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

very good
355 Reviews
Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by EgadBananas on 10-31-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 355 | Ratings: 512
Photo of DrewKid4
4.85/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Black as can be with a brown with orange tinted head. Leads on to being a chocolate stout or heavy porter based off of the appearance.

S: The smell of nutmeg and cinnamon is very Christmasy and not overpowering. If there were Christmas car fresheners, this could be one.

T: Slight nutmeg and cinnamon kick up front with a smooth clove finish.

M: Very smooth. Not exactly "milky," but surprisingly well bodied without any downgrading aftertaste (crisp finish that begs for more).

D: Probably my favorite winter beer (so far), and one I will sure be stocking up on for cold nights.

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Photo of rkonks
4.83/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Excellent beer, right up my alley. Exceptionally smooth, nice and dark colored. 2 finger head for 2 minutes. $10.99 for 6 at Total Wine in Tampa. Im going back tomorrow to pick up a 12 pack. It tastes like an ale, but not supper hoppy. You must try it.

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Photo of ClarkPinnock
4.78/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Dark chocolate color. Nearly, but not quite, opaque. Good lacing throughout.Smell is roasted malt with a hint of vanilla.

A full mouthfeel with the perfect amount of carbonation. Chocolate, toffee, and a hint of caramel in the taste with a vanilla finish.

A filling beer but not too heavy. Enough flavor to enjoy just one of these and be content.

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Photo of DaveHS
4.75/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

After last year's excellent release, I am excited to see what Anchor has come up with this year!

A-Dark molasses, with 1/4 inch of bubbly milk chocolate colored head. Leaves thin, soapy lacing.

S-Smells like my grandmother's attic. Mothballs, potpourri, earthy sweetness, and the requisite cinnamon and nutmeg.

T/M-Wonderfully complex, hard to nail down. There's a lot going on here. There's a pleasant, bready caramel malt thing going on here that I can't get enough of. The cinnamon and nutmeg are perfectly integrated. The carbonation is vibrant and chewy. Everything about this beer makes sense. It's an absolute success, and further proof that Anchor is one of the most consistent micro breweries on the West Coast.

D- I will be buying some of this for the cellar.

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Photo of atorres600
4.72/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I love the smell. I smell a touch of pine. Just a little nutty which was nice as well. Not hoppy which was nice considering i have had some hoppy beer. Goes down very smooth. I will buy another 6 pack for the fridge. my favorite winter warmer of the season so far.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.72/5  rDev +20.7%
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.

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Photo of thegodfather2701
4.69/5  rDev +19.9%
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.

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Photo of billybob
4.63/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

first let me say i just loved this beer. everything from the bottle and labeling to the smell and most of all the taste that's just great. pours dark dark brown one inch tan head and a fair amount of lace. moderate aromas of spice dark fruit and roasted malt. roasted malt that's slightly bitter, spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar, prunes all mixing and combining on your taste buds. and add that crisp sharp mouth feel and you have good beer. hope someone buy's me some for christmas.

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Photo of bac0n
4.62/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I first discovered this beer in 2002 when, after a long and grueling drive home through a snowstorm one friday after work, I trudged back out to the liquor store on the next block and chatted with the guy running the place as had become my friday ritual. He introduced me to this beer, and it was love at first sip. Saturday I trudged back through the snow and got two more, and Anchor's Christmas beer has been as much a part of the Christmas experience as decorating the tree ever since.

Appearance: In a word, dark as pitch. Even holding it up to the light reveals only the slightest nod of burgundy. A nice frothy head leaves laces up the side of the glass as it pours.

Smell: Cinnamon & Ginger are at the forefront, but some sweetness & nutmeg tickle the nosehairs as well.

Taste: Tastes like a comfortable chair in a warm and cozy house when it's snowing outside and you don't have to be anywhere. The cinnamon you smelled was no illusion - it's at the forefront with that ginger right behind it, accompanied by the hints of chocolate and coffee you would expect from a dark ale. There's a sorta smoothness that shows up just before the finish that I'm trying to put a finger on. Maybe vanilla? Who knows. Finishes on a slightly hoppy and sour note. A complex beer great for those occasions when you're not in any hurry to be anywhere and sippin' is about the right speed, to be sure.

