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

Our Special Ale 2021 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2021 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Winter Warmer
Ranked #43
Ranked #21,407
3.89 | pDev: 10.8%
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
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.
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Reviews: 29 | Ratings: 66 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by milkshakebeersucks:
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milkshakebeersucks from Maryland

3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Solid black appearance with a large, long lasting beige head and light lacing. Aroma is not buried with seasonal spices as I remember from past years. Picking up some nutmeg but even that is laid back. More like molasses and maple syrup. Getting leather on the first pass on the palate followed by dried fruit. Some coffee in the aftertaste. Bittersweet mouthfeel that is modestly carbonated. Not the most memorable year but far from the worst.

Nov 17, 2021
More User Reviews:
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nodder from New York

3.67/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Nov 10, 2021
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Abe_Froman from Massachusetts

3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Nov 28, 2021
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maltmaggot from California

2.49/5  rDev -36%
look: 5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

dark roasted malt flavor...
there's a scent of juniper or cardamom or something of like nature that overpowers the malt and creates an unbalanced affect.
the same flavor dominates this years offering and quite frankly transforms it into the medicinal category.
at least for me.

Oct 31, 2021
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BKotch from Texas

4.04/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nov 21, 2021
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aztraz from Sweden

4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tuesday at 10:02 AM
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LesDewitt4beer from Minnesota

4.04/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle pkg date 9/10/21 into a dimple mug.
L: Pours black with a tall 2.5 finger creamy khaki head that recedes to a 1 finger soapy edged head with a creamy center then down to scattered foam 1/2way thru the glass. Some lacing and no visible carbonation.
S: Scent of dark rum, fruit cake, dark sweet bread, allspice, ginger cookie and very light cocoa.
T: Semi-sweet caramel, rather light booze, pale malts, light sourness, raisins, subtle coffee char, grapefruit zest, light vanilla, nutmeg, allspice and very lightly bitter baking cocoa powder.
F: A wet med-bodied gently tawny mouthfeel with a semi-dry long finish. It feels wooden and aged.
O: A well crafted earthy tasting well balanced Christmas Ale that is straightforward. Nothing is over the top or out of place flavor and feel-wise. It is excellent in it's style.

Nov 28, 2021
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allengarvin from Texas

3.86/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The 47th OSA from Anchor, and somewhere around the 28th or 29th for me. I bought a six pack of this, and for some reason, every single bottle has the label tilted, slightly offset to the left. I'm reviewing the last of the six pack, so I've had several already.

This year's pours very dark, borderly opaque. Pretty much no head formed on it. The nose offers a bit of the traditional spice, reminding me of juniper this year. Flavor this year is definitely varying from their normal recipes, with a strong roast malt character. Other than the roast, there's not much of a chocolate malt taste, and it's fairly dry. The traditional OSA piney spice is pretty restrained this year, but still lightly present. Finish is roasty and dry. Mouthfeel is substantial, and this year is stronger than most.

Not one of my favorite years, and I may not buy a magnum this year, but it's still a quite decent beer.

Nov 14, 2021
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Brian_Pheiffer from California

4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Monday at 05:51 AM
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BB1313 from Ohio

3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2021 vintage. Bottled on 10/27/21. 12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

Pours almost black; big fluffy khaki head that falls leaving great retention and sticky lacing.

The aromas are floral along with some mild hints of vanilla cream. Some chocolate. Some citrus and orange peel. Malts are there. As it warms a bit, the aromas really open up and become complex while remaining subtle.

The flavors basically follow the nose. More floral notes. More chocolate. Some pine needles in the mix. More orange peel along with more subtle hints of citrus. Some spices, but it's not your typical holiday spice profile. Some roasted characteristics. Moderate bitterness. Mild sweetness. Solid malt backbone. Alcohol basically goes unnoticed.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with moderate to active carbonation. It's fluffy, slick, smooth and slightly sharp.

This is a nice brew. It has everything that you'd expect from an "Our Special Ale", more or less. It's fitting for the series and the holidays. Well done. I like it.

Nov 19, 2021
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HardTarget from Texas

4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black murky glass holds a thin brown halo and shows ruby with strong backlight.

Aroma: Pine, Christmas spices (nutmeg, allspice).

Taste: Pine sap and needles, spices, (nutmeg, hint of cinnamon) slight hint of malt sweetness in the finish with a very mild metallic note.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, low carbonation makes it seem heavier, clean finish.

Overall: A nice variant of the annual treat. Spice level is nice, there but not overwhelming. Not a lot of classic beer flavors, had to hunt for malt, not real hop notes, but the total package comes across as well balanced and pretty easy drinking.

