Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Anchor Brewing Company

Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Winter Warmer
3.91 | pDev: 9.72%
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Notes: This is the forty-third annual "Our Special Ale" from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale's recipe is different every year, as the tree on the label, but with the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with it's seasons, appears born anew. Our tree for 2017 is the Santa Lucia fir. Extremely rare, it is native and limited to California's Santa Lucia Range.
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Reviews: 90 | Ratings: 259 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of mschrei
mschrei from Illinois

4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Reviewed at two years old with a three year vertical. Oldest of the group. Dark, creamy thick frothy head. Bit of spices on the nose. Flavorful, but spices are muted. Thick full body, most well rounded of the three. Tasty.

Dec 21, 2019
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TooManyGlasses from Canada (AB)

4.08/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2017 edition enjoyed in May 2019....nothing like a good winter beer in late spring. Pours a deep brown, almost black with 1 finger deep tan head. Smell of Christmas spice - nutmeg, clove, dark fruits, hint of licorice and some definite sherry notes from the age. Taste slightly sweet yet a vinous tartness pokes through - brown sugar, spices, caramel, dark fruits, and again a bit of sherry with some hoppy bitterness at the end. Creamy moderately carbonated mouthfeel, slightly sweet yet tart on palate with a nice touch of lingering bitterness.

May 24, 2019
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Ronl12 from Massachusetts

3.56/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into IPA glass.
Look is dark almost black. Smell is winter spices. Taste follows nose. Feel is fairly smooth. Overall nice for what it is. Easy sipper.

Feb 09, 2019
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beergoot from Colorado

3.61/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark, garnet colored body with a thick, dense and creamy head; thick, sticky rings of foam descending the glass. A bit of spiciness and dark fruit aroma; plums. Malty and fruity flavor; ginger; some mildly boozy quality. Medium body; a bit weak for a winter/holiday beer; slightly sweet with a touch of dryness at the finish.

I was looking for the 2018 version at my favorite beer store, but the 2017 edition is what they had in stock, and since I hadn't tried it...I don't know if it's the relative age, but the beer isn't quite what I would expect for a holiday ale. It tastes okay but lacks the oomph and bold holiday flavors I looks for. Good to very good for an older ale...

Dec 20, 2018
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HoodviewBrew from Texas

3.99/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Beer poured dark brown with a 1-inch head that lingered for several minutes. Well carbonated. Nose smells of nutmeg and clove. Taste is similar to the smell but I also notice cardamom flavor in addition to the nutmeg. Mouthfeel is good- malty and full.

Dec 01, 2018
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elNopalero from California

4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I had this in 2017, but it's taken me a year to post my review.

This pours a dark cola coffee color with cocoa colored foam. Heavy wintergreen menthol notes on the aroma and palate. I always enjoy his beer year after year and this year is no exception.

Nov 14, 2018
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Blackop555 from Michigan

3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours brown. Thick, medium, tan head that lasts a while.

Smells spices, roasty, earthy bitter, bready, dark fruit and Piney.

Taste roasted malts, spices, bready, light caramel and a little pineyness creeps in towards the end. Finish is semi-dry with a bready linger. Medium body and creamy lower carbonation.

Aug 09, 2018
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patre_tim from Thailand

3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown with a chocolate tinge, topped with 4 fingers of dark brown tinged head.

Smells of taffy, chocolate and coffee with hints of cinnamon and spice.

The taste follows the nose.

Thick, foamy body with moderate carbonation.

Got in Agawam, MA, drinking in New Hamburg, ON, May 11th, 2018.

May 12, 2018
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joaopmgoncalves from Portugal

3.86/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured to a Brooklyn Brewery tumbler.

A: Body is dark to bronwish with a beige head 5mm thick. Despite not being very dense, it's opaque as no light comes through.
S & T: Taste is a bit tarty, bitter and sweet. It's tarty from a somewhat acidic fruity tone of raspberries. It's sweet with a porter-like sweetness of very very mild toffee. It's very malty also and with some light bitterness incoming from the roastiness.
M: Body is low. Carbonation is overly achieved but still good. Sweetness is medium and bitterness is mild.
O: Ir sure doesn't look like a Christmas Ale, as it isn't - Winter Warmer, but was expecting it to be closer to one. Still, good enough to drink but not as sweet as expected.

Apr 18, 2018
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arizcards from North Carolina

3.79/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Picked up a single from TW Arrowhead on 12-17-17 for $2.99. Bottled on 10-26-17 but kept in the beer fridge since purchase.

Beer poured dark brown with a nice tan head that has some decent hang time.

