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 nickd717
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle.

Dark amber color with an off-white head.

Aroma has roasted malts, toffee, and lots of winter spices.

Flavor is malty, with roast, anise, and toffee, as well as mulling spices.

Medium-full bodied and rather smooth on the palate yet a bit tingly from the spices.

Good stuff overall, but I like some of the older vintages better.

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Photo of jondeelee
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Anchor's 2010 Christmas Ale begins with the smell of pine forests, spiced mead, and nutmeg-laden Christmas cookies; taking a whiff is like riding on the fabled one-horse open sleigh, grandma's house in sight and the smell of an immaculate Christmas dessert wafting over the snow fields. Big, hoppy hop aromas dominate here, smelling intensely of pine needles, and festive spices--nutmeg, allspice, clove--join in. On the malty side, there are pleasant fig, orange, and apricot notes, as well as deep brown sugars.

On the tongue, the beer is just as spicy and fruity as the nose would suggest, with the nutmeg, allspice, clove, and pine flavors being especially prominent. A few more dark fruit esters--fig, date, black cherry (think Christmas cake fruits)--are present here than were in the nose, and the orange takes on stronger tones of orange peel than orange fruit. Brown sugars help counter the spiciness, though they do fade late in the mouthful and are overwhelmed by pine and spice. The aftertaste is mainly pine and spice, and lingers for quite a while, tingling the edges of the tongue. Mouthfeel is medium-light, and carbonation is medium to medium-high, aiding in the buzzing mouthfeel.

Overall, Anchor has made yet another quality Christmas beer, having once again captured many of the traditional Christmas flavors in a tasty brew. The 2010 edition also tames down the pine notes, which in earlier years were overwhelming and borderline tree sap. Highly recommended, especially for Christmas morning, served with a thick wedge of Christmas cake.

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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 mdcrouser
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This bottle was left in a fridge door, its five friends having been consumed long ago.

Deep, dark brown from the bottle, with a quarter inch of tannish creme brulee-like head on top.

I get the strong scent of deep woods to begin - green, piney vegetation, quickly followed by the continuing characteristic from their holiday beer - a thick and wonderful spicy gingerbread. It's one of those smells that you'd normally say, "I wish they could bottle that." Well, they can. Christmas in a bottle.

Piney, malty, molasses-laden, gingerbread spices and a bit of char to close.

Creamy, with a minimal bite of vegetal carbonation on the tongue, very light spices follow.

No year is ever an outstanding beer, but it never lets you down either - consistently good.

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Photo of jmvecchio1
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours as a dark, creamy beer that allows just the faintest of hint of light to come through. A great two-finger head accompanies the brew and slowly thins out to a lacing that lasts until the last drop is consumed. There's no denying that malts will be found here! The smell is pure holidays. Close your eyes and think of all the amazing smells that comes with the holidays - molasses, orange peel, spice, cinnamon, clove - these smells are all found here. Now take a sip. Here you'll find a faint hint of banana along with clove and cinnamon spices that linger a little after each sip. This is another beer that you can't judge by its pour. Just by looking at it you'd think it'd be a thick, heavy beer, but it's just the opposite.

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

The 2009 incarnation was timeless in my mind - I need the recipe! This one was al-right. Probably make a good simmering liquid. Not really warming ya up at 5.5% - and that's what I look for in these winter celebratory ales - not trying to be knocked out, only mellowed out.

Detonation of pinkish-tannish, high-rising, firm foam - pour slow. Light black-cherry red, slightly opaque liquid. Fruitcake-berry fruity aroma - super-soft and mellow - you can also tell the malt/body will be clean. Definitely some cinnamon and one other spice (clove?) highlighting a thin, brown-malty/dried-apple foundation. Doesn't taste like an apple strudel, instead, more like a modest mulled apple cider holiday concoction - using your imagination.

Not one of the better ones I've had in the past 5 or so years (my history with Anchor's Xmas ales), but okay. It'll do. A decent table beer during a holiday meal.

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Photo of jamescain
3.77/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage poured into a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: Mahogany to dark reddish brown with an off white head that fades into a ring around the side of the glass.

Aroma: After a few months the spices that dominate the nose when fresh are no longer there. The dark fruits, including figs, come through much more apparent. There is a hint of evergreen and allspice that is much more apparent than when the beer is young.

