Cranberry Special Ale | Sand Creek Brewing Company

Cranberry Special AleCranberry Special Ale
Liked This Beer
3.06 w/ 63 ratings
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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 63 |  Reviews: 39
Photo of t0rin0
3.25/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.67/5  rDev +19.9%
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 +10.5%
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 -19.6%
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 jgunther71
3.75/5  rDev +22.5%

Photo of krome
3.75/5  rDev +22.5%

Photo of sweemzander
2.68/5  rDev -12.4%
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 +14.4%

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 +29.4%
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 +1.3%
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 +2.9%
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 -5.9%
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 +14.4%
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 vette2006c5r
3.45/5  rDev +12.7%
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 homebrew311
2.81/5  rDev -8.2%
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.

 524 characters

Photo of richkrull
3.25/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of Soneast
2.5/5  rDev -18.3%

Photo of Zachtheporter
3.5/5  rDev +14.4%

Photo of pmcadamis
1.64/5  rDev -46.4%
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 -11.4%
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.

 508 characters

Photo of beerwolf77
2.68/5  rDev -12.4%
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.

 601 characters

Photo of DaPeculierDane
1.96/5  rDev -35.9%
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 SkinniePost
3.25/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of Lemke10
3.45/5  rDev +12.7%
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 -5.2%
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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Cranberry Special Ale from Sand Creek Brewing Company
Beer rating: 7.9% out of 100 with 63 ratings
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