Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) | Anchor Brewing Company

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Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by notchucknorris on 11-04-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 123 | Ratings: 692
Photo of GMB
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A standard pour of Anchor's "Our Special Ale, 2013" yields a dark brown body that lets through just enough light to reveal ruby highlights when held up to strong light. The pour also yields a respectable tan head that falls slowly and leaves behind some sticky froth atop the brew. Carbonation is gentle. I expect a gentle mouthfeel.

The nose comprises a mix of familiar roasted aromas and seasonal spices. Molasses, raisins, and nutmeg, and a splash of port wine are easily appreciable.

The taste follows the nose before moving well beyond it. Molasses, prunes, raisins, and nutmeg are out front. Bitter spices dominate the middle. I pick up, in addition to nutmeg, touches of cinnamon, clove, and allspice. Roasted nuts appear on the back end. Port wine's sweet and alcoholic flavors develop during the hang. Hoppy flavors aren't clearly palpable, but I suspect that some of the spice flavors owe themselves to well-balanced hopping. A warm mixture of raisins molasses-coated toasted almonds seasoned with holiday spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove), enjoyed while sipping sweet port. Yes, that's what this beer tastes like.

"Our Special Ale, 2013" is an outstanding winter warmer. The flavors are clear and delicious. The profile is complex and layered. This may be the best warmer I've had to date.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.82/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Real nice dark amber, and hinting of deep burnt red body, pours out like chestnut milky brown though for the body color. Head is three fingers and a perfect styrofoam light tan and slight hinting red accented cap color. Slow retention and falling nicely.

Christmas herbs and warmth in a glass. Spicy warmth and cherry tones, hints of spruce and milk sweetness. Very light chocolate and hinting fruit cake sensations also.

Palate comes with a little bit of light chocolate milk action. Slightly wet with a YooHoo character, but some real nice spice action. Finish has a soft lingering pine and sweet spruce like quality that matches nicely. Some light cinnamon and a faint earth like hop just want to squeak out on the finish as well, some faint herbality makes an appearance also.

Overall, it's always fun to try these guys out, but I think I may have enjoyed previous versions, but that being said is splitting hairs either way.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.74/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a clear but opaque very dark reddish brown (almost black) in color with moderate amount of active visible carbonation rising along the edges of the glass and garnet red highlights. The beer has a three finger tall dense foamy dark beige head that slowly reduces to a mottled thick and thin film covering the entire surface of the beer and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of malty sweetness combined with fruit cake + spiciness (ginger and fennel seem to stand out to me).

T: Upfront there is a moderate to strong flavor of caramel/toasted malts with a light to moderate amount of molasses sweetness. That is followed by moderate flavors of fruit cake with some ginger, anise and fennel spices/herbs. There is a light to moderate flavor of rye spiciness and spicy hops in the finish. Light amounts of bitterness in the finish which fades quickly.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: There are really nice amounts of complexity to the aromas and flavors of this beer which make it very enjoyable. As always, I look forward to seeing what the new year brings in this beer and it did not disappoint. Also a big hit with my wife and mother-in-law.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
2.94/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Okay, this looks like the Our Special Ale of old, but that's about it. I've always looked forward to this beer coming out, and in most years will drink a case or so of it with my family around the holidays. Every year was different- some years you'd get sharp, sappy spruce (my favorites were those with heavy pine notes), some years you'd get nutmeg and , some years you'd get birch or wintergreen notes, some years were more mellow, others more intense. For the last few years I've felt this beer was going downhill, and this year takes the cake. The brown ale base is there- and that's about it. No pine at all, very light spicing, and a watery finish. Tastes like a weak and not very flavorful brown- noting very special or holiday about it all. Bah Humbug! Bring the real stuff back!

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.31/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A 355ml bottle with a BB of Oct 2015. Picked up recently from the York Wine & Beer shop. The latest installment of Anchor's seasonal brew - I seem to recall reading that they were going to make significant changes this year. Let's see....

Poured into a Delirium chalice. A very dark reddish-brown hue with plentiful carbonation. Yields a large head of creamy beige foam that lasts for a few minutes before settling as a patchy surface layer. Slight lacing. Aroma of warm spicy notes: cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg and a touch of coriander, underpinned by fruity malt, earthy yeast and stewed leaves. A hint of harsh cardboard in the background.