Taste: Figs, resins, holiday spices and a caramel sweetness round out the flavors. Dark fruits are the predominate flavor.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation and a light body with a dry finish.

Overall: Personally I think I enjoyed this version when it was fresh, but with a little age on it is not a bad thing. It seems to have morphed into more of a Belgian strong dark ale, without the hit in the face Belgian yeast provides.

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Photo of brystmar
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark brown, bubbly, plenty of head. Spicy in the nose as expected, plenty of herbs and wintertime fruits here for your pleasure. Roasty malts too.

Taste follows the nose, but more subdued. Nutty, bready, malty, and somewhat creamy. Not as bold as I'd like, but that's the trade off you make for sessionability. A solid brew, but I remember enjoying the 2009 version more.

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

The 2010 release of Our Special Ale pours a darker, mahogany color. It’s not opaque. Plenty of light cuts through giving it burgundy highlights. A tan head covers it and rises to about a finger and a half in height. It falls somewhat quickly, leaving behind a light, but sticky coat of lace.

The nose is lacking in strength, but isn’t bad. It features roasted and light caramel malts up front. It doesn’t smell sweet. There’s a bit of a praline, nutty scent that is relatively strong. Holiday spices of cinnamon, light ginger, and nutmeg are noted, but they seem a little more muted than I remember in years past. There’s a touch of dark fruit on the tail. Smells a little like fruit cake. Alcohol is very light.

The flavor is alright. Honestly, it seems more bland than usual. Roasted malts are the base. A bit of caramel and cocoa are secondary. It does taste a little like fruit cake with a praline twist. The holiday spices are there, but aren’t near as noticeable as they typically are. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and light ginger are all noted. They seem to take a back seat to the strong nutty flavor. Dark fruit is there, but is also secondary. Alcohol is blended well and is mostly unnoticeable. Finishes malty, nutty, and tangy.

The body is on the lighter side of medium. Carbonation is mid-range, but doesn’t feel buzzy. It doesn’t have quite enough body to be smooth, but it’s not bad. Goes down easy enough for what it is.

I’ve always thought Anchor’s Our Special Ale was good beer, but not great beer. The 2010 release is alright, but doesn’t change how I feel about it in general. Frankly, I think the nutty flavor is a little too loud and the spicy flavors are too faint. At the end of the day, it’s pretty good stuff. I like it a little less than prior years’ releases that I’ve tried, but I don’t regret picking up a couple of bottles. I’ll surely do the same next year.

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

12oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

Pours a nice very dark brown with a small brown head with some light lacing. Nose is molasses and cinnamon, very nice!

Taste is equally as nice, it's like gingersnaps or gingerbread which I really like! Mouthfeel is creamy, bready and a bit sticky. Carbonation is light and smooth, making it vrry tssty and it almost has a Belgian taste to it.

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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 BeerNemesis
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Anchor Christmas Ale | 330 ml. | 5.5% ABV | 2010 vintage

Brewer: Anchor Brewing Company
Style: Winter Warmer
Glass: snifter

Deep ebony with loosely-knit bubbles and a khaki head.

Toasted malts, chestnuts, various spices.

Toasted bread makes up the maintaste, but the accompanying flavors really make it interesting: cocoa, bitter walnuts, burnt molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice blend. There is also a touch of hop bitterness towards the finish and into the aftertaste.

Creamy and full, but with some attenuation towards the end of the sip. This results in a thin, and less satisfying finish than would otherwise be hoped.

Very enjoyable spiced beer. The bitterness towards the end nicely balances out the malty beginning.

Would I get it again?:

Bottled: 2010
Served: March 2011

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Photo of Jarpo
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My first of (hopefully) many reviews.

12oz bottle poured into a Moose Drool glass.

Found this brew at my in-laws' house. It's been sitting there since before Xmas so if they're not going to drink it I will.

A:Pours a nice dark brown with about a half inch of tan head. No lacing on this one.

S:Smells very spicy, as a Xmas brew typically does. Cloves and cinnamon is what I'm smelling the most. Maybe some allspice?

T:The taste is a bit of a letdown from the smell. Still very spicy, but I'm thinking the age on this is what's keeping things from melding together.

M:Feels a bit thinner than a good porter. A lot of carbonation on this one still, too.

