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)

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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Reviews: 341 | Ratings: 418
Photo of CHickman
1.75/5  rDev -56.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Pours dark brown amber with a small tan creamy head; smells of sweet malt and spices. Medium carbonation. Tastes very spicy, with malt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, syrup, juniper and more spices that makes this brew almost too spicy. There was too much going on taste-wise.

The Christmas tree flavor of all the spices is a bit too much for me and tasted on the skunky side, so I would not have this brew again based on this pour as it did not go down easy. It was not enjoyable for me at all (or my friend that had one as well that night), and tasted like the bark of a tree and not a nice winter warmer or porter. Perhaps the keg was bad where I had this beer, but unless I try a bottle of this I can't figure out why everyone else on BA is raving about this beer.

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Photo of marchoftheclouds
1.84/5  rDev -54.1%
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 Long813
2.72/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Received in a trade via wordemupg

G: I&G Tulip

A: Dark opaque brown body , two fingers of dark mocha head with good retention and lacing.

S: Nothing is to strong here. I'm picking up a mixture of sweet malts and some breadiness. Faint cinnamon and molasses is all I can really smell here

T: It follows the smell - I cannot taste much. Cinnamon, molasses, possibly some dark fruits and brown sugar. Not much here.

M: Medium body and light carbonation. Very smooth going down and leaves a slight dry-sticky molasses taste with a hint of bitterness.

D: Quite disappointed with this as the review are outstanding. I don't know what to say about it, I cannot smell or taste much. Maybe it's the beer, or maybe it's me. I would plan on giving this another try though.

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Photo of CHSLBrew
2.99/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Enjoyed while wrapping Christmas presents.

A-Dark, dark brown brew. Frothy dark tan head, with a very strong retention, makes this beer look very tasty.

S-Sweet-planty spice, juniper-piney character, toffee-toasty malt.

T-Spicy and cedar-planty, green flavor, some certainly due to hops, blasting out at first, then allowing a sweet maltiness through, consisting of toffee and a slight chocolate character. Almost a slight spicy-sour overtone. Finishes toasty-bitter with a slight residual sweetness.

M-Moderate body and somewhat drying feel. Carbonation was very smooth, of moderate level.

D-Not a very drinkable brew, as it seems just a bit too spiced. I realize that this is the beer's intention, but this manifestation the Our Special is just not there.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
3/5  rDev -25.2%
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 Buebie
3/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my darkness tulip.

2 icnhes of light brown froth forms up, quite slow to recede. Leaving behind globby lace and a whipped egge white consistancy like cap of retention. Super light and fluffy is the head, very nice looking.
Color on the brew is all black, no glowing crimson this year.

Aroma is much more Worcestershire sauce like this year and some woodyness to it. Charred grains, unknown spices, orange zest, dark fruit and molasses.

Mouthfeel is much thicker this time around. Carbonation is moderate.

Taste is a tad thin though. There is some oddball spice in there and it is super dry. A bit of toasted oak, bitter chocolate grains, oats, cloves, burnt toast, and more Worcestershire/ soy sauce flavors similar to an aged version of around 1998.
Some mild hay like hop bitters into the finish.

Its dry and a bit one dimensional in taste. Not my favorite year.

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Photo of mothman
3.03/5  rDev -24.4%
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 mklinger
3.09/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a shaker pint. A one-finger head formed of cappuccino color. Slightly largish bubbles but very creamy surface. Beer is a deep mahogany with slightly reddish highlights.

Aroma is dominated by nutmeg and a slight licorice character. A thin bit of malt. For my tastes, I find this to not be a great nose at all. It just doesn't have elements that I like.

Taste is similar with a lot of nutmeg, a fairly thin body for a Christmas Ale. There is additional malt sweetness and roasted character that wasn't in the aroma, so it does taste better to me than the smell, but it still is too predominated by the spices for my taste.

Mouthfeel is pretty good though slightly thin and it drinks better than the individual aromas and tastes would indicate. Overall, not a favorite Christmas beer.

