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

very good
126 Reviews
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.

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Reviews: 126 | Ratings: 136
Photo of Wasatch
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.12/5  rDev +4.8%
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 Goldorak
3.82/5  rDev -2.8%
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 TastyTaste
4.6/5  rDev +17%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Looks picture perfect with a well sculpted head that rises above the body of the black beer, shaped by my August Schell tulip. Smell is of cinnamon and clove, very spicy and inviting, mulled for the winter months. It's about 38 degrees here, raining and windy. Perfect timing for this beer. The beer is spicy and lightly smokey, mellowed from the 3+ years of aging this beer has recieved. Hops are not very present, but the cinnamon and ginger flavors just send this beer off into aftertaste. Not a very carbonated beer, but I like the experience overall. I think the aging has done ths beer some good. Very good.

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Photo of ithacabaron
4.7/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pulled out from my cellar, and served without chilling (about 50-55 F) to celebrate the true coming of this year's winter weather (January 17, 2005). Raised back numbering reads #201.

Appearence is a rich, deep, toffee-hued brown, with amber highlights when held right up to the light. There is a admirable inch or so high of creamy brown head that settles down into a smooth film. The lace that follows it down the glass is delicate and lovely as well. Beautiful.

Aroma is heavily vinous, with a notes of port, carob, toasted graham cracker, and oh-so-mellow honeyed hops. The spices are still there, but way, way back, as a base for the malty flavors. Even with all this going on, it's an organized, clean scent, uncomplicated and familiar. I could smell this all day.

Taste explodes with rich, enveloping malt, but not in a traditional sense. The warmth of this offering is evident, and it's rich, aged whiskey notes whisper at you, but there is almost no feeling of alcohol at all -- all the rich taste, and none of the booziness. An amazing accomplishment, and a grand change from the more brash character it took only a few years ago. Finish is clean again, mildly bittersweet from the spices and hopping. Everything has come together so well in this beer. Its taste is not one of many elements and aromas, but instead a new sensation unto itself. Masterful.

Mouthfeel is right on the dime, pillow-soft and creamy.

Drinkability is right up there -- I have fond memories of times past with this beer, and drinking it takes me right back there. I only would want to drink one (as I did back then as well) and I think only having one is appropriate. It was a marker of that brewery's year, and so each occasion with it becomes a marker of the drinker's life as well.

A supreme accomplishment, made even better with age. Besults like this are why I cellar the bottles that I do. I wonder with anticipation as to what my remaining bottles will taste like in 10, or 20, or 50 years.

All in all, and I wouldn't say this lightly -- this is one of the world's finest brews.

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Photo of Crotor
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer has the unfortunate disadvantage of competing with my idealized memory of it when it was fresh - I was new to beer geekdom then, in love with the world, and the '02 OSA was my first.

Pours with the standard dark brown and 1 finger of tan head - solid for an older beer.

Smells slightly yeasty and heavily vinous.

Tastes nice and roasty, with a significant vinous characteristic, and it's also slightly tart. There's a lingering "woody" element. The spices have broken down and melded, and there's little pine element left. Overall, a nice profile at this age.

It offers a delectably creamy, smooth mouthfeel and primo drinkability. It's a shame I only have a few bottles.

Overall, this might be a little beyond where I want it to be, but it's damn good nonetheless. The best of the vintage OSAs I've had thus far this season. Though I'll have to see what the '03 is like. I have a sneaking suspicion I might like 'em a bit younger than others do...

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Photo of RenoZymurgist
3.7/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark, almost black brew that allowed red light to shine through with a tan head that subsided quickly.
The aroma was of licroice and dark roasted grains, alcohol and some faint fruity esters.
Mellower than I remember when it came out, the spices don't dominate the flavor profile and it seems to have more of an alcohol presence. The roasted malt flavors are light yet linger in the finish with a blend of the spices and alcohol. Nice taste after having been aged two years I think that two years is about right for Our Special ales to be enjoyed.
The mouthfeel is nice and smooth, the flavor just rolls over your tongue with a slight prickling of the carbonation.
Very drinkable, so far I think this is the best vintage I have tried.

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Photo of ken3c
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased a six pack for $7.00. I thought it was a good deal and I was right. There were two other sixers. I hope they are still there.

Image of a cottonwood on the label. This beer is very close to black. There is a tinge of red at the corners. A Quarter inch lumpy head recedes pretty quickly to a ring of foam with islands. Plenty of foam sticks to the glass on every sip but it readily slips back down.

There are aromas of nutmeg and licorice but the overwhelming feeling is that you are walking through a deciduous forest. It smells quite woody.

The taste is quite sweet but turns sharply woody. The finish has a sense of licorice. I've tasted barks before. I wouldn't be surprise if cottonwood bark was in the list of ingredients.

This feels very astringent. It's also light to medium fullness and lightly carbonated.

I really like this beer but after a couple, my mouth gets really dry from the astringency. My typical rule is to drink an equal amount of water for every beer. I need to double it for this one.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.02/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

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Photo of StuFox
3.93/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My friends and I drank quite a number of these this winter (2003-4) before discovering that the they we were being sold year old beer. When we discovered this, we didn't slow down for a second. Spicy and almost kinda sweet, it combines the roasted nut and ginger spice flavors that are associated with the holiday season. This beer could get away with being all about the flavor, but it is also remarkably smooth. This beer is expensive, but worth every penny.

