Our Special Ale 2008 (Anchor Christmas Ale) | Anchor Brewing Company

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Our Special Ale 2008 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2008 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Very Good
461 Ratings
Our Special Ale 2008 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2008 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by t0rin0 on 10-23-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 461 |  Reviews: 400
Photo of ProfessorHops
5/5  rDev +29.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Name Known by. Anchor Christmas Ale (2008)

Brewer's name. Anchor brewing.

Country. USA

Advertised style. Seasonal Ale
Hell Chewbacca * * * * *
Aroma- Abundant spice. Maybe cinnamon or nutmeg. Always taste the sae concoction. I've been asking and asking Anchor, but they wont give it up. In the back you can smell the ale.
Pallet- OK, I missed 2006. 2007 was a little weak oon the spice, but still exceptional. This ale is candy, and who in their right mind don't like candy. I 2005 was what I thought was perfect. 2007 was a little less sharp. But 2008 is one of the best I've had yet. A lot of spice whitch makes thing very interesting. But a bolt robust ale defense. When encountering a next to perfect beeer it's very hard to give details. All I can say is by it!!!
Finish- Moderatly long and sweet. Tis' perfect. Sorry I'm pumped about this brew.
Guzzle- Beer is robust and complex. But sorry can't help myself I pig out on this shit. It's simply scrumptious.
Texture- Complex feel. Watery and refreshing. But also robust. What else could you ask for.
Appearance- Black as night. Beautiful hue. Half of head is a very light read. A small tan top. Beautiful.

The Anchor Celebration Ale is always always always a treat. It makes me fall in love.

Achore one of the true American brewers of old that still give a shit. What was it started 1896. Ha, the same year the first sanctioned (legal) boxing match underneath the Marquess of Queensberry rules in New Orleans. Well that was completely off the subject, sorry.

Well all of their beer is top notch, and anyone who is anyone should buy their beer. It's somewhat expensive. But keep this brewery alive, for the love of god.

It is a special place, that are next to perfect in their art.

As for the celebration Ale, I found this one the best so far in my tasting.

I will spend my December as much as possible with a a halo produced by Anchor.


Merry Christmas,

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Photo of GordonQuid
5/5  rDev +29.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poure a deep mahagoany with a rocky one inch head that reduced to a half inch off white head with moderate lacing.

Smell is that of a delightful winter outing; Piney, earthy, fresh biscuit, a slight clove/cinnamon.

Taste is an impressive blend of wheat, roasted barley and chocolate malts. Centennial hopish grapefruit and pineapple crisp with an ever so slight spicey tart finish.

Exceptional medium bodied with high drinkability. This is one to place in my all time favorite seasonal ale list. I love this stuff!

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Photo of AlexM
5/5  rDev +29.5%

Photo of mrquartetman
4.88/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

We tasted this beer at the December Goose Island Clybourn Beer Academy ("Friuted/Spiced Beer 2008"). For a number of us at the event it was the hit of the evening among the 14 beers we sampled.

Even in the small sample cup it showed a beautiful dark color and a magnificent creamy tan head.

The aroma was intense: spicy, caramel/chocolate, and, well, just Christmasy. There was a distinct aroma of alcohol rising off the top, so it is probably reasonably high in the stuff, as a true winter warmer should be.

Its big, toasty malt start immediately morphs to a very complex and rich spiciness. After a swallow, the spice continues to rise off the tongue. The follow is persistent, also spicy. The mouthfeel is not at all cloying, at least to this palate. It is chewy and warming.

Anchor does not tell us what spices it uses or what the abv is. So, of course, we speculated about what the spices might be. I personally tasted cinnamon and ginger. Others picked up clove. Something else is going on in there too. I know! I'll drink a lot of it for spice research purposes!

This is a wonderful brew, substantially better than last year I think - something some of us will confirm soon by tasting at least 3 years' worth of Our Special Ale.

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Photo of pwsoldier
4.72/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Pours a very dark ruby-mahogany with a rich tan head that has great retention and leaves plenty of lacing.

S - Absolutely phenomenal. I'm not exaggerating when I say that they could make a Christmas candle based on this beer's aroma and I would buy ten of them. Nutmeg comes out the strongest, with pleasant notes of cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar, and various other spices making their presence known as well. All of this is backed up by a toffee-like malt presence. I could savor this thing all night!!!

T - The various spices dominate up front, with nutmeg remaining the most potent. This gives way to a smooth malty finish with plenty of toffee and brown sugar notes to sweeten up this delicious brew. Some notes of nutmeg and cinnamon linger gently on the palate.

M - Medium-bodied and a bit creamy. Carbonation does a great job of keeping this beer from being too rich while staying out of the way of the wondrously complex flavors.