O:I wish I would have tried this one closer to Xmas time to see how it tasted then. I would definitely drink it again, but I wouldn't be too sad if the chance never presented itself.

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Photo of Seeker41184
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up at Whole Foods in Los Altos.

Pours a cherry-cola coloured red-brown, with an almost soda-like fizzing head of beige. Carbonation even sticks to the inside of the glass like Coke. Light body. I actually can't get over the resemblance to a soft drink. I do like the colour, at least.

Nose is spicy and dark, with a deep toffee sweetness. Spice perhaps comes through most prominently, leaving anise, nutmeg, a little cinnamon and cloves. All very good christmas spices, no doubt. Not bad.

Taste similar, but with a roasted, slightly bittersweet malt character to balance it. Spice is still strong, giving a quite bitter finish of anise and carob. Feel is unfortunately weak—I really feel as though this would benefit from some extra depth, extra sweetness, and some extra body.

Not a bad drop, and good spicy beer to match with winter spiced dishes, I should imagine. I'm glad my regular Christmases involve the heat and the beach. A nice Pils or IPA is my ideal holiday beer.

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Photo of secondtooth
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep, black in color, with hints of cherry red in certain light. Interesting appearance. Massive head of slowly-dissipating bubbles. Ornate and beautiful lace. Scores high on appearance, no question!

Nose is uniquely spiced. Almost perfumey, with hints of florals (maybe roses), cinnamon, berries...lovely and complex. Like no beer I've ever tasted.

Flavor is bewildering at first, with more flowers, berries, and even a slight hint of roasty malts. Some bitterness, but well-balanced within the sweets and spices.

An amazing beer, and one I won't forget.

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Photo of JohnnyChicago
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint.

A: Pours a near black with a tan head, which surprised me for some reason.

S: Smells of spices: mint, sage, cinnamon. A lot of festivity in the smell.

T: Sweet but not cloying. Not too much bitterness and the spices are subdued.

D: Alcohol is hidden and it is a fascinating little beer. I'll have another for sure.

Overall: This is a tasty affair. It really is a great Christmas beer with all the nuances one would expect from a a winter warmer. Liquid cheer in a glass.

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

50 oz magnum bottle, great presentation.

Pours a dark brown color, almost black, with ruby hues when looked against the light. Forms a huge and thick tan head that persists for about 2 minutes receding down to a fluffy foam layer on top of the liquid. Lacing is little above average.

Aroma is a mix of fresh citrus hops, fruity esters (raisins, plums, apricots, candied fruit), spices (cinnamon and clove) and a malty and chocolate finish.

Taste starts malty with caramel, and roasted grains as well as some chocolate. Finishes with a very nice fruity/spicy character mainly tobacco, raisins and candied fruit. Faint floral hop finish. Not much bitterness.

Body is surprisingly very light and this beer drinks well. It has a smooth carbonation and a dry finish, mainly from the roast malts.

Overall this is a very interesting beer: light body but with a lot of full flavors and complexity. Pairs great with spicy and holiday dishes.

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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 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 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 nuggetsofnectar
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 vintage!

Appearance: Murky deep amber with a nice 1" cap quickly disspating to a top bubbleyyyy

Smell: Wow...nice clove infused cinnamon malts...raisins and figs...

Taste: 5 years has treated and aged this baby well....leathery up front with sweet fig....peppery hops...hints of cinnamon and nutmeg show their faces reguarly...nice ans chewy as well

Mouthfeel: Not too thick but not too thin...good carbonation....far from cloying and fairly smooth

Overall: A fine tasting sipper...soon to compare to an 96'...

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

Poured in a Victory Pint Glass.

Pours a deep, ruby to dark brown color- very clear despite having to hold it up to the light to check the clarity. Very thick (three finger?) head with excellent retention.

Malty, toffee, slightly scotch smell. Not overpowering aromas, need to whiff a few times to get strong feedback.

Scotch notes up front (but light), followed by candied fruit and malts. Strangely, I also note a prune like flavor that falls in the range of dried fruits. A slight fade to the taste on the end, it seems to die off a bit.

Mouthfeel is lighter for a darker beer- I'd say medium body, but could use some more fizz.

Not a bad Christmas ale- it's a cold spell in March, and this is ok as the cold weather holds on.

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