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Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Educational use only; do not reuse.

210 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 210
Reviews: 191
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 10.92%
Wants: 1
Gots: 7 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.25% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: lou91 on 11-03-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 210 | Reviews: 191 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MPLS
3.33/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nabbed a few random "Christmas beers" of older vintages a while back and this one seemed to be calling me before I went to bed. This bottle has 5 years on it and honestly have not tried any of the other vintages of this beer.

A: Pours a dark cocoa with a head that almost edges out of the 12 oz snifter glass. Carbonation still in tact just from visual inspection. Some rainy day lacing, nice ring atop the glass, opaque color.

S: Raisin, caramel, cardboard, but mostly a lot of spicy juicy fruit/warped citrus.

T: Mellow natured beer @5.25 ABV this may be pushing the boundaries of cellaring for this one. Up front the beer has cocoa + juicy fruit that is followed by some spiced cinnamon cardboard. There is something about the finish of this beer that doesn't sit well with my palate.

M: Medium-bodies and it certainly can't be the alcohol level that makes it spicey, Lower carbonation, more so from extended aging.

D: Above average offering here. A great looking beer that has some promise in the nose, but the finisih didn't quite seal the deal for me. Alcohol is masked completely and a mellow beer with a spicy earthy juicy fruit element to it.

Photo of Lothore
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep, dark brownish hue with a nice, 2 finger frothy head.

S- Sweet, brown sugar notes, hints of raisin.

T- Lots of roasted malt, hints of sweet brown sugar that fade off into nothingness.

M- Thin with low/medium carbonation

D- This may be past it's prime. Looked and smelled great but carbonation was a little low.

Photo of Floydster
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle purchased from Stuffed Sandwich in San Gabriel for five dollars and some change a few months back, drank on 2/11/09, reviewed from notes, poured into my Humboldt pint glass, color is a nice dark brown with a one inch beige creamy head that lasts over five minutes, some lace too, aroma consists of earthiness, nutmeg, roasted malts, dark cocoa, cinnamon, burned caramel, and clove, taste is caramel first, then roasted malts and chocolate in the middle, tons of spice in the finish, lots of clove and cinnamon, like how this evolved since the last time I had it, nice mixture of bready and roasted malt, along with a large amount of spice, mouthfeel is spicy, earthy and roasty, medium bodied, decent level of carbonation, taste lingered well, also warming, could drink a few of these, not too filling, alcohol is well hidden, this particular year has aged nicely and I look forward to drinking more of it down the road, recommended

Photo of far333
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bottle stashed away in the cellar. Pours a dark chestnut brown color with some ruddy highlights at the base of the glass. A medium thick head of light brown foam rises up to a half inch and settles out slowly.

Low aroma of raisin, prune, and spruce.

Flavor fairly matches the aroma, prune and fig upfront with hints of cocoa. Resiny spruce notes line the finish.

Even mouthfeel, full and rich with a tingly finish. Amazing how well this holds up over the years.

Photo of jpaltan
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice and dark with an egg shell head that sticks up top. Lots of lacing. I'm surprised by the head on this 4 year old beer. Smell is much better than the 07. A much gentler nose - more fresh ginger than anything else I can pick out. Taste is malty, with a good hop in the middle with a touch of nutmeg or other spice in the finish. Much better than the 07 imo. mouthfeel suffers from lack of carbonation, but could be b/c of age.

Photo of tmoneyba
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle found at Village Pub in Covington, KY.

Poured dark reddish brown color with an average frothy light brown head that lasted with good lacing. Good complex sweet spicy aroma. Medium body with a sticky texture. Good sweet dark fruit spicy flavor with an average sweet finish of moderate duration.

Complex good brew.

Photo of Halcyondays
3.38/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle at Naja's Place,

A: Pours a murky very dark brown, almost black, with a light cap of tan foam, very much a mysterious look.

S: Notes of dark malt, light fruit - fig, cola, and some winter spices.

T: Intersting mix of malt and berry flavour. Definite pine needle character. Sugary element in the end with some cinnamon.

M: Light carbonation, nice spicy feel overall, oily.

D: This is a good beer though I think it has already peaked. Nice one to drink and the oldest OSA I've had, if you see a bottle check it out.

Photo of nick76
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow this one really tastes like a Christmas beer. It has a dark color, the smell is of sweet nutmeg and ginger as well as malt. The taste is very sweet and spicy with nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, clove and ginger. The flavor and aroma are very complex and each time you taste it you will get something new out of it. Overall a great beer.

Photo of hopdog
3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I tried 5 vintages on tap at the Stuffed Sandwich ('00, '01, '02, '03 & '04). The '01 was my favorite with the '00 a close 2nd. Nice subtle, malty, caramel aromas and tastes. Molasses. Light spices. I'm glad I had the chance to compare the 4 vintages on tap.

