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)

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.

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Reviews: 399 | Ratings: 456
Photo of Sammy
3.73/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed on-tap at Cole's with Mike. A sipper, too extreme to be great drinkable. dark with red highlights and with a little head. A bit barleywinish, with chocolate,pinish, licorice, a little cherry and some sourness, though above average mouthfeel.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.14/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2008 vintage which makes this approximately 2.5 years old at this time.

Pours a semi-clear crimson red color with a 2 inch light beige head that settles to a small cap. There is a complex lattice work of lacing on the glass on the drink down. The smell on this beer is very complex. Overall, it smells like an arts and crafts store around Christmas time. There is an earthy smell, with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice. Very much like mulling spices used to make apple cider. Absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately the taste is not as great as the smell. The same tastes as present as what I get from the aroma but in a watered down way. Almost as if a bag of mulling spices was left to steep in a generic ale. Carbonation levels are somewhat low which could be a factor due to the age of this beer. The mouthfeel is slightly flat and watery but it's not too far gone to be unenjoyable. Overall, this is a good beer still with perhaps slight signs of aging. I really liked the 2009 version of this beer and I know that each year the recipe changes. I bet the 2008 version fresh was pretty awesome. I have one more of these in my cellar so I am curious as to how further aging will affect this beer.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.63/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This just showed up at the Stuffed Sandwich. Get ready because in a month or two when I do my massive vertical I'll be adding every xmas beer thats not on here between 1980 and 2008.

Alright, I don't even know how to rate the appearance of these winter warmers any more. They all look exactly the same. Dark brown with red showing through, light brown foam, moderate CO2 bubbling throughout. Good retention, good lacing.

Smell is slightly lavender-like (a little like last year?), brown sugar, crystal malt, and some other stuff that I can't place. Quite pleasant.

Flavor is very young and strong. All the spices are fighting for dominance in this beer but thats about what happens every year with this beer and then time gives it a nice complexity but more balance. Not there yet though, for now its very spicy, slightly bitter, well carbonated, and sweet. Maybe even a touch of some roasted malt in there somewhere. This beer is half way between the 06 and the 07. Should be interesting to see how it ages.

Body is medium, as usual. Carbonation is just right, enough to make it a beer but not so much as to distract from the flavor. Drinkable? Yes, but not more than a pint right now. Give it 3 or 4 years and this beer will be very drinkable. For now, I will wait until Bevmo unloads them for $5/6 pack in the spring and I will buy 4 or 5 6-packs.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Well I know one thing for sure.. this is one damn unique beer. The smells and tastes are like nothing I've experienced in a beer before, but it works out good. I get a smell/taste of raisins and maybe a cinnamon or nutmeg? There could also be some spice in here which I've never even smelt before. Either way, it definitely works in the beer. It's a nice subtle spicy flavor that isn't overdone and the beer is really smooth and drinkable. I enjoyed this a lot and respect Anchor for making such great beers.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

After having several of the "Our Special Ales" over the past few years, the common thread seems to be the malt profile that lands the beer somewhere between a Brown Ale and a Strong Ale. The gravities seem consistent, the sweetness even, and the hops don't seem to vary much either.

What changes are the spices. This beer is as bold in the spice additions as any I've had thus far. The beer is chocked full of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice. A hoppy citrus-orange flavor comes through brilliantly, although being a bit distracted by the spices. While the malt profile resides on one side, the spices are on the other, begging time to work it's magic on this one.

The beer has a bite- partly because of the spice bitterness, partly because of hops, but also from an alcoholic and carbonic sharpness.

Always an enjoyable beer, but I'm looking forward to trying the '08 for Christmas '09.

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Photo of emerge077
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep garnet color in the light, dark brown or reddish black when sitting in the tulip glass. Puffy crest of tan foam that rises above the rim slightly in a rounded peak. Generous lace rings around inside the glass. Swirling brings the fluffy foam right back again.

