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

very good
399 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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.

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 399 | Ratings: 456
Photo of Stigs
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16oz pour into a pint glass, on tap at Fat Heads Pittsburgh

A - dark brown with a ruby outline when held up to the lights. about half an inch of bubbly, loose and soapy foam which laced all the way down. seems to have a bit of a body for the style.

S - lots of holiday spices...nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, some sweet fruits and citrus...tiny bit of hops if you seek it out.

T - very sweet and malty at first before the spices kick in. pepper, cinnamon, and licorice are dominant near the end. a bit overly "holiday"...would benefit from some subtlety.

M - nice and creamy at first but wears a little thin...not helped by a slight over-carbonation. doesnt ruin the experience...just doesnt help it much.

D - christmas in a glass without messing around. could have benefitted from some balance or a bit less seasoning. not one of the better Anchor OSA's.

 858 characters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 1,387 characters

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

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

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

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

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

 777 characters

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

Ahh the holidays. A time to reflect, enjoy (or loathe) family, and partake of delicious libations to get into the merry spirit.

Wow, this beer pours a black with a tan, foamy head. Was not expecting such a dark beer, but there was nice lacing on the glass. So far so intriguing, then its time to go for the smell.

Scents of dried fruit, molasses (malt), some faint spice (cinnamon and nutmeg) and the aroma is rounded out by some additional sticky sweetness as the beer warms.

A lot is going on with this beer. Upfront I get a taste of tart cherries. There are some toast and roasted notes at the end, with some nuttiness and a kiss of hops in the middle. Dry finish. Mouthfeel is best described as a creamy, chewy, and mouth enveloping.

This beer is highly quaff-able. Definitely an enjoyable holiday beer.

 813 characters

Photo of Vengeance526
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark reddish brown color with a half finger tan head that quickly fades to a light ring and laces the glass just a little.

Aroma is mildly sweet with cinnamon, caramel and brown sugar.

Taste reveals some licorice and figs, but the most noticeable taste is that of cinnamon and nutmeg all around. The spices come together nicely and make this one quite enjoyable.

Medium body with decent carbonation and a rich creamy feel. The spices are the highlight here and this was nice to try a year later. Drinking through the first glass was easy but I actually find myself a little tired of it after that, so for now I'm sticking to just one of these at a sitting.

 669 characters

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown to black in color. Nice tan head sits atop this beer perfectly. Soapy lacing sticks to the glass all around. Good head retention.

Smell: Lots o holiday spice! Cinnamon, nutmeg, some brown sugar and a touch of ginger. A light fruity aroma emerges as well. Some raspberry and a touch of licorice.

Taste: Spicy up front, a bit of cinnamon and a light ester backround. Maltiness is sweet and has a slight toasted aroma. I get a bit of light fruit thats hard to describe, maybe cherries? Finish consists of a blast of malt spice and a mild touch of dark fruit florals.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and rich, perfect carbonation and small touch of bitterness. This one stands firm on the tongue.

Drinkability: Nice to have a year later and have it still be enjoyable. I like the spiciness in this and the aroma reminds you of the holidays. Easy to drink but more than one is enough. A hearty yet spicy warmer that I will definetley remember.

 1,012 characters

Photo of Aenema
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - Pours a dark brown with deep ruby tints topped with a soapy 1 finger tan head. Splotchy lacing.
Smell - Cinnamon, nutmeg, sweet caramel malts and fruit, perhaps cherry.
Taste - Begins with lots of sweet malt and fig. Spiced throughout with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Mouthfeel - Creamy and medium-bodied with moderate carbonation. Dry finish.
Drinkability - A bit too sweet to want more than one of.

 406 characters

Photo of davod23
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the 12oz bottle into a stemless wine glass.

Poured a ruddy brown with ruby highlights. A billowing, fluffy, toffee-colored head rises up and threatens to overcome the sides of the glass. After subsiding, a thin cap remains. Some light lacing on the glass. Absolutely beautiful to look at.

Smells like the holidays. Spicy cinnamon predominates. It's not terribly complex, but I like it.