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Photo of stingo
4.3/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up on a lark just before Christmas 2003 in a magnum bottle. Waited til now to taste it (Christmas in July) and wow it was worth the wait - burnished hops flavor, strong but rounded is the main taste on the palate. Mouthfeel is very nice but I think I would have liked something slightly heavier (but ever so slightly). Very attractive burnt orange color in the glass. Was sorry to see it go, but glad it came to visit. Highly Recommended.

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Photo of HardTarget
4.02/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on June 3, 2004, found an old case in the “Whip In”.
Aroma: Heavy spices, pine, allspice, nutmeg seem like likely candidates. Under all those spices I get a bit of roasted malt.
Appearance: Very dark, close to black but a shade of brown with some ruby highlights.
Flavor: Merry Christmas! The pine and spices are right there, I needed to reach for the beer under them. While the spice takes the first impression and a lingering aftertaste, in the middle is a good solid beer. It has some lager characteristics, clean and smooth with a hint of sweet, almost like an amber beer. The sweet takes the form of a brown sugar taste.
Mouthfeel: A bit of chew on a full bodied beer, but very smooth. The finish is a bit dry.
Overall Impression: They really unload the spice rack on these babies. While it is a treat, the overall effect is that one is plenty and it would be work to make a session out of these. This seemed to age nicely, I’ll hold off on the others.
Like a good holiday, it should be enjoyed rarely, but regularly.

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Photo of alexgash
3.98/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Aged one year.

Dark ruby-brown body with a festive tan head. Smell: spices. Cinnamon, spruce, nutmeg, eggnog, you name it. Taste is, not surprisingly very spice-laden. Vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg take the forefront backed by toffee/baking chocolate malt. Finish is roasty and bitter, with the bitterness lingering and becoming more pronounced. Nice creamy feel, but a little too much spice for me to drink all the time.

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Photo of Gavage
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
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 Billolick
3.63/5  rDev -7.6%
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 jahred
4.45/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow, did I hit the jackpot when I came upon a 6-pack of this in Binny's when most stores are out of the 2003 vintage of OSA (tasted on 1/10/04)!

Pours a dark brownish-black color with a very thick head and a beautiful lace pattern stuck on the glass as I drink. It's dark enough that it looks more like a stout that anything else. Beautiful for a spiced beer.

The smell is also quite amazing - mint, anise and allspice, and possibly some other spices as well that I couldn't quite recognize. The definite signatures of a holiday beer.

The taste? Almost as good as the smell. The predominant taste is of sweet caramel and lemons, with a bit of a hoppy flavor and roasted malts coming thru as the beer warms. Toward the bottom of my glass (I had to pace myself so as not to drink this too quickly!) I also noticed vanilla, nutmeg, an interesting and generic nutty taste, and ... lemon spice cake! Mmmmm...

The mouthfeel is also impressive - the beer is rich, thick and very creamy. As for the drinkability, I easily moved on to my second glass. Maybe it's because the beer was sitting on a shelf for a year, but this was definitely smoother than the already-fantastic 2003 OSA.

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Photo of RedBaron
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Man, this is one of the reasons I love Christmas ales. Once again, Anchor delivers a uniquely interesting holiday brew. I've kept a six pack of this 2002 version for over a year now, and decided to open it just before we turn the calendar to 2004.

The brew poured nicely, with a tannish head that sustained nicely throughout the drink, leaving Brussels lace in its wake. The color was a deep mahogany, nearly opaque. The aroma was about as I expected for Anchor Christmas ale: a great combination of pleasantly burnt malt, aromatic hops, and a figgish/sweet nose.

The mouthfeel was somewhat lighter in body than I remember in years past, but still delivered lots of nice and interesting spices. Initially, I detected chocolate/molasses, followed swiftly by cinnamon and anise, and I the finish had a nice bittering hop quality.

Because of the 'lightness' feel to this sample, it's certainly more quaffable than in years past. I'm not so sure this is a great thing, but it is different and yet pleasant. After all, Anchor will tell you that they put out a different character each and every holiday season.

I'm a big fan of this ale, and I hope that the good folks at Anchor keep up the holiday mystery year after year.

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Photo of mschofield
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was aged for 1 year, 2002 vintage, tasted 12/2003
Populos Fremontii
Pours a deep dark mahongany-red with a 2 finger ivory-brown head.
The aroma is cinammon (which appropriately comes from tree bark) pine and ginger.
Spicy tree-sap taste, like the "tea" I'd drink in boy scouts (made from pine needles, spearmint leaves etc...), a malty beer.
Full taste, medium feel. The drinkability is good for 1 six pack a year, but I wouldn't see myself buying it all the time if it was a year round offering.

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Photo of Weissenheimer
3.98/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer has a lovely and distinctive medium-sized bubbly head with the color and sheen of a marshmallow melting as it toasts over a fire. As I drink the dark cola-colored beer the head fades, leaving little lacing.

