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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

676 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 676
Reviews: 284
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 14.84%
Wants: 12
Gots: 58 | 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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 676 | Reviews: 284 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

diamondc, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of bob6605804
4/5  rDev +4.2%

bob6605804, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of FightingEntropy
4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
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.

FightingEntropy, Nov 14, 2011
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.

dogfishandi, Nov 13, 2011
Photo of Halcyondays
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

Halcyondays, Nov 12, 2011
Photo of Jaycase
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

a: dark, dark ruby color. tan head fades quickly

s: Aroma evokes Christmas in such a good way. Spices, sweet malts, nutmeg, bit of cinnamon

t: semi-sweet toasted malts are at the forefront. Sweetness stays throughout but finishes with some spiciness

m: slightly creamy, moderate carbonation. body seems a bit thin

o: A seasonal release I look forward to each year. It's good again this year, and oh that great aroma, but if memory serves it doesn't seem to be as good as last year's edition. Seems restrained some and it just tastes a bit too thin to me. Still enjoyable though.

Jaycase, Nov 12, 2011
Photo of rstone57
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into an Anchor Steam pint glass.

Color is black with a hint or dark ruby red with a very minimal head that fades quickly and no lacing.

Smell is spice, including citrus and pine.

Taste is malt, citrus and pine spices with a dry finish.

Overall a great winter warmer, plus it's my girlfriend's absolute favorite.

rstone57, Nov 11, 2011
Photo of BilbosNuts
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a deep, clear mahogany color with dark cherry colored hues coming off the edges. It has a one finger khaki colored head that has decent retention and maintains a ring over the top. There appears to be some light carbonation coming up the sides.

S: There is a big malt presence including sweet caramel and some nuttiness. There are also some spices present, most notable is a nutmeg-like aroma. There is a bit of a boozy alcohol smell as well.

T: The taste is comprised of lots of malts and spices. Again there is the sweet caramel and nuttiness from the malts. Nutmeg and cinnamon are the most noticeable spices. Unlike the aroma, the alcohol is not detected at all.

M: This has a medium body with a light amount of carbonation. It has a bit of a chewy feel to it yet is very slick.

O: I enjoy a good winter warmer and this one does not disappoint. It is solid in every category and I will revisit this one from time to time.

BilbosNuts, Nov 11, 2011
Photo of rangerred
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a dark ruby with a small tan head that is quick to fade.

The smell is very spicy. I definitely detect oranges along with pine and licorice.

The taste is very spice forward with the orange/pine flavor dominating. This then fades into a nice roasted maltiness along with an assertive hop bitterness that is long lasting. Mouthfeel is a bit too thin I feel and that is probably the biggest drawback to this beer.

Overall I think this beer beer is perfect for the holiday season. It has just the right amount of spice without being overpowering and still preserves plenty of malt character.

rangerred, Nov 11, 2011
Photo of chinchill
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

chinchill, Nov 11, 2011
Photo of jamescain
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Brooklyn tulip.

Appearance: Pours a clear dark and deep mahogany with reddish hues. The beer is topped with an off white-tan head about a finger thick that slowly fades to a think lacing.

Aroma: Brings memories of holiday cheer, evergreen, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, with caramel notes.

Taste: A little strong on the spices, especially the cinnamon, with subtle notes of nutmeg, caramel and a bready finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium carbonation and a spiced finish.

Overall: I think I slightly enjoyed last year's vintage more then this years, but still enjoyable.

jamescain, Nov 09, 2011
Photo of matttttYCE
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – Head is light tan in color, about 2 fingers high, slightly rocky, and dissipates at a moderate pace leaving some decent lace around the glass as it does so. Color of the beer is a slightly murky red-brown with deep dark purple tint to it. Love the way it looks when held to the light, but that’s neither here nor there.

Smell – Aroma is of gingerbread, nutmeg, allspice, brown sugar cookies, chocolate, cinnamon, a bit of tart cherry hiding somewhere in there, hints of nut like a nut bread, hints of fruit cake, and maybe a bit of spruce and pine needles. This is a very nice smelling beer that reminds me of the holidays and the changing of the seasons.

Taste – Taste is malty, sweet, gingerbread cookies, brown sugar, light cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, hints of dark chocolate, nut, tart fruit and fruit cake. I feel like there’s also some spruce and pine qualities to the taste, but I’m not sure if that’s actual or just something my brain is transposing from the aroma to the taste. Either way, this is a good winter warmer in my opinion.

Mouthfeel – Consistency is smooth, carbonation is moderate/creamy and not too high or overdone, body is on the lighter side of medium, and the finish is moderate, if not a bit quicker to fade away.

