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Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

273 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 273
Reviews: 239
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 12.73%
Wants: 1
Gots: 6 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.80% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: maxpower on 11-04-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 273 | Reviews: 239 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by swid:
Photo of swid
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Anchor Our Special Ale 2005 pours a near-black color into my pint glass; only a scattering of deep ruby are picked up when the glass is held up to the light. Atop the nearly opaque liquid sits a 1/2", dark tan head that quickly dissipates. Low carbonation, little lacing. The smell is a mix of caramel, coffee, and assorted herbs and spices, along with a sweet presence that I can't quite pin down to any particular aroma.

The taste of this beer is also big and malty; as expected, the caramel, coffee, and chocolate flavors predominate. The initial taste is very sweet; it takes a couple seconds for the (relatively restrained) bitterness to come through. When it does, it's as a mixture of the spices and the hops. The amount of alcohol in this beer is best classified as "sneaky". The mouthfeel is very smooth and silky, with just the right level of fullness. Finishes with a very pleasant sweet/roasted/bitter aftertaste.

Overall, while each of its elements are a bit underwhelming when considered alone, Anchor has made a decent winter beer. I should have bought another bottle to hold back until summer...

swid, Feb 19, 2006
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.18/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I always like many others look eagerly for this beer during the holiday season,poured a deep brown with e real deep red hue with a one finger almond colored head that settles nicely into a creamy top.Aromas of vanilla bean and molasses with an underlying roasted nut,wow the complexities and the boldness vanilla and roasted nuts up front with a touch of woodiness with a nice finish almost like gingerbread in the aftertaste wich is different but very nice.A nice smooth body feel but can get heavy after awhile,another winner this year Iam gonna hold one or two for awhile to see if they mello after a bit.

oberon, Dec 01, 2005
Photo of JudgeRoughneck
4.45/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

When reviewing and this beer, I think the label counts for something, as the brewery makes a fuss about changing it each year. This year's is an oak tree. Its very nice looking but not all that festive. The beer is pitch black in color. It gives maybe two fingers of rich tan head that quickly become a thin layer of foam with very generous lacing. The nose is chocolate all the way.

In contrast to last year's brew, which had quite the boquet of spices, this is a more stripped down beer. The label calls it "earthy", and I would have to agree. The beer is quite full-bodied but has a little carbination that cuts through. The mouthfeel is definately thick but I don't think thats a bad thing.

The base is definatley a generous chocolate with what I detect to be a strong licorice/ anise that blends beautifully with the citrusy hops in the finish. I catch the occasionaly berry note and the aftertase is a lovely dark chocolate.

This beer is a winner year after year. Drink and be merry.

JudgeRoughneck, Dec 26, 2005
Photo of blitz134
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours Coca-Cola brown with the same opacity. Head was light to medium tan. Came up about 1" thick and reduced to a thin layer of bubbles. Lacing is nice and coats the glass with a nice curtain.

Smell is sweet with a strong dose of spices. Ginger and some clove come through to me. I'm not a spice connouisseur, so its hard to really pick out anything specific. A nice aroma, although a bit light.

The key to really tasting this beer is to let it warm. I had it much colder the other night and was disappointed as it exhibited nearly no flavor. Mine is just below room temperature. Taste is mainly malty with a "strong" spiced body. Some light toasted malts come into play with the piney spices. Finishes with a touch of gingerbread. This isn't as strong as last years flavor. Decent, but needs more oomph.

Mouthfeel is my largest complaint about this beer. It really comes across thin and I feel a winter warmer should have a thick hearty body to warm the soul while you drink it. Its medium at best.

Drinkability is good. Nothing which is a turnoff with this beer, but not much to really make it stand out. It is still something I look forward to every year though.

blitz134, Dec 14, 2005
Photo of chOAKbarrell
2.68/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I remember the first time I had Anchor's O.S.A., and a friend telling me how it tasted like they used Worcestershire sauce in it. I couldn't really tell then, and I still can't tell now.

