Our Special Ale 2021 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Anchor Brewing Company

Our Special Ale 2021 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2021 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
From:
Anchor Brewing Company
 
California, United States
Style:
Winter Warmer
Ranked #21
ABV:
7%
Score:
88
Ranked #15,244
Avg:
3.92 | pDev: 10.2%
Reviews:
74
Ratings:
88
Status:
Active
Rated:
Jul 08, 2022
Added:
Oct 31, 2021
Wants:
  3
Gots:
  9
SCORE
88
Very Good
Our Special Ale 2021 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2021 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Notes: This is the forty-seventh Our Special Ale from the brewers at Anchor. This ale, made with natural flavors, features a new recipe & tree every year, but the intent with which we offer it is the same:joy & celebration of the newness of life. Trees symbolize the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew, the natural beauty of the California high desert is epitomized by the western Joshua tree. Threatened primarily by climate change, it is a candidate for the protection under the California Endangered Species Act.
View: More Beers
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Ratings by NeroFiddled:
Photo of NeroFiddled
Reviewed by NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
Anchor Brewing Co. "Our Special Ale 2021"
12 fl. oz. brown glass bottle "PKG110921" and sampled on 070822
$2 @ Acme #2762, Phila., PA

Notes via stream of consciousness: It's Christmas in July! This one is darker than the previous versions I've tasted. It's a very dark brown that appears black in the full glass. Ruby and mahogany brown highlights can be seen at the base of the glass if you hold it to the light, and you can also see that it's clear. The head is a short cap of tan foam that unfortunately doesn't hold up that well. It's only been a minute or so since I poured it and looked at it under the light and now the head is gone. The aroma initially reminded me of an Indian grocery store; that's probably ginger coming through. A swirl of the glass, however, brought out the maltiness which has some molasses to it, and a bit of cinnamon and pine. I should note at this point that this is made with "natural flavors" so there's no actual pine or spices being added. On to the taste, it's richer than the aroma suggests, as usual. The malt is like dark bread that's caramelish and molasses-like - German black bread, perhaps? There's a fruitiness to it that I can't quite pinpoint but it's at least a little like juicy apple and orange. On the spice side I'm getting ginger, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It finishes dry, a touch spicy, and fruity with plum and a hint of pine lingering. The mouthfeel is medium on the fuller side with a gentle carbonation that leaves it smooth and creamy across the palate. This was first brewed in 1975 so there have been a lot of versions of this, however, they haven't all been that good. This one is one of the better ones that I've tried. It's a nice, relaxing sipper that's not overdone with spice while still remaining spicy.
Review #8,130
Jul 08, 2022
More User Ratings:
Photo of JokersAce
Reviewed by JokersAce

3.99/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Dark brown mahogany with a coca cola like beige head. Looks like a stout but does not taste like one. It's heavy on the malt like a Bock.
This one is a bit tricky to pin down but it's crisp, dry, with some definite holiday spice. Ginger spice, molasses, nutmeg, allspice, some dark chocolatey notes (but not much), a bit if black coffee towards the end, and strangely a gin/pine like juniper is somewhat present in the bitter notes.
It tastes like a classic spiced gingerbread was made into a beer with some added liberties. The spice does add up considerably as the beer is consumed.
Jun 18, 2022
 
