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 omnigrits
3.26/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I so look forward to this one every year, which possibly is the reason for my disappointment with this year's release - high expectations. It looks as good as ever with a good dark colour and nice head, but when I get my nose into it, followed by my taste buds, I'm reminded far too much of Fisherman's Friend lozenges. This both smells and tastes almost medicinal. Makes me think too much of a doctor's waiting room.

Good thing I have a few bottles laid down from last year.

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

look forward to this beer every year and thought it appropriate for the first sub-30 degree night of the season, actually down into the low 20s

a: fantastically rustic arboreal-themed label (this year it's Pinus jeffreyi) on a squat bottle as always, into a snifter, thickest head I've seen from this series, a good two inches, the color of eggnog and persistent at it slowly falls, light to moderate lacing, the beer itself a dark ruby brown in color

s: earthy spruce upfront alongside a very woody roasted malt, an old cedar closet, strong undertones of milk and dark chocolate, dark and woody but certainly not a heavy aroma, pecan shell, toasted winter spice cookies, nice

m: carbonation light and a touch fizzy at first but becoming delicate, body around medium

t: quite similar as usual but perhaps complexity has taken a hit this year, though my hopes are that it's just a bit young, still very woody with flavors of dark roasted nuts in crispmus breads, leathery overdried figs and prunes, dry cedar, clean in the finish with wood, cocoa, and earthy spice, hop flavors low but impart a moderate level of bitterness

d: lighter, clean body and subdued character make for an easy drinker

six-pack from Whole Foods, Reston, VA...dating code 8OU

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Photo of Manos
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Right off the bat:
If you are new to this annual release by Achor Brewing, then welcome.
This series was one of my first introductions to christmas ales. The thing is, with this series, each year is very different from years
before. If you don't like this one, try again next year. There have truly been some gems in this series since I've been following it.
The brewmasters at Anchor seem to be drumming to a different drummer; trying to always be different. They really don't have to try, in my opinion: Small Beer? Barleywine? Steam Beer? I love them all. The seasonal beers follow the same idea: different.
On to the tasting.
A: dark and red tint. Always reminds me of years past when I
see this color, sitting next to the yellow label and trees.
S: Is that clove? chocolate? Pumpernickel?
T: Chocolate, clove, check. Bitter, smooth, nice.
M: Not silky, not dry, but a nice compromise.
D: I only bught one bottle to taste. Returning for more. Not an all night slammer, make this last a over a few nights and you're set.

Ah, another good year! I always hold my breath on first sip.
To be honest, I always HOPE for this to be good every year.
Sure there have been a few downers over the years, but this

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Photo of rye726
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This year's offering pours a dark brown with a tan head. The nose had sweet malts and a collection of spices. The taste is also a nice balance between fruity malts, subtle hops and various spices. Medium body drinks well. A good beer, but not my favorite vintage. I'm sure it will age well.

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Photo of auburngrad82
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. This beer pours a beautiful deep brown with a hint of red. The taste has hints of bread, chocolate and pine, definitely more malty than hop heavy. I bought this at the same time I bought Rogue's Christmas Ale and they couldn't be more different. The emphasis on this one is on the malts where the Rogue ale is more hoppy. All in all this one is a very nice dark ale.

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Photo of asabreed
3.82/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ah, the time is here. I wish I would've been aware of these years ago, but only recently did I jump on the train.

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Dark amber with a mocha-colored head, nice carbonation shooting to the top, and some scant circular blobs of lacing kicking around the glass.

Smell: Initially almost a cherry chocolate rum cake concoction, with lots of sweet, malty, chocolate flavors, and honey and candied-fruit, along with cake a cookie dough batter. A bit of booze and some hops to give it some sourness in the nose and citrus flavor. Certainly fitting for the season.

Taste: I'm thinking in its green state the hops are coming on a bit too strong, lending a tartness, sourness, and bitterness too much to the malt flavors, which come through later in the long finish with bitter chocolate and hints of cookies and sweet dough. The wonderful aroma I was hoping would come out in the taste, but it seems to be too far in the back, with the sour cherries and citrus and mildly acrid bitterness coming up. Don't get me wrong: it adds an interesting hoppy element to a celebratory and usually maltier kind of brew, but it seems a little too strong to me. That said, I can see the hops dissipating and this sucker being fantastic a few years down the road. I'm going to try my best to save some.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with nice full carbonation overall, which means I can see it holding up in the cellar for years to come.

Drinkability: The 2004 I had about 6 months ago was wonderful, and seemed almost perfect to me. I wonder what some age will do to balance out the bitter chocolate and sour fruit flavors, which are nice now if you're into that sort of thing, but I have a feeling this could be great in a few years. Why not try it fresh and lay some down? I'll be trying to do that, but I'm not sure I'll be able to.