A very interesting nose, banana bread, nutmeg, spruce tips, and unidentified aromatic spice. Flavor has some earthy hop character, nutty malt, maybe a small bit of dried orange peel. Feels a little thin after awhile, but the bubbles carry it along. It's good and I enjoy it, but I can't help thinking that it's tasted better in the past.

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Photo of largadeer
3.73/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear but nearly impenetrably dark, mahogany in color. A solid inch and a half of head forms and persists for most of the glass. This looks exactly how a winter warmer should.

Smell: Spices are fairly dominant in the aroma, as is often the case with this beer. Ginger and clove are the first things that come to mind. Molasses and gingerbread cookies beneath that.

Taste & mouthfeel: A firm bready malt backbone appears first, making me think of rye or ginger bread. Rich, but not especially sweet. Spices are prominent, ginger and clove to my palate, with notes of baker's chocolate and cola beneath. Medium-light in body, a bit thinner than I'd like. The finish is spicy and semi-dry with a light bitterness. Complex stuff for sure, but I can't see myself drinking it often. Definitely worth a try, though.

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Photo of zeff80
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a clear, copper/auburn color with a small, foamy, bubbly, off -white head. It left minimal lace.

S - It smelled of tons of spices. Nutmeg and cinnamon dominate and aroma that screams Christmas!

T - It tasted of a good deal of nutmeg with a hints of cinnamon. It had a smooth caramel maltiness.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a dry finish. A medium-bodied beer.

D - I really liked this year's version. It was like "drinking" Christmas.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

G: Poured into a pint glass.

A: Fairly dark with some reddish hints. Good head.

S: Plenty of spices, although maybe a little too much. Nutmeg, cinnamon, and plenty of other things to remind you of Christmas.

T: Just like the nose, but maybe a tad bit too much. I've never aged this one, but maybe I'd like it more with a couple years on it after the spices have died down just a bit.

M: The spices come through and feel better than they taste. A fairly full body.

D: Not one I would have multiples of, though a fairly-enjoyable brew for the holiday season. Looking forward to possibly aging a few of these, or possibly picking some older ones up from a local shop that's got a pretty good vertical going.

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Photo of oberon
3.81/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I always look forward to this annual brew,I waited til CHRISTmas eve to get it this year.Poured into a nonic a deep cola color with some reddish tint,a thick,frothy light mocha colored head atop that never totally settles.Vanilla was the main component in the nose,with light clove and roast as well.Flavors start out with the vanilla and clove spice,with a hint of nutmeg then the big heavily roasted malt flavors hit into the finish with some drying earthy notes as well.Again another well made OSA,the roasty/earthy finish is big,bigger than other years,to me its a robust spiced American porter basically.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is very spicy, much more so than previous years, with mint, ginger, clove, vanilla, roasted malts and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste is likewise quite spicy with strong flavors of clove, ginger and mint up front, which is the biggest difference from the prior three releases. There are also flavors of vanilla and caramel in the background, a hearty malt character and a mild hops presence. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium-to-heavy body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, I've had '05, '06 & '07 and didn't notice much difference among them, but the spicy flavors in this year's release are much stronger. Overall, it's a good beer to drink for a while if you're in the mood for the style.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wet pine cone brown with burnt orange accents. An enthusiastic pour generated half a pint glass full of golden sandstone colored foam that looks especially firm and creamy. Delicate rings of feathery lace wrap up the appearance on a good note.

It's impossible to remember the previous version when it comes time to review the next, but this 2008 seems more chocolate malty and less spruce-like than I remember. It could also stand to have more power, although there's still some foam between nose and beer.

This 34th iteration of Anchor Our Special Ale tastes more subtle than in years past. There isn't as much dark maltiness and the Christmas tree vibe is softer as well. I've had them aged much longer than 1+ years, so that can't be it.

The beer tastes like a decent (though far from special) American porter with a hint of hop bitterness and a few handfuls of spruce tips. Warming brings a bit more boldness, though not enough for the next highest taste score to be a consideration.

It's doubtful that any of the brewery's year-to-year changes include using less malt. It sure does taste and feel that way, however. The mouthfeel is on the thin side and the carbonation is right where it should be.