Rated: 4 by Velivolus1 from Vermont

Jun 14, 2022
Photo of Ozzylizard
Reviewed by Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Our Special Ale 2021 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing. On room temperature “SALE” shelf at Franklin beer, Franklin, PA, 10/05/22. $ 8.00 (Including tax)/6 pack of 12 oz bottles ($ 0.111/oz). Stored at 40 degrees after receiving. Reviewed 08/06/22. Note that I use DD/MM/YY protocol.
On back label “PKG10012”. Served at 54.8 degrees in a hand washed and dried imperial pint. Final temperature 58.8 degrees.
Appearance – 3.5.
First pour – Amber Brown (SRM 18), translucent.
Body – Black (SRM 40), opaque. When rear-lite, light penetrates at the edges (amber brown) and shows lumps which have settled on the inside curvature of the glass.
Head – Large (Maximum 5.2 cm, aggressive center pour), initially chocolate but quickly fading to tan, high density, average retention, diminishing to a 0.3 to 0.6 cm crown and a rocky complete cap.
Lacing – None.
Aroma – 4 – Cinnamon and clove (?). No yeast, no hops.
Flavor – 4 – Weak taste of mulled spices. Some chocolate malt backbone. No yeast, no hops. No ethanol (7 % ABV as marked on label) taste or aroma. Immediate gastric warming occurs but remains low key throughout the glass. No dimethylsulfide or diacetyl. Ends with a light touch of bitter chocolate.
Palate – 4 – Medium, creamy, soft carbonation.
Final impression and summation: 4 I rarely see Anchor around here so when I do, I grab some. While this is well-made, the flavors are very weak and undifferentiated. No lacing. Six and done.
Jun 08, 2022
 
Rated: 3.87 by BlueSpader from Washington

Apr 30, 2022
 
Rated: 2.42 by stephenlee93 from England

Mar 19, 2022
 
Rated: 4.46 by tuowl74a from Pennsylvania

Mar 05, 2022
Photo of scootny
Reviewed by scootny from New York

3.94/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
A delicious roasty holiday beer. Great in the winter. Dark fruits and sweet roasted grains. Burnt caramel. Great spice blend and hopping. Earthy hops with a gentle bit of noble bite. Dry, short finish with a clean swallow. Great full feel with a smoothly creamy carbonation. Medium weight with a bit of girth. Just a perfect holiday and winter brew.
Mar 02, 2022
Photo of elNopalero
Reviewed by elNopalero from California

4.36/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Pours the color of a nice roasty porter, with cocoa colored foam. Roasty seems appropriate, for the sip and on the nose both. Some light medicinal notes—eucalyptus and menthol, touch of mint. It’s a Fernet beer without saying as much. Velvety mouthfeel. I liked it!
Feb 09, 2022
Photo of Dinglehacker
Reviewed by Dinglehacker from Wisconsin

4.44/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Poured into shaker pint. Khaki head-to-ring. Frosty lace. Brown-tinged black.

Light smoky nose with some cinnamon, faint clove.

Taste follows. Light roast, caramel sweetness balanced with the cinnamon, sweet finish with a roasted aftertaste.

Very smooth. Some might say watery but that's ok.

A bit dark for a winter warmer, verges on a spiced porter. I'm trending toward the more positive side. It hits the right notes for me for a darker beer in general. Some reports suggest some inconsistency in the batch, so watch out!
Feb 08, 2022
 
Rated: 3.35 by TMoney2591 from Illinois

Feb 07, 2022
 
Rated: 3.98 by gefinley from California

Feb 03, 2022
 
Rated: 3 by 1971bernat from Virginia

Feb 03, 2022
 
Rated: 4.13 by golf4collet from West Virginia

Jan 30, 2022
 
Rated: 4.25 by chrishiker1409 from New York

Jan 25, 2022
Photo of AcidCatfish
Reviewed by AcidCatfish

3.09/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3
Poured into a Stella chalice

Looks - like Coca-Cola. Has a brownish head with some sticking power. Pretty dark, but I can see carbonation bubbles rising.

Smell - good. Nice and spicy. Smells like christmas. However, the spiciness overpowers what dried fruit scents would be there and after a while, it becomes too much.

Taste - woah. No. I do not like this. I'm not against winter warmers, but this isn't good. Too much spiciness that isn't immediately bad, but it overpowers anything else. Clove and allspice are dominant and are good at first, but then start to clash with the malt and completely overpowers the malt. Little to no hop character, which makes sense in a beer like this. Spice quickly clashes with alcohol taste and doesn't hide it well. I couldn't finish it. Oh, some cola in the finish I detected, probably due to the spiciness.

Feel - Thought it was smooth at first, but the overwhelming spice clashes with the alcohol burn and it becomes very hard to drink this. It burns and tingles more as you drink.

