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 whiskeysoda
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured a deep brown/amber with a thick, fine off-white foam. NOSE was very strong and perfumed; reminiscent of wet oak, pine varnish and burnt caramel...imagine a new-oak barrel-aged Coca Cola. Yea. Do it.

MOUTHFEEL was exceedingly light and crisp despite the intense flavor profile of juniper, pine, dates, nutmeg and burnt sugar on the finish.

Definitely refreshing despite the dark, toasty and spicy flavor profile. The closest thing to drinking a Coke I've ever encountered in a beer. Very interesting.

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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 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 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 twiggamortis420
3.44/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle pours a dark brown, nearly black color with very little highlighting around the edges. Thick, 2-finger layer of foam is both long lasting and lace plentiful. Good looking brew.

Nose is of spruce tips and 7-up. Some molasses, maple syrup and pine sap mix in there as well. Interesting and unique smelling beer. Smells like a weird non-alcoholic cola-malt beverage.

Taste has not improved very much since I first tried it a year and a half ago. The molasses and spruce tips are waaay to much and do not allow much room for any of the other flavors to show through. Raisins and many other dark fruits are somewhat evident. Tastes like redwood tree bark! Carbonation is decent and I believe it will hold up for years to come. Better as it warms, but I dig the 2009 version much better.

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Photo of fropones
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tasted 02/2010

A - Brown, almost black, with nice 1 finger khaki head.

S - Licorice, anise, with some ginger.

T - Licorice, tastes a bit like soap. A hint of faded hops. Sweet.

M - Nice carbonation. Creamy.

D - Drinks decent but there's something I don't like in the flavor.

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Photo of MaxBrews
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked up this beer on the singles rack for the hell of it. I was really expecting to have aged poorly and agreed I wouldn't review it if it however it faired pretty well.

Appearance: Pours with a nice 2 and a half finger fluffy head. Beer is dark ruby red in the middle and dark reddish amber around the edges. When the head calms down the lacing is still very thick and remains a a half finger fluffy lacing that clings to the glass. Minus the color the appearance is very similar to an IPA.

Smell: The first thing you smell when you crack open the bottle is Christmas spices: Cloves, all spice and Ginger. You get subtle malt characteristics but not enough to really nail any one specific characteristic to the malt. Spices overwhelm and it really isn't until you taste it that a very slight hop smell comes out as well as a dash of raisins.

Taste & Mouthfeel: You expect to be going in for a big bite of spices but get a mouthful of raisins and dark fruit with a subtle mix of cloves and cinnamon all spice. Theres an herbal astringency which I'm going to guess is the hops, though they don't impart much of a taste, just a pleasant bitterness. This beer does show some signs of oxidation. Some vanilla been and bourbon comes out when it really warms

There's a lot of flavors going on in this beer and at times they clash. It becomes more palatable as the beer warms. A slight bitterness and very dry finish.

Drinkablility: I've never tried this beer when it came out, so I can't vouch for it then, but if it tastes this good now, its held up well over the year beneath the florescent lights in the bottle shop. Could see having a few of these a very christmasy ale, though for it to get a higher rating, the flavors would have to blend much better, theres just too much going on in this ale and they don't blend well. I'm interested in sourcing a 2009 now.

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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 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 elgiacomo
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage: Pours thin brown with a huge rocky tan head, holds a very big cap, good lacing.

Aroma is spices up front, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, brown sugar, molasses, cereal, some fruit, orange peel even.

Flavor is malty, caramel, brown sugar, definite spices, some molasses, sweet, malty, no real hop presence or bitterness.

Mouthfeel is creamy, low to medium carbonation, dry finish compared to the 2009.

Excellent overall. I like this one the best of the two ('08 & '09).

Aroma 8/10, Appearance 4/5, Taste 8/10, Palate 4/5, Overall 17/20.

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Photo of SpdKilz
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - Pours a dark brown, with a hint of crimson showing around the edges. About a finger and a half of head that dissipates relatively fast leaving overall decent lacing.

Smell - Wow! Full of delightful smells such as pine, cinnamon, cloves, hops, and malt.

Taste - Very similar to how it smells. Lots of spices hit you at the forefront. This is eventually followed by a nice malty backbone with hints of dark fruit.

Mouthfeel - Smooth and creamy, decent carbonation.

Drinkability - One and I'm done. It was very good, but the massive amounts of spices and flavor make this a sipper that should be enjoyed by itself. Better than the 2009 I had this year (perhaps because it had a year to mellow out?).