I'm pretty sure that the differences noted with Anchor Our Special Ale 2008 are due to the beer itself and not due to my palate. This series has never blown me away, but it's still well worth a look every winter. Gotta keep the tradition alive.

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Photo of smcolw
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I look forward to this every year. My expectations have been tempered with the recent offerings--always good, not always special. I know its unfair to compare one year to another, especially at this level of quality.

This is a blow away head; five fingers minimum, recedes slowly in frothy and lumpy way. The liquid is deep brown where light shines through. Chunky lace on the glass.

Classic Christmas Ale aroma: lots of spruce. Mellow and attractive. I keep bringing it up to my nose.

Dark chocolate notes with a thick, creamy body. Light hop in the finish, but the aftertaste is mostly pine and cocoa.

Here's another beautiful Christmas ale from Anchor. Lovely.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a snifter at ChurchKey.

Having had a magnum of the '09 (a fuckin' magnum!), I was jazzed to see this on-tap as part of CK's Anchor-centric festivities. It pours an opaque, very dark black-brown with a finger or so of ecru foam. The smell is of pine needles, spruce tips, molasses, brown sugar, and even some mint. Apparently the guys over at Anchor ventured into the Canadian wilderness and bottled the essence of a camping experience there. The taste is very similar, though with less pine and the addition of some nuttiness, namely cashew and walnut. Odd, but not objectionable. It's got a medium body with pretty light carbonation. As winter warmers go, this guy is kinda weak, but is still fairly tasty, just slightly better than the '09. Worth a shot, but I'd never shell out for a magnum of the stuff.

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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 WVbeergeek
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've been drinking this every year since at least 2001, althought I haven't been able to review every version this brew sits as a classic in the Christmas seasonals repotoire. Pours a rustic deep mahogany brown forms a thick tan head forming a dimpled doughnut like appearance as it rises above the rim of my imperial pint glass. Chunky sporadic bands of lacing form on the sides after each sip, great looking brew from Anchor. Smells of fresh cut pine needles with a big earthy component accompanying some Christmas spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. Mild roasted malt and chocolate notes transcend on my palate with a touch of citrus, possibly orange peel in the background, this stuff is decadent. Bitterness seems to arrive from light herbal hops and waves of those same spices noted in the aroma definitely nutmeg and cinnamon maybe even a touch of anise. Excellent tea like quality, mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a soft but ample carbonation nothing bears down to heavily on my palate. Drinkability is great like a christmas tree in a bottle definitely smooth with spruce tips, spices, and warming alcohol. There's no abv listed but I suspect since it's not available in West Virginia that it must be higher than 6%, go seek some out and save some for the holidays. It will definitely pair well with festive foods from that time of year, and I've aged bottles in the past with excellent results so keep it longer if you can.

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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 johnnnniee
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought a sixer of this on a whim at Christmas time and just now got around to reviewing it.
Pours a clear dark brown with beautiful dark ruby highlights and a big ole fluffy tan head that sticks around forever. Smells of a cross between gingerbread cookies and spruce trees. Dark malty molasses and gingerbread spices dominate the nose. Taste is dark sugars and molasses, slight hop presence, hints of nutmeg and clove, maybe a bit of cinnamon. Lingering bitter dark sugar finish if there is such a thing. I'm not sure if I taste this, but after every sip I think chestnuts. Carbonation is crisp, body is medium, mouthfeel is spicy/oily. This is honestly like nothing I have ever tasted before. Intensely complex nose and taste! I like it, but I couldn't drink much of it. Hence the six pack I bought in Nov that I still have some of today.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.23/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty dark brown that shows very little light. Slightly lighter tan head. Nose is slight maple syrup. Flavor is pretty thick. Noticeable tones from whatever tree they were using on this one. Mild bitter side on an overall earthy sweet edge. Feel is smooth on liquid. Carbonation actually nips a bit hard on the tongue, which knocks it down a notch. Overall a nice one, as is usual with this annual release.