Mouthfeel: Pretty good body to this bad-boy, I would put it on par with a porter.

Drinkability: This is a sippin' beer. If it's taking any less than a half hour to get through a pint, you're drinking this way too fast. The body coupled with the complexity forces this to be drank real slow-like.

Preferred Serving Type: Served cold in a wide lipped pint glass, in a comfortable chair with loved-ones close by, preferably with glasses of their own to enjoy.

In short, Anchor's Christmas Ale will always hold a special place in my heart. So many great Christmas memories have been made with a pint of this in my hand that I can't begin to list them all. This is right at the top of the list of my very favorite beers, and perhaps no beer is as inseparable from a particular time of year as is this one.

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Photo of tapman
4.62/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown/ black with deep ruby highlights. Large beige head of creamy foam.

Oh Boy! Cinnamon, ginger bread, all spice, brown sugar, licorice, and a chocolate-orange aroma like one of those, well, chocolate-oranges. A little cocoa comes out as it warms.

Some tangy hop notes with big licorice notes. Malt is slightly astringent, though tastes more like a grown-up dessert (flourless chocolate cake). Cocoa powder in the finish. There is a lactic sour tang, however.

A little dryer than previous offerings.

Fantastic beer in an always interesting style. My favorite will always be the 2006 vintage. I once gave up a seat on an airplane for a layover three hours later at the san Francisco airport so I could get fresh pints at the Anchor bar in the terminal.

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Photo of dolemite77
4.57/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

There is a short list of flavored/spiced beers I enjoy. This one joins that list.

Pours deep brown with reddish highlights. Nice lacing.
Smells of all sorts of stuff... cinnamon and cloves mainly are what I smell.
Tastes rich, but not too sweet, and there is the slight numbing of the tongue that I always get from cloves. With Highland Cold Mountain and terrapin's christmas brew, this one is near the top. Hope to find some more this holiday season.

There has been some arguing over the style, but who cares... it does what a winter warmer is supposed to do.

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Photo of psuKinger
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into standard curved-shaker pint glass. This is my review of the 2010 edition of Anchor Christmas. I believe they change/modify the recipe every year, but this is the first year I've actually tried this series. This bottle that I will be reviewing is not my first Anchor Christmas 2010, however, and through past experiences I have learned that this beer improves dramatically as it warms, so I've let it sit on my counter for about 5 minutes now before cracking it open and giving it a go.

A: Pours a deep rich golden brown with a nice muddy-white bubbly head on top.

S: The sweet smell of candied sugars and cinnamin are very present.

T: Oh boy. Creamy and semi-sweet, the taste follows the nose with candied sugars and cinnamin, but also the presence of something that kind of tastes like figs shines through.

The fine folks at Anchor have literally liquified the essence of Christmas and put it into a bottle for us to enjoy.

M: Creamy and light, with perfect bubbly carbonation. Mouthfeel is exceptional.

D: I like this guy so much I purchased a case of it. I've already had several, and I still do not regret the decision. Highly drinkable.

This beer captures the Christmas spirit. It is the best Christmas beer I have come across to date. Well done, Anchor.

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Photo of hailyeast
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

best christmas ale ive had this year. have had samuel smiths, great lakes, hibernation from great divide, santas butt, lump of coal, west virginia brewing company(2nd) among others. loads of character and taste without being spicy. i'd buy a barrel keg of this if it was available. wish this was a year round beer.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.52/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Looks good. It looks kind of like a porter on level of darkness, maybe slight brown. A nice inch of mocha head is lovely.

S - Well The first thing I smelled was ginger but a second sniff relieved. Some figs, caramel, toffee, biscuit malt sort of like a gram cracker, and slight cinnamon. Very complex nose.

T - Ow wow comes off sort of like a pie. Very creamy and distinct with a touch of ginger and spices of cinnamon, slight nutmeg, sweet caramel candies, and a nice malty gram cracker finish that hides the abv which is succession-able. Very mild (if any) bitterness from the hops.

