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 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 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 snogglethorpe
4.27/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Absolutely fantastic -- has all the good properties you imagine about a christmas ale, but which few seem to manage to achieve. Unlike most holiday ales, it actually lives up to the appealing description put out by the brewer.

It's full, thick, spicy, slightly sweet, slightly bitter, slightly sour, incredibly drinkable, and well, downright delicious. The spiciness is up-front and christmasy -- cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg. Despite the full and interesting flavors, it doesn't overdo them (a problem with many strong holiday ales), everything seems just about right.

ABV is a modest 5.5%, so you can drink more!

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Photo of generallee
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
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 wspscott
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle in Duvel tulip

A: Completely black, no light is transmitted, looks like a stout. Very fluffy off-white head that leaves lots of lace.
S: Dark chocolate, dark malts, some raisins and hints of spice.
T: Lots of dark caramel malts, but not the sweetness that goes with caramel malt (no idea what was used to get this character) hints of roastiness, some dried fruit (raisins and dates), some "cookie spices"
M: Not crisp, but not a rich mouthfeel, basically a medium level of attenuation, a little "creamy" as it warms up. There is some tannic drying on the tongue.
D: An excellent "nightcap" of a beer, easy to drink, with some complexity, and a low level of alcohol. Another good holiday beer from Anchor. I look forward to seeing how this changes over the next couple of years.

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

Tasted 02/2010

A - Dark brown, nearly black, with decent ecru head.

S - Some bourbon, licorice, a hint of vanilla.

T - Cinnamon, licorice, unsweetened chocolate.

M - Great carbonation, nice creaminess. Best mouthfeel of the OSA's I've had so far.

D - Drinks well enough.

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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 sixerofelixir
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle, sampled in season late 2009. Review from notes.

Pours a pretty dark brick-red with a dense, sticky tan head. Smell is mega-spice, but not as bold as I would presume given the color? Taste is piney clove, cinnamon, nutmeg.. and milder and sweeter extracts predominate as well. Complex to say the least. Feel is good. Carbonated, full and dessert-like, satisfying. Repeat drinkability is low for me, as are most of the winter warmers. One (maybe two) and done.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.57/5  rDev -11%
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 bunnyhustle
3.71/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark but when held to the light you can definitely see its clear and a deep mahogany/ruby. Thick, off-white head with good retention and lacing. Smell had some spice and a little vanilla I thought, something about it though really just didnt do it for me too much. Taste was good. Very complex, lots of spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg? very complex). A bit of bitter chocolate I thought with some creaminess too. Mouthfeel was good, not too thin and not too full. Very velvety. Overall a good beer for a style that I usually dont enjoy too much.

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Photo of cjgator3
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle

A- Pours a dark black color with some brown when held up to the light. The light tan head is huge with great retention and leaves a good amount of lace.

S- The aroma is on the sweet side with a lot of Christmas spices. Very nice aroma this year.

T- The taste like the aroma is semi-sweet with a lot of spices dancing around on the tongue. Very nice!

M- The mouthfeel is medkum bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation.

D- Overall, another great vintage of Our Special Ale. Recommended!

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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 KAVSE
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours almost a velvety brown/red into glass. Medium-thick head lingers. Smells of a nice balance of hops to malts and begs tasting. Burnt caramel hits the tongue first mingling with the hops and finally a nice coffee, slightly sour finish. Many facets - a diamond in a sometimes gloomy winter.

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

Comes out of the bottle a deep, barely translucent mahogany with a thick, cinnamony off-white head that hangs around for a while. Aroma is malty and fruity with floral and spice hints. Flavor is fairly strong, malty and fruity and a little spicy, mainly of cloves. Texture is thick, smooth and somewhat tingly.

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Photo of Jmamay22
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark ruby brown that's nearly black. A creamy toffee colored head leaves some nice webs of lacing once the glass is empty. Smells of pine, caramel, roasted malt.

The taste is simple at first, but each sip reveals a new layer of complexity. It is similar to it's nose, but has more subtle complexities of various degrees of darkened and burnt sugars. The pine and slight bitterness balance the sweeter flavors. The mouthfeel is on the lighter side of medium. This isn't the typical over the top full bodied winter brew, but a more delicate and subtle beer. Very drinkable and always worth a try each year.

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Photo of Brent
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A beer I eagerly anticipate each year. Some versions have been almost overpoweringly resiny and some have leaned more to the spiced side. This year's version is my favorite so far, and reminds me of some of the more resiny releases after they mellowed a couple of years, while, at the same time, retains the fresh gingerbread aspect of a current release. Mild piney resin flavor in the background with bright gingerbread malt flavor, with a bit of allspice. A couple of six packs a squirreled away to be savored during the summer.

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Photo of travduke
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: On top a dark brown almost black body sits a frothy 2 finger foamy head. Incredible retention, immaculate lacing.

Smell: Lots of spices in there. Ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla. Caramel malt. No real hop presence.

Taste: Just like the smell. Lots of spice. This is great for dessert. A little bitter kick at the end, but nothing crazy.

Drinkability: Low alcohol, smooth, and enjoyable. This is a great beer that you can enjoy a few of in a sitting.

