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

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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 Rumrunner
4.27/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle.

Christmas came a little early for me this year. A nice start to the holidays.

This beer pours a dark fudge brown. A nice tan head to start. It gets small but sticks around. Lacing is good. This is one nicely aromatic beer. Spices of cinnamon. Sweet molasses and ginger bread. There is also an airy crispness on the nose. A singed toast scent at the end is excellent. Great aromas.

The flavors start out with a touch of chocolate. Nice spices of cinnamon and mellow nutmeg. There is some sap and honey right before the flavors begin their slightly burnt toasted flavor. Some dark breads at the end. A very nice Christmas parade of holiday flavors.

This beer is just above medium bodied. It has a chewy feel to it. It is very smooth at first with a small amount of crispness at the finish. A very nice drinking beer. It just feels good to drink this beer. Happy Holidays!

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Photo of Longstaff
4.4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Original review when first tasted 11/2002:

Poured almost pitch black with some reddish highlights and a nice light brown head. Aromas of nutmeg and other spices - a little too much for my tastes. Up front this beer is delicious, the spices are subdued, moderate carbonation, thick mouthfeel, and some chocolaty / roasted malt flavors. But then a bitter astringent component hits but not from hops - tree sap? WTF. Overall I'n not a big fan, but I will finish the six pack to see if it grows on me.

Review after aging 9/03:

Boy did time treat this beer right. The aromas were wonderful and not as overpowering as they first were. I picked up flowery, piney, nutmeg, and even curry flavors in the aroma. Had a thick like molasses mouthfeel and tasted like treacle, molasses, and burnt caramel. Very nice. I changed the smell, taste, and drinkability ratings to reflect the aged sample. I have a few left that I am saving for the winter season and I can't wait to buy the 2003 so I can keep it until 2004. This is one of the few beers I think is worth aging.

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Photo of hotstuff
3.44/5  rDev -12.5%
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 rastaman
3.9/5  rDev -0.8%
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 SheepNutz
4.08/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

July 25th, 5 months until Christmas, a good time for my very own personal Christmas in July. 12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep brown, almost black, with one finger of tan head that dies fairly quickly. There is a little bit of lace on the glass. The smell is full of spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and coriander are all detected in the nose. The taste starts out malty, with a good amount of cinnamon and coffee. The finish brings out the hops, and a little bread taste. The mouthfeel is very thick, it just dances on the tongue. The drinkability is fairly nice. I don't know if I can wait 5 months to break out the 1999 vintage. A big shout out to brewdlyhooked13 for this great bottle of beer!

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Photo of WesWes
4.6/5  rDev +17%
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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Photo of UncleJimbo
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on tap at "Christmas in July" at The Blind Tiger.

This ale poured a dark brown (opaque) color with tan foam that left some lace on the glass. The smell was a light malty aroma. The taste was tart and sharp: malt, caramel, cocoa, figs. The mouthfeel was smooth and relatively dry. The body was medium and the carbonation was modest. There was a nice, lingering aftertaste. This was a good holiday ale.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.46/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Deep dark red color, large foamy head. Aroma is malty with nutmeg, clove and chocolate. A medium bodied ale, fraught with spices most noticeably nutmeg. Very warming, smooth taste. Perfect combination for a winter beer. Lots of flavor. If my memory is correct this year's version reminds me of some of the late 80's early 90's vintages. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter with a hint of nutmeg.

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Photo of jcalabre
4.22/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Originally sampled on 28 December 2002. Anchor's annual Christmas present pours dark brown w/ a spicy aroma. It's Extremely drinkable, heck, my wife even liked it. The flavor is sightly sweet but it's a pleasure to take your time sipping it. This beer shouldn't be missed.

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Photo of marburg
4.07/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This delectable brew was on special for two (2!!!) dollars at my favorite local bar, so I figured I'd grab one while I still could. And at $2, it's one of the all-time bar steals.

Pours dark brown with hints of ruby red when held to the light. There's almost no head at all associated with this beer; it has a bit of a limp appearance, really. But the aroma is strong nonetheless, with hints of prunes, toffee, and roasted malts gracing the olefactory senses.

Briefly sweet, the flavor is dominated by the finish -- roasted malts with hop bitterness swimming just under the surface -- but one should not overlook the very subtle cinnamon undertones present as a fleeting notion, just a whisper of flavor.

The slight lack of carbonation, the weight, and the heavy flavors of this beer all contribute to a dense beer that could use a little liveliness on the tongue. But this is a great holiday warmer, and I'm sorry I didn't get to experience it sooner.

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Photo of ZAP
4.55/5  rDev +15.8%
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.

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Photo of fattyre
3.13/5  rDev -20.4%
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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Photo of kwill
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
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 tavernjef
4.55/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Its a shame that they change the recipe for this Special X-mas Ale, cuz this was just a super awesome surprising delight.

Color is almost black with a very deep, dark ruby hue coming through the edges. No head transpired from pouring and what bubbles did appear faded into oblivion.

Has a faint aroma of plum, kinda sweet. Also notes of cinnamon, fig, and nutmeg. Its very soft on the nose. It reminded me of the smell of sweet potatos(yams).

Taste is all over the place, mostly subtle flavors, nothing sticks out. Ahh, but whats there is so very interesting, its lightly, silky smooth with what I believe to be mostly tart cherry with hints of clove, vanilla, and sweet spices. I raised my eyebrows more then once while drinkin it.

