Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Anchor Brewing Company

Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Winter Warmer
4.05 | pDev: 10.37%
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Reviews: 341 | Ratings: 420 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of rodbeermunch
3.34/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

If one thing is consistent about this xmas releases from Anchor, they always seem to have that brown in the middle and red at the edge appearance. Off white head 1/2". Aroma smelled like a forest with damp dirt around it. Lots of spice rack in the earth.

A little bit woody, a little bit brown malt, alt like malt feels to it. Some what bitter, but apparently not from any large degree of hopping.

Neat to check out, but not a repeat thing. Didn't really change much with age either.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.88/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, with a more than obvious vintage date. Code on the back label reads 90H. My fifth vintage of this annual winter beer from Anchor.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours just over a finger of thick frothy tan head. The head gets noticeably thicker with each vintage, as they get fresher. Body is an opaque chestnut with lots of caramel around the edges when held to the light.

S - Lots of raisins / dates / figs / dried fruit on this year's vintage. Twigs, spices, leaves, licorice / anise, ginger, potpourri, and some creamy chocolate malt.

T - Taste is of thick creamy caramel / butterscotch / toffee, chocolate malts, cocoa powder, cola, and some cream. Spices have fallen more into the background, unlike what the aroma would suggest. Some herbal & chocolatey bitterness on the finish. Some ginger spice noticeable.

M - Feel is smooth and creamy, with good healty carbonation. Some chocolate bitterness lingering on the palate.

Overall, probably my second favorite of the vintages I have tried, next to the 2005, which seemed to have been the best for me so far. Glad to have tried it, and I would be interested to see how it holds up in the years to come.

Anchor Brewing Our Special Ale 2009 ---4/5.

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Photo of Lare453
4.56/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this as an extra in a trade

a cola brown with a small, thin khaki head. No lacing

S amazing!! Big, vibrant dark fruits, plum, strawberry, black cherry, Cabernet grapes, tropical fruits, light spice, cinnamon, ginger

T a light and fruity beginning, the middle is plum, black cherry, the end is cinnamon spiced apple pie with raisins and ginger. The after taste is short, too short for such a delicious beer. The aftertaste flavor is a fading spice and ginger.

M lightest crisp, almost thin, light carbonation

O amazing. With three years of age on it, it is amazing. I ouwld highly recommend drinking this if you ever find one.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.42/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from 4/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a dark brown with a medium head and medium body. Aroma of dark fruit, sweet and lightly toasted malt and Christmas spices. Flavor is sweet malt and spices up front, middle and finish malty with dark fruit and resinous pine hops, a bit sour. Quite different and tasty. A classic and wonderful Christmas ale.

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Photo of FosterJM
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1033rd Review on BA
Bottle to Goblet
12 oz bottle

Thanks to @LouisM23 (Forgot his BA Name)

App- A good red crimson/brown pour with a good bit of a 1-1/2 fingers of khaki colored head. Falls to a good pond layer of foam with good retention and a sheen down the side of the glass.

Smell- A little bit of spice opens on this one with some nutmeg and faint trace of all spice. Maybe even a little bit of pepper to my nose. I get some toasted malts as well. A bit of a sweet molasses not wofts up.

Taste- Bam, the molasses comes in early on this one with the spice notes coming right after that. A good bit of sweetness and malt round out the flavors. A tad bit dry with a crumbly pastry dough like flavor.

Mouth- A nice medium dry body with some good residual spice and malt flavors. A nice bit of medium bubbly carbonation.

Drink- For the second vintage I have had this one was much better than the 2007. More assertive flavors, a bit more carbonation and just better overall. I'd like to find a 10 and an 11 to see if better is fresh or if 2 years is the sweet spot.

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Photo of oline73
3.93/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark reddish brown with a finger of fluffy off white head. There is some good retention and mild lacing.

Smell: Sweet and malty with a strong molasses presence. Some mild spice that has faded a bit over time. Also some mild brown sugar.

Taste: This beer is really smooth. Just a touch of sweetness, the molasses still really stands out. Some spice and mild dark fruit notes. There is a mild bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with smooth carbonation and a finish that is a bit gritty.

Overall: I didn't remember liking this very much fresh, but I'm a big fan now. I would definitely have another.

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Photo of marchoftheclouds
1.84/5  rDev -54.6%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Received in a trade via birchstick

G: Duvel Tulip

A: Ruby brown body, one finger of cream colored head quickly dissapating, very little lacing

S: First impression was, “I think I just found my first skunky beer.”

T: Malted vinegar, getting slightly better as beer warmed

M: Medium body, light carbonation. 

O: There was a 90V mark on back of label. I wasn't impressed, but would try again since hearing good things about this annual brew.

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Photo of nickd717
4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, reviewed Dec. 2009.

Dark brown in color, maybe some reddish hues, with a well-formed beige head.