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

from the cellar of duffextracold

1 finger, creamy, tan head leaves sea foam lace. Opaque dark brown. Persistent, thin retention. Smells like hickory, soil, juniper boughs, nutmeg and brown sugar. Earthy. Taste is more of the same albeit accompanied by a prickly mouthfeel.

An earthy, pine forest winter warmer. This beer is glade snowboarding.

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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 longdivision
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aged a year, poured from the bottle.
A - nice lingering beige head. Deep ruby brown in color and slightly hazy. The head does not go away nad is consistent throughout.
S - Pine cones, cinnamon, nutmeg, a hint of hops. brown sugar.
T - Spicy, nutty, roasty. Sweet malts and nuts up front with a hop presence at the end. Piney but balanced.
M - Smooth but dry. tiny bubbles in the carbonation. Somewhat chewy.

Overall, a tasteful, timely beer. Not overpowering in that "Christmas" flavor either. Aging it may have mellowed it out too.

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Photo of wknight167
3.99/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Apearance - Pours a dark ruby mohagany with a half finger head that fades quickly.

Nose- Cherries and other stone fruits, caramel and spices, most notably cinnamon and nutmeg.

Palate- Caramel to fruity to spicy with the same spices plus maybe allspice? and a touch of roastiness throughout.

Mouthfeel- Medium body, slighlty low, lively carbonation.

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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 IronCitySteve
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark brown color with some reddish hints to it. Provides a small tan head that quickly dissipates. No real lacing.

S: A small amount of caramel, bread, brown sugar, dried fruit and nutmeg.

T: A little spice to this beer but it seemed masked by the sweet malt character. There are some vague hints of dark fruit.

M: A nice medium bodied beer that leaves a sweet taste on the palate.

D: A nice winter warmer offering, but it seemed a little to sweet to enjoy multiple in one sitting. Defintiely worth a shot though.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a super deep ruby color beneath a beie head that recedes to a lovely, thick foam of awesome goodness. The aroma is a musty roast of awesome chocolate malts that add an awesome aire of dry chocolate and coffee. The taste is equally musty and aged. The age of this beer adds some dust to the chocolate and coffee with some non-dairy creamer. But it has some x-masspice notes and overall porter taste and feel. Pretty easy to drink seasonal ale. I really like it. I have yet to drink a vintage that I don't care for.

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Photo of weeare138
4.07/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appears a deep dark chestnut with a dark tan head that fizzles into a mild cap and collar. Plenty of scattered lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of mollasses, bourbon, orange blossom honey, curaçao, oak, cedar, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas, with a touch of bitter chocolate, grand marnier, pine like hops, molasses, and juniper berries.
Mouthfeel is sticky, oily, ...kinda smoked salmon thing lingering on the tongue.

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Photo of jdense
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle purchased at John's Marketplace, poured as the lead-off hitter during Twelve Beers of Christmas tasting 12/22/09.

Dark brown semi-opaque body, one finger dark tan head, medium dissipation with some lacing present. Really complex nose, dominated by spicy potpouri with no one element front and center, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, ginger is my best guess, but surprised at how well they blended together, tough to deconstruct the smell. Taste is a bit syrupy, complex malt profile, bready over sweetness, the hops have certainly mellowed over the year. Sticky mouthfeel, nicely carbonated. Not the most drinkable of Winter Warmers, more so because of heaviness than alcohol. Nevertheless, a true Christmas Classic. Cheers!

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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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Photo of BevMoAndrew
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tasted 2008 vintage on 12-15-09 in a Bruery tulip glass at about 40 degrees. This is part of a 2007, 2008, & 2009 vertical.

Shows a very dark brown in the glass with a thick, cramy tan froth, good retention, & good lacing. (Oddly enough, the retention isn't as good as the 2007 I just drank. However, the carbonation is a little more assertive.) Aromas of dark fruit, pine, sage, thyme, bay leaf, caramel malts, toffee, & molasses. (I think that the beer is in a dormant state in the aging process...It's just not a fresh as the 09 and not as rich/complex as the 07. However, it's still a solid brew) The flavor of the beer offers the kitchen spice rack with dark fruit candy, & a caramel/molasses malt presence. Definitely the highlight of the beer. The texture of the beer is thick and syrupy. Overall, a fantastic beer & highly recommended. In comparison to the 07, the beer isn't as complex or creamy on the mouthfeel, but offers more of a tart red candy element that the 07 lacked. In comparison to the 09, the beer shows more spice complexity, but is a little more intense/unbalanced on the spicing, and is a little less approachable. Of all three, the 07 takes the Gold, the 09 takes the silver, & the 08 takes the bronze. Still not bad when the bronze still gets an A.

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