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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)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

669 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 669
Reviews: 283
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 14.81%
Wants: 12
Gots: 56 | 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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Daniellobo on 10-19-2011)
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Ratings: 669 | Reviews: 283 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of chodinheaven


4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep burgundy in color, a nice amount of deep red through a nearly opaque beer. The color of the head almost matches the color of the label, and after foaming up to two fingers on a medium pour, it dissapates down to a thin bubbly sheet on top. The aroma is so pleasant that I melt a little as I smell it. Pine needles, spruce trees and ginger all come to mind, as does a note of birch beer. A touch of dark grain mulls around in the background giving a biscuit quality, so this beer ends up smelling like a gingerbread man cookie. I could smell this all day, either this or a freshly cut pine tree. Its just so soft and pleasant.

Tingly mixture of pine tree needles, piney hop bitterness, ginger spiciness and light biscuity malt. Not as sweet as I remember last year's being, and not as much birch as there is in the aroma. The hop bitterness combines nicely with the pine needle taste to bring out a nice spicy experience. It lingers on into the aftertaste with a faint and disappearing pineyness that turns into a biscuity, nutty linger. The bitterness in this year's edition is much more pronounced and a little bit of an off flavor. It seems to take away a bit from the sweet spiciness that is being offered up. It seems to be the result of the grains in my opinion. The mouthfeel is thin, but full-bodied in flavor.

All told, its a really nice little beer. If my memory serves me correctly, last year's edition had a bit more of that sweet spiciness going on, more ginger and more birch beer kinds of tastes and less dark grainy and nutty tastes. This year's is just a bit more earthy. Still very delicious and as I saved a few from last year, I will be doing a side by side for comparison's sake. I'm looking forward to that for sure.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2011 02:15:02 | More by chodinheaven
Photo of lcmir23


4/5  rDev +3.9%

11-22-2011 01:54:41 | More by lcmir23
Photo of cbutova


3.93/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bring on the winter seasonals, finally ready for them.

A- Dark brown ale poured into a tulip. Silky tan head forms and has decent retention. Nice ring stays around the beer and leaves spotty lace.

S- Tart dark cherry fruit up front with notes of brown sugar, raisin, earthy spices, pine and herbs around it.

T- Malty, fruity and spicy. Hard to put names to some flavors but I'll do my best. Caramel, toasty and nutty malt backbone with a strong raisin dark fruit overtone. Spices give an allspice, cinnamon, woody, earthy and pine cone feel. Some bread and cocoa in ther as well.

MF- Creamy and silky body with a substantial feel for 5.5%. Finish is somewhat bitter.

Reminds me of Christmas with the fruit and spices. Definitely not for the spice weary but I enjoy it, nice mouthfeel especially.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2011 00:50:48 | More by cbutova
Photo of aficionado

New Jersey

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

Beautiful translucent dark red body with hints of amber. A ridiculous amount of lacing with a frothy 2-finger light tan colored head.

Has a bright, pepperminty, eucalyptus, herbaceous quality that was lacking in 2010's version. Tart black cherries, chocolate, and cinnamon, fruitcake, and Christmas spices. Tastes like a combination of those famous Cella’s dark christmas chocolate covered cherries and those little chocolate covered candy liquor bottles.

Lighter, more interesting, and easier to drink and than the 2010, which I found to be a bit heavy on the malts and the alcohol was just too noticeable. 2011 is great beer for anyone who wants to taste Christmas. This is a top quality Winter Warmer. The one thing I don't like though, which is even evident in the prior year's batch, is this subtle astringent feeling of tang and bitterness that hits the sides of your tongue.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2011 23:58:26 | More by aficionado
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2011 04:03:34 | More by SolipsismalCat
Photo of harrymel


3.08/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3


A: Chocolate red ale with nearly three fingers which fall quickly to a sheet of tan. Spotty lace and excellent clarity.
S: cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Turns out, this year the holiday is pumpkin. Otherwise, some slight nutty malts.
T: Lots more spices: cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, clove. A brown/porter malt profile, which complements the spices well.
M: thin with low carb. Semi dry finish.
O: Meh, not bad. Not going back for more, however.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2011 03:55:51 | More by harrymel
Photo of M27

New Jersey

4/5  rDev +3.9%

11-21-2011 02:44:37 | More by M27
Photo of pants678


3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very deep brown that's lighter at the bottom of the glass, a bubbly beige head on top.

