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

Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
418 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.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 418 |  Reviews: 341
Photo of damndirtyape
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Single bottle poured into a tumbler glass.
Appearance: Huge head upon pouring that dies down to a 1/8" thick foam across the surface, plenty of lacing as I drink it down. Very dark, not quite black as it lets in some ruby and brown tones when held up to the light.

Smell: Quite complex - malt, burnt coffee, maybe some chocolate, and something else...maple? I want to say it's a hint of nutmeg but I don't think that's right.

Taste: When cold I get a chocolate and coffee flavor (I'd say milk chocolate) but as it warms up it changes quite a bit The chocolates get diminished and it gets more bitter, not bad bitter, but stronger in this taste. However, the bitterness is balanced with a hint of sweet at the beginning and what tastes like hops at the end. It's like a chocolate covered espresso bean in a way, but with a really thin layer of chocolate and a hop finish. I'm probably not doing this beer justice as I try to describe it. It's unique and not "wow" flavorful to me, but yet it's quite tasty. Just wish I knew exactly what I was tasting here.

Mouthfeel: Very lightly carbonated, a little bit thick and creamy.

Drinkability: It's tasty, not high in alcohol content, seems to go well with meals, and is interesting enough that you want to try more and tease out what all these other flavors are.

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Photo of kels
4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'Tis the season! I've been spending the day taking care of Christmas decorations, so I thought it only appropriate to pair it with some good seasonal beers. This is my first ever Anchor Brewing beer. I'm hoping to be going back for more after this.

Pours from the bottle into my tulip glass a very dark shade of brown and completely opaque. Only when I hold it up to the light do I detect the ruby highlights within the darkness. An initial 2 finger tan-colored head fades and retains well at about a finger. It is slightly frothy, and a little watery, and leaves behind stringy, slippery lace along the walls of the glass.

Really appealing and interesting aromas in this brew. I've never smelled pear in beer before, but that's exactly what I think from the first whiff of this one, and it smells delicious. It is coupled with a dry, earthy aroma that reminds me a lot of tobacco leaf. The malts are caramelized but only slightly sweet, and there's also a really nice presence of of dark, chewy prune-like sweetness. I get hints of spice, but nothing overwhelming; it's not as dominant as in many winter warmers.

Flavors mimic the aromas wonderfully in this beer. The brewers achieved a very nice balance while creating a full, strong-flavored beer. The sweetness of the pear is brightening, while the sweetness of the prune and caramel flavors add depth and body to the overall profile. The earthiness of the tobacco leaf smell comes across slightly like leather in the taste, adding a drying dimension to compare with the stickiness of the sweetness. There is a slight cinnamony spiciness, but it is neither hot nor sweet; just very subtle and mild. The feel is rather mouthfilling, with good carbonation creating a creaminess that distributes the flavors well throughout the palate.

This is definitely a drinkable beer on its own or with food. I'm sorry I haven't tried any of Anchor's beers earlier considering how much I enjoy this one. In a blind tasting I wouldn't guess this as a winter warmer, but probably more as a Belgian dark strong. Very tasty, very drinkable.

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Photo of natelocc787
3.67/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Don't pour this one with a large head, keep it one finger. Decent thin sheets of lace, not tremendously sticky though as you tilt the snifter. Big time nose-very unique and complex with huge amounts of clove and orange peel. Lots of cinnamon, apple cider and more cinnamon. You could pull flavors for hours if you chose to. The taste isn't near the quality of the aroma. Again lots of cider, orange peel, cinnamon and clove. The mouthfeel is lacking as well, it has a seltzer like feel to it rather than a silky, low carbonated, thick feel. Another way to describe it is that it doesn't match the taste and character of the beer. Alcohol is not hidden at all, I taste more alcohol in this at 5.5% than in most other examples at 7-8%. This beer tastes like it needs a different fermenting process, different priming sugar or method or that it might just be superb if offered with no carbonation at all like a Utopias.

