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 xare
1.68/5  rDev -56.5%
look: 5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Pours deep black with hints of garnet at the edges, creamy tan head with incessant bubbling. Lovely to look at, can't wait to see what this beer has in store for me.

Aroma is a bit light, reminds me of cherries in a way and has a dash of earthy background to it. A few spices giggle as they lightly drift in and scatter away before you're able to identify what they are. Light and ephemeral, this isn't what I want a winter warmer to smell like. I want aromas of Christmas, of something baking, of a dessert, not feeling like I'm riding in a balloon trying to desperately find an aroma in the tan clouds. Oh, that's the head. Lovely head isn't it? Still so light and fluffy.

Once I put the beer into my mouth though, my dreams are crushed. Tastes earthy, not very spicy at all. A faint hint of spiciness at the end but it tastes like mud pie spices. You know, the glittering mica and crushed granite you'd season your mud pie with. There's a dash of hops but the taste of the whole brew doesn't work for me. Some Belgian yeasty sweetness at the end... definitely turned me off.

Mouthfeel started out well enough with a long swig of the head of the beer. Then it begins to thin out. After a couple of pulls, there's less body in this brew than a Miller Lite. And you're praying that the head can regenerate itself enough to pull you through the rest of this beer.

Drinkability was terrible. As the beer begins to heat up, you're able to taste how boozy it is. And since it doesn't offer very much for me, I gave it a burial at sea. Here's hoping that the beer somehow improves with age, otherwise I'm going to be giving someone a Holiday 5-Pack and it won't be of Heineken.

As this is the first time I've tried an Anchor OSA, I truly hope that this year's edition is just an outlier.

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Photo of stakem
2.41/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.25

A magnum bottle (because Anchor knows that bad decisions are best served in a 1.5 liter format) poured into a 20oz thistle. The beer is dark chestnut to mahogany in color with a khaki cap. Ok, at least it looks good.

The aroma consists of soy sauce, pine needles and some mild fruity tinges like raison. The more I think about, this smells of christmas wreath and crushed dreams. Hey, there is some chocolate too.

The taste also includes soy sauce, chocolate, roasty almost smoked molasses and fruity hints of raison rubbed against a green air freshener and lost in your couch cushions. Some minerals and meaty dog food make for an earthy aftertaste.

This is medium bodied, modestly carbonated and overall a train wreck. I know "its a thing" to cellar and drink this beer with age but holy hell you wont catch me drinking this beer ever again unless its a freshy...and even then ill be hesitant.

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Photo of Amalak
2.45/5  rDev -36.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I got at a great distributor in South Salem, NY. I wish I could remember the name.
A- Black, basically. Very stout looking with a decent head and some lacing.
S- Very strong spice, but kind of funky.
T- Very intense, strong taste. Malty, with a spice and licorice taste to it.

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Photo of TastyIsBeer
2.5/5  rDev -35.2%

Photo of donniecuffs
2.55/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Deep chestnut brown, with a nice lasting head.

S: Picked up hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and citrus, and was really looking forward to tasting it...

T: I did pick up some spicy hints, but there was some lingering bitter/sour aftertaste that I could not place (e.g. not hoppy bitter...BAD bitter).

M: Creamy, full-bodied beer, but...

D: The flavor combined with the thickness had me struggling to finish one. Sorry, guys.

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Photo of giblet
2.61/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

being honest i am not a huge fan of spiced christmas ales. with that, this poured nice with a nice one and half inch head. steady carbonation. nice brown color.

the aroma was too spiced for me. the taste did not work for me at all. i think this is a quality brew for the right person. just not me.

suckem up and movem out.


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Photo of ibbjamin
2.62/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured into a pint glass.

Quarter inch light tan head that is somewhat frothy containing medium to large sized bubbles. Dark reddish brown color. Nearly opaque. Minimal head retention and lacing.

Smells like Christmas. Rather spicy; nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves dominate. Rather clean aroma.

The spiciness is a bit much for me. I would not want to drink more than one of these in an evening. Using a clove to spice can be dangerous because it's flavor is quite overpowering.

Medium body with moderate carbonation. The aftertaste of cloves lasts quite long, but this is not too gritty going down.

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Photo of pmcadamis
2.71/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tried this last weekend (just now getting to my "napkin notes") at Benjamin's in downtown Galena IL. We stay at my wife's family's cabin up there several times a year, and during the winter I always make it a point to hang out at Benjamin's since they always have several years of Anchor's Christmas Ale on hand. Vertical tastings are always fun!

A - Deep mahogany brown.... almost black really. The head is chestnut hued and pretty frothy, although retention isn't what it seemed to be in other iterations of this brew. Several minutes later, nothing but a small collar remained.

S - Smoke, sausage, and soy sauce. Not what I was expecting at all! Burnt rubber and burn-out smoke with a sour chemical tang in my nose. Not so sure about this.

T - Woody and wet doused-campfire and roasted nuts. Salty and medicinal. Soy sauce plays a much bigger role here than I would like. (I like the gentle soy notes found in other beers ... Baltic porters come to mind... but this is too much).

