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

Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Liked This Beer
3.83 w/ 706 Ratings
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 TheFlern
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of tavernjef
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

OSA 2011 uses Pinus longaeva or Bristlecone Pine which is a long-living species of twisted pine found in the higher mountains in the southwest region of the US. They don't grow all that tall and usually twist themselves in the rocks of the mountains from which they grow.
Pours darkest of umber brown with a dull rubyish glow within when held up to a strong light. A small yet dense cap of medium tan foam crowns the top breifly before caving to a thin skim always present and a thick collar. Inky globs of lacing set thickly acsross the glass.

Aroma is quite minty, more so then most other OSA's that Anchor have recently brewed. Lots of wintergreen spice on top with a touch of very fresh pinewood while just a hint of molasses and sweet roast flicker from underneath.

Mild yet eager taster with a firm tone of dark breadyness and sweet peppery mintyness. There's some orange and dark cherry jam tossed about its fruitier side as a metallic tinge of roast,vanilla, and cocoa get twisted among the pinewood firmness. Finishes with a nice complexity building gracefully with the piney soft mint, dark cherry sweetness, and cocoa.

Soft textured medium body with a nip of carbonation to it, plenty of minty spice and some firmly set soothing smoothed out malty warmth.

Another well put together rendition of this years' OSA by Anchor. I always love getting this for this stuff the holiday season! Thanks Anchor!

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Photo of jscottku21
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of drtth
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As poured the beer is a very dark brown with traces of red at the edges. The ¼” off white head soon recedes to a ring of foam with an irregular shaped island on the liquid. As the head recedes it leaves a fair number of patches and partial rings of lacing clinging to the sides of the glass. Sipping leaves similar patterns of lacing for a good bit of the beer.

Smell: The aroma is rich with cola and dark molasses. There are traces of vanilla and allspice in the background.

Taste: The flavors are dominated by the cola tinged with vanilla. There is some dark brown sugar sweetnes with a touch of cinnamon and what seems like spruce accents.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is on the light side of medium bodied and prickly with active carbonation. The finish is medium in length and is dry and bitter in the ending.

Drinkability and Overall Impression: This is an enjoyable beer and worth sampling. I’ll be happy to have more and share it with guests. My overall impression is that this is a good offering from Anchor which is unique in its own way, but that said I don’t think it quite matches in complexity what I remember of the last few years offerings.

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Photo of Chaney
4.32/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a dark, black plum-like color, with a massively frothy, w finger or so head that actually had some mild reddish highlights in it. Whipped cream for sure!

S: Fresh evergreen tree upfront, with reminded me very much of the holiday season. Maybe some mint, cinnamon, and basil mixed in also.

T: Extremely smooth and not sweet whatsoever. I got a lot of plum presence on the back end as well as some incense. This was all wrapped up in an evergreen tree.

M: I got a large amount of prickle, which lent a helping hand to the rather festive character of this brew overall. Soft on the end and not bitter in any way.

O: Yep... I've said it once and I'll say it again: Anchor owns the Christmas season!

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Photo of UMNbeerhunter
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Russian River glass on 11/22/11.

Pours a super dark brown that only lets light through when held to the light. Head is a huge creamy brown mocha color that dissipates slowly leaving a light to moderate lacing of small mocha colored bubbles on the glass. Nice presentation, I really enjoy the head color. I would like a little more head retention but great non the less.

Smell is of toasted malt, sweetness, a tad bit of spice, carmel. I like it but I would like some more chewy malt, falls a little flat.

Taste is much the same as the smell. While there is a hit of malt in the beer it needs more. The malt is really being covered up by the spice, hops and whatever has been added. I like the taste but needs more malt balance.

Mouthfeel is light to medium. Again it falls a little flat and I would liked a little more weight.

Overall this is a decent but it just falls a little short in the malt character. I think that is the what really drops the score on this beer. Had there been more malt sweetness in the taste and smell a well as some more weight in the mouth it would have been a lot better.