Still I appreciate the beer for what it is but I just feel like it could be so much more.

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Photo of caddybuyer
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
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 jdense
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap Henry's 12th Street Tavern, PDX, 11/26 poured into pint glass.

Dark brown/nearly black brew. 1 finger tan head, tiny bubbles, fairly quick dissipation with good lacing. Chocolate malts in the nose, even more prominent after a bit of warming. I do get a hit of citrusy hops in the nose, and subtle roasted malts. Spices (cinnamon, cloves) prominent in the taste, more vanilla than chocolate, hops are negligible on the tastebuds. Dry finish. This beer taste a bit different every year, hence each vintage receiving its separate review. I'd be up to a vertical tasting of this exceptional winter warmer. Always a treat.

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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 yesyouam
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Anchor Our Special Ale 2009 is a very dark brown ale with a thin, dense mocha colored head that leaves sip lines all the way down the glass. It smells a little sweet, sort of like ginger bread. Other spices are present in the aroma, notably nutmeg. It's smooth and medium bodied with a dry, astringent finish. There's a lot of flavor going on here. The malt is a little sweet and resiny and it melds well with all of the spices. The nutmeg and cinnamon start to create an apple pie flavor, but ginger and juniper take over and provide the spicy, bitter finish. Actually, this doesn't seem as bitter as it has in the past. It's all about the spices.

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Photo of 1759Girl
4.28/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance> Much darker than last years, but looks divine! Same big pale-coffee-colored head with good retention. The lacing is gorgeous.. Excellent.

Smell> Though there are notes of cinnamon, pine, & malt, the strongest scent is that of nutmeg. Reminiscent of a big mug of egg nog. Love this.

Taste>Bitter start, big full holiday ale taste (pine and nutmeg), almost milky like eggnog. Then a punch of resin which softens to a refined finish with a hot clove hang. Complex and balanced.

Mouf> Thick and lovely. slight chewiness.

Drinkability> Could probably have two pints but not a whole magnum ( like I probably said about last year's, which was hard to beat)

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Photo of BeanBone
4.4/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A deep brown body, nearly black body pierced by crimson highlights. Up top, over two fingers of creamy, tan-tinged head that sticks around nicely and leaves great lacing.

Aroma: Lots of spices, including healthy doses of nutmeg and ginger, over a sweet and creamy malt body. The spices are really fabulous this year.

Flavor: Quite similar to the nose; a bouquet of spices over a roasty and somewhat nutty malt backbone. It sounds simple, but in reality, it's complex and thoroughly interesting. The spice character leads to lots of egg nog and ginger snap flavors, which is perfect considering the season. Roasted malt and residual spice in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, creamy, and wonderfully silky with good carbonation. Dries in the finish.

Drinkability: Unlike many holiday specials, this is light enough in alcohol content, and possesses a mild enough flavor profile, for this to be easily drinkable.

Verdict: This is only my second year of Anchor Christmas, and while I enjoyed last year's quite a bit, this year's is even better. Complex, different, and thoroughly drinkable, I know that this will be clashing with Sierra Nevada's Celebration for my session choice all winter long. Knowing that each year I'll get to try another beer like this bring a big smile to my face.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.63/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a deep, deep brown with a reddish hue, awesome carbonation and a dirty whte head. Nose is cinnamon, nutmeg and thyme perhaps. Taste is a warming tingle with some pine, cedar, nutmeg, cinnamon, peppermint and some caramel. Mouthfeel is nice and warming. I love this beer and do not recall being suh a huge fan of it before. Better than last years IMHO. Drinkability is out of this world, tastes awesome, low ABV and well donr all the way around.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours very dark, brown in color with some slight deep amber red highlights. Not very clear, but in my opinion more clarity to it than when it's on tap. Has an tan/cream colored head that was enormous when you pour it with several different sized bubbles. The froth goes away after about 15 minutes or so (I let this sit after one sip I had in the bottle because I thought it was better a little warmer). I still think this is one of the best winter warmers I've ever smelled before, I think it might smell a little bit better than on tap, but only slightly. It's pretty strong on sweet toasted malts. There was also a strong sweet aroma that smelled like molasses. Still subtle scents of holiday spices including but not limited to cinnamon and nutmeg. The not much of a hop smell. The taste is good, not as good as the smell. The taste included all of the previous mentioned smells, but the combined tastes bring about a gingerbread type flavor. The hop is more present in the flavor rather than the smell. The mouthfeel is good, very smooth with a dry bitter finish from the hop, and a very drinkable beer for any occasion. I think I might have liked this a little bit more from the bottle than on tap, mainly because the temperature regulation is a little easier. A great winter warmer.

