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 JimmyW
1.51/5  rDev -61.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

After hearing so many good things about this beer, I finally decided to satisfy my curiosities and got a six pack.

Pours clear, but very dark amber/brown. Lots of foam which starts to disappear after about a minute.

Smells of cinnamon, clove, pine cones. Sort of like potpourri, but with a medicinal character. Reminds me of Angostura bitters with some cinnamon. I feel like I'm about to drink a "bitters n' soda."

Taste is, uh difficult due to this overpowering bitterness that makes this very hard to drink. Letting it warm a bit. Not really helping. Some caramel, coffee, nutmeg, clove which I think would be enjoyable if it didn't taste like all these things were put into a pot to heat up until burnt and then left out to dry.

Mouthfeel is much lighter than expected. Low carbonation. Thin. Almost watery. Some creaminess to it, but hard to enjoy with that awful bitterness.

I can't even finish this beer. Smells like a Bitters N' Soda, taste like old coffee with a bunch of herbal tea thrown into the pot. It's complex, but that awful bitterness just keeps me from being able to explore it.

Maybe the six pack I bought wasn't stored very well and I just got unlucky. I'd still be willing to try the 2011 edition, but I don't think I'll be spending another $15 on a six pack for this.

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Photo of B967ierhunter177
2.06/5  rDev -47.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This beer pours a very dark brown with a half inch head, no lastin lace. The aroma is full of roast and chocolate followed by a flavor with dark chocolate and burnt toast notes. A bit of coffee comes through as it warms. It's got a thick, creamy mouthfeel and is very filling which lowers drinkability. Anchor Our Special Ale 2010 is an okay beer, a little strong on the roast flavor, but a good representative of the style. Slightly recommended.

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Photo of SickPythons
2.24/5  rDev -42.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

12oz poured at 50°

Dark Auburn color with nice lacing.
Smells of nutmeg and cinnamon.

Taste is almost all spice. It seems like the ingredients for a pumpkin pie. I get a little piney flavor in the middle but really not much at that point. Aftertaste is still nutmeg.

Mouthfeel is very dry, almost chaulky. The word "smooth" never comes to mind.

I won't be recommending this one to any of my friends.

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Photo of Tifore
2.41/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

On tap at Melt Bar & Grilled. Poured into a pint glass.

A - Arrives to me with a khaki, light tan 1 finger head which doesnt have much retention and turns into a decent cap. The beer is very dark looking, almost black but some brown notes are clearly visable. Coke looking, in color and consistancy. Very water looking, poor viscosity.

S - Wow. Here's where it goes downhil for me and down a very steep one. Smells like cinnamon and allspice and THATS IT. Maybe some clove? But in general its solid spice and not the good kind. Very overpowering. I get no malts or hops to speak of, bummer.

T - Taste is not impressive as well. Loads of spice and then its gone. Like drinking liquid potpourie. I almost get a faint burnt taste to it. Like the malts were over roasted perhaps and they tried to cover it up with the spices. Whatever the case, not good at all.

M - Mouthfeel is average at best. No viscosity as I could tell from the pour. It is watery and has some good carbonation but its not holding up to anything so its kind of misused.

D - This beer is not stellar at all. Not sure what happened this year but whatever it is, its not good. I've got a magnum of this which I'm not sure what to even do with. Hopefully over time it gets better. I doubt it though.

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2.46/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

A: Just over one finger of creamy foamy light brown head sit atop a dark ruby brown body. The head has respectable retention and provides a thin coat of lace in sheet form. With light as a backdrop, bright clarity is revealed.

S: Full of spice and herbs. Spruce, cinnamon sticks, allspice, sarsparilla, anise & dried apples. Basically liquified potpourri.

T: Bitterness seems like it could have been aided by spruce tips or some other tea-like plant although I personally doubt it (nor have I heard anything that suggests it).

M: Perfectly carbonated with a medium body and a texture that rolls right off the tongue, which works out favorably for me since I'm not a huge fan of the flavor. Moderate teabag-like astringency.

D: A six pack to last the year would be more than enough for me.

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Photo of WhiteOak
2.56/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Dark tea brown with a large dark tan head.

S- There was an initial off-smell of wet cardboard and acetone that lasted for five minutes after opening and putting this beer aside. After the odor subsided, smells of hops, caramel and faint spice was revealed.

T- The flavor was of simple hops & burnt malt. The finish was a very awkward, unpleasant, and persistent sourness with burnt notes. In great contrast to others, and my own experience with previous vintages, I detected no pie spice flavors. Odd and disappointing.

M, D- Medium body, moderate carbonation.

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Photo of pants678
2.7/5  rDev -30.9%
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.

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Photo of mjrod2142
2.76/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a standard pint glass

I had this beer in a bar and I did my best to take notes on my cell phone. A gentle pour produced a small head that dissipated quickly. The color is a beautiful deep amber-red.

