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Cranberry Special Ale | Sand Creek Brewing Company

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Cranberry Special AleCranberry Special Ale

Brewed by:
Sand Creek Brewing Company
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Fruit / Vegetable Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by DaPeculierDane on 10-17-2005

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Reviews: 39 | Ratings: 63
Photo of scruffwhor
3.96/5  rDev +31.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to jlukasi for the freebie... again.
Brewery websites says this beer is 5% abv.

I really like the perfect medium to deep amber/copper color of this beer. Pretty good bubbling too with a half island of foam at the top of this beer. Smells a bit like the trademark tartness of the cranberry blended with some dry pale and crystal like malt flavors blend a little biscuit to the cranberry. The taste is a well blended cranberry fruit character with a great maltbill. Plenty of dry malts that go well with the tart cranberry. The palte is dry and tart. But just agreat combination of the two. This is coming from a guy who used to abhor cranberries till now.

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Photo of Blended
3.96/5  rDev +31.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: reflects the tasty wine-beer chimaera that it is. slight rosy tint suggests at fruit within.

S: mmm cranberry.

T: hyper tart cranberry without being lambic. it's till an ale, folks, and tastes mighty like one. missing the ale mouthfeel though, showing its wine-like character.

M: homemade cider & thincheapwine have a baby.

D: guzzle-icious.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.67/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sand Creek's Cranberry Special Ale is made with real Wisconsin cranberry juice.

It pours a hazy deep-chestnut body with a crimson cast beneath a frothy head of tan that settles to a thin creamy lid. The retention is good, and it leaves some very nice smears and streaks of lace at the outset of the glass.

The aroma offers a welcoming combination of sweetish, toasty and richly caramelish malt with juicy cranberry.

In the mouth it's smooth and creamy with a medium body and fine-bubbled, moderate carbonation.

The flavor is exactly as the nose suggests, and it's surprisingly malty, toasty, caramelish, and "round" - almost worty. The bitterness is limited, and it's pretty sweet, but the delicate tanginess of the cranberry cuts through it nicely. It finishes just semi-dry with a soft light-caramel maltiness that fades readily.

Interesting, rich, and enjoyable, this "Special" ale would probably be nice on it's own, albeit it a touch too sweet, but it becomes something entirely different with the cranberry juice added. It's probably worth trying for those who like a lot of malt, and even for those who shy away from fruit beers

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Photo of pat61
3.5/5  rDev +16.3%

Has a light cranberry bread nose and pours like a cranberry juice with a white foam cap that dissipates almost as fast as a champagne head. Big cranberry with light biscuit on the palate and a cranberry tartness balances the malt sweetness. Has a very sparkling wine like texture and mouth feel. Drinkable but bordering on Bartles and Jaymes or a wine and malt beverage. The cranberry tartness saves it somewhat.

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Photo of Vancer
3.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The Cranberry ale pours a hazy amber with tinges of copper. She be capped with a foamy eggshell that's leaving a nice ring of lace in the Sammy freebie glass.

Subtle hints of the cranberry are present in both the aroma and quaff. Not at all overpowering as some fruit beers may be. Good push of malt keep this one interesting and drinkable.

I'm surprised and pleased with this one - I'd recommend it to the crossover crowd or for someone looking for a light and tasty session brew.

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Photo of Trifecta1
3.48/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Don't get the hate.

A - Red-tinted amber. Heady, leaves some lacing. Pretty nice looking.

S - Mild funk and cranberry juice, wheat, tartness is apparent even on the nose.

T - Wow, tart bite right off the bat. Leads into sweet jellied cranberry, giving way to some brown malt and wheat. Refreshing. Great for fall/turkey time. Sweet and sour combo gone right. Lingering wheaty, mid-quality German-pilsner-like aftertaste.

M - Very spritzy, like soda. Meh.

O - Much, much better than I was expecting. Maybe because this sixer was fresh from the brewery? Whatever it is, I enjoyed this one, especially for the price. Will be purchasing again when I wanna slam some turkey down my gullet, or want a cheap tart fall fix. Solid beer, don't listen to the hate and give it a chance.

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Photo of Lemke10
3.45/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I bought a 6-pack of this from Woodman's in Janesville, WI for $8.19 in Fall of 2011.

Poudly claims on the front of the bottle "made with real Wisconsin cranberry juice." Pours a reddish brown color with a thin head. Scent is mostly that of cranberries and earthy grains. The cranberry flavor is quite evident in its flavor. It is nicely compliemented by the malts and wheats used as well. Taste finishes a little tart and dry. The taste is better than average but I can also see people saying this beer is too fruity for them. I like the taste but I find the texture to be a little to thin where more carbonation is needed. A nice fall season beer from Wisconsin cranberries. Fall doesn't get much better in Wisconsin!

