ton of nutty malt, and some fruity date flavor as well. Lots of complexity while maintaining supreme drinkability.

This is medium bodied and has smooth carbonation. Very refreshing drink for Winter.

This is top notch stuff. I look forward to it every year. (671 characters)

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

I'm very impressed by this year's edition. It is quite likely the most drinkable fresh so far. Not nearly as much spruce resin this year, and less gingerbread cookie, as well. Moderate malt with a distinctive nutmeg spice, fading back to allspice. The finish qoes surprisingly dry. Given the flavor profile this year, however, I don't see this aging to well, and imagine it will mellow too much. Drink it now. (409 characters)

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

Damn its just as good as ever this year. Slight variances in smell, taste, and mouthfeel, but overall its similar to all the other's I have had and it feels like Yule time :)

I paid $43 for a six pack in Eurpope. I was sharing it with some lady friends, explaining how Anchor has a different tree every year. One lady asks, what tree is it this year? You know, I hadn't checked yet...its...its.... can you say "pinus longaeva"? (428 characters)

Photo of KarlHungus
4.48/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a clear dark ruby color. The head is an inch and a half in height, and recedes slowly into nice chunky lacing that clings to the side of the glass until the beer is gone. The aroma is of ginger, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and underlying malt. The taste is similar to the aroma with the spices being a bit sharper. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation, and a smooth texture. Overall, this is one of the better versions of OSA that I have had the opportunity to taste. I think this beer would be even better with a couple years on it. (569 characters)

Photo of PaulStoneAnchor
4.48/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Block 15 snifter from a Magnum

A: Pours a nut colored brown, with a great lacing and thick foam.

S: Has a spicy, earthy hop aroma, along with some spicy malt.

T: Spicy hops, earthy hops, spruce, pine, and some light juniper

M: Rich carbonation and rich feel over the tongue

O: This year was probably by far the best I have had in awhile. I love the spiciness and earthiness this year's ale has to it. Definitely a great beer as always! (457 characters)

Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy
4.45/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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. (503 characters)

Photo of SolipsismalCat
4.45/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass. Reviewed alongside Fish Tale WinterFish.

A: Clear dark red-brown with a two-finger, tan, creamy head that lasted a couple of minutes. Nice lacing.

S: Dark fruity malt. Caramel and chocolate-covered cherries.

T: Moderate sweetness and light bitterness. Nice roasted flavor. Pine and spices. Chocolate and dark fruit.

M: Medium bodied with soft carbonation. Smooth and goes down warm.

O: This is a winter warmer to me. I love the dark fruit, roastedness, and warmth. I liked this better than the WinterFish. (536 characters)

Photo of MrOH
4.45/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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. (730 characters)

Photo of jondeelee
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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. (2,092 characters)

Photo of gtermi
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a very dark brown, almost black with a thin white head.

S: The beer smells like a soda. It is really sweet and spicy. It is very nice.

T: I have never had a beer like this. This is what ever Winter Warmer should taste like (though the average winter lager now is still good). It is very malty and has a taste of what I imagine a christmas tree to taste like. Its just so weird, but amazing.

M: The beer isnt exactly that smoothest out there. If this has a smooth feel to it, this would be one of the best beers of all time to me. The beer sort of burns going down.

O: I love this beer and I am going to buy as much of this as possible. This is just so good and it is one of the best beers I have all year. Buy this for sure! (737 characters)

Photo of FightingEntropy
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First bottle of the season for me. Dark brown with copper highlights, this Christmas ale piles a thick tan head that falls away to a spotty film. Nutmeg spice, a light fig on top of a strong malty base. Spice strengthens in the taste, nutty flavor floats above chocolate and malt. Finishes sweet and leaves the spice lingering on the back and sides of the tongue. Another good year for this beer, though maybe not the best. (423 characters)

Photo of beerman21
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 12 oz edition.. Surprised to see a refrigerated six pack in the far back of the fridge yesterday. Cold conditioned.. Hmm should be interesting to see how this fairly small winter warmer held up after almost a couple years..

A- frothy active head... Deep dark brown color. Solid looking, inviting yet wearing looking to those not accustomed to complex beers.

S-Ginger up front, back slap of cinnamon, molasses. A lot of ginger and molasses in the nose, pretty much freh ginger bread.

T/M/O-sting spice ginger bread, molasses, sugar cookies, spruce, back flavor of mint leaves. Brown sugar coated smoke ham. Developed into smoky ginger bread cookie. Real tasty.