The aroma was all cinnamon and nutmeg. Since I'm not a fan of heavily spiced beers, I didn't have high hopes for this.

The taste is definitely flat and I could not get past the overwhelming trait of cinnamon. I did not pick up any distinctive flavors of hops or malt. I have nothing else to say other than that I'm not a fan.

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Photo of speter
2.79/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a deep mahogany with amber highlights and a huge tan head that fades slowly, leaving nice lacing.

S: The dominant smell I get is rose. This smells like a flower store to me. I can detect the spruce, nutmeg, and clove, but it still smells like a rose to me.

T: This is a tough call. The spruce is abundant, but the nutmeg and clove overpower nearly everything else. Unfortunately, many dental preparations use oil of clove, so I'm getting a bit of dentist's chair flashback while drinking this. Maybe if it fades over time, it will be better.

M: The mouthfeel is by far the best part of this beer. It is definitely warming owing to the spruce. It's quite nice to see a winter warmer that isn't hugely alcoholic. The body is light to medium, and the carbonation gives it a refreshing feel.

D: Alas, the cloves kill it for me. (And it's not all cloves everywhere; there's an English clove candy I'm rather fond of, but this reminds me too much of dental work.)

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Photo of Kiwano
2.85/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A Dark brown and amber with almost no head, which thins out to nothing quickly.

S - A tiny bit of malt and cherry

T A hint of sweetness and bitterness .Once it warms up there is a hint of cherries, a bit of sugar, at the end with a tiny bot of bitterness and vegetation and some burnt coffee.

M - Thin and watery could use more body.

D - OK could have more depth of flavor and body to it.

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Photo of youradhere
2.88/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours clear and dark, tan head that quickly falls. Smells of heavy nutmeg upfront, some flowery perfume, and that pretty much dominates the nose. Taste is nutmeg, slight coffee bitter, and the dryness kills the flavor there. Mouthfeels is extremely light for the flavor, which I suppose works as if it were any thicker the nutmeg would be soapy and overwhelming. Drinkability suffers, as the nutmeg is just too much and the body lacking makes this beer feel more hasty rather than "special".

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Photo of axeman9182
2.93/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle, poured into my Duvel tulip

The 2010 version of Anchor's OSA pours a full black,l with a decent sized khaki colored foam crown coming together as I pour. Retention and lacing are both nothing special. The nose is intensely spiced, lots of cinnamon and allspice. There's a bit of roast/chocolate in the mix as well, but those are very much background notes. The nose was threatening it, and as I take my first few sips of OSA 2010 the only thing I can think is "Overspiced! Overspiced!". Especially cold, it's like drinking almost straight cinnamon/allspice. There's just a hint of milk chocolate, caramel, and roasted grains skulking about. The balance improves a little bit as the beer warms, but really not all that much. Given the relative lack of malt presence, the beer is unsurprisingly dry. It's still fairly sturdy though, and carbonation is low but solid. This is my first year trying Anchor's Our Special Ale, and I'm a fair bit underwhelmed. Since they supposedly change the recipe year to year I may try next year's version when it comes out, but I don't think I'll be expecting much.

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Photo of curasowa
2.96/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear, dark red color with 1 finger of tan head that fades slowly with chunky lacing

Aroma: Cloves seem the be the spice-de-jour, with some nutmeg in the background

Taste: Somewhat thin and undefined initially, then becoming chalky with a lot of the spice profile coming into play, before a lingering, astringent finish. No real decipherable hop profile to speak of.

The Rest: Body is on the thin side, and drinkability is fair. This doesn't seem to be Anchor's best take straight out of the bottle, so I'll see how it ages. I also had an '08 in the same sitting, and in contrast, that was very mellow, complex and slightly boozy, and reminds me almost of brandy.

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Photo of mcnabb0001
3.04/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

12 ounce bottle brewed in 2010

A - Pours a dark chocalate brown with deep ruby highlights when you hold it up to the light. Big fluffy tan head 3 inches.

S - smells like clove, blueberry, floral, licorice can also smell spices with sweet malt. As it warms you get a nice spicey burn in the nose probably from the cinnamon or nutmeg.

T - First sip is fruity followed by spice and clove. Then it tastes like potpourri pretty nasty over time..

M - Pretty carbonated and fizzy with a nice medium malt body to it

D - pretty delicious its a festive Christmas beer wouldn't want to drink these all night but one is enough to get in the spirit.

Overall little too sweet for my liking not the best winter seasonal I've tried won't buy again.

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Photo of lnashsig
3.06/5  rDev -21.7%
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.

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Photo of ejimhof
3.06/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pour deep dark black.

Smell: The only thing I smell is Spruce.

Taste: The only thing I taste is Spruce.

Mouthfeel: Thin tasting.

Drinkability: Every year I buy one of these hoping to like it but every year I am disappointed. Almost a drain pour for me.

