Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Anchor Brewing Company

Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Winter Warmer
3.94 | pDev: 12.94%
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Reviews: 355 | Ratings: 512 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of DefenCorps
DefenCorps from Oregon

3.82/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Magnum shared with friends Thanksgiving 2016.

A very dark reddish brown, mildly hazy, with a dense, beige head with decent retention an lacing, this looks solid. The nose is quite excellent. Warming spices with a woodsy herbaceous angle, there's allspice, a little cinnamon, a hint of clove, some juniper and a little myrrh. The palate is surprisingly full-bodied for the ABV, with a mild caramel backbone on which the spices are carried. Having aged gracefully, the flavor notes are well-integrated, enhancing drinkability (i had nearly half of this magnum). Mildly sweet on the finish with lingering spices, this is very enjoyable.

Nov 27, 2016
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scottfrie from California

3.18/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Magnum poured into snifter.

A: Pours a murky woody brown color with a thin cap of fuzzy tan head. Spotty lace was left down the glass.
S: Cola, vanilla, apple juice, cardboard oxidization, and raisin dominate. This smelling tired.
T: Follows the nose with faded flavors of root beer, spice, with hints of light caramel, apple juice, and raisin. Oxidation is lightly musty. Sassafras and wintergreen linger in the aftertaste.
M: Medium body, low carbonation, light and drying mouthfeel, slight sweetness.
O: I prefer this beer fresher as this was a little too mellow for my taste, but still very drinkable. Oxidation present, bitterness is low, and all hops have dropped out.

Feb 21, 2016
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mfnmbvp from Illinois

3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, with a more than obvious vintage date. Code on the back label seems to read OOE. My seventh vintage of this stuff; expectations are good based on previous vintages.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours a thick ruddy caramel, with one finger of fluffy tan head that recedes to a fat bubbly ring quickly. Looks much thicker and fuller than some of the previous years' vintages. Some scattered lacing on the glass. Looks pretty good.

S - Smell is much darker and richer than some of the other years' vintages also. Dark dried spice rack notes - oregano, thyme, lemongrass, basil, licorice. And then the dark fruit kicks in: raisins, figs, dates. Twiggy earthiness, and some caramel malts.

T - Taste is quite rich and complex. Dark coffee bean roast, chocolate malt, vinous dark fruits: figs, raisins, dates, creamy caramel malt, herbal spice rack notes, licorice, & some leafy earthiness.

M - Feel is creamy and frothy with some dark herbal bitterness, tart dark fruits, and some sticky caramel lingering on the palate. Medium-full bodied with good carbonation that has held up well. Feels more thick and full-bodied than some of the older vintages I've had.

Overall, I'd say this year's vintage has held up just fine, and I would be well interested to see how it improves in the years to come.

Anchor Brewing Our Special Ale 2010 ---4/5.

Dec 31, 2013
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thecheapies from Pennsylvania

3.68/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed alongside Anchor Christmas 2012 and Anchor Christmas 2011 on Black Friday 2013:

Pours a hazy dark chestnut brown. Dark mahogany, actually. The head pinnacled at about a half-inch, and then receded slowly to a sloshy beige cap. A bit of thick curly lace.

Sturdy malts with pine, clove, brown sugar sweetness, and pumpernickel. Lightly spiced, in its age, with flourishes of allspice and coriander. Still dark and almost grapey in its fruitiness. Decently roasty, but with a gentle softness of age mellowness.

A good bit of bitterness, and the spices have been dumbed down quite a bit. The pine lingers, along with clove and dark sugars. There's a well-accomplished malt base going on, and the result proves simple, but delicious. Added aging has given this a push of dark fruits; grape, dried fig, and prune, but they're all very quiet and blended. Some licorice and an added vinous note from the aging that gives it complexity.

A nice full body with light warmth. Light carbonation is enough to push this one forward and allows the flavors to evolve, specifically, the fruit flavors. This beer really held together, texturally.

2010 didn't do too badly after three years of sitting in the bottle. I probably should've cracked this one open last year, I think it would've come out supreme. Still, not a bad representation of Anchor's special seasonal.

Dec 01, 2013
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jazzyjeff13 from England

3.5/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A 355ml bottle with a BB of Sept 2012. Picked up ages ago from Trembling Madness in York (they were selling off old stock at the time and I noticed this among the selection). It's been stored in my garage ever since - I'm expecting it to be somewhat faded but we'll see. Season's greetings!

Poured into a Delirium chalice. A very dark ruby-brown hue with medium carbonation. Produces a large head of creamy light-brown foam that lasts for a few minutes before reducing to a patchy surface layer. Looks pretty good for its age. Aroma of sweet, fruity malt with notes of ginger, clove, mild cinnamon, spice, brown sugar, caramel, faint pine resin and yeast. Surprisingly well rounded.

