1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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.
very good

696 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 696
Reviews: 286
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 14.84%
Wants: 10
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.
View: Beers (25) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Ratings: 696 | Reviews: 286
Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I always enjoy this beer, and it is afavourite of the style, and I appreciate the punch in taste at this sessionable abv. Coco-cola in the aroma and the taste. Black bodied with some white head. Above average carbonation. Tasty as not sweet and love the fir pines, cocoa. Has a slightly aged bottle that was fine but not as good.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear but dark iced tea color with a 2 inch foamy beige head that settles to a small cap. Thick chunks and streaks of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasty malt, dried fruits, earth, sugar, and spices. Taste is of toasted malt, dark fruit like figs, earth/dirt (not in a bad way), wood/bark, and spices. The bitterness on this one is from the spices and is pretty mild. This beer has a crisp carbonation with a bubbly yet smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this year's OSA is good but not as good as some other years I have had. I will still be drinking a lot of this Winter.

Photo of Texasfan549
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of Thorpe429
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from a sixer that Amyliz4 picked up at Rick's in Alexandria. Served in a Anchor Our Special Ale 2010 pint glass.

Pours a dark cola color with a bit of a reddish hue. Quite clear for the color. Nice looking beer. Short tan head and a bit of lacing on the way down. The nose brings forward a medley of spices, with nothing really standing out. Good malt backing as well. Flavor has some clove and other spices with a light hop character and a semi-dry finish. Well done, as always. One of the very few winter seasonals that I like forward to.

Photo of metter98
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark brownish amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high dense beige head that died down but left lots of lacing down the sides of the glass and a thin head consistently covering the surface.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of dark fruits and holiday spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, flavors of dark fruits and spices stand out but a slight amount of bitterness masks any bit of malty sweetness from being perceptible. The spices really stand out in the finish.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. No alcohol warmth is noticeable.
O: The beer is very easy to drink because the alcohol is well masked from the taste but the taste is complex enough so that it can be sipped and savored.

Photo of olradetbalder
2/5  rDev -47.9%

Photo of jaydoc
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of BEERchitect
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Extreme aromatics and a dry Brown Ale only begin to shape the flavor combinations found in this ever classy Holiday Ale- it is among the best!

Pouring with the solid brown decantment and allowing only the heartiest of garnet stained highlight, this dark ale releases a sturdy and withstanding barley stained head that retains exquisitly and leaves behind the memory of lace as each sip is taken.

Very perfumy with the unexpected blend of spruce, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, allspice, anise, cocoa, chicory, and citrus peel all hiting the nose with equal intensity and balanced. A timid malt backbone takes a distant backseat to the spice and complementary scents. This beer is seriously decorated with aromatic value.

Dry toast, mild roast, coffee, and bitter cocoa all set the tone for taste. Burnt caramel dominates as bready or rich malt flavor cowers at the dry toast character that seems to better showcase the herbs, spices, and dryness that the nose forecasts- all while sheading any notion of sweetness as this beer's dry toast character carries it from its initial sip unitl its acrid dry finish.

Acrid indeed. From the initial taste of Bourbony woods and into it's tannic powdery dryness of roast malt and heavily charred toast- this beer controls its textures without intoducing any heavy roast, astringent graininess, or over processed spice.

Very well controlled for ease of consumption, palatability, and digestibility from recipe formulation to brewing execution and beyond. With many of the Anchor Our Special Ales to draw upon, I do feel that this one is better executed than any other I've enjoyed.

Photo of Knapp85
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured out as a nice looking dark brown color with some red highlights. The head was a moderate size with a tan color. The smell of the beer had a nice mixture of winter spices on the nose along wth some interesting malt aromas too. The taste of the beer had some herbal notes and spices that give the beer some complexity. The mouthfeel was quite nice, the carbonation was goodm the body was on the heavier side, it just seemed to work well. Overall it's a good brew, it always is when it comes to Anchor Special Ale's. Looking forward to next year.

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

unconventional christmas beer. pours very dark red with a one inch tan head. smells tannic and a bit fruity, and musty like rich red malts. flavor is churchwine-like in its oddly fruity character. dried currants, bing cherries, and plums make up a unique and likely unintended winter orchard explosion. i loved the mouthfeel as well, which began bubbly and light but became heavier and more boozey as it warmed. the bartender told me this beer was 6.5%, not the 5.5% listed here, and i tend to agree with him, it just tasted and felt a bit bigger. great beer to have around for the holidays if you can find it

Photo of oberon
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of biboergosum
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, 2011 edition. A tithe portion was paid out to my mom, who is gleefully interested in all these weird new beers I've brought home this Christmas...she endearingly deemed it very good, in that it tastes like old timey stout. Aaaaah...

My lion's share of this beer pours a clear, very dark reddish amber hue, with two fingers of thick, foamy beige head, which settles at due pace, leaving a more or less solid wall of painted lace around the glass. It smells like those wrapped toffee candies so prevalent at semi-formal festive functions, with a slight red vinous character lurking about, some black licorice, and a smidgeon of pine resin. The taste is quite in line with the flavour, but with a down-shift on the caramel/toffee malt sweetness, and a mildly edgy metallic nature added to the understated weedy, piney hops. The carbonation is a bit frizzy, the body medium weight, and a tad astringently skewed in its smoothness profile. It finishes with that ethereal toffee/menthol candy essence, so tantalizingly familiar.

