Our Special Ale 2001 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Anchor Brewing Company

Our Special Ale 2001 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2001 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Winter Warmer
4.02 | pDev: 14.68%
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Our Special Ale 2001 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2001 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Reviews: 53 | Ratings: 65 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Sean9689
Sean9689 from Illinois

3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared at Alex's Birthday Bash.

A - Pours a brownish color, off-white head. thin collar.

S - Brown sugar, dark fruit, oak, caramel, burnt sugars. The sweetness is just right for this beer and it reminds me of a Brown Ale more then anything.

T - Similar to the nose. Brown sugars, light dark fruit, and oak.

M - Light to medium body, good carbonation, clean sweet finish.

O - Decent, nothing crazy here. Enjoyed my pour would probably wouldn't seek out again.

Jun 27, 2012
Photo of nickd717
nickd717 from California

4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review dated 2/4/2009.

Bottle at The Bruery, 2001 vintage. Dark amber color with an off-white head. Malty aroma with spices and dark fruits. Taste is malt, brown sugar, dark fruits, spices, and hints of Anchor Steam. Medium-full bodied. The best out of the three I tried (2001, 2002, 2008).

Aug 26, 2011
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DearthVader from California

4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle provided generously by amphion1065.

Poured into my Green Man Oversized Snifter

Pours an opaque brown with a small film of tan head forming atop. The head fades very quickly to a very thin crown that leaves no lacing. I pick up some ruby notes when held up to the computer screen.

Smell is of roasted molasses, toffee, plum, cherry, and something that is similar to bourbon. I can't put my finger on it though. Very interesting.

Taste is very nice. Starts with the nice roasted malts. The malts a backed by a heavy dark fruit body and molasses. I seem to pick up something different with every swig. Slight oak notes come out as well as the plum and cherry I found in the nose. Very interesting beer.

Mouthfeel is on the lighter side which kind of blows my mind when I think about this thing being 10 years old. I'm amazed this low ABV beer was able to hold up and throw out so many complexities.

This is the oldest beer I've ever had. I actually don't think my palate was anywhere ready for this. I feel like there are a ton of things in this beer that I missed out on. I still enjoyed it very very much and am extremely happy I got to try it. his was definitely a treat. Thanks again, Jason.

Aug 16, 2011
Photo of TMoney2591
TMoney2591 from Illinois

3.03/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

The Third Day of Beermas... It pours a murky black-brown topped by a relatively short-lived half-finger of dirty ecru foam. The nose comprises maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, light cocoa, cinnamon, and an undercurrent of old fish. Thankfully, the other smells o'erpower the fishiness, but unfortunately not completely. The taste runs very similarly, with the cocoa and molasses taking command, though this does still does not keep that pesky fish from making itself known. The body is a lazy medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a sloppy feel. Overall, things continue to improve, but there's a ways to go still.

Dec 18, 2010
Photo of KI9A
KI9A from Illinois

3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very dark, not much head. No lacing.

S: Molasses, toffee, malt jump out.

T: Some prune/plum, maybe a little dark chocolate. Some spice, can't determine. Nutmeg?

M: Light-medium body. Lightly carbonated.

D: Easy to drink, wanted more, but the other guys we sampled with thought the same! Lvoed the chance to taste it!

May 25, 2009
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hooliganlife from Missouri

4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to John for bringing this! He never lets down.

Poured near opaque black with little to no head. appears a bit thin.

light scents of dark fruits and molasses. sweet spice notes as well

flavor was very interesting. quite tart actually overall. think black currant and dark cherries with molasses and various spices.

a bit thin but for such a low ABV, pretty spot on.

this was a treat. much different than the magnum of 2000 that was tasted fall of 2008. this was a 12oz serving so for a beer that is not bottle conditioned, this ages so well!

May 25, 2009
Photo of Floydster
Floydster from California

3.94/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle purchased from the Stuffed Sandwich a few days ago for around seven dollars, split with my dad tonight, poured into an Anchor pint glass, color was more red than the other vintages of this Christmas beer I have had in the past, still a dark brown, surprisingly a nice one inch creamy light tan head that left a few legs, decent retention too, smell consists of cherries, rich dark fruits with lots of fig, also nutmeg, and milk chocolate, caramel, maple syrup, and oddly a hint of booze, taste is both sweet and spicy, does not taste like it is eight years old by any means, held up very nicely with a chewy and sweet aftertaste with chocolate and complex malts, like the flavor and how it all molds together, finish is a little lighter than expected though on the spice front, mouthfeel is mildly spicy, chewy, sweet, and roasty, medium bodied, more on the thinner side, moderate level of carbonation, could drink a few bottles of this, not too heavy and tastes great on a cold night, preferred around room temperature and not too cold, nice and smooth, not my favorite Anchor vintage but certainly above average, as well as being different from the others, would drink again, recommended

Jan 05, 2009
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hopdog from Pennsylvania

4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I tried 5 vintages on tap at the Stuffed Sandwich ('00, '01, '02, '03 & '04). The '01 was my favorite with the '00 a close 2nd. Nice subtle, malty, caramel aromas and tastes. Molasses. Light spices. I'm glad I had the chance to compare the 4 vintages on tap.

