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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Ratings: 136 |  Reviews: 126
Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of BEERchitect
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A good flavor for a winter warmer. Just needs to be warmer. Looks deep golden and copper. High carbonation forms an off white head. Head fades leaving nice belgian lacing. Smells caramelly sweet with sweet spices all over the place. Slight souring and earthy. Tastes toasty, caramelly, and bready sweet. Mildly yeasty. ...and now for the spices: ginger, nutmeg, all spice, cinnemon, mint, cider, and probably a bunch more that are hidden for me. Spices with hop flavor create a bittering that I've not experienced in any other beer; makes it a bit salty. Medium body that gives way to a nice finish. Finishes a bit hot and round. Heat mildly from the alcohol, but majorily from spices.

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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 BuckeyeNation
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Gilt-edged pumpernickel topped by a busily bubbly head the color of almond shells. Despite the rapid pop, pop, popping, the cap lasts a while simply because there are so many tightly packed bubbles present. Although there isn't much lace, this is still an attractive beer...

... that is wonderfully aromatic. I caught a huge whiff on the pour and have been enjoying it off and on as I commented on the appearance. Even though the usual OSA aromas apply, this one seems bolder and more solid than most. The underlying chocolatiness gives support to the festive top notes of sweet spruce. No other beer smells quite like Our Special Ale.

My first impressions of the flavor are that this 'Populus fremontii' version is less chocolate malty, slightly sweeter and more evergreen-like than other years. I know that Anchor varies the recipe from year to year. It tastes like '02 was a year when they decided to go heavy on the tree branches.

That's a good thing. I was beginning to think this whole 'variation from one year to the next' business was so minor as to be impossible to appreciate without doing a vertical tasting. In any case, this version still has enough malt and just enough of a cocoa presence to maintain continuity with the series. Any more pine bough presence would be entirely too much.

I can appreciate a hint of spiciness on the finish of the finish. Which spice(s), though, is hard to say. If my (occasionally faulty) memory is accurate, the spiciness is toned down relative to years past. The mouthfeel on these beers is always less full than I would prefer and is less full than what I think is optimal for a winter warmer. This one isn't too bad though. It's much closer to medium than it is to light.

So ends my quest to fill in the holes in my tasting of OSAs through the years. I have no desire to go back farther than '98 since, despite what some believe, I've found that this beer doesn't hold up well after 4-5 years in the bottle. This vintage was one of my favorites, so it looks like I prefer them on the fresher side. If you have the opportunity, the '02 is still a worthy purchase.

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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 TMoney2591
3.23/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

The Fourth Day of Beermas... It pours a dark ruby-tinted black-brown topped by a minor bit of dirty white foam. The nose comprises cocoa powder, brown sugar, walnuts, and maple syrup. Unfortunately, there is a twinge of fishiness, of staleness weaving its way through everything. The taste holds notes of nutmeg, brown sugar, figs, red apples, cocoa, and a light bi of vinyl. The body is a chunky medium, with a light carbonation and a slightly oily feel. Overall, things are definitely progressing, but there's still a ways to go.

 566 characters

Photo of rab53
4/5  rDev -0.5%

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 imperialking
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.82/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark, nearly black color. Rich, full, cocoa/tan head. Aroma:sizzles with flavor! Espresso, chocolate, a little anise, tons of cinnamon and nutmeg, others I can't quite get my nose into. Sweet and velvety. A charge in the mouth on first taste, great carbonation, easy texture, glorious flavors: this is utterly sublime! I truly feel Anchor's Our Special Ale the finest winter ale ever crafted.
Screw Santa! This is the ultimate reward for the beer lover who's been good all year 'round.
I'm also getting a little piney/juniper or other arboreal flavors in here. Did they start adding Christmas Trees to the boil? Works great with all the other flavors in there, but nutmeg-haters should stay away.

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

Poured into a Anchor Steam glass. Black in color with a nice head, lots of lacing afterwards as well. Scents of sweet toffee/caramel, hops. Very nice taste for a three year old brew, never had a beer that old before. Medium body with a great sweet after taste. Not much of a warmer, but very drinkable. Would make a very nice session drink around the Christmas time, glad I had a chance to check some out.

 405 characters

Photo of Gavage
4.42/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown color with a spotty head. Some light lacing is produced during the drink. The aroma is unique as evergreen, pine, allspice, and nutmeg dominate. The flavor is mellower than the 2001 version I recently sampled which surprised me for one year less of maturing time. Evergreen and pine is less notible on the tongue. The spices are also a bit toned down. A roasted malt finishes out the flavor.

Thick bodied with a smooth mouthfeel. Slight tingling noticed during swallow. The pine and evergreen last long on the tongue. Nicely drinkable, and with the flavors toned down just a bit, one of the better years I have sampled.

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Photo of Gonzoillini
2/5  rDev -50.2%

Photo of drabmuh
3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer poured from a bottle into a 2002 Anchor Our Special Ale pint glass with a gold rim. Yep, I have a 2002 Anchor OSA glass.