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Photo of bump8628
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Typical 12oz Anchor Brewing bottle. Poured into a snifter.

Deep brown with a mat of tan head that slowly recedes and leaves plenty of foam and lacing all over the glass.

Aroma has hints of ginger and cinnamon with some roasted malts and hints of caramel and herbal hops.

The taste is a wonderful holiday blend of roasted malts reminiscent of charred cocoa, a light holiday spiciness, caramel, toffee, and background herbal/fruity hoppiness.

One of the better Anchor Christmas Ales I've had in the last few years. This is like a nice, roasty porter with hints of holiday spice. Well Done.

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Photo of Vengeance526
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark ruby brown color with a 1-finger tan head that holds up a for a little while, then slowly subsides and leaves a decent amount of lacing.

Aroma of cloves and cinnamon upfront with light hops and some wood in the back.

Taste has a very sharp note of licorice upfront. The spices come in to a lesser degree and the finish again brings out the hoppy/woody flavors. Lots of sweetness at the beginning of each sip, maybe a little more sweet than spicy.

Medium body with a medium to high level of carbonation. For some reason, this year just didn't do it for me. It looks and smells a lot better than it tastes, but I'll still hang on to a few bottles and see how it changes next year.

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Photo of Jwale73
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle served in a standard pint glass. Poured the color of cola with a frothy one inch, khaki-colored head that eventually settles into a quarter inch, consistent cap. Thick swaths of lacing are revealed during the tasting. Mild nose - malty, with maybe a hint of lactose and dark fruit. Taste reveals cocoa, toffee, a hint of dark fruit, perhaps some nutmeg and a roasty quality. Mouthfeel is medium-light with an even background carbonation. This beer is tasting great this year. Extremely drinkable without being cloying - great flavor balance. I'm going to need to make this a holiday staple.

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Photo of WeisGuy
3.82/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a - pours a deep brown color with some burgundy highlights, one-finger khaki colored head, retention around the edges, not much lacing

s - lots of spice on the nose, clove and cinnamon dominate, mixed with a nice amount of caramel, hints of piney hops, not much alcohol

t - like the aroma, mixed spice with caramel dominate the taste, lots of clove with mild notes of cinnamon, slight bitterness on the finish balances out the moderately sweet maltiness and spiciness nicely, much more well-balanced than I remember past vintages being

m - medium-bodied, somewhat higher carbonation, very lively in the mouth, well-balanced finish, on the dry side overall

d - fairly drinkable for a winter warmer, though the spices limit it for me somewhat, a good sipper for sure, but not a beer I'm going to drink multiple bottles of in any given evening

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep chestnut brown color. 2nd bottle was a bit of a gusher leaving a very nice head. Piney/spruce aroma. Mild spiciness to it. Solid malty flavor with a nice level of spices and a pine-like flavor to it. Lingering spruce flavor. Decent body. Very drinkable beer. The beer seems to be very similar year after year but once again a perennial favorite that always pleases. Well worth getting and savoring now and later.

