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
3.79 | pDev: 12.66%
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Our Special Ale 2019 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2019 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Notes: This is the forty-fifth annual Our Special Ale from the brewers at Anchor. This ale, made with natural flavors, is sold only from early November to mid-January. Its recipe and hand-drawn tree change every year, but 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 its seasons, appears born anew. This year's tree is a western arborvitae (tree of life), an evergreen conifer native to Northern California.
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Reviews: 90 | Ratings: 192 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by JerzDevl2000:
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JerzDevl2000 from New Jersey

3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Every year, I look forward to this beer and every year, I enjoy seeing how the label changes with respect to the tree that's put on it. It's not often that I still buy 6-packs in bottles but this is always a favorite of mine and of course, this didn't let me down this year. It was much crisper and lighter than iterations from years past and had it been a bit more spicy and heavy, it would have been one of their better editions!

The pour to this was a dark plum with some light coming through around the edges. Not a lot of head topped it off and the lacing was quite sparse as most of it was concentrated near the top of my pint glass. Dark fruit, currant, and bitter chocolate could be found in the nose as the taste was quite thin and crisp. Pine and a clean, outdoorsy feeling could be felt from the first sip as the usual dark bread and winter spice was relegated to the background. Dates, figs and plums filled the flavor profile of this with the feeling of a fresh snowfall on top of it as pumpernickel and fruitcake lingered in the aftertaste once this went down.

Not a lot of booze in this but the slight warming I felt was enough to keep the festive holiday mood going. Though this won't win any awards, I love having this every year and this year's take wasn't the best or the worst - just one that I found myself enjoying in front of my house's Christmas Tree on a quiet night. Bottled on 9/12/19, I couldn't think of anything better to kick back with here in January!

Jan 17, 2020
More User Reviews:
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KS_Augsburg from Illinois

3.12/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This year’s Christmas Ale by Anchor Brewing is darker and heavier compared to previous years. It pours a very dark amber into the Teku, clear but almost black. Foam is quite pronounced right after the pour, but large bubbles make the foam appear ahort lived - and it’s true: head retention very short, and minimal lacing on the sides of the glass. At 6.9% ABV not overly high, but it tastes like a high ABV beer. The notes of fresh pine and evergreens may add to this impression. No desire for a second bottle, this is too intense for my taste.

Nov 17, 2019
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rarigney from Washington

3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dec 05, 2019
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kjkinsey from Texas

3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nov 08, 2019
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chitoryu12 from Florida

3.67/5  rDev -3.2%
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. Three fingers of off-white head with good 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.

Dec 06, 2019
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MoreBeer4me from New Jersey

2.25/5  rDev -40.6%
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.

Dec 03, 2019
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kemoarps from Washington

3.64/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thin cola brown/black. Crisp and clear. Nice fluffy off tan head.

Smell is creamy roasty malts, somewhat sweet. Light and creamy. Reminds me of corn for some reason.

Flavour leans into (what I think of as) german style malts. Earthy and churning and maybe a little bit of caramelized something. Some earthy German impression hops.

Smoothe with effervescent carbonation.
I've been collecting this vertical for years now and have enjoyed meeting each different iteration on its own merits. Honestly, this one doesn't excite me as much as some of the others have. I'll be curious as to how it evolves over the years, especially seeing how the 2014 I'm drinking next to it has changed.

Jan 22, 2020
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cyclonece09 from Wisconsin

3.94/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours deep red with a nice fluffy off white head. Smells of caramelized grain and fruitiness. Tastes of caramelized grain with fruit, nice and balanced, with berries dominating. Beer is light/medium bodied and easy drinking, good carbonation. Overall, a very good beer.

Nov 06, 2020
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MaximumYuks from Oregon

4.02/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dec 08, 2019
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craigbelly from Iowa

3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Jan 02, 2020
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2.19/5  rDev -42.2%
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.

Dec 08, 2019
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gvickery from Texas

1.78/5  rDev -53%
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.

