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
Reviews by mrunseen:
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mrunseen from Washington

3/5  rDev -23.9%

Dec 05, 2011
More User Reviews:
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JerzDevl2000 from New Jersey

4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Once again, it's that time of the year - the holidays. Of course, they wouldn't be complete without the yearly offering from Anchor and as usual, this didn't disappoint at all. It was a bit thinner than I remember the offerings the past being but the wait to pop this open and take that first whiff is certainly worth it!

Nice dark brown hue to this pour with just a hint of ruby around the edges. Nice frothy head and just like the mouthfeel, the lacing was a bit thinner and not as long lasting as I recalled. Nice floral notes as always with a bit of mellow hops underneath and some licorice and dark fruit notes in between. This almost reminded me of a soda without carbonation but thankfully, this beer always seems to warm me up quite nicely and doesn't have any sugary stickiness in the aftertaste.

Not a high % of ABV in this but it's tough to have more than one in a sitting. This is a dessert all by itself and worthy of having the year on the bottle and package change every season. Less of a dough and a biscuit flavor this time around but I'm sure when next year comes, I'll look back on this fondly as I notice the subtle changes in the newer Special Ale. Without a doubt, this is a must-have for the holidays!

Dec 31, 2010
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FreshHawk from Illinois

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

A - Deep cherry walnut with dark ruby hues. A good sized, creamy, dense, frothy, toasted marshmallow colored head that looks gorgeous. Very good retention finally settling into a nice layer of lace.

S - Spice, pine and herbal aroma is pretty strong with some caramel and toffee malt aromas providing a background. Pine/spruce and orange are the strongest of the spice aromas.

T - Similar to the nose but other spices come out a bit stronger. Pine/spruce and orange (both rind and orange) are still quite strong but other spices (clove, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg - typical Christmas spices). In the background there is a sweet caramel and toffee malt flavor along with some brown sugar sweetness. A little on the bitter side.

M - Lighter side of medium body with a good level of carbonation. Pretty smooth but has a slight thin/watery feel.

D - I enjoyed drinking this and it went down easy enough, but I wouldn't want more than 2 due to the strong spice.

Notes: This was my first vintage of the OSA. I enjoyed this beer and it was very Christmasy with the spruce and spices. It looked beautiful and tasted nice, and I enjoy it for a winter night. That said, I wouldn't want it all the time, and it is quite spicy and had a surprising bitter bite.

Nov 29, 2010
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waltonc from California

4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I wonder what the difference in recipes is each year. Does Anchor toss in a ceremonial dash of nutmeg one year, or an extra sprig of juniper another year? You sure can't discern much difference from one year to the next.

As with every batch, Anchor Christmas pours dark brown/garnet and appears almost black in low light. Considerable tan head. Smells sweet, like apples and pears, along with spices - nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, etc.

i have drank so many high sugar/alcohol beers this year that I now find Anchor Christmas to be on the drier side. Tastes of fruits spices, and a hint of pine.

Body is medium with medium/high carbonation.

Nov 28, 2010
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vapodge from Florida

3.82/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into pint glass

A - dark and porter-like, verging on stout blackness; moderate head that dissipates quickly

S - lotso spices & malts -- clove?

T - surprisingly sweet and the spices are more prominent on the tongue than in the nose

M - thin mouthfeel belies the appearance, but not disappointingly so

D - heavily spiced beers tend not to be my thing, although the sweetness strikes a good balance -- for me, perhaps not for others

Feb 02, 2011
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carolinabeerguy from North Carolina

4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Spiegelau tulip. Bottled on October 19, 2010 according to date code printed on label.

Appearance: Pours a dark cola brown with faint ruby highlights a 1-2 finger creamy dark tan head.

Smell: Sweet mix of winter spices with nutmeg and ginger being the most obvious.

Taste: Winter spices up front followed by mild citrus hops in the middle and ending with lightly toasted malt at the finish. Aftertaste is a mix of spices and toasted bread.

Mouthfeel: Medium-to-full-bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Good drinkability. You could knock back a few of these on a cold evening.

Overall: Very good beer overall. Anchor never disappoints me. I'd recommend picking this up this year (and every new year's subsequent variation from here on).

Dec 16, 2010
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ryan1788a5 from Massachusetts

4.5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Pours a clear, dark red/brown color with a huge creamy looking khaki colored head. The head is doggedly persistent, and exists as long as there is beer in the glass. Thick, foamy lacing coats the entire glass.

S: Sweet grains, caramel, toffee, candied cherries, cranberries, faint cocoa, and earthy hops. Subtle hints of cinnamon and spices blended with the rest of these creates a pie-like aroma. Fantastic.