Nose has hints of allspice and nutmeg.

Taste follows the nose, roasted malts sprinkled with allspice and nutmeg, and maybe a touch of ginger.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth.

Overall a pretty good rendition of an old classic.

Apr 01, 2018
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Bitterbill from Wyoming

4.19/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From 16 ounce Prowler bought at Liquor Shed bought at Liquor Shed in Casper.

Pours near black, tiniest bit of red hues. Great head of foam with good lacing.

Smells of nutmeg, almost like what you get with a pumpkin beer, bananas, cloves, roasted malt.

Taste has the nutmeg, cloves, bananas, kinda roasty, very low level of bitterness. Very tasty.

Great mouthfeel, easy drinking, excellent from this mini Growler. Bottles won't be coming so I am glad Jacob got some and put it on the Growler station.

Mar 16, 2018
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futiledevices from South Dakota

3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a deep deep amber that looks black when not held to light. Smell is dark fruits, toasty caramel malt, banana bready yeast, nutmeg and other holiday spices, piney hops. Taste is much of the same, pronounced roasty malt and herbal hops, lightly sweet and spiced, with a lingering bitterness and more of that banana bready yeast. Not too sticky, not too thin. A nice, balanced winter ale.

Mar 05, 2018
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pianoguy from Washington

3.87/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle. No bottling info

Pours a solid mahogany body with a big tan head. Tiny carbonation. Great retention, good lacing .

Overall scent is not very prominent. Smells of plums with spices. Maybe a little caramel too.

Taste follows. The spices are noticeable on the finish giving it an almost boozy effect. Kind of a dry taste overall...

Nice full feel !

Overall; An interesting beer. The feel was spot on (for a winter warmer). But the spices gave the taste a dry effect that didn't work for me.

Mar 03, 2018
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monkist from Hungary

4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

First time I tried a Winter Warmer and first time I had one from the Our Special Ale series. Had this perhaps on (hopefully) one of the last days of winter 2017/18 on February 28 and despite the minus -10+ degrees, somewhere there is spring in the air.
Our Special Ale therefore felt a little post-seasonal. Maybe it suits the days of Christmas best with its dark and malty flavour and subtle spices. It is more drinkable than a full bodied, roasted malty dark ale, it feels actually semi dry and lighter than what you would expect.
Appreciating the mastery of Anchor made me favor this beer ahead of its taste or impression, although it is alright I did not find it outstanding. Let us try it next year at its real season!

Feb 28, 2018
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kian123 from Canada (SK)

4.52/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It tastes almost similar to what it smells. Except the hoppy smell, which isn't in the taste and tastes spicier than smelt! Very nice winter ale I bought at 10 dollars a 6 pack 330 ml bottles!

Feb 13, 2018
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dsa7783 from New Jersey

3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap at Bonds Tavern in West Orange. Pours a jet black ebony hue with moderate frothing. Assertive aroma replete with hints of chocolate and mocha. Similar overall flavor profile.

Feb 08, 2018
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Beaconheath from South Dakota

4.98/5  rDev +27.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Not every beer was brewed to fit into a style category. Might the creators of this one say, "Take it for what it is"? Released in time for the Nov/Dec holidays, "Winter Warmer" is a suitable designation. But with its dark color bordering on black, its lighter mouthfeel, its noticeable whiff of sprucy hops, and its modest ABV relative to traditional British winter warmers, Anchor's 2017 "Our Special" is arguably an American Black Ale. All said, a rose smells sweet whatever we call it.

Feb 06, 2018
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Wolvmar from Michigan

4.16/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. Warmed a bit to 46-48 degrees.

Pours a deep brown with some mahogany and a nice two finger head. Dissipates slowly leaving nice lacing on the glass.

Smell is spices, dark fruit, some caramel. Really nice; not overpowering but subtle complexity.

Taste is similar to nose. Fairly complex with spice notes, dark fruit, slight hop butters, and caramel. Could probably identify more on a second go around.

Mouthfeel is solid. Moderate carbonation is appropriate with the spice notes. It rolls across the tongue exciting senses along the way more than many beers. Slightly viscous but a clean, crisp finish.

Overall this is an excellent holiday brew. Could certainly be drunk anytime of the year. Refreshing, interesting and enjoyable experience. Definitely worth trying.

Jan 29, 2018
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detgfrsh from Texas

3.59/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle made 9/15/17. Pours a dark reddish-brown with a finger of tan head. Brown sugar and raisin smell. Medium feel with sharp carbonation. Dark fruit and sweet malt taste. Looks and smells good, but there's not much presence, and the finish is very dry.