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Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Waterfront in Brooklyn.

Poured a deep amber hue with a one finger foamy off white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured hints of ginger, allspice and maple.

The taste consisted of a mixed bag of spice, molasses and maybe some orange peel. There was a hint of spruce present as well.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness for the style.

Overall a complex and easy to drink winter warmer.

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

Nose is highly banana like Anchor Porter with citric zest, spice, chocolaty malt, and a good deal of floral and fruit aromas. Strawberry, cherry, and various sweet-smelling fruits. Smells great.

Pours a dark, dark brown - almost black - no clarity, it's dense. Moderate head with mild-moderate retention.

Fruity, floral, malty, hoppy, wonderful. Mmmm! Where to begin? As in the nose, the flavor is complexly and highly fruity: lots of cherry, orange, banana; some pineapple, strawberry, and some nonexistent fruit that's creamy, tart, sweet, and probably yellow (just tastes yellow, for some reason). Some peppery spiciness: various fall spices, white pepper. Hops are fresh and floral and suggest earthy, herbal, and spicy flavors. Chocolate and richly roasted malt are creamy and bitter, savory and dry, and nicely done.

Full bodied (more full than thin, but not by a large margin), mild carbonation, good bitter fruity mouthcoating.

Very nice. I love the complex fruit and good, tight balance. Another happy Christmas ale from Anchor!

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Photo of yourefragile
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Very dark brown, but clear, letting light pass through. Mahogany/garnet colors against light. Thick, frothy tan head that fairly quickly recedes to a thick ring and thin film with blotches of lacing.
S: As expected from this beer, the aroma is overwhelming and very potent and all of it smells like the holidays. I would expect this to border on sickening for some people. Smells like potpourri, cinnamon, gingerbread, pear, christmas trees and a host of other spices.
T: First two times I had this I liked it a lot less than this time. Only difference is that I am serving it much colder this time. Colder it has a stronger spicey, cinnamon/ginger flavor, slightly sweet. As it warms there is a stronger ripened fruit flavor and maybe figs that cuts the sweetness and spiciness. Not quite as much malt or caramel taste as expected.
M: As others have noted, slightly thinner than expected, but still very high carbonation compensates. Finish is mildly spicy but still clean.
D: This is my least favorite of the past few years from memory, but still a very pleasant warmer and something to look forward to each year. Holds up well over a session without being sickening.

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Photo of John_M
4.29/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Always a beer I look forward to. The grandaddy of all X-mas beers (at least in this country). On tap at Max's the other day.

The beer pours the expected dark brown color with some red hilights. This is the way OSA has looked for a number of years now. However, this beer has very good head retention and lacing, and just looks attractive. As is always the case, the aromas in this beer are otherworldly, and IMHO, are it's best feature. There is just so much going on... clove, allspice, nutmeg, brown sugar, molasses, perhaps even a hint of ginger. There are also dark fruits in the nose, with the beer reminding me more of beery equivalent of a fruit cake. The flavors on the palate generally replicate the nose, except there is also some chocolate and vanilla, along with the fruit and spice. There's just enough hops to keep the beer from becoming heavy, but otherwise there is a creamy mouthfeel in this year's version that I don't recall from previous years. Some prior years have seemed just a bit thin on the palate, but I can't say that this year. According to the beer menu at Max's, this year's version is 7%, which I think gives it a fuller mouthfeel. Drinkabilty is pretty good, though with all the spice, there's no way you're going to pound down several of these at a sitting.

I would hesitate to call this the best OSA I've ever tried (I've had quite a few and who can remember them all at this point), but it's a damn good one. Well done Anchor. Season's greetings.

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

Very dark but clear and not heavy-looking. The light you hold it to becomes a faint garnet-mahogany glow, exposing semi-busy carbonation going on. Head is dark tan, rich, and fairly durable; and it coats the inner walls of the glass like a tapestry.

Smells of burnt brown sugar and molasses, or some gingerbread cookie dough that fell over the side of the baking sheet and into the bottom of the oven.. Definitely carmelized. Seems to be a faintly warm spice to the nose with a deep sniff - maybe the ginger in the aforementioned gingerbread wasn't so far off.

Rich and sweet roasted toffee and caramel coat the tongue upon the first sips. Hey, it's hitting me: properly turned and nicely browned marshmallows on a campfire. And an accompanying roasted graham cracker taste is not out of the question.

As the glass gets halfway down, it bares a deeply ripened dried fruit. Some spicy hop bitterness shows up and while allowing the malts to star, does keep them in check.

