Our Special Ale 2019 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Anchor Brewing Company

Our Special Ale 2019 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2019 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Winter Warmer
Ranked #154
Ranked #33,746
3.71 | pDev: 16.44%
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
Our Special Ale 2019 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2019 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
View: Beers
Reviews: 34 | Ratings: 71 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of ghasting
4.04/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good Dar Ale. Some spice flavor, though not dominate. Lightly hopped with a nice aftertaste. Judging from other reviews this seems to send people one way or another. I like it.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.89/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

BOTTLE: Gorgeous snub bottle design with a branded red and gold pry-off crown cap. 2019 vintage. Iconic Christmasy label art.

Caramel. Herb. Brown malt. Cola. Sassafrass. Root beer.

I hoped for more spice...this has a generic malt sweetness at its heart but doesn't play up the herbs/spices to the extent one would hope. It's balanced, but it's one of the more disappointing vintages of Our Special Ale I can remember trying...I'm glad I just bought a single bottle.


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Photo of mackesonic
2.19/5  rDev -41%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Labeled PKG 092019. Poured fairly aggressively into a standard pint . Very thin head, disappeared within a couple minutes. Slight to non-existent lacing. Color dark-brownish red. Smell: Maybe caramel, with burnt rubber? Taste...bitter, somewhat coffee-like. Not much else. Poor mouth-feel, seemed very lacking in body. Alcohol taste evident.
Compared to previous years, this one is a loser. It actually seemed...flat! And It is also missing the herbal / piney spice accents which, while varying in strength from year to year, have always brought me back to this Christmas ale. Maybe I got some that slipped past Quality Control? Last year's wasn't great, but this one is really a disappointment.

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Photo of heymikew
4.37/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This series from Anchor has got to be one of the the most wildly fluctuating brewed products in history in terms of critique. One year it's praised by some and cursed by others, the next year, just the opposite. I try to just buy one small bottle to taste at the beginning of each Christmas season to make sure this year's recipe is one that I like. When I do, it's usually very good.

This year is very thumbs up for me. I enjoy stouts with lower alcohol.

I always love each year's unique tree art. This year's Thuja plicata is stunning!

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Photo of chitoryu12
3.67/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Look: Extremely dark brown with only faint brown highlights keeping it from blackness. One finger of off-white head with excellent retention.

Smell: Spices, floral hops, caramelized sugar.

Taste: Mild bubblegum sweetness followed by floral hops, with extremely mild bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Decent body and carbonation. Nothing stands out.

Overall: Surprisingly dull for a hyped annual release.

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Photo of spectru
4.05/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

It fizzes when you pour it. Gets a nice light tan head that fades quickly to almost nothing. Dark brown, cloudy, no lacing; Has a mild rich smell; Mouthfeel: not bad, tingly, and smooth at the same time, tiny bubbles. Gets a little flat as you get near the bottom of the glass, but not really. Taste is rich, kinda full-bodied, and tangy, chocolate maybe. This is a very interesting beer.

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Photo of ATL6245
4.11/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Dark brown, with garnet tint. Clear. Thick Kaki head with great retention.
Aroma: Layered, starts herbal, followed by roasted malt and resin.
Flavor: Presents herbal/spicy flavors prominent. Roasted malt and caramel. Alcohol is undetectable. Anchor describes coffee flavors; but I did not detect those, but definitely dark, roasty malts. Restrained bitterness.
Mouth-Feel: Soft, medium to full bodied. Nice moderate length finish with mild bitterness that quickly drops off.
Overall: This is quickly become a favorite and it fits the season well. It has a forward herbal/spiciness that works well with the malt backbone. It is drinkable morning, afternoon or evening. Anchor did a very nice job with this edition; which is difficult because they have to tweak it every year to make it a little different. Well worth seeking out.

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Photo of maltmaggot
2.7/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

There was once a beer, that was brewed during Christmas time, and it was called Christmas Ale. I think. It possessed a malty, piney character... but less so than in previous years. It was the ghost of Christmas past ale, a shadow of it's former self, and given the circumstances, not surprising. I feel that perhaps more flavor could have been included in the final package, but this beer get's you there. Not horrible, and not spectacular, you will find yourself at the drunk end, not minding.

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Photo of Bshaw22
3.97/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This pours dark brown almost black. Smell is faint but a little bit of roast. Maybe some dark brown sugar.
Flavor is muted and a little sweet bread with some burnt sugar. Very drinkable. Body is not heavy which is nice. Finish is slight bitter but not harsh. I like this for a season holiday beer

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Photo of Spikester
4.1/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very dark brown with one finger of light tan head.
Smell is molasses spices figs.
Taste is molasses spices figs some cocoa dark roasted malts.
Mouthfeel is medium with good carbonation. The finish is lightly dry and mildly bitter.
Overall another fine year for this Christmas beer.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.28/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A dark red/brown color with a small, quickly disappearing, tan head.
Sweet malt aroma, some spice, some chocolate.
Light caramel, cinnamon, and chocolate.
More malt than spice.
A bit of a disappointment.

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Photo of MoreBeer4me
2.25/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

I've been buying this beer for many years and have always enjoyed it. This year, 2019 I bought my usual case and upon drinking my first bottle, I found myself thinking....."WTF"? Had to be something wrong with this bottle so I chilled another from a different sixer and found it just as disappointing. I have no idea what they did to screw up a great beer, although they did a wonderful job at it.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.31/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. Bottle
2019 Vintage

Been 2 years since.

Poured into a tulip a very nice dark brown color, very nice carbonation, with a very nice thick/creamy one-finger plus light tan head, which leaves some very nice islands and sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, hoppy, with some spices, chocolate, some roastyness, vanilla. The taste is very nice malty, hoppy, spicey, roasty, with a chocolate note, vanilla. Medium body, ABV is hidden very nicely, with a slight dry/bitter finish. Overall, a very tasty brew. This year's is very nice.