I'm sure this is supposed to be a pretty solid winter brew. But after drinking most of a six pack on 5 different occassions, I just cant help thinking that there is this "soapy" flavor/texture to the beer. It really turns me off.

I'm not picking up much of anything in the smell. That's probably more my fault, as I'm not exactly sure of what to look (smell) for.

The taste... like I said, there's this wierd texture & flavor that makes me think of soap. There's somewhat of an unpleasant aftertaste to this beer as well. Kind of sour, and it lingers.

After all is drank and done, I guess I have to say that there just doesnt seem like there's much depth to this beer. It reminds me of
Michelob Amber Bock in that it is dark, but dark without a whole lot of substance. The carbonation seems a bit high, and it is just not much of a pleasant drink. At $10 a six pack, I will not be having this again.

chOAKbarrell, Nov 08, 2005
Photo of Doomcifer
4/5  rDev +3.9%

Doomcifer, Nov 15, 2013
Photo of Jason
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle with a coded freshness date.

A- Raw black leather color, entrenched tan lace leaves a trail all the way down the glass.

S- Chocolate covered blood orange wedges, candied fruit, X-mas pudding and molasses cookies all come to mind.

T&M- Smooth and crisp, slightly refreshing carbonation bounces off of the medium body. Layers of dry malt from bready to toasted grain to dark chocolate. Mild twang of fruitiness, balanced hop bitterness with a thin layer of spice in the dry finish.

D- Interesting enough to keep me around for a session and complex enough for me to pair with a nice cloved ham.

Jason, Mar 09, 2006
Photo of Billolick
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A sure sign that it's winter and the "Holidaze" are upon us is the first spotting and sampling of this fine brew. Twist off cap, is that a first for the OSA line? Pours dark slightly murky mahogony, tan head and leaves a bunch of sticky lacing. Nose is malty with some faint spruce. Malty, medium spiced brew. Chalky dryness late. Notes of caramel, vanilla, spruce, spice, nutmeg. Fine cold weather warmer, sipper.

Billolick, Nov 26, 2005
Photo of badbeer
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a dark brown color with a bubbly tan head. Lacing stuck around for the entire glass. Aroma was nice with hints of all kinds of spices, nothing over the top. Has strong taste of ginger and spices, and tasted a bit like eggnog. I was hoping for a little more of a punch out of this to help warm up the night. Beer was fun to sip on during a cold night, but one was enough.

badbeer, Dec 14, 2005
Photo of jcdiflorio
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

served into a tulip glass a 12oz brown bottle twist-off cap. A BA buddy brought this over a year late,still seemed good enough to review.
didn't get to review when it first came out.Will have to review the 06' also.

Deep chestnut brown,thick tan head,retentative,lacing the glass.
The aroma seemed well balanced for the complexity.It was spicey,piney,carmelly,roasty,hints of vanallia,with a smoked peat smell also.
A very complex taste,chocolaty,smokey,caramelly,hints of licorice.
A warming of alcohol,with a sharp,dry finish,with a taste of chocolate lingering on the palate.
A medium mouthfeel,with a slight pricklyness.
Drinkable to an extent,becomes filling,kind of just sets in the gut. I'll be drinking the 06' very soon. One of my favorite Cristmas beers.

jcdiflorio, Nov 09, 2006
Photo of Dizzy
4/5  rDev +3.9%

Dizzy, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of ADR
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A "user-friendly" white oak tree on the label for 2005. Deep rich black-brown color, essentially opaque with a nice medium tan head and leaving nice clusters of lace on the glass. Chocolate, anise, and light spice aromas, some lime aftershave. Body may be slightly lighter than some years, mouthfeel is never-the-less pleasant, smooth, and creamy. Tasty flavor profile, familiar spice components come through, but is slightly muted and shares the stage with a semi-sweet dark chocolate backbone with some traction. Light finish, touch of acid late. Easy drinking, seems less rich in some aspects than some versions but an approachable brew for many drinkers.