Overall, I couldn't finish this brew. It wasn't good in my opinion. Shame, I've appreciated Anchor's Christmas brews before so I'm not sure what happened with this one. I have to say though, the bottle is so cool and looks very festive and retro.
Jan 24, 2022
Photo of wisrarebeer
Reviewed by wisrarebeer from Wisconsin

3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
Poured with an incredible thick, rich tan head. Extremely mild nose with a hint of pluminess. Taste was balanced with deep malt and subdued spices. Mouthfeel is very nice. Well-balanced without being cloying or overly crazy on the spices.
Jan 23, 2022
 
Rated: 3.84 by EMH73 from New York

Jan 21, 2022
Photo of StJamesGate
Reviewed by StJamesGate from New York

4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Deep opaque brown with crown sepia head that clings; spice, berries + dark bread on the nose; pretzel crust, rye bread, a hint of tart fruit, piney end; medium, smooth, lingering bitterness.

4.25 4 4.25 4.25 4.25

As much as I get this every year, it’s not one of my favorites: it’s usually a Frankenstein beer, parts bolted together in search of novelty for an ever-changing annual recipe.
This, however, is surprisingly integrated; spices don’t taste tacked on like some years (I’m looking at you, cinnamon) but play more like rye spice, the cranberry and raspberry lend just a slight tang, it’s not too sweet, and the California hops wind things up nicely, rather than just yanking out the plug.
Deep English Brown-ish malt base, medium carb, not too syrupy on the palate, doesn’t cloy or burn - the first winter warmer in a long while, from Anchor or anyone, that I’m happy to stay sipping.

The best version in years.
Jan 19, 2022
 
Rated: 3.84 by mothmanscott from Georgia

Jan 18, 2022
Photo of Wattie83
Reviewed by Wattie83 from Pennsylvania

3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
12 oz bottle poured into a chalice. Pours a dark, rich brown with a khaki head falls to a ring leaving some lacing behind. Smell is some cinnamon, plum, clove, cocoa, a bit of roast malt. Taste starts off sweet with dark malt, plum, spices, middle sees some fruit like dark cherry, raspberry jam. Finish is cocoa, roasted malt. Body is medium-light solid carbonation. A bit of a tongue-coating occurs. Overall, a good beer to sip during the winter. Didn't get around to this over Christmas, but I think it would have fit well with the turkey, stuffing, etc. we enjoyed for dinner. I'll check it out again next year.
Jan 16, 2022
Photo of DanO1066
Rated by DanO1066 from Maryland

3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
Draught pint (in a pint glass) at The Brass Tap here in Baltimore: A spiced porter?
Jan 15, 2022
Photo of mvanaskie13
Reviewed by mvanaskie13 from Pennsylvania

4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Poured into a grip shaped goblet: color is black, head is tan with fine bubbles, head presents 2 fingers thick and lingers with a solid top and some spotty lacing.

Smell is toffee and dark chocolate/cacao, base malt, light toast, then light smoke, more dark bread, raisin, earth, pine and herbs, maybe some subtle clove. Not overtly spicy but a complexity and depth to the aroma.

Taste is dark chocolate, toffee, dark bread, hints of smoke, raisin, earth, pine, herb, juniper, herbal spice, subtle clove and very light cinnamon spice. Similar to the aroma a unique to this ale spice blend that is aided by the dark but not quite porter/stout like dark beer style.

Mouthfeel is moderate carbonation, moderate sweetness, lower bitterness but a spiced beer bite that lingers on the tongue.

Overall a spiced winter ale that leans on the border of dark brown/porter/stout - dark enough to be a stout but a malty character of brown/porter (depending on style); spicing is subtle but unique and not overdone (mouth numbing). Should have picked up a 6 pack.
Jan 12, 2022
Photo of CTHomer
Reviewed by CTHomer from Connecticut

3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
A: opaque; very dark brown in color; 1 finger finely pored medium brown head that receded to a wispy cap with a thick collar; nice lacing;

S: ripe bananas;

T: chocolate and ripe banana from start to finish;

M; medium bodied; moderate carbonation; moderately dry finish;

O; very nice;
Jan 11, 2022
Photo of Thomas_Wikman
Reviewed by Thomas_Wikman from Texas

4.35/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
Look: black with a fluffy mocca head

Aroma: milk chocolate, ginger and nutmeg, coffee, floral

Flavor: The flavor is malty, sweet, a little bit of milk chocolate, ginger and nutmeg, some coffee and piney

bitterness towards the end.