The smell is nice and spicy. There are hops hiding in there too, and a blend of other scents that are difficult to nail down. I believe I smell caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg, and molasses.

The initial taste is one of hoppy coffee. It has a watery feel that reminds me of a cask ale. It's a little smoky and roasted, with a tiny bit of sourness in the finish. I believe there's a significant amount of molasses in there, too, but it's blended with a black tea flavor that I've since come to associate with this beer. It's challenging but delicious. I'll be seeking out more of this.

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Photo of scottum
4.3/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown black black with a nice tan head. Tastes of spice and everything nice. Mmmm evergreen goodness. Nice balance with the malts and the spiceness. Potency is there in flavor, but just barely. I'm glad I waited a year to try the bottles of this since I really didn't enjoy '02 nearly as much on the tapskie.

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Photo of yankeeheel
4.34/5  rDev +10.4%
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 TheLongBeachBum
4.47/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 OSA - Sampled 1 Year Old

Presentation: Short squat clean lined 12 fluid ounce standard seamed Anchor bottle. The OSA format is maintained, the cream colored label has red writing and a green picture of a "Populus Fremontii" (Fremont Cottonwood) as the chosen foliage for the 2002 label.

Appearance: Light mahogany color that ha a very deer ruby color when held to my desk lamp - Wow! - looks good. A very thin tan-brown head, struggles to form, even when the beer is agitated to its maximum. Almost flat appearance, dregs of carbonation and very low conditioning.

Nose: Complex nose, lots of dark malts that have been soaked in spices of many kinds, but ginger is the one spice that seems to leap out and is the on that is easily detected. Hmmm, I like ginger. Coriander hides in the background.

Taste: Spicy introduction, much more complex than the 2003 that I just had. Time has merged the dark malts, fruits and spices into an emulsified Ale with some seriously enticing and very smooth characteristics. Coriander is still detectable in the beginning but the best part of the beer is the Ginger Snap like crack of the beer that pops and dances on the tongue, it finishes with a moist McVities Ginger Cake like ending that is to die for. Fantastic.

Mouthfeel: Given the almost zero carbonation, this is a very smooth beer in the mouth. It has all the gorgeous juiciness of a freshly soaked Dundee cake, the alcohol is there but soaked in and with dark fruits. Has the feel of a ginger soaked Dundee cake on the tongue – very nice indeed.

Drinkability: I only had the one. Damn. I wish I never gave my other bottle away now. I must try and get some more, one way or another.

Overall: I only managed to get two of these as broken singles, one of which I gave away. So I figured after a year it was time to crack this one open, I could wait not longer. I’m glad I waited the year though. The OSA’s definitely get better with age I find, if cared for at least, and whilst I never tried this “fresh” as I will now do for the subsequent releases, this has definitely improved with age I feel.

A lovely offering, the “ginger cake aspect” especially made it all the more appealing. Lovely! I must remember to pick up 6-Packs of OSA from now on.

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Photo of freed
4.35/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lovely bottle and label, but my fridge seems to be a bit cold. I've poured, but need to warm it some. Appearance is quite nice, a rich dark brown with ruby glimmer. The head is thin but its unchanging though the beer. Its also a dark brown color with tiny bubbles.

The aroma is somewhat mild but still nice. Some of the smells are quite familiar, but I can't pick out more than the malts, some very roasted, and a mix of spices. There's almost a arbor, anise, and molasses aroma.

Now that its warm, the flavors do stand out better. The body is kind of thin for the color, and the peated, smokey finish is nice. Otherwise its fairly sweat malt flavors.

Right after swallowing, there's a delightful peat dryness that makes you interested in having another.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.87/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Grabbed up a stray bottle of Anchor's OSA at Whole Foods in Pasadena, thinking I got a 2003 and not paying much attention to the rather pedestrian label. Shoulda looked closer. Glad I didn't as I might have done something idiotic like put it back.
Poured from the rather stubby brown bottle, the 2002 OSA has a really dark brown hue with a great foamy tan head that dwindled down to a thin ring and some wispy lacing. The smell is an enticing blend of molasses, stick cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. I actually went rooting through my spice rack trying to match up what my nose was pulling in from the beer. The taste was a gloriously rich and soothing mix of caramel malt, molasses and brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, with a dash of dark rum added for kicks. The feel was full, smooth and rich.
Anchor's 2002 OSA, having ripened for a year, brought back memories of the Christmas cookies my Dad made when I was a kid. A delightful beer to enjoy for the holidays and thanks for the memories of simpler, care-free times.

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Photo of inebrius
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's got me humming "over the river and through the woods"; lounge style, of course.

Rich, deep roast coffee-colored brew that poured a healthy khaki head that is now nearly gone but the spiced orange and chocolate aromas are inviting and you want to pound it down but you are patient and you sip and there it is again the chocolate, only now you taste the spruce buds and dark-skinned fruits ripe to the point of decomposing and the velvety liquid washes over you and spreads and you sip and sip again, and now it's gone.

Sometimes it's cool to drink old beer. Thanks Evan!

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Our Special Ale 2002 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
3.93 out of 5 based on 136 ratings.
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