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

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Very Good
238 Ratings
Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.70%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by Silke_Neryn on 11-03-2017

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

View: Beers
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 238 |  Reviews: 86
Reviews by wertschy:
Photo of wertschy
3/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

More User Reviews:
Photo of teromous
3.47/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I don't see any bottle date other than the 2017 from the label. On the back there is "7OJ"

Appearance: This beer looks absolutely fantastic in the glass. The head is this thick, frothy, light khaki cloud that coats the glass in sheets of lacing. The beer itself is a dark brown that appears mostly black in the glass. It has great head retention.

Aroma: The beer has a light caramel aroma with just a light touch of what smells like charcoal. The aroma of the beer is very faint.

Taste: Up front it is earthy with a bit of a black tea character and a touch of acidity that bites the tongue. It has just a touch of a sweet caramel flavor that is quickly overtaken by the taste of alcohol. It's pretty interesting for the alcohol to be so present in such a low ABV beer. It finishes with a bit of carbon flavor. There is an odd flowery aftertaste with a bit of a juniper quality to it.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is light with a wet finish. Mild to low bitterness from the grains and just a touch of an acidic bite. Because of the alcohol flavor it is a bit of a sipper.

Overall: It is an interesting beer that is a welcome addition to the Christmas beer lineup. It would work well when paired with something gamey, heavily seasoned, or smoked. I would recommend at least trying a bottle because it isn't the average winter beer you are likely to find on the shelf. I would drink it again.

 1,390 characters

Photo of garymuchow
4.02/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Seems early, but there it was in all it's glory. Plus it's been colder than hell here for a few weeks and it feels like time for a Christmas Ale).
Bigger head than normal and maybe a little darker than typical too. Much tighter aroma with the malt more prominent and less of the spicing.
Smoother flavor with malt more prominent. Less pine and more nut and berry qualities. Still dries out well but again a little less than the previous ones I have had. Some drying from the spicing too. Little hints of sweetness.
Still a nice heavish body for a smaller beer. Soft yet full carbonation. Some warmth to the gut fulfilling the winter warmer designation nicely. Nice smooth feel.
I like the more subdued spicing of this years batch. What is there blends very nicely with the malt, whereas in the past there were many distinct flavors and less sense of the blending of the whole.
I'm more likely to want several of these in a sitting, whereas previous ones are typically one and done.

 996 characters

Photo of drtth
4.24/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The dark reddish brown beer pours out into a Duvel glass with a 2" tan head that recedes slowly leaving lots of irregular lacing on the sides of the glass. Even to the end of the beer there's an island of foam on the surface and lacing on the sides remaining. Sipping creates small scattered patches and legs of lacing even after the layer of foam becomes a ring and island on the surface.

The aromas include some chocolate, a bit of coffee and some dark roasted malt. In the background there's some dark fruits and some spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.

The flavors are much as expected from the nose with the dark malt, coffee and chocolate. In the background there's the dark fruits, cinnamon and nutmeg. A bit of sweetness from the malt softens the slightly burnt character of the dark malt and slightly herbal bitterness.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and fairly smooth with light, persistent carbonation. The finish begins as the sweetness and some of the fruit. spice and malt flavors being to recede allowing some light herbal and dark roast bitterness to close out the with a slightly bitter and dry ending.

Overall, I'd say this is a quite good beer with lots of complexity in the flavor profile. The spices are not overdone and compliment the rest of the flavors nicely. I'd certainly enjoy having another and think it's one of the better versions of Our Special Ale that I've tried.

 1,410 characters

Photo of smcolw
4.19/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Deep, deep brown but bright light can shine through the edge easily. Hard to tell, but it looks to be clear. Significant foam for the head initially, but the lace is limited to random spots on the glass.

The smell in this year's batch has far less of the typical tree bark/pine needle notes. In its place is an attractive sweet chocolate with salted caramel aroma. Faint notes of raisin and alcohol deep in the background.

The taste approaches a Barley Wine but falls short with a more average body and lighter (but noticeable) alcohol notes. The taste has many darker malt elements: some chocolate, tree bark, light smoke. The beer is balanced but it's hard to draw out any distinct hop or burnt malt. Yet, there is a mild sweetness to the beer. This is one of their better versions of an annual favorite of mine.