Beer is dark brown / ruby with these woody looking chucks on yeast that came out immediate, not settled at all. Nice tan head, some lacing, moderate carbonation.

Aroma is sweet and strong, mild soy-sauceness but nothing too horrible, malty, mild spiciness, good overall.

Beer is medium in body and has this nice chewy finish to it, I don't drink hte yeast bits but the rest of the beer tastes old, malty, sweet, mild tobacco again, mildly bitter but not dry on the back palate. Nice. I'm excited to try a few more older ones.

 654 characters

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!

 508 characters

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Sampled from a 1.5L bottle September of 2004
Pours a deep brown color, almost approaching a black. In the aroma I get notes of nutmeg, clove, cinnamon. The body is quite a bit thinner now after a couple of years of age. The taste is actually fairly dry, but it does have a complexly sweet molasses note at the same time. The finish is a bit astringent and dry. The astringency almost has a pine/ spruce thing going on that contributes to drying out my mouth after each sip. This is definitely past its prime, but my other bottles should still age interestingly enough.

 569 characters

Photo of JamLand
4/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of Suds
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color with a bubby, tall, tan head. The head quickly falls into a thin, wispy film. Aroma is spicy and sweet….full of sensations of raisins, fruit, cinnamon, vanilla, and citrus. Taste is quite malty and sweet up front. The beer is creamy, thick, and full, but retains it’s spice character throughout. Finish is slightly bitter. This year’s version doesn’t seem as overwhelmingly spicy as it has in the past. It’s terrifically drinkable and wonderfully interesting.

 489 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Pours a ruddy brown/ruby/garnet/ liquid brown sugar. A nice tan head is created that of which recedes to a nice film.

Smell- A little smokey wood and roasty malts. Like aged roasty mlats. A little herby too.

Taste- A nice mix of oak and spruce flavors to accopmany the very deep roasted and smokeyd malts. No hop presence noticed. This beer ages nicely almost reagrdless of the ingredients for that year.

 423 characters

Photo of Bighuge
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep dark burgandy color. Clarity is apparant. A one finger creamy brown head recedes to a nice collaring within a minute. Shades of olive green can be seen on the head. Maltiness is evident on the nose as well as slight spruce and some spicing (ginger, nutmeg??). First sip is full of substance and spice. Complex to say the least. There's a nice little bitterness coming from either the hops or spices or both. Probably both. I'm not sure how they incorportate the cottonwood into the mix, but it seems to add a twist. Maybe a resiny sap-like presence. Cinamon and ginger seem to be the main spices. Dry woody character present. Figs, plums, raisin-like. Chocolate truffels. Man this has a lot of flavors if you look hard enough. Suprisingly, this brew's body is about light-medium. Another X-mas winner from Anchor.

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

I'm re-rating some of the winter beers I rated when I first got on board and have since tried several more times..This is a great seasonal winter beer and really is what winter seasonals should be all about. I like this better than last years but last years was very good too.

The nose is huge on the nutmeg....also almost like a good cigar tobacco smell, and a little bit of the tree bark notes.....it is awesome....it is a midnight black in color but some light does shine through....pours a fluffy head of an inch or so, then settles down to very little...body is medium...slick and creamy texture....great mouthfeel..

The taste is very complex....nutmeg...tree bark....a tich of molassis...dark cocoa beans....vanilla....it gets more intriguing as it warms....finishes on a mild dry note which is a perfect ending for a nearly perfect holiday spiced beer.

 865 characters

Photo of Gusler
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The 28th year of this special ale, and as it sets in my glass, all dark and handsome, I reflect back on the previous beers I’ve had dating back to my first special ale, actually the first Anchor beer I sampled on December 29, 1982.

The beer pours a deep sanguineous color, the head modest and chocolate brown, but it dissipates quickly leaving a fine sheet of lace to cover the glass. Aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice all hit you up front, caramel sweetness and malt underlying it all, “Complex” just seems inadequate to describe this delicious nose. Ambrosial at the front, the top quite thin and the finish minimally carbonated, hops all mingled in with the other spices, “Different" for sure, pleasant to the palate, and the aftertaste quite dry and bitter also long lasting.

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4/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of KarlHungus
3.19/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This brew pours an opaque black color. The head is dark tan, creamy, two-fingers in height, and recedes slowly into nice thick lacing. The aroma screams of pepper that doesn't leave much room form anoything else to shine through. The taste is like the aroma: way too much pepper. The mouthfeel is mdeium bodied and very smooth. Overall, this is decent, but not the best OSA.

 374 characters

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

Courtesy of the Hollingshead Deli in Orange, CA. I liked this one a little less than the 2001 version, which I tried yesterday. I'm not sure if it is because the recipe is different, or because the 2001 version had some time to mellow out. This one just seemed more rough around the edges. Pours a nice dark ruby/brown with a medium thick and lasting beige head. Minimal lacing. Aroma is nicely spiced and heavy on the nutmeg. Flavor is seriously spiced, mostly ginger and nutmeg, and a little cinnamon. Had a sweet finish that kind of reminded me of a flat cola. Overall this was decent but a little too much spice.

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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
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