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)
568 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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 568 |  Reviews: 102
Reviews by micromaniac129:
Photo of micromaniac129
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%

More User Reviews:
Photo of Chiefy770
3/5  rDev -18.5%

Bottled on September 25th, 2014
Reviewed on November 10th, 2014
Served in a Pint Glass

Dark brown body with a mahogany glow. Not much of a head… maybe a bit over a finger thick. The bubbly tan head quickly collapsed and left a mediocre amount of soapy lacing.

Dark fruit… plum and fig. Sweet malts. Herbal spices.

Weak hit of dark fruit. The little bit of sweet flavours in this brew quickly turned sour. Interesting notes of burnt coffee and charred malts crank up the bitterness towards the finish. Overall it just seemed watered down and burnt compared to past versions of this brew. Medium-light bodied. Moderate-heavy carbonation.

This one just is not doing it for me. It’s always fun to see how the recipe is changed year-to-year but this year is sort of a bust.

 804 characters

Photo of fourstringer
3.99/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Moderate hand. 2014 edition.

A: Rather dark amber with good clarity. Dense, somewhat rocky, off-white head. Good retention. Light lacing.

S: Sweet malt with notes of brown sugar. A bit of citrus tang (lime?). Lighter pine. Faint raisin. Light soap in the background. Interesting black pepper. It has that Anchor element that I can't really describe precisely.

T: A roasted maltiness opens with a nice tang. A bit of nuttiness. A mild-mannered hopping brings a slight bitter edge to finish semi-dry to dry. Lingering roasted malt in the aftertaste with a certain degree of concurrent pine and spruce. Minimal alcohol presence.

M: Moderate carbonation with a medium body. Reminiscent of a slightly fuller Anchor Steam.

O: Think Anchor Steam with extra roasted malt and Xmas tree pine. Better than last year or the year before. Enjoyed it quite a bit.


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Photo of dbrauneis
3.89/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours an almost opaque yet still clear very dark mahogany in color with light amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and moderate to heavy amounts of garnet red highlights. The beer has a three finger tall foamy dark beige head that reduces to medium to large sized patch of mottled medium thick film surrounded by a a very thin film covering the majority of the remainder of the surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to heavy amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of toasted and caramel malts with a moderate amount of spice aromas - ginger, cinnamon, and tea. There are also light aromas of dark fruits - figs and plums. Very light aromas of herbal/leafy hops.

T: Upfront there is a light to moderate flavor of toasted, caramel, and bready malts (similar to a brown bread) with a hint of brown sugar/molasses sweetness. That is followed by light flavors of dark fruits (figs and plums) and slightly stronger flavors of spices (ginger, cinnamon, and tea). There is a light flavor of herbal/leafy hops which imparts a light amount of lingering bitterness.

M: On the lighter side of medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: As always, a solid holiday winter warmer beer that always seems to include a number of flavors/aromas that I associate with the season. Enjoyable and easy to drink with well hidden alcohol but as with almost all of the examples of the style, not a real sessionable beer.

 1,504 characters

Photo of oberon
3.7/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep mahogany with a nice tightly formed off white khaki colored head atop.Some interesting complexities in the nose,cinnamon and nutmeg standout with some almost tart fruitiness detected as well.A little thine low carbonation in the feel.Kind of a hodge podge of different flavors vanilla/graham cracker with cinnamon spice,then that lightly tart fruitiness comes into play late.Alot going on here,maybe a little unorganized but a different take on the beer this year.

 477 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 Herze
3.21/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Terry60430
4.25/5  rDev +15.5%

I treat this as an "end of the night beer" I work the 3-11 shift and like to have one drink when I get home. It has a unique flavor I cant quite identify but I will still pick another 6 pack up tomorrow.

 203 characters

Photo of Doomcifer
4/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of JakerLou
3.81/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

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

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

12 ounce bottle

Gotta try this one every year....

Nice looking pour....lifts a long lasting light mocha cap, that slowly goes to a meringue and leaves loads of thick froth and lacing.

Dark malts on the nose, and then on the palate notes of licorice, dark chocolate, coffee come to mind.