Big spicy aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, and maybe clove, with a sweet roasty and smoky maltiness.

Mildly sweet flavor with huge mulling spices and a bit more smokiness than I remember from other vintages.

Medium-full bodied and smooth on the palate.

Up to par with the rest of the series.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Transcribed for undated notes.

I had this on-tap at Bridgewaters Pub in 30th Street Station in mid-to-late December 2009, put the notebook down when it got full and am just now getting back to it.

Danny served this to me with a finger of deep tan head with passable retention. Color was a deep-brown with ruby highlights. Nose had a musty smell underlain with a smoky spiciness borne of cinnamon and/or nutmeg. When I die, let it be in the Spring or Summer so that I may have one last go-'round with the Fall and Winter beers. The mouthfeel was full, close to creamy but bot quite there, with a musty, yeasty flavor accompanied by a very mellow cinnamon/nutmeg spiciness. The finish was extremely mellow, evocative of eggnog. NOW, we're talking! The last couple of vintages have been memorable for their overt piney-ness. This was like Goldilocks beer - just right!

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Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is mahogany in color and poured with a finger high dense beige head that slowly died down but never completely faded away.
S: The smell is moderately strong and has aromas of dark fruits and spices.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and also has a slight amount of nuttiness; there are some hints of bitterness in the finish.
M: It feels medium-bodied and smooth on the palate with a light amount of carbonation.
O: The beer is easy to drink for the style although the taste makes it interesting enough to be savored and slowly sipped.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle poured into a New Belgium globe. At this point, the beer's a little over a year old.

Appearance: A slow, straight-up pour nets over an inch of dense, luscious, tan foam. Head shows excellent retention throughout the session, and drags layers of bubble bath-like lacing. Body is dark brown - nearly black - and appears opaque at first. When held directly to light, earthy brown and red hues glow around the edges.

Smell: Cardamom, gingerbread, and jam-filled pastries are the first aromas I get. Root beer also comes to mind. Light cacao, a medley of holiday spices, and eventually dried herbs round out the nose. Really complex and interesting, even with one year of age.

Taste: Chocolate thumbprint cookies, gingerbread, red currants, and flaked dark chocolate. Dry, semisweet, and certainly complex.

Mouthfeel: Medium-to-full in body, moderately carbonated, dry, and spicy. The mouthfeel matches up with the taste and the aroma very nicely; they all meld together harmoniously.

Overall: I can't remember if I ever tried this beer fresh, but it's tasting really nice right about now. Complex yet mellow; very enjoyable!

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Photo of gigaknight
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased after a solid year in the bottle (I don't seem to possess the patience to let good beer sit untouched for too long), poured a little-bit-too-cold into a tulip glass. There's a Monterey Cypress on the label, but I'm not sure what that has to do with the beer. Lovely finger of patina ivory that dissipates rather quickly leaving some sticky lacing here and there. The nose is pretty straightforwardly butterscotch, with a little dried fruit. Man, this smells tasty.

This is definitely tasty. While being one of the most atypical winter warmers I've ever had, it is very pleasant. Almost no hop bitterness to speak of, as the only bitterness noticed seems to cling to the tartness of the fruit notes in the flavor profile. Big dried cherries and maybe some dried apricot too, with just enough sourness to make it interesting. The flavors are juicy, but the textures are rather dry, giving the mouthfeel a thin crispness (some chew would have been lovely). It has some malt vertebrae, but that isn't the focus of attention here. I truly don't know what gives this beer such a dried candied fruit taste, but it's excellent, and ought to be strived for by those aiming to make fruit beers.

Overall, it's a very strange and enjoyable brew, but I feel that it could have complimented itself a little better with some bigger body and more oiliness. Maybe it was just the year in the cellar, but this beer seems to be missing a little strength. Nonetheless, definitely a find if you come across it.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
4.07/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 355ml bottle with a BB of Oct 2011. Picked this up from my local beer specialist - an old Christmas beer from last year. The label states that this is a US import, and has a cool drawing of a cypress featured on the front. I hope the age hasn't caused too much damage!

Poured into a pint glass. A deep brown colour - almost black, although has a deep reddish hue when held up to the light. Forms a large light-brown head with good retention; it subsides to leave a film of fine creamy bubbles on the surface. Fantastic aroma of sweet malt with lots of hoppy pine and citrus notes.

Tastes of rich, sweet malt with plenty of hops to add flavour. Slight bitterness, but mostly lots of pine and citrus notes. Nicely balanced between sweet and bitter. Body feels a little thin, although it goes down smoothly with mild astringency. Interesting hoppy aftertaste.

In summary, an impressive beer with a big flavour. As I've not tried it before, it's hard to judge how the taste profile has evolved since brewing. The body seems slightly weak but I love the pine notes. I'd recommend it, but I doubt there are many left...

