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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

271 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 271
Reviews: 239
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 12.69%
Wants: 1
Gots: 5 | 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: 271 | Reviews: 239 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of loving44
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours creamy and inviting. Dark ruby almost black with an inch or so of bubbly tan head.

This brew smells absolutely delicious. The first thing that came to my mind was fresh gingerbread cookies… ginger, cinnamon, and sugary molasses sweetness. A very soothing aroma that just screams Christmas!

As I sipped this brew I again was bombarded by the gingerbread flavor. A nice balance of spice and sweetness with tight carbonation. It leaves your tongue feeling tingly from the spice and the hops are very well balanced with little bitterness. Although very tasty now, I think it would benefit from some aging to mellow the flavors a bit.

This beer has a very nice creamy syrupy thick mouth feel and is rather light on the tongue due to the tight but persistent carbonation.

I could probably drink these all night but this beer is such a special treat it really needs to be savored slowly and with care... I'm going to age a few bottles for sure!!

loving44, Nov 21, 2005
Photo of Suds
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful, deep, dark brown color with a touch of red. The head is small, but thick and creamy. Nice aroma: sugar, spice, a little fruit. Molasses and sugar. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Orange zest and ginger. There’s a lot of spice flavor, but it’s well-layered on top of a distinct malt aroma. There’s not much in the way of hops in the smell. The taste not very sweet, but the flavor of malt and spice come out strong. Nice dryness contributes to the mouthfeel, which is full and satisfying. Very good winter ale.

Suds, Mar 21, 2006
Photo of orfeu
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle. Glowing transparent burgundy with a fluffy beige head. Aromas of cloves, cinnamon, and orange pulp, maybe allspice, too. Cloves predominate and lend this beer one of it's most unique and fascinating characteristics. The aforementioned "holiday" spices emerge in the taste (yet again, cloves are the strongest and most recognizable flