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 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 AndyAvalanche
3.93/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a bulbed pint glass. Liquid comes out sort of a muddy Amber color to light brown. When held up to the light you can see Amber highlights and that it's slightly hazy. Brown eggshell colored head with mostly small bubbles. Ok lacking.

Smell is pretty good. Dark malts are present, it has a nice dark bready/cakey essence to it. Hints of licorice, clove, molasses, prunes, and dates.

Tastes pretty good, certainly has a Christmas like vibe to it in tbe flavors. Again there's a good dark grain bill. Hints of earthy clove, molasses, licorice and a bit of spicy fruit cake flavors. Pretty good, I've had it fresh too and I think it's held up pretty well.

A head medium feel with a flavor that lingers for about a second. Good carbonation level. Sweet and better at the same time with acidic finish similar to a red wine. Good beer, I'd probably only drink it winter time but it's still good. I've liked all the Christmas ales so far and don't regret any of them. They certainly serve their purpose.

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%

Spicy nose with a little fruit cake.
Pours brilliant deep chestnut under a 1" tan head, clingy lace.
A very malty, spicy ad dried fruit palate with some astringency and dryness from the spice that lingers through the finish.
Medium body to a little above, medium carbonation.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, with a more than obvious vintage date. Code on the back label appears to read JSV, but I could be wrong. This is my seventh vintage of this yearly winter seasonal from Anchor. A pine tree on this year's label.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours a thin watery caramel with some mahogany brown highlights when held to the light. Under a finger of creamy tan head when given a good swirl in the glass. Some nice lacing.

S - Smell resembles the others, but there is something different about this one also. More pine and spruce this time around. Brown bread, molasses, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, earthy yeast, some buttery diacetyl, & eucalyptus.

T - Taste is of light chocolate malt roast, some cream, herbal spice rack notes, licorice, allspice, pine, apple, cinnamon, cola, and some vanilla. There is actually a lot going on here.

M - Feel is smooth and creamy. Somewhat thin and watery, but with moderate roast flavors lingering on the palate.

Overall, a unique and interesting vintage of this beer. It definitely exceeded my expectations, and is probably one of the better ones I have tried. I look forward to more.

Anchor Brewing Our Special Ale 2011 ---4/5.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

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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 elNopalero
4.55/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is the 2011 vintage, as their recipe changes every year. And yet every year its absolutely fantastic. A real delight in bottle form!
This pours a burgundy brown with thin lacing. It has a wonderful and wonderfully complex aroma of clove, nutmeg, and is that spruce? Cardommon? Jasmine? All three? Coming through on the finish.

There’s a malty backbone to the spices that balances everything out when tasted. Spicing isn’t heavy or overpowering, but enough to let you know its there and keep things interesting. Spruce comes through, menthol/eucalyptus as well. It has a great finish.

Wishing I drunk this one out of my Our Special Ale commemorative pint glass so I could have inaugurated it in style!

I revisited this in December, 2012.

Must say I’m impressed with my pour—bravo! Job well done! Good show old chap!
Seriously, thought, it looked amazing. This dark ruddy-amber with the longest lasting foam cap atop. It has a wonderful aroma with juniper berries, some wintergreen menthol, and a cinnamon-nutmeg hint rounding it out.

The flavor has more juniper and some pine mingling with wintergreen resin and a hint of …allspice? Or that all-too-vague ‘holiday seasoning’, cloves, allspice, nutmeg et al. followed by unexpected but incredible eucalyptus and wintergreen flavors. Whatever the case, the beer retains great carbonation and effervescence even after a year. Always fantastic and this iteration is no exception.

Revisited July, 2013
This held up exceptionally well, as I would expect. More of the same above, although the raisin and fig notes have come to the front, with some date-caramel sweetness rounding it out. There’s a hint of menthol and eucalyptus as it finishes. Fantastic brew from a fantastic brewery.

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Photo of Jimmys
3.64/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

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Photo of jsisko01
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours an extremely dark brown color, it looks black. Has a thin, brown head that dissipates instantly leaving a pretty nice lacing.

Smell - Has a subtle sweetness, chocolate, coffee, and some spices.

Taste - VERY sweet.. followed by toffee, ginger, and nutmeg. Not as spicy as your average winter warmer..

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

Overall - This is a pretty good winter warmer.. I'm surprised it doesn't have any cinnamon in it.

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Photo of BamaViper1
3.4/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed this 12oz bottle as I was leaving the grocery store. Considering this was a winter warmer from 2011 and I bought it two days ago, my expectations were low, mainly because it had been at this local grocery store since its release.

The beer poured dark brown into the glass creating a 2-fingers thick, cream-colored head. There was minimal lacing created from said head.

The beer has a lot of malt aromas, comprising of notes of molasses, allspice, corriander, and clove.