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Photo of northaustin
3.08/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pours a very dark ruby with brown tints when held to the light. skinny finger of uneven white head which has short retention but leaves a solid lacing.

smell: potpourri

taste: buttery/caramely malts with an overdose of typical holiday spices.

mouthfeel: goes down easy, leaves a slightly dry roof of mouth but no complaints otherwise.

drinkability: this is definately an interesting beer, and to be fair isnt the most horribly spiced thing ive had. but i do not like this style and ill leave it at that.

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Photo of msjacilynn
3.09/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: deep deep brown with tan head and excellent lacing.

S: not much there...sweet caramel and spice.

T: I was not that impressed by this year's offering from Anchor. malty-sweetness in the beginning with a fruity mid. good nutty flavor and bitter hops at the finish.

M: well carbonated medium feel.

D: I look forward to this beer every season. However, this year I was underwhelmed so not something I would stockpile.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
3.15/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 2/10/11

*I'm performing a "Spring Cleaning" of sorts, and finishing off the holiday beer in and around my home - this being one of them.

A: Dark ruby, when held to the light it shimmers slightly. A frothy 1.75 finger head appears after a generous pour with standard lacing.

S: Like sugar plums dancing in my nose. Sweet yet herbacious.

T: It's certainly got that holiday-esque vibe going on. It really comes off a bit like caramelized figs up front, and as it moves back, it's like the figs get left on the stove too long and begin burning. It's got a mild amount of oxidized copper to it. I'm not suggesting the beer's infected or soured, it just seems to have bit of a metallic pinning in the back of the throat.

M: Thinner in body then I would have liked. The carbonation is a bit over the top for such a rustic brew.

O: Maybe my palate's grown up a bit, but the '10 was not nearly the beer I was hoping for. I know the recipe changes each year, but I remember previous years having a bit more oomph.

Regardless, Anchor's Our Special Ale is a holiday staple, and one I will forever look forward to. Here's to hoping that the '11 is worth the wait, as this one was not.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.15/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Am going against the tide on this one. I was disappointed with this year's receipe on this brew (2010 version). Poured from 12oz bottle into dimpled mug. Pours brown with big tan head. Lots of lacing. Spicy malt aroma. Taste is very unique nonetheless. Notes of brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, toffee, maybe blueberry & apple. Liberal use of hops that give it a rather bitter bite that balances out the sweetness. Medium body.

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Photo of mklinger
3.16/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a chalice. It looks like a very nice porter -- very dark brown, almost black liquid with reddish highlights. A huge, voluminous head of a mocha color. Lots of lacing here, too. Good looking beer.

Aroma is dominated by spices. I get cinnamon, cloves, and dried ginger. Not a lots else there for me.

Taste is strong on the spices. The spices are almost slightly bitter, though it's a different bitterness than hop bitterness. Surprisingly low on malt. Could use more to balance out the strong spice presence. Some roast near the end, but under malted as far as my tastes go. Mouthfeel is quite thin. These strong spices really need more going on to balance out the spices.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.18/5  rDev -18.7%
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.

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Photo of codewarrior
3.18/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz Poured into a Snifter

I've heard a lot of good things about this beer from a lot of people. Typically I've found Anchor to be at best underwhelming ... so it took some convincing, but I finally broke down and grabbed a 6'er.

L: Mahogany with lots and lots and lots and lots of frothy, foamy head. Looks deep and dark but also thin, and a touch watery.

S: Smells nearly like tea mulled with winter spices. Very sweet and richly deep in the nose. Somehow it's a touch off-putting to me, but intriguing enough to hold my interest.

T: Sweet and long into a bitter, spicy middle. Bit of heat up front, and a lingering spiciness, but tastes a might thin, with hints of cedar, evergreen and then mulling spices.

F: Thin, but properly carbonated. About par for the course here, if a touch on the watery side.

D: Not bad, interesting, but ultimately not for me.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.2/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

This final day of Beermas was a long time coming, but, dammit, it's here. It pours an ever-so-slightly garnet-tinged deep brown topped by a half-finger of glowing off-ecru foam, which dissipates into a soft layer fairly quickly. The nose comprises red apple, mild port, cocoa, light roasted malts, graham crackers, nutmeg, and red grapes. The taste holds notes of red apple skin, cardboard, fig, raisin, very light orange peel, and a sharp, slightly bitter tinge of dark chocolate powder. Things do not mesh well at all here. The body is a straight medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a very lightly chewy feel. Overall, a winner...unless taste is factored in. Either something akin to oxidation has gotten to this, or the spice combination doesn't sit right with my 'buds.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.23/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clean deep amber to brown-ish color with a light tan head. In the aroma, cinnamon spice and somewhat minty. In the taste, cinnamon stand out, and small roastiness, and hint of caramel. A spice bite and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry caramel and just a hint of spice in the aftertaste. Not as piney as usual, big on cinnamon this year and a mint like aroma.

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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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