Our Special Ale 2015 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Anchor Brewing Company

Our Special Ale 2015 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2015 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Winter Warmer
3.79 | pDev: 10.29%
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Our Special Ale 2015 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2015 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Reviews: 127 | Ratings: 425 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of GuyFawkes
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled late 2015; drank 12/28/15 @ the Yarchives.

Opaque brown appearance.

A violent pour yielded a HUGE tan head; strong, frothy lace.

Candle wax, brown sugar, cream & cinnamon notes in the nose.

Medium thick mouthfeel.

Cream, brown sugar & candle wax flavors up front; cinnamon notes on the finish.

A nice winter warmer.

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Photo of CamuMahubah
4.08/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Delicious cocoa with a porter backbone of some sort. Smells malty with way too much carbonation. It's three years old or so and it has been stored in a 60 degree basement for a year. Before that my buddy snagged it for me in Cali and it flew here with him on the plane. I don't know where it was stored in California. Probably on the shelf at a liquor store. It's quite delicious and tastes more like a porter than a winter warmer. Not bad. Not bad at all. Aged well. Just a bit too much head.

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an English pint glass, the appearance was a sturdy dark brown close to black color with a finger's worth of eggshell white foamy head that slid off at a mild pace. Some light lace ran here and there, somewhat messy.
The aroma had a superb blend of allspice, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, caramel/toffee malts, some cocoa powder, vanilla extract, fruitcake, dates, pecans, brown sugar and some light pine.
The flavor was moderately sweet but pulling in those spices for a spectacular blend. Sly amount of spices hit in the aftertaste.
The mouthfeel was about medium bodied with a fair sessionability about it - spices aren't too distracting, light harshness. Carbonation felt fine. ABV felt appropriate.
Overall, always love getting this winter warmer every holiday season.

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

355ml bottle into beer receptacle.

Poured a very dark brown with a lovely big off-white head retained very well. Looks great.

Nose is wonderful - very malty with some spice, caramel, brown sugar and dried froots.

Palate is surprisingly light - more coffee and much less caramel and dark fruit - still nice.

Body is fairly light but mouthfeel is ok - carbonation relatively high.

Overall a very nice beer - nose will give the impression of something bigger though.


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Photo of gandres
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle 1.5L poured to wine glass
Appearance: Amber with medium off white head, minimal lacing
Aroma: Malty
Taste: Bitter, very good follow through
Mouthfeel: creamy, a bit over carbonated
Overall: Very good beer

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Photo of cyclonece09
3.47/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours pitch black with a small light brown head. Smells of winter spices and not much else. Tastes of dark grain with winter spices. Beer is medium bodied and fairly easy drinking, but good on carbonation. Overall an average beer.

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Photo of ordybill
4.48/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the tap into a pint glass at the Taco Mac in Douglasville, GA. The appearance is a clear, dark brown color with a large tan head. The aroma is mostly malt with some nutmeg. The taste is very similar but I can taste some hops and cinnamon. A really good beer.

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Photo of Mongrel
3.96/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015 bottle, reviewed 12/29/16.

What we have here is a really nice, refreshing porter -- easy drinking, but not without character. Nicely restrained touches of roast and hop bitterness call to mind wood and pine, like a Christmas tree of course. Earthy malts also bring some tobacco notes and a little cocoa on the nose. Crisp, dry and crushable, with a creamy feel at the end. Well done!

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours a dark brown with a two finger tan head. Tons of soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is ginger, nutmeg, juniper, dark bread and molasses.

T - The taste is ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, dark bread and roasted malts.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with soft finish.

O - A classic winter beer with flavors reminiscent of fruit cake. I prefer this beer fresh, but still enjoyable.

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Photo of jakecattleco
4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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.

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Photo of brureview
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown color with a 4F head in a Stone imperial pint glass.

Aroma: very spicy, nutty, malty, fruitcake, pine

MF : malty, smooth.