A decent holiday warmer, if more in free-association, than in strength. Worth enjoying a few if you've an excuse/opportunity to veg out by the fire, real or TV-simulacrum, in this holiest of do fuck-all seasons...

Photo of zeff80
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a dark burgundy color with a one-finger, tan bubbly head of foam. It left thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - Big time Christmas aroma this year. Piney, like a spruce tree with holiday spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.

T - Tasted of spruce, nutmeg and cinnamon with a sweet touch of caramel underneath it.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A medium bodied winter warmer with a dry finish.

O - This is a classic. Smells and tastes like Christmas.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Gale Sayers shaker pint glass.

I remember my 10+ year vertical of this last year. My, how time does fly... This year's mix pours a clear dark ruby topped by a finger of relatively short-lived sandy off-khaki foam. The nose comprises cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, toffee, graham cracker, toasted caramel, light cocoa, dusty wheat, and a pinch of black pepper. The spicing sure as hell ain't subtle, but it's also not really unpleasant. The taste brings in more of the same, along with powdered sugar, red apple skin, mint, very light balsa, and a twinge of vanilla bean. Once again, the spicing verges on too much, but stops just short thereof. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a lightly grainy feel. Overall, one of the better offerings in the series, but still something I wouldn't wanna have many times over the course of the year.

Photo of oline73
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had this on-tap at Max's Poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown/mahogany color with a finger of creamy foam. There is some good retention on this one.

Smell: Malty and mildly buttery. Some spice and a sweetness in there as well.

Taste: This one is a bit sweet up front. Malt and mild spice, I'm getting ginger. The finish is bitter.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with fluffy carbonation and a slick finish.

Overall: I was a bit disappointed by this version. It was an alright beer and a nice level of spice. Didn't like the buttery smell.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a bright reddish brown color, with a short dense off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, vanilla, spices, some coffee and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a strong burst of vanilla and minty spices followed by a hearty roasted malt character and background flavors of coffee and chocolate. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, mild kick, good representation of style, this year has more spiciness than previous years but it’s still a solid beer to drink for a long time.

Photo of wethorseblanket
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of Slatetank
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at Al's of Hamden, served chilled in a Pizza Boy pint.

The color is deep brown with translucent clarity and a thin tan cap which has an average sized bead. lace sticks decently and retention is very good. The smell is woody, spiced, earthy, pungent and aromatic with some cinnamon and ginger type woody elements that work with a juniper aroma. The feel is strong, yet dry and spiced with high carbonation and mild bitter accents with a light tinge of spice mid taste into a gentle alcohol and light peppery heat as it finished.

This tastes malty up front with a dry toast and slight cinnamon ginger combo with a strong woody presence w/ dark sugar tinge in the background. There is a light pine taste from the hops but the juniper is the primary flavor with a slight berry component and light acidic edge with subtle biscuit tinges in the peripheral flavor. The spice seems to get more dominant as it warms with the flavor of alcohol staying gentle with more woody and spice lingering into the semi-dry finish. Overall this is a very festive and drinkable beer. I enjoyed the dry malt body and the moderate hopping with nice spice component. This has a warming quality which is pleasant and it puts you in the mood for the season.

Photo of mactrail
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very dark clear chestnut in the tall glass. Abundance of long-lasting foam. Well carbonated on the tongue.

Dark and spicy, but quite dry. Some nutmeg and a touch of dried orange peel. Not much malty flavor, though some dark and charred barley comes through. A bitter twang but not overly hoppy. A nice mouthful of flavor, but it isn't something you'd want a lot of.

I wouldn't call it one of the better years. Not excessively spiced, though the bitter scratchiness of dry cinnamon is less pleasant. A little malty sweetness would be welcome. One beer that would benefit from being really cold.

Photo of MarkyMOD
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of Rifugium
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Casey's, Newtown Square, PA

Poured into a pint glass, a chestnut brown color with a crown of foamy off-white head that retained and laced well. Aroma was not too pronounced, but there was still a detectable display of roasted nuts, toasted bread, sweet malts, and light spice. Taste of sweet malts, bready, with hints of clove, nutmeg, and pine needles, with a herbal, hoppy bitterness coming in towards the end. Not quite as flavorful as other years; seemingly they took a more subtle route this year. Medium body, non-offensive, and quite drinkable.

Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of drabmuh
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

At the time of this review, this beer is the #26 top beer on the beeradvocate.com "Top Beers - Winter Warmer" list, odd seems like it should be higher. Served in a 2002 Anchor Our Special Ale glass.

Beer is dark brown with a mild haze, lazy head, no lacing, moderate to high carbonation, low retention.

Aroma is cloves and allspice. Nice.

Beer is sweet and very carbonated on the palate, the carbonic acid burns a little but the mild cinnamon cuts through and the beer finishes nice. Not a great one but a decent one no doubt.

to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 696 ratings.