NOTE: did a tasting on 1/15/05 that included years '87, '90, '94, '97, '98, '00, '01, '02, & '03. The '02, '01 & '94 stood out as the best of the bunch. The '94 had a nice whiskey taste to it that the others did not. I thought the older vintages held up well over the years.

Nov 13, 2008
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praufs01 from Pennsylvania

3/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance - Black with a tan head.

Aroma - Aromas of black licorice and dark fruits against an alcohol background.

Palate - Very smooth.

Flavor - Subdued molasses flavor which gave it a slight metallic aftertaste.

Final thoughts - I can't really say that I like or disliked this ale.

Apr 14, 2008
Photo of far333
far333 from Connecticut

4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Murky dark chocolate colored with a full thick inch high head of brown dimpled and cratered foam that lingers very long.

Inviting aroma of plum and cocoa, with a fine spruce aroma, accented by hops.

Flavor matches the aroma closely - rich and balanced flavors of prune, plum and cocoa, piney spruce accents, and fine hop bitters in the finish.

Amazing silky mouthfeel, incredibly smooth with fine carbonation, rich and full feel.

Can't believe this is over 6 years old, what a treat. I may never drink it fresh again.

Jan 30, 2008
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lackenhauser from Maryland

3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deeo brown in color with still an admirable head. Muted spicey aroma. Full malt flavor balanced against a mellow spice. This has held up very well. Mellow roasted flavor. Good solid body for only 5%. For years I thought this ran 8 to 9 percentage wise. Shows what I know. Very drinkable 6 years later.

Dec 24, 2007
Photo of NEhophead
NEhophead from Massachusetts

4.39/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 fl oz brown bottle; served in a nonic.
Dated: 10K2.

Pours a deep, russet mahogany beneath a thin, lightly tan head with a filmy retention. No lasting lacing.

Dark, aged fruit: strong fig, raisin. Rounded holiday spices: nutmeg, brown sugar with a semi-sweet hint of molasses. A deep, port-like alcohol aroma.

Sweet, malty notes with caramel, molasses, and creamy milk chocolate. Fig, date, and raisin; all of which, are very full in flavor. Notes of orange, ginger, and nutmeg. A thick, warming port-ish alcohol character that lies in the finish and is followed by a subtle, chocolatey aftertaste.

Almost full in body; creamy and savory. Well balanced considering the dynamic flavor profile.

A remarkable ale that has gained a lot of character from the past six years. One of the best Winter Warmers that I can remember having. If you've been aging this one, it is certainly ready to drink now.

Dec 06, 2007
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eberkman from Massachusetts

3.89/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured ever-so-slightly chilled into a Chimay chalice. Appeared a deep, opaque brown with some red highlights, producing a one-finger tan head that dissipated to a ring and a thin island of surface foam fairly quickly.

An initial alcohol smell quickly gave way to a gorgeous candylike bouquet of nutmeg, ripe dark cherries and gingerbread. Blew me away. One of the most aromatic beers I can recall.

The taste has similar notes at the front, with some big, malty, butterscotch-and-toffee waves in the middle, but gives way to an odd, slightly metallic, slightly unpleasant astringency at the finish. I'm wondering if the bottle I received (which my brother-in-law purchased 2 weeks ago) had been cellared properly for the past 6 years. The taste is good enough and certainly complex, but a bit of a letdown after the smell.

The mouthfeel was nice, thick and creamy but slightly flatter than I would have liked. Sounds like that's to be expected, but I would have liked a little bit more carbonation bite.

In terms of drinkability, the odd finish detracts a bit. Not sessionable (the richness is a little much for more than one at a time), but certainly enjoyable to have one at a time.

I have to admit I was kind of disappointed by the drinking experience, especially given the incredible nose that presented itself at the start. But I am impressed by how well a 5.00 ABV beer has kept for such a long time.

