Cranberry Special Ale | Sand Creek Brewing Company

63 Ratings
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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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 63 |  Reviews: 39
Photo of RJB66
4.2/5  rDev +39.5%

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.

 663 characters

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.

 349 characters

Photo of krome
3.75/5  rDev +24.6%

Photo of jgunther71
3.75/5  rDev +24.6%

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

 1,150 characters

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.

 412 characters

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

Photo of hinemk76
3.5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of Zachtheporter
3.5/5  rDev +16.3%

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

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.

 483 characters

Photo of amishbooze
3.5/5  rDev +16.3%

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.

 779 characters

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!

 721 characters

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.

 186 characters

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.

 1,582 characters

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.

 1,107 characters

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.

 868 characters

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.

 630 characters

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.

 508 characters

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.

 663 characters

Photo of richkrull
3.25/5  rDev +8%

Photo of Garrett82
3.25/5  rDev +8%

Photo of jdkitchi
3.25/5  rDev +8%

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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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