The feel is light to medium bodied with a great, quite strong little tart hold on the tongue that is super nice. The finish quietly gets dry and intices you into another swig. I only wish this had a heavier body feel, but thats beside the point of this beer. Its all about being subtle and suprising.

I sure hope they hold onto this recipe and use it again, but I also can't wait to see whats in the next batch.

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Photo of GeoffRizzo
4.59/5  rDev +16.8%
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 Naerhu
4.02/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Dark, almost black with no head yet nice lacing. I was surprised how fine the bitterness was and yet how forward it was. The spices are noticeable, but are really just a compliment to the hops and malts, which is not the case in most seasonal spice brews. It is rare when there is a dark beer that cares as much about the hops as this one does. Rich dark chocolate yumminess.

Reviewed second time on 26Feb03 with same reviews except that this time the head was nice and fluffy and lasted the whole way down. What a difference a day makes.

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Photo of 49degrees
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anchor is known for its annual forray into intriguing beer styles to commemorate the Christmas season. The 2002 edition of their "Merry Christmas And Happy New Year" (2002) brew features "Populus Fremontii" (AKA Cottonwood) essence which makes for a very very unique tasting beer.

Pours a very dark brown, almost black color, similar to a hearty Porter. Miniminal head results on the pour, but what is present takes on a deep brown coloring and a thicky foamy consistency. A moderate amount of lacing clings to the glass during drinking.

The aroma on this brew is extremely intriguing and is unlike anything else that I can recall drinking in the past. As this brew takes its lead from the cottonwood essence, I'm not an expert in the field of cottonwood, but I will say that it makes this ale smell much like perfume or a slightly musky cologne thanks to the maltings used.

Taste wise, this is a very rich beer, almost port-like, but slightly effervescent which helps in the drinkability of the ale. Like in the aroma, the perfume like essences come through in the taste and make for a very interesting beer. Despite the uncanny characteristics, its not an overwhelming or negateive flavor, but it does catch the sense off guard. Some toastiness in the malts are present as is a nice sweetness in the aftertaste.

A very interesting brew. I've only come across it twice this year and finally decided to grab myself a bottle. As a seasonal brew, you better be quick in tracking it down if you're looking for a unique experience as I'm sure it's now long out of production.

[ STATS:>> SERVING: 12 oz. Bottle / ABV: unlisted / PRICE: $1.69 USD ]

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Photo of maxpower
3.9/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2002 vintage, pours a dark glowing red in color, malty spicy aroma of nutmeg and allspice, thick malty piney flavors that coat my tounge. Full body with a thick and creamy yet syrupy mouthfeel, sticky and lasting finish, seems to be good like always.

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Photo of LarryKemp
3.71/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer was very dark, with a thick creamy head.

The hops came through in both the nose and the tongue. In both the malt was present but was muted by the hops. It was not overpowering hops but the hops stayed on the tongue long after the liquid was swallowed. The spices were overshadowed by the hops.

The mouthfeel was medium and somewhat creamy.

It was a very drinkable beer but I feel that for style the spices should be more dominate. Maybe next year the hops will have mellowed and the spices will be more forceful.

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Photo of oberon
3.55/5  rDev -9.7%
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 cbl2
3.77/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Dark Amber w/ nice tan head

Smell: Nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, sugar with burnt raisins the dominant odor.

Taste: Heavily spiced with nutmeg, a very complex flavor that has hints of orange peel buried underneath the spices; Interesting and Good.

Drinkability: It would be difficult to down many of these, but it is worth the experience of a 6 pack. I drank 4, and cellared the other 2. Can't wait to see how those mature, and I look forward to next years batch.

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Photo of jeffboo
4.67/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ho,ho ho......What?? As Santa see's what's been left on the table for him as he makes the rounds. He pours a dark,blood red fluid into the pint glass and holds it to the light. Vivid red streaks shoot through the glass, and the aroma, hmm vanilla,orange, mixed spice ,maybe nutmeg and cinnamin,and a touch of clove? Not your usual eggnog here. He sips and is struck with vanilla bean and orange peel, a nice long finish which is both roasty and toasty. This drink is as creamy as the eggnog
but the warm fuzzy feeling....nice.Santa decides to grab the remaining 6-pack in the fridge as he heads up the chimney. Merry christmas to all.

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Photo of PhantomVodoo
3.7/5  rDev -5.9%
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 Bunnyhop
3.4/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A very dark ruby/brown clear ale with a medium clinging dark tan head. I smell fig, as well as several spices, definitely clove. The taste is peppery with clove, fig, cinnamon, and other spices, with a cedary finish. It had a moderate fullness in the mouth. Overall, I found this to be a very good winter ale, but it seemed there might be too many flavors all at once. On the other hand, the flavors (especially the spices and cedar) pleasantly remain in you mouth after drinking.

(source: Broudy's; Jacksonville Beach, FL)

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Photo of nixhecks
4.04/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

The appearance of this beer is very dark brown, with reddish edges. Medium head which dissappated pretty fast. The aroma reminded me of pumpkin pie, with nutmeg being the most prevalent scent. The mouthfeel was surprisingly smooth and thick, with a lot of carbonation that came once it warmed in the mouth. The taste was also very good, and filled the mouth with all the spices of the season. Unfortunately, the strong spice presence hindered the number that I could drink (at least comfortably) over the course of the night. I just wish I had someof the older brews to try out along with the '02.

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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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