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 Sammy
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.44/5  rDev +13.6%
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deliciously malted and with spicy zeal, this Christmas beer never dissapoints.

Dark brown in color, the beer carries an onyx-like clarity. A froathy, lightly tanned mix of tight creme and loosely knit bubbles give a creamy and rich look. Light on lace, the foam stance reduces to a sheet along the surface before holding firm.

Toast, nuts, and spice define the nose. Malty dryness gives a mild cream scent but mostly toast (just shy of roast) and with walnut earthiness and cinnamon spice.

Flavors of heavy toast, cocoa powder, and bitter walnuts start the flavor. A backup note of malted milk, burnt molasass, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice blend for a rich, earthy, and spicy taste. Bitterness comes from several sources including hops, boiled spice, and char.

The beer has a tart berry-like feel that swirls with malty/toasty textures early on. Bitterness turns to astringency as the grainy/toasty taste turns to sharpness in the mouth and throat. Well attenuated for a dry finish, but the beer seemingly over attenuates and leaves the beer more thin than it should.

It would be fantastic to see the malty dryness of Celebrator Dopplebock or Laird's Legacy but then with the layers of spices (without the astringent mouthfeel). Though this beer is close, the astringency and lightness hinders it significantly. Still, this is among the better of Christmas Ales.

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Photo of emerge077
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Billowing cumulus clouds of tobacco stained foam, four fingers to the top of the glass, ebbing away in slow motion. Deep reddish copper color, very dark but with high clarity in the light.

Muted spice aroma, molasses and nutmeg, gingerbread.

Flavors are similar, bready cookies with some bitter spice in the back. Candied orange peel, aniseed. Mellow feel, not a whole lot of carbonation, but a tiny bit. Lingering mild bitterness dries out the finish. Spice isn't over the top, and it's easy to have a couple of these. Probably won't be aging any, but will enjoy again this season for sure.

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Photo of zeff80
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
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.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.63/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip and consumed side-by-side with some of the 2009 vintage.

Color is a dark cola brown with a single-finger off-white head and a pretty good amount of spotty lacing. The nose is some slight pine plus a touch of caramel and light fruit. Perhaps a bit of earthiness, too.

The flavor accentuates the pine and some light orange peel with mild spice. There is some light caramel there as well. Nothing too in depth and the 2009 version is drinking much better right now, in my opinion. The body is light-to-medium with ample carbonation. Drinks fairly well, though there's not that much going on at this point. I will say that I generally prefer this with a year or two on it and will certainly revisit this one.

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Photo of oberon
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I always anticipate this annual wintertime brew.Poured into a standard pint glass a deep chesnut brown with a thinner but well sustained toasted almond colored head.Spice aromas are pretty thin compared to some years,there is a toasted sweet dough element to it as well.Like many others have noted the feel seems a little thinner and not as creamy-like as in many years past,nice mix of light winter spice,caramel malt,and bitter chocolate on the palate,a drying earthiness comes in the finish.Very drinkable and another top notch OSA from Anchor.

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Photo of chinchill
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle served in pint glass.

pours a very dark and somewhat hazy and nearly opaque mahogany with a decent cap creamy tan head. Head has good retention.

Enticing aroma of very appealing malts with slight amount of added spice (including, I believe, clove or allspice). Notes of burnt sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

While the aroma is only moderately strong, this beer has a rich and moderately strong flavor. The flavor is an excellent balance of malt, spices (cinnamon & nutmeg? .. and?) and hops, with malt flavor I enjoyed as much or more than nearly any beer I've ever had. I bet other brewers would love to see the secret ingredients list for this beer! A bit (too?) sweet.

M - smooth with excellent carbonation. The body, while certainly not thin, should be a bit fuller IMO. Some grain/powder in the finish.

O - Unique yet exceptionally enjoyable. Only one disappointing thing about this superb beer: it is a one time brew and I probably will be unable to find more of it now that Spring is here.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, vanilla, coffee, some spices (but not quite as much as prior years) and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a hearty roasted malt character and flavors of chocolate, some coffee, dark fruit and several spices. There's a very mild but complementary hops presence. This year's release seems to have toned down the spices some which to me has lead to a much better balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, decent kick, very good representation of style, I've had this beer every year since 2005 (however never from the magnum bottle) and this version is the best thus far.

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Photo of smcolw
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Superb head with a thick, foamy settling dome. The lace is unpredictable. Some slides down the glass, some remains chunky on the glass

I've come to love the smell of the Christmas Ale each year. This is the only beer that has a strong spruce aroma. This year's version has some soft darker malt.

The taste of the 2010 ale has more of a burnt toast element from the darker malts. There's also a stronger hop flavor than in past versions. The body is thinner than I expect--perhaps the only pedestrian aspect of this beer.

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Photo of Jason
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz brown bottle with a vintage date and bottle code on the label.

36th edition, a classic. Brown web-like lacing with a liquid that is nearly black with mahogany highlights. Spicy, piney, fruity, hop resin, cake batter nose ... very Christmas pudding in the nose. Some smoothness within the medium body, snap of crispness in the end. This brew even tastes like Christmas, toasted bread and roasted nuts, spice, candied fruit and a big kiss of hop bitterness. Roasty flavor leaves a mind char note on the taste buds with still more fruit, spice and hoppiness chiming in. Nice ale twang in the roasty finish. This beer is a must year to year, it might not be the ideal winter session beer it does pack some cheer.

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Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Stuffed Sandwich

A: The pour is mahogany in color with a bit more than a finger worth of tan colored head.

S: There's a bit of a banana note to the aroma, at least at first. It seems to dissipate, though. Plenty of roasted malt along with some clove, pepper, chocolate, and ginger.

