Our Special Ale 2018 (Anchor Christmas Ale) | Anchor Brewing Company

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Our Special Ale 2018 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2018 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Very Good
136 Ratings
Our Special Ale 2018 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2018 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.90%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
This year’s brew marks the 44th annual release of this Anchor holiday tradition. Every year, Anchor creates a new, secret recipe with a unique hand drawn label for their Christmas Ale, but the intent with each brew remains the same joy for the changing seasons and celebration of the newness of life. With a heavily guarded, confidential recipe, Christmas Ale is sold only from early November to mid-January. This highly anticipated seasonal delight is complex and full in flavor, packed with toasty cocoa notes, roasted malts and strong aromas of resinous pine.

Our 2018 Christmas Ale has varying specialty malts, lending rich flavors of brûléed sugars, holiday spices and freshly baked banana bread with a velvety finish. The aromatics are quintessential for the holiday season: nutty candied yams and resinous pine. It pours a nice mahogany brown color with a fluffy, tan head.

As each Christmas Ale recipe evolves, so does its hand drawn packaging, created by long-time Anchor Illustrator Jim Stitt, who has been creating Anchor’s Christmas Ale labels since 1975. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew. For the 2018 release, Stitt created a brimming Korean Pine Tree for the label. Native to both North and South Korea, the Korean Pine Tree is a symbol of peace and a reminder of the spirit of the season. It flourishes in the picturesque botanical gardens just north of San Francisco, Anchor’s home base.

Added by biboergosum on 10-07-2018

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Ratings: 136 |  Reviews: 51
Photo of LiquidAmber
3.99/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a dark reddish brown with a thin khaki head with That dissipates to patches with light lacing. Aroma of light biscuit and bready malt, cocoa, cinnamon, raisins and light nuts. Flavor is biscuit and chocolate malt, graham cracker, mild cocoa, allspice and a hint of pine; finishes mildly bitter and malty. Medium bodied with light creaminess. This has been an annual tradition for decades, and unfortunately it's hard to exactly remember these after a year, but this years seems similar with bready and biscuit malts with mild chocolate and fruit notes and mild pine. The flavor, as always is very seasonal and pleasant.

 662 characters

Photo of BubbleBobble
3.7/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

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

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

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

Photo of Bogdawg
3.58/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

The beer pours a nice light brown head that dissipates quickly but leaves a nice light film over the surface of the beer. The color of the beer itself is a nice dark brown/light black color with a nice, slightly creamy texture. It's a good look and this year seems to have slightly more heft to it.

The smell is good. It has some pretty nice spice notes such as cinnamon with bits of ginger and sugar. The spice notes are accented with a light molasses note but seem to be subordinate to a good banana bread note with slight hints of yam.

The taste is a bit better than the smell. The taste definitely has a moderate banana note to it alongside a bittersweet molasses note to it.

The feel is good. It's a medium bodied beer with a pretty good creamy and hefty feel to it. It's certainly a winter warmer with a nice feel to it.

Overall, I think this is another very good Our Special Ale, It's definitely better than last years and has a nice strong and interesting dessert flavor that definitely speaks to the holidays and the weather.

 1,038 characters

Photo of JimboBrews54
4.5/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of spark3148857
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of mohaghandi
4.58/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is absolutely the best “fresh” version of this beer. Tons of pine, & spruce, a liquid Christmas tree!

110 characters

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

Gone are the days of spruce and Christmas spice- the anchor Our Special Ale has moved on to brown bread and baking spices- nutmeg, ginger, and a bit of cinnamon. I used to love the spruce notes, but the last few years have revealed nary a hint of them. This is pleasant, maybe a touch more pronounced and balanced than last year, but I no longer make it a point to seek this out every Holiday season- If I find it, I find it.

 425 characters

Photo of cgrunin
3.77/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Myros
3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From bottle to tulip, pours a reddish brown with a plentiful thick tan head that has some nice hang time.

Aroma is of fresh pine and spruce, sweet malt, and mild alcohol.

Taste is like drinking an evergreen with a sweet malt background. Caramel candy, a hint of sulfur, clove, bread, and cranberry. No alcohol.

Medium full, mouth coating body.

Overall, sweeter than I want it to be but then I remember it’s a Christmas ale and should be sweet and all is well. I do really like this beer and love looking forward to it every year. Thanks to Anchor for keeping traditions alive.

 586 characters

Photo of hman43
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: It pours light brown with deep reddish hues. The head is tan with excellent head retention.

Smell: The aroma starts off with a bit of spiciness and toffee. As it warms there are some dark cherry notes. There are also additional pine notes in the background with bread crusts.

Taste: The flavor is highlighted by the spices and the malts. The malts resemble toffee and bread. There are some piney notes in support with dried cherry.

Feel: It has a moderately full body with a somewhat dry finish.

Overall, it is a malty and spicy beer just perfect for the New Year.

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Photo of tdm168
3.81/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of ewenmcewen
4.32/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of abrodsky
3.49/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of FrankLloydMike
3.86/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of BeenTired
3.59/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of MI_beerdrinker
3.65/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of kemoarps
3.86/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a ruddy dark copper. With a nice sticky manilla head. Recedes, but leaves a sticky ring and good soapy bubble island in the center.

Nose is primarily caramel malts some spicy bready notes (like rye bread). As it warms it remains very malt forward, but it gets a little sweeter, leaning more into the caramel notes and fruit notes (banana esters for sure as well as some fruitcake sweet... actually the more I'm digging into it I'm getting more banana bread connotations and I actually find myself digging it more than I'd expect as those are not the notes I like as much in a beer).

While the nose came forward as sweet and braedy, the flavour is immediately piney bitter and dull (not dull like boring, just dull like blunt like not sharp). Big dry bitter pine dominates and sits over an almost ashy body that is less robust and bready than expected. Almost none of the fruits found on the nose, and that banana bread impression is long gone.

Long bitter finish. Dry and medium bodied. Bright carbonation. I always love trying these each year, and then revisiting them years later. It's also kind of a breath of fresh air in light of all the trends that have emerged lately, as this is assertively and decidedly old school in its approach.

 1,253 characters

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

Photo of ICTguy21
4.19/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Gaddabble
3.99/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Photo of Stout_Scout
5/5  rDev +28.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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Our Special Ale 2018 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.89 out of 5 with 136 ratings