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

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Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2011 (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 Daniellobo on 10-19-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 286 | Ratings: 705
Photo of JimmyW
1.9/5  rDev -50.6%
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.

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Photo of Hoagie1973
2.32/5  rDev -39.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a deep garnet color with a small whitish head that dissipates quickly.

Malt base aroma with a prominent vanilla/spice sweetness.

Tastes more like a Root Beer than a beer. Malt sweetness up front with a dry finish. Not terrible or hard to finish, just not what I think of when I look for a winter warmer (or a beer in general).

Wouldn't even think about a second. Surprising from this brewery.

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Photo of nitro0292
2.55/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This my first Anchor Christmas Ale. Pours a stout-like black with a hummus colored head that stuck around. Mahogany highlights when light penetrates. Plenty of lacing.

Smell is very unique. The nose is met with a unique blend of spices. Almost smells like bubblegum. I cannot pick out individual spices, but it smells like a mixture of nutmeg, mint, all spice, cloves and some noble or English hops. Smell is strong and unique and very "winter," but not overly appealing.

The taste is a mouthful of the spices. Not much else. Very little malt flavor. Too many spices, doesn't taste like beer and is cloying. Not sweet, not bitter. Dry finish.

Mouthfeel is light. Reminds me of a Guinness.

I may grab 1 or 2 of next year's batch since it will be a different recipe. The 2011 is not very good.

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Photo of janubio
2.55/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

2011 bottle. Pours dark red-brown clour, with a big off white head that disappears soon leaving some lace.Smell is very faint, some chocolate and spices. Very soft palate taste of chocolate and spices, cardamom or clove, and maybe allspices. Not bad, but I was hoping for something better.

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Photo of amphion1065
2.58/5  rDev -33%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle served in a Duvel tulip. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a very dark ruby, with nice clarity throughout. A two-finger tan head recedes fairly quickly, leaving minimal lacing.

I really hate to say it, but it's quite a Christmas-y aroma. A pretty clear note of resiny pine, complemented by a touch of toffee. There's quite a bit of chocolate in the nose, far more than I remember in last year's version. It's not terribly sweet, in spite of that description.

Prominent chocolate in the taste. That woody, pine element from the aroma is there, but in the palate it unfortunately just seems oddly vegetal and unappetizing. There's a pretty clear cooked vegetable taste coming through. The end result is something approximating dirt, with an oddly chalk-like taste throughout.

This could really use some more carbonation, as it stands this borders on lifeless. One of the harder-to-drink sub-5% ABV beers I've had.

A pretty serious letdown for me, especially given my love of this beer. To be honest, I'm not too excited to have five more bottles in my fridge, though I'm hopeful that this particular bottle was just an aberration and I'll find that good ol' holiday spirit on a subsequent try.

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Photo of bnes09
2.68/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Dark ruby and amber color. Light tan head. Some lace patches.

Spicy, eggnog-like aroma. Burnt wood. Definitely smells like Christmas.

Roasty malt flavor, like wheat toast and coffee. Spicy, citric and floral hop bitterness. Flavor is overwhelmed with spices. Ginger, nutmeg and hints of cinnamon are way too potent and ruin the experience. Completely unbalanced.

Medium bodied. On the drier side. Coarse texture.

Not a fan. Why do so many brewers overdo the spices? Just ruins the whole beer. Spices are other additives need to be subtle for better balance and to let other qualities come through.

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Photo of match1112
2.73/5  rDev -29.1%
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.

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
2.78/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass.
Pours a healthy deep amber/brown. Brownish head floats nicely on top.
Smells of christmas spices...cloves, nutmeg, allspice...some malts and alcohol notes are present.
Taste is overwhelmingly full of spices. Cloves stand out the most. Its slightly drying of the mouth...almost tart. I could barely finish it...in fact I passed it off to my GF, who seemed to enjoy it a bit more than I did.
It got a fairly positive response from others who grabbed one, but overall this is not for me. Im glad they only brew it once...thats all it deserves.

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Photo of Hophead717
2.8/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

A 12 ounce bottle, poured into a oversized wine glass.

A: A deep ruby, black unless held to the light. A one finger head sits atop the beer, but dissipates quickly to a thin cap. Significant lacing.

S: A nice spicy, sweet mix with dark fruits leading the way. Notes of cinnamon and hints of allspice in the nose. The interplay of sweet fruit and winter spices is nice.

T: Disappointing. The ruby fruit taste is there, but it's simulatenously too sweet and a bit tart. Not good. The spices are okay-I want a little more cinnamon and a little less nutmeg in the finish. A bit of alcohol is noticeable.

M: Nice and smooth, moderate carbonation.