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Photo of brandoman63
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of bluntedboywonder
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of CoolGuy42
5/5  rDev +30.5%

Photo of whatthehull
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted nov. 13th 2011 (from notes)

A - deep almost translucent Christmas red, half finger almost tan creamy like head and very minimal lacing

S - seriously smells like Christmas! Mulling spices, sweet malt, almost sour yeast, pumpkin and pecan pie, candy sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, pine hops and molasses

T - pine hops, sweet and toasty malt, cinnamon, nutmeg, funky yeast, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, sweet potatoes, mulling spices, wood and soil

M - medium body, low acidity, well balanced, medium complexity and medium finish

D - one way to describe the drink ability of this beer. If you like fall and winter Flavors this ale is for you!

Final thought - I love ales that taste of the holiday season and winter!

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Photo of hiku7
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours opaque black, with some russet highlights as the amount in the glass decreases. Two-finger long lasting head.

Aroma is doughy yeast and noble hops up front, followed by toasted and roasted malt, with some minor plum ester character. Also fairly forward gingerbread aroma, with some allspice in the background.

Flavor is mild roasted and toasted malts, slight plum esters and moderate earthy hop bitterness. Gingerbread coming through too. Overall, it works fairly well and is enjoyable but no real highlights that get me wanting to come back.

Moderate body, moderately dry finish from the roasted malt and hops.

A good cold weather beer, but more subtle than I expected and not as big of flavors as could be present.

A friend bought me a magnum for my birthday, which I haven't opened yet. Hoping to add some details when I enjoy the 50 plus ounces waiting for me.

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Photo of Another6Pack
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of Rschis16
4.27/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep burgundy in color, a nice amount of deep red through a nearly opaque beer. The color of the head almost matches the color of the label, and after foaming up to two fingers on a medium pour, it dissapates down to a thin bubbly sheet on top. The aroma is so pleasant that I melt a little as I smell it. Pine needles, spruce trees and ginger all come to mind, as does a note of birch beer. A touch of dark grain mulls around in the background giving a biscuit quality, so this beer ends up smelling like a gingerbread man cookie. I could smell this all day, either this or a freshly cut pine tree. Its just so soft and pleasant.

Tingly mixture of pine tree needles, piney hop bitterness, ginger spiciness and light biscuity malt. Not as sweet as I remember last year's being, and not as much birch as there is in the aroma. The hop bitterness combines nicely with the pine needle taste to bring out a nice spicy experience. It lingers on into the aftertaste with a faint and disappearing pineyness that turns into a biscuity, nutty linger. The bitterness in this year's edition is much more pronounced and a little bit of an off flavor. It seems to take away a bit from the sweet spiciness that is being offered up. It seems to be the result of the grains in my opinion. The mouthfeel is thin, but full-bodied in flavor.

All told, its a really nice little beer. If my memory serves me correctly, last year's edition had a bit more of that sweet spiciness going on, more ginger and more birch beer kinds of tastes and less dark grainy and nutty tastes. This year's is just a bit more earthy. Still very delicious and as I saved a few from last year, I will be doing a side by side for comparison's sake. I'm looking forward to that for sure.

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Photo of lcmir23
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of cbutova
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bring on the winter seasonals, finally ready for them.

A- Dark brown ale poured into a tulip. Silky tan head forms and has decent retention. Nice ring stays around the beer and leaves spotty lace.

S- Tart dark cherry fruit up front with notes of brown sugar, raisin, earthy spices, pine and herbs around it.

T- Malty, fruity and spicy. Hard to put names to some flavors but I'll do my best. Caramel, toasty and nutty malt backbone with a strong raisin dark fruit overtone. Spices give an allspice, cinnamon, woody, earthy and pine cone feel. Some bread and cocoa in ther as well.

MF- Creamy and silky body with a substantial feel for 5.5%. Finish is somewhat bitter.

Reminds me of Christmas with the fruit and spices. Definitely not for the spice weary but I enjoy it, nice mouthfeel especially.

