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Anchor Our Special Ale (2003)



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RATINGS: 354   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.64/5   SEASONAL: Winter   EST. CALORIES: 165   ABV: 5.5%
Our Special Ale, a dark, rich, heavily spiced ale with a recipe that changes with each passing year.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
krisbierjaeger (844) - dolores, Colorado, USA - JAN 3, 2004
poured so beautifully you'd think this beer had rehersed with my glass a dozen times. it looks like a liquid cake of devil's food chocolate and potting soil-- irridescent only at the edge with a blush of mars red. the head is a harem sofa of camel and chamois. while i'm not a big fan of holiday spiced beers, this one calms my disdain considerably, floating garlands of orange blossoms, ginger, caramel, various manly spicy colognes and alcohol tones atop a viscous porter-like basin of peated dunkel malts. the secret ingredient is --let me guess-- sitka spruce oil? yet, it's not overwhelming, it whelms just right. brisk carb, happy confluence of malts and bitters, like a tangerine-peel porter. puts the ho ho in my holiday season.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
ruffian (149) - montvale, New Jersey, USA - JAN 25, 2004
Dark red-brown, that is virtually opaque in the glass. Pours with a little creamy head. Full mouthfeel compliments the creamy head. Spices/natural flavors are well balanced and give way to a lingering bitter finish. A good holiday ale in that none of the adjuncts are singularly over powering. The label features a Sitka Spruce, "Picea sitchensis" so I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that they have used tips from Sitka Spruce in it. Subtly different year to year, it is an excellent beer to save a bottle or two of to compare side by side with the next years batch. (And to see how it aged on its own!)

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
hershiser2 (2152) - Charlottesville, Virginia, USA - JAN 31, 2004
Paid $1.69 for a 12-oz single. Dark brown with mahogany highlights. HUGE tan head, really fluffy. OOOH interesting smell, very original. I don't recall ever having a beer that smelled quite like this. I can pick out: bread, caramel, pine, and maybe some sort of scented soap or candle. It smells pretty nice, whatever the heck it is. OOOH that's interesting too... I've never had a beer that quite tasted like this either. I've been conditioning myself for ordinariness in spiced beers, because I seem to have been trying a bunch of bland ones lately. Smooth, creamy, piney, slightly unsweetened chocolate, slightly coffee, bready... pretty complex. Pine stands out from everything though; like eating a christmas tree, onlt it's good! This is a nice Christmas brew, and so far, one of my favorites this season.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
SledgeJr (3577) - Omaha, Nebraska, USA - FEB 5, 2004
UPDATED: DEC 15, 2005 Cloves and nutmeg. Hint of orange to the taste. Not too sweet. More flavorful as it warms.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 17/20
mreeves (276) - Sammamish, Washington, USA - FEB 11, 2004
Wonderful spicy aroma and flavor. Very dark in color--almost black. Aroma is dominated by ginger, cinnamon, other spices. Very nice flavor, unique with all of the spices. Nothing makes me think of Christmas like this beer. Perfect for a cold winter's night.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
DarkElf (3059) - La Jolla, California, USA - AUG 4, 2004
(Draft: OíBrienís in San Diego, CA) I donít know why this beer gets a new entry for each year; Anchor claims the recipe is different each year, but Iíve rated this beer every year since 1993, and my notes are always about the same, with only minor variations; Spicy nutmeg is front and center, closely matched by the moderate dark roasted flavor; This dark roasted flavor, along with a modest smokiness assert themselves in the finish; Of course, itís fairly bitter from start to finish as well; Itís also moderately sweet, but itís not something that you notice right away because the dark roasted maltiness, the bitterness, and the nutmeg are so potent; The palate is medium bodied and thinner than expected, but still has enough body for a winter; The nose is dominated by the nutmeg aromas; Dark, dark brown in color; Tan head is sizeable on the pour, exhibits excellent retention, but little to no lacing

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
eboats (1082) - Omaha, Nebraska, USA - AUG 10, 2004
UPDATED: JAN 17, 2006 Oh man! Heavenly smell. Smells like Christmas time like the label suggests. Gingersnaps, cinamon, and cloves. Unbelievable smell. Tastes like roasted almonds, gingersnaps, cinamon and cloves. Has a somewhat bitter aftertaste. This appears black, but in the light you can see a brilliant ruby glow. It comes with a tan head that actually looks dirty yellow in areas. Definately a holliday brew. I will be drinking this on Christmas Eve for years to come.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
waveman352 (178) - Saratoga Springs, New York, USA - NOV 30, 2004
This was the first year that I tried their christmas brew and now iím addicted. Wonderful flavor and smelled of malts and nuts. A very full bodied beer poured to an off white head and a dark brown color. Went down very smoothly with very little bitterness. Iím absolutley pumped to try the 2004 vintage.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
ChillCoat (1029) - Concord, California, USA - DEC 22, 2004
Bottled- I drank this one side by side with a bottled version of the 2004. Both were similar in color but the 2003 is much more "gingery" (is that a word?). The aromas of the 2004 were stronger than the kegged version I rated earlier. Hereís the 2003 rating; Pours very dark with the slightest hint of an amber tint. Huge aroma of ginger, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spices, chocolate and port. Viscous mouth feel with huge notes of ginger. Tastes like Christmas in a bottle.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
mike mcneil (660) - St Augustine, Florida, USA - DEC 27, 2004
Have 2 sixers left over from 2003 which Iíve been ageing. As always a fatastic Holiday brew. Seems to have stood up well over the past year continuing to show lots of pumpkin pie spices, especially ginger. Smooth, silky mouthfeel; especially when enjoyed at about 60F in a snifter.

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