Very soft on the mouth, and quite easy drinking, though a bomber is all I'd want at one time. I expected a more apparent alcohol and/or Christmas spice. Not disappointed, just surprised. The final sips have the only real evidence of either, and I let it warm. I am liking the marshmallow. Very comforting, and what better to sit fireside with?

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Photo of JamesS
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice dark amber/brown color with nice head and nice lacing. Very malty scent, some candy sugar tones and a nice hit of spice. It has a very deep and dark taste, well balance leaning towards malty, with a great spice (coriander?, cinnamon, and nutmeg) flavor with a thick aftertaste. It goes down smooth, but still thick.

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Photo of duffextracold
3.82/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

pours a thick, bubbly tan head. dissipates quickly. Deep amber brown color, looks like cola.

Smells great. spicy, malty, slight peppermint. a little alcohol on the nose. a little fruity.

Malty, nutty flavor. cinnamon, nutmeg. just a tiny touch of hops.

Body is a little thin, lots of big bubbles, heavy carbonation.

Alcohol content is a mystery, but it seems like its just about right, in the 5-8 range.
overall drinkability is decent. i could put back quite a few of these. the spices aren't overwhelming. i think i'll put a few in the celler next to the '07's and see how they turn out.

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Photo of BeerSox
4.09/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into nonic.

Deep brown hue, bordering on black, with ruby edges on the top an bottom. A thin tan head quickly settles to a thin rim along the glass. Spotty lacing.

Roasty malts and a little bit of caramel in the background. The spices are upfront, including a minty aroma that reminds me of a fresh-cut Christmas tree.

The malts are somewhat thin, not contributing much to the flavor. A little bit of licorice is in the flavor, mixing nicely with the spices. Full bodied (thought it is on the thinner side). Even with the spices, it has a somewhat clean finish.

I thought the aroma was great, helped bring up some good memories from the piney aroma. I thought this one was on the thinner side though. Also the minty herby aromas seem to come out more compared to last year. Recommended.

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Photo of Gmann
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a near black color with a huge tan head with fairly large carbonation bubbles. The head takes its time dissipating, appears to be leaving a wall of lacing. The aroma is of rust, pine sap, light bitter chocolate; a bit buttery. Big spruce flavor, with a sour/tart berry, bitter nutty chocolate, a lemony twang and some unidentifiable spices. A nice full chewy feel, with prickly carbonation, earthy sweetness followed by a drying bitterness. Definitely a flavorful brew, great appearance. This is what I imagine an evergreen forest would taste like. Good for one sitting not sure I can take more than one a night.

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

pours a very dark amber color (very dark, almost like a lite stout) with a beige foamy head full of bubbles, head stays around, and when it disappears it is still there. Aroma was spices up front cinnamon and nutmeg with pine. Taste is malty but somewhat tart as well with some cinnamon/nutmeg/pine. Decent carbonation, good sticky lacing as you drink this beer. Flavors come alive as the beer sits for a while. Great beer for a chilly winters' nite.

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Photo of KeefD
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown pour with ruby highlights, massive three finger tan colored head that slowly recedes, becoming rocky, and leaving some very nice sheets of lacing. Very piney aroma, but unlike the typical hop-pine aroma I'm used to. Has an almost sprucy character. Lots of spices including cinnamon and nutmeg along with plenty of dark fruit, chocolate and sweet malts. A red wine aroma shows up as it warms. Very complex nose on this one, and I dig it. Flavor is super spicy, cinnamon and ginger, lots of pine sap flavor, a bit of citrus fruit, maybe some orange peel. Hop flavor is mellow, but balances out nicely. The flavor of this beer is unlike any other Winter Warmer I've tried. Very nuanced, but the mouthfeel is a bit on the lighter side. I would say it's safely in the medium bodied category, but it's close to light. It's fairly drinkable, but the spices in this one limit the number in one sitting. A great holiday beer and certainly tastes like the holidays.

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Photo of Tdizzle
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2008 edition.

A- Poured into a tulip glass, this beer pours a deep, dark brownish-black color that's encased by clear, ruby tinted hues when held up to light. The creamy two-finger head is tan in color and gradually settles to a thick cap over the beer. Some cloud-like lacing remains on the glass.

S- All the standard OSA aromas of molasses, dark fruits and various holiday cooking spices are present, but this year's version is accented by notes of citrus rind and pine. There's some dark chocolate in the background as the liquid warms up. The smell of this beer is all over the place, and the richness of the "dark" characteristics mixed with the orange peel and pine notes is interesting.