Faintly smells of peppermint and pine.

Not as pungent as last year's. Much heavier on pine, with a subtle spearmint. Stains the tongue, seems hollow until you get through the first quarter, thereafter has a wooded and charred flavor that's a base. A roasted sort of cinnamon taste gives an edge.

More carbonation than a porter, but sharp as this series is known for.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2011 02:42:44 | More by pants678
Photo of codfeast


4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage, bottle to pint.

A: A very dark brown, small tan head fades quickly minimal lacing.

S: like a fruit cake, hints of malt, cherry, caramel and all spice.

T: starts sweet (malt and cola) turns to flavors of roasted coffee, and chocolate, finishes with dried fruit and some bitterness.

M: med-high carbination, semi dry finish.

O: first had this beer on tap four years ago and never had one that tasted as good since. Look forward to this beer every year. so much going on flavor wise, my only complaint is that I find the carbination a little to high.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2011 01:53:01 | More by codfeast
Photo of VelvetExtract


3.33/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a dark brown color. Head is tan and big. Fluffy head. Leaves clumps of lacing. Head also retains excellently. Looks good.

S-Quite spicy. Evergreen needles. Sweetness comes from scents of chocolate and caramel. When I think of a Winter Warmer, this is what I expect it to smell like. Loads of Winter/Christmas spices.

T-The Evergreen flavor lasts throughout. Definitely minty as well. With the mint/pine needle taste lasting consistently, flavors of chocolate, cinnamon, nuts, and even Root Beer. Plenty going on here.

M-Medium bodied. Crisp. Somewhat bitter. Carbonation is noticeable.

O/D-Different flavor. My first Anchor Christmas. I was impressed by the depth of the beer, but it isn't really my style. I enjoyed the single beer I bought, wouldn't buy a six pack (which is relatively pricey at around $12.50 per 6-er). Will probably try next years offering, but one is enough for me this season.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2011 01:17:44 | More by VelvetExtract
Photo of jumbopanda


4/5  rDev +3.9%

11-20-2011 22:03:55 | More by jumbopanda
Photo of flexabull


3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Love that Anchor honored the great Bristlecone Pine on the label this year.

Pours a deep copper/brown color with a sizable off white head.

Aromas are a mix of ginger, dark bread, sugars, and cookies.

Taste is just the nose. Ginger bread, brown sugar, cinnamon, cola, and spices. Finish is crisp and dry.

Mouthfeel is on the thin side, but not bad.

Overall, this is a classic winter warmer, I always happily buy a six pack when I see it on the shelves.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2011 21:34:07 | More by flexabull
Photo of rlee1390


4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Deep brown almost black, two finger head

S-Spices, nuts, malt, vanilla and cinnamon.

T-Spices, malt and some vanilla. Very roasty in flavor. Nice balance of spices though.

M-Medium bodied, some carbonation.

O-My second year of OSA, This has easily become a must get every year. I'll need to look into aging a few of these.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2011 19:23:38 | More by rlee1390
Photo of nh2032

New York

5/5  rDev +29.9%

11-20-2011 14:01:48 | More by nh2032
Photo of BenTherHppedThat

North Carolina

3.75/5  rDev -2.6%

11-20-2011 06:58:18 | More by BenTherHppedThat
Photo of kaelingirl


4/5  rDev +3.9%

11-20-2011 02:41:20 | More by kaelingirl
Photo of ocelot2500


3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cola color with a fizzy, light brown that leaves little bits of lacing.

Smells of dry roasted notes and I pick up a little alcohol.

Tastes of the dry roasted notes with some herbal qualities. Notes of cocoa and coffee come through with a slight sweetness that dries out very quickly. Some herbal hops and light spruce comes through in the end.

