Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Anchor Brewing Company

Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Winter Warmer
3.86 | pDev: 14.77%
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Reviews: 286 | Ratings: 709 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by JohnnyChicago:
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JohnnyChicago from Illinois

3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A: Pours dark, woody brown with an off-white head.

S: Smell is CHISTMAS!!! Seriously though, carmelized sugar and cider. Spices are pretty strong and this has a big pine aroma as well.

T: Smooth caramel and sharp spices along with that evergreen element make this a tasty and original brew.

D: Mouthfeel is about right; the spice element is good, but a little overbearing and hurts the drinkability a bit.

Overall: This is a brew I look forward to every year. If I was pressed to decide, I think I may have liked last years a bit better, but this is still a very tasty beer. Keep up the good work, Anchor.

Dec 11, 2011
More User Reviews:
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jumbopanda from California

4/5  rDev +3.6%

Nov 20, 2011
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Gregwa from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +3.6%

Mar 11, 2012
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Jimmys from Pennsylvania

3.64/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

2011 Christmas Ale into Hardywood Park tulip.

A: a rich brownish, red hue. slightly hazed. foamy head is similar to the color of the body with a lot more white. retention is perfect. thick lacing left behind after each sip.

S: a little bit of molasses and spruce tips. a little bit of pine wood as well. sweet. unfermented sugars.

T: starts sweet a bit of plums. slightly woody as well. a little bit of cinnamon. lingering flavor is caramel malt flavor. a little bit of diacetyl in the finish.

M: moderate, tingly carb on a medium body.

D: cant get too pumped on this one. good, but nothing mind blowing. seems like time hasn't been too good to it either as I notice a bit of diacetyl that I think will get worse as time goes on.

Apr 05, 2013
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Agent1 from Canada (BC)

4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Rather dark and luminous. Nice limited head. Great lacing and very creamy in appearance. Sits well and retains consistency.

Smell - Nice bouquet. Not too much going on here, but somewhat original. Quite spicy. An interesting aroma of concentrated cinnamon and nutmeg. Sourdough. Biscuit is noticeable after it warms. Cherries and other Christmas fragrances come to mind. Love this! It really makes me think of Christmastime.

Taste - Nice and spicy. Lots of earthy floral notes. Perhaps a hint of pine. Cinnamon and nutmeg. Light smokey taste right before the finish. A bit of bread and dough (maybe more sourdough, actually). Definitely appropriate for Christmas! And for that, it acquires accolades.

Mouthfeel - Thick and "chewy." Decently smooth. Arguably a bit too bitter, but a solid feel nonetheless!

Overall - A solid Christmas ale. Great choice of flavors and ingredients to represent the Christmas season. That being said, it is not terribly complex and definitely lacks the depth that some of my favorites.

Dec 17, 2011
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GrizzlyBrew from Georgia

3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - I so excited just watching this pour into the glass, the body's a deep russet, the head looks almost pink, but now settles to a tan sea of bubbles

S - dark, dark caramel, fruit cake for days, some minerality, some citrus, lots going on here

T - burnt caramel coming through with tea-like flavors running throughout and I'm left with an almost immediate tactile roughness on the front of my tongue. I'm getting cola like flavors also. low bitterness is balanced with the fairly dry malt bill.

M - mod-high carb, but still extremely smooth. except for the tannin-like tactile sensation, very nice. There's a fullness that's not heavy

O - one of the more interesting winter warmers for sure. I would revisit possibly

Dec 13, 2011
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JimmyW from Illinois

1.9/5  rDev -50.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

I'm just confused. This isn't very good at all. I can't even bring myself to take another sip so I may give a proper review. Last year's was terrible. Tasted like a bitters & soda. This one tastes different. Maybe a little nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and I don't know why this tastes so bad. Mouthfeel is fine but I just can't drink anymore.

I just don't get this one.

Apr 10, 2012
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thecheapies from Pennsylvania

3.6/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed alongside Anchor Christmas 2012 and Anchor Christmas 2010 on Black Friday 2013:

Pours a warm mahogany color with a lush, but short, light tan head. Sat a tip over half an inch and receded to a thin cap with a pronounced ring. One or two strands of lace.

Clove, some pine, a bit of licorice, and brown bread maltiness. Hints of cinnamon and nutmeg and allspice, as there are notes of apple-y muting and light paperiness. Malts are a little thinner, but the roast is still powerful. Even lightly vinous, which I don't mind.

