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

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Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
419 Ratings
Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by blackie on 11-02-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 419 |  Reviews: 341
Reviews by ManuelHerrera:
Photo of ManuelHerrera
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I was pretty impressed with this beer overall. As another mystery beer pull and no prior knowledge to this special ale, I was more than a little curious about how the meeting would go down. I'm don't find Anchor Steam to be an amazing beer considering its cult status, but this output by Anchor Brewing was pretty good.

The beer pours a deep ruby with a decent 2 inch head and fine lacing. The aroma fills the nose with malt sweetness with light hints of espresso and caramel.

This beer isn't particularly heavy, though it does have the syrupy flavor of those wintertime ales. There is an earthy spiciness to it that complements the malt flavor pretty well. The carbonation makes this beer seem a bit lighter and easier to drink, so overall the beer works pretty well.

Not bad, guys. Not too shabby.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Obviously Anchor OSA is a beer alot of folks look forward to each year,once again it doesnt disapoint.Poured into a small tulip glass a deep chesnut brown with reddish/orange tint when held up to the light,a thick,creamy off white head atop that settles very slowly.A mix of nutmeg,roast,and cadied fruit in the nose.A nice blend of sweet and and dry graininess on the palate,light nutmeg, candied ginger, and orange flavors up front,a tinge of pine,roast,and earthiness comes through in the finish.A slight citric hop presence is felt as the beer warms a little,as well as some roasted nut.Nice complexities this year,another winner.

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

A- Reddish-brown with a thick brown head and heavy lacing.

S- Like a spice rack in a bottle. Clove, cinnamon, black pepper, and pie crust.

T&M- The body is light and silky with a caramel sweetness to balance the obvious dark spicy character. As it warms a nutty maltiness comes forward to blend with the other flavors.

D- Awesomely drinkable thanks to the great carbonation and balance of malt and spice.

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Photo of blackearth
3.25/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Purchased from Blue Max Liquors in Burnsville, MN. Pours a black bodied with a light tan head. Aromas of pine sap, licorice and ginger. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and medium carbed. Flavor is caramelized burnt sugar up front that leads to molases and licorice through the finish. Seems like they are trying to make a beer that tastes like a spice cookie or snickerdoodle. Not the best drinkability on this one.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours into my glass an extremely dark brown bordering on black with a thick and creamy two fingers of tan foam on top of the brew. Looks simply enticing. Aromas kick off with mellow roasted malts with a bit of a chocolate malt ball accent. Herbal, earthy and wonderfully spicy. Nutmeg and a bit of smokiness as well.

First sip brings smooth semi-sweet malts upfront, lightly roasted with a chocolate kick. Wonderful mix of spices rolls through with hints of cinammon and nutmeg..quite earthy. Rolls down with a hint of yeast and a good balance between malt and spice. Enjoyable and festive!

Mouthfeel is smooth, malty and just downright enjoyable. I wait every year for this one and it never disappoints. Always good to lay a few of these down in the cellar as well. Just a wonderful yearly brew.

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Photo of generallee
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: It was poured from a there classic short, brown 12oz bottle into a snifter. The label reads that it is a 2009 vintage and it was enjoyed on Christmas 2009.

Appearance: The pour produced a tall thick and creamy meringue like head. It was light tan in color and long lasting which made for lots of sticky lacing on the glass. Under the head lies a very deep dark liquid with dark burgundy hues.

Smell: It has a nice aroma of nutty roasted malt with spices like clove and nutmeg. There is a firm hop presence as well that adds a spruce like pine character.

Taste/Palate: There is a solid roasted barley and mildly sweet bready/nutty maltiness with a pleasant level of clove and nutmeg spice notes. This complemented and balanced by mellow hop bitterness and flavor notes of fresh cut spruce pine. The spice and piney notes linger on well into the slow fading finish.

Notes: Overall I absolutely enjoyed this nicely balanced Winter Warmer. For me there was just enough spice and hops to make it interesting and still quaffable.

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Photo of Doomcifer
4/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of Billolick
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An old friend that comes back for a visit every year, been enjoying this every year for decades! Pours near black, under a large dark khaki head, fading to a very thick collar, film and low sheeting. Nose of dark malts, holiday spiced with nutmeg and orange coming to the front. Yummy winter warmer, more dark malts all over this one, with roasted nuts, more nutmeg, and mulled oranges. Cooler weather, holidays, and this holiday gift from groundbreaker Anchor- seemingly getting better every year

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Photo of tigg924
3.77/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, clear, reddish brown in color, medium carbonation

Smell: toasted malt and spices, nutmeg, and cinnamon

Taste: toasted malt, spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, some nut, and wood

Mouthfeel: medium/heavy bodied, moderate carbonation, sweet start--slightly bitter end with lots of spices

Drinkability: A really good winter warmer that is high on spice but not overly so. I think this is one of Anchor's better beers and could have a six for a football game by a fireplace.