D - This beer sets the standard for winter beers. It may be June, but I can't help feeling some yuletide festivity as I drink this beer. I simply can't get enough of it, and it makes for a great drinking experience every time I open one.

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Photo of gmcfarre
4.69/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into traditional pint glass

A - Pours an incredibly dark brown with ruby highlights when held up to the light. Latte colored head is small but adequate. Lacing is fairly minimal.

S - Scent is a nearly perfect combination of chocolate, dextrous fig sweetness and an earthy wooded flavor. Wonderfully appealing.

T - Starts with a strong sweetness that is heavy on fig flavor. Chocolate flavor that may or may not contribute to the slight bittersweetness at the finish. An earthy peat taste is evident as well. Really delicious.

M - Mild carbonation with a silky smooth mouthfeel and a medium body. Just a bit dry at the finish.

D - Incredibly drinkable and smooth. Flavor stays terrific throughout. Alcohol is not a factor. This annual brew is easily my favorite holiday ale.

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Photo of pants678
4.64/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Aged a year, the body is a dark brown and a light beige head sits atop, retaining well. More light passes through that I would expect, revealing deep ambers.

The nose is fairly potent and equally impressive with notes of nutmeg and cinnamon, pine and peppermint.

Shouts Christmas, but so well blending evergreen, peppermint and ginger, all roasted to perfection. Though I didn't take notes from the one I had in it's day, I remember at the time there was a more distinct bite. Here, the molasses and hint of cherry have been subtly yet effectively balanced.

The carbonation is so small and smooth with such a fine texture, it reminds me of Gulden Draak. This is not a knock at all, with a year under it's belt, the 08 has matured and lost any signs of crassness or clashing.

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Photo of jmbranum
4.6/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Stunning, absolutely stunning...

I'm pouring this 12 oz. bottle into a wine glass, which works well. Wonderful aroma and it is lovely in the glass. Dark, dark brown with a tan head. It looks like strong tea when held up to the light, but a bit darker.

The flavor is a mouthfull. Lots of spices. Bits of juniper and cloves, along with some other spices I don't quite recognized. A bit of prickliness on the tongue. And the perfect amount of balanced bitterness. Definitely rich but again the hops are just perfect in counterpart.

Drinkability --- the first glass is extremely drinkable. Future glasses would be a wash though because there's so much flavor in this glass. The taste buds would be blitzed.

This is what a Christmas ale should taste like. Lots of malt matched with pacific northwest style hops and then a load of interesting spices.

Drink this beer! Buy every bottle you can find! It really is that good.

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Photo of Tilley4
4.6/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm feeling the Christmas spirit tonight as I sit here watching the lights on the tree and the cartoon Christmas specials on TV so I pulled this one out of the cellar to enjoy...

Into my Sierra Nevada pint glass goes this surprisingly dark brew... Very dark ruby colors topped by a frothy creamy head... This is looking really festive..

This is unbelievably complex smelling... I get fresh-cut Christmas trees, sweet chocolate covered cherries, cinnamon and nutmeg along with perhaps a little vanilla... The fruitiness mixed with the surprisingly still strong hop aromas and chocolate malts meld together perfectly and have me reminiscing about Christmases past... Very nice aromas...

The taste of this brew doesn't disappoint one single bit... The piney hops and chocolate malts blend together perfectly and help to balance that sweet fruitiness and the zesty spices on the finish... This isn't overly spiced at all, its a perfect Winter Warmer... I'm trying to sip this very slowly as its my last bottle and I want it to last..

I wondered how the year of aging would affect this brew and I'm not at all disappointed... Its terrific as is and have me anxious to buy up a few sixers of this years and give it a go next December...

Truly, this is the best Winter Warmer I've ever had... It has all of the Christmas elements I look for in a brew without going overboard.. A classic..

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Photo of woodychandler
4.55/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Transcribed from undated notes.

Presented to me with two fingers of rocky deep-tan/light-brown head with good retention. Color was a deep, dark cola-brown with ruby highlights. Nose had an anise-like spiciness accompanied by scents of nutmeg and pine. Mouthfeel was on the thin side, but the flavor was a riot of spices - nutmeg, cinnamon, pine and clove along with dried fruit - plum and raisin as well as chocolate! Finish began powdery dry with the spices and lingered with a sweet fruitiness. Overall, it was really good, but the previous year's was more full-bodied.

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Photo of Hokies
4.55/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I was deciding on what to review for number 100 and decided to go with a classic seasonal. 12oz poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pour glass. Pours a massive two inch light brown head and deep brown body with some red highlights on the edges. Their is some nice lace as you drink the beer.