NOTE: did a tasting on 1/15/05 that included years '87, '90, '94, '97, '98, '00, '01, '02, & '03. The '02, '01 & '94 stood out as the best of the bunch. The '94 had a nice whiskey taste to it that the others did not. I thought the older vintages held up well over the years.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a deep, dark brown body with a full, though quickly thinning, light beige head.

Smell: Earthy, smokey dark maltiness, some chocolate and caramel with notes of aniseed, nutmeg, cinnamon, and even allspice.

Taste: Dark malts with minor hints of sweetened cocoa and dark caramel. There's still a big sprucy spiciness present, but it's definitely died down over the years. There's still a dull, earthy bitterness surrounding the maltiness. Touch of fruit, along with citrus and candied ginger in the background. Wisp of smoke. Drying finish with a lingering taste of spiced cocoa powder.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium low carbonation.

Drinkability: A pleasing wintery treat from yesteryear.

Photo of thekevlarkid
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled this four year old bottle at American Flatbread during their Christmas in July promotion (Thanks Kristy!). Not much tan head out of the bottle and it faded in a scant thirty seconds. The color was a very dark, wood-stain brown almost like black coffee. Surprisingly, the thin ring of bubbles around the lip of my glass did lace a little. Aromas were of sour cherries, sweet malts, spices and egg nog. Wild. The flavors were delicious, gingerbread, cloves, bread y malts, hints of wheat and the high alcohol esters lend a brandy-like quality to the brew. This tastes just like Christmas, uncanny! I'm sure it's good fresh but it's great aged.

Photo of asabreed
4.75/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Purchased around 3 years ago for $1.99 for the bottle. Figured now's a good time to crack it open.

Appearance: A beautiful red and brown dark hazy color, with tons of yeast and sediment at the bottom of the glass. With a little beer left, I swirled and poured, so it probably made it darker. Nice brown-tinged soapy lacing, leaving more pocked bubbles than rings.

Smell: A very interesting mix of sour cherries, ripe fruit (strawberries and citrus), chocolate, and roasted malt. Reminds me a bit of a liquid chocolate covered cherry with so much more going on. Vanilla, woodsmoke, earthiness, raisins, vinous characteristics. I wonder how long this would last if I'd kept it unopened, but damn, this is nice.

Taste: I can't imagine this getting any better. An initial burst of chocolate, roasted malt, spiciness, sourness, and fruit, all the amazing things I love in beer coming together, especially for a Christmas brew. This scream's the flavors of the season, minus the sourness I suppose. Everything's in there: the mix of ripe fruit and sour cherries, along with some citrus, sweet chocolate combated by the roasted malt, earthiness, vanilla, woodsmoke, vinous characteristics, sweet raisins, finishing semi-sweet and going into a more roasted spicy flavor. Pretty exquisite stuff. And at only around 5% ABV, it's incredible.

Mouthfeel: There's an interesting fullness to the body while remaining not overly carbonated or cloying, but still feeling rich and slightly chewy.

Drinkability: I suppose this is an odd review since the brew may be nearly impossible to find. But if you have one, or a few, I'd try one now. I absolutely loved it. Took me a while to drink it, and again, at only 5% that's astounding to me. The yeast and sediment did it's thing, and the balance was amazingly singular and worth the wait.

Photo of yelterdow
3.73/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Cellared for a few years, I saved this last bottle for a review. Served at just over fridge temperature in an imperial pint glass.

Appearance- This pours a beautiful raisiny brown with cognac highlights, supporting a strong, resililent brownish three finger head. I notice a thick, unfiltered quality especially towards the end, which excites me.

Smell- EGG NOG!!! Totally balls out nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon, this nose is phenomenal... I'm almost getting brandy too... Christian Brothers or the like... vanilla, even rum soaked cake with fruit now. Perfect after more than three full years in the bottle, I couldn't imagine a better aroma for a winter warmer. I wish I'd have saved the other five as long as this last one!

Taste- The malts and spices are front and center, however the hops have flattened a bit as might be expected. There is a mild sourness that counters the sweet and savory spices here... not necessarily good, but I'll gladly accept it for its contrast alone. Overall I'm digging this.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Especially thin weight in the mouth... watery and unimpressive. With a bit of swishing, it prickles slightly but dies in a matter of seconds. In all, this beer has the right ingredients in the right amounts... and the lighter weight and ABV certainly made this an overall pleasant tasting.

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Unclemattie: Poured a deep dark brown color ale with a nice light brown foamy head with good retention but no lacing. Aroma of big caramel and toffee malt with light spices, which may include spruce. Taste is also dominated by some spices with huge caramel and toffee malt with some moderate sweetness. Full body with average carbonation and no apparent alcohol.