M - Very light to medium bodied.

D - I like this brew since it seems to be better than most pumpkin ales I have tried over the past months. It drinks kind of heavy and after a while the spices just seem to mash leaving mostly ginger and a slight bitter. I would really only be able to drink one in a sitting because of the taste. Very good though.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.52/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

355ml bottle poured into tulip nov16 2010

A dark brown with a nice two finger dense mocha head that has good retention slowly falling to a thin film leaving a few patches of lace

S nutmeg, cinnamon, some dark toffee and a little bit spruce and pine almost like your walking down a path deep in the forest, its subtle but once you pick it up it's hard to ignore

T thankfully the tastes mimics the smell quite well but I get a little licorice and it's still quite earthy but the forest gets chopped down a little
Edit: a few days later and a slightly warmer bottle I can't shake a chocolate mint flavor, very nice

M not as thick as the color would lead me to believe but still quite far from thin, the bubbles give it a creamy feel that thickens it up a bit

edit: after checking I gave it the exact same 4.4 as last year, keep it up Anchor

D a 4.75 would have been dropped somewhere if I had the option and this one did go down very fast so here's a rare 5

great beer for sure, I can't remember what I gave this beer last year but but from what I recall I enjoyed that one too

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Photo of Maerzen
4.51/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've always been a big fan of Anchor after touring the brewery when I lived in SF and tasting my first Christmas Ale. Love the fact that each year is slightly different and a mystery until it's opened. I look forward to this beer being released every fall.

A - beautiful dark color pours with a thick head. Little lacing but a bit of foam stays on the top of the pour throughout.

S - hints of spice and malt. I do wish there were just a bit more but still very good.

T - Excellent. Nice spice and sweet maltiness that just screams Christmas. This has what so many holiday beers are missing.

M - Thick creaminess with the tinge of carbonation.

D - I really loved this beer. So many winter warmers are too hoppy or too sweet or not enough spice. This beer, as with almost every year of Anchor Christmas, sets the bar for its type.

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Photo of Genuine
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the beautiful stubby bottle, which resulted in a dark ruby red, mahogany in color with a very beautiful 2-3 finger fluffy dirty tan head. Quite beautiful to look at...I've never been so excited for a beer!

Smell - this...this is what totally got me going. First whiff and it was phenomenal! Lots of molasses, vanilla, brown sugar and roasted malts. Along with some cinnamin and ginger notes come across the nose...even more so when it warms up.

Taste - I didn't know what to expect with the taste...but it was very smooth...a lot of roasted malts show up, with the hops stopping in to say hi for a quick second before making an exit...just enough to balance out the malts. The flavor lingers a while after...which turns into some coffee/toffee notes that are absolutely a very nice surprise. I think I've also detected some citrus hops. Flavors come out more as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel - Medium at best, the carbonation is just perfect, not much but not too little either.

Drinkability - I could drink this all night long. This is a wonderful Christmas Beer that'll be perfect for everything this holiday season. Definitely just became one of my favorite Christmas Brews...I'll certainly be purchasing a bunch more 6'ers this season. It Truly is Christmas in a glass.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
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.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle served in a glass beer mug. Personally, I think a beer mug is perfect for this beer.

L - chestnut brown with a foamy beige head that left waves of lacing behind.

S - wonderful holiday-type aroma, it reminds me of a rum soaked fruit cake.

T - rich roasted malty flavors with spiced dark fruits.

F - medium bodied with a creamy smooth feel.

D - very good, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Photo of bohemiandonut
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh bottle Nov. 19th, 2010.

Almost a shame to drink it this fresh, but 2009 was great at birth so this might be as well.

Ahhh... That incomparable Anchor Christmas aroma! Pure Lupulins! Utterly beatific appearance with an immovable head. Treesap black and tan cream ceiling.

I am so happy to revisit this beer! It is amazing! Smells like snow and rum (spiced), with the faintest hint of cedar, nutmeg, pine, and earth. I am not just fucking around when I say it smells like snow.

