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 UCLABrewN84
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1.5 liter magnum shared with my fiance and friends at Father's Office in Culver City, CA.

A - Pours an opaque black with a 1 inch chocolate milk colored head that fades to a small cap. There is very pretty chunky lacing on this beer.

S - Smells of pine trees, gingersnaps, figs.

T - Bittersweet and sour chocolate, gingerbread, dark candied fruits (fruitcake?), with a slight medicinal aftertaste.

M - Good carbonation yet somehow thick and creamy.

D - Very, very good beer. One of the best Christmas beers I have ever had. I am sad that the recipe changes every year as the 2009 batch is extremely delicious.

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Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev +1%
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 BEERchitect
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

What a tremendously complex beer for a 5.5%er. With a foocus on burnt woods, spices, and a Brown Ale base, Anchor hits another home run.

Dark brown and nearly opaque, this Brown has a daintyy but persistent tanned head that leaces convincing amounts of lacing behind.

The Brown ale gives a lot of aroma and flavor of rch colas, root beer, and caramelized molassas. Laced with charred cedar, burnt cocoa, roasted almonds, nutty coffees, aand light peat; this is one largeky complex malt profile.

Spices of spruce, sage, nutmeg, orange peel, and cinnamon give a varying balance to the malts especially with the lighter hop contributions.

Crisp and well attenuared for the most part; maybe too much so. The beer kinda empties its creaminess too early; allowing the astringencies and flatness to dominate a large portion of the mid-palate. Later, the dry and crisp texture is appreciated, but this comes in too late.

Still the best annual Christmmas beer on the market.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
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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Photo of oline73
3.93/5  rDev -2%
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 zeff80
4.31/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out an opaque, deep, dark mahogany color with a thick, bubbly, light brown head of foam. It left sudsy trails of lace on the glass.

S - It actually smells like Christmas, if that's possible. Aromas of chesnut, nutmeg and spruce dominate with a subtle caramel sweetness.

T - Those Christmas aromas come through in the taste. Spruce/pine, juniper and a nutty maltiness. A touch of bitterness adds to the great flavor.

M - It was crisp, sharp and very smooth. A medium-bodied ale.

D - This is the best OSA that I've had ('06-'09). Really an amazing aroma that comes through in taste, too.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes. Consumed within a few days of Christmas 2009.

Pours an amber brown with an off white head. Nose is dark fruits, teas, gingerbread spicing, and a bit of citrus. A bit of a roasted characteristic as well. The spices along with a bit of sweetness dominate the taste. Quite complex and what a winter warmer should be. I love that ever year Anchor brings this forward with a different recipe, yet it never seems to be overspiced like the majority of winter warmers. Looking forward to verticals involving this.

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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 oberon
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
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 TheManiacalOne
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of spices (mint, clove, ginger), roasted malts, vanilla, coffee some dark fruit and a touch of hops.

T: The taste likewise starts out with a burst of spice flavors such as mint, clove & ginger that are quickly followed by a hearty roasted malt breadiness. There are background flavors of vanilla and coffee. The hops presence is mild but complementary. The after-taste is slightly spicy and slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, it looks like Anchor kept the spiciness on the stronger side as they did with the '08 release, but somehow this one seems a little bit better than that to me overall.

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Photo of Rifugium
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Casey's, Newtown Square, PA

I like this slightly more than the '07 batch, mainly because it definitely wasn't a Mad Elf rip-off this year. Dark brown pour, semi-opaque with a tan head and some lacing. Aroma is more sugars and spices, and less fruits. Taste similarly yields less honey and fruit than previous years, and more light brown sugar and coffee taste to it, with a dash of spice. Medium bodied, slightly syrupy with moderate carbonation. Pretty easily drinkable.

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

Dark walnut brown that becomes dark brick red mixed with dark burnt orange when bright sunshine is allowed to stream through the glass. The firmly creamy crown is golden ecru in color and is developing a mesa-like surface as it melts. Good looking beer.

The nose features the usual nut brown maltiness and seems to have less pine than usual, although there's still some foam in the way. Besides, so much time passes between OSA reviews that comparisons are difficult at best.

This '09 version (Cupressus macrocarpa) tastes less bold and definitely less evergreeny than previous iterations. It also has a more distinct nuttiness and maybe even a little cream ale-vanilla vibe. Either my palate is off today or the boys at Anchor deviated farther from their basic blueprint this time around.

The beer is sweetish early and bitterish late, though neither one makes a big push. Guess that makes it balanced. Of all the OSAs to date, this one might be the most drinkable... in the sense that several bottles in a row wouldn't be any trouble at all. That doesn't mean the flavor profile is so all-fired amazing.

