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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

688 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 688
Reviews: 284
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 14.84%
Wants: 12
Gots: 60 | FT: 2
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: 688 | Reviews: 284 | Display Reviews Only:
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
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
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
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
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
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
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
4.43/5  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.

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
3.93/5  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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 688 ratings.