The beer itself tastes like a mirror image of those smell notes, with a brown sugar-like, toffee, molasses flavor that coats the tongue - very brown ale like. There are tiny hints of those spices mentioned. The finish is long and malty with the allspice and clove making more of a presence there.

The mouthfeel isn't bad, it's just a little bit lighter than I anticipated. Nice carbonation though, lending towards that heavier feel.

Overall this beer is not bad at all. In fact it pairs well with the soup I'm eating. I also recognize that this specific bottling of the beer might be a little exposed. There's a pine tree on the label this year so I assume they infused the pine needles. I don't really taste any of that. Obviously not anchor's fault. But even with that being a problem, the beer is solidly brewed. Not long til the 2012...

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Photo of yamar68
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 vintage, poured from bottle to standard pint glass at cellar temp:

Pours a murky hazelnut brown with a fat two fingers of light brown head that laces everywhere and eventually recedes to a thick collar.

Massive caramel, leather, toffee and butterscotch on the nose. Not even the slightest suggestion of oxidation. A bit of brown sugar as well.

On the tongue, there is some obvious root beer qualities. Too thin, but far from uninteresting. Some faint caramel and toffee that is accented with A&W and brown ale characteristics - hard water and almond. Such an interesting beer at this point. Love it.

I've enjoyed this beer fresh many times, but it makes for a very worthy candidate for the cellar. Great stuff.

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Photo of WastingFreetime
4.21/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours out dark brown color with several minute's worth of a 1cm sand colored foamy collar, minimal lacing left behind on the glass. The body is a sharp and crisp medium thickness with light levels of carbonation.

The first sniff upon pour smells like a mixture of fir tree needles and cinnamon dust. Further investigation pulls out aromas of cardamom and sweet brown sugar, a touch of banana taffy, a dash of juniper, aniseed, caramel, nutmeg, and plums. Very warm and inviting aroma that simply screams winter warmer.

The flavor is similarly spiced to the few gruits that I have ever had a chance to try. Alll of the spicing elements from the nose are present in the flavor, as well as a fair amount of fir tree woody resin, sap included. Has the same kind of sharp chalkiness / mineral quality in the finish as Anchor's porter does.

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Photo of liamt07
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from wordemupg, 12oz into a tulip. Best before July 2013.

Dark brown body, tan head. Moderate retention and some good lacing. Nose of dark sugars, molasses, assorted winter spices - nutmeg and allspice. A light herbal/anise note as well. Taste has some molasses, black licorice (although mild), ginger bread cookies and more spicing along the same lines as the nose. Not too complex, but really fits into the winter warmer classification. On the lighter side of medium in terms of mouthfeel, and good drinkability. A good winter warmer, I think this would be nice for the cooler seasons if they bumped up the alcohol a bit.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Deep deep brown with an amazing head, and a decent lace as well. Completely opaque.

S - Notes of ginger, and a strong spice.

T - Coriander, walnut, slight ginger, and some citrus.

M - Medium body, a little light on the initial taste but fills out nicely.

O - Very drinkable but lacks the complexity i love from some winter/X-mas beers

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Photo of RyanGoodman
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First year I've tried this beer.

Dark chestnut color. Scent of, I don't know, spruce? Flavor delivered the same. Tree-like alcohol taste. Some dark fruit flavors melding. Aftertaste of tart, overly mature walnuts. Don't get me wrong, this beer isn't bad, just different.

Still not sure if I would have again, but glad I got to try something so different from the status quo.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Damn I can't believe I didn't review this! What better way than with a four pack on clearance for 1 dollar a bottle.

A - Looks of a brown ale, very dark but clear and a 1/4 inch tan head that sticks around despite of little lace.

S - Smells of a light winter ale, mostly ginger and spruce tree but I do get mild spices of cinnamon or nutmeg.

T - Not as sweet as expected but still worth price of the admission. Taste starts of malty with a touch of nutmeg, spruce bitterness, and finish is brown malt and a touch of ginger. Not sweet or too bitter just Ok.

M - Medium bodied

Overall it's crafted well but it seems that most winter ales push toward sweet or spiced. This one is still very good even though it weird and toward the middle of both.

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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 gkatsoris
4.01/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a 2006 bottle!!!! baby!

A: Clear okay brown. Thin whispy head that went away straight away.

S: Cherries. Clove. Cinnamon. Pine tree. Apple pie. Apple cidar. Fresh baked crust. Stewed peaches. Slight attic. Peach cobbler.

T: Malts. Pie crust. Slight cinnamon. Lots of clove. Cobbler. Cherries. Very mild tho, not a big beer.

M: Thin. Pretty good coat on the tongue.

O: Yummy!

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Photo of beerman21
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 12 oz edition.. Surprised to see a refrigerated six pack in the far back of the fridge yesterday. Cold conditioned.. Hmm should be interesting to see how this fairly small winter warmer held up after almost a couple years..