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Photo of olradetbalder
2/5  rDev -50.2%

Photo of bsp77
4.42/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Dark brownish-ruby with creamy tan head that mostly recedes with slight lacing lines.

Smell: Faintly sweet spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, orange and gingerbread. Nice chocolate and caramel undertones.

Taste: Bittersweet roasted malts with light notes of coffee, chocolate and caramel. The spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger) are subdued overall, especially compared to the smell, but provide a nice counterbalance. Slight bitter finish from the roasting. Almost seems a little stale, akin to an English Old Ale.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, medium body, somewhat dry finish.

Drinkability: This appears to be a Robust Porter with a fairly subdued holiday spice profile. This is a must purchase every year.

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

Magnum bottle poured into a Sam Adams oktoberfest stein.

Pours a lightly thick dark brown with some light ruby notes with a huge fluffy light brow head. Nose is sweet, malty, and it has some Christmas spices as well!

Taste has a nice light spice to it without being over powering. Has a crisp maltiness and not too much carbonation to increase the drinkability. Overall it's a nice holiday beer, and the magnum is a great beer to sip with thanksgiving!

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Photo of dogfishandi
4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1-31-2010 - fresh bottle - bottled 10-2009

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. pours pretty black. some red reveals itself when held up to the light. nice big tannish, biege head with some good retention. a little bit of lacing on the glass as well.

lots of different things going on in the aroma. some piney like earthiness. definately has the spice. cinnamin, nutmeg. some black licorice, anise, raisons. maybe a hint of some roasted malts. lots of earthy tones, quite nice.

a complex aroma follows up with a complex, enjoyable taste. some piney, sprucy like qualities gives way to some nice spice, nutmeg, cinniamin, anise, licorice, raisons, and other such dark fruits. some roasted malts. maybe a touch of some dark chocolate in the finish with a subtle lingering bitterness. the only other anchor christmas ale ive had was last years, and although very similar, this one is definately the more favorite in my opinion.

medium bodied, very nice carbonation. this beer is very easy to drink but it might be a little much pounding back a few of these as it tends to sit a little heavy in the stomach after a few. but i really enjoyed this brew and is definately one of my favorite winter warmers if not my number one favorite.

10-14-2010 - bottled 10-2009 - aged one year

decided to pull this from the cellar about a week ago and place in my fridge. poured into a bulb glass. pours pretty much black, but actually a dark brown, a little red. big biege colored head with nice retention. lots of sticky lace.

emm...that great aroma. raisons, figs, plums, chocolate, roasted malts. nutmeg, earthy.

packs a lots of flavor with a small body, but still has some nice chewiness to it. raisons, dark dried fruits, piney, sprucy qualitites, roasted malts, anise, black licorice. sparkly, bitey carbonation. not much has changed here, which is a good thing IMO.

id drink as much as this as i can, anytime of year, too bad i only got 2 bottles left.

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Photo of boatshoes
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a magnum of this 2009 edition at From the Vine in Columbus. Great price too actually, and the best value magnum I've bought to date. Was excited to try it, along with several other winter beers.

Appearance- Pours a glistening dark brown with hightlights of ruby. A solid two fingers of tan head rise up off the body and some lively carbonation beading up initially. A small amount of lacing left as well as I drink.

Smell- A lot going on here. A big bouquet of spices along the lines of cinnamon, coriander, and allspice, though I'm really not able to completely distinguish. A very nice combination though and smells like winter!

Taste- Again, pretty complex. Lots of spices backed up with a strong malt backbone. More of what strikes me as a cinnamon flavor. What I found interesting was that the taste was surprisingly dry with a little bit of a soda cracker finish. I liked the taste quite a bit.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Solid mouthfeel, substantial with good levels of carbonation that complemented the dry finish that I was picking up in the taste. Drinkability is quite good for the style as well, and I didn't find the spices to be overwhelming.

Overall, very good and a great value on the magnum. Perhaps my favorite winter warmer that I've had yet this year.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
4.07/5  rDev +1.2%
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 Beerandraiderfan
3.57/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Another year, another Anchor offering in its usual dark and red appearance. Despite what they say, I don't think this stuff changes much year to year.

Smells like trees, tastes like trees and all kinds of stuff thrown in celery root, nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, taragon, pretty much anything you see in your kitchen cupboard. And that's cool.