O: I was very unimpressed with this beer. It got better after a few sips, but not one I want to return to.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
2.96/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer pours a dense brown with a thick film of bubbly tan that last for a good bit. It is a bit too dense to see any carbonation.

S- The clean aroma has a soft tartness with a malt hint and a quality that can only be described as Windex with some anise and lavender notes. There is a growing green wood note in the finish.

T- The dry notes have subtle yeast and malt flavors with some dark nougat and melanoidin notes to it. Thee is a note of spruce tips bitterness and spice in the finish.

M- The medium mouthfeel has a fizz finish and no alcohol heat.

O- This beer is subtle but full of interesting but very odd flavors that are all much softer than the bitterness in the finish. I'm not sure what went into the beer but it is the strangest OSA I have ever tried.

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Photo of harrymel
3.02/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3


A: Chocolate red ale with nearly three fingers which fall quickly to a sheet of tan. Spotty lace and excellent clarity.
S: cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Turns out, this year the holiday is pumpkin. Otherwise, some slight nutty malts.
T: Lots more spices: cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, clove. A brown/porter malt profile, which complements the spices well.
M: thin with low carb. Semi dry finish.
O: Meh, not bad. Not going back for more, however.

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Photo of bark
3.04/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The beer is dark brown (50 EBC), the liquid is clear. The three finger head is warm beige and uneven. Good head retention, it leaves some lacing.

The smell is very spicy and malty. Deep notes of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and some cardamom. Roasted warming sweetness that reminds of ginger bread. Some Coca Cola. I think the spices dominate a bit too much.

The taste is very British, reminding of classic English brands. Lots of caramel-roasted malts, and some mixed Christmas spices. Some fine clean passing bitterness. Light body. The aftertaste reminds me of Glögg, the traditional Swedish mulled wine drink. Spices, caramel, some toffee and some fruity notes. The finish is spicy and semi-dry with a hint of warming alcohol.

The carbonation is mild, the bubbles smooth; the liquid is very smooth.

I don’t know… I think this vintage is over-spiced.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.08/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a deep amber color with a light brown head. In the aroma chocolate and small spice. In the taste, cinnamon and chocolate note and a small ginger like presence as well. A spice bite and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry cinnamon like aftertaste. Too much cinnamon for me, eh!

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Photo of LXIXME
3.11/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from an inch or so above the glass leaves a big light brown head above a clear burnt red amber colored beer.

Aroma is roasted malt with nutmeg and other Christmas style spices that have a slight warming effect like the smell of home cooking.

The taste is more of the Christmas spices with some roasted malt background on a medium bodied beer that leaves a slight dry aftertaste that still has some of the Christmas spice hints.

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Photo of ProducerBRBeer
3.11/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - This beer pours a blood cherry red. Nice light head retention that looks a sandy brown with a sticky lace.

S - Smells very tart or almost a copper smell.

T - Very crisp and tart. A somewhat floral after taste. All of it fades quick except the slight bite that sticks around.

M - Medium bodied beer with an even carbonation for its body. Nice creaminess to it.

O - A pretty decent beer. I like the cherry creamy feel to the beer. I just can't get past that copper smell.

 477 characters

Photo of BigCheese
3.18/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at grumpy doyles in reading, ma

Not gonna get too in depth.

Standard Winter Warmer In apperance and smell, dark with ok lacing, smell was quite sweet with a tad of nutmeg/pepper spicyness.

Taste ruined beer for me. A lot of anise. I dont like anise, so i didnt love this brew. As I drnak more it grew on me, probably woudl pair well with dessery.

M: Sessionable, a tad thin.

Taste was complex, beer was well crafted, flavor profile just wasnt for me, I'd try it, I can definitely say flavor is unique/impactful. If you like black licquorice this is a must try.

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Photo of celticfutblclub
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle into duvel tulip

A - black body with light brown two finger head great retention and lacing on this.

S - spruce spices (nutmeg ginger cinnamon) combines well to give a ginger bread nose to this.

T - ginger bread is over done with molasses pine hops in the back are weak and feel out of place. spices float around the edge. no backbone to this beer its like a landscape painting with no background.

M - far too watery feeling with light to medium carbonation some astringency.

O - its too bad because this beer has some really good aspects but they just fluffed major aspects of it in my opinion and its sorely lacking.

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Photo of brewsclues
3.22/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a Chimay chalice glass. Right next to a Christmas tree, too. How appropriate.

First time trying an Anchor Winter Warmer series. Haven't had many Anchor beers, to be honest. West Coast thing, maybe? Don't see a lot of their beers out here, except Steam, of course.

Pours dark, dark brown/ruby color with eggshell white lacing.