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Photo of vette2006c5r
3.45/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 1.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a reddish color with no head. Strong cranberry juice aroma. Taste has a cranberry juice flavor with a tart aftertaste. Full body and flavors. Overall it's good on thanksgiving.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.38/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bold brassy apricot with no hint of cranberry red in either the beer or the pale gold crown. The foam is neither attractive nor ugly, lasts an acceptably long time and doesn't look too interested in depositing lace.

The aroma is somewhat fruity, but it doesn't smell like cranberries. Hmmm... so far there's nothing the least bit cranberry-like about Cranberry Special Ale. There's nothing the least bit special about it either. Note: warming opens things up just enough for the above score to be granted.

Thankfully, cranberries are present on the taste buds, though they don't appear until the finish and are still too subtle. Warming seems to help quite a bit here as well. Still, it would have taken a few guesses to come up with the correct fruit if the label wasn't visible.

The base beer is really nothing special. It tastes like mostly pale malt is present, with no more than a modest amount of hop flavor. The fructose from the cranberries provides a decent amount of sweetness that is almost completely countered by bitterness. This isn't bad beer by any means, it just isn't distinctive enough to be interesting or memorable.

The mouthfeel just does reach medium, with a moderate slickness (again, probably due to the fruit sugars) and carbonation that is slightly too buzzy early in the bottle. Things quiet down several ounces in.

I've now had four cranberry ales. This one and Unibroue Emphemere (Cranberry) have been the only ones worth drinking. Sand Creek CSA is okay beer, but it isn't anywhere close to Special enough to earn a return engagement in my glass.

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Photo of RedBaron
3.36/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Perhaps not the freshest sample, as this 12oz. bottle has been sleeping in my beer fridge for about six months now, but it's still a pretty decent beer.

Appearance: A pretty light red color, with a well-defined and sustaining white head.
Smell: Smells like Cranberries are vying for your aroma attention. They're trying real hard to compete with, as opposed to waltzing with, the infused malts.
Taste: A malty and cranberry refreshing delight. No discernible hop character.
Mouthfeel: Starts cranberry sweet, then morphs into a decent malty middle, but finishes kinda weak. Not sure if this was the intent, but if so, I'd rather it be a tart taste, ala Berliner-style beer, versus a sweet "hey, waddya want anyways?" finish.
Drinkability: Ya know what? This beer reminds me of the kind of fruit beers I was trying during my college days 15-odd years ago. They're nowhere near the league of lambics; they're certainly not a Berliner-style tart beer; but, hey, it is what it is. I probably won't buy this beer again, but for a little Wisconsin brewer with competition coming in left and right, it's decent.

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Photo of Pitmonkey
3.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My first cranberry beer, I had no idea what to expect for style as it is just called Cranberry Special Ale.

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Dahls .4l tulip. It pours a hazy nut brown with a creamy off white head that thins but persists. I half expected it to be bright red.

The aroma is that yeasty, fruity smell I expect from Belgians, I don't detect cranberry, though it does seem tart (is tart a smell?).

The cranberry is very subtle, I think I detected it 2 or three times on the first sip but then it flitted away chased by the malts. Returning to it, the tartness increases but remains mellow.

Aside from teh tartness teasing at the corners of the mouth, this ale is very creamy with a good amount of fine carbonation. It is extremely refreshing and nicely balanced.

I could see drinking a few of these. A real pleasant surprise for a first cranberry beer.

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Photo of wheatyweiss
3.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 ounce bottle into a tumbler.

Pours a medium copper with little head and active carbonation. Head settles to a thin cap.

Nose is wheat and malt with a slight hint of berries.

Taste is similar to a whit with the addition of sweet cranberry flavor. There is a mostly wheat and sweet flavor, not able to detect much in the way of a hop flavor.

Mouthfeel is a little thin and the carbonation is slightly harsh, but it drys the beer out somewhat. The sweetness would be cloying without it.

Good beer, kinda surprised me it has notes of a white ale but it's a little more sweet and sour. Interesting to say the least.

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Photo of ggaughan
3.3/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My friend picked up a six pack of this for $2 in Chicago so I was not expecting much but was pretty suprised that it was decent. The beer poured a deep amber/red color with thick off white head that led to some good lacing on the glass. The aroma was mainly of cherries but there was a wheat smell in there as well. The taste was mainly of sweet cranberries but had a touch of bitterness that rounded this beer. I could not see myself having more than maybe 2 of these but it was different and worth the try.