Malty sweetness, with assertive cinnamon and nutmeg components. Maybe some figs in the background, but they are dominated by the spices. A slight bitterness in the finish, but very understated. A long, lasting spicy finish. Again, like the nose, not terribly complex, but quite enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is very nice. The brew is medium-bodied with ample carbonation.

Drinkability is a weird one here for me. This glass goes down quickly - in fact, I have to really try to keep from gulping it down. However, I have no desire to have another one of these quite yet. Perhaps the spices limit the volume I could comfortably consume without getting fatigued. Very unusual kind of circumstance for me.

All in all, a very good holiday brew. I think that each year, as long as I live, I will have to get a sixer of the Our Special Ale. It's the prototype of its style. Very enjoyable.

 1,279 characters

Photo of KickbacksSteve
3.18/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a Unibroue tulip. I assume this one is about a year old at this point. Thick beige head floats for a while and then begins to implode from within. Aroma is of cinnamon, nutmeg, sweet malts and maybe some pumpkin. Taste is moderately spicy, not bitter and not too sweet. Maybe some pepper causing the spiciness. Honestly not my favorite beer of all time, but not unpleasant in any way.

 396 characters

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.

 541 characters

Photo of Wasatch
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Been sitting on this one for a few months.

Pours a dark brown/black color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger plus creamy tannish head, lots of stick lacing to follow. The nose is malty, slightly licoricy, slight oak, spicy, toffee, and caramel. The taste is very nice, malty, slightly sweet, licoricy/oak, a good dose of toffe/caramel. Medium body, a complex, well-rounded brew. Very Drinkable, another tasty brew from Anchor.

 427 characters

Photo of NorCalYeti
3.67/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

taste- sweet malt, cinnamon, smooth

color- deep brown with a red hue

clarity- clear

smell- cinammon, pine, malt

body- weighted up front

appearance- clean, nice even head

overall impression- good, not great

notes- seemed to be one note, not as complex, maybe because the previous two anchor's i had were library beers. 34th release of this beer. this review is for a 2008 vintage tasted in 2008

glassware: pint

 417 characters

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

A - Pours a tawny deep brown coloration with a tinge of red at the edges. Tan head that laced the glass.

S - Piney and spicy with earthy notes of cinnamon, ginger. Malty backbone is in the nose also, very festive.

T - Deep and complex, with spice and hops being well pronounced without being overbearing in any way.

M - Good carbonation, a little bit of a bite on the tip of the tounge but overall appropriate mouthfeel.

D - Nicely drinkable winter warmer, with well developed flavors that compliment each other well.

This was the remaining beer of the 6-pack that I bought last winter, finally got around to reviewing. I think that this beer got slightly better with a little bit of age. The flavors blended well and mellowed a bit more together.

 753 characters

Photo of dsa7783
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Waited a while to crack this seasonal offering from last year... Age definitely has an impact, imparting a richer, maltier, sweeter backbone... Definitely a warming beer with sweet spices abounding both in the nose and on the palate... One of my favorite winter-time beers, hands-down... Great stuff, and as always, definitely recommended...

 341 characters

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.

 276 characters

Photo of Fnord
4.04/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Anchor Our Special Ale '08

Appearance - Very dark ruby with a thin off-white head.

Smell - Chocolate, sasparilla, cinnamon, alcohol, nutmeg, raisin, vanilla, maybe some chestnut

Taste - Similar to the smell, but the spices are subsumed somewhat by a hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel - Not as thick as last year's but it still coats the tounge nicely. Low carbonation.

Drinkability - Very drinkable. You could drink quite a few of these in one sitting, though you probably shouldn't, since you'd lose a lot of the complexities after the second or third. Plus, it would be really expensive.

Notes - Anchor OSA '07 was my favorite Christmas beer, and this one's not far behind. I just think the hops should be toned down a bit so the spices are more noticeable. After all, hoppy beers are ubiquitous, but exquisitely spiced beers like this one are rare, so they should highlight that aspect. Even with that flaw, though, it's outstanding.

