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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.
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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 696 | Reviews: 286
Photo of MusicaleMike
4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
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!

Photo of AlexM
5/5  rDev +30.2%

Photo of rwb
5/5  rDev +30.2%

Photo of TheMultiYeast
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown/ruby with a frothy head and a horizontal lacing pattern.

Honey sweetness and dark fruits dominate the nose with hints of wood smoke, floral hops, allspice, cloves, currants, toast and jam, and roasted mocha.

Very tasty with a smoky fruitiness coming on strong. Some warm boozyness transfers into a clean rush of herbal hops complemented by cloves and a touch of dry bitterness

Slightly undercarbonated and smooth.

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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 ROGUE16
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of BeerVikingSailor
4.7/5  rDev +22.4%
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!

Photo of grittybrews
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured near-black with a ruby tinge and two fingers of light khaki head. Aroma of sweet caramel, fig, nutmeg, and pine.

Moderate carbonation and a fairly light mouthfeel. Malty biscuit and caramel up front with light cocoa, dates, nutmeg, cinnamon, and some light pine bitterness on the finish.

Didn't care for last year's version but was pleasantly surprised this time around. Light and easy-drinking but packs a good amount of flavor.

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 BeerRox
5/5  rDev +30.2%

Photo of jonandhisflask
4/5  rDev +4.2%

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

Reddish in the pour spout, but the result is inky black. Smells a little like menthol, maybe NyQuil. Tastes a little like it too, NyQuil, but the coffee flavors win out over the anise. Not too overpowering alcohol-wise, a little thin actually. Vinuous in texture. Crisp. I will try ageing one of these, and report back. Good Christmas Ale 2011 from Anchor. I've had better, but also worse.

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

A: Pours a reddish brown color with a small tan foam head with moderate retention. There is some nice patches of thick lacing.

S: Nice amounts of prunes/dates, toasted white bread and some light festive spices. Not overly sweet smelling but quite inviting.

T: Starts out with a nice amount of caramel and toasted bread malt. In the middle the spices come through along with some prunes and figs. On the back end there are more spices and dark fruit.

M: A nice light to medium bodied beer that leaves a slighty sweet fruit taste on the palate.

O: Definitely has the taste of Christmas. Nice amount of spices and dark fruit. Not my favorite vintage of the Anchor Christmas, but certainly one of my favorite Christmas brews. Would certainly have this again!

Photo of jheezee
3/5  rDev -21.9%

Photo of rarbring
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A clear deep chestnut brew, small bubbles, a large head that settles slowly leaving loads of lacing. Some curtains.

Smell fruity and fresh, pears, ripe dates, some yeasty spiciness.

Starting with brown bread, dark fruits, ripe oranges, bitter orange peel and some licorice and soy.

Medium low carbonation, small soft bubbles, soft and smooth texture, rather refreshing, a small dry finish.

Not bad, but today the selection is so wide so it is not extraordinary. But it is a damned smooth winter warmer!

Photo of adrian21
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of codynevels
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of KAP1356
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

LOVE this beer every year. It is the only beer that reminds me of the holidays and all of the good memories that I associate with that time of year. Have had the past several years, and for some reason, have neglected to review it. Poured into a DHF pint glass...

A - Pours a dark gingerbread color with a nice tan/khaki head that forms about 2 fingers thick. Nice retention.

S - Raisins, dark fruits, pine, herbal, and holiday spices. Nutmeg, light cinnamon, and hops mix together nicely here. Some caramel and some other herb aromas come too.

T - Hops are much more noticeable on the palate. A rich earthiness this year. Dark malts and the winter spices are there. But there is an interesting fennel or anise flavor as well. Pine and some other tree-like flavors come out really giving this an earthy flavor.

M - Light to medium bodied, every once in a while feeling a little thin. Fairly smooth on the tongue with a bit of carbonation that stings here and there.

O - Really love getting this beer each and every year around this time. It might not be the best put together beer, but it's the only one that I feel really captures this time of year in a bottle.

Photo of Exiled
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of airforbes1
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
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.

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

A: Dark mahogany, tan foamy head. Good amount of lacing and head retention.

S: Hot nuts, nutmeg, brown sugar, cookie dough, shoe leather.

T: Roasted nuts, raisins, cinnamon, gingerbread, fruitcake. Those spices really open up as this beer warms. Hops are more of the earthy, dirt, than pine flavor.

M: A bit thin, drinkable though. Never cloying with the spices.

O: I liked last year's better, but its still good.

Photo of bob6605804
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of FightingEntropy
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
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.

Photo of dogfishandi
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Halcyondays
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours brown with a mild tan head. Good retention, no lace.

S: Noticable pine, wintegreen, with a splash of curry if you can believe it.

T: Nice herbal flavour, a lot like a beer version an herbal liqueur. Hint of fennel, rosemary, mint, along with that great malt flavour.

M: Medium-bodied, biting carbonation, pretty smooth, light aftertaste.

O: Anchor continues to make consistent product in their OSA. Every year I tend to rate it from 3.8 - 4.2, making it a great winter seasonal I pick up each year. This one really goes back to that odd year paradigm of super herbal complex OSAs. Reminds me a lot of a young '05. Expecting some clove and classic winter spice in 2012 if the patterns continue.

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Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 696 ratings.