Overall – This is very good for a winter warmer/winter seasonal and it’s a pretty distinct beer actually even from year to year. Seems to be just as good as I remember last years, though with a bit less gingerbread. This is another beer that I look forward to every year now and one that reminds me how much I enjoy the winter season.

matttttYCE, Nov 09, 2011
Photo of Haightfulbrew
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pour: Extremely dark red, bordering on black, slightly translucent. A good three inches of reddish head settles slowly, leaving behind continental lacing and a big central glob.

Nose: Chocolate, cherry, prunes, bread and brown sugar. More spice and hop as it warms.

Taste: Toasty, bready chocolate, then a roast beef sandwich in the middle. Spice and medium hop bitterness to finish.

Mouth: Round, a bit cloying, medium body. Carbonation is light, aiming for creamy.

First time with this beer. Would be fantastic with a big meal.

Haightfulbrew, Nov 08, 2011
Photo of Stunner97
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- beer pours dark black to brown in color, very little carbonation, tan head quickly fade to just white lacing along the outer rim of the glass
Smell- spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, malt and little hop
Taste- spice mixed with maltyness is the main thing you notice in the beginning then smacked up by a very firm hop finish, balance is pretty good on these but you have to be in to Beers with pretty good amount of spice, flavor reminds me almost of darker more hopped pumpkin beer,
Mouthfeel- light to medium bodied, crisp amount carbonation,
Drink ability/ overall - i found this Beer to be extremely drinkable and found they kept me coming back for more, great balance and very tasty, this beer lives up to its reputation each year

Stunner97, Nov 08, 2011
Photo of Brent
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
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.

Brent, Nov 07, 2011
Photo of muletrane
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Bruery tulip.

A: Pours a clear deep ruby colour. 2 fingers of thick creamy tan head with a little bit of lace.

S: Sweet malty notes. Some nice spiciness going on here. Cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and some yeasty notes. This smells real nice.

T: Not as sweet as the nose. Very spicy with cinnamon, nutmeg and a slightly sweet malt flavor up front. Crisp, dry and spicy finish. Lingering spiciness and slightly bitter.

M: Moderate carbonation, slightly creamy. Moderate/thin body.

This is my first year trying this beer and I'm glad I finally did. This a beer I will revisit every holiday season for sure. Just a pleasantly spiced beer that tastes like the holiday season.

muletrane, Nov 06, 2011
Photo of nandemo1
3.4/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A unique looking beer. pours a deep dark red, similar color to rosewood. There's a thin tan head and a little bit of carbonation coming up from below.

A very mild nose on this one, smelling slightly of sweet malt and cinnamon. Tastes of semi-sweet toasted malts but I'm not picking up any ofthe spiciness that others mention. There is a slight piney bitterness in there, but overall I find it a bit boring.

Mouthfeel is light and crisp, drinkable if this flavor is what you're into.

nandemo1, Nov 06, 2011
Photo of Nachojon
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Dark, woody brown, red under light. 1/4 inch malty head. Sticks to sides of glass. Nice looking beer.

S- Spice. Pine, brown sugar and a bit of coffee. This thing really smells like Christmas.

T- Ginger, cinnamon, spiced wine, this thing is spiced like crazy, that being said it tastes very well blended and is smooth and enjoyable. Not sweet at all it is a crisp spicy flavor bomb.

M- Crisp, not overly carbonated but has some bubbles.Dry herb aftertaste.

O- It's weird to review a Christmas seasonal. Am I reviewing it against just other Christmas seasonals or others in it's category, they can vary so widely. This is a solid, good delicious beer regardless.

Nachojon, Nov 06, 2011
Photo of champ103
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I always look forward to OSA. This is the first beer I opened in my new condo.

A: Pours a dark ruby/brown color. A massive tan head rises with excellent retention. Sticky spider web looking lace is left all the way down the glass. This is a looker.
S: A bit muddled at first, though as this warms and breaths cinnamon, nutmeg, sweet vanilla come out. Toasted malts, bread and biscuit. Very nice.
T: Follows the nose with all the spices intermingling. Fairly sweet, and some bitter bakers chocolate. Lightly soapy and piny as well. Toasted malts, baked pie crust. Yep, I like it.
M/D: A little disappointed in the mouth. Kind of week, lackluster, and a bit on the watery side. Usually this has a much fuller body. Very easy to drink though. I am sure this won't be my last six pack for the year.