A- frothy active head... Deep dark brown color. Solid looking, inviting yet wearing looking to those not accustomed to complex beers.

S-Ginger up front, back slap of cinnamon, molasses. A lot of ginger and molasses in the nose, pretty much freh ginger bread.

T/M/O-sting spice ginger bread, molasses, sugar cookies, spruce, back flavor of mint leaves. Brown sugar coated smoke ham. Developed into smoky ginger bread cookie. Real tasty.

-surprised this beer held up well after almost two years
being the 5.5 abv. Always a treat every christmas but even more in the off season. Hopefully they won't change too much after new ownership. Time will tell.

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Photo of mactrail
3.38/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very dark clear chestnut in the tall glass. Abundance of long-lasting foam. Well carbonated on the tongue.

Dark and spicy, but quite dry. Some nutmeg and a touch of dried orange peel. Not much malty flavor, though some dark and charred barley comes through. A bitter twang but not overly hoppy. A nice mouthful of flavor, but it isn't something you'd want a lot of.

I wouldn't call it one of the better years. Not excessively spiced, though the bitter scratchiness of dry cinnamon is less pleasant. A little malty sweetness would be welcome. One beer that would benefit from being really cold.

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Photo of andrenaline
4.07/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge props to my BA bro joemcgrath27 for the trade...

A - Pours a nice ruby red colour, finger of beige head with little retention and no real lacing.

S - Spiced caramel, nutmeg and cinnamon, hint of sweet cloves, vanilla, and rich toffee.

T - Loads of spices, but not to be interpreted as overly spiced. Nicely balanced with rich caramel and toffee, hints of molasses, some earthy greens and candied fruit, and a nice biscuit bready malt lingers. Reminiscent of a piece of Christmas Cake that's been aged with rum.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and a touch of dryness.

O - This stuff is fantastic. Loads of flavour, lots of spices coming through and a tasty malt backbone that blends well. Surprisingly drinkable given the complexity. I wish I had a bottle as big as the one in the picture on BA!

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Photo of thain709
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - This one poured with a massive three finger head...it was brown in color and became rocky as it fell to a full cap...the body was a chestnut brown...patchy lacing was left behind

S - Warm, holiday spices are present right away...cinnamon and nutmeg...there is also a sweet side to it that features some dark caramel

T - The flavors follow the nose pretty closely...it opens up with those holiday spices...cinnamon is the front runner but nutmeg and clove are close behind...it really reminds you of the holidays...again, there is sweetness lingering and taking the edge of the spiciness...dark caramel and rich molasses keep poking their heads

M - Light bodied...lighter than I expected/wanted...soft carbonation...spicy with a touch of sweet

O - This was my first encounter with an OSA...I'm pleased to say that I enjoyed this bottle...it really reminded me of the holidays, in a glass!

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Photo of litheum94
4.14/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep brown body, essentially mahogany. Reddish-brown head Head is a full thickness that settles to a patchy cover with minimal lacing.

Molasses, cinnamon sticks, cranberries and orange peel. Some cedar. Holiday spice in a beverage.

Thick and satisfying. The aromas follow through, with molasses, cinnamon, cranberries and orange peel. Some cedar, but the woodiness goes a little further, tasting of delicate pine cone hops.

Once again, a can't miss winter beer. If you don't like this, you don't like winter warmers.

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Photo of CrystalShipMS3
4.61/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's one of the prettiest beers I've ever seen. Red, Christmas red, dark with crimson highlights. Nice somewhat fluffy tan head. Beautiful lacing all they way down.

Dark rich caramel malt smell. Slight warm alcohol and mostly bitter hops. Some spice and resinous pine.

This beer really comes alive as it warms up, in fact I'd serve it only lightly chilled.
Rich and complex malt and grain. Slightly sweet and dark fruitiness. Dark caramel. Hints of spice, not much but it's very definitely there and adds a third dimension which rounds out the malt profile perfectly. The hops are not as rich and play second chair to the malt, but they have a resin-pine bitterness to balance the sweetness.
The aftertaste is so good it gets it's own paragraph. There's a nice roasted malt earthiness and oily pine. It remains perfectly balanced even after the beer is long gone from your mouth. Perfect.

It's got a heavy mouthfeel but remains somewhat crisp. The warmth of the alcohol is supported nicely by the carbonation.

Overall it's a great beer. Nearly perfect except that it's gone and there will never be another just like it, but next year there will be an equally as good one with a different Christmas tree on the bottle.

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Photo of Louski
3.43/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a Standard Pint Glass

Appears a nice red-brown with a thin head. Smelled rich of fruit, cinnamon and other spices. Taste started off really well but finished very weak. I would have loved a more full-bodied brew as the flavors of this were too heavy for the lighter beer. Not a bad attempt this year, but I know Anchor is capable of much better.

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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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