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Photo of kingcrowing
4/5  rDev -0.2%
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 Gmann
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a chestnut brown color with a frothy tan head that settles into a solid cap. The aroma is roasted malt with a hint of chocolate, spice, candied orange, juniper and sprucey hops. Big sprucey hop flavor hits first followed by a rich roasted malt, chocolate, some buttery notes as well as juniper. This year the OSA is big on the malt, the hops are just along for the ride. The feel is full bodied with tingly carbonation; sweet from the malt but finishes sour from what I will say is juniper (but it might not be). This is a nice big roasty brew with a nice earthy spice profile. The sour aspect limits the drinkability for me a bit.

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Photo of dpodratsky3
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Very dark brown, just a little amberish hint where the light comes through, brown/tan creamy, rih head, big three fingers

S: Nice roasted malts and a distinct dark bread aroma lends some sweetness

T: Complexity is here, but pleasant, again that dark roasted flavor is there, not quite coffee roast, but a fair amount of bitter roast, sweetness is also present again, hops are detectable and add to the profile, but don't stand out too much

M: Healthy carbonation lightens, not heavy at all

D: Not too high in general, but nothing in it to detract from drinkability, just some complexity, but tastes very good

Notes: My first OSA and it is a good one. Exactly what I want in a Christmas beer. Nice, dark, and complex, but still so enjoyable . Just pleasant all around.

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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 cassanoj
3.94/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pilsner glass. Beautiful tanned head with a light brown body.

This is one of the nicest smelling beers I've had. Rich evergreens, orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg. Undertones of flowers and chocolate.

Taste is not as creamy as the smell led me to believe. Vanilla, nutmeg, orange, banana, maybe some ginger - all rather faint. Becomes bitter. I do enjoy the light hop character.

Mouthfeel is thin and crisp. I wish it was thick and creamy.

Overall, the smell drives this beer. It's Christmas in a bottle.

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Photo of DrinkinBoy
3.94/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

This years Anchor Christmas appears a deep dark brown, allowing a small amount of light in. The head is a deep creamy tan, but only has okay retention.

The smell lacks really any recognizable smell of beer except for a faint roasted note. Mostly it smells like egg nog along with some other Christmas scent staples.

Its taste immediately brings in the egg nog/ nut meg that reflects the smell. On the mid palate cinnamon spice is more pronounced. It finishes with roasted and chocolate taste that is very familar with this dark of a beer.

On the mouth the beer is heavy with a little more carbonation that I would have liked.

Overall, this is a really good seasonal offering. It is a little different that most Winter Warmers because the spice is delicate and it doesn't have a huge fruit character. I enjoyed the complexity and would definitely suggest it.

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Photo of WolfmanK
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap last night, and it's possible that my impressions were tainted because I had the last glass before the keg kicked.

I found the so called complexity of this beer a bit off. All the flavor notes seemed distinctly separated. It was almost like I tasted spices in one sip, Ale in the next, wood the next, it was not combining for me in one well balanced even pull of the brew.

However that being said it was still very good. The spiced flavors were not over the top, as so often is found in this type of beer, and it finished clean.

I want to try it again, I may pick up a six pack some time of head back to the bar to see if they have a fresh keg.

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Photo of ElGordo
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the 12oz bottle into a Maudite snifter. A pretty, dark tan head tops a rich, mahogany-colored body. Aroma of ginger, anise, licorice, allspice, and some other spices, with a good dose of mild roasted malt in the background.
Palate is redolent of somewhat sweet up front, the roasted malt blending nicely with and carrying the interesting spice profile. Licorice and allspice stand out, with a gentle ginger note hanging around in the background. Finish is nice and smooth, malty but with less emphasis on the roasted character. Body is creamy, more so than in years past, but still sturdy enough to convey the serious malt content of this beer. The lack of pine and other "tree" flavors is a mild disappointment, but at the same time makes this a more approachable edition of the series. Always interesting, this is a must-try every year.

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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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Our Special Ale 2009 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.01 out of 5 with 418 ratings
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