T: Earthy and slightly herbal hops with just a touch of pine, followed by a juicy cherry/cranberry taste. Cinnamon and all-spice kick in next, and some subtle flavors of toffee and a very slight roastiness creep out. That cookie/pie-like impression is definitely apparent. Caramel and a pleasantly sweet graininess ride into the semi-dry finish. Excellent.

M: Medium bodied, but very creamy, smooth, and full. Very well done.

D: Very high.

Notes: The ambiguous "Winter Warmer" style has always been one of my least favorites, mainly due to the fact that these beers tend to be aggressively over-spiced, and unabashedly so. This beer has single-handedly restored my faith in the style. The spicing is subtle, and it does exactly what it should; it adds depth and complexity to the beer without being obnoxious to the palate. Our Special Ale 2010 perfectly captures all of the aromas and flavors of the Holidays. Name your favorite dessert, and it's probably in there somewhere. Very tasty, easy to drink, well-rounded, and unexpectedly complex. Quite a charming little beer.

Jan 03, 2011
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Mit from Canada (ON)

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

Pours a deep dark amber that only let light through when held right up to the light. Decent head with nice lacing.

Dark malts, spices dominate the nose. Very intriguing.

Fairly malty without being cloying. Spices somewhat subdued when compared to the initial scent. Fairly complex given the 5.5% ABV. Some subtle hopping to it.

Decent mouth feel for the beer's ABV.

Drinkability is really high. My only beef would be that it's listed as a warmer but with the lower abv that seems off.

Dec 20, 2010
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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
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thegodfather2701 from North Carolina

4.69/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-Very dark brown with auburn hues. It has a mocha head that dissipates slowly.

S-Very potent and complex nose. It consists of nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, and a hint of clove.

T-Dark Chocolate, hint of coffee, earthy. The dark chocolate flavor mellows to milk chocolate as it warms and also a hint of nutmeg and pine emerge.

M-Chewy, thick, and just the right amount of carbonation.

D-Very complex, refreshing, and festive making it a true session beer.

Overall, I love these beers. I look forward to them every year. I highly recommend this vintage.

Dec 07, 2010
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goalie33 from New York

4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into 16oz pint glass.
A) Brown with red hues; cannot see through it because of the dark color. One finger of creamy tan head slowly fades to a tin layer coating the top. Fine bubbles rise from the bottom in slow, narrow streams.
S) Spices, hoppy fruitiness and some sweetness.
T) Spices, ginger and some nuttiness, upfront. Nuttiness is comparable to a toned down nut brown ale. Bready, malty finish lingers briefly.
M/D) Medium body but feels slightly thinner then I was expecting. Very smooth drinking beer. Leaves a bit of a cool, menthol sensation in the mouth. Definitely sessionable.

Overall its a very good beer. A little bit thin, but there are some nice flavors. I would have liked more of a hop presence in the taste.

Jan 26, 2011
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Doomcifer from Rhode Island

4.16/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark ruby brown color with a tremendous frothy/creamy head that retains very well. Great lacing. Smells delicious...like spruce, pine trees, milk chocolate, cinnamon, them chocolate orange candies, dark fruits. Fantastic aroma. Tastes of light chocolate, spices, xmas trees, herbal hop spice. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, semi dry finish. Quite drinkable and highly enjoyable year in and year out.

Nov 29, 2010
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Lukecook from Canada (NB)

3.99/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark with red highlights, thin head, minimal lacing.

S- I love the smell it really reminds me of christmas, spruce and candied dark fruit.

T- Sweet malts, taste like gum drop cake, with some mild bitterness.

M- A little chewy, low to medium carbonation.

D- This was a good christmas beer, but 6 was enough, I was more then ready to share my last one.

Dec 29, 2010
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ygtbsm94 from Utah

3.5/5  rDev -11.2%

Jan 29, 2012
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ChanChan from California

3.75/5  rDev -4.8%

Sep 13, 2012
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twiggamortis420 from Texas

4.38/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle pours a deep crimson color with a fluffy brown head. Average retention, but really does leave some awesome lacing all over the glass.

Nose is spruce tips, piney hops, chocolate and maybe some cinnamon-ginger. Not an overly big nose, but smells mouth-wateringly delicious.

Fucking tasty! Wow...the pine sap, chocolate and pie-like spices really play well off each other in this year's incarnation. Each year is strangely similar, yet different. I guess that what makes this beer a two-sixer purchase every year. 1 to keep and 1 to drink! This one is very well integrated fresh, it would be something amazing if it was better with some age. Vague egg-nog and cola notes as it warms, very Christmas-y. Awesome beer, OSAs are hands down my favorite beers made by Anchor.

Nov 24, 2010
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fragilehearted from Texas

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

2010 version, bottle into my oversized Rahr Winter Warmer snifter. Stamp on the back looks like 0OZ, which according to another review on here indicates October 26, 2010? Less than a month old, woohoo! This beer was already talked up by this site and a good friend of mine, so let's hope it lives up to the hype!