Photo of wcudwight
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to mushroomcloud for the bottle.

Nice dark brown color with a beautiful black cherry wood colored head that rose to 2" and quickly fell. Much more lacing that I was expecting given the year.
Wonderful aromas of tobacco, leather, and a nice mixture of spices that I couldn't begin to identify. Smells like one of those pipe tobacco shops.
The flavor is amazing given the mixture of flavors present but they still stay well balanced. Chocolate covered raisins and chocolate covered cherries. Plums and dates. Nutmeg, cinnamon and juniper and just enough hoppiness to make it interesting. Lovely is the only thing I can think of to describe it.
Mouthfeel has held up well over the years. Carbonation is still good.
Very drinkable, very yummy. It looks like I'll be buying another winter warmer next year to compete with my stand-by....Cold Mtn. This is delicious.

Photo of t0rin0
3.45/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I think I'm going to have to go against the grain and say that this wasn't nearly as good as the other years that I've had. Granted this is now 3 years old and the others that I've tried the past few months have all been aged different amounts, but it had a stragne funk to it that I didnt care for. That was of course offset by the good qualities.

The beer looks like every anchor christmas beer does, that is it pours a black/brown color with a good amount of clarity to it. This one was still fresh enough to produce a nice fluffy 2 inch head that dissipated fairly quickly and didn't lace the glass. The foam, while it lasted, was a nice tan color.

The smell was partially of dark malts and fruits (prune/raisin) and some strange spicess that I've detected in the other years of this beer. Theres a subtle hint of lavander that was real strong in the 07 version. Not sure what else is in this beer. The taste was strange and kinda harsh, not sure what this tasted like new but if its this noticeable at this age I can only imagine how strong that weird taste was when it was new. Its got a bit of a piny taste of hops or possibly some clippings from an actual tree, who knows. There was a nice sweet raisiny flavor possibly from some dark malts, but not quite roasted malts (no coffee flavor present). I know this beer is already 3 years old but I think its still aging and would like to try it again in another 3 or 4 years.

The body was medium/light with a good amount of CO2 to help it out. Definitely drinkable just strange.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've had this beer twice over the last couple of months. The first time in Chicago, the second time in Atlanta compliments of Ding- thanks so much for the opportunity! In a vertical tasting of the 2003-2007, I thought this the best, but in a different tasting o the 2004-2007 I liked the 2005 best. Oh well, cellaring can be fickle.In any case this review is based on my first tasting in Chicago.

Pours ruby brown with a thin head that fades to a slight ring and leaves some spotty lacing. Smells exactly like gingerbread. Notes of crystallized ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg, with a light breadiness in the background.Slightly sweeter than the '05-'07. Taste is quite similar to the smell, but with a very slight grain/spice sourness on the finish. Mouthfeel is creamy and it tastes as delicious as always.

Photo of Gehrig
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Like the other OSAs, 2004 is rather tasty and appears to have aged nicely. Well presented as always, with a finger of mocha froth capping a dark ruby-black body. The smell and taste exude chocolate, a good deal of malt, a roasted nutty flavor, and ample spices. Quite nice.

Photo of pmcadamis
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Found this 2004 vintage at Benjamin's in Galena, IL. Not really a beer bar, but they have a few gems like this one, and their scotch and bourbon list is huge.

A - Very dark brown with a milk chocolate one finger head. Leaves a lot of lace on the glass. Looks rustic and nutty.

S - Creamy milk chocolate, bourbon, charred wood, woodsmoke, and a cigar-like note. Not like cigar smoke, but like sniffing the actual unlit cigar itself. Smells like a old country club room with wooden walls and leather furniture where all the old guys are drinking scotch and smoking cigars.

T - Boozy bourbon, wood, some light nut flavors...walnuts? A hint of tobacco, a little dark fruit, and some milk chocolate....Raisinettes maybe.

M - Medium, not quite full bodied with lots of alcohol booziness. Silky, rich, and sugary with a dry herbal finish. Nice.

D - It was neat to try the 2004 version first before I drink the 2005 that I have in my "cellar." A very warm and inviting after-dinner sort of beer that is perfect for the season. I wish more breweries would do a different release every year....it's fun to find old ones and compare them to more recent versions!

Photo of mnapier
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is one of my last three in my collection. Tasted this after a college football game.

Glassware is an 8 ounce standard goblet, temperature around 45 degrees (cellared in a 35 degree fridge)

Appearance hasn't changed that much in regards to its pitch black like brown color with some strong fight of light throughout. Initially pours with a khaki head that dissipates shortly after being poured. Lace is non existent.
The aroma only offers some slight licorice, brown sugar, some mustiness, and faint oxidation. As I taste this I detect a nice tartness, slight spice, a little bit of juniper, and some cinnamon. Overall mouthfeel is medium, no complaints.