Tastes of fruity roasted malt with a spicy character and a dry, bitter finish. Notes of ginger, cinnamon, mild clove, spice, pepper, subtle roasted grain, brown sugar/caramel, faint pine resin and earthy yeast. There is a pretty harsh cardboard flavour in the background - this has deteriorated somewhat over the course of time. A considerable and slightly herbal bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth and spritzy, like soda, but rather thin and lacking in body. A dark, spicy beer such as this could do with being thicker. Quite astringent, with an aftertaste of cardboard, bitter stewed leaves, spice and a vague fruitiness.

Not a bad brew, even after the time that has passed. However, it's clear from the flavour that this is over the hill. It looks the part, and the aroma is a satisfying blend of malt and spice with a touch of resinous hops. The taste falls along the same lines but has wet cardboard notes that indicate a degree of oxidation. The body feels subpar - too thin to do the flavour justice. All in all a good effort and a decent brew, but not intended to be kept quite so long. A belated Merry Christmas...

Mar 23, 2013
Photo of pants678
pants678 from California

2.7/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Hazy brown like a porter with a wheat bill to it.

Chocolate on the nose prevalent, ginger and mint. Doesn't disappoint here.

Ginger prevails, dark malts too far in the background. Faint peppermint on the back end. Too subtle. Did not take a turn at all like I'd wanted.

Soda body would be fine if there was more flavor to work with.

Dec 09, 2012
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lnashsig from Texas

3.06/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Many thanks to Ding for this one. 2010 vintage, 1 of 5 in a vertical. Poured from bottle into oversized snifter. Pours a nearly black/brown color, as it pours, some light comes through. Very little to no head retention. Smell- ginger root, liquorice, brown sugar. Ginger is most prevalent flavor. Some sweet molasses wafts. Taste- tight carbonation, liquorice on the back of the throat, and then a semi-sweet malt presence. It is really lacking in the sweetness I was expecting, it is actually quite watery. I get ginger on the aftertaste, maybe a hint of peppermint. A little bizarre. Drinkable but not what I was hoping it would be. Glad to taste it regardless, as it is a totally different experience than older vintages I have tried so far.

Nov 28, 2012
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coreyfmcdonald from Georgia

3.83/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a snifter. This beer is almost two years old - I forgot about it in the back of my fridge.

A: Pours an opaque dark brown/amber color with a finger of light tan head. Retention is average.

S: Woah, allspice and nutmeg are very prominent in this beer. Behind that, I get a bit of caramel sweetness and burnt sugars.

T: Similar to aroma - lots of spices - allspice, ginger, and a bit of spicy pepper. As the beer warms, I get some toffee and burnt sugars - quite nice. The malt profile is a bit more intense and complex than the aroma let on.

M: Medium mouthfeel with medium to high carbonation.

O: Not bad with a nice malt flavor, but the spices are a bit much. Either more malt flavor is needed, or less spices are needed to balance the beer out.

Sep 26, 2012
Photo of stcules
stcules from Italy

3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown, bright ruby edges. One finger of a good beige head.
In the smell a lot of alpine herbs, toasted malt, liquorice and various spices, candy sugar. A hint of cinnamon.
At the taste too, toasted, liquorice, then again cinnamon herbaceous, alpine.
Pleasant, smooth, with somethin balsamic, piney.
Well balanced by the caramel base, pleasant to drink.
Again liquorice and a touch of light balsamic in the aftertaste, not too long.
Relatively light body.

Jun 01, 2012
Photo of deapokid
deapokid from Pennsylvania

4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on 12/9/2011. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a deep cherry red with a brown ring of hazy foam on top. Carbonation is hard to locate underneath the dark body, which takes on a cranberry glow in the light.

Notes of spruce, pine needle, nutmeg, cinnamon, dark fruit, molasses and a touch of alcohol make this "the holiday season" in a scent.

Flavor opens with cherry, followed by a peppery holiday spice. This is backed by a deep smoky dryness, plum and prune. I'm catching some sweet pipe smoke and maple syrup as the flavor lingers on the tongue, providing a resonating dryness that I don't recall from previous releases.

Another top notch effort, which manages to pack a lasting, warming effect.

Apr 07, 2012
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vkv822 from Oregon

3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into tulip snifter

Pours near black with a thick, frothy tan head.

The aroma is a pleasant blend of spices. A bit hard to describe, there are some pine needles, perhaps anise.

The taste has more pine and spice in it, with a malty finish.

The mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with appropriate carbonation.

A very unique winter warmer. The spice if tough to describe, but it is very much a winter/Christmas season type of beer. Not something I could drink a whole lot of though.

Jan 30, 2012
Photo of Thickfreakness
Thickfreakness from New York

3.54/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours deep and dark with nice root beer highlights. Thin creamy tan head that fades rather fast and leaves some sticky lacing.