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Photo of hoppity
3.6/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Every year I look forward to XMas ales, especially Anchor's entry. I found this year's a little lacking versus past years. To me it seems a little less spicy, less alive. Slightly too malty for my taste too, likely because the spice is so light. I'm hoping I can try it on tap this year as well, just to see if it's better.

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Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
2.62/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.25

From the bottle, it pours a nice clear brown with reddish hits with a nice light tan head that is slow to shrink. Lacing. I don't get much in the nose arena, somewhat spicy - cinnamon and burnt wood? - in the mouth, I get sharp cinnamon flavors and a somewhat burnt caramel. Not their best year! When describing it to a friend in Germany, I referred to this beer as "regrettable".

Perhaps it will improve with age??

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Photo of teromous
2.11/5  rDev -43.1%
look: 5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

The back label says: "PKG110619"
The front label says: "2019"

Appearance: The body of the beer is black and it shows dark transparent brown where light comes through. It has a medium sized light tan head that is frothy. Very good head retention and nice sheets of lacing.

Aroma: The beer has an acidic aroma which smells sickly and vomitous. At times there is a bit of burnt wood scent. It is very unappealing.

Taste: There is a flavor of burnt rubber, some caramel, and cheese. Caramel lingers on the palate. As the beer layers the rubber dies out a bit and it is replaced by a touch of pine.

Mouthfeel: It is a lighter bodied beer that borders on the edge of medium. Carbonation is good. Drinkability is very low given the accompanying aroma and flavor components.

Overall: Skip the beer this year. In the past there have been subtle changes which have improved or detracted from the beer, but it has always led to something with varying degrees of enjoyability in the end. This really isn't all that enjoyable. I question how old the hops are that were used in this beer. I don't recommend it.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.79/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from TJs

A dark reddish brown with a thin, brown head with good retention and lacing this looks solid. The nose is delicate and fragrant with a definite pine and spruce character, a mild toffee and earth note. Mild brown sugar as well. The palate opens soft and mildly sweet with brown sugar, toffee, dark caramel, tempered by spruce tips, a mild black cardamom like smoky bittersweet character, and a mild earthy hop character. The mid palate has some mild sweetness before a drying, mildly spicy finish with lingering spruce and allspice. Lovely, luscious mouthfeel. Tasty.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.92/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a dark reddish brown with a quarter finger khaki head with good retention and solid lacing. Familiar 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 to have a bit more spice astringency in the finish and less malt body. This is the official start of the holiday season for me, with many happy memories of this traditional ale.

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Photo of BayAreaJoe
3.89/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Solid winter warmer. Pretty consistent year after year. Caramel, malt, and pine notes and flavor with nice holiday spice. Feel more and more like Christmas with each sip.

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Photo of gvickery
1.78/5  rDev -52%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Looks fantastic, crystal clear, dark ruby colored with a medium white head.
Smell was quite odd. Reminded me of some home brew I made that fermented at too high a temperature.
Taste is similar to the smell, it has the yeast flavor that I’ve detected in the original anchor beer, other than that it’s kind of a nightmare. There’s a slightly off bittersweet flavor that, again, reminds me of some bad home brew that I made. I really question why they chose to bottle and sell this, it’s really terrible. The more I drink the worse it gets.
The look is about all this has going for it.

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Photo of beergoot
3.94/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tawny brown body; thick, bumpy and creamy bone colored head. Sweet malt and mild spice aroma. Nice flavor; tastes like a red ale with some juniper and star anise. Heavy body; smooth and glassy; warm.

I sampled this beer a little colder than what it probably should have been served at, so first of all, it will be revisited. Secondly, unlike many too cold beers, this one still exudes some fine malt and hop attributes. It's only 29° F outside with nearly 6" of wet snow, so this beer hits the spot on many levels. As always, this beer is rock solid and tasty and makes for a fine cold weather beverage.

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Photo of pizzabutt
3.11/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

poured into my beloved crooked crab snifter glass from a 12oz bottle.

appearance: dark ebony body with a very light tan head. head dissipates fairly quickly leaving a solid ring and a medium cap. not much lacing.

smell: pine, toffee, caramel, biscuit. very malty but a hint of that evergreen goodness.

taste: not amazing, but not bad. initial taste is almost like a belgain ale, but not as sweet. pine appears as it develops, and the taste fades into a slightly raisin-y and very malty sweetness.

feel: medium-light, crisp, not too much body. not a sipper, but best enjoyed slower.

overall: it doesn't quite have a winter warmer feel. it's more like a belgain ale that's less sweet. still, i love belgain ales, and i like this.

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Photo of Lucular
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A unique winter warmer. Pine, caramel, dark malts (like a brown ale), earthiness, moderate bitterness, a hint of citrus (orange peel maybe), and plenty of holiday spices make this a complex brew. It's a great beer for a chilly night.

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Photo of MAS
3.42/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I remember drinking a magnum of the 1999 when work was canceled because of a snow day here in
This year’s version is less spicy than last year’s. I get a six pack every year and savor it in a pint glass.
It’s not the best beer in the world, but I’ve been drinking it since first came out.
It’s a holiday tradition.

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Photo of davedog_7
2.19/5  rDev -41%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

This beer is a mess. Always enjoyed their previous Christmas Ale releases (or, for the past several years anyway).

As mentioned, this beer has an off-putting bitterness to it that almost doesn't even seem intentional. Very minimal evergreen notes, but not really holiday/Christmas related aside from that.

Very disappointing offering from a good brewery.

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Our Special Ale 2019 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 71 ratings