Less sweet than the '12 and its own aroma, for that matter. Soft and creamy malts with clove, nutmeg, and allspice leading the spice front. Faintly spicy with some earthy wintergreen and steeped cereal notes offering some added roast bitterness. Slightly minty, too.

A little bit boring in the mouthfeel. The body is light and a little oily. The carbonation is disappointingly low. It could really use a spike of airiness to push this in the right direction. The body suffered, too.

I remember really liking this year when it came out, but at two years old, it's suffering a bit. This one didn't pull out all the stops for me, and the feel is really what makes me shake my head.

Dec 01, 2013
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rolltide8425 from Pennsylvania

3.75/5  rDev -2.8%

Jul 11, 2012
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TheQuietMan22 from Iowa

4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. The clever but stupid (PRINT THE DATE!) freshness code “1NJ” is decrypted to mean this bottle rolled off the line on November 10, 2011.

Appearance: Straight pour into a pint glass. The color is dark mahogany with ruddy tones. Three fingers of thick, slightly tanned head dissipated to leave a billowy cap and later a thin lacing with a ring around the edge.

Smell: The cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices are immediately noticeable, and underneath are aromas of caramel, chocolate, cherry, and plum. There is a touch of pine and spruce, or maybe that is my imagination.

Taste: Surprisingly tame for an Anchor Christmas Ale, but it does have a nice smoothness and is very mellow. Toasted malts dominate with flavors of caramel, chocolate, and toffee, and the spices are subdued compared to the smell. The cinnamon and nutmeg are prominent, however, as well as a good dose of earthy hops, pine, and spruce.

Drinkability: This year’s edition lacks the spice intensity from previous versions, which is a little saddening (I really want to point the figure at Anchor’s new corporate lords), but it is still pretty good. It offers both malt smoothness and holiday spice. Technically, it is very drinkable and should probably appeal to a broader range of palates than previous editions.

Dec 24, 2011
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BilbosNuts from Missouri

3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a deep, clear mahogany color with dark cherry colored hues coming off the edges. It has a one finger khaki colored head that has decent retention and maintains a ring over the top. There appears to be some light carbonation coming up the sides.

S: There is a big malt presence including sweet caramel and some nuttiness. There are also some spices present, most notable is a nutmeg-like aroma. There is a bit of a boozy alcohol smell as well.

T: The taste is comprised of lots of malts and spices. Again there is the sweet caramel and nuttiness from the malts. Nutmeg and cinnamon are the most noticeable spices. Unlike the aroma, the alcohol is not detected at all.

M: This has a medium body with a light amount of carbonation. It has a bit of a chewy feel to it yet is very slick.

O: I enjoy a good winter warmer and this one does not disappoint. It is solid in every category and I will revisit this one from time to time.

Nov 11, 2011
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KTCamm from New Jersey

3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap as the rotating beer at Little Pub in Ridgefield CT.

Pours a ruby red brown, on the dark side, with a small semblance of foam. Dollops atop.

An interesting mix of spices and flavors - vanilla, pine, caramel, tofee, dark fruits - none too prominent. A secretive blend. Balanced carbonation becomes creamy in the mouth, and finishes dry.

Overally very good - a beer I look to taste once a year.

Dec 27, 2011
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BodiesLexus from New York

3.25/5  rDev -15.8%

Oct 27, 2013
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Stunner97 from New Jersey

3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- beer pours dark black to brown in color, very little carbonation, tan head quickly fade to just white lacing along the outer rim of the glass
Smell- spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, malt and little hop
Taste- spice mixed with maltyness is the main thing you notice in the beginning then smacked up by a very firm hop finish, balance is pretty good on these but you have to be in to Beers with pretty good amount of spice, flavor reminds me almost of darker more hopped pumpkin beer,
Mouthfeel- light to medium bodied, crisp amount carbonation,
Drink ability/ overall - i found this Beer to be extremely drinkable and found they kept me coming back for more, great balance and very tasty, this beer lives up to its reputation each year

Nov 08, 2011
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django24 from Washington

3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From Notes. Served at cellar temp ~50 degrees F

Appearance: Clear, dark brown bordering black with mahogany highights. Small but decent khaki head.

Aroma: Strong toasty-roasty malt, dark fruits, a little bubblegum, maybe some chocolate? There's some kind of woodiness to this as well.