Seemingly invincible ale consider the length of time sitting around in the fridge as long as it has.


Photo of Vancer
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2004 version was another visual masterpiece of dark oak combed with a topper of creamy tan, sticks to the side like a blanket.

Oily aroma of vinous malts, the tangy bite of citrus cactus pine really is remarkable. A different animal, oily in the mouth but finishing sharp and dry. Fairly thin bodied, the small pop of bourbon and cherry pushes this bad boy along nicely.

But many thanks to timtheenchanta for the bottle.

Photo of umustdrink
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Accidentally filed this one under the 2006...

A - Deep brown color, opaque. Small head.

S - Funky complex smell....smells like A1 steak sauce! YUM

T - Thankfully doesn't taste like steak sauce...It is however very spicy. Ginger, cinnamon, cloves, raisins. Very complex.

M - Very light biting at the beginning, after that it's all smooth.

D - I'm not wild about the smell and I was a little afraid to take the first sip but I really liked this beer and would have it again.

Photo of ellisdee97
4.9/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to my new Brother-in-law Charlie, who gave this to me as part of a mix case for Christmas.

A: Pours motor oil black with blood red highlights around the edges. A one finger thick coffee colored head tops the brew which slowly dissipates leaving a beautiful ring with wonderful light sticky lacing.

S: Chocolate malt, toast, licorice, vanilla, orange rind, slight coffee and some smokiness as it warms.

T: Smokey licorice up front. Toasty and biscuity malt and then deep chocolate and coffee. There is still a nice bite of hops after two years in the cellar.

M: Creamy and sweet. Like the best milkshake ever. Still has nice carbonation.

D: Awesome. Wish I had more than one, I'm just going to have to wait for this years to age.

Photo of orfeu
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Notes from a three-year vertical tasting of Anchor Our Special Ale, 2004-2006:

Served slightly chilled, 2004 Anchor OSA pours a deep, cloudy mahogany color with blood-burgundy highlights and an impressively-proportioned, dense and creamy manilla head with a slight pink tint. Very sticky lacing. The bouquet, while subtle, is very inticing, with vanilla and caramel notes coming to the fore as scents of dark plums, raspberries, and clove bring up the back. The recognizeable aroma of prune and pine also emerge, identifying this as a true-blue OSA. A bitterness smacks the palate at first, bearing qualities of dried young spruce cones and alcohol bite. A vinous blackberry and raisin flavor emerges next, with clove and nutmeg following. A slightly sweet caramel-clove finish leaves a mellow and earthy aftertaste, very reminiscent of spiced rum. The mouthfeel is smooth and "settled" with a medium body providing plenty of substance. Two years in the cellar has made this thicker and heavier; it now expands on the palate. I haven't had one of these in over a year. I remember enjoying it then, but time has done this beer well. This is my last sample, and I imagine that this won't get much better than it is right now. Perhaps the last year of OSA worth cellaring? The vinous qualities coming through at this point are enjoyable, but I can see them becoming stronger and making it a less drinkable beer than it is right now. Very fine winter warmer from Anchor. A traditional release I'll always look forward to.

[Side note: This year's bottling has a pop-top crown, rather than the current twist-off caps. Could this have any effect on quality? Probably not, but I'll always wonder...]

Photo of biegaman
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A special thanks to CRJMellor for the trade!
2004 vintage, aged 2 years, cheerfully enjoyed Christmas 2006.
The cap opens with loud hissing noise, a magic looking stream of smoke rises from the bottle. Lots of response - big head and plenty of bubbles, some of which stick to the side of the glass and others rise to the top. Appears the carbonation has held up phenomenaly!
Poured out the bottle a really soft brown colour, appears darker in the glass, lots of dark tapioca head would rise, then settle as an outlining.
Multi-dimensional beer, both in taste and smell. A bold aroma, lots of ginger upfront. A green, earthy character, plenty of malt in this years offering. A very decadent note of dark chocolat, a lot of toffee/nutty, perhaps some roast, a fantastic aroma fit for any porter or the likes; fantastic fragrance.
Flavours offer plenty to ponder and guess at and lingers for some time after. Good malty backing to what is otherwise a very spice-filled beer. A surprisingly tasty herbacious flavour. The spices contribute so much to the flavour but don't hinder any drinkability. The mouthfeel has mellowed and blended for a mild, soothing, wonderful drink.
I've read from others that these peek at 2 years, and based on my limited experience with these offerings I'd believe it. This is my favourite OSA to date.
A great brewery and such a great seasonal!

Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 210 ratings.