M - Medium bodied. Actually lighter than I would have guessed. Finishes with a slightly "off flavor."

D - Probably my least favorite year. Could have been a bad bottle ... even after only a year's aging. This is after all, not a high ABV beer, but I've stored other brews that were only 5% or so for over a year and never had any problems. Plus Benjamin's is not the type of place that would mistreat or improperly store their beer. Eh, they can't all be winners.

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Photo of dragonWhale
2.72/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

a little foam over from this cute little bottle. rich dark amber with a khaki head, sexy lace.

smells of thick sweetness, like a batch of my buddy's homebrew that i wanna really like but have to tell him its got promise but its way too sweet.
it's decent, but hardly very drinkable. were this a bomber, half would've likely gone to waste just so we could get on to drink something better. thick dextrinous malt, spruce and pine, not much else spice. too much sweetness.

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Photo of sweemzander
2.74/5  rDev -29%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter. No bottled date, but hey at least I know its a 2008.

(A)- Pours really thick & a murky dark brown color that produced an off-white to light brown fluffy head that dissipated quickly to bubbles.

(S)- Man, potent spices of nutmeg & cinnamon. Potent damp oak & moss with a burnt to a crisp brown sugar. Rather funky from the aging, but still interesting.

(T)- A dense & damp/musky woody oak with a roasted to burnt molasses, vanilla, & brown sugar sweetness. Finishes almost dry.

(M)- Good carbonation level. This is very dense, but has a thin & almost watery middle ground. Still decent, but definitely showing its age & possibly not being stored well.

(D)- A very interesting beer at this stage in its shelf life, but right on the verge of being bad; still decent. Very funky stuff.

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Photo of n1ckels
2.76/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is dry and tastes faintly of cherries. Dry and carbonated like club soda, like your tongue feels drier after it's in your mouth. You might even say it's dry like sandpaper. I could drink this easily, because it is bland and not too sweet, but the question is would i really want to waste my time? the label is awesome. so basically it's the plain jane girl next door wearing sexiest lingerie you've ever seen.

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Photo of bobhits
2.88/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark cherry amber body, almost opaque in the glass. An ok darker almost milk chocolate head that sticks, leaves lacing and is as creamy as it can be.

Fruity amber aroma. Cherries, dates, caramel, and some hits of Christmas spices.

I've been told these beers can age 20+ years. This one is making me suspect of that. There's some hops, spices, and it is mostly malt but nothing is jumping out at me what so ever. A bit of cherry and some maybe raisins. There's certainly a spice characteristic here as well. Add in an almost vanilla creamy flavor which seems out of place. That said I almost feel like I'm drinking a beer fresh after brushing my teeth.

This beer creates the illusion of a medium body with a nice creamy carbonation but it is definitely thin bodied. That all works well with this style I feel.

Very drinkable and very sippable. I love how Anchor has crafted this beer. It just works and there's nothing left to say.

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Photo of wheelinshirt
2.9/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz shoulderless brown bottle with a pretty sweet label. Purchased from Blue Dog in Lansdale for $1.75. I haven't seen this around in this smaller size so I couldn't pass up the chance to try this winter staple that people rave over so wildly.

Pours clear brown with a modest light tan head, moderate retention and sparse lacing. Looks festive and appropriate, but it certainly isn't anything extraordinary.

Smell is spicy, I got mostly pumpkin pie spices like nutmeg and cinammon. There seems to be some cardamom in there too which I recognized from Weyerbachers Imperial Pumpkin. The spices, for me, really overshadow anything else in the nose.

Taste is very similar but with an added sweetness that follows the spice notes which lead and dominate. The spicing is pretty strong and becomes medicinally. As it warms the edge seems to soften a bit.

Mouthfeel seems appropriate for the style, medium body and somewhat low carbonation, which is good because more CO2 would make it too thin and would add to the burn of the spices.

This is an okay beer, certainly not for me, though. I am just going to leave the spice-forward beers for the OSA fanatics.

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Photo of Spidey13
2.92/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

This is the first Our Special Ale I have had and, overall, I was not impressed. It pours a nice, dark brown color that shows deep ruby highlights. A nice tan head sits on top. The smell is very nice, with some chocolate, ripe fruit, vanilla, and strawberry-banana yogurt. I could smell it all day, but wouldn't like to drink it any more.

The taste has a lot of chocolate and banana flavor, with some roastiness and astringent bitterness on the back. Cloves were also there. The flavors did not meld well to me at all. The mouthfeel is full with medium carbonation.

In my opinion, not a good beer, but I could see how other people might like it.

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Photo of FatSean
2.93/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle in 12oz mug. Poured a beautiful deep red with a healthy beige head.

Smell is sweet malts with a touch of licorice and bubblegum

Taste is bubblegum...seriously, like the gumballs you get from a coin-op candy machine. Some of the licorice notcie din the nose is here, but bubblegum is in command. There is alsom some faint spicey notes at first taste, but the licorice/bubblegum taste dominate

Mouthfeel is thin.