Tastes of acrid spice and mildly fruity malt, with a dry, bitter finish. Notes of woody cinammon, clove, nutmeg, mild ginger, fruity malt, earthy yeast, stewed leaves and harsh cardboard. The dominant spice character is excessive and discordant. A leafy, herbal bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, with decent carbonation and a satisfactory body for the style. Rather astringent, followed by an aftertaste of dry, bitter spice/herbs, stewed leaves and faint malt.

Hmmm - not Anchor's best attempt at a Christmas ale. It looks OK and the aroma is pleasantly rounded, however the flavour possesses a harsh, dry bitterness that swamps any other contributing characteristics. Body is alright. Basically, the spice addition is a little heavy-handed. I've had better Christmas brews - no need to hunt this one down.

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Photo of Bernoulli
3.9/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque dark amber. Quarter inch head.

Nice odor of Christmas spices.

A lot of heft.

Lingering taste of spices dominates any ale-i-ness without being overpowering. Some caramel in the background? No taste of alcohol (which isn't surprising given the ABV).

A nice sipping beer. Slows you down for the amount of body, not the alcohol.

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Photo of seymourcox
2.94/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I didn't open this beer with high expectations. I'm not much of a fan of the 'tastes like mulled something' class of beers, but I thought i'd give it a chance, anyway. It's actually decent. It's got a very mild smell to it that kind of reminds me of the way the furniture smells a couple of hours after my wife polishes it. The taste is a little stranger. It definitely has that 'Christmas punch' thing going on that I was worried about, but it's fairly mild. Without the spices, it would probably be a a pretty nice, light bodied, darkish red ale. If you do like that kind of 'seasonal spice', then you'd probably like this. My wife said it tasted like someone accidentally spilled cider in it.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, with a more than obvious vintage date. Code on the back label appears to read 30H, but I could be wrong. My ninth, and last (for now) of the annual winter warmer releases from Anchor Brewing Co. Expectations are decent based on my experience with the others.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours a dark mahogany cola colored body, nearly opaque in the glass, with just a hint of caramel showing around the edges. One finger of mocha tan head. Some okay lacing.

S - Smell is of chocolate malt, caramel, some artificial cherry / cola / Dr. Pepper sort of aromas, twiggy earthiness, and lots of herbal spice rack notes - allspice, oregano, nutmeg.

T - Taste is of bitter baking chocolate, powdery cocoa, caramel, wood, cola, and herbal holiday spices - allspice, nutmeg, oregano, licorice.

M - Feel is crisp, malty, sticky, and lightly bitter. Medium bodied with good carbonation.

Overall, a good entry in this ongoing series of winter warmers. I would be very interested to see what some serious age would bring to some of these bottles, since in my experience with drinking these beers, I enjoyed the 2005 vintage the best out of all of them. I would be glad to come back to this one in about ten years from now just to see what it's like. A must have winter beer.

Anchor Brewing Our Special Ale 2013 ---4/5.

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Photo of jwhancher
3.56/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a wide mouth chalice glass. Appears a clear garnet amber with fluffy off white head that laces the glass rim. Good carbonation. Smells of vanilla, cinnamon, clove, and allspice. Maybe a little nutmeg in there as well. Reminds me of a cinnamon Christmas cookie. Tastes sweet & spicy with supportive malts. Caramel and light cocoa flavors atop spices as found in the nose. Feels a bit thin. Light to medium feel. Wish this one had some more oomph for a winter warmer. Overall, a decent beer. Not bad, but not great. Would be a great choice to bring a sixer to a holiday party.

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Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at The Lark, East Northport, NY.

Poured a deep murky amber hue with a one finger foamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a medley of spices, including spruce, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg with a light earthy caramel.

The taste mimicked the aroma with a residual herbal hoppiness.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness.

Overall a pretty good Christmas ale.

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Photo of ExaltedNecrosis
4.11/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into tulip glass.

A - Pours a dark brown with a reddish tint. One and a half fingers of light brown head.

S - Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, caramel, and toast are all apparent in the aroma. A bit of sweetness along with the spice.

T - I get a lot of the holiday spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, with pine / spruce, caramel, toasted malt, earthiness, and a hint of chocolate. I can definitely see how this is a Christmas ale. Great amount of complexity yet it remains balanced between sweetness and spices.

M - Thin-to-moderate body with moderate carbonation. It feels a bit sticky at times, but is not as thick as I would have hoped. Nice earthy aftertaste.

