Our Special Ale 2014 (Anchor Christmas Ale) | Anchor Brewing Company

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Our Special Ale 2014 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2014 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
567 Ratings
Our Special Ale 2014 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2014 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
This is the fortieth annual Christmas Ale from the Anchor brewers. It is sold only from early November to mid–January. The Ale's recipe is different every year, as is the tree on the label, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life.

Our tree for 2014 is the Giant Sequoia. It was hand-drawn by James Stitt—who has been creating Christmas Ale labels for us since 1975—to look as a "Big Tree" planted in 1975 might look today.

"The Big Tree is Nature's forest masterpiece, and…keeps its youth far longer than any of its neighbors. Most silver firs are old in their second or third century, pines in their fourth or fifth, while the Big Tree growing beside them is still in the bloom of its youth, juvenile in every feature at the age of old pines, and cannot be said to attain anything like prime size and beauty before its fifteen hundredth year, or under favorable circumstances become old before its three thousandth."–John Muir

We chose the Giant Sequoia for our fortieth Christmas Ale in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Act. Signed into law by President Lincoln during the Civil War, it granted the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the State of California "for public use, resort, and recreation." The first such land grant in American history, it marked the beginning of the California State Parks.

Added by jhartley on 07-28-2014

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 567 |  Reviews: 102
Photo of SHODriver
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured into a snifter to a deep brown beer topped by a finger of dense light tan head which fades slowly to a collar around the edge of the glass with minimal lacing
S: Smells of mulling spices and some slight christmas tree notes with a little caramel and toasted malt
T: Taste is mulling spices and slight toasted malt with a little caramel and a slight evergreen note with some hints of cedar. On the finish this beer is that evergreen note followed by some more toasted malts, slight fruitiness, spice, and some lingering cedar.
M: This beer has a moderate amount of body with a smooth feel on the palate. Carbonation is adequate for the style as well while the beer has a slightly drying finish.
O: Overall this is a really interesting beer. It has some really nice flavors and some solid complexity. The spice notes are a little muted now but are well integrated to the base beer. Despite the age this one isn't showing any signs of falling off yet. Worth popping these now if you still have them

 1,016 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.89/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle served in February 2018.
Pours very dark mahogany, looking like a porter. Excellent tan head.
The aroma is spicy with some spruce; strong enough to suggest it may be over-spiced. Thankfully, that is not the case. The spicing mixes nicely with the malts, and among other things has a clear note of allspice. Still, I'd prefer this with less spice rather than more. Near neutral balance with a light bitter and sweet character.

 441 characters

Photo of DanGeo
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of 1971bernat
2.5/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Photo of armock
4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of jakecattleco
3.73/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Did a magnum vertical on Christmas Eve of the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. For my palate I preferred them in the following order: 2015 > 2013 > 2014 > 2016. Really enjoyed the more roasty and coffee attributes of the 2015 vs. rest.

 233 characters

Photo of jvgoor3786
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

It poured a very deep brown with minimal head, a small ring, and very little lacing.

The smell is dark fruits, lots of caramel, and something a bit piney/sour I can't quite identify.

The taste has thin dark fruits, some brown sugar, and a bit of that sour taste.

The mouthfeel is medium carbonation and thin, as expected with a low alcohol beer.

Overall this is decent, but a bit thin on flavor.

 400 characters

Photo of parkeak0
4.16/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this on draft in August 2016. Sufficiently weird and unexpected that I couldn't pass it up.

Not a style I generally like much but this was good. Pours an attractive porter-like chocolate with good head retention. Nose is graham cracker, toasted walnuts, some spice in the background. Palate toasty malts well integrated spice and very subtle sweetness. Mouthfeel is creamy with just a hint of bitterness/astringency.

I didn't have this fresh two Christmases ago, so I can't compare, but I wish I could. I would speculate that age has done this beer favors, perhaps taming spice and fermenting out some risidual sugars.

 629 characters

Photo of Ozzylizard
4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$ 14.68 (Including shipping)/magnum ($ 0.290/oz) from Blackwell’s, San Francisco
Magnum at 42 degrees into a hand washed and dried JK snifter
Aroma – subdued spices
Head – large (Maximum 5.8 cm, careful but somewhat aggressive pour), light brown, frothy, diminishing to a two mm ring and layer
Lacing excellent – wide band of tiny to small bubbles
Body – dirty brown, opaque
Flavor – very well-blended spices, not overpowering; no malt, no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate – medium, watery, lively carbonation

This is actually an excellent winter warmer, a style I don’t particularly care for. Unlike most that I have tried, this is not a spice bomb – the flavors are well blended and subdued. Since this is nearly two years old, I obviously can’t comment on what it was like when it was fresh, but I’m certainly willing to try this year’s batch. And that’s why I constantly try examples of styles I don’t like – sometimes I find an example of the style that I DO like – so far that’s two lagers, one marzen/octoberfest and one winter warmer.

Appearance 4, Aroma 4, Flavor 4, Palate 4, Overall 4

 1,139 characters

Photo of epyon396
3.59/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Gkruszewski
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of aufie
3.55/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Beginner2
3.82/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This being the second to the last of the 6 pack, my routine is to compare this to a younger vintage. Instead, I compared it to 2008 which is too long to keep.

12/7/17 Compared this to 2015, 2016, 2017. While 2014 is now three years old, its taste remains similar enough to the three subsequent years. I believe this has to do with Anchor's brewing strategy: increments of improvement. If there are 6 spices every year, the formula changes only modestly; hard to discern past the freshness factor. Although 2016 is clearly spunkier and spikier than its predecessors, it is clearly a beer of the same lineage.

 608 characters

Photo of Corson
3.71/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of jp32
4.02/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Look: Dark brown in color with auburn highlights. Not much head retention.

Smell: Malty and sweet, almost syrupy.

Taste: Sweet malts loaded with spices like allspice and nutmeg, possibly some ginger and plums present too.

Feel: The mouthfeel is medium bodied and it's carbonation is perfect.

 299 characters

Photo of hansavijaticar
4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of MatthewWalters
3.98/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Griggsy
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of krome
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of EXScotT
4.39/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Photo of kemoarps
3.8/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The next installment of my (appropriately!) glacially paced work through of winter themed ales continues with a visitation of last year's annual release from Anchor. Enough preamble. Why is there preamble in the first place?

Clean deep deep rich mahogany with a soft flat head that takes a more Daedalian approach opting not to fly too high, settling instead in a nice low orbit, and remaining there, forming a perfect smooth pale khaki cap that seals in the goodness below.

The first thing that strikes me about the nose is an interesting sweet berry like characteristic that darts furtively away as the ginger and spices (allspice, nutmeg primarily) come in. Somewhere between a fruitcake and a rum cake are my next thoughts. I dig it. Makes me want to bake something

Flavour takes its cues from the aroma, but veers more towards the fruitcake side, with a slightly grey sanding off of the back edges. Doughier than the the nose presented as well with more brown sugar and less evocative spice.
Drinks smoothe enough and while I wouldn't necessarily sit and drink a ton of these, I am glad I have a bunch stashed away to continue to see them evolve over time and to compare them to previous years, whenever I get around to pouring that vertical!

 1,252 characters

Photo of KarmicSkrambl8
3.76/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of mkyer
3.68/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of DOCRW
3.44/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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Our Special Ale 2014 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.68 out of 5 with 567 ratings