The aroma is filled with spices in a good way, I mean some winter warmers overload with the spices and overshadow the beer. The spices include cinnamon and nutmeg, with some hints of brown sugar. The cinnamon is actually a little strong as you can almost feel the warmth from it.

The taste is a little different as the spices are somewhat subdued as the hops and malt take more of a front seat. Their is some sweet brown sugar taste as well as when the beer warms you get some dark fruit flavor. While the beer warms it develops more flavors as some coffee, toffee and butterscotch make their presence. This is a wonderful beer and wish I had more to age see the complexities develop. A very drinkable beer but one that you want to savor.

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Photo of MusicaleMike
4.55/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This years "Our Special Ale" is as good as I have come to expect from Anchor. Wonderfully complex aroma and taste are married with a easy to drink mouthfeel and medium body.

A: Two fingers of a whipped, silky tan head sit atop a rich, dark brown body, practically black at first glance, but with mahogany highlights when held to light. Very good head retention and a bit of lacing.

S: Very interesting smell. There is so much going on that it becomes hard to identify single characteristics for me. I start by noting that this is an earthy aroma; dark, pine, rich in spices. Plenty of roasted notes, like roasted granola and roasted walnuts. Underneath I can pick out a fresh green smell, like allspice or something. Hops? I'm not sure. Maybe both.

T: Oh the complexity of this beer! This is what winter warmers should be: something to sit by the fire and contemplate. Let all the different spices come out at their leisure. Pine needles, bittersweet chocolate, acidic cocoa beans, carob, allspice or bay leaves, nutmeg, anise, woody finish.

M: Perky carbonation, medium body, smooths out at the end of the bottle.

D: Easily drinkable. I could see myself buying a case of this stuff. I think it would go well with so many different foods and I even imagine that it would do well to be warmed up a bit on the stove as a nice winter drink, garnished with lemon possibly. Get this shit while you can!

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.55/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a dark chocolaty opaque brown with a fine-bubbled tan head. Rich, malty aroma has strong hints of spice. Flavor is strong and mouth-filling, malty, very spicy, with a solid undertone of unsweetened chocolate. Texture is smooth and a little syrupy so it goes down well.

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Photo of Greggy
4.53/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cellar Temp --> Tulip

A- Pours a nice thick fluffy 2 finger light cream/tan head. The body is dark red/black with nice ruby highlights. No sediment is present although ample carbonation bubbles dance in the glass. Thick lacing thoroughly coats my glass.

S- Big peach aroma, sugar, nutmeg, pie crust, hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, undertones of dark fruit.

T- Starts out with a nice chocolate with a nice roastiness. There is a definite (to me) peach pie aspect in the malt of this beer. There is a very dry graininess to me that resembles some nice pie crust. The finish has some nice fruity maltiness, with some nice balanced spice.

M- Nice light carbonation makes for a nice thick mouthfeel. This beer processes some nice balance on the palette.

D- I don't know of the ABV on this beer, but damn it's drinkable. I am having no trouble putting away this beer. Will drink again.


1 year old (and change)

A- Pours a thick 1 finger head that eventually pulls down to a thin cap and some sparse lace. Ruby brown body with a very slight haze. (4)

S- Peach Pie! Ample Nutmeg and even eggnog notes are evident. Sweet chocolate even hides in there, deep. Nice! (4.5+)

T- Starts out with some definite suggestions of peach pie, some darker chocolate, nutmeg, and essences of sweet pie crust. The Finish has all of the above hanging around, drying slightly. (4.5)

M- Medium carbonation is only the slightest bit distracting but the way the peach pie coats the mouth, I cannot complain to much. (4)

D- Quite drinkable, and after a year I can conclude, ageable. Definitely a great beer. I'm thinking I have a few more of these and that's a good thing!! (4.5)

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Photo of bryanbrick
4.52/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

What better way to post my first review on this site than to start with the new Winter from Anchor. This is pretty darn good, nose alone is worth the price of a 6er or even better a magnum if you can get your paws on one. Cola, sasafrass, licorice ropes and nice touches of mint and evergreen. Very complete and complex. This seems a bit lest clove/cinnamon than in past bottlings.

The palate is soft and easy with plenty of sweet creamy malt, pretty burnt caramel and a contination of licorice found on the nose. My only complaint here is that it finishes a touch short but that is more than made up for by its sheer deliciousness. I'll be drinking my fare share of these this winter.

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Photo of Brent
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been following this beer for several years, and this edition is by far my favorite. Takes the pine rosin aspects of some years, the gingerbread aspect of others and melds them into a nicely balanced winter treat. The last couple are still hiding in the corners of the beer fridge, but I doubt they will avoid me much longer.