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Photo of Billolick
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A classic of the U.S. micro world and an old friend still doing quite well....Pours the expected darkest of dark amber, long lasting dark tan head, then gobs of splattered lace all over the glass. Spiced up nose, pine, nutmeg, spruce. Delicious, complex, winter sipper. More nutmeg, dark malty goodness, molasses, with a hint of dry dark chocolate. A welcome and comfortable part of the start of every winter season. This stuff likely will find its way into several thanksgiving dishes this year. (Just like last year) can remember

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Photo of jwc215
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with some dark ruby hues and a lasting tan head. Strands of lacing stick to the glass.

The smell is of the usual Christmas joy aroma of past years - perhaps a bit pinier. Cinnamon, (nutmeg?, ginger?) - tough to pinpoint exact spicings as they meld together to be of a winter potpourri with a dark malty background.

The taste is of chocolate/dark maltiness supporting the variety of winter spicing. Pine mixes in to add to the wintery delight and gives a nice balance. Semi-sweet with an earthy, drying finish.

It is full-bodied, but not syrupy or too thick.

A wonderful winter sipper that is spicy, but not overly so. Alcohol gives a tad of warmth but doesn't interfere in flavor or drinkability. The spices and piney notes interact well with the roasty dark maltiness. Another year - another winner!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tawny brown color, with crimson highlights, huge, rocky, cream & cocoa-toned head.

Lovely spice in the nose, nutmeg and cinnamon...cardamom? Ginger?
Not sure, but I like it.

Taste: bright and spicy, leads to grainy malt, then softly dries. Bit thin this time. I want the body more solid than this. But it's nice and warm and spicy, ...cookie dough, gingerbread...tasty, but needs, as I said, a fuller body.

Not loving this one as much as past years. Liking it, though.

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Photo of Tone
3.56/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, dark brown with lighter amber colors along the edges of the glass. Huge, inch and a half head of a tan color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of some pine, citrus notes, slight yeast notes (reminds me of a bock), and some hop aroma is present. Fits the style of a Winter Warmer. Mouth feel is slightly thick with an average carbonation level. Also there is a strong dryness associated with this brew. Tastes of all spice and ginger up front, then slight hops, and then roasted malt comes through next. A little strong on the spices and weak on the malt and hops for my personal taste, but it fits with other winter warmers I've had. Overall, not a beer I could drink too many of, but still worth a try.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11/16/08- Purchased at Mollie Stones in Burlingame, CA.

Presentation- 12oz bottle, 2008 release. Poured into a random pint glass.

Appearance- Brown, burnt caramel look. Light bubbly, creamy 1/4 inch head. Leaves some minor lace spots behind.

Smell- Not as spicy as the norm. Actually smells much more hoppy than usual. A bit of pine hops and some malt with other minor spices.

Taste- Very cola like with roasted caramel malt base. Much more hoppy that years past. No strange redwood tree flavor. Some pine and some sugary malt notes.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation, cola like flavor, but easier carbonation feel. Light bitter pine hop aftertaste.

Drinkability- I liked this years hoppier version better than last years, but not quite as good as some of the past versions. Overall about the average of OSA, which is good, but not exceptional.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was fortunate to see this on draft at a local beer bar, not a lot of this left since the 2009 is crowding it out. Beer was served in a standard pint glass. Beer is dark brown to black, no haze at the corners where there is a reddish tinge to the beer. Brown tight head forms made up of small bubbles. Lacing is high and the carbonation is strong enough to prop the head up for the duration. Looks great.

I guess it was the dark color of the beer but I expected to get some roast in the nose and got a lot of malt sweetness. Interesting and surprising (perhaps my ignorance). Overall a pleasant albeit unexpected aroma.

Beer is smooth and has a sweetness to it. There is no roast character and the bitterness is subdued. The odd thing about this beer is that it seems slightly sour to me. Not overly so, just a kind of secondary flavor that pops up out of no where and lingers until the beer is cleared. Drinkability is high and I am enjoying this beer. I would order it again (if that were possible).

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Our Special Ale 2008 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 456 ratings.
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