Our Special Ale 2002 (Anchor Christmas Ale) | Anchor Brewing Company

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Our Special Ale 2002 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2002 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
136 Ratings
Our Special Ale 2002 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2002 (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 kbub6f on 11-07-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 136 |  Reviews: 126
Reviews by WesWes:
Photo of WesWes
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The beer pours a very dark burgandy color with a tan head that hangs around then fades for good lacing. The nose is of cinnamon, ginger root, and nutmeg; an extremely good balance of different tastes. The taste is much the same. It's quite malty, but the spices come through clearer. The nutmeg and ginger lead the way. The beer leaves little aftertaste and finishes smooth. The mouthfeel is slightly higher than medium, but it drinks better than any other specialty spice ale I've ever tried. A masterpiece!

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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Looks like something you could pour out of a Quacker State bottle,seemed really thick coming out but when drinking didnt seem quite as heavy.Smelled like I was walking through the woods with pine trees everywhere,picked up the nutmeg as well in the smell.Very christmasy in flavor nutmeg cinnamon,and fruitcake flavors are almost overwhelming.Was pretty good but couldnt handle more than say 2 or 3.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from Inaugural Issue of Beeradvocate Magazine.

An oddity, Anchor Christmas Ale is a beer that tries to defy time. Who would have thought you could cellar a beer that is less than 6 percent? It is simply amazing that most of the vintages have held up well over the years. Sure, you get a bit of oxidation and the hops fade too, but all in all the age does this beer good. When we tried it back in 2002 we noticed this version was not has hoppy as previous years.

Beer offers an amazing lace from a good two fingers of tan froth, a few shades lighter than black. The deep brown tone doesn't let much light in. Spicy, sweet aroma. Smells of hermit cookies, a fresh slice of fruitcake and faint spearmint. Very smooth, with a lush medium body. Baker's chocolate and toasted bread crust come to mind. Spicy, mildly minty, with a toasty flavor throughout. Twang of citrus with a dark, roasty, sweet maltiness, reminiscent of orange peels and burnt sugar. Very little hop character, but the slight vinous and fruity undertones keep things balanced. Four years of cellaring have certainly not harmed this beer at all.

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Photo of Jason
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz short brown bottle with a freshness code on the back label and the year 2002 on the front. “Populus fremontii” or Cottonwood is on the label.

Appearance: Dense two fingers of tan foam cling to the glass like a champ, mahogany brown with ruby highlights.

Smell: Suggestions of soft resin of tree sap, fruity with a twang in the back and a silky malt lines the nose. Pleasing and very aromatic.

Taste: Creamy in the mouth, very smooth with a level carbonation and full body. Malt is packed in pretty good with quick toasted grain and light roasted flavours abound. Flowery, soft at first but then it seems more of a robe around the taste buds. Not overwhelming but more comforting. A sweet brew that is for sure as the maltiness draws in closer middle to end with a faint roasted character tagging along.

Notes: An impressive ale every year and a must for me, give it a try if you are looking for a winter ale.

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Photo of Billolick
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

thick, dark and rich with spices, this is not my favorite style, but over the holidays, after a big holidaze meal, this one would foot the bill. Nicely balanced for this style, anchor allways puts out a nice product. Got this one in late 2003, (at a reduced price at my local beer dealer)must have been left over from last years batch. So this one came "pre-aged"

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Photo of warriorsoul
3.62/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Truh for this unexpected goodie.
Dark brown in color with a full finger of light beige head...all but a fine layer fades rapidly and some thin lacing forms.
Spices in the nose...cinnamon, mild allspice, chocolate malt sweetness.
Taste is more of the same...has soured just a bit, but by no means distracting. Dry and quite clean in the finish...that sweetness in the nose is not present as I consume the pint.
Mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I was expecting...the carbonation could be less for me.
Either way, this one has held up pretty well after a few years, but I prefer it at no more than a year.

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Photo of yankeeheel
4.34/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Man did I luck in to this. I walked in to the store last week and they had a whole case of 02 just hanging out on the shelf. I love it when they do the cellaring for me!

Pours a dark brown with a very foamy espresso colored head, which lasts a while. The smell is just heavenly; nutmeg, cinnamon , and a wee bit of toffee.

The taste is somehthing akin to drinking a spice cake. Lots of ginger and spice mixed in to the malt. Very smooth and creamy with just the right amount of hoppiness at the end. i could see downing a whole lot of this on Christmas. Good stuff.

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Photo of ADR
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

For 2002...

Attractive deep ruby-brown, nice 1/2 inch head of a dark reddish tan foam. Reserved aroma, malty and dense with a sense of white pepper and pine. Lots of flavors, leaning to the ginger and molasses sides, but with notes of nutmeg and allspice. Pleasant medium body with a creamy mouthfeel. Finishes raisiny with a bit of lime and enough bittering to keep the beer refreshing. Pretty flavorful, some things in common with RCH Ale Mary. I'm definitely on board this Anchor offering.

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Photo of rastaman
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very christmasy, but nice and restrained. Gingerbread biscuits, with some cakey, chocolatey flavours, spicy, with some late bitterness and a long finish, very nice. I had it on a warm London night, but could imagine drinking it in the colder months, beautifully warm and inviting mouthfeel.

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Photo of QXSTER1
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was advertised as Anchor Christmas Ale on the draught list.
It poured deep chestnut with some ruby highlights and a tan, creamy head. Plenty of roasted malt and spices in the nose. My first impression was this was a medium bodied hybrid porter brewed with seasonal spices. Dark fruits, coffee, chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger came to mind. Anchor threw some West Coast hops into the mix to balance out the sweetness and makes this a very drinkable brew. This was almost like a Christmas session brew when your ready for more than one or two holiday beers.