S- Licorice candy and pine needles. Little touches of caraway seed, allspice, rye bread and sweet malts. Smell like Good & Plenty candy! Really nice!

T- Licorice, licorice, and more licorice!!! Spicy jewish rye bread. Love the caraway and piney hop flavors. This is quite unusual and unique.

M- You gotta like licorice to really enjoy this one... good thing I do! Kinda sweet and loving the spicy rye, bready notes. Wish it was just a touch thicker!

O- Certainly not something I'd seek out, but really glad I had a chance to give it a try.

Jan 22, 2012
Photo of gtermi
gtermi from Texas

4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer pours a very dark copper with a nice thick white head. The head quickly fades to almost nothing and leaves little lace on the glass.

S: Lots of spices. I am getting nutmeg and some pine. It smells amazing, but really can explain it more than holiday spice.

T: The taste is just like the smell lots of nutmeg and holiday spices. Pretty nice tasting beer.

M: This is a very smooth winter warmer and goes down with ease. There is a tiny bit of crispness on the back of the throat, but that's really it.

O: I just love these beers and get excited when these come out. I was lucky and found the 2010 in a store and it ages very well.

Jan 19, 2012
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devinoconnor from New Jersey

3.57/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown, nearly black with some lighter tones throughout. Nice tan foamy head.

Smell, as always with this brew, is immediately present. Wonderful floral and spices are abundant.

Taste is piney, but not nearly as much as the 2011... perhaps that's part of the aging process? Seems much more well-balanced than its newer counterpart. Some citrus notes and spice as well.

Mouthfeel is sorta boring for a winter warmer. Thing and light bodied.

Overall, much better than this year's version but still a bit "piney" for my taste.

Jan 03, 2012
Photo of jdense
jdense from Oregon

3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottles shared as part of Twelve Beers of Christmas tasting, The Big, OR., served in stemmed wine glasses.

Half finger light brown head, uneven size bubbles, medium dissipation with some lacing retained over dark brown opaque body, no visible carbonation due to hue. Interesting nose, stonefruit, some plums, dark currants, and a difficult to decipher spice which I took as cardamom, floral and citrus hops for balance. Taste mirrors nose, quite complex, the spice really shone through once the beer fully warmed, citrus hops. Mouthfeel a bit on the full side, light effervescence, pretty dry finish despite fruity profile. This is one of the better vintages I've had, stashed a bottle to see how this holds up. I recently partook in the sharing of a magnum of this vintage, and IMO the smaller bottle, while not as festive, had much more depth of flavor. Worth cellaring and grab bottles of the 2010 if you can find them.

Dec 20, 2011
Photo of MTNboy
MTNboy from Germany

3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark red amber with some very nice tan lacing and average head.

Smell: Spicy and herbal

Taste: It reminds me of a porter at first but hen get herbal and vegetable like with some grassy tone in the finish. There is also a fare amount of spice to the beer.

Mouthfeel: Pretty full bodied and slick.

Overall: Not bad I should go out and buy some 2011.

Dec 19, 2011
Photo of zeff80
zeff80 from Missouri

3.58/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes

A - Poured out a dark, dark burgundy color with a one-finger, tan head of foam. It left some sudsy lace on the glass.

S - Some piney notes with nutmeg and cinnamon. A roasted malt presence, too. All of it seems muted from past years.

T - It tasted of Christmas spices - mostly nutmeg. Mild cinnamon flavors with a nice roasted malt backbone.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is good but it falls short of past years.

Dec 18, 2011
Photo of tobelerone
tobelerone from New Jersey

3.98/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Forgot I had left this one sitting in my parents’ fridge last year and found it this weekend when I went to visit hidden all the way in the back behind the pickles. Score! I’ve had this beer many times over the years but this 2010 is my first review of Anchor’s Christmas classic.

Very dark, nearly jet black colored, with a big cream-colored head that has superb retention and lacing. Carbonation is solid and very much intact!

Aroma is strongly redolent of spruce. Faintly sweet and malty, perhaps, but the spruce is right up front and unmistakable.

Taste is just the same; like drinking a Christmas tree. I quite enjoyed this but the missus couldn’t take more than a sip or two. Somewhat sweet, with a hint of spices and alcohol, but the spruce is the defining and dominant taste.

Not an overly long or lingering aftertaste, which I suppose is good. Creamy and medium body. As stated earlier, carbonation is medium-high, surprising for a year old beer.

Edit: After reading some of the other reviews for this beer I am doubting myself as far as the vintage goes. I was sure it was a 2010, but no one else seems to have had such a pine/spruce dominant beer. Hmm..either way, I enjoyed it and look forward to grabbing a few from this year’s batch.