Apr 11, 2007
Photo of Vancer
Vancer from Illinois

4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to timtheenchanta for the vertical tasting, from 2005 to 1999 – WOW! Year 2001 of the series sent to be in BIF46.

As usual, a deep cola brown capped by a tannish head, sticky rings of laces slide all the way down the diamond encrusted crystal snifter. Nice ring of yeasties on the bottom. This one has MUCH more in the way of sheet lacing.

Citrusy malts, coriander, dark fruits and pine in the aroma. The piney hops have softened nicey over the 2 years. Smooth and delectable. Full bodied, a little trail of oil is left in the mouth for a lingering finish. A strange, but nice pop of chocolaty malts kicks in the finish.

This one is still fairly “fresh” but it’s aging and maturing nicely.

Feb 10, 2007
Photo of Imstillthegman
Imstillthegman from Delaware

4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally decided to give one of these a taste since I have been shipping them out and giving as gifts. I am glad I did...now I only wish I would have kept more of them for myself.

Pours a dark, murky brown that quickly gave a glimpse of a tan head but now only shows a ring. I was impressed that a head was even noticed. Lacing isn't present at all, which is expected.

Wow...this smells good. Dark cherries, dates, mulling spices, dark chocolate, faint floral hops and a wood scent. Bold and complex. Totally unexpected.

The flavor is a mish-mash of all the scents. Dark fruit and dark chocolate wrap the spices nicely. Very malty with hardly any hops flavor noticeable. Some coffee peaks out in the aftertaste. Dark roasted malt is the star here.

Smooth, creamy medium to almost full body. Very little carbonation. I am impressed how this holds up have such a low level of hops and a lower ABV. The spices do a good job in preserving this one. I have never even thought about aging these before I found these 2001 six packs, but I will from now on.

Jan 03, 2007
Photo of scruffwhor
scruffwhor from Illinois

4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'm blown away at how this beer keeps. I was able to pick up a 6-pack of '98, 2000, '01, and '03 at my after work liqour store (Sal's Beverage Depot on St. Charles road in Elmhurst). All four vintages were great in their own special way. I was especially surprised at how the '98 held up.


Appearance- Pours a soupy brown with mahagony highlights. The head was a great two finger light chestnut hue. The head had slow dissipation to a thick film throughout the entire enjoyment of the beer being reviewed.

Smell- Lots o' toffee and sweet bread malts mixed with English hop florals.

Taste- A good, sharp mlt character hits the fron, middle and sides of the palate right off the bat. I can feel the malt flavors flow over my tongue with each sip. The malts are awesome and aged.

Mouthfeel- This brew had lots of roasted and toasted malts that were interprted in many ways. But a good impression was left and all these Anchor Brewing X-mas ales are great with grilled meats.

May 29, 2006
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DrunkMcDermott from Illinois

3.05/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Sample taste at Chicago Beer Society vertical tasting, Dec. 1, 2005. So this is a five-year old bottle. Pouring brings up more of a cherry smell than the 2002 had. This one comes up with a tough of ginger. This particular bottle, though, is just skating at the edge of drinkability.

Dec 13, 2005
Photo of Higravity
Higravity from Michigan

4.66/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

On tap at Max's.

After some truly horrible beer this was a life saver. Liquid black, tan head that laces everything it touches. The smell is dampered but it is great mix of all the anchor spice but soft and pillowy. The taste literally made my mouth water. I took one quick sip at the bar and my entire mouth got wet for more. Delicious blend of the spice and tree and nice simple malt combo. A little thin in the mouth but the nice carbonation helps it out and I wish I had gotten this as my happy hour 32ozer.

Dec 10, 2005
Photo of Sammy
Sammy from Canada (ON)

4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2001 picked up at Route 59 Liquor in Sufferin, NY. lots of depth and cola and barley prevalent, and carbonation. Near black, little head. Dry and spicey, good accompanyment to food with acidic bite. Notes: chocolate malt, figs, chestnut, nutmeg, cinammon, licorice/anise pepper. Medium mouthfeel.

Nov 27, 2005
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BuckeyeNation from Iowa

4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Murky dark chestnut with ruby red accents. The small, characterful, toasted tan cap is two fingers to start and is halved in the first few mintues. After that, it looks like it wants to hang around. It's a fine looking lid and it appears as though I'll have something to look at (atop the beer and on the glass) for the duration.

This could very well be the best OSA nose that I've experienced yet. It's tough to recall all of them since so much time has passed, but I trust my 'score consistency' and this one is an easy 4.0. The nasal profile consists of heavily roasted barley, chocolate fudge and enough spice to get anyone's attention. This one is both bold and compelling; more so than the older versions at least.