Not very drinkable for me. The flavors were unique at first, but as the beer was drank, I became a bit bored. Doesn't seem to be much complexity in this one. Also, bubblegum and beer aren't really a hit with my palate.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
2.96/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Corsendonk Christmas Ale stemmed glass. 2008 Bottle "8ND" stamped in the back.

Thanks to Sweemzander for this Christmas brew!

A - This 2008 bottle pours clear but almost totally black in the glass. It has dark mahogany highlights to it. The head rises to two-fingers quickly and has great retention. Bits of tan lace cover the sides of the glass.

S - Toasted malts with hints of nuttiness, molasses, and very light spices emerge. A hint of soy sauce comes out giving the finish and off smell that signals the fact it's not doing too well with age.

T - The malts feel more roasted than the nose lets on. They have an unsweetened chocolate and coffee flavor to them with a cocoa dry neutrality on the finish. A mild spice flavor on the finish is unspecific. The whole package is marred by the hint of soy sauce.

M - Somewhat smooth and decently carbonated giving it a crispness at the end. It also feels hard, alkaline like. Dry and a touch bitter on the finish.

D - While I appreciate the chance to try this, I may not finish it [note - I did, it just took a while]. It's just too old I think. I find this didn't age well at all. Drink it if you've got it.

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Photo of mikereaser
2.97/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle on 12/1/09

A - Pours a deep dark chestnut brown with a layer of fine bubbles on the surface

S - sweet malt, brown sugar, cloves, spices

T - malty up front, then chocolate and raisins, roasted taste

M - very dry, almost chalky, well carbonated

D - good flavor but mouthfeel makes it hard to drink

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Photo of OatmattStout
3/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

gave it average across board because much to my chagrin when i got home with this single it was last year. must have found an old sixer in the back and put in single cooler.

color was nice deep brown with an average head. nose was a bit flat as to be expected

flavor followed with flat and oxidized character. had some left over spice but was just old and probably warm most of the time.

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Photo of csiewert
3/5  rDev -22.3%

Photo of AndrewMichael
3/5  rDev -22.3%

Photo of Fatduck
3.04/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a deep brown with a stiff tan head. Smells of strange spices and a little bit of ginger? Taste follow smell, and It tastes of some strange spice that I cant pin point, and certainly some ginger. I like it, warms me up whatever its ABV is.

I think I'll enjoy my 6pack and search out my of the winter seasonal brews in MPLS

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Photo of Riccymon
3.09/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A really good-looking beer upon pour from the 12 oz. bottle with a fairly black color and a substantial, mocha-colored head. This was the high point for me, however. The smell was quite dull with some weak spice. Taste was much more busy with strong cherry and licorice and spices such as cloves and nutmeg that combined to be a sweet upon first sip and a little sour on the finish. To me, the finish was the worst part of the beer as it left my mouth feeling dry and puckered. Overall, the beer was a bit of a disappointment to me.

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Photo of mattcrill
3.09/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma: Candied plums, raisins, burnt sugars, and oatmeal cookies leap from the glass. This is the most aromatic OSA I've ever remembered. Moderate fruity esters that are very pleasant and warming.

Appearance: Deep ruby pour with brown edges. A thick sudsy tan cap forms on top. Minimal effervescence noted.

Flavor: More raisins, oatmeal, bready notes that have a wonderful balance. Fruity esters and bready malt notes are so well knit together. Low spice notes remind me of cinnamon and nutmeg. Finish is clean and dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. No alcohol heat is noted.

Overall impression: A wonderful, well-knit, balanced winter warmer. This one seems to be more like "liquid cookies" than any year I've ever remembered. I can't see this one getting better with time b/c it's pretty darn good right now. I've had 5 years of these now and this is the best one yet.

Note: I had a second bottle and it was laden with diacetyl. Really detracted from the overall experience. I sampled it cold, warm, swirled, not swirled, etc. Couldn't get rid of it. I have adjusted my review accordingly.

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Photo of beergod1
3.11/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Not sure what the sweet, candy like flavor this has, more than just "Cinnamon, nutmeg" and your normal winter spices, maybe they tried something different and enough people liked it to keep making it. Not bad at first, but the more I drank it, the more I decided not to pay $12 for it again. Xmas beers are my favorite, and there are several I like, this one is not one im willing to get again.

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Photo of dfillius
3.13/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass. Use of Natural Flavor addition decreases my value for each criteria by 0.5

A: Moderate pour yields 1.25 beautiful tan head with good retention. Scarlet, dark brown and clear liquid. Very pretty.
S: Pine, lemon, hop, caramel malt, nutmeg and ginger.
T: Tastes like eggnog with out the cream edge. Citrus and brightniess from nutmeg, some blandish malt. Is this at its peak? I drank on Feb.12th 2009
M: Very bright and dry. Not that bad, but not great.
D: Decent, but I'm not the hugest fan. Better looks than taste.

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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