The mouthfeel seems thinner than remembered and this version hasn't even seen its first birthday. While the bubbles are fine, more substance would improve things considerably.

Our Special Ale 2009 is my 12th OSA. Anchor deserve kudos for changing things up this time (assuming they actually did), but I'll never be a huge fan of this particular seasonal. That said, it was still an enjoyable brew on this sunny May morning, so far removed from Christmas '09.

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Photo of russpowell
4.41/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a crimson-hued chestnut with 3fingers of fluffy tan head. Great lacing & average head retention

S: Medicinal notes, cinnamon & vanilla, just smells like Christmas!

T: Spruce, cinnamon, brown sugar & nutmeg up front. Herbal & woody hops as this warms along with dryness & brown sugar. Finishes with slight figgyness, medicinal & herbal notes along with some leafy hops

MF: Medium bodied & minimal carbonation

Drinks really easy, maybe not my favorite version of this, but very solid across the board. Odds are if you didn't like prior iterations of this, you won't like this. This one just gets better as it warms

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Photo of smcolw
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Gorgeous thick beige head that recedes very slowly.

Mellower than past Christmas ales from Anchor. Less pine and more molasses/caramel.

Far more sweet than previous versions but not too coy. Rich, full body with a lower carbonation. The flavor profile does feature the "pine" I've come to expect from this annual offering. Darker malt flavoring without any burnt elements. I love getting this every year; it's one of the great annual pleasures.

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

A: This is a damn good looking beer. A deep, dark brown with a thick light brown head.

S: All the smells of Christmas in a glass. Cinnamon, all-spice, chocolate, caramel, toffee, and a nice, sweet maltiness.

T: So much going on here. Chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, spices, and maybe a bit of nuts.

M: A solidly medium body with mild carbonation.

D: I'm not usually the biggest fan of winter warmers, but Anchor always does right with these beers.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.48/5  rDev -13.2%
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 woodychandler
4.25/5  rDev +6%
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 Huhzubendah
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at the Thorpe residence. Thanks Mike and Amy!

A: The beer is a dark walnut hue. After a somewhat vigorous pour from the tap, the beer yields a thick beige head that leaves a few random traces of lacing.

S: There is so much going on in terms of the aroma. Christmas spices, brown sugar, nutmeg, caramels, clove, cinnamon, and more.

T: Easily identifiable as a Christmas ale, no denying that. The beer has mellowed nicely with an extra year of aging. I do believe that I like this beer better with a little age on it. There is a sweetness throughout that is present but not cloying.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to low carbonation.

D: A great beer to enjoy by the Christmas tree and celebrate the holiday season.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
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 Billolick
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
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 Lare453
4.56/5  rDev +13.7%
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 jwc215
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip glass:

Pours black with a rich tan head that desends to a thin, lasting cover. Trailing lace sticks.

The smell is of pine dipped in chocolate (hint of coffee) with spiced freshly baked bread.

The taste is of bittersweet chocolate, underlying pine with Christmas spicing (that doesn't overpower). Sweet in the taste, it has a spicy, minty semi-dry finish.

It is more effervescent than I remember in past years, but holds well-into medium bodied. Very smooth, though.

Another winter winner from Anchor - leaning chocolatey with a nice spicing that fits the season well, but not overdone. An excellent winter warmer!

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Photo of drabmuh
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a shaker pint. Beer is dark brown and clear, forms a tan head of medium bubbles about two fingers thick. The head has some staying power, great retention. Some lacing is left on the glass, carbonation is mild to moderate.

Aroma is strong and sweet. There is some spice in there and almost a nutty character to it. Smells good.

Beer is smooth and medium bodied, almost tastes like a nitrogen beer. There is some roast in the back, very subtle, slight coffee. A nice sweet / almost cinnamon flavor in the front. The drinkability is high. Second taste, there is a bright flavor in the midpalate that is probably the spice, I wish the roast were a little higher and more connected to the rest. Overall a good beer.

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Photo of aasher
4.54/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Black in color with caramel tinged head

Smell: Very aromatic and smells of cranberries and/or strawberries, as well as a slight porter smell

Taste: Excellent flavor, is sweet but not too sweet. Definitely has accents of cranberry or strawberry. Is almost like a fruity porter.

Mouthfeel: Good mouthfeel. Not too thick and flavor resonates.

Drinkability: Very drinkable for a winter beer. Has excellent flavor and smells very, very good.

I'd recommend this to anyone around Christmas time. It's delicious and is nothing like anything else you can find throughout the year. I've passed this on to friends and family and they love it as well.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
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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Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
4.01 out of 5 based on 418 ratings.
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