Tastes of brighter fruit than it likely will when aged, but it's still damn smooth. Roasted malts come through in the finish, rounding out the spice (undefinable) with chocolate and coffee.

When I drink this beer I am instantly transported to my grandparents' home in Michigan. I plan to obtain a case of this as soon as possible. Anchor's best annual offering, and by far the greatest Christmas annual of all time. Brrrrang.

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Photo of NStLincoln
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a rich mahogany brown. The head is tan, tight, and lingers.

An herbal, menthol smell layered atop black licorice and pine trees. Also contains a lactose sweetness.

Awesome black licorice on the palate. Back end contains deep, dark malts that last and last.

A fantastic winter beer. Unique flavors the mesh perfectly.

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Photo of Rschis16
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Okay so first of all, accompanied with the aroma, this beer is delicious to me. My buddy can't quite put a finger on what that taste is. Ginger? Pine needles? Spruce? We can't tell but I know I like it a lot. Perfect for the season and I can see myself drinking 3 or 4 of these in one sitting in December. Easily the best and most unique specialty beer I've tasted and I look forward to next year's brew in comparison.

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Photo of ujsplace
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

This brew is a very deep brown in color with a hint of amber at the bottom of the glass. Finger thick fluffy tan head that laces nicely, leaving a nice, even layer on top.

Smells of candied malts, fresh baked bread, cinnamon, brown sugar and herbal hops.

Tastes of sweet roasted malt, brown sugar, cinnamon and has a spiciness that is present midway and finishes with a nice spiciness - nutmeg, allspice, cloves - and mild hops. What stands out it that there truly is great balance here - sweetness, spices and hopiness.

Full bodied and lingering - as would be expected...leaves a coating on the tongue. Carbonation is right where it should be.

This is definitely one to look for. I only have the bottle (Wegman's mix your own six) of this, but honestly, 24 of these would look really nice in my fridge. A very, very good WW.

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Photo of Wamesit
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Drank from the bottle. Seemed very dark.

S- Sweet, spice, plum.

T- Sweet and spicy but with a solid amount of hops. Really well-rounded. There was a nuttiness that made it much more substantial than many winter warmers. Organic.

M- Medium with spot-on carbonation.

D- The perfect amount of carbonation makes this ale feel lighter than expected, and the very natural and flavorful balance makes it a much more drinkable warmer than any I've encountered.

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Photo of hustlesworth
4.45/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- deep dark brown with copper highlights. the rich tan head has both a wrinkly hoppy look and a raw biscuit roasted look. it's very sturdy and firm and slow to recede with heavy lace crusted to the glass.

S- smells very earthy and woodsy with a touch of brown sugary sweetness and allspice. toffee, caramel, molasses, vanilla, a toasted malt sweetness play around with some light smoke and cocoa.

T- bittersweet and woodsy and herbal with some fruity tartness on the back end. very much like herbed spiced porter. fleeting notes of smoke, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, allspice, pepper, and honey all give my brain funny ideas and it is hard to even speculate what's really in here. none of these spices, if any of them are even included in the reciape, are overbearing or anything more than extremely subtle and i like it that way. cranberry juice tartness works nicely with roasted and chocolate flavors that give way to damp wood, soil, cedar and stone. what's missing is the forward piney cypress that was used in the 2009 edition and i'm trying to figure out where the ginkgo comes in to play. were the seeds or leaves used? what the hell does ginkgo even taste like? was a small portion of the malt smoked with ginkgo wood? is that even possible? too many questions. finishes robust savory with lingering woodsy aftertaste with some herbal hop flavor.

MF- under medium carbonation and dry on the lips with some stickiness. body is soft and somewhat powdery with a creamy feel from the carbonation level.

D- nice to have a quality american winter warmer that isn't 700.5% abv, this year's offering is tasty and drinkable and the whole secret ingredients and different trees each year just adds intrigue that raises the D. if anyone knows exactly how the ginkgo was used freakin beer mail me cuz i'm dying to know.

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Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
3.91 out of 5 based on 512 ratings.
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