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Photo of KensWorld
3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Past its prime.

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Photo of beerluvr
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light brown foamy head that floats majestically above deep scarlet colored liquid. Nose is a flowery mix of spruciness, nutmeg, and other spices, and maltiness in back of it all. Taste is roasty malts, dry and quite hoppy this year. Notes of allspice, chocolate, leather, woodiness all intermingle, very complex in it's flavor profile. Finishes up spicy and dry/tangy, another great edition.

A big thanks to Beer Angel for the trade!

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Photo of Jon
4.55/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Complexity is the key word with this beer. Pours a deep mahogany color with a fairly durable head which leaves nice lace down the glass. Aroma is diverse with notes of maple syrup, spruce, hops, spices. Taste is exceptional -- so many different flavors going on here. Big notes of pine, chocolate, spice (notably ginger), etc. Almost too much for my palate, but in a good way. Mouthfeel is quite creamy and pleasant. An all around excellent brew.

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Photo of Gonzoillini
2/5  rDev -50.2%

Photo of DrunkMcDermott
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sample taste at Chicago Beer Society vertical tasting, Dec. 1, 2005. The 2002 vintage, at age 3, is another beer with a nice fruity smell. A bit of alcohol volatility, and this one’s a bit light on the Christmas spices. Some of the other tasters remark on a tobacco smell.

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Photo of nickd717
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review dated 2/4/2009.

Bottle at The Bruery, 2002 vintage, drank it December 2008, vertical with 2001 and 2008 vintages. Dark amber color with an off-white head. Aroma of roasted malt, nutmeg, ginger, and brown sugar. Taste is the same, malty and spicy, not quite as mellow as the 2001. Medium-full body.

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Photo of jackndan
2.26/5  rDev -43.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Anchor Brewing Christmas Beer 2002: Why does this beer taste and smell like the strongest ginger snaps I ever saw? It is clearly a heavily spiced herbal beer, which is not at all bad looking. Jagermeister! That’s it; it tastes a lot like Jagermeister. It’s got a long lasting aftertaste, which is no bargain. Upon further review, its worse than I thought. I cannot get over the turpentine taste, and I could still taste it several hours later. I woke up at 2:00 a.m., and could still taste it. Sorry, but I’ll pass.

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Photo of bditty187
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served with a smallish brown head resting on a rich, dark mahogany body. The daft-version laced exceptionally well. The nose was attractive, but a little more mild, the spice, tree sap/molasses, and malt were still present but more rounded. The flavors on the palate are similar to the nose; sap/molasses, spice, etc… the complexity was present but, again, more smoothed. Mouthfeel: silky as can be. The drinkability of this winter beer is increased exponentially on-tap. Seek it out.

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Photo of PhantomVodoo
3.7/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown in color with a brown head.
Aroma is hard to describe: spices and roasted malt with a floral, fruity addition. Somewhat medicinal: menthol and camphor.

Taste is also complex and hard to describe. Very unique. Roasted malts, spices, and fruit flavors. Hint of sourness that detracts from the overall flavor. Well balanced.

Good mouthfeel. Medium body.
Drinkability takes a hit due to the sour notes.
Overall a solid, very unique brew.

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Photo of kwill
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours thick and dark with a nice one inch brown head that stuck around a bit longer than most. The smell was surprising and very good. Smelled like a good chocolate stout with a bit of coffee, malt, and hops.

The taste had an initial hint of the chocolate, but then it quickly changed to significant spiciness followed up with a hoppy bitterness. Mouthfeel was nice and thick and then finished up with a nice aftertaste, but a little too dry.

This is a really good beer that definitely surprised me. I was expecting something more along the lines of a Sam Adams Winter, but this one went above and beyond my expectations. I am glad I got a six-pack of this one.

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Photo of GeoffRizzo
4.59/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark amber, borderline black. Initial smell is of pleasant pine and sap, the smell of walking through the woods on a mild fall day. The same pine is in the initial taste combined with a creamy, light spicy, feel. A slight creamy milk/eggnog aftertaste is brilliant. Very complex and interesting, this is clearly the best winter brew I've ever had.

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Photo of JamLand
4/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of hotstuff
3.44/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer had a small sized tan head that consisted of fine sized bubbles.The body was carbonated and the hue was dark brown.The nose was spicy and also of gingerbread.It had a malty, spicy and chocolate flavor to it and the mouthfeel was very smooth and it was medium bodied.There was excellent lacing with this beer.

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Photo of Goldorak
3.82/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to Beersignal for poping this baby out of the cellar for our pre-Canada Day weekend tasting.

Appearance: Dark crimson with a creamy cranium.

Smell: Merry f'n'x-mas indeed! Ginger, mint, cinnamon, cloves, sugarplums, candycane. Add a turkey and you've got the whole holiday wrapped up in a bottle!

Taste: A little madeirized, it tasted like a melted gingerbread man (Not my gumdrop buttons!) and felt sherry sweet and glowing with alcohol. I'm no expert on cellaring and wasn't able to do a vertical on this Beer, but I think we got this one open just in time.

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Photo of fattyre
3.13/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

This beer pours a clear very dark ruby brown with a medium clingy dark tan head. The mouthfeel is clingy dark tan head. The smell is anise, strong cedar, slightly malty and cloves. The taste is spruce, peppery alcohol middle and pumpkin spice(?). A fairly decent Christmas ale that probably has a little too much going on. Maybe the flavors will settle down a bit after a year of aging but for now are a little much.

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Our Special Ale 2002 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 136 ratings