O - I was pleasantly surprised at this one, not knowing what to expect as this is my first one. Has a great complexity and range of flavors with the spices, sweetness, and earthy tree notes. I will be looking forward to future vintages of this.

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Photo of jngrizzaffi
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer when it was first introduced but did not rate it at that time. It is no longer brewed but remember liking it at the time. Good beer with a hoppy edge..

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Photo of superspak
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, bottled on 10/24/2013. Pours crystal clear dark reddish brown color with a 2 finger dense and rocky khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of big caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, raisin, ginger, nutmeg, juniper, spruce, brown bread, licorice, floral, and herbal earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt and spice notes; with good strength. Taste of caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, raisin, ginger, juniper, nutmeg, herbal, floral, brown bread, and herbal earthiness. Lingering notes of caramel, toast, toffee, raisin, brown sugar, juniper, ginger, nutmeg, brown bread, and herbal earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Nice balance and complexity of malt and spice flavors; with solid robustness and no cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a moderately creamy and smooth mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very good winter warmer style. Good balance and complexity of malt and spice flavors; and very smooth to drink. A nicely enjoyable offering.

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Photo of Eisen
3.36/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

From notes. Poured a light black with a thin white head that faded quickly with little to no lacing. Smells of chocolate, toasted coffee, and a plethora of spices. Nothing in particular stands out. Taste like chocolate, nutmeg, a touch of ginger, toast, slight hops, perhaps juniper and pine or other evergreen foliage. Never the best tasting or drinkable beer, but definitely a must try every winter.

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Photo of 57md
3.7/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown color with ruby edges. There was over a finger of tan head that took some time to dissipate and left nice lacing behind. The nose has distinct molasses notes. The flavor is also dominated by molasses. The taste is unique but very unbalanced. The sweetness of the molasses simply does not work with the mild malt profile.

The is a noble effort, but it just did not work for me.

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Photo of curasowa
3.2/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark red color with one finger of tan head that fades to a thin cap with a nice curtain of lace.

Aroma: Sweet dough and holiday spice, mostly nutmeg and clove.

Taste: Roasted malt kicks things off, but the body is fairly thin. The spices show-up in the middle, Ginger builds to be the dominate flavor lingering on in the finish where there is also notes of brown sugar.

The Rest: I tend to be pretty hit or miss on the Anchor Special Ale, and this year is a miss for me. I like more body and sweetness from the malt to help balance out the spice in these beers and this one is lacking in that department.

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Photo of david18
3.01/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

If I'm not mistaken this beer changes every year and can range from ipa-like to the more likely christmas style. This was definitely in the latter category. It was very malty, very dark, lots of dark fruits and a bunch of other aromas and flavors that you're more likely to find on a cake recipe list. Overall it's great for the style, i just wasn't sure what I was getting. If you like Christmas/Winter beers, try it.

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Photo of HarryPotHead
3.99/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

ST - Single bottle received in a holiday "mix" pack received from my wife's step mother for Christmas....She knows i love beer. God bless her soul! :D

A - Dark...not quite black with a khaki head. Poured into Nonic tumbler....looks more like a porter or stout. Head is sticky but leaves minimal lacing. Still a great looking beer.

S - Out of this world! Best smelling beer i've come across in a while...Blackberries, oak, cinnamon, malt. Very earthy too. Close to perfection! Hop character is next to zero.

T - The nose wins over the palate on this one...not sure what it is. The nose is so damn nice, but the taste just doesn't hold its own. Flavor is not as pronounced and is much more one dimensional than the smell. Not what i expected from a winter warmer. I would expect more burn too from a "warmer", but at 5.5% it's just not there. Don't get me wrong, this beer is still very enoyable and an easy drinker, even though it does leave behind a mild aftertaste as others have described. I honestly don't mind the aftertaste although it is slightly out of character with the rest of the beer. Would really like to have one or two more right after this one, but no such luck on this day!

M - Crisp from the moment it hit the lips. Decent amount of carbonation...

O - My first holiday ale from Anchor. Really enjoyed it....would definitely pick this up again, but it will be off the shelves before i clean out all of the other holiday "cheer" in my fridge!! [ii]D cheers!!!

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Photo of TeamMathis
3.77/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Either pitch black or pitch brown. Nice, thick tan head.
Smell: Spice. Cinnamon. Vanilla.
Taste: Spices and malt. Pine.

