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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 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 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 timbro81
2.68/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Pitmonkey for the opportunity. Pours a slightly hazy orange/amber color. Head is not big but is consistent. Insane amounts of carbonation! Smells grainy and of cranberries with maybe a bit of toastiness to it. Light and bubbly in the mouth. There is a distinct fruitiness to it but it is hard to actually label it as cranberry. Finishes dry and with a dry, slightly stale grainy taste.

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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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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 battlekow
1.75/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Pours a dried blood brownish-red, with a little off-white head. Smells like iron and feet. Tastes fruity, but not in the sense of a real fruit, but like Twizzlers. Has a gross syrup-lined toasty finish, and the musty hints do it no favors. Cranberry Special Ale is special, all right, but in the same way the Special Olympics are. This is definitely a disabled beer.

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