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

Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Liked This Beer
3.9 w/ 511 ratings
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.

View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 511 |  Reviews: 355
Photo of Stinkypuss
4.02/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

 745 characters

Photo of micromaniac129
4.33/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a cola colored with an above average head that is dense and slow to fade.
Looks to be well carbonated. Foaminess all the way down the glass with nice lacing.
Aromas of burnt malts pumpkin pie.
Tastes of roasted malt, maybe burnt. Sutle tastes of molasses Christmas spices. Bitter finish. Hey! who knows what the hell is in this thing.
Medium to thick mouth feel, sticky. A dry finish that's a bit harsh or astringent.
A good tasting beer perfect for Christmas. Not a session beer but one that is good next to a nice fire on a cold night.

 544 characters

Photo of fragilehearted
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
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.

 1,514 characters

Photo of DovaliHops
3.43/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown-red color that looks really nice when held up to light. A big almost-tan head on this beer. Aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and some nuts. Taste is very dark malts with some burnt toast flavors. Not really what I was expecting. I get some Christmas-like spices, but along with some hoppiness as well. Not really sure how much I like this...Mouthfeel is not the best either. A little too light for a winter warmer/Christmas ale. Drinkability is fair.

 469 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.98/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

 522 characters

Photo of SickPythons
2.24/5  rDev -42.6%
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.

 404 characters

Photo of phishgator
3.43/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a chalice with a dark hue like a baltic porter with a tan head that foams greatly and leave a lot of lacing. The spruce picked this year(I haven't looked yet) once again dominates the nose. The taste is that fresh bite, imagine watching Bear Grylls drinking spruce tips tea and that what you get up front. The body is full and the coating of the evergreen really is nice, but only one a night.

 405 characters

Photo of BigB415
4.06/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I enjoyed the spice and cinnamon added to this beer. It was very noticeable but didn't make it so it felt like it was the only thing there. When I poured the beer I was very surprised by the pitch black color since I was expecting a light color. I enjoyed it and wouldn't mind having a second or maybe even the magnum they sell.

 328 characters

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.38/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

 781 characters

Photo of DrewKid4
4.85/5  rDev +24.4%
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.

 586 characters

Photo of masey222
4.24/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had no idea what to expect but was pleasantly surprised...
Dark brown with an orangey off-white head,
The smell was amazing not even just for a beer just for a smell, boat loads of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, the smells of Christmas....
The taste was well preceded by the smell all those spices really hit you along with some fruitiness maybe something along the lines of candied orange peels and it has the depth of a coffee stout lying underneath it all, over all a very complex and interesting beer.
Honestly it doesn't matter to me that much how it felt it wasn't bad but it wasn't perfect I would have liked it thicker but there was so much else going on that kept me occupied.

I would not want to drink more than one at a time but it is a beer that captures the essence of Christmas and the Christmas spirit in a little 12oz bottle very very well I could see it going well with a turkey dinner or a ham, or some chocolate covered cherries.

 950 characters

Photo of RushChairman
4.39/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Gets high marks right off the bat for saying "Merry Christmas & Happy New Year" right on the bottle. Surprisingly poured an opaque black with a slight burnt orange head. Looks remarkably like a coca-cola in my glass with a little less carbonation and I would not be surprised if this was a stout from the appearance. Smells of clove and nutmeg hit me right away something else in there too - chocolate? First taste brought me clove right away and then nutmeg and cinnamon on the back end. Lots Sweet and spicy on the tongue can't help comparing to coca-cola but that is a complement. What coke wishes it could be. This is a great holiday brew from packaging to smell and taste.

 677 characters

Photo of matty
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown colored beer with a slowly fading head.Looks like a stout.Aroma is grassy.Taste is cocoa,coffee,bitters with maybe a hint of some kind of dark fruit.Relatively smooth and goes down easy for a dark beer.It's a pretty decent offering that I most likely would recommend and buy again.

