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: 122 | Ratings: 691
Photo of MarkQ617
3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Split a six-pack of this with the Mrs on Christmas Eve. Typically, I prefer a bit more spice in a warmer, but this one was very good despite a relatively simple flavor profile. Very crisp, just a touch of nutmeg. A bit more carbonation than I'd like, could have been smoother. Overall, a nice holiday brew.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.84/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

thanks to tenderbranson69 for sharing this on Christmas Day '13, enjoyed chilled in a goblet.

the color is dark brown, translucent with thin beige cap with fine bead. The aroma is nicely spiced with woody esters and light malt scent with slight toasted odor. The feel is dry spiced and has a mild sweetness with moderate carbonation and mild alcohol with dry tannin in the finish.

The taste is very good with a nice juniper type fruity woody taste with mild dark sugar complimenting with a mild hop and cinnamon-look spice taste with a very mild alcohol flavor in the finish. Overall it seems a little less intense than previous years however still just as complex and very drinkable with nice balance of spice and woody elements with a dry finish that may allow for multiple samples

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Photo of vkv822
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12oz : tulip

Pours a clear, dark mahogany red with a thick, billowy, sloping, beige head.

Lightly spicy, herbal, piney notes with sweet, toffee and caramel malt.

Lightly herbal, spices, with a sweet, caramel, toffee malt backbone.

Medium+ body, mild carbonation.

Another well done winter warmer from Anchor. I unfortunately missed the last 2 years versions, but am happy I got back in the spirit and will make it a point to pick some up each year from here on out.

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Photo of Jevers
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 50.7 oz magnum at 49 F
Appearance - very dark, almost black with a reddish cast. Pours with a strong head that dissipates after a few minutes. Nice lacing all the way down.
Smell - strong nutmeg (like egg nog), other spices that i can't identify. Slight malty flavor, no hops that I really notice.
Taste - excellent winter warmer flavor, spices and malt. No noticeable alcohol flavor.
Overall - very good Christmas beer. Will make this one a holiday tradition.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.93/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle marked 801. Sampled on December 22, 2013.

I love how it looks with its dark mahogany brown pour and cream colored head even though the head fades quickly.

The aroma is very nice with dark malts, molasses, fig, egg nog (really), and a thin earthy hoppiness.

The body is about medium but also rather acidic, which is a slight letdown.

The taste has a nice boldness to it with sweet and dark caramel malts along with nutmeg and molasses. Mild bitterness but enough to give this one a little character. I am quite surprised that this is the first year I have reviewed this one.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.08/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
5.5% ABV

A - Dark chocolate brown with ruby highlights, the 2013 vintage of Our Special Ale is almost black looking and crowned with an off-white head that dots the snifter in lacing as it subsides.

S - Deep toasted malt pulls through the woody, pine-like aroma of Our Special Ale, introducing rich complexities of raisin and plum into the beer. Hints of ground nutmeg and ginger add a subtle spice to the beer while a swirl releases brown sugar and caramel sweetness for a lingering complexity.

T - Substantially more shallow in flavor, Our Special Ale has a somewhat thin malt base consisting of toast and hints of roast which work well with the beer's overall earthy profile, sprinkled with spice but, sweetness is strangely absent as are the fruit complexities.

M - With a medium-light body this Winter Warmer has a smooth, easier drinking flavor profile than that of some of the more robust, truly warming winter beers but, that doesn't stop it's earthiness and delicately lingering spice from completing the seasonal beer.

O - Despite the recipe changing from year to year, Anchor's Our Special Ale always seems to remain familiar; robust earthy, pine-like aromas and malty, toasted flavor with a sprinkle of holiday spice. This year has a fantastic and complex, welcoming aroma that unfortunately dies off slightly in flavor but the smooth body allows the beer to finish out nicely for a winter treat.

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Photo of KYGunner
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

So deep brown it appears black the head rose to a thick finger of foam with a stout look but a short life.

The scent is very fruity with dark fruit aromas like plum and prune. A touch of spruce and anise round out the spicy scent of Christmas.

The anise or licorice flavor hits the front of the palate as a dried fruit holds nearer the end. The spruce or pine tree hits with a sharpness as I detect a ginger or nutmeg.

The feel is very thin, astringent and highly carbonated with a touch of booziness.

I found this to be a good ale with all the trappings of a winter warmer but the feel is simply not up to snuff.

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Photo of Hoptometrist
4.3/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from the bottle into a becker glass

A- Poured a very dark brown with off-white frothy head that left cascading lace.

S- Big gingerbread, molasses, nutmeg, toffee, and caramel. Really great aroma with lots of spices and malty sweetness.

T- Big gingerbread, sticky toffee, caramel. molasses, nutmeg, some light tea and chamomile notes, finishes with a slightly citrusy hoppiness and mild bitterness.

M- Medium mouthfeel, very smooth and creamy, finishes dry, and soft carbonation.