Its woody, but with a lighter malt bill and viscosity than usual. Costly.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black completely opaque body with a nice tan head sitting thick above the body. Speckled lacing is even but fine with each sip. Aroma is presented as a christmas tree in a bottle once again gotta love this beer. The nose is minty and pine with fresh cut spruce tips trapped in the bottle with dark cocoa roasted malts in the back ground an awesome Christmas beer full of ginger bread spice character. Something I've had every year since around 2000 or so. This one has a bit of lactose or heavy caramel flavor in addition to the dark roasts and spruce tips regulary featured in this seasonal offering. Mouthfeel is medium bodied creamy textured carbonation just works well, I can't hate on the spruce tip finish this is Christmas. Drinkability again another knock out Christmas beer that I've come to love and look forward to each year. God bless Fritz Maytag and his small brewing empire that brought out a whole generation of mavericks.

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Photo of OStrungT
3.32/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dark ruby red color with a dark tan head. The head fades very slowly, leaving a massive lacing.

This beer has a spicy aroma. I smell some ginger, nutmeg and vanilla. It has a mild spicy hop aroma as well.

This beer tastes much like it smells. Spices. Ginger and nutmeg mostly.

This beer is full bodied. It leaves a ginger like and sweet malty aftertaste. Carbonation is high.

This beer would make a decent session beer. It isnt overly aggressive, and the alcohol content isnt too high.

Overall: Thanks to Josh for this beer. It is a soild beer. Nothing to exciting, but I have never been too excited by anything from Anchor.

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Photo of FrognutUnl
3.77/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark with ruby highlights with easily three fingers of off-white head with adequate retention and excellent lacing.

S - Smells of gingerbread cookies.

T - Ginger bread cookies, slight amount of chocolate, and a hint of vanilla.

M - Medium in body and well carbonated.

D - It's no Four Elf, but there be scant much that is. That aside, it is quite delicious and I look forward to seeing how it improves with age.

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Photo of ianjsullivan
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
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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Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a snifter)
A- This beer has a dark dense body with a creamy full tan head and a sea of microbubbles that glide up the sides of the glass. S- The sweet sassafras aroma has notes of natural bubblegum and a unique quality to it. There is a mellow clove flavor to follow with a fresh sneaker note growing as the beer warms. T- This beer has a perfumed roasted dark malt note with a note of perfumed bubblegum and a green hop pellet finish. As the beer warms there is a dark roasted malt flavor with a soft woody hint and a fresh pine flavor and bitterness in the finish. M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with no alcohol heat noted.
D- This beer has very full flavor and taste but it is very mysterious and hard to pin down. Nice blend of spices and roasted malts but still remains a smooth easy drinking beer.

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Photo of LXIXME
4/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of caddybuyer
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A-Gorgeous deep garnet with filtered clarity and ruby highlights when held to light. Thick, creamy tan hed that settles after a few minutes to a fairly thin ring.

S-Rich malts, licorice, cinnamon, caramel and some resinous hops.

T-Much like the aroma, with a piney overtone. An almost cola like vanilla, orangepeel and slight cherry note dominates the bittersweet malts at the beginning of the palate and with a slightly astringent pine (juniper?) hop finish. This brew is always a treat, and I sense a more malt-forward yet not-as-sweet beer this year, it still is very nice.

M-Spot on, slightly chewy medium feel with greater carbonation than I remember from years past.

D-Very good, solid winter warmer sessioner. A staple for sure.

Hey Anchor...ever consider offering an imperial of this?

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Photo of racer2k
3.91/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Christmas Ales poured into a pint glass

A - Spices, cloves, fig, raisin and cinnamon with a hint of chocolate. There is a very refreshing pine like smell to the beer similar to the smell that I experienced cutting my Christmas tree this weekend.

A - Dark, thin and viscous with a reddish tint to the beer. There is a very nice tan colored head which quickly dissipates and creates abundant lacing around my glass.

F - Toasted biscuits and freshly baked bread on the front end followed by a fruitcake chocolaty finish which is highlighted by a nice crisp earthy hop bitterness. Very complex wave of flavors on board.

M - Medium body with a good dose of carbonation which finishes dry on the back end.

D - Overall this is a great beer for the holiday season. This is like being a kid again and not knowing what Santa has under the tree come Christmas morning as the recipe changes each year! The 2009 edition seems more fruity compared to 2008. Great work Anchor Steam!

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Photo of biboergosum
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Christmas Eve, nasty drive to get to the folks', hit me with some of that holiday cheer - now, dammit!

This beer pours a clear, very dark mahogany colour, with lots and lots of foamy, creamy beige head, which leaves some sparse lace in its tenuous wake. It smells largely of caramel malt, with some candy toffee, fruitcake (the fruit and the cake), and candy cane spice. The taste is caramel malt, bitter fruitcake spices, and a somewhat tart candy essence. The carbonation is quite light, the body soft, smooth, and fairly hefty, and it finishes with more of the sweet malt, and kind of bitter spice.

Definitely redolent of the Christmas experience - a whole lot of sweetness and candy, tempered by some strange bitterness and overall fullness.

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Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 419 ratings