ADR, Nov 22, 2005
Photo of stereosforgeeks
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%

stereosforgeeks, Dec 17, 2012
Photo of rhoadsrage
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer pours a thick dark brown body that is opaque. The head is a dark tan with a hint of red to it. The head settles to a thin even layer.

S- The smell of sweet roasted and toasted malt is balanced with a slight hop bitterness and a very faint apple/pear note.

T- This beer starts with a roasted barley and roasted malt hint that is a little bitter like a dark lager. It finishes with a gentle hop bitterness. The taste is very smooth and a hint of sulfur in the finish. The finish also has a note of dark cherries with a slight bitter quality.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a good bit of fizz that makes it a bit more full.

D- This beer has subtle qualities but the fizz and slight bitterness at the finish interfere with the taste. Some nice qualities and some qualities I could do without.

rhoadsrage, Dec 03, 2005
Photo of Trashcat
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

Trashcat, Nov 19, 2014
Photo of Hammarby
3.93/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown with a ruby edge, cloudy. One finger of tan, somewhat foamy head (with some big bubbles).
S. Fudge, caramel, dark berries, dried fruits, figs.
T: Bitterness, charcoal, figs, caramel. Aftertaste of bitterness and figs.
M: Below medium body, low carboration, almost no sweetness, as the sweet tones are balanced out by the strong presence of bitterness.
D: Good.

Hammarby, Mar 01, 2007
Photo of brewQ
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I missed a few years- good to catch up.

The tan head over black looked Porterlike. A fine compact head yielded waves of light to darker foam not unlike a weather map.

The aroma was not pronounced but there was some fruitiness (plum) and earth smells.

Taste largely echoed the aroma- intriguing but not overpowering.

The finish was clean making this year fulfilling but not overly filling.

Aging may bring out the nuances of fruit, malt and spice.

Happy New Year to the good folks in san Francisco.

brewQ, Feb 12, 2006
Photo of skillerified
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Almost black in color, but there are hints of dark brown in here too. Generous copper colored head that fades to a decent lace.

Scent is a very pleasant floral smell. There are also very delightful citrus hints in the background. Also picking up a dark malt scent that lasts throughout. This is quite an expressive aroma.

Taste is a complex dark malt, coffee/toffee mixture. Just a hint of sweetness, but the strong dark malt flavor follows it quickly. A touch of the floral character is present on the after taste. Not a bad taste by any means, but I'm not a coffee drinker, so it's not really to my liking. I do appreciate the complexity of it, so I rate the taste highly anyway.

Medium bodied with a mild carbonation. The mouthfeel is pleasant, but nothing special.

As I said, I don't really like the taste of coffee, so anything that leans toward that flavor is going to rate lower in drinkability for me. I could have another one if necessary, but I'd probably prefer to have something else. On the other hand, the scent is unique enough that I might want to enjoy one more before they vanish at the end of the holiday season.

skillerified, Dec 26, 2005
Photo of ggaughan
4.43/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this bottle of 2005 OSA as Cooper's in Scranton the day after thanksgiving. What a treat with lunch. The OSA pours a nice dark brown color with no real head. It has nice spice notes, nutmeg and/or cinnamon. The taste is nice and malty taste yet sweet. This is definitely a beer that you can drink a few of as the dark taste is deceiving. Based on all the positive reviews of prior vintages of OSA, I play on buying more of this to cellar and enjoy in the future as well.

ggaughan, Nov 26, 2005
Photo of jmz62565
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This looks like a porter when pouring with a large creamy tan head.This has a very piney spice filled aroma with some cranberry.The taste is very spice filled at first,but as it moves thru your mouth you can taste cranberries,coffee and carmel.The m/f isn't as balanced as I would like,but it is a pretty heavy beer.I don't know how many of these I could have,but it is a good holiday beer.Merry Christmas!

jmz62565, Dec 02, 2005
Photo of BillyB
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tried a 12 oz. bottle of Anchor's 31st "Our Special Ale".
Pours dark brown to black, almost opaque with a thick tan head.
Lots of spices; cinnamon, nutmeg, typical winter beer spices. More like a stout than a warmer.
Slight piney hop aroma like a christmas tree. Roasty/toasty.
Mouthfeel is stout like, full bodied. Not too carbonated. A little tingle on the tongue.
Nice bitter sweet balance leaning toward sweet. Deep rich maltiness balanced out by a piney bitterness.