O- This is a really great winter warmer with nice spice and malt character. It is very balanced, very easy to drink, and tastes like the season.

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Photo of metter98
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is black when viewed from afar and is clear and very dark garnet red in color when held up to a bright light with a moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger high tan head that quickly died down, leaving a patch of bubbles in the center of the glass, a collar around the edge and a thin layer of bubbles in between along with some lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: The smell has bits of sweetness along with aromas of fruit cake and ginger along with hints of cloves and molasses.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, except that the spices seem to stand out more prominently and little if any sweetness is detectable.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I really enjoyed the complexities in the smell and taste of this beer. It reminded me a little of a maltier and spicier version of a gingerbread cookie.

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Photo of a0lbudman
3.56/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- dark but when held up to the light you get a red tint and you can see that it is clear. It has a brown head and leave lace on the glass
S-spice, sweet malt,ginger, and nutmeg
T-strong ginger and spice kick to begin with, then a bitter that balances the sweetness out in the finish.
M- medium body and medium carbonation
O- very drinkable, and not as sweet as I thought it would be. Glad I tried it.

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Photo of CloudStrife
3.93/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Pours a clear dark brown appearing black in the glass with a slightly tanned head on top. Leaves some nice lacing as the head slowly dissipates.

S: Initial spice aroma is what I notice. Hints of cinnamon and nutmeg blend with some dark fruitiness.

T: Well balanced winter warmer. All the spices compliment one another and none of them overwhelm. Malts make up a good portion reminding you this is a beer. Even has a touch of graham cracker crust.

M: Medium body with ample carbonation. A bit sticky on the finish but not too bad.

Overall its always fun to check out Anchor's Christmas Ale and this year is a must try.

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Photo of dar482
3.61/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

The beer comes in a dark brown color.

The aroma has tons of spice of lots of ginger and orange peel. Lots of spiciness. Toasty malt, a bit of caramel sweetness, lots of cedar woody notes.

The flavor follows with the spice again. Ginger, nutmeg, dried orange peel. The sweetness of brown sugar, a bit of caramel, along with wood. The wood is almost cedar or aromatic wood instead of a stiff aggressive wood bitterness.

A decently balanced beer. Good for those who love spiced ales.

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Photo of HopBomb515
3.89/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Dark brown, not quite black, dark ruby hue, 2 finger off white head from the pour.

S - Spice, pine, toasted malt, burnt crust, fruity in the back ground.

T - All spice, clove, ginger, spices all over met immediately by big pine flavor and some hop bitterness, finishes slightly bitter with some of that fruit sweetness from the aroma.

M - Thin, medium carbonation, falls just shy of creamy and finish is smooth.

O - First of these yearly special ales for me. Complex and interesting and I love how well the intense pine flavors work with a balanced level of spice and fruity malt sweetness.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.06/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz (kyle) Singler

A winter staple - I could never pick one vintage apart from the rest as they always seem to taste identical to me. It's always been very pine forward - like you were ingesting a liquefied version of your x-mess tree. Gingerbread, spruce, a touch of cinnamon. I always have room for 1 or 2 of these suckers a year.

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Photo of youngs11
3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into pint glass.

Dark brown with some transparency. Not much going on up top other than a ring of coffee foam around the glass. Tiny spots of lacing.

Smells of cherries, cinnamon, pine, molasses. Complex and earthy.

Taste is very spicy, follows the nose really well. Bitter front end and nutty, toasty finish.

Really dry MF, nearly astringent. Medium body, prickly carbonation.

There is a lot going on in both smell and taste in this brew. Not overly excited by appearance or MF, but holds its own as a unique example of the style.

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Photo of BWED
3.35/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip

A- Deep brown in color, with a creamed coffee head. A little lacing.

S- Caramel, roasted malts, and spice. Maybe even an evergreen hint, or maybe because I'm looking at the festive bottle.

T- Spices and roast are the players in this. Not much else.

M- Lighter than I was expecting, almost watery. Spicy, bittersweet finish.

O- Really not what I was expecting. Biggest knock is on the consistency of the mouthfeel, but overall I was looking for a little more complexity.

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Photo of shigg85
4.24/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Lots of woodsy berry flavors in this! This is no easy-drinking winter warmer, and I like it that way! Forces you to come to terms with juniper, clove, molasses, pine, roots, twigs, and branches in the flavor! Definitely complex and unique. Would complement an apple pie or something like that.

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Photo of jimmah120
4.01/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into duvel glass

look is a deep, dark amber/cola, with a thin layer of froth. smell is powdery cookies, peppermint, gingerbread, pine/spruce. thin feel, lots of gingerbread and molasses, some spices, hops, and a malty finish. also, there was an odd saltiness that popped up at some points.

sweet and sticky, one of the only christmas beers i really enjoy

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Photo of elNopalero
4.82/5  rDev +28.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This pours a wonderfully dark amber-malty red hue with a cap of creamy cocoa-colored foam. Seriously, the beer looks amazing.