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Photo of ommegoose
4.37/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'm doing a side-by-side with an '07 and an '09.

A dark ale, nearly opaque, but more of a raisin color rather than black. Purplish at the edges and semi-transparent with extra light. The head also reflects the purple hues. Not huge and doesn't retain endlessly, but leaves a sufficient ring. No visible carbonation.

Dark sweet fruits. Stewed plum and cranberry. Cobbler-like. Berry, cherry. It does seem Christmassy. I would think there are cinnamon and nutmeg in here in some dose. If other editions recalled dark fruit, this is darker fruit, almost like a Belgian dark ale even.

Really fruity malts with a hint of tartness. Some cranberry-like bitterness. A little bit of piney hops. Bock-like raisin and prune notes. Black cherry. Spices do not seem to be all that forward. Maybe the age has taken them down a bit. They start to make a comeback after some palate fatigue. Finish does have hop bitterness and plum fruitiness. Complex.

Body is on the full side for a beer that is not particularly heavy. Light carbonation, very smooth.

Deadly drinkability, but I think my thirst for a delicious beer is skewing me. Still, I would gladly throw a few of these back. The only problem is slowing down so as to properly savor it. This is certainly drinking really well at over one year now. I'm glad I held on to one last bottle for review.

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Photo of deapokid
3.62/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown body with slight, white head and a touch of black cherry-colored lacing. Carbonation is rather low and the head leaves behind a brown film after it dissipates. If I didn't know better, I'd think this was 10 years old. Frankly, it looks a little oxidized.

Aroma is nutty, backed by the usual dose of sugar plums and cinnamon sticks. Scent could be perceived as perfumy, if it wasn't so light and appealing.

Flavor is dry and smoky, counterbalanced by Belgian ale-style spicing and a nectarine's sweetness. Sugary peppermint (like a candy cane), fruit cake and nutmeg are also evident, despite the fact that the dryness is a bit too much for the subtler nuances.

Mouth is very smooth and the concluding dryness is intense, but capable of limiting the acidic qualities of the fruit flavors. Liquid coats the tongue nicely and warms the body enough to make the cold weather tolerable.

This is just as drinkable as the previous editions, which might be due to the dry backbone, which thwarts off any medicinal notes that may be brought on by the spicing.

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Photo of TheHoppiest
4.12/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Like the previous reviewer below this review, I saved this from last year to see how it would age. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours a deep mahogany with ruby highlights near the bottom of the glass.

Has a spicy aroma of cinnamon, mint, and clove. Smelling more like tea than beer, I'm surprised and pleased that the age has not cut down on the smell of this beer.

Tastes much as I remember it; somewhat sharp to start, with an herbal flavor, topped with clove, nutmeg, and a woody, earthy quality that really sets this Christmas ale apart. While the spice smell is strong, the beer itself is mellow enough that you don't feel overwhelmed with spice taste.

Medium bodied, this has a pleasant, low bitter feel to it.

I find I'm enjoying this beer much more that I did last hear. Aging has done well for this beer, and if you have a 2009 vintage lying around, I recommend drinking it today!

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Photo of beerdown77
3.7/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I first had this last Christmas. I remember it being a little too spicy and piny in taste and smell. I saved one to see if it would mellow out a year later; which turned out to be true. It poured dark brown with a nice head on it. The smells and flavors were much more rounded out and pleasant. I could smell caramel and toasty, but the taste was bitter and not sweet...similar to an ESB. This was definitely better than it was a year ago.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
3/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My first review of 2011.

The house is calm again, so I can relax and have a quiet beer, slowly. My football team won 6-1 today and 7-2 on New Years Day, so this is my celebratory drink for both games.

Poured into my Westmalle chalice, the brown 355ml bottle had a best before date of 20 Oct 2011. Imported into the UK by James Clay and Sons.

The beer was a lovely ruby red when held up to the light, darker in the dull lighting of my living room. The full cream coloured head soon left, leaving behind a small wisp and nothing else. The beer seemed to be in good condition, so I was suprised the head 'did a runner' so swiftly.

No great smells, some hints of coffee and malty molasses, expected more.

The taste was all malt, well carbonated (again, why the disappearing head), with a hop roughness more than bitterness in the aftertaste.

The 5.5% ABV sat nicely within the brew and could be found easily as the beer warmed in the glass, not so obvious when the beer was colder.

I was expecting more to be honest, not a bad beer by any standards, but not the rich, creamy special I hoped for!

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Photo of Zorro
3.7/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear brown colored beer with red highlights when held up to the light. Tall light brown colored head.

Smells spicy and with ginger and cinnamon. Bread and brown sugar with cardamom. Chocolate and caramel with a hint of spiced apple.