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Photo of Mrgetgreedy33
3.1/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into bells tulip glass.
Apperance was great dark yet clear.
Beautiful full head and smell was great as well.
As for the taste i was let down on this was expecting
alot more only because of previous reviews.
The smell was a combination of spices and faint hints
of fruit and chocolate with ever so slight doughness.
The taste was nothing like the smell dull and very watery.
Almost like drinking water soaked bread.
Im gonna give this beer one more try just to be sure but i was
not impressed at all.

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Photo of wnh
3.11/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Pours a rich cherry-wood-like reddish brown with a large and lasting creamy, rocky tan head. Gorgeous.

Strong and intense nose, packed with spices. Woody, herbal aromas dominate, though I can't seem to specify exactly what I'm smelling. There's an earthy and rich old-fashioned candy-like note (licorice? clove?), and the beer is sweet and candy-like on the whole, though miles from any modern-day cheap refined-sugar-laden and artificially flavored sort. Certainly unique.

Seems to lose some of its charm on the palate, leaning heavily on a bitter, astringent black candy character. Long lingering spiciness, though I don't know, again, precisely what. Big on the woody herbal notes. A difficult to parse and very unique flavor profile, but one which I'm not terribly fond of. Finishes dry, which only seems to intensify the flavors. As I try to look past what I don't like in this beer, the dryness of the palate starts to hint at cocoa powder, which increases the complexity but doesn't help the beer's palatability. Fruity esters come into play as the beer warms, making it more palatable, meaning I can finally manage to finish the glass.

No doubt this is a well-made beer, but I won't be finishing my six-pack. I'll be eating Our Special beer bread until the new year, I'm sure.

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Photo of mwa423
3.13/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - Poured from the tap with a finger of quickly dying head. Color is a dark brown with clear ruby when held to the light.

S - Heavily spiced and backed up with malt but little else.

T - The taste is heavily spiced but not in a particularly positive because there is no good beer flavor to back it up

M/D - The mouthfeel was thinner than I like and the sharp bite from the spice will probably have me cross this off my Christmas beer list

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Photo of mjaskula
3.18/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a pint glass. Pours a dark nearly black with reddish highlights. The head thins to a ring, and leaves little lacing.

Aroma is sweet and spicy with a bit of alcohol. There's a faint bit of licorice, some maple syrup and raisin. The taste has much less going on, a bit disappointing. There's a lot of malt flavor and some hop bitterness. Some spiciness comes through as it warms.

Carbonation is high, and mouthfeel is dry. It's fairly drinkable, but not as good as I was hoping for.

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Photo of Verecund
3.18/5  rDev -20.7%
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 Kanyon22
3.2/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Lets just say I love Anchor Brewing Company's bottle style, something about those screams buy me. Okay on to the beer.

A: First off its a very dark brown color with red hue coming through, small tan head.

S: The aroma on this baby has some spicy/herbal smell with a bit of clove and allspice coming through also.

T: Not what i was expecting it was not as spicy as the nose was making it seem. Also seemed a little unbalanced with that roasted chocolate taste in the back end, that seemed to coat that back of the throat. It just didn't mix well for me.

M: Felt good going down had a nice thick feel to it.

D: This was an okay winter warmer, it came off like a spicy light porter that my mouth wasn't digging.

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Photo of DrJay
3.21/5  rDev -20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark, but clear with ruby/purple highlights. Fine beige foam, really sticky with sheets of bubbles coating the glass. Good head retention too. Spicy aroma, cinnamon and nutmeg, with dark malts and dried fruits in the background, notes of cocoa and nuts. If the spice was toned down a bit, it would be easier to pick these characteristics out, but as it is the spices are not to the point of being cloying. Malty flavour up front, caramel and a bit of molasses. Chocolate and spices follow, with a dry chalkiness in the finish. Light fruitiness throughout, low to moderate bitterness. Decent texture with light carbonation, medium body. I didn't mind it, but I wasn't sold on the balance of spices and the chalky flavour.

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Photo of blackearth
3.25/5  rDev -19%
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 necrat
3.3/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

It poured a dark cloudy beer with a light head to it.

The smell was of pine, spice, cinnamon, malts, and a hint of hops.

The taste was weird to me. The taste did not reflect the smell at all. Some spice notes, some pine notes, a little chocolate and coffee and not much else, and it left with a dry but spicy finish.

The mouthfeel was average, moderate level of carbonation.