The aroma has a light medicinal, gruit-like aroma, with some juniper and pine notes standing out.

Flavorwise there’s a bitter intensity which complements the herbaceous mix. Some juniper, pine and a resiny yet drying finish round it out. Love, love, love this beer.

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Photo of delta490
3.62/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured a deep clear mahogany with a finger of thick creamy tan head. Great retention and a little lacing.

S-rich malt with Christmas spices (ginger, cinnamon, bitter orange)

T- For whatever reason, the taste doesn't quite marry up with the aroma. It's not bad and most of the same elements are present, but it's not quite as flavorful as the aroma would indicate.

M- pleasant and full, with a nice smooth feeling

O-I wish the beer's taste was as great as it's aroma. It's not bad, but the two just don't match up.

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Photo of Spattastic
2.98/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Deep mahogany with a small cream colored head

S - Sweet and gingerbready, molasses/brown sugar, and nutmeg (gets stronger as the beer warms), slight cedar wood.

T - Fairly generic Christmas-style beer flavors: lots of baking spices, slight molasses sweetness, and pine trees. The finish is where this beer suffers the most being overly-spiced, and bitter. I don't think the favors are in balance here - too much spice, too little sweetness, and a bitterness (maybe resulting from the onslaught of baking spice) that seems lost.

M - Good carbonation, smooth

O - Not my favorite Christmas beer but certainly not undrinkable. I think some extra sweetness would help to balance the abundance of baking space flavors. I've never tried this before and would be interested to compare to previous/future versions.

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Photo of wedge
3.61/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown mahogany color with plentiful tan creaminess on top. Smells of mellow spiced fruit, toffee, molasses, pine resin, and gingerbread. Dry, spiced, somewhat gingerbread-y flavor. A little tart fruit, spruce, bitter chocolate, orange peel, and faint maple. Medium body, creamy texture, with a slickness that sticks to the tongue. Always fun to see what the next year's OSA will bring. Definitely better as it warms up.

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Photo of sommersb
3.89/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Tasted On: 12-08-2013
Freshness: Bottled 10-18-2013
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Shaker pint
Purchased: 6-pack from Frugal MacDoogal, Nashville

A: Dark brown beer, nearly black, with red highlights. Head is nicely sized, with very good retention and a fine lace.

S: Aromas have sweet caramel, plus fennel, pine and rosemary. Hops have woody and earthy hop notes.

T: Taste is spicy and earthy, with bitterness of pine and also roasted malts.

M: Body is medium, with lots of carbonation and a finish that is woody and piney for an earthy bitter aftertaste.

O: The high levels of woody, earthy and pine favors make for a unique brew. It feels kind of like you're drinking a tree. I liked the beer but wouldn't want to drink it all the time due to the novelty.

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

This pours a very dark brown with a 1 finger head of tannish foam that doesn't leave a lot of lacing behind. The brew itself looks very nice. The foam is rather short lasting.

The smell is nice, notes of a gingerbread man come to mind. Nice amount of cinnamon and nutmeg make the small very holiday like.

The taste gives what the smell promises. Gingerbread with the right spices, malt forward overall with very little bitterness, if any.

What I have here is a very nice Winter Warmer. I'll get to try it on draught at the local Old Chicago but the bottles are satisfying. A + is the good lowish abv so I can enjoy a few without getting blasted. I like.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up in Totowa last night because this is one of the few beers that I buy every year and can't wait to pour out and enjoy. This was a bit off this year but given that this has annual variations to it and that its relatively consistent, this was still enjoyable. The mouthfeel was a bit lighter than I remember and some of the dark fruit wasn't here but besides that, this was just as enjoyable as ever, and a great example of what a Winter Warmer should be!

Nice dark hue to this as I emptied the bottle out, with just a hint of light seeping through around the edges. The head was moderate and not as good as the lacing, which did its best to stick to the sides of my pint glass as I worked my way through this. Not a terribly strong aroma either, as faint traces of spice and dark chocolate could be detected. Lots of earthiness to the taste, along with the faint reminder of a Wassail and a bit of pine. The aftertaste was where the currant came out, but it wasn't that strong and slowly faded away. A trace of Anchor's hops could be detected as well, which was where the bitterness was in this beer.

Alcohol? It's in here somewhere but you wouldn't know it through the taste. A hint of fermented fruit was the only hint that were was any booze in this beer. Even though the mouthfeel wasn't as full as it was in past years, this has just right amount of consistency and variation from year-to-year to make it a must-buy come holiday time. There's just enough pine cone and nutmeg to give this some spice and not a lot of carbonation to overpower everything. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without this beer!

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Our Special Ale 2013 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
3.74 out of 5 based on 691 ratings.
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