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

very good
706 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 706 |  Reviews: 286
Photo of UncleAddie
4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown with reddish tints. Thumb sized creamy head

Aroma-sweet pine like scent with hops

Taste-piney woodlike flavor

Full body with carbonated mouthfeel

Great beer. Reminded me of cold winter nights. Definitely made me think of Christmas. Highly recommend.

 266 characters

Photo of hosehead83
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a "stubby" 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.
Dark brown with ruby highlights, huge rocky head of oatmeal-like foam.
Aroma-subtle fresh pine, spices
Taste-Pine, woody, earthy, spruce, nutty. Earthy hops, subtle chocolate, spicy, raisin cookie. Very complex and full of character. A bit different every year but consistently well-balanced, interesting and tasty. As much at home with a slice of spice cake or a cheeseburger with the works. Great flavor and character and sessionable enough (at 5.5ABV) to share with family and friends. One of my absolute favorite Christmas ales. Highly recommended. Cheers!

 625 characters

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

Anchor : Our Special Ale (2011 Christmas Ale)

12oz bottle. Pours a dark brown with a billowing off white cap rising out of the glass. Beautiful looking winter warmer,

Aroma of spruce, holiday spices, dark roasted malts and hints of raw chocolate.

In the taste, a nice malty base accented with spice. Nutmeg stands out right away, paired with some all spice and cinnamon. Mild earth and pine notes from the hops. Malt comes off as chocolatey, though it also has notes of dark bread.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a drying spice in the finish.

Overall, Anchor's Christmas Ale is always a treat to drink during the cooler months. A truly unique and world class brew, worth keeping in the fridge until summer (or cellaring).

 736 characters

Photo of de322
3/5  rDev -22.1%

Photo of mclowery81
5/5  rDev +29.9%

Photo of John_M
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Concordia alehouse today.

The beer pours a reddish brown color with good head retention and considerable lacing. The nose is your typical Anchor spice bomb, with considerable brown sugar, alspice, light clove, nutmeg and light vanilla. The flavor profile generally replicates the nose, except I'm also getting some interesting manderin orange and light chocolate as well. The beer finishes well, with some light bitterness, but I felt the mouthfeel was a bit thin otherwise.

Shrug. While nothing extraordinary, this is always a fun beer to drink this time of year.

 577 characters

Photo of Crossmd
3.74/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured probably 55 degrees Fahrenheit into a tumbler glass. Only born date found is a “10Y” on the back label.

Pours a dark brown cola color with a thick, dense two finger head. Some faint lacing.

Smells of chocolate, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and candied banana. Very well projected.

Taste consists of an initial attack of dark chocolate and spice that dries down into an even drier spicy aridity. Eventually turns surprisingly thin in the mouthfeel with way too much effervescence that doesn’t make it feel fresh, but instead much like the cola it looks like. Falls out in a disappointing shadow of the promise suggested by the nose.

Overall, I wanted to love this a lot more than I could, and the body is really where I find it lacking. The nose is excellent. Complex and layered with exactly the ingredients of the season. I found myself surprised to find that the mouth was not the same robust layering of flavor in taste, but instead one that sort of fell out in a way that felt cheap- despite a decent attack. I don’t think it’s made poorly, instead I think this is just a case of a good idea that maybe became misproduced. Got a six pack, will keep a couple more and pass the rest out to friends. Probably won’t be buying again.


 1,257 characters

Photo of beersands
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Damn its just as good as ever this year. Slight variances in smell, taste, and mouthfeel, but overall its similar to all the other's I have had and it feels like Yule time :)

I paid $43 for a six pack in Eurpope. I was sharing it with some lady friends, explaining how Anchor has a different tree every year. One lady asks, what tree is it this year? You know, I hadn't checked yet...its...its.... can you say "pinus longaeva"?

 428 characters

Photo of Duff27
4/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a clear dark ruby red color from a 12 oz bottle (2011 edition), with ABV on the label.
One finger frothy head that dissipates fairly quickly.
Aroma is almost reminiscent of a spice mix for a pie. Cinnamon, ginger, caramel notes with a malt background.
Taste is all malt with a hint of cinnamon and spicy bitterness in the finish. The bitterness doesn't linger, but left me wanting more. The finish is almost dry.
Drinkability is very good; extremely quaffable.
One of the better winter warmers around, definitely worth a try.

 535 characters

Photo of Vashtar
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice and dark, but no toffe or anything you'd expect from a dark beer, which is cool. It has nice head retention.

The smell is faaantastic. It has a spice to it, like a spiced malt ball.

Taste 2.5. I was less than satisfied. The aftertaste is a bit bleh.

The mouthfeel is almost not there. You could describe it as a raquette ball or the juice that is squeezed out when you bite into a peach.