Body/Overall: medium body, pretty smooth, overall I think it was great
Jan 10, 2022
 
Rated: 3.79 by MICAMD from Maryland

Jan 09, 2022
Photo of sp_jalego
Reviewed by sp_jalego from California

4.6/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Definitely the best of the seasonal Christmas Ales I've had from Anchor. This one tasted nice and rich, cut with a really nice spice blend – ginger, cinnamon, and just a general nice earthy taste.
Jan 05, 2022
 
Rated: 3.81 by VashonGuy from Washington

Jan 05, 2022
 
Rated: 4 by Holderness from Massachusetts

Jan 04, 2022
 
Rated: 4.25 by MonkeyPilates from Minnesota

Jan 04, 2022
 
Rated: 4.44 by chiefz1 from New York

Jan 02, 2022
 
Rated: 2.75 by DerwinWentworth from Utah

Jan 01, 2022
Photo of HattedClassic
Reviewed by HattedClassic from Virginia

4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
The beer pours a light brown foamy head that takes a while to dissipate while the beer itself is an opaque dark brown that looks nice.

The smell has its usual spice notes of cinnamon and ginger with a dash of nutmeg alongside a light bread and cocoa note.

The taste is a bit better than the smell even though it has the same notes. It strongly resembles a ginger cookie from the start to the finish and a mild cocoa note lingers a bit in the finish and aftertaste.

The feel is good. It has a heavy body with a velvety texture to it and slight tingling carbonation that creates a good drinking experiencing.

Overall, this beer never fails to be enjoyable during the season and this year's is no exception.
Jan 01, 2022
 
Rated: 5 by doctorgary from New York

Jan 01, 2022
Photo of eluvah
Reviewed by eluvah from New York

4.14/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
I look forward to this every November. I buy at least a case every year since 95. Just got around to reviewing this one. This year has a nice dark malt nose. Taste of cinnamon comes through most this year. Finishes very smooth
Dec 31, 2021
Photo of jlindros
Reviewed by jlindros from Massachusetts

3.47/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3
Pours a 1 finger tan to brown thick creamy head with moderate retention, plenty of soapy lacing, very dark brown almost black beer

Nose some cocoa and roast, dark malt, a hint smokey, some baking and winter spice, mild herbal earthy hop, cocoa dust

Taste brings more mild cocoa, earthy root beer like spices with earthy spicy hops as well, med bitterness, general winter spices, getting a touch like a pine tree wood bitterness, mild roast and a bit of acrid smokey character, mild sticky sweet finish

Mouth is med to fuller bod, hint of warming alcohol, med carb

Overall meh, hints at decent porter but the spices and earthy piney woody characters clash a bit, not a fan of this one.
Dec 30, 2021
 
Rated: 4.24 by odenbr12 from New Jersey

Dec 29, 2021
 
Rated: 3.52 by bendukes86 from South Carolina

Dec 29, 2021
 
Rated: 3.77 by khargro2 from Tennessee

Dec 29, 2021
Photo of dacrza1
Reviewed by dacrza1 from New Jersey

3.56/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5
DATE: December 28, 2021... OCCASION: seated comfily by a fire, blessed with a Christmas tree view, I welcome this beer as a sign post of the season--and the Joshua tree is a good choice.... GLASSWARE: Citrabellum tulip pokal... pours a feverish, roiling black body devoid of light, with its three-fingered light brown head bubbling and percolating with life... its retention is worth noting... plum, malted barley, blanketed citrus, vegetable, mellow oats and some aromatic flora notes--fitting for the season, though not overly done... creamy, easy-spirited, and settling in the throat, this makes a sipping companion that masks its 7% ABV quite well... the roasted malts, plum, and oatmeal sweeten the deal, with a candied cherry finish... hard fruits also factor in this profile, with light pine and a bit of resin... a pleasant experience, one that hits the mark for the season and reminds me why I love tradition--keep on brewing this, gents....
Dec 29, 2021
Our Special Ale 2021 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 162 ratings