Nov 24, 2021
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osheamatth from New York

3.3/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I've been drinking this ale yearly for about 35 years and this one really departs from some of the more recent versions. It is super dark and thick like a Russian Imperial Stout in an appealing way. Then the nose verves into the realm of say a chocolate stout with lots of burned caramel notes merging with the heavy malt. Not the best flavor profile however. Tastes a bit like tree bark with overwhelming malt & burned bread notes. Rather astringent too. None of the inviting aroma aspects make it into the flavor. Sadly it's missing all the familiar spice notes of past years or perhaps they're just buried in this mess of a brew.

Nov 17, 2021
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SebastianOwl from Massachusetts

3.96/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dec 02, 2021
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Sludgeman from District of Columbia

3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Purchased at Total Wine/McLean, VA as part of a make your own six pack. Poured into a small stemmed tulip.

A - Pours a clear ruby red but opaque in the glass with a minimal light brown head (-) 4.5

S - Aromas sweet malt, dark dried fruit like raisins and then some low level spiciness that is reminiscent of Xmas smells like clove, cinnamon but nothing extreme or overbearing. 4.0

T - Malt, brown bread with that slight sweetness but fleeting as the a burnt bitterness and some of the ABV (almost solventy) comes in the finish. 3.5

MF - Smooth, lightly warming, medium light body with a dry somewhat astringent finish. 3.5

Saturday at 10:39 PM
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Spade from Pennsylvania

4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Nov 28, 2021
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

i knew this changed from year to year, but i guess i sort of forgot they all got their own listing, its been years since i had or reviewed one, a shame, because i have always like this, regardless of what form it has taken. much darker this year than it has been in any of my past experiences with it, sort of in that porter range in terms of color and body, in my mind it was always more of a hoppy amber type. in any event this is nice stuff, pretty in the glass with a creamy inch plus of light brown head, almost nitro thick, on top of a shiny near black base beer thats slick looking and almost greasy in appearance. the nose is lightly spiced behind the roast, a warming clove note with the more obvious dark chocolate character of the grain, perhaps not overly complex, but what is present is enough. its warming in flavor while also being quite drinkable, there is some body here but its also gorgeously carbonated too, three or four of these in a sitting is easy. the spice part is kind of light, it has some hop backing, and perhaps most importantly for drinkability it finishes dry. bitter dark chocolate, light anise and licorice, raisin, coffee beans, and pine, delicious. now i am bummed i have overlooked this the past bunch of seasons, my loss, these are always good and more different from one to the next than i gave them credit for being. killer this year!

Nov 29, 2021
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sjones5045 from Pennsylvania

4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Nov 27, 2021
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Blogjackets from Ohio

4.07/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Nov 26, 2021
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jmbeerdude91 from Arizona

4.04/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nov 26, 2021
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Gatch from Massachusetts

3.79/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 102621. This is decent for a Winter Warmer but overall disappointing. A bit watered down and thin body with a mediocre malt bill. Not sure if this is a representation of Anchor these days as I haven’t had a beer from them in so long. But it’s definitely not a great representation of the Joshua Tree!

Nov 18, 2021
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mike22ne from Massachusetts

4.02/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle dated 9/14/21. Looks from the initial reviews this year's recipe might be a bit polarizing. I like it!
A dark and roasty ale, verging on a stout with clear black roast and a bit of astringent bitterness there. Mild spice and dark dried fruit, with a resin/herbal tone and dry finish.

I initially only picked up a single to try first but I think I'll get a 6-pack more before the season is through!

Nov 11, 2021
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DarrellK from Florida

4.02/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

42 minutes ago
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OtisCampbell007 from Tennessee

4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yesterday at 02:25 AM
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ATL6245 from Georgia

3.3/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Jet black, tan head with good retention

Aroma: Roasted malt, coffee

Flavor & Aftertaste: Spicy, roasted malt & coffee like flavor. Moderate bitterness.

Mouth feel: Medium bodied, low carbonation. Slightly astringent. Lengthy bitter finish.

Overall: Pours out an inky, jet black with a frothy tan head, good retention. Quite spicy at the onset with roasted malt flavors are prominent. Has evergreen spiciness to it. Medium bodied. Alcohol is barely noticeable. Very stout-like. This got more difficult to drink the further you got into it. Has a lengthy bitter finish that builds. Not one of my favorite renditions this year.

Nov 17, 2021
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Knapp85 from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nov 22, 2021
Our Special Ale 2021 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 66 ratings