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 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 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 TMoney2591
2.46/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Served in a Gale Sayers shaker pint glass.

Enough smoke, time for some fruit, baby! This stuff pours a clear tawny-copper topped by a finger or so of dirty light tan foam. The nose comprises old cranberries, pomegranate seeds, old strawberries, light butterscotch, and a healthy twinkling of wet cardboard. Man, my nosehairs are kinda singed from that smell! The taste holds notes of unnecessarily tart cranberries, old blueberries, pomegranate seeds, light caramel, dry cardboard, and light graham cracker. Wow, this does not make my tongue smile in the slightest. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slightly slick feel. Overall, a sad bit of a fruit beer, one that kinda hurt to drink for a while. Boo this stuff.

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Photo of sweemzander
2.68/5  rDev -11%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. No bottled date. Thanks to BeerFMAndy for this one.

(A)- Pours a clear orange color that produced a decent off-white head that dissipated quickly. I thought this was cranberry? Was expecting a reddish color at least.

(S)- A light tart cranberry/cherry fruit profile in front of a woody-like dryness.

(T)- Pretty much like the smell only very subdued. A good acidity/tartness though.

(M)- A good carbonation level. Does not exactly scream cranberries though. Good tartness, but otherwise rather thin.

(D)- Just overall, a mediocre fruit beer that really does not have much actual fruits in it other than its acidity level.

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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 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 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 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, way to distinguish cranberry from the crowd with a slight cold

taste: lots of sugary fruit, 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 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 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 homebrew311
2.81/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: reddish hue, clear, amber, some white head upon pour, not much retention

S: notes of wheat malt, artificial cranberry..very muted, slightly tart

T: somewhat tart up front with decent cranberry character, wheat malt follows and the finish is quite artificial tasting.

MF: very light, medium carbonation

D: this beer is a bit "blah". When there are other great fruit beers such as Cranbic, this one just doesn't do it for me. This brew has a lot in common with Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic which IMO is not a good thing.

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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 pmcadamis
1.64/5  rDev -45.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

A - Hazy blood orange color with a nice thick two finger khaki head that leaves lots of crusty lace on the glass. Head retention is really nice, and I'm impressed with the long lived head and pretty lace.

S - Cereal grains... Cheerios cereal to be specific. Not a whole hell of a lot going on here. I definitely can't detect any fruit. This smells like maybe some sugary fruit loops, but less fruity.

T - This is initially tart and acidic with puckery cranberry notes jumping off the starting gate. At midpalate the tartness fades into a sweet Fruity Pebbles and Fruit Loops grainy/sugary note. Sour cherry candy, pixie stix, and canned cranberries. Sour battery acid.

M - Tart beyond belief. This is acidic, sour, and mouth puckering. Light bodied and fizzy like a fruit flavored seltzer water.

D - This only avoided the drain because I handed the pint glass off to my wife to apparently loves this stuff.

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Photo of kbutler1
2.71/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bottle. Saw this in Hudson, WI and figured I would give it a try. Poured into a tulip glass. Pours a clear copper orange color with a slight reddish hue. Off white head slowly settles to collar around the glass. There really isn't a huge cranberry aroma in the nose but more German style octoberfest. Slight tart cranberry flavor turns sweet and drawn out. Medium/light mouthfeel. Overall, this isn't all that great for me. The cranberry flavor is there but is pretty muted. The aroma is pretty weak as well.

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Photo of beerwolf77
2.68/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks goes to BeerFMAndy for another random single.

Poured into my pin tglass the beer is clear golden amber with a solid two fingers of off white head. Not much lace but a nice cap has formed.

The aroma is sweet grain and just hint of tart cranberry. Just a hint of wood and vanilla in the background.

The flavor is fairly timid. Light sweet malt with a mild cranberry finish. Very watered down tasting.

Light thin body with light carbonation.

Overall not my thing. If one of the major components would grab the rains this might actually work. However as it stands it's just a bad experiment.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
1.96/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Call it a kiddy cocktail, call it a Shirley Temple, call it a 7-up and grenadine…just don’t go calling it a beer.

Appearance: Neon pinkish red. Glowing. Very thin pinkish white head. Kind of cool looking.

Smell: Grenadine.

Taste: See first sentence of this review.

Mouthfeel: dido

Drinkability: Not unless you’re 4-years old. Is this what they mean by kid’s beer I wonder?

Notes: This was formerly made by Pioneer Brewery, which is now Sand Creek.

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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 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 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 beveragecaptain
2.69/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce bottle. This beer pours out a ruby color with a small head. The aroma brings back bad memories of Sam Adams Cranberry lambic. Some cranberry in the aroma, but the aroma is mainly stale wheat. After taking in the aroma, I was not at all prepared for the flavor. I figured it would be just lightly cranberry flavored. In fact, the cranberry flavor is very strong. A little sweet and a little sour. I sort of enjoy it, but it's more like cranberry soda than beer. However, there are beer flavors lurking behind the fruit, and these flavors are not very good. It's the sour flavor of a wheat beer that is much too old. No hop flavor at all. I guess this beer is not as bad as it could have been, but I'll certainly never buy it again.

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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 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 uwmgdman
2.7/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

The beer pours a clear, dark golden/light amber color with a very thin white head that disappeared as fast as it formed. The aroma is moderate-low grainy malt character with no hop aroma and a hint of fruit. The flavor has moderately malty, grainy character, a low amount of fruit flavor, and the beer is just a bit sour (not in a bad way). The bitterness is low and beer finishes rather dry with a hint of the fruit flavor showing through the malt. Carbonation was rather high and dry finish might have been a bit too much so. Overall the brew disappointed from a brewery from which I'm typically very pleased. Nothing really stood out as, wow that's good, but nothing was bad. I strongly suggest letting this one warm a bit before enjoying.

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