Jan 27, 2018
Photo of nicholas2121
nicholas2121 from Ohio

4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale) brewed by Anchor Brewing Company, with an ABV of 6.70% This Winter Warmer pours out a deep brown color with a nice light brown but golden head. This brew has the look of cola, not saying that is a bad thing. There is also a nice amount of lacing to this brew, it sticks to the side of the glass well. The smell is rich with sweetness, and mild spices. You also pick up on roasted grains, malts and hops. Between the the look and smell this is one inviting brew. Now for the taste, it is rich with spices and mild roasted goodness. I will give this brew this, it is different, but in a good way. The spices are a nice touch to this brew. You also pick up on nice gains and malts. There is a lot going on in Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale). There is nothing overpowering about this brew, it has a super nice balance to it. It is really hard to pick up on the 6.70% ABV in this brew, it is just that smooth. The body is a solid medium. If you are a fan of spice brews, you should look this brew up. The mouth feel is Bold, Spicy, Roasted, Clean, Smooth and Refreshing. Overall I'm giving Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale) a 4.25 out of 5. I would look this brew up again giving the opportunity to. Anchor Brewing Company, did a real nice job with this winter warmer.

Jan 26, 2018
Photo of IronLover
IronLover from Pennsylvania

4.26/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown, nearly black in color with ruby red highlights on the edge of the glass. Very good clarity. Poured with a thick, creamy, dense, light beige foam that quickly reduced. Medium low retention. Sweet dark malt, dark fruit, brown bread, raisin and prune aromas with notes of earthy hops and light spice. On the heavier side of medium bodied with medium carbonation. Viscous, creamy smooth feel with light warmth near the finish. Sweet dark malt flavors up front with dark fruits and lighy spiciness. Medium light spicy hop bitterness through the middle followed by light roasty, dark and lightly charred malt. Finished with rich malty, sweet, dark and lightly roasted malt and light bitterness. Wonderfully complex malt character with a beautiful appearance. Lush, creamy feel. Nice balance between sweet malt, hop bitterness and roasted malt characters.

Jan 13, 2018
Photo of Act25
Act25 from New Jersey

4.09/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

As good an annual new year beer as can be found.
A) A dense tan head builds over dark, near black-brown, translucent body. Lasts well, laces little
S) Earthy more than spice (good). Dark fruit, licorice, prune, roasted malt and molasses.
T) As the smell goes, plus more complexity with tamarind, prune and licorice then caramel malt to the end, with higher notes of piney, wood smoke, and bitter herbs. Complex and nice.
F) Medium body with low carbonation, but with that prune juice feel.
O) Winter depth and complexity. A best buy. Try 12.

Jan 12, 2018
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JerzDevl2000 from New Jersey

3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up right before Christmas, as is the case nearly every year for nearly the last decade and a half. I love how this beer has a different label and a different taste to it every year. Some years, it's nice and full or full of fruit and spice but this year, I didn't get any of those vibes at all. Heavy in taste but thin in mouthfeel, this came across as quite somber and sticky which would be fitting given the national mood and frozen wasteland that this area has become in the last few weeks!

Esoteric references aside, this had quite a dark pour to it as the beer looked like cola, topped with a light raspberry head that was full and bubbly. Plenty of lacing was left behind on the side of my pint glass but the aroma didn't live up to the appearance as there was some winter spice, molasses, brown sugar, and a bit of dark fruit to be found in the mix as well. Very tough to pick out the hops this year as the pine took a back seat to aforementioned darker notes that slowly emerged as this warmed up. Dry, sticky, and lightly carbonated, this almost came across as a Wassail as a woody undertone took hold near the end of my session, and in the aftertaste once this finally went down.

Not a lot of alcohol in here but it was one of the few beers that I've had lately that tasted stronger than it was in actuality. While not one of the better editions of this annual favorite of mine, I still enjoy it on a cold night with the holiday lights on here in the house. Worth getting to celebrate Christmas with, but I'm hoping for a bounce back with next year's release...

Jan 11, 2018
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haines710 from Delaware

3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice looking beer and the idea is cool but I don't think this years version came out that well. Lots of competing flavors that for me end up being muddled and left me unsatisfied. As it warmed the flavors emerged a little more but still a little metallic. Not a favorite.

Jan 07, 2018
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josanguapo from Spain

3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From Tercertiempocervezas. In Teku glass. With Marcos Conde cheese. Playing Duke Grabowski. Peculiar and pleasant spicy/herbal profile that fits well in its chistmas and tree themes, feeling smooth, soft and delicate

Jan 04, 2018
Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 259 ratings