 292 characters

Photo of DoktorZee
3.3/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Drunk from a sub-pint glass at a beer-tasting event. Didn't see the bottle to determine best before date, but it was the 2010 edition, and it's not Xmas yet so it's bound to be fresh.

A - beautiful dark ruby color with moderate head; not much obvious carbonation and the head dissipates fairly quickly with little lacing.

S - very interesting and hard to place spices on the nose; maybe some clove?

T - this is where it really falls down for me; after some promise on the nose and visually the mixture of spices is very hard to resolve, except for an intense bitterness mid-way through the experience. Again, a big mix of spices (clove, anise?) combined with a bit of coffee and bitter dried berries dominate after the first second.

M - mouthfeel just doesn't seem right, with the bitterness lingering excessively. Definitely "light" for a beer that initially appears dark visually.

D - really not a great drinkability for me; this first bottle will definitely be my last until perhaps next year, and even then i'll be challenged.

This was an interesting beer that I'm glad tried, but overal I'm fairly dissatisfied with the final result. This one just didn't do it for me: too complex with unresvoled bitter notes that ruined it for me.

 1,243 characters

Photo of thekoz
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this extremely dark beer (very deep brown, almost black) into a pint glass. Had a nice 1/4 inch tan head that hung around for a while.

Can smell some nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices. You

Nice warming flavor with a good mouth feel. The spice flavor is subdued and not in your face. Very malty. The beer is slightly sweet, and not dry. I get a tad bit of alcohol flavor, which is nice for the style. Would love to cellar some of this for a year or two, and let it really develop and open up.

Small tight bubbles got perfectly with the beer.

Very drinkable, but not thin at all. Not a session beer, but a perfect winter beer.

 637 characters

Photo of hustlesworth
4.45/5  rDev +14.1%
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.

 1,830 characters

Photo of DPhillips1027
3.72/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark brown almost chocolate in color with moderate carbonation and a creamy tan head.

A sweet piney nose like a rainy fall day in the woods, slightly earthy.

Malty sweetness with a hint of lingering spruce. No noticeably alcohol but a little bit of warmth. Gets a little more complex as the beer warms.

Smooth and not overly carbonated silky feeling. Not a creamy as Guinness.

Could easily stay with this all evening.

 421 characters

Photo of NorCalYeti
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

taste- licorice, cooked meats, coffee, roasted malts, raisins, brown sugar finish

color- chestnut

clarity- clear

smell- licorice, caramel, coffee, roasted malts, raisins

body- well balanced, nice clingy hoppy bite at the front of the mouth and a malt finish, medium-body and length finish

appearance- nice red color with a foamy off-white head

overall impression- i think a lightly more refined effort than last year's offering and a stellar performer that will age nicely

notes and comments- great holiday beer

glassware: pint

 535 characters

Photo of ejimhof
3.06/5  rDev -21.5%
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.

 269 characters

Photo of drabmuh
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

 602 characters

Photo of dwilson01
4.16/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured from a bottle into my arrogant bastard pint glass, a nice reddish mocha colored head tops the brew about a finger thick. The dissipation is slow and even leaving thick fingers of lacing on the sides of the glass. The body itself is a dark ember color, hellish red tints show up on the edges when held up to the light.

The scents are very subtle but I get a pine and spice smell right off the bat. The malt imparts some smaller amount of roasted nut to it which balances nicely.

The flavor is just what I expected from the smell plus some added sweetness. I get the holiday spices like crazy in the mid-late taste which remind me of sitting near the fireplace sipping some spiced tea. Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice all combined into one lighten the flavor. The woody pine forest flavor comes through in the fore, fades quite a bit and then comes back in the aftertaste to linger for a while. It tastes like it would if I bit into a chuck of douglas fir tree. The late flavors that I pick up are from the malt, a sweeter molasses and maple syrup come on strong to balance the pine and spice flavors that I love so much.

The mouthfeel is great, smooth and sweet, not too thick and not too thin it's just right.

 1,227 characters

Photo of ocelot2500
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep mahogany color with a tight mocha head that leaves plenty of lacing.