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Photo of tedsox31
3.28/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. The color is a light copper color with a small white head that quickly dissipates and leaves minimal lacing.

The smell is yeasty and sweet. There is a definite presence of cranberries, along with a touch of malt. I detect no hops from the scent.

The taste is very fruity. I really enjoy the cranberry flavor, but I think that for my taste, it could use a bit more tartness. By itself, the taste of cranberry is a bit one-dimensional.

The mouthfeel is light and carbonated. It is a bit thin, although this is not a bad thing. Overall, it is a nice beer to have with a light meal. Just don't expect a lot out of it.

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Photo of dirtylou
3.15/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz single, Steve's-University, bought with no expectations

appearance: pours into a tulip which appears frivolous....body is a light amber color, tinted orange...light beige head

smell: sweet syrupy aroma, sugary...no way to distinguish cranberry from the crowd with a slight cold

taste: lots of sugary fruit sweetness...apple, cranberry and other berry flavouring. Its not particularly offensive to me as it was to others. its a medium ale with a high sweetness level

mouthfeel: medium

drinkability: alright

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Photo of jrallen34
3.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

I drank this from a bottle into a chalice.

It is light orange color with a decent white head, no retention or lacing.

The aroma is very light and fruity but no cranberries.

The taste is super light with fruit flavors. Really nothing that stands out.

Mouthfeel is light.

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Photo of CharlesDarwin
2.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Originally reviewed April 9, 2005. On tap at the Gitchee Gumee Brewfest 2005. I would have expected a more enticing aroma from a fruit beer, but it wasn’t there, instead a light tangy wasp drifted up. The flavors were nice, dominated by a very strong plain wine flavor and finishing with a sugary port complex. Interesting, but not desirable. Doesn't do much of job acting as beer.

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Photo of PEBKAC
2.96/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Another Pitmonkey special. I just love fruit beers. I was just plain suckled on Juicy Juice & apple sauce growing up. :)

Basically no head off of this one. Just to make sure I pour it all out, but get nothing but a little pond scum & lace on the rim. Body is about the color & consistency of tea with a little chill haze with an errant bubble here & there.

Smells a lot like a Euro lager, with big bready malt notes, but not so much with that rusty, almost citrusy character. Just to make sure that's it, I take a sniff off the bottle & get a mix or orange & cranberry juice. So I guess it is just that subtle.

Taste initially is a very soft & faint raspberry-ish character tasted in a lot of browns with added fruit juice. Slightly tart, slightly crisp, & with a pinch of sour, you would honestly guess something besides cranberry in there. The middle to end is salty & absorbent, with crackers, & hints of yeast. The beer is laced with sour notes, but I just can't pull cranberries out of it. None of that rindy bitterness cranberries have, or even loads of added tart sugar(if you wanted to go in the Ocean Spray direction) It tastes alright, but I was in a real mood for cranberries. It just tastes too much like a watered down frambozen. Too yeasty at the end also.

Carbonation is thick & is probably the biggest help to the taste of the beer. Yeastiness was a factor that I didn't like. Caught a few black flakes(skin?) at the bottom which are always fun, but I didn't taste anything coming from them. Beer was still light enough to slurp down, & didn't show any signs of regret.

I came in expecting a big shock to my palate, but finished it feeling a little sleepy. The beer just needs either half a cup of sugar or some dark malts & I'm on the bandwagon. Till then, my ass is hurting sitting on this fence.

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Photo of drizzam
2.96/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Poured a cloudy amber/orange with an off white head. Head retention was average, leaving a slight lacing down the inside of the glass.

S - Slight cranberry smell, but not what I would expect from a cranberry brew. I can smell a yeasty sort of scent as well.

T - I seem to taste a grainy cereal taste with a slight cranberry undertone on the sides of my tongue. It seems rather one dimensional in my opinion, especially since I drank this right after a Delirium Nocturnum. The more it warms up, the more the cranberry seems to come out.

M & D - Mouthfeel is thin and watery in my opinion, it does finish dry and sweet though. I don't think I would drink too many of these in one sitting. I'm not sure what the ABV is, but I would guess it's close to or under 5%. Not terrible, but I think another brewery might be able to do a better job with this particular flavor attempt.

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Photo of demcorhip
2.93/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Been sitting on this since spring so its time to drink. It pours a murky looking bronzish brown with just a tinge of red from the cranberry. A one finger loose pale tan head formed on the pour and quickly dissipated, not even leaving a collar behind.