Taste: chocolate,nutty, spicy.
Nice spicy, malty finish

Overall, a very enjoyable and quite drinkable holiday beer.

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Photo of mothmanscott
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I have been cellaring this for a year. Pours a clear deep brown with garnet highlights when held to the light, producing 3+ fingers of tan, moderately lasting, foamy head that recedes to island caps on the surface leaving a ring of sticky lace above the collar with streaks & motes of lacing on the sides of the glass. Aroma is caramel & dark bready malt with winter spice notes of nutmeg, cinnamon & ginger mixed with hints of roasted nuts, dark fruits, molasses & a faint musty sourness. Taste is dark malt bready - pumpernickel & spice heavy to nutmeg, cinnamon & ginger with molasses, prune/plums, roasted nuts & finishes with orange & herbal hops producing an earthy note giving way to an earthy, bready, spice & lightly roasted, bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation, thin but lightly tongue coating & slightly wet fronted but drying in the finish with a light pepper prickle.

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Photo of chinchill
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottles in a Belgian snifter in December 2016 and July 2018.
This 2015 version is a high quality Winter Warmer, with enough spicing to fit the winter holiday season but not so much as to overpower with grain bill or to leave an overly spicy aftertaste. The mix for 2015 is quite good too, although it tastes a bit better than it smells. Medium+ body and near medium carbonation.

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Photo of DaneBramage
4.06/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I realize this is a Christmas 2015 release, but I bought a 6 pack on clearance for $4.99 at my local pharmacy almost 6 months later. Pours black with a large foamy head. Smells of chocolate, toffee and vanilla. Smooth roasted malty flavor with hints of almond and raisin. A little heavy to be a porter, a little light to be a stout, but a nice compromise between the two. Will be going back to the pharmacy to see if they have any more.....has it been sitting in the stockroom since last December?

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Photo of elNopalero
4.57/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was sublime.
Pours a dark black brown in color with a nice cocoa colored foam.
I get notes of juniper and coffee, some fig and stone fruit as I smell it and it opens up. The aromas carry through on the palate. Chocolate. Pine tree. Herbaceous. Lightly medicinal. It's fantastic. Can't say enough good things about this seasonal release.

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Photo of bbtkd
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Anchor Special/Christmas Ale 2015. Love lots of head. Nose is... fresh, can't quite place it. Not much taste to be honest, not bitter but dry. Does not stand out as a Christmas brew per se, but not totally unpleasant. Not really a stout or porter.

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Photo of BeernOnThe4thOfJuly
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Black, with light tan head. Sweet vanilla nose with cloves and dark fruits. Slightly reminiscent of pumpkin pie. Flavor is dark fruits and cloves. Sweet, but enough hops for a nice balance.

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Photo of Sabtos
3.96/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black with red/brown edges and a massive cappuccino head.

Fig, clove, ginger snaps and pine needles on the nose.

Those pine needles and ginger snaps come through in the flavor as well, with a little cola, and some soft, delicate smokiness. Roasted walnut creeps forward later on.

Frothy, there is a drying cocoa powder effect on the tongue.

This is a really measured, even fancy take on a Christmas ale. It's not a gaudy spice bomb, and it's not a discarded fruit cake. I am officially jealous of those that get this fresh and consider this a tradition. While we have a few highly sought after Christmas ales in and around Ohio, there's nothing as complex and potentially able to be enjoyed outside of the season as this.

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Photo of Beginner2
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A little different every year, this ale has a following. I am one of its followers... and this is my holiday ritual. Buy a six pack. Drink one in early December and one during the holidays with family, both times compare to a previous year. (Unlike some aficionados, I don't claim to taste the different spices or gradations in the malt bills between vintages. But, I do notice that vintages tend to mellow with aging.) And then, I have one on the first day of spring, as I just did, to remind myself that the birth of a new year is not formalized until spring. (I live in Chicago.)