This beer is decent, it beats a lager any day but it doesn't stand out of the crowd either.

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Photo of OStrungT
3.32/5  rDev -17.2%
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 claybeer
3.33/5  rDev -17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Anchor Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2009 is a real dark cherry maroon color. The head is a light chocolate tint. BIG spicy nose! WOW...a lot of popery notes. All the spices, pine, and floral notes rush through my nose and stick to the back of my tongue before I even take the first sip. The taste is really tight and a little tart. It leaves a little bit of a soap like feeling on the back of my throat. I'm glad to see this beer is still developing but it needs to go back in the cellar for another year or more. I'm going to rate this low but look for it get better and better with the years to come.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.34/5  rDev -16.7%
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 david18
3.35/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The christmas ales from Anchor seem to vary between a hoppier ale to more of a winter ale. This one is darker, fruitier, and maltier than most. Drinks like a classic winter ale, which I suppose is good for the style but not like the years i've liked best. Great for a winter ale. You should try it.

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Photo of textycoon
3.36/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Second year trying Anchor's "Christmas Ale".
Impressive pour with a rich, deep ruby red, almost burgundy color and nice frothy head....although dissapated rather quickly.
Interesting nose that hits you up front with fruity notes and some spiciness.
Mouth feel is definately lighter than expected for a Winter warmer. Fruity (banana, apricot) notes up front, followed quickly by spicy hoppiness, but surprisingly not too piney.
Overall, a curious beer....not outstanding, but definately more drinkable than other holiday fare (i.e. FullSail, New Belgium)

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.38/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pint on tap at Cole's in Buffalo. Arrives a dark brown with ruby highlights, light lacing down the glass.

Nose is light, hints of spicing, caramel malt and dark fruits coming out.

In ordering this I was looking for a nice spiced Christmas ale and was a little disappointed, especially given the love it gets on here. Cocoa powder, slightly herbal, light cloves and nutmeg, caramel malt, faint gingerbread, fruitiness, faint odd metallic note, dry finish. Also a bit of carbonation bite. All seemed a little disjointed and not very Christmas-y in the least. Not a terrible beer, just not something I would choose to order again.

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Photo of StarlightSeraph
3.41/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep reddish-brown with one finger of off white head. The head subsides moderately slowly. Good lacing.

Smell: Cinnamon, nutmeg...lots of pumpkin pie spice. Some clove in there too. Smells like a pumpkin pie without the pumpkin. A little bit misleading for a winter warmer.

Taste: A quick bite from the spices, backed by bitter malt. There's a distinct bitterness that goes well into the aftertaste, but I think it's more from dark malts than hops. The initial spicy flavors fade surprisingly quickly, but there is a hint of sweet spice that permeates each sip. It doesn't really taste like the smell, however, and I'm not sure what to make of it. There's almost a slight sour note that comes through in the aftertaste as well.

Mouthfeel: Overly carbonated, but otherwise nothing to complain about.

Drinkability: It is easy drinking, and not too high in alcohol, either. I'm not really sure what to make of it. It's not a bad beer, but not my favorite winter warmer, either.

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Photo of zoolzoo
3.42/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

About a year in the cellar, lets see...

A: Pours a rich looking mahogany. Thick off white head, approaching light brown. Excellent retention, yet little to no lacing.

S: Still nice and spicy. Orange zest, anise, black pepper. The ginger has held up well in the aroma. Dark fruit is quite present here, perhaps more now than when fresh. I'm getting a touch of chocolate and, well maybe this is a stretch, but a little coffee bean? The aroma is a little wild but as a whole it screams Christmas, so high marks here.

T: Up front is dry, bitter and woody...in a spicy tree bark sort of way. Dark malts gently roll in along with crystallized candy ginger sweetness. Once again, gobs of ginger. I appreciated it a bit more in the nose....it's becoming a bit soapy. bitter and perhaps almost tart on the back of my tongue.

M: Mouthfeel is right on point, smooth and creamy yet with ample carbonation.

D: Not bad, but eventually becomes tiring on the palate. This is an interesting take on a winter warmer. However, at the end of the day I would probably choose something more typical.

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Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
4.01 out of 5 based on 418 ratings.
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