 824 characters

Photo of mothmanscott
4.02/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a brown so deep as to appear black. Holding the beer to a bright light does not help with determining clarity. Also the garnet or ruby highlights often seen when held thusly are not readily visible with this brew. The pour produces over 2 fingers of deep tan, moderately lasting, frothy head that recedes to a decent surface cap & collar leaving only a few wisps of lacing. Aroma is dark chocolate, molasses, toasted pumpernickle, roasted nuts, dark fruit, a hint of coffee & wood with Christmas spice hints & a faint vinous sourness. The spices are less prominent in this year's offering & it has a pleasant earthiness to it. Taste is rich & cake-like dark malt bready, with dark chocolate, molasses, dried figs & roasted nuts. It finishes by adding coffee, faint smoke & a earthy note giving way to an earthy, bready, spice, roasted & lightly bitter aftertaste. As with the nose the spice complement is reduced from previous offerings. Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with medium carbonation, velvety smooth, creamy, lightly tongue coating & slightly wet fronted but drying in the finish with a light prickle. Another great example of this long-running fine beer. Thanks Anchor for your continued efforts and a job well done!

 1,233 characters

Photo of Beginner2
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Having saved empty bottles of Our Special Ale as far back as 2003 (and having Had this Ale in the previous Century), I believe I'm entitled to note a milestone....
While sitting on the pedestal as the godfather of the craft movement, Anchor was purchased by investors in 2010 who intended to take the brewery to its next level. In sum, they did.
This year, it was announced that Sapporo Industries would purchase Anchor.

Ok. What does Sapporo do with their purchase ?

My advice. Understand this beer. It is quintessential Anchor. It is also quintessential business, a slow progression on a great base (in this case, malt.) Anchor's style is cautious innovation, nada extreme. Perfect for a big brand company like Sapporo.
And if I were the Sapporo executive, here is what I would taste... and preserve.
A basic brown ale with spicing that seems similar enough to carry on the tradition, although slightly different, every year. Those small variations always give me something to think about.

 996 characters

Photo of oberon
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a roasted chestnut brown with some ruby hue a deep beige thick head atop.Get molasses mainly in the nose with a hint of vanilla,a bit of raw woodiness comes thru as well.Dryer than expected on the palate with an ESB-like fruitiness in the back end,some drying earth/wood to round out the palate.Easy drinking and close to alot of the different years in looks and flavor.Always look forward to this beer each year.

 419 characters

Photo of DanGeo
3.24/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A dark reddish/brown color. Moderate light tan head with plenty of lace.
Fruit and cinnamon aroma.
Dark fruit taste, raisins. Cinnamon spice.
Nice enough. Late cinnamon burn.

 175 characters

Photo of heddar33
4.02/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Wolvmar
4.16/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

 802 characters

Photo of G_Shoe
4.31/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Photo of BCborn
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of juicebox
4.82/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of MattyG85
4.25/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of takusan1000
4.32/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of mrosenfeld32
3.71/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of LXIXME
3.79/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of biboergosum
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

355ml bottle - another year, another Christmas beer from Anchor, and now, the fine folks at Sapporo.

This beer pours a clear, very dark orange-brick highlighted brown colour, with a near teeming tower of puffy, rocky, and chunky beige head, which leaves some splendid densely webbed lace around the glass as it slowly but surely abates.

It smells of gritty and grainy caramel malt, some blended seasonal spice (maybe spicy cinnamon and nutmeg standing out), a bit of woodsy char, some fig and prune fruitiness, a bit of musty yeast, faint cocoa powder, and some understated earthy, leafy, and floral green hop bitters. The taste is bready and doughy caramel malt, medium chocolate, more now obfuscated Christmas spice, a bit of well-steeped black tea, mild fruity cough medicine notes, some free-range roastiness, faint estery yeast, and more weak leafy, weedy, and musky floral hoppiness.

The carbonation is adequate in its palate-caressing frothiness, the body a decent middleweight, and mostly smooth, with just a soupcon of edgy spice making a fuss as things warm up a tad around here. It finishes off-dry, the robust malt, spice, cold cocoa, and gentle smoke making for a warm lingering experience.

Overall - this seems to be one of the better recent iterations of this annual offering, much fuller-feeling, and lacking that usual overbearing musty yeast character. Kind of a mix between winter warmer and American-style stout, which still obviously works, as the snow, she's a flyin'!

 1,497 characters

Photo of Skabiski
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of AZBeerDude72
3.94/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with decent foam and lacing. The nose is very faint, sugary molasses, burnt raisin and figs. The flavor is a little muted when served cold but as it warms it takes on more flavors. Getting sweet molasses, smokey raisin/fig, peet, some minor alcohol bite. Overall not a bad little beer, wish the flavors were a little more pronounced and less a bite but as a whole a good offering as always this time of year.

 420 characters

Photo of dertyd
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of cjgator3
4.01/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass. Pine, spices, licorice make up the nose with a nice malty taste. This is one of those few beers I associate with the winter time, I will always pick up at least a sixer each year.

 210 characters

Photo of futiledevices
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

 395 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Our Special Ale 2017 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.89 out of 5 with 238 ratings