Mouthfeel is medium with a slightly assertive amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is a good brew and does not deviate much from the 2010 version. I do however prefer the 2010 version because I like the spruce notes to be more pronounced.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2011 02:00:53 | More by ocelot2500
Photo of inventsituations

New Jersey

5/5  rDev +29.9%

11-20-2011 00:27:15 | More by inventsituations
Photo of Thorpe429


3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2011 22:44:05 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of HopsYeast

New Jersey

3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A-pours a very dark amber color that has a blood red hue to it with an almost 2 finger head that holds for some time then slowly fads leaving behind lacing around the glass.
S-a pleasant aroma of sweet cherries and a sugary spiceness blended with malt and a subtle pineyness. Also has an underlying hops aroma that is most even dent in the end.
T-pine and cinnamon with a sharp hop flavor that quickly transitions to a mealtimes that then fads to a wonderful warming flavor and sensation bought on by the alcohol. There is also a subtle note of orange peels that is more evident towards the end and sticks on your palate for some time. The pine can sometimes be a little much but the other characteristic do a great job of keeping your palate excited.
M-less body than what you'd expect given its winter ale genre, but does make it easy to drink. Has an acceptable level of carbonation That tingles the tongue but would like to see less of it. More body would also make it perfect.
O-a very good offering from anchor. Although the 2010 was a little better, this still takes higher rank on my list than other winter brews.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2011 22:15:32 | More by HopsYeast
Photo of claspada

New Jersey

3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Aromas of molasses, cola, cloves, vanilla, dark chocolate, and a metallic crispness indicative of an Anchor beer rounds out this full and comforting array of smells.

The tastes begin sweet, with rich caramel, dark roasted malt, and moderate acidity that brings out qualities of estery dark citrus and figs. The middle begins to dry out somewhat, with flavors melding purposefully to taste like graham cracker and ripe banana. It finishes dry with cocoa, cinnamon, and a whiff of earthy, herbaceous and light piney hops.

The mouthfeel is thin to medium viscosity, briefly creamy on the palate in the middle, with moderate carbonation.

Overall this is a very good winter warmer/brown ale to enjoy during the holidays. It may be my favorite for it's consistent quality year to year and it's low ABV is awesome so you can have a few and not need a nap. Always worth seeking out and enjoying every year around this time of year.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2011 21:28:12 | More by claspada
Photo of BeerBodisafa


5/5  rDev +29.9%

11-19-2011 16:11:09 | More by BeerBodisafa
Photo of WVbeergeek

West Virginia

3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2011 13:36:04 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of MusicaleMike


4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anchor's Our Special Ale 2011 is just a fantastic beer. Anchor continues to switch up the recipe each year, and I continue to look forward to what they have to offer.

This year's offering is a deep, dark caramel brown that shows off some beautiful ruby highlights. The froth that tops this beer is thick and pillowy, and just wants to stick around for a long time. The clarity in the beer is great too!

The smell is similar to year's past, with notes of chocolate, spearmint, almond, cinnamon, spruce tips, caramel, and allspice. Very complex aroma, and not in the least unpleasant or medicinal. The aroma is a great mix of various spices, hops and dark roasted malts.

The taste is obviously in line with the aroma, and I get a very herbal flavor up front followed by a lingering sweetness that really balances out the overall palette well. My initial impression is that this is somewhat reminiscent of a cola or root beer. Really great flavor this year. It definitely leans more towards sweet at the end, making this a perfect pairing for some holiday treats...

It's slick on the tongue, with a medium to light body that also helps draw home the association with cola in some ways. Soft carbonation and a rounded out body.

Overall, I find this to be a pleasant winter warmer, with enough complexity to keep me interested all winter long and yet it is drinkable enough that I would reach for this on any given occasion. Definitely would be interested in trying this with a food dish, possibly some pork tenderloin with honey glazed carrots, or more obviously, with some gingerbread and ice cream. Great beer as usual! Grab this while you can and age a few bottles too. I recently had a 1995 and it was still quite good!

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2011 02:43:55 | More by MusicaleMike
Photo of AlexM


5/5  rDev +29.9%

11-19-2011 02:32:10 | More by AlexM
Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 669 ratings.