Whole grain crusty bread, a hint of cranberry, an underlying nuttiness, a somewhat strange yeasty aroma and a hint of leafy hops present.

Im surprised at how sweet this beer is with a pronounced honey like malt sweetness that dominates. Underneath the sweetness whole grain bready notes and a hint of cranberry try to avoid drowning. The weird yeastiness that haunts me is also present, along with a touch of leafy hops. I have some pure cranberry juice in the fridge right now, no sugar added. It is quite tasty once on gets past the intense sourness of the juice, and i can see how it could work very well in moderation incorporated into an ale. Unfortunately that is not what happened here.

Whats to say here, the beer is too sweet, and if it wasnt so light in body it would rapidly approach being cloying. Otherwise the hint of cranberry does work well with the underlying maltiness of the beer, and as such I feel that there is potential for this beer and other brews that could include cranberries.

This goes down easily enough, although it isnt particularly interesting and is fact somewhat disappointing. Its too washed out, overly sweet, and there is not enough emphasis on either malt or cranberry for the hope of redemption. If i had more than one the other would be used for cooking. Unfortunately this is just an almost interesting novelty beer, although it does have the potential to be much more with some major tweaking.

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Photo of sleephowl
2.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Golden/Amber color with 1/4" head off of pour. Minimal head retention.

S- Slight sweet malt smell with a hint of cranberry. The cranberry smell is not overwhelming.

T- Once you get past the cranberry taste there is very limited flavor. The cranberry taste actually lingers much longer then expected, considering the initial lack of flavor. Overall a tart beer.

M- A light mouthfeel with a slightly oily sensation. The subtle tartness causes a brief pucker reaction.

D- The drinkability has more to do with the lightness then the actual taste. I probably wouldn't drink more then two of these beers though because of the tartness and the acidity.

While, this beer isn't a home run, it is a nice effort by Sand Creek. I applause the use of cranberry, especially considering its prevalence in WI.

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Photo of KajII
2.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

[Best served in a Flute glass]

The pour was a reddish orange with a huge pale white frothy head, that reduced to a small collar fairly quickly and had some fair spotty lacing.

The aroma was light and mild with a slight biscuit malt and a funky sweaty yeast with notes of tart cranberries and candi sugar.

The taste was lightly sweet with a mild malty feel and a hint of candi sugar at first and then became a mild sweet sour with a mild note of cranberry towards the end. The flavor lasted only a short while with a mild fruity tart sweetness left behind.

Mouthfeel was light in body and had a dry watery texture with a fizzy carbonation.

Overall a mildly tart refreshing brew that would be great with a Turkey and Stuffing sandwich...

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
2.88/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada Imperial Pint. No date or info.

A - Pours lightly hazed with a touch of red color to an orange-amber base. The head is fizzy and shy apparently. It disappeared pretty quickly leaving a subtly tinted white ring of foam.

S - Next to no aroma, especially cranberries. There is a faint malt presence in the back and, this could be my mind tricking me, a hint of fruit. Extremely subtle though.

T - Thankfully the flavor exhibits....flavor. A medium dry tart flavor is prominent from the cranberry juice but doesn't impart a lot of actual cranberry flavor. The aftertaste carries a bit though. Otherwise the flavor consists more of mild grainy malts with a tart splash.

M - A tart kick in the mouth with a bit carbonation spritziness and a light body. A tad thin though.

D - Hmm. First of all, I wonder what type of "juice" it's made with. Wouldn't real cranberries be better? Second, upping the malts for some balance and flavor would help too. Not bad but a pretty mediocre fruit beer.

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Photo of twbrewer
2.88/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A-Pours a amber color with a very small/thin head with no lacing.

S-It had a very faint smell of cranbrries but nothing else,no hops no malt.It did have a off metallic smell,disappointing.

T-If allowed to warm there was a very light hint of cranberries and a touch of light malt.Nothing like I was expecting.

M-Very light bodied and good carbonation.

D-This was a average beer,not what I was expecting (being a fruit/cranberry beer).I thought it would be tart or sweet but it just had nothing that stood out.

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Photo of nsmartell
2.82/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I enjoyed this beer from the comfort of my own living room. From bottle to pint glass.

Appearance: Body is a very light amber, almost pale ale in color. It does have a nice beige head.

Smell: hint of cranberry.

Taste: a little cranberry and other berry and a little sweet.

Mouthfeel: medium-bodied

Drinkability: kind of dissappointed in this beer based on other sand creeks I have had. Would not consider this a session beer.

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Cranberry Special Ale from Sand Creek Brewing Company
3.01 out of 5 based on 63 ratings.
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