T: Quite a bit of roasted malt, much more than I've found in the other vintages. There's some nice cocoa powder notes along with toffee, and toasted malts. The spice character is a bit subdued compared to the nose.

M: The body is medium with a moderate carbonation and a pretty dry finish, likely due to all the roast.

D: I had no problem drinking my glass of this. Quite easy to drink and another good vintage of OSA.

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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 vfgccp
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Deep ruby red

S - Peppery spice, sugar, cinnamon, lots of nutmeg

T - Earthly. Touch of cinnamon, nutty malt, mild brown sugar. Just a hint of light roasted meat and brazil nuts. It was complex and different, but I can't say I really enjoyed it.

M - Lighter body that could use some more backbone.

D - Moderately drinkable.

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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 smakawhat
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Very large head out of the bottle from the pour, that is creamy and uniform, nice light brown tan color. Body is a gorgeous dark walnut brown with red hues, dark Indian red colors and a clear body. Gorgeous looking beer.

Light bodied Christmas spices that are sweet, nutmeg, cinnamon bark, maybe some cranberries? Faint malt, very tea herbal smelling like black oolong tea. Very nice.

Taste is light bodied and brings the herbal and bouquet notes. Black oolong tea, with tea tannic finish on swallow. Malt sensation lost but it's all wonderful typical Christmas spices, and super easy drinking light bodied.

Overall it does feel like a seasonal winter drink than having it in the heat of Spring and Summer, but it's still very nice it held up very well too.

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Photo of Billolick
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ouncer...an old friend....allways happy to see it on the shelves...allways deserving of a try initially, then a sixer or two more as the season gets going. Pours dark mahogony, mocha head, respectable bits and blobs of lace.

Maple, caramel and dark grains in the nose.

Nice roasty brew, more caramel, molassas, sweet malts, smokey undertones, dry lingering finish.

Great holiday brew or on any cool winter's night...

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anchor Our Special Ale Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2010

"This is the thirty-sixth "Our Special Ale" from the brewers at Anchor. It is only sold from early November to mid-January. The Ale's recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with it's seasons, appears born anew."

Deep black appearance, creamy-toned head, stays slim and tight, leaving lace.

Aroma: sweetness and spice, nutmeg, allspice, with caramel and black malt below. Beautiful.

Taste: there's the soft and succulent malt, mixed with spice, no hops at play here. A little peppery heat pops in from time to time. One of the most drinkable and better balanced OSAs of recent years.

Lighter bodied, leaning to medium, spicy, malty flavor lays low on the palate, hangs in there. Still toasty and tasty, my six pack was over with in no time.

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Photo of Tone
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown color. 1/2 inch head of a tan color Great retention and good lacing. Smells of slight roasted malt, sweet malt, spice (cardammon?), and hops. Fits the style of a Winter Warmer. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of slight roasted malt, sweet malt, hops, and slight spice. Overall, good appearance, decent aroma, and blend. A little weak in body though.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer is dark brown and mostly clear with a big tan head of medium bubbles, high carbonation and some lacing.

Aroma is sharp and spicy, almost peppermint but definitely mild cinnamon and something else I can't put my finger on.

There is a toffee like early note to this beer and the finish is bitter with roast and some ash. Its a medium bodied beer and the spices are mild and restricted to the midpalate of the beer. I like it, it will likely be the #1 Winter Warmer soon so I had to get some, plus these beers are a sign that its finally winter. I'll probably drink 6 - 24 of these before the thaw.

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Photo of aasher
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

The 2010 version pours a thinner black with brown accents. It looks like a flat cherry coke in the light. It had a thin dark khaki colored head. It smells sweet and of black cherries. It doesn't have the same spicy aromas as in other years. The taste definitely takes a step back from previous years. It has less spices and is more syrupy sweet than usual. I'd also say that this one tastes like black cherry where as I thought the past two years tasted more like cranberry. It just isn't as impressive, all around. It drinks much thinner than it used to, which is disappointing. It still tastes ok, but compared to previous years versions this isn't worth drinking. If I hadn't had those I'd say it's a decent winter warmer, but just decent.

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Photo of tone77
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of malts and spices. Taste is good, malts, spices, a bit of sweetness to it, just a hint of hops. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and has good drinkability. Overall a quality brew.

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Photo of WesWes
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a dry, roasted malt scent with a bit of caramel malt sweetness for balance. The spicing seems less this year, but it's still noticeable. Hints of cinnamon and allspice linger in the back. The taste is good as well. It has a bone dry roasted malt and spice flavor. Cinnamon and Allspice compliment a malt bill of crystal and roasted malts. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This years version seems a bit tamer than the last few years. The spicing is mild at best, but results in an easier drinking and more accessible beer.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am excited to try the new version of this holiday classic.

The beer pours a dark brown color with red highlights and a tan head. The aroma is very heavy on the cinnamon with some cloves mixed in. This is the spice bomb that I remembered it being.

The flavor is mainly cinnamon and some toffee, but there are also some other spices mixed in. I think I get some nutmeg and allspice in there. There is also some caramel malt. Very spicy.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Anchor's "Our Special Ale" 2010 Edition

Appearance: As usual, it pours darkest of browns with a dark khaki colored head and a bit of lace on the glass.

Smell: Once again, the aroma just as in years past. Juniper, pine, and spruce. Smells like gathering around the Christmas tree as a child and enhaling the piney fumes along with peppermints.

Taste: A bit mellow this year, the spruce is there along with some charred malt. Pine sap like hop profile. Light spices and a lingering maltyness that always makes this beer a holiday favorite.

Mouthfeel: Fuller bodied. This beer sticks with you long after the sip.

Drinkability: Solid. A unique and delicious Christmas beer. One of my favorites and I do anticipate Anchor's Christmas every year.

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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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