Decent to pretty good winter warmer andits always worth savoring at least one every winter

 382 characters

Photo of olradetbalder
2.25/5  rDev -38.9%

Photo of Jammyman
3/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of bsp77
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%

I can't give details on these Anchor releases anymore, as it is too hard to compare to notes from previous years. Suffice to say that it seems to be easier drinking this year, but not very complex or memorable. Lots of nice spices over a simplistic Porter base.

 261 characters

Photo of dankjohn
3.25/5  rDev -11.7%

Photo of MattyG85
4.16/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

Appearance: Pours a dark brownish amber with a moderate amount of bubbles. Huge three finger tan head with decent retention. Leaves lots of creamy lacing.

Smell: A roasty, spicy, and fairly sweet malt forward aroma with hints of chocolate, toast, and winter spices. Roasted malt with hints of chocolate, coffee, biscuit, toast, grains, and yeast. Sweet hints of brown sugar and cream. Winter spice hints of cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, clove, and ginger. Very subtle dark fruit hints of raisin, fig, and prune. Also some hints of piney hops. A solid aroma.

Taste: Like the aroma, a roasty and spicy malt forward taste with notes of chocolate and winter spices. Roasted barley malt with notes of chocolate, biscuit, grains, toast, coffee, and yeast. Winter spice notes of cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger, and allspice. Sweet notes of brown sugar and creamy lactose. Light dark fruit notes of raisin, prune, and fig. Subtle notes of piney and earthy hops. A pretty solid taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, slick, and very smooth.

Overall: A pretty solid winter brew. Nice toasty malt notes and spice.

 1,207 characters

Photo of stephneph7
3.52/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.6/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A 355ml bottle with a BB of Oct 2016. Purchased recently from the York Beer & Wine shop. The latest incarnation of Anchor's Christmas brew, celebrating 40 years of this beer series and featuring a Giant Sequoia on the label.

A: Poured into a Duvel tulip. Bottle conditioned. A rich, dark ruby hue with fine sediment and medium carbonation. Produces a huge head of creamy off-white foam that lasts for a while before steadily subsiding to a patchy surface layer. Some lacing.

S: Aroma of sweet malt with hints of cinnamon, spice, mild pine, caramel, subtle brown sugar, grain, ale yeast and stewed hops. Satisfyingly seasonal.

T: Tastes of sweet malt with a spicy character and a bitter finish. Notes of cinnamon, spice, mild pine, toasted grain, caramel, faint brown sugar, ale yeast and stewed hops/herbs. Slightly sweet, followed by a dry herbal bitterness upon swallowing - borders on harsh.

M: Mouthfeel is smooth, tingly and dry, with pleasant carbonation and good body. Somewhat astringent, accompanied by an aftertaste of spice, acrid herbal bitterness, subtle pine and vaguely sweet malt.

O: A decent Christmas brew, though as is often the case with this series the spice hamstrings the overall character. Looks great, while the aroma and flavour showcase a mix of spice, piny hops and sweet malt. Rather harsh bitterness on the finish. Good body. Goes down nicely enough, just a shame the harshness isn't more attenuated. Worth sampling if you come across it.

 1,473 characters

Photo of Jsonta
3.33/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Seattle_Suds
4.06/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.5/5  rDev -4.9%

Poured with a huge billowing khaki tan head, forms thick large bubbles at that, the body is deep dark crimson amber brown let's light through when back lit it's clear deep crimson. Fine intricate lace settles evenly as the head dwindles.

Aroma has a definite spruce tip action with cinnamon and spices very festive smell to it.

Flavor is as green as Christmas tree water, minimally spiced a clean bark like finish and bitter pine needles goes across the palate malts are relatively clean and lacks sweetness...I'd vote for dark cherry skins or any other dark fruit coming through as well though.

Mouthfeel is quite smooth unless your sensitive to the pine tree bitterness, still remains balanced carbonation seems a bit excessive but that's a minor complaint for the 40th Anniversary of the OSA from Anchor.

Overall, I'm not laying this down too similar to the notes of the 2013 I recently had and it didn't seem to benefit from aging much at all.

 952 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 Beer21
3.76/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of sgttibbs
3/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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Our Special Ale 2014 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.68 out of 5 with 568 ratings