Nov 23, 2019
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imnodoctorbut from Texas

4.04/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

poured from can into tulip

A: cola brown body, and a fluffy white head with low retention but decent amounts of lacing, and leaving a solid cap across the surface
S: solid caramel malt, slight cocoa lingering, and faintest pine hop background.
T: malt forward, following the nose; earthy pine hop backing; slight spice/cocoa
F: medium carbonation, medium-thick body. pine-dry-fresh finish

Overall (personal opinion):
Christmas in a bottle. malt blast going forward with enough pine and earthy hop backing with a little spice to round it all out. great entry

Feb 25, 2020
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gordavidson from Maryland

3.79/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Dec 01, 2019
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GreenBayBA from Wisconsin

4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dec 29, 2019
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Captain69 from Illinois

4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

another great xmas beer from anchor /lightly malted , smooth in taste . A great beer for sitting around with friends . have several years saved , hope to do a taste testing with fellow beer geeks.

Apr 16, 2020
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BBThunderbolt from Kiribati

3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into 14oz teku. Poured a solidly opaque dark brown color with 2/3 inch of tan head that had moderate retention.

Thick, sweet malts were at the front of the nose, with some spices behind it. There was also a floral/tree scent.

Pretty much the same on the tongue, with the addition of a little bite on the back end.

The body was medium-full, smooth, and had a finish that was semi-sweet and a bit sticky.

Drinkability was, as per usual with this release, very good, I foresee a few bottles in my future.

Overall, another great version of this beer. Most certainly worth your time.

Dec 14, 2019
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toast9 from New Jersey

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dec 26, 2019
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mamaraza from Texas

3.77/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dec 02, 2019
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mngermanshepherd from Minnesota

4.18/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Has a thick head that remains for a fair amount of time. Pours a dark brown colour; taste is a fruity/spicy ale, not as good as Bell's or Great Lakes. On tap.

Dec 10, 2019
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Avatar113 from California

3.79/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dec 22, 2019
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HoppingMadMonk from New Jersey

3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Light carbonation, medium body
Aroma is cherry cordial/brandy,malty chocolate, slight medicinal smell and what I think is a very light amount of pine
Taste is hard to pin down but I can find everything that showed up in the aroma.
It's a little bitter and mildly sweet but overall it's pretty interesting

Dec 25, 2019
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heymikew from California

4.37/5  rDev +15.3%
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!

Dec 07, 2019
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JonnoWillsteed from England

2.87/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

L- Ultra dark chestnut, clear, pours with 5mm tan head.
S- Light toast.
T- Toasted, but somehow thin also.
F- Pungent but lacking parallel body
O- Strong toasty/stout flavour, but inadequate body - despite being 6.9%! The 6.9% seems to be well concealed. Nothing special at all, wouldn't buy again.
£2.69/330ml bottle. Whole Foods, London W8

Nov 10, 2019
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WanderingRonin from Canada (AB)

3.32/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Clear but fairly dark reddish brown color to it a bit like Dr. Pepper, pours with less then a half finger of thin, white head that has little retention and only leaves a watery ring of lace to slides down the side of the glass.

Malty aroma to it with a nice caramel sweetness present and faint hints of coco with a good amount of English ale style, noble hopping on the back end.

Malty flavor of the bat with a mild sweetness to it, caramel with light notes of coffee and a faint caraway seed flavor that develops toward the back end.

Medium/ heavy bodied with a very slightly above average amount of carbonation to it that leaves a nice little tingle on the tongue.

Finish is moderately bitter with a sappy, pine flavor, with a faint floral note of elderflower and fruit hints of currants and red grape skin that gives a give a slightly dry, tannin quality that rolls around the tongue on the aftertaste with a hint of black licorice or anise, along with a nice malt backing with a bit of a coffee bite to it.

Different then most winter warmers, tasted a bit more like a SOB/ English bitter, hoppier then then a sweeter, spiced beer, lots of flavor to it that is blended fairly completely, with little variation from front end to back end, hops land quickly on the front end, and malt lingers long on the back end, I have to admit its pretty good but I prefer a sweeter, heavier beer for the cold winter seasons.

Feb 23, 2020
Our Special Ale 2019 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 192 ratings