Taste: Fairly strong toasty bread, some cola, dark chocolate, and spices and/or spicy hops. Roasted bitterness nice with the hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium body but tastes a little thinner than expected. Smooth upfront, little carb prickle and then hops and toasted/roasted astringency along with the hops fades to a small and nice lingering sweetness.

Overall: My first "Our Special Ale". Not what I was expecting as far as the taste. From the looks it could have been thick and heavy but it's actually clear and lighter at 5.5 abv. Pleasantly surprised. Put another bottle away in the cellar to see how it ages.

Feb 27, 2012
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jeffthepony from Georgia

3.5/5  rDev -9.3%

Dec 04, 2011
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ScruffySouthpaw from New York

3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured unto an over-sized tulip glass.

Appearance: A dark amber, bubbling right from the first pour. Head rose a tan-white head pretty thick which was about an 1" from the body.

Smell: Light cinnamon and/or nutmeg. Disappears after a sniff that's why I couldn't go higher.

Taste: Pretty good taste, nutmeg, cinnamon but not overly done liike some other winter or fall beers. Presence of hops won't leave your mouth (thank you Anchor brewing) will definitely have to pick another one of these up.

Mouth: Pretty obvious the best property of this beer. Goes down heavy and smooth....textured like a hefeweisen but better.

Overall: Well finished beer. It is hard to judge i feel like the taste's is all over the place with hops, cinnamon and nutmeg. There are other things to consider, how well and almost perfectly carbonated this beer is medium-heavy and just perfect enough to say, "one more!". Cheers!

Jan 09, 2012
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dogfishandi from New York

3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle just above fridge temp poured into a snifter. bottling code "1SV" translates to Sept. 22,2011.

pours out a very dark brownish color with some wonderful deep ruby colors when held up to the light. a big 3 fingers of a biege/ khaki head that slowly receded to some nice looking creamy, patchy retention and some very thick lace left on the glass.

aww.. that classic winter spice and raisony, dark fruity malt ive come to love over the years. anise as well as bits of a sweet toasty malt.

pine and a little spruce, raisony, figgy dark fruits, sweet toasted malt, a rounded flavor of cinnamin, nutmeg, anise, and other such winter spices. finishes with just a slight fruity ester and an even bitterness.

mouthfeel seems a little weak this year, more light bodied than i remember and perhaps even a slightly lighter color. i remember it a bit more black with maybe a little roasted malt in there.

overall, just the staple of the winter warmer style. i look forward to this every winter. this is also a great one to throw in the cellar, i look forward to my vertical, 3 years so far.

Nov 13, 2011
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Texasfan549 from Texas

3.5/5  rDev -9.3%

Jan 29, 2012
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pants678 from California

3.81/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very deep brown that's lighter at the bottom of the glass, a bubbly beige head on top.

Faintly smells of peppermint and pine.

Not as pungent as last year's. Much heavier on pine, with a subtle spearmint. Stains the tongue, seems hollow until you get through the first quarter, thereafter has a wooded and charred flavor that's a base. A roasted sort of cinnamon taste gives an edge.

More carbonation than a porter, but sharp as this series is known for.

Nov 21, 2011
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4/5  rDev +3.6%

Dec 20, 2011
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slim24 from New York

3.5/5  rDev -9.3%

Mar 02, 2012
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match1112 from Illinois

2.73/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

deep brown body with ruby highlights. i think this is my first beer from anchor that didnt produce some type of head, just a small tan ring. nose is sweet and spicy with hints of allspice, juniper, toffee. taste is spicy at first with a sweet finish. mouthfeel is pretty weak. feels flat and watery, like a flavored cola gone bad. not impressed with this offering. think i'm gonna give up on winter warmers.

Dec 29, 2011
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buschbeer from Ohio

3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle
Served in a pint glass

A - It pours a ruddy brown with some garnet highlights. A relatively tame pour yields me a mountain of light brown head.

S - I get a lot of the Christmas smells that one would expect, clove and cinnamon. I also get some faint pine and roasted malt.

T - The taste is more of the roasted malt. I get some caramel and toast. The spices and pine show up more towards the end. It does conjure thoughts of Christmas.

M - Medium. Not a lot of carbonation.

O - I know each year is a different recipe, but each year is very similar. I like the roasted malt backbone with the pine and holiday spices thrown in there.

Feb 15, 2012
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adrian21 from Virginia

4/5  rDev +3.6%

Nov 15, 2011
Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 709 ratings