-surprised this beer held up well after almost two years
being the 5.5 abv. Always a treat every christmas but even more in the off season. Hopefully they won't change too much after new ownership. Time will tell. (884 characters)

Photo of iheartchicken
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass

A: Huge brown/tan head which stick around for a little until it transforms into a half inch thick loaf atop my beer. color is a beautiful brown with a very noticeable ruby red hue. not much lacing

S: dark fruit is very prevalent, raisins, toasted malts, little spice

T: all of the aforementioned qualities from the smell with an exception of the raisins. I also get a little tartness... pretty complex

M: medium bodied with smooth and creamy carbonation

O: I am very impressed by this beer. It really looks nice when you hold it up to the light although the head needs no light to be noticed. taste was very complex, it had this tartness to it which i could not resist. I wish I had some more but unfortunately only one was in my mixed winter seasonal case (807 characters)

Photo of Hibernator
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Anchor Our Special Ale - 2011
12 oz brown bottle
10 C marked on the back of the label
Served in a Harpoon Leviathan tulip glass

Pours deep black color, looks like a glass of Coca Cola. There is a really nice khaki colored head that forms on top. I notice some reddish colored highlights toward the bottom. Interesting trails of sticky lacings cling to the side of the glassware.

Pleasant aroma and festive for the season with whiffs of spices and cloves.

Heavy chocolate and caramel flavors are at the base of this beer. Very smooth and slick with an interesting and complex flavor profile. Flavors of gingerbread, allspice and spicy cinnamon. Perhaps a hint of pine cone too with an assertive, yet controlled hop snap on the finish.

This has been one of those winter time beers that I anticipate every year. A quality winter warmer that tastes great on this chill Saturday afternoon in mid December. (904 characters)

Photo of hosehead83
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a "stubby" 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.
Dark brown with ruby highlights, huge rocky head of oatmeal-like foam.
Aroma-subtle fresh pine, spices
Taste-Pine, woody, earthy, spruce, nutty. Earthy hops, subtle chocolate, spicy, raisin cookie. Very complex and full of character. A bit different every year but consistently well-balanced, interesting and tasty. As much at home with a slice of spice cake or a cheeseburger with the works. Great flavor and character and sessionable enough (at 5.5ABV) to share with family and friends. One of my absolute favorite Christmas ales. Highly recommended. Cheers! (625 characters)

Photo of cfergusn
4.37/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer served from tap, in pint glass.

A - Served chilled, dark body, small head.

S - Spice, pine, caramel, and a piney smell

T - Mild sweetness, but will a fruit taste
towards the end. Leaves a slight dryness.

F - smooth, creamy, but nice body. Doesnt taste heavy, nice and soft.

O - Overall, not bad for a random choice. Started getting more floral and tastes as it warmed, went great with the pizza I was having. (419 characters)

Photo of greybeardloon
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottled October 25, 2011

A: When warm, a huge reddish head with great retention and chunky lacing.

S: Bready malt, chocolate, maybe ginger and cinnamon (or maybe other spices).

T: Milk chocolate, dough, allspice (but less than previous years), cloves, cinnamon. Or maybe I'm making that all up, but definitely spices. I feel like there's less dark fruit than previous years. Allspice and some bittering hops on the finish.

M: Medium with ample carbonation.

O: Seems a little more malt-forward than in previous years and the spicing more delicate. Drinkable as ever. Lives up to its memory. (594 characters)

Photo of airforbes1
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This pours a very dark brown color with a profuse, foamy head. The nose smells like root beer to me. I like the smell, but will the beer too sweet?

It isn't. It still reminds me of root beer or sasparilla, but there is a nice dryness on the back end that makes it highly drinkable. I also taste some mint. The balance is excellent.

As I let the beer warm, I start to taste same of the fig that appears in their porter. This is not a bad thing.

This beer is tasty, smooth, and drinkable. It's a winner. This is the second year I've tried Our Special Ale, and I prefer it to the 2010 vintage. (594 characters)

Photo of tony223366
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my brand new FW Proprietors Reserve Series Tulip!

A: Really dark brown... I know there is some red in there but it's very hard to see unless you're looking straight through the glass into the light. Nice two finger of really fluffy, creamy looking head. I see some lacing already so that's a good sign.

S: This beer smells like Christmas! Wow... so much cinnamon, nutmeg... all spice. I really get the full pie here. I really love that part. The only thing that's keeping this from being a perfect 5.0 is more of a maltiness. It's there but it's really hard to get because of all of the spices.

T: Man that's tasty. Nutmeg definitely comes through initially, followed by some really juicy dark fruit flavors. The malts make an appearance in a rich way. I get some chocolate in the malt profile. There are some hops in the finish which is great too. I'll be damned if there isn't a bit of sourness that pervades this beer!

M: Rich and creamy. Medium body and good prickly carbonation.

O: I'm having a tough time deciding between a 4.0 and 4.5. I really enjoy the spices, fruitiness and richness. I really want think they should up the ABVs though. I really want my Winter Warmers to have more of a warming effect on me. For me that's a pretty big thing to miss out on. Delicious though. (1,302 characters)

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Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 285 ratings.