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Photo of Thunder
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%

Photo of wrightst
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%

Photo of cvfish
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - This beer poured a that matches my cherry wood furniture, produced a fluffy light tan head that had good retention and laced the glass very nicely

S - The aroma does not disappoint as a Christmas seasonal, I get cinnamon, nutmeg, black cherry and malts

T - This taste was exactly in line with the nose, good sweet caramel malts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and the black cherry to add a subtle fruity note

M - The body on this beer was very smooth, medium body, with light carbonation

D - I really enjoyed this Christmas beer, even more since they call it a Christmas Special, the complex characteristics in this were off the charts, a good drink on a cold New Orleans day (well, cold to us)

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Photo of sbe1
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Anchor does it again with another outstanding Winter Warmer.

Appearance: Dark rubyish cola color with and fluffy caramel and cream colored head.

Smell: Caramel, gingerbread, faint cherry, creamy malt.

Taste: Sweet malt and spice and hops meet your tongue simultaneously to make a refreshing yet rich and balanced taste experience. A smooth finish with hints of spice remaining.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied and refreshing yet creamy with low carbonation.

Drinkability: Excellent. A wonderful seasonal session beer and another fine Xmas gift from Anchor to beer drinkers.

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Photo of adamette
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle provided by my friend Floyd. Thanks Floyd! Poured into my clean, clear Cooperstown Beverage Trail pint glass.

A Great generous light brown head over a dark brown but translucent body. Good looking beer.

S Winter warmer with some hops smell. A welcoming, strong smell.

T Really nice dark malt with minimal hops taste in a great, great balance. This is my first Anchor Christmas Ale and I am now sitting here regretting that I have not had one before today. Finally here is a Christmas Ale with balls enough to have spicing (some cinnamon, maybe nutmeg...I am not the world's foremost authority on spices)!

M Nice and full. Really appropriate to the style.

D Really great for a big winter warmer like this.

Notes: extremely well balanced Christmas Ale and I am so glad to have tried it. Anchor Brewing Company has been mighty impressive, one of my top 5 favorite breweries. This beer is an excellent axample of a winter warmer. This beer is a work of art.

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Photo of JDK
4.48/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a beautiful dark amber with a 1 finger head.
Nice smell of spices and orange
Just the right amount of carbonation for a smooth mouthfeel.
Taste the orange rind, malts and spices that makes this one of my favorite winter brews
I'll need to buy more of this!

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Photo of jikvig
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On the nose, I digg the raisins, coffe, chocolate flavours that show up!
Also getting "gløgg" which is a Scandinavian thing, almost like a gluhwein (google it)

It´s kinda shy in taste at the begging, before it builds up. Soft bitternes, a lovely rich malt flavour. Really smooth in the mouth. Getting some roasted malt aswell in on the end palate.

This is for me, christmas in a bottle! Never tried this beer, but doing so in the middle of july makes me look forward to snow and december!
The nose is fantastic, and taste is really good! I just wish the beer was more foamy in taste, but it holds really good for a 2 year old beer! I want to get my hands on an 09 as soon as possible!

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Photo of Brewfanatic55
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Decided to pick up this vintage at the Barley Pub in Dover, New Hampshire. Not going to lie; split it amongst two other fellow pub-goers. It was like a wine tasting, only I enjoyed it.

A: Appearance was quite dark, with a great looking smoky-tan head. Decent amount of lacing is left behind.

S: As the bottle clearly states, "Pinus Jeffreyi" the scent is a hint of pine. Jefferey Pine apparently (I'm no arborist). Immediately you can't help but smell fruit, ginger & other various seasonal spices.

T: Slightly sour, right off the bat. Molasses (almost like a cookie), spice, hint of pine. All in all, a great smooth holiday brew. Not overly hoppy, nor too malty whatsoever. The fact that this bottle was approaching 3 years old I think the aging aspect heavily influenced the smoothness. One of the others joining the tasting of this beer pointed out the taste of raisins which I then picked up.

D: This beer was all in all a terrific holiday beverage. The fact that it has a slight spiciness to it, along with that pine and caramel-esque flavor only makes me wish I had second one at hand.

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Photo of FenwaySquid
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz. short brown bottle, 2008 clearly displayed on the label along with a short story about the tradition behind the brew on the neck's label, poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep dark reddish brown color, almost opaque but not quite. The head formed about 1 finger thick and faded into some lacing.

Aroma: Molasses and some spices, mainly cloves. Very sweet.

Taste: Caramel and dark chocolate up front, the cloves remain in the background. The spices become more dominant in the middle, with the finish being a combination of the two.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied, very smooth. The carbonation was subdued, which with the abundance of flavors fit nicely.

Overall: Very well balanced between the sweet and spicy flavors. An excellent Holiday brew.

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Our Special Ale 2008 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.86 out of 5 with 461 ratings