Overall, 3.5

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Photo of bamadog
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review is from notes taken on 11/26/2011 and poured from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pour is a dark cola brown and it starts with a solid dark head of the same shade, just a little lighter, that is about 2 fingers deep; head fades relatively quickly to a thin, uneven and sparse skim with some patches of lacing left behind on the side;

Smell: Quite a bit of warm malts, but the spiciness seems to stand out more in this year's batch with hints of dark raisiny fruit and possibly some ginger; I'm always thinking there is a piney aspect to this beer, but that could be because there's a tree on the label.

Taste: Really matches the nose to a "T" -- dead on with the malts and warm baking spiciness, as well as the raisin-like fruit as well. It has a sweet, candied finish.

Mouthfeel: In the past few years that I've had this beer, I always kind of feel that the body could be thicker to match up with the spiciness, but as it's a winter warmer, I feel that the body matches the style with the lower ABV; there is thin, slightly sticky coating left on the palate at the end and it helps hold some of the sweeter flavors into the aftertaste.

Overall: Another winning beer from Anchor in this series. I'm glad they don't change the recipe up too much from year to year, but I do think an imperial version would be pretty sweet as well. So if anyone from Anchor happens to read this review (somehow I doubt that you will, but that's OK too), please make an imperial version of this beer. Maybe in 2013?

 1,515 characters

Photo of smcolw
4.01/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Impressive opening beige head that settles to a tight dome. Some chunky lace on the glass. Deep ruby-brown color where bright light shines through.

More mild aroma than past Christmas Ales. I don't detect quite the degree of spruce in this one. There's an earthiness without harsh or negative smells. Light semi-sweet chocolate.

First impression is the smoothness to the tongue. Lots of darker malt flavors. The low carbonation adds to the extraordinary richness. The swallow has a prickliness from some sort of evergreen flavor. Lots of chocolate.

 550 characters

Photo of Elemenopy
5/5  rDev +29.9%

Photo of Evil_Pidde
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours deep dark brown, almost black with an enormous brown head with hues of red; compact and thick. Dissipation is disturbingly slow :-) and leaves rich lacings.

S: Like ginger-snaps soaked in dark beer. Spices and sourness. Roasted sweet malt. Very complex; like herbs galore! Some bananas and ripe red applex - X-masy.

T: Candy-like sweetness together with spices and dryness. Yeast. Sour, like from cherries. Molasses and faint coffee.

M: Aftertaste is short and cherry-like sour. Body is medium while carboantion mild. Smooth.

O: Yet another nice beer from Anchor. Try it - You'll like it!

 601 characters

Photo of InfernoBoss
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%

Photo of Kopfschuss
3/5  rDev -22.1%

Photo of gtermi
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a very dark brown, almost black with a thin white head.

S: The beer smells like a soda. It is really sweet and spicy. It is very nice.

T: I have never had a beer like this. This is what ever Winter Warmer should taste like (though the average winter lager now is still good). It is very malty and has a taste of what I imagine a christmas tree to taste like. Its just so weird, but amazing.

M: The beer isnt exactly that smoothest out there. If this has a smooth feel to it, this would be one of the best beers of all time to me. The beer sort of burns going down.

O: I love this beer and I am going to buy as much of this as possible. This is just so good and it is one of the best beers I have all year. Buy this for sure!

 737 characters

Photo of clydefromiceland
2.5/5  rDev -35.1%

Photo of BrooBub
4/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of Phillyz
1/5  rDev -74%

Photo of Cyberkedi
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Comes out of the tap an opaque slightly reddish dark brown, maybe you could call it sable, with a thin fine-bubbled tan head - but the thin could be an artifact of the pour. Malty aroma has subtle notes of chocolate, molasses and cloves. Scrumptious flavor is rather sweet but not cloying, with notes of molasses, malt and horehound. It's almost like drinking hard candy, except for the edgy, fizzy texture that lets you know this is beer. Happy Holidays!

 455 characters

Photo of gabedivision
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle to a pint glass.

Pours a clear deep root beer brown/chestnut color, with a 1 finger head that thins to a small lace. Big caramel malts on the nose with hints of spice. The taste is interesting, almost a cherry wood like sweetness melded in with some sweet malts and carefully added spices that really show up on the finish. Light on the feel and body, smooth, a tad bit too much carbonation. Overall its a decent winter warmer, i wouldnt kick it out of bed.

 485 characters

Photo of stercomm
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Fuller's pint glass

A - A very dark brown/chocolate in color, very nice two finger frothy tan head which stays around for a while.

S - Lots going on here, get some pine needles, a slight RC Cola scent and a hint of spice along with some nice malts.

T - Very nice taste to this beer, front end get more pine needles, some nice spices and molasses, back end gives way to some toasted malt and a definite cola taste

M - Medium bodied with some creaminess, mild carbonation.

O - A lovely Christmas ale, well balanced, lots of nice flavors very well brewed for the season.

 606 characters

Photo of Hessian257
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 706 ratings.
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