Starts out sweet with chocolate and bread. There is a strange taste here that I can only call cardamom, I only ever taste it in Indian restaurants. Vanilla and caramel about round out the flavor.

Mouthfeel is good.

An OK winter warmer. Still I had to buy the Magnum sized bottle of this, which is a bit much.

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Photo of Verecund
3.18/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes. Opened 12.22.2010; this has been in the refrigerator for a year, so it isn't really "aged" by standard measures.

Pours a dirty reddened brown. An island of bubbles sits on the side of the glass.

Sweet and bready brown maltiness, brown sugar, raisins, chocolate, cinnamon, and pine. Taste adds cardamom/clove and orange peel. There's also an almost ferric note on the finish, which doesn't really go away.

The body is just a little thin but the just under medium carbonation makes it feel fuller than it is.

Not much of a fan of how this has aged. This was better (to me) fresher, and other vintages of OSA have been better for my palate.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.48/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

The Tenth Day of Beermas... It pours a murky black-brown topped by over two fingers of dirty ecru foam. The nose comprises rye bread, dark wheat, gingerbread, brown sugar, and a touch of cocoa. The taste does not stray far from this formula, especially the heavy amount of rye bread and wheat, though some ginger makes a strong appearance, as does a vague sense of peppermint in the aftertaste. Were it not for that, this might not be so bad, but instead it's as though I'm eating a poorly baked gingerbread cookie that happens to be dotted with candy canes instead of gumdrops. The body is a lazy medium, with a light carbonation and a nearly slimy feel. Overall, a relative disappointment, considering this vertical has trended upward with the years. The spices just didn't do it for me this time.

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Photo of mothman
3.03/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Magnum bottle.

Poured into a pint glass.

Pours a large layer of tan head, probably about 2 fingers. Good retention leaving some sticky lace. Color is bark brown.

Aroma and Taste: Holiday spices with some caramel and toasted malts. A bit of chocolate with some dark fruits. A distinguished cherry flavor shows as well. Pretty malty, but a bit of pine hops show as well.

Mouthfeel: A bit fizzy and creamy. Medium bodied with a bit higher amount of carbonation for the style. Ends malty.

Overall, not my favorite recipe for the series from Anchor. I finished the magnum over a few hours so it wasn't too terrible, but I could have gone for a different vintage.

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Photo of rootbeerman
4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Magnum opened for family.

A: pours dark reddish brown, with a two finger creamy looking tan head, that leaves a small amount of lace.
S: like sweet spiced fruit, and a bit of fruitcake. clove, cinnamon, a bit of nutmeg.
T: served at about 50-55 degrees. is a winter warmer, very warming flavor. sweet fruitcake spiced malt. cinnamon and nutmeg are smooth.
M: smooth carbonation, lingers around but is not syrupy.
D: will most likely do the same with the 2010 OSA magnum.

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Photo of TheQuietMan22
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Straight pour into a pint glass. The color is a ruby brown. Two fingers of slightly tanned head developed and dissipated to leave a paper-thin lacing and ring around the edge.

Smell: Very Christmas-like. Cinnamon spice is most noticeable, and there is a hint of pine as well. Toasted chocolate, caramel, nutmeg, and dark fruit (something like figs) follows.

Taste: Mirrors the aroma, but is very smooth and the flavors create a nice, balanced medley. There is immediately cinnamon and a little pine spice, which is tamed by the usual suspects from the smell: toasted chocolate, caramel, nutmeg, and fig.

Drinkability: Good stuff, and good luck getting a bottle.

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Photo of ianjsullivan
4.32/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ST: 12 oz poured into a wine glass.

A: Dark, dark brown, almost black with a thick finger length brown fluffy head. When held to the light, it becomes a lighter shade of brown (barely), but I can still not see through it. It leaves very beautiful lacing.

S: A great aroma: cinnamon, chocolate, fig, malt, raisins, nuts, and a bit of floral.

T: It begins with wonderful fruit and spice; the roasted malt takes over in the middle and rides all the way into fruit, smoke, and coffee on the finish that lingers on the tongue. There is also some floral and toffee that is present at the start and finish.

M: Heavy and creamy.

D: Smooth and the alcohol is modest (5.5 percent).

Overall: I have a bit of a tradition around the holidays. I will buy a few seasonal beers, drink them, and leave one to age until the holidays return. That is right, this review is of a 2009 Anchor Christmas that I aged for a year. After this review, I will compare it to the 2010 (then I will repeat and let one age a year). Sadly, if you wanted this vintage it might be hard to find unless you found a collector, a liquor store that is not frequented much, or if you went to the brewery. I am just amazed at how good this still is. The nose is fantastic and the beer is more complex then it originally was. It has a lot of flavors that manage to be balanced; it is enjoyable from start to finish. Clearly, Anchor Steam knocked it out of the park on this vintage.

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Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 420 ratings