A - really dark, almost black. Tan head that settles down to a ring. Some patchy lacing sticks around.

S - wow, really unique and complex. The spruce is there, very woodsy. Cloves, nutmeg, some other spices (I'm not the best in the kitchen), licorice, dark toffee...OK yes, this does smell Christmasy. I've never had any other versions of this beer, so I will say this - it smells like nothing I've ever had before.

T - OK, I just reviewed another WW that was very imbalanced, and I'm glad to say this one is not. The roasted malts and the hops are mixed in quite nicely, & the flavors are pretty much what you smell. Maybe not QUITE as good as the smell...but still really complex and interesting. It's kind of hard to pick out all the spices, but it's very well balanced, which is key to me.

M - medium, smooth, creamy.

D - Man, I totally grabbed a couple of each winter brew that Whole Foods had on ice in order to not commit to too many sixers, but I might just have to get more of this. It is filling, so not sure I could throw a sixer in an evening or anything. This is not like a lot of other beers I tried, and I didn't expect to like it this much (even amidst the hype), but it is tasty.

Nov 25, 2010
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Seeker41184 from Illinois

3.62/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Date Drunk: 12/18/10

12oz into pint glass.

A: Dark brown, almost ruby red in color. The head appears to be creamy.
S: Smell of malt, cloves, and cinnamon.
T: The taste exactly matches the smell.
M: Very light and drinkable.
O: A very drinkable beer for the season.

May 08, 2011
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baconman91 from Ohio

5/5  rDev +26.9%

Jun 01, 2012
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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
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thebrood1987 from California

4.44/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Wow this beer creates a huge head when poured. The smell is fantastic and smells like no other beer I've really smelled before. I first pick up this nice minty smell with some caramel like pie smells. Also it has this spruce like pine smell too that blends in very well. The taste is so smooth is ridiculous. You can taste the roasted thick malts with subtle spices of nutmeg cinnamon and that caramel sweet taste. It finishes with that piney spruce taste from the hops which completes the beer. The hops are spicey and mix in perfectly with the spices used in the beer. This is a very unique beer and such a full flavor for only 5.5 percent. This is so well crafted its absurd. I had this beer last year but don't remember it having that earthy hop back up like it does this year.

Nov 06, 2010
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Murchmac from California

3.62/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a creamy coffee head, brown with ruby and mahogony (sp) highlights.

Nutty Malty smell to it.

molassess, brown sugar, smooth.

Again, this is a bit thin but good. The best OSA they make are the nuttier versions, this one is sweeter than usual, still good.

Dec 23, 2010
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ktrillionaire from Florida

4.72/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ahhh. Anchor's Our Special Ale, one of the highlights of the winter season.

A - This year's incarnation is much darker than usual, pouring with an appearance that looks like a Porter, CDA or BSDA. Tan head sits upon a near-black body, depositing plentiful lace upon the glass' side.

S - A trifecta of malt, spice, and hop: big plum, carob and dark fruity notes (malt); spicy nutmeg, clove, cardamom, cinnamon (spice); sweetly herbal leafy tea impressions (hop); these are the dominant themes of the nose. It smells so delicious, so balanced, so masterfully created.

T - The balance and sublime quality of the nose is essentially transposed to the flavor. In the flavor there is an additional element of roastiness that is not readily apparent in the aroma; it works quite well (as does everry aspect of this brew.) The only thing holding me back from granting a '5' for taste is the notion that it could hypothetically be more flavorful.

M - Perfectly creamy, distinctly 'Belgian-esque' in feel.

D - I love this beer every year, but this may be the best yet.

Nov 08, 2010
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gamwich from Hawaii

3.78/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured in a St Bernardus chalice from an attractive bottle with the vintage date on it, which is cool. The beer is chestnut-colored., with a brown, fizzy head that dissipates quickly leaving substantial lacing.

It has a sweet and spicy dark fruit aroma. The flavor is roasted malt, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. It has a very nice robust flavor, a tad bitter and earthy. Medium bodied and smooth.

This is always a nice beer to enjoy a few of during the holidays.

Dec 18, 2010
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AdamBear from Pennsylvania

4.32/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A-Dark brown with a thin white head

S-Very strong spice. Can't put my finger on the exact note but it is almost like black licorice...very unique

T-Hits wit a very smooth and powerful blast of spiced black licorice. The after-taste is the same, just as strong and pronounced. Its very unique! I like this! I never liked black licorice but for some reason it seems to work in this beer.

M-mmm a great creamy medium carbonation with a great creamy finish

D-very easy to drink, taste stays, goes down quite well. this is a wonderful christmas brew!

Dec 21, 2010
Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 512 ratings