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Photo of aficionado
4.01/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful translucent dark red body with hints of amber. A ridiculous amount of lacing with a frothy 2-finger light tan colored head.

Has a bright, pepperminty, eucalyptus, herbaceous quality that was lacking in 2010's version. Tart black cherries, chocolate, and cinnamon, fruitcake, and Christmas spices. Tastes like a combination of those famous Cella’s dark christmas chocolate covered cherries and those little chocolate covered candy liquor bottles.

Lighter, more interesting, and easier to drink and than the 2010, which I found to be a bit heavy on the malts and the alcohol was just too noticeable. 2011 is great beer for anyone who wants to taste Christmas. This is a top quality Winter Warmer. The one thing I don't like though, which is even evident in the prior year's batch, is this subtle astringent feeling of tang and bitterness that hits the sides of your tongue.

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Photo of SolipsismalCat
4.45/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass. Reviewed alongside Fish Tale WinterFish.

A: Clear dark red-brown with a two-finger, tan, creamy head that lasted a couple of minutes. Nice lacing.

S: Dark fruity malt. Caramel and chocolate-covered cherries.

T: Moderate sweetness and light bitterness. Nice roasted flavor. Pine and spices. Chocolate and dark fruit.

M: Medium bodied with soft carbonation. Smooth and goes down warm.

O: This is a winter warmer to me. I love the dark fruit, roastedness, and warmth. I liked this better than the WinterFish.

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Photo of harrymel
3.02/5  rDev -21.1%
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 M27
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of pants678
3.81/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of codfeast
4.29/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage, bottle to pint.

A: A very dark brown, small tan head fades quickly minimal lacing.

S: like a fruit cake, hints of malt, cherry, caramel and all spice.

T: starts sweet (malt and cola) turns to flavors of roasted coffee, and chocolate, finishes with dried fruit and some bitterness.

M: med-high carbination, semi dry finish.

O: first had this beer on tap four years ago and never had one that tasted as good since. Look forward to this beer every year. so much going on flavor wise, my only complaint is that I find the carbination a little to high.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.36/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a dark brown color. Head is tan and big. Fluffy head. Leaves clumps of lacing. Head also retains excellently. Looks good.

S-Quite spicy. Evergreen needles. Sweetness comes from scents of chocolate and caramel. When I think of a Winter Warmer, this is what I expect it to smell like. Loads of Winter/Christmas spices.

T-The Evergreen flavor lasts throughout. Definitely minty as well. With the mint/pine needle taste lasting consistently, flavors of chocolate, cinnamon, nuts, and even Root Beer. Plenty going on here.

M-Medium bodied. Crisp. Somewhat bitter. Carbonation is noticeable.

O/D-Different flavor. My first Anchor Christmas. I was impressed by the depth of the beer, but it isn't really my style. I enjoyed the single beer I bought, wouldn't buy a six pack (which is relatively pricey at around $12.50 per 6-er). Will probably try next years offering, but one is enough for me this season.

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Photo of jumbopanda
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of flexabull
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Love that Anchor honored the great Bristlecone Pine on the label this year.

Pours a deep copper/brown color with a sizable off white head.

Aromas are a mix of ginger, dark bread, sugars, and cookies.

Taste is just the nose. Ginger bread, brown sugar, cinnamon, cola, and spices. Finish is crisp and dry.

Mouthfeel is on the thin side, but not bad.

Overall, this is a classic winter warmer, I always happily buy a six pack when I see it on the shelves.

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Photo of rlee1390
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Deep brown almost black, two finger head

S-Spices, nuts, malt, vanilla and cinnamon.

T-Spices, malt and some vanilla. Very roasty in flavor. Nice balance of spices though.

M-Medium bodied, some carbonation.

O-My second year of OSA, This has easily become a must get every year. I'll need to look into aging a few of these.

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Our Special Ale 2011 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 67.8% out of 100 with 706 ratings
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