Ale should always be improved upon. This is one of the more consistent ways of doing and, for my money, the preferred improvements are gradual... and shouldn't be radical.
This is Anchor's way of improving. And, I'd like to think, the way I try to improve also.

Our Special Ale is on the "1001" list and definitely deserves it.
MJ's 1999 describes the beer, but no rating as each recipe is different.

1/2/17. Edited review and re-rated downward when comparing to 2016 vintage.
2015 seems harsher than I remember; not like it mellowed over the year.
We will have a 4th tasting in 11 months.
12/10/18, actually 23 months later and it did mellow. For this weight, 3 years is a bit long; but the ale broke down enough to mellow the spices. So my new theory for this ale is that if the vintage is harsher than normal, 3 years is OK to keep.

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Photo of woomThomas
3.24/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

2015 The beer is dark even black when you pour it.
The foam is beige with large bubbles.
Smells against some little, and the taste is less than I expected.
But the malt is there and some brödighet.
The scents here are darker but still a bit tame.
A little dark bread, raisins, dark syrup.
Find some chocolate, vanilla, caramel, nuts and a little Christmas spices.
A little malt and hops dull, maybe some coffee.
At first sip, the whole beer a bit smaller than expected, a little more tasteless and dropped character.
Is a roasted flavor, the bread will find fairly quickly, with hints of raisins.
Are some sweetness by the vanilla, chocolate, caramel, malt.
Are some Christmas spices, cardamom, nuts, slabbe coffee.
A little more carbon dioxide than I thought with it disappears quickly, a little bitter at the end.

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Photo of devo1980
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours excellent and has a great aroma.
Perhaps I am rating it a bit low. Have had previous years and was slightly disappointed with this years offering. A touch on the piney side, and has an alcohol taste that is a bit strong for only a 5.5% ABV beer. Not overly smooth but very decent and drinkable.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Magnum into snifter.

A: Pours a deep cola color with a thick cap of dense and fluffy dark tan foam. Head fade to a thick and lasting collar. Sheets of spotty lace were left down the glass.
S: Spruce, sarsaparilla, slight vanilla, bark, earthy spice, winter green, mint chewing gum, and marshmallow.
T: Follows the nose with the addition of powdery cocoa, cola, a clean ambiguous caramel sweetness, and hints of raisin.
M: Medium body, very balanced sweetness contrasting with a dry finish, soft and clean carbonation.
O: Had this next to the 2010 and I definitely prefer these beers fresh. Flavors were bright and balanced and not too soda-like like some years.

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Photo of arizcards
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Picked up a single in early January from TW Arrowhead for $2.99. Bottled on September 08, 2015.

Beer poured dark brown with a big off white head that dissipated quickly.

Nose is pretty mellow, some light roasted malts and Christmas spices.

Taste is roasted malts, dark fruit, bread, nutmeg, and some light cinnamon.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied and not overly smooth.

Overall i liked this year's version better than the last couple. Spicing was not nearly as much in the past and the charred malts are less roasty too.

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Photo of mactrail
3.21/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Handsome pour, the color is an opaque dark brown with a tall and long-lasting pile of suds in the Troubadour tulip. This is so watery in body, but too murky and spicy to be refreshing. It's more like a Brown Ale with an unusual bit of spice.

Just slightly sweet with a hint of roasted grain. It has more of a smell of caramel than a flavor. Slight scratchy bitterness in the finish. There's a little buttery note and a hint of walnuts. Fairly drinkable but there's a dishwatery taste that detracts from the pleasure.

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Photo of gcamparone
3.4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Pours a dark muddy brown body with a big frothy off white head.

Aromas are grainy and corny, maybe a little bit of toffee but very BMC like on the aroma.

Taste is unique.. Spices but I'm not sure which spices.. Rosemary? Spruce? Maybe a little evergreen? Interesting. Caramel and sweet malt. Medium high carbonation with a medium body.

Interesting beer, odd flavor profile.

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Our Special Ale 2015 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 425 ratings