Plenty of aromas going on here - a lot of which you would expect from a winter warmer: cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, with some minty-freshness, evergreens and even some banana bread. I like the complexity.

Surprisingly astringent taste, with a very dry finish. It has a lot of the same qualities you might expect from the water in our Christmas tree stand: piney, sappy, with a rather watery-evergreen taste. I do like the clove and nutmeg taste that is all throughout the beer, from start to finish, and I like the nice bite it has. There is also some cocoa bean bitterness to it, which distinguishes itself from other winter warmers I've had this year. The mouthfeel is too dry and chalky for my liking. Still can't shake the feeling that I've been drinking from a Christmas tree stand. Is that the point of a Christmas ale, though?

Overall: Not blown away by this beer, but I assume that the Warmer style will appeal to lots of folks this time of year. If they could turn down the dry, bitter evergreen resin taste and make it a touch sweeter, this would have scored higher for me. Balance is the key to a good winter warmer. A good effort from Anchor - I'll try 2012 next year, I'm sure.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.24/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Brown appearance, red edges, beige head in the half inch range. A little bit of woody, brown malt.

Plenty of toffee, peat malt, almost no hops, tiny bit of bitterness. Not really warming. Cola like notes. Decent in limited quantities.

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Photo of Immortale25
3.27/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a Dogfish signature snifter. No readable freshness date.

A- From a slightly heavy pour comes a nearly complete opaque black color with a one finger head that retains well and eventually succumbs to an 1/8th inch head along with some sticky lacing.

S- Smells of graham cracker, pumpkin and glazed raisins. Very lovely.

T- Say what? At first there's a very rubber-like taste that doesn't exactly fade. Up next is a deep, roasty malt push on the palate followed by some piney notes and then finally minute bits of the aforementioned graham cracker, pumpkin and raisins as well as other various spices. My only guess is that the amount of dark malts far outweighed the special ingredients resulting in a weird flavor profile. I could allow the band-aid-like astringency if the ABV was more than just 5.5%. Such a radical turnaround from the aroma.

M- The herbal vapors make an unfavorable bite on the tongue and causes all the bad tastes to stay longer. Medium-high carbonation.

O- This one was all over the place. It smells fantastic but tastes just too strange and unpleasant. Not undrinkable, but I'll never have another one of these no matter what year it's from.

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Photo of david18
3.28/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

I had a draft of this beer at the Amsterdam Ale House on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Overall not a remarkable beer but not bad. The abv was lower than I expected for the style.

Appearance is a dark red, very little in the way of carbonation. I was unable to see through it but it was not cloudy. Just dark.

Smell was a little mild. Overall it was raison-y with a slight biscuit aroma as well.

Taste was very similar to the aroma. Dark fruit but pretty light in general.

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Photo of hyprlt
3.29/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a tulip.

1.5 inch (ish) tan head. A dark ruby, like dr. pepper. I read the previous review as I drank it and it reminded me of Mr. Pibb after he graduated med school.

Great smells. Very interesting blend of scent. Clove, slight bit of ginger maybe.

Taste seems to mirror aromas.

Carbonation is nice but liquid is a bit thin.

Not my favorite hop and spice blend. Not offensive, but not one of my favorites.

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Photo of jtierney89
3.3/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep yet clear amber color with a slightly tannish head. Nice head retention with a huge ginger bread nose. Some piney hops are noticeable as well in the background.

Chocolate chip cookie like sweetness up front with kind of a thin body. Unfortunately it's very similar to harpoon's winter warmer. Not as watery as a finish as that one though. The malt body is fantastic upfront but it doesnt hold together well on the back end. More hops are necessary perhaps?

Kind of a let down unfortunately. Somewhat of a piny dry finish.

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Photo of mastodonj
3.3/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 12 oz bottle into a diconic

Highly carbonated with large bubbles and a medium sized mocha-colored head. Very close to opaque with reddish tint. Real nice looking.

At first, smell is a little bit tart along with the taste. Some nice maltiness follows.

Clean finish gives it an above average mouthfeel.

Altogether, it's a decent Christmas ale but would not recommend it at the $12/six pack price in our local discount liquor store.

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Photo of Onenote81
3.3/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got to try this one thanks to ClarkPinnock bringing some over the other night. I missed my chance to get some around the holidays.

Pours a dark rusty amber with a small off-white head as a capper. The nose is sweet and spicy. Lots of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg. Smooth creamy mouth. Subtle carbonation. As I sip this one, the spices greet me with a hearty "Hello!" They impart a rather dull bitterness to the beer, rather than any sweet characteristics. Some dark fruit-like flavors like fig noted. This wasn't my favorite of their annual release, but it was fun to drink. Thanks, Jared.

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Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 705 ratings.
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