Smells of sweet, roasted notes with some spices as well.

Tastes of the roasted notes rounded out by spice. Notes of molasses, brown sugar, and chocolate come through. Some vanilla comes through as well and gives an almost cookie like taste. Spices are a bit subdued, but have some cinnamon and nutmeg characteristics. Finishes a bit dry.

Mouthfeel is medium-full with a smooth amount of carbonation.

 484 characters

Photo of bamadog
3.52/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I was excited to see this one on the shelves as I was curious to see how this year's would compare to last. Sadly, I came away a little disappointed. Review is from notes taken on 11/14/2010 and poured from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pour is a deep, dark, cola brown; starts with a big 2 and 1/2 finger light tan head with decent retention; body is dark, but it allows a little light through with some deep ruby highlights; head fades to a full and uneven cap; fair washes, strands and spots of lacing are left behind on the sides of the glass. Off to a good start.

Smell: Smell is nice and it really smells like Christmas! Lots of spicy gingerbread-like aromas; bit of a nutty scent in the back that brings about a bit of earthy bitterness. This smells great and leads me to believe that it's going to taste as good as it smells.

Taste: Unfortunately, not nearly as good as it smells... Comes across very thin and watery; the gingerbread flavors are there, but watery and muted; slight piney hop bitterness combines with an earthy nuttiness (walnuts?); bit of a sweet malty backing.

Mouthfeel: As mentioned above, it's thin and watery in the body and not quite what I was hoping for; the carbonation is pretty light, but still offers some effervescence to an otherwise dull body; a moderately thick and sticky coating is left on the roof of the mouth.

Drinkability: Not nearly as good as the '09 offering, but decent overall. Hopefully next year the flavors will be just as robust as the nose and the body will be more worthwhile and offer some substance. Moderate ABV would certainly not slow anyone down, so it's definitely drinkable, just not exciting in any capacity.

 1,692 characters

Photo of depechemode1983
4.14/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Poured out a Dark brown with reddish hues and a thick brown head. Theres a little lacing going on evenly around the glass.

Smell - Nutmeg, cinnamon and liquorice with slight nutty smell. This beer smells like Christmas day. Smells and reminds me of eggnog.

Taste - Roasted coffee malts with just a bit of hops in there to balance it out. Taste similar to what it smells like. Some nutty flavors some caramel and Christmas spices. Im sensing a raw honey presence but just slightly. It ends with a roasted coffee finish.

Mouthfeel - A bit lighter bodied that I would have wanted. Its not all that bad though.

Drinkability - Would only be able to enjoy a few of these. I could see the flavors becoming a litte overwhelming. Lots of spices going on.

 763 characters

Photo of Star80
4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a deep mahogany color, with an inch or so tan head. Beautiful bottle! I guess that effects appearance somehow, right? Anyway, the smell is rich yet not overpowering, some vinous qualities as well as some dark ripe fruits, some faint spice, is that allspice? Perhaps some nutmeg or ginger in there, it is quite complex and difficult to isolate, this beer has always been a bit "mysterious" to me. Could also be some lemon zest in the aroma too. Bottle says natural flavoring added, not sure what exactly that means, I hate the idea of flavoring rather than whole ingredients being used, but I trust Anchor knows what they are doing. Taste is rich and malty, yet not too sweet, with the odd flavor I totally cannot identify in the middle there, which is not great yet not bad, I think it is ginger actually, but like I said there is so much going. Nice clean hops cleans the palate, and if I aged this beer I bet I wouldn't get that, yet I do feel the flavors might need to "meld" a little longer. Would be interesting do one tasting in six months, another in a year etc. I think I might do that! A Christmas in July sort of thing....mouthfeel is full and rich. I think this Ale has a porter base but I could be wrong. I do find these go down very smoothly despite all those flavors which are happening. Taste is similar to what I remember it about five years ago or so, and I will be very excited about letting this beer cellar awhile.

 1,444 characters

Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 74.6% out of 100 with 511 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.