The 'good' train keeps rollin' along. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with age (this beer is still 4 years old after all), but, again, this iteration is noticeably more flavorful and more substantial in the mouth than the '98, '99 and '00. A solid, dark malty backbone is countered by a considerable amount of tangy, citrus fruity hops and a generous helping of juniper and spice.

The finish holds together remarkably well and the best constellation of flavors can be found in the instant after the beer leaves the mouth. The mouthfeel is a tad more full and more creamy than usual and helps to enhance, or at least to prolong, the wonderful flavor. I feel like trimming a Christmas tree right now.

Although the Our Special Ale recipe isn't one to make me wax poetic, I can see how others might rave over it. This beer has held up well for a 5%'er and tastes like it'll last a good bit longer. I've only had a fraction of the OSA vintages, but for me, the 27th time was the charm.

Sep 05, 2005
Photo of fisherman34
fisherman34 from Canada (MB)

4.06/5  rDev +1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2001 edition. Dark brown and opaque with minimal carbonation. Aromas of forest floor, spruce, ginger, and nutmeg. Heavy bodied with flavors of molasses, gingerbread, and prune. Some chocolate and caramel flavors show up on the slightly drying finish. It tastes like a "winter warmer" minus the alcohol kick, which is a good thing for me. Well done.

Aug 04, 2005
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Crotor from California

4.37/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a murky, opaque, dark-chocolate brown with one finger of tan head across the breadth of my snifter (so the carbonation is definately still good), but is disperses fairly quickly.

Releases a strong, malty and vinous aroma, somewhat port-like.

Feels light and creamy like frothed cappuccino in my mouth. Otherwise, the body is lighter than what is usual for OSA. All in all, an odd but pleasant combo.

The spices have receeded to the point that they are an indiscernable but definate element of the flavor. No "tree" flavor seems to be apparent any longer, however. The major elements of the flavor are a light, roasty, coffee-type taste, tempered by the winter spices, and the slight vinous characteristic backing it all. Finishes a bit dry.

Three years do this beer quite well.

Dec 23, 2004
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Boilermaker88 from California

4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled this now three year old Christmas ale while stopping in at the Stuffed Sandwich in San Gabriel. Sam has a five year run of Anchor's X-Mas beer ('00-'04) on-tap and I was eager to give the '01 vintage a go.
A uniform dark brown color and an eternal tan head promised great things. The head left copious amounts of sheet lace behind. The nose was a bit mellowed from the more recent years but still had notes of molasses, nutmeg, cinnamon, and toasted malt. The piney hops aroma had faded a fair amount in contrast and now only lingering in the backgorund.
The taste had a similar trait in that the rather robust pine resin hoppiness of younger versions has mellowed considerably in the 2001 model. Most prominant were flavors of clove and nutmeg, molasses, and a lightly bready maltiness. Still, the overall package is quite delicious in a more mature and refined state. The feel was medium in body, creamy, with a real drying finish.
Overall, Anchor's 2001 OSA has matured nicely and is a pleasure to drink.

Nov 20, 2004
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Gavage from Nevada

4.14/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep dark brown, almost black color with a thin head that reduces to some spotting rather quickly. The aroma reminds me of being in an evergreen tree forrest while someone is warming a spiced alcohol cocktail. Unique and fabulous. The flavor is complex as pine tree bark, evergreen branches, nutmeg, clove, roasted malt, coffee and alcohol create a very different flavor.

The body is medium, and the mouthfeel is slightly tingling but somewhat smooth. The spices and evergreen last long into the finish. This is a great one or two beer session on a cold northeastern night in front of a fireplace. Glad I have two more left from 2001.

Feb 06, 2004
Photo of garymuchow
garymuchow from Minnesota

4.06/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma has a heavier darker malt quality that's not necessarily roasted. A little sweet with a fresh grassy hops. Nice mix. Also sense molasses and a piney quality as it warms.
Dark brown with red/mahogany hues, creamy browning/tannish head. Nice creamy lacing.
Pleasing malty flavor, not too rich, not roasted. Nice mix of malt and hoppy dryness. As warms the hhoppy bitterness presents with a citrusy drying.
Wonderfully rich, creamy and smooth feel. Medium to heavy feel, just enough carbonation.
I venture that this has mellowed over 2 plus years, but it still offers good and interesting boldness. Very nice complexity.

Jan 08, 2004
Our Special Ale 2001 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 65 ratings