I really like this year's offering. The spices, both in the smell and in the taste, are quite inviting. I believe cinnamon is the dominate characteristic. Overall, it's a delicious seasonal. The label and tree this year are also good looking. I would get this again.

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Photo of dacrza1
3.09/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

DATE TASTED: December 25, 2013... GLASSWARE: Kisatsky Tavern pint...OCCASION: day two of an epic four-day Christmas family/friend celebration swing... APPEARANCE: dark black body fosters a tabletop of three-finger brown head that clings and cakes to the glass--clearly a beer of substance.. AROMA: immediate cinnamon, pinecone, spruce; malts are spoken for, if a bit dampened; much of the aroma bespeaks a brown ale... PALATE: medium-bodied, drinkable and consistent in its presence from first sip to swallow--a bit of soda fizz and cream...TASTE: brown, yes, and malty--a mellow, funky barnyard concoction forms in the mouth with each sip, leaving an undesirable aftertaste; trace elements of what the aroma promised; surprisingly suggests a Dickensian punch bowl--many unique leftover flavors producing an odd, alcoholic whole...OVERALL: hate to dis on a Christmas ale, much less while drinking it ON Christmas, but this beer promised big things and fell short once consumed; the last I had was 2005's offering, and I cannot recall the specifics of that brew, so maybe this batch had--what was for me and my tastes--a less-than-pleasing profile...

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Photo of jdhilt
3.51/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

2013 version, Pours a three finger khaki head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Clear deep brown/orange color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Spicy nose and flavor is burnt cinnamon, dry woody finish. $2.50 for a 12oz bottle from Tully's Beer & Wine Wells, Me.

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Photo of Etan
3.79/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Coopers Tavern.

A. Pours a reddish chestnut with a small tan head.

S. Toasted grain, nutmeg, caramel, a little raisiny.

T. Dry spice, nutmeg, whole wheat bread, a bit of cocoa.

M. Medium-bodied, creamy.

O: Drier and more drinkable than most American winter warmers. Nothing exceptional but certainly quaffable.

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Photo of JulianBaughman
3.49/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer poured a deep dark brown mahogany, the color of the fretboard on my first guitar and it left a small tan head.

The smell was like raisins, baked sweet rolls with a little clove or coriander smell that I couldn’t quite place.

The taste was a big malty ball of awesome. Spicy, with a bready finish and a hint of chocolate.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.96/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Single bottle picked up at Premier Gourmet in Buffalo, part of our Christmas beer haul.

Pours a deep caramel brown colour into a short tasting glass. Half an inch of mocha head that recedes into a thick ring with lots of lace.

Nose is most certainly Christmassy - big malt, toffee, chocolate, and loads of spices, including ginger, allspice and cinnamon. I'm also getting a decent hit of evergreen boughs as well.

Very tasty Christmas ale that tends to emphasize spices over the malt. Spruce and cinnamon are the heaviest hitters for me, with nutmeg and toffee coming in the background.

Certainly an enjoyable beer to be had around this time of year. Spices get a great chance to show off, and the brew has a sufficient malty base to provide some nice heft. Definitely will pick up a few more of these in the coming years to see how the recipe changes!

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Photo of MattyG85
4.26/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tall pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a very deep brownish amber with a moderate amount of bubbles. Huge four finger tan head that slowly settles into a thinner creamy layer. Leaves a lot of lacing clinging around the glass.

Smell: A spicy, sweet, and roasty winter ale aroma with lots of chocolate hints and winter spices. Upfront scent of holiday spices with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and ginger. Toasty and roasted malts with hints of chocolate, biscuit, toast, coffee, cream, caramel, toffee, grains, and nuts. Sweet scent of brown sugar and slight molasses. Some earthy hops with hints of pine and grass. A very solid aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a very spicy, roasty, and fairly sweet winter ale taste with good notes of chocolate and spice. Upfront mixture of winter spices with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and clove. Roasted barley malts with notes of chocolate, biscuit, toasted bread, coffee roast, caramel, toffee, cream, nuts, and grains. Sweet taste of brown sugar along with some light notes of molasses. Earthy hop presence with notes of pine and grass in the background. A pretty good taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Very creamy and spicy. Finishes dry and smooth.

Overall: Another good year for this winter brew. Good mix of spices and toasty sweet malt notes.

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Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
3.74 out of 5 based on 692 ratings.
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