T- The initial taste is of molasses, dark fruits and spices, but these flavors leave the party early as a bland finish moves in on the palate, leaving a mild dark chocolate bitterness behind.

M- A slightly watery feel with medium carbonation.

D- This year's OSA is a bit light on flavor and the mouthfeel is more thin than I would have liked, but all this doesn't exactly hurt the drinkability. I could have a few of these in a sitting, where as last year's edition was more rich and heavy on the stomach.

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Photo of bditty187
3.3/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark red/mahogany in hue with a large beige head; even a soft pour produced a healthy two fingers of foam. Head retention was respectable, the foam slowly faded away only leaving a soapy collar. Subsequent lacing was spotty. The appearance is very typical for this beer, in other words, it is lovely to look at.

Cinnamon, ginger, oranges, lemon zest, nutmeg, and allspice hit my olfactory fist. I get a candied orange aroma, something "new" in OSA. Dry, malty chocolate notes seem to overpower the typical piney/sprucey notes. I happen to like it this way. While there is plenty of spice I like the richness of the malt. The chocolate hints work perfectly with some bready-toasty-dough suggestions. I like the nose a good deal. Inviting.

The palate is very dry and the maltiness is quite thin. Spices are muted, I am surprised... sure they are detectable but not like I remember in past OSA. The finish is the strongest aspect, lovely chocolate malt with a flash of citrus and oranges and a dash of "Christmas cookie" spice and spruce. I am surprised by how little I taste in this beer. Very odd. Thin, dry, malty-spiced but really disappointing. Overall, the palate is simply decent.

Medium/medium-light in body, fairly thin, IMO, low carbonation; the mouthfeel is barely adequate.

I respect OSA a lot. It is not my favorite winter beer but I try it every year. One six-pack is always enough. This year I only purchased one bottle to review it (for BA but for work mainly) and I am glad I did not buy a six-pack. Some people will like this tamer version more and other will be disappointed. Color me surprised. I have had every OSA since 1998 and this is the weakest by far. OSA 2008 is, well, a dud.

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Photo of Buebie
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

poured from a 12oz brown bottle. This is the 2008 release.
Poured into a brandy snifter.
Color is no-transparent black with glowing crimson at the edges.
1 finger foamy off white head, leaves rings of spotty thin lace. Retention is a nice thin layer with clusters of bubbles.

Aroma on this is dark fermented fruits, plums, figs and a red grape like aroma. Its somwhat perfumy in the spiced fruit notes.
Some cloves, cinnemon and a hint of piney hops.
Amazing already.

Thin watery mouthfeel with a medium dose of carbonation.
More of the dark purfumy fruit, with hints of chocolate, and roasted grains. A spicie flavor midway through and into the swallow. Wisps of earl grey.
Absolutly delicious. Finish is crisp and dry with a grassy hop linger.
As it warms the chocolate becomes a little more pronounced, as does a kind of rootbeer like flavor. It reminds me more of a dark belgium triple.

I will definatly be picking up the very large bottle of this I saw a couple days ago. It its still available.
This is a wonderful winter warmer.

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

poored a deep ruby red copper, head dissipated to just a ring on the edge of the glass but clung nicely to it each sip
smelled of caramel maltiness with a cola hint
taste was the same as the smell but obviously more pronounced, a very small hop bite in the after taste
medium bodied leaning towards the light side
very nice to drink sips good and could probably sit down and drink 3 or 4 in a night easy

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Photo of walshclimb
4.06/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep dark chestnut with a thick bubbly head that stays around to the last sip. Very impressive appearance. The aroma picks up caramel malt, spice and a little citrus hops. Cinnamon and maybe ginger. Nice. Initial flavor of roasted malt and caramel with a gentle bitter aftertaste that is well balanced. Spice notes are obvious but not overwhelming. Medium to full bodied with active carbonation and a relatively crisp finish. Overall, this is a solid winter beer and my first this season. It is very smooth and great with spicy food. Try it with carne adovada if you can get some!

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Photo of daliandragon
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

You know winter is approaching when the first bottles of this old reliable start to appear on the shelves. I like the tree this year... what is that, a Jefferson Pine? I like it better than the willow. Anyway, you get your usual nearly opaque dark brown with red highlights in the body, with a thick tan head that laces nicely as it retreats. The nose is among the strongest spice notes I've smelt in a while, with mucho cinnamon and clove up front.

Lots of malt and spice in the taste, followed by a medicinal and peat finish, which is unexpected. The texture is a little thin early on but evens out nicely. Overall, this is close to textbook for the style although I'd be curious to see how it aged in a few years. Another good year, and hoping for many more!

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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