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Photo of atsprings
4.26/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally decided to pick this one up upon finding it for $7.99 on clearance. 1.5L magnum into a Duvel snifter pours a murky brown with a nice lasting khaki head. Aroma is a nice blend of burnt caramel malts, pine hops and decent spices. The taste is pine hops in front of caramel malts and spices with a nice lingering finish. The beer is fairly light bodied with decent carbonation. This is a very enjoyable Winter Warmer, much better than last year's which I sampled next to this one. Also, dare I say, better than this year's Highland Cold Mountain.

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Photo of FreshmanPour77
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed 02-11-10
Reviewed cold from a bottle to a glass

A - 2 fingers of foam, great head retention. Pours dark brown with a very nice lacing ring which lasted long into the review

S - Hints of nutmeg, cinnamon spices and caramel and vanilla. Malt of course be nothing in the hop area

T - Full bodied, taste the malts now with an ever so slight sweetness taste

M/D - Really good brew, to me since it was a full bodied brew that I could only do a couple in an evening. Very tasty and will for sure look for their Christmas 2010 but too many will fill me up. I would recommend it if still found on shelves, if not I guess you will have to wait till the end of year for 2010

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Photo of Kinsman
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Found this one still on the shelf at the local store and decided to give it a try. At first the idea of a Christmas beer 2 months late seems kind of odd, but good beer knows no seasons. Anyway its nice to be able to find this now even though the shelves are getting flooded with the new spring seasonals.

Appearance took me back a bit at first. Perhaps life is like each years new release of "Our Special Ale", you never know what you're going to get. The body pours dark brown, almost black except for some light coming through near the stem in my glass. Head is a nice foamy tan, but faded too quickly even with a rather hard pour.

The nose is upfront with the rather obvious cinnamon and nutmeg spices. Which spices are actually used you can never be sure with but those two would be my guess. Also in there is a sweet scent which suggest the possible use of a caramel malt.

Taste is every thing you would expect from the nose and then some. A solid backbone of malt provides some sweeter notes followed quickly by the spice. Finishes with a little bitterness but nothing really out there.

Solid medium body feel with a nice warming effect from the spices. Really helps make this a "Winter Warmer"

Overall a very drinkable winter warmer. It's a shame Christmas is at the beginning of winter because this could be perfect all season long for a nice warming beer after a long day in the cold.

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Photo of deereless
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: A very dark brown to black in color, a finger of foam that quickly settles to some scattered spots of espresso-like foam on the surface - 4.00, S: The nose has hints of cinnamon and sherry and reminds me of mulled apple cider, I also pick up some clove and dark pitted fruits such as plums, very unusual and inviting nose - 4.50, T: Many of the spices I picked up on the nose come through on the tongue particularly the cinnamon and cloves, alcohol is present but not overpowering, some slight date and oaked sherry, there's also a good deal of nutmeg that comes through - 4.00, M: Mouth feel is deceptive for the beer as it is a little thin though it still has a great deal of creaminess - 3.00, D: One of my favorite winter warmers, an enjoyable and drinkable beer - 3.50

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Photo of matt062286
4.21/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a deep slightly opaque mahogany red. Large, foamy, reddish-tan head. Maintains a decent ring of head. Moderate lacing.

Smell - A very sweet floral smell. Also pine sap, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Must say this is one of the finest smelling beers I've come across!

Taste - Sweet and spiced. Relies heavily on malt. Pine sap flavored backbone. Very much reminiscent of spice bread.

Mouthfeel - Pight carbonation, medium to light body.

Drinkability - Despite the lighter body, low(ish) ABV, and low carbonation, this is one to be savored. That said, I could easily enjoy multiple in a sitting.

A quite "daring" and overall successful winter warmer.

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Photo of steve8robin
3.93/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Decided to try this one. '09 bottle...

A: Looks very good. Dark with slight ruby highlights around the edges. Thick white head that fades quickly.

S: Hard to get a good scent, but the scents I do get are of pine with slight hints of sugar. Good smell.

T: Good but not awesome. Hops with hints of pine and sugar.

M: Good amount of carbonation.

D: Goes down a litte harder than I would like due to the hops and pine. Otherwise, ok.

All in all, this is a decent brew to try once. Anything more than that is not necessary. Good if you like the pine / hop flavor. Otherwise avoid this brew.

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Photo of DavidSeanNJ
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into a standard pint glass.

A- Beautiful tan fluffy head. Spiderweb lacing all over the glass. Dark brown cola/root beer colored beer with bubbles flowing.

S- Roasted coffee beans and spice. Vanilla.

T- Is that pine I taste? Cinnamon and cloves. Roasted malts. Some caramel, but very faint. Very spicey and the tastes are all over the place.

M- Medium bodied. Heavily carbonated. Sticky. Resiny.

D- Really delicious beer. I look forward to these brews every year.

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Photo of EnojysAnyBeer
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark but not much darker than the darkest of dark browns. It has amber/garnet highlights. Head is big and retains as a film. Leaves nice strings of lace

S- Gentle blend of a wide variety of typical "holiday" spices. Nutmeg, all-spice, cloves, cinnamon etc. Plenty of that special hop spice also if you drank it while it was fresh.

T- Dollops of sweet potatoes that have been singed and caramelized to produce gentle roasted flavors. The spices and the hop bite keep this beer going down your throat without looking back.

M- Smooth carbonation but the body is a bit watery for the magnitude of flavors found in this beer.

D- I've never found this style all that drinkable because it doesn't really fit in to my regular line-up. Best enjoyed by itself in my opinion.

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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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