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

Our Special Ale 2014 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2014 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
Winter Warmer
3.68 | pDev: 11.68%
Nov 16, 2022
Jul 29, 2014
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.
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Photo of rodbeermunch
Reviewed by rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.24/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25
Had this most recently in the Summer of 2022. I would say it was better fresh. Made with Giant Sequioa. I thought that was illegal? Anyways, can't taste tree in this I guess, or that one specifically.

Pours that dark brown color that it does every year. The aroma on these is always a tough challenge to accurately capture. Beige head, 1/3". A little bit of spice rack, you know the Christmas ones, nutmeg, clove stuff.

The taste brings out the totally devoid of sweetness kind of grandparent hard toffee note but without some of the toffee viscosity in the mouth feel. The body is lighter than its dark appearance. Light feel of chesnut. Does have some vegetation aspect of it, but not specific to this big ass tree. There was an unexpected bittterness that was quite strong on this one. Negative aspect of aging I think. This was a magnum bottle too most recently. Seemed to be boozier than its meager abv states. In a way, its like a dark mild with more bitterness and vegetal taste impact.
Nov 16, 2022
Photo of brewandbbq
Reviewed by brewandbbq from New Hampshire

4.02/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
12oz bottle.

Pours dark brown with a lively head of tan. Plenty of retention and tattered lacework. Pine bark with nutmeg and cloves in the nose. Medium bodied with a crisp mouthfeel. Roasty and spicy on the palate. Light spruce notes with nutmeg. Finishes dry with lingering roast, cocoa and spice.
Nov 17, 2021
Rated: 3.5 by TallGuyCM from California

Jun 29, 2020
Rated: 4 by emerge077 from Illinois

Nov 24, 2019
Rated: 3.64 by Dougwillhike from New Jersey

Oct 03, 2019
Photo of BBThunderbolt
Reviewed by BBThunderbolt from Kiribati

3.58/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
12oz bottle poured into Perfect Pint glass. Poured a clean, clear dark mahogany color, with a half-inch of dark khaki head that had moderate retention and light lace.

The aroma was foundationally sweet, had some light spices, and no real hop aspect. There was also a noticeable alcohol scent, even though this beer is only 5.5%.

The flavor profile was pretty similar, but the alcohol component was less noticeable, and the spices moreso.

The body was medium-full, smooth, and had a semi-sweet finish. Drinkability was very nice. Overall, perhaps a touch beyond prime, but still worth grabbing if you see it.
Aug 30, 2019
Rated: 3.24 by JamesBondGA from Georgia

Jul 09, 2019
Photo of gefinley
Rated by gefinley from California

3.45/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5
Opened 12/24/18 after sitting. No noticable quality or taste concerns.
Dec 25, 2018
Photo of SHODriver
Reviewed by SHODriver from North Carolina

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
Nov 03, 2018
Photo of chinchill
Reviewed by chinchill from South Carolina

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.
Feb 25, 2018
Rated: 3.75 by DanGeo from Michigan

Jan 14, 2018
Rated: 2.5 by 1971bernat from Virginia

Dec 28, 2017
Rated: 4 by armock from New York

Jul 17, 2017
Rated: 4 by GClarkage from California

Mar 26, 2017
Photo of jakecattleco
Reviewed by jakecattleco from California

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.
Dec 25, 2016
Photo of jvgoor3786
Reviewed by jvgoor3786 from Arkansas

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.
Dec 18, 2016
Photo of parkeak0
Reviewed by parkeak0 from District of Columbia

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.
Aug 11, 2016
Photo of Ozzylizard
Reviewed by Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

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
Aug 07, 2016
Rated: 3.59 by epyon396 from Pennsylvania

Aug 06, 2016
Rated: 3.75 by Gkruszewski from New York

Jul 20, 2016
Our Special Ale 2014 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 83 out of 100 with 575 ratings