I think a bigger body would make this special. As is, still good like every other year. Something I would recommend as always.

champ103, Nov 03, 2011
Photo of ozzyCobblepot
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Sample bottle from beer distributor, NYC

A: Pours a deep ruby body with strawberry bubble head, little retention, small bubble action
S: Nutmeg, allspice, clove, cinnamon on the nose, lightly toasted malt seeps through, but not much discernable hops bitterness.
T: Lightly toasted, almost almond malt, spiced & with a touch of bitterness. A dry, halting finish, though, that cuts the development of the flavors. A little something lacking but the notes are tried & true.
M: Moderate-bodied, good carbonation. Rolls well while the body progresses, with a mouthdrying finish
O: Not a fan of the style, but pretty well done for what it is. Doesn't tend towards the heavy, filling renditions & at 5.5% very sessionable. Then again, some of its heavier brethren seemed a little more developed, & don't leave you hanging.

ozzyCobblepot, Nov 03, 2011
Photo of indesertum
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

gorgeous dark dark ruby red. black unless held against a light. great foam. nice lacing

i smell christmas desserts. cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg

spices come through on the taste. fruity. sweet. like punch. average carbonation. something about it lacks body. no piney hops to speak of although there is a nice balanced bitterness towards the finish. average malt body dominated by spices. it's really quite sweet.

would be great for christmas or even thanksgiving. i think a little overhyped. good beer. i'm not sure i would have more than a glass at a party. it is possible i poured a little too warm

indesertum, Nov 02, 2011
Photo of suspect
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Samuel Adams Perfect Pint glass.

A: Deep amber color with a 1 finger off-white head that disappears quickly after an aggressive pour. Lacing is relatively consistent, yet thin.

S: Nice bouquet of cinnamon, toasted malts, amber malts and some slight hop bitterness.

T: Nice spiced flavor with some nutmeg, cinnamon, fruit cake, malt sweetness, caramel and a touch of licorice.

M: Perfectly carbonated, if not on the side of having a touch too many bubbles. The malt really leaves a nice sticky coating that leaves my wanting to drink more. This is one I want to be drinking by a yule log while I wrap Christmas presents.

suspect, Nov 02, 2011
Photo of bsp77
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

bsp77, Nov 01, 2011
Photo of Hojaminbag
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Anchor Our Special 2011 is clear and brown with ruby highlights. The head is about a finger tall and light brown in color. The retention is OK, but there isn't any lacing at all.

A little bit of dark fruit with spices; maybe some cinnamon. Lots of dark malt with caramel and dark bread scents.

The flavor profile in this yearly beer always have a lot going on, and 2011 is no exception. Fruity and spices are the first things I taste, but I have a lot of trouble distinguishing individual flavors. Maybe some figs, cinnamon, and juniper. A lot of floral characteristics also, but that could be from the spices. Next comes a fruity bitterness that reminds of citrus fruit; it could either be hops, juniper, or both, I'm really not sure. Either way, there is a good bit of bitterness. The malt profile comes through after, with caramel, toffee, bread and a good bit of sweetness. There is also toasted malt flavors in there somewhere. Also, as this one warms, I start to notice a moderately potent anise flavor throughout.

Medium to full bodied with very smooth carbonation; nice mouthfeel.

This is one of the worst reviews that I've written, I think my palate failed me tonight. One thing I can say is that I liked the last couple years of Our Special Ale better than this one. It's still worth a try, I'm sure others will disagree with me.

Hojaminbag, Oct 29, 2011
Photo of cmq103
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 1/6 keg into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: A darker caramel color comes to mind with this pour, almost a dark lager in appearance. A decent 1/2" creamy head grabbed my attention right away. This head was resilient for sure. Decent lacing was equally as resilient, leaving its mark as my glass emptied.

Smell: Clearly prominent malt and Christmas spices. Not overwhelming like some seasonal beers can be. Nutmeg, cloves, allspice come to mind right away. Just a hint of caramel and cinnamon too.

Taste: Malt, malt, malt up front. Like the nose, your Christmas spices are prevalent but certainly not overwhelming. A get a mild caramel bitterness in the finish, but I'm not sure it's hop related. Either way, it's a pretty darn tasty beer.

Mouthfeel: A medium to light body is present with decent carbonation, which contributes to the healthy head. Very easy drinking and the lower ABV makes it that much better.

Overall: An enjoyable seasonal offering from Anchor Steam. I could see this beer making my kegerator happy each year. I would like to try this offering in a bottle after it's aged a bit. I really enjoyed this beer. It's certainly not as strong as your typical Winter Warmer, but very drinkable nonetheless. Enjoy!!

cmq103, Oct 20, 2011
Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 676 ratings.