BillyB, Jan 23, 2006
Photo of cokes
2.55/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Muddied blackened orange floating a sticky ecru mushroom.
Gingerbread and bread pudding nose, laid with fig jam, root vegetables, and cocoa powder.
Begins with a gingersnap maltiness that flees disjointedly towards sweeter things. Molasses draped sassafras, brown-sugared carob, orange paste, and date-heavy fruit cake. An astringency washes through midway, and is somewhat welcome, as it rids the mouth of the beginnings of cloy. Winds down with an uptick of ginger, and especially allspice, along with a notion of burnt potatoes, and concludes with a lazy impression spruce. Mentholated cherry preserves and singed gingersnap goop cling past the swallow.
The puffy body apes airiness up front, but soon gels into a coalgulated syrup, yet still maintaining a thin indistictness of structure. By the end of the first glass, I was working on finishing it, not enjoying it. Everything here seems to compete against itself.
The result is atonal and abrasive.
It should be noted that I've never been a big fan, and this year's will keep me off the bandwagon for another calendar year.

cokes, Nov 30, 2005
Photo of Bcant
3.05/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2005 vintage.

Stout brown bottle, a botanical drawing of Quercus agnifolia. Poured into a large brandy snifter. Dark brown color with shads of deep red, nice clarity. Poured with a three finger head which dissipated but some lacing.

The bouquet is sweet, crème caramel and over ripe strawberries. The flavor is also sweet; toffee carries through the start and middle with some coffee bitterness at the end. Not at all the complex spiced flavor that I was expecting; not particularly sophisticated.

Mouthful is a torch sandy. Almost the sensation of an agitated bottle conditioned beer without the sediment. Still, it leaves the mouth dry enough, but not parched, to both enjoy the space between sips and call for wetting the palate.

Note: I am hesitant about posting this review. This is a beer that I have enjoyed for several years. Some years are better than others but until this year none have disappointed.

Bcant, Dec 02, 2005
Photo of tweeder263
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured out a dark brew with red hues and a one finger head.Smells of sweetness ,,i cant figure out exactly what it smells like but it smells good.Taste is semi rich semi sweet and nicely hopped at the end of the sip. This is a good brew im unable to place the taste and smells of it.Mouthfeel is nice.

tweeder263, Dec 28, 2005
Photo of pmcadamis
4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

This is my first review under the new scoring system (which I don't like), and I'm curious to see what letter grade this gets when I finish my review.

A - A massive three finger head of milk-chocolate colored foam rises above a black brew that shows some dark brown highlights. The creamy, dense head shows outstanding retention, and leaves a copious amount of lace on the glass.

S - From far away, I smell bourbon and oak. Putting my nose to the glass, I pick up more chocolate and thick honey, but the bourbon is still there too. I also smell some cedar chip woodiness and some dark bakery stuff....like dark bran muffins. There are some marshmallow notes there too. Outstandingly complex.

T - Tangy mesquite smoke hits me right of the bat, and is surprising given the more sweet and rounded nose. The flavor is definitely rustic and woodsy with loads of cedar and oak in addition to some salty soy sauce and charred hot dog flavors. This is one complex brew indeed! I'm picking up a shitload of crazy flavors that just keep developing with each sip.

M - Full bodied and lushly carbonated with a very dry and woody finish that feels like putting wood chips in my mouth. Despite the dryness, there is a very oily texture to this beer...almost waxy.

D - While this is very complex and intriguing, I don't think this has any real session potential. This is a damn fine brew, but it's too odd to be very drinkable.

pmcadamis, Dec 24, 2007
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Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 273 ratings.