 933 characters

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

Appearance: Deep, burnt caramel brown brew with a dense, light brown head.

Smell: Roast malt, licorice, pine.

Taste: Solid roast malt flavor. An aggressive wave of spice gives way to sweet flavors. The dry finish evolves with hints of licorice.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Sticky, yet dry. Flavors linger in the density.

Drinkablity: Well crafted seasonal brew. I miss these offerings while being overseas.

 409 characters

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.

 425 characters

Photo of wheatyweiss
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a standard American pint.

Pours a deep ruby, ruddy brown with a monstrous head that recedes to a thick cap and leaves webs of lace all over the glass.

Aroma is tannic up front. Spices like a mulled cider, dark fruits and spiced rum. Coriander and nutmeg in the middle. Roasted grain is nutty and moderately husky smelling. Molasses and sherry on the finish.

Flavor is grain on the front. Grain is sweet and dusty, a somewhat cereal note to the grain on the front. Middle comes in with chewy grain and raisins, dates and vanilla. Hops begin to peek in the middle and make their presence known. Spices come in as allspice and a jerk-like spice. Dark spiced rum flavors and a bit of plum and date, with a slightly tannic acid twang. Dark dusty chocolate and candied dark fruits. Finish is crisp and sweet, with just enough hop bite to cut the sticky sweetnes of the beer.

Mouth is on the thin side of medium. Shouldn't expect to chew on a 5.5 but the flavor is big enought that the body seems almost watery.

Pretty good and not cloyingly sweet like some warmers I've had.

 1,099 characters

Photo of PartyBear
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Black in appearance, with a small yellowish creamy head.

S - Powerful spice, cloves, and oranges. A noticeable floral rose quality. Also, clear maltiness, with mixed berries.

T - The taste is like a liquidized mince pie; it taste like christmas, which I found very unsettling as I drank it in July! Lots of spice, notably cinnamon and nutmeg.

M - Quite sticky, and full. Mildly carbonic.

D - Big flavours that work well. Not what you usually get from ales and with such strong flavours it could have gone horribly wrong but it didn't. I bought it on a whim but intend to go back and buy a case for Christmas. Eagerly anticipate the 2009 offerign.

 657 characters

Photo of jackofclubs
3.23/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

this is from when i first came out, i have one that i am saving for when the 2009 comes out to try side by side

A- dark brown with red highlights, thick one finger head

S- malty and spicy

T- malty, bitter sweet chocolate with spices but i cant tell what they are

M- full but could stand to be fuller

i think i was expecting more

 335 characters

Photo of thirst4hops
4.14/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured nicely into a Sam Adams pint glass. A nice deep amber color for the beer with a creamy looking tan head. Had me excited to continue.

S - The best part of this beer, hands down. The smell was full of spices and aromas. Definitely nutmeg as well as caramel and spices. It really did remind me of Christmas and make me wish I had drank it in season.

T - I was very surprised when I took my first sip. This beer is much more delicate than the initial look and smell would suggest. The caramel taste definitely came through. Much stronger on the front end than on the back end. The aftertaste built up as I worked my way down the pint. I was pleased as the taste became more complex and spicy as it warmed slightly. I would have liked a bit more balance, though.

M - A little creamy, but not so rich that it was overwhelming on the tongue. Carbonation was just right to assist here.

D - I could definitely drink another of these. Its not something I would have 4 or 5 of in one night, though. One or two tops.

 1,019 characters

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

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

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

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

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

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

 1,184 characters

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

Spotted this one on sale in a "out of season" bin at the store so I picked it up for $1.25.

Dated October 28 2008.

Bottle poured to a pint glass.

A- Dark chestnut brown that was clearer than I expected. About a half inch light brown head.

S/T - Smelled and tasted like bottled Christmas! If I closed my eyes I would've thought it was snowing outside instead of in the 80's. I had to combine these because it was identicle as far as I could tell. Cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices I could'nt single out, evergreen type woods and some citrus.

M- A little more carbinated then I normally like but pretty light over all.

D- I wouldnt have more than one but I will look forward to the next edition.

 699 characters

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.

 843 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.