Dec 05, 2011
Photo of Sammy
Sammy from Canada (ON)

3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown coloured body with an ighth of retained off-white head. A few drops of lace down the glass. Complex malt and spicey aroma. Medium mouthfeel. Very hoppy taste, with lots of hops and active carbonation. Cinammon, allspice, cocoa, citrus.

Nov 30, 2011
Photo of rtaps
rtaps from California

3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured a dark brown almost black, with mahogany hints to it when held to the light. good tan head leaving nice lacing on the glass.

S- At first its very floral, find some spices and sweet malt aromas

T- mostly citrus, sweet malts and fruits balanced within

M-high carbonation light bodied

overall is a nice winter time beer not to special about it but easy to drink.

Nov 21, 2011
Photo of korguy123
korguy123 from Canada (ON)

3.7/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From Notes

A- Three finger light tan head rests on a dark brown (almost black) porter like body. There are slight ruby highlights when held to light. Lacing sheets on the sides of the glass.

S- Sweet malts, vanilla and brown sugar. Some dark fruits with some wonderful aromatic spices (cinnamon, cloves, all spice and nutmeg). There is a faint pine oil smell.

T- Sweet toasted malts, bready with a touch of dark fruits and slight pine tree notes. There is a metallic aftertaste but that is minimal. There are slight coffee tones in the back end. This is almost a porter/winter warmer hybrid.

M- Thin bodied, slightly sticky on the lips, good carbonation.

O- Very easy drinking on a cold Canadian winter night.

Nov 03, 2011
Photo of IronCitySteve
IronCitySteve from Pennsylvania

4.06/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up the 2010 at BevMo in San Fran.

A: Pours a deep dark brown that is almost black in appearance. Provides a thick tan foam head with excellant retention. There is tons of lacing down the sides.

S: Nice amounts of dark fruit, plums and dates. There is some nice 'christmas' spices.

T: Starts off with a nice amount of sweet dark fruit, plums, dates and raisins. In the middle there is some piney hop undertones coming through. On the back end there is some roasted nuts, candied apples and spice.

M: A nice medium bodied beer. Leaves a nice roasted nut and spice taste on the palate.

O: Always one of my favorite winter/christmas brews. I was glad to find an 'aged' Christmas ale. Cannot wait to try the 2011 Christmas brew.

Oct 15, 2011
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notsoprobeer from Oregon

3.23/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Very dark brownish red in color with a tan head that dissipated fairly quickly. No lacing on the glass. Aroma is sweet malts, spices, and a bit of pine. Flavor is mainly roasted malts with some chocolate. Not a lot of hop flavor. Medium bodied and medium carbonation. It has a lingering sweet finish that just borders on sour.

Sep 22, 2011
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UCLABrewN84 from California

4.44/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Magnum size - shared with my wife and buddy.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a 2 inch puffy khaki head that fades to a thin cap. Really foamy swaths of lace coat the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark fruits, caramel malt, and lots of spice aromas. This is the best smelling Anchor Our Special Ale that I have had to date hands down. Taste is of roasted malt, dark fruits, raw ginger, and a plethora of spices. There is a slight bitterness on the palate after each sip. This beer has a good mouthfeel with a crisp carbonation. Overall, this is a good Winter beer that is over 9 months old at this point but still tastes very fresh. The smell on this one is amazing but the taste, while still very good, is not as awesome as I was hoping for. Also, I am not sure I could drink too much of this one in one sitting.

Sep 05, 2011
Photo of wnh
wnh from Missouri

3.97/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle porued into a pint glass. Consumed 12.04.2010.

I didn't particularly care for the 2009 offering, so I'm approaching this with a little trepidation. Pours a beautiful deep cherry-wood color that just barely lets light pass through. Soft fizzy tan head.

Nose of evergreen, clove candy, dark fruits, baking chocolate. A lot like last year's, though perhaps more subtle and nuanced. A bit of peppermint lingers in the background.

On the palate this is, again, a lot like the 2009, only more subtle. I'm intentionally drinking this quite cold--it's only been out of the fridge five minutes, so perhaps that explains the subtlety. Flavors of clove candy laced with a hint of peppermint, cocoa powder, creamy strawberry candy, pine boughs, and all so wonderfully subdued.

Medium bodied and somewhat soft. Perfect for sipping in a dark corner of an old-fashioned pub a few days before Christmas. It's probably snowing outside, and the bartender is sincerely welcoming customers as they stomp their boots and shake the snowflakes off their scarves. At least that's my dream scenario for this beer. Reminds me of the first time I had this, 2007 I believe, and is more akin to what I thought of it then.

To be fair I tried another bottle when it had warmed up quite a bit, and it had the negative attributes that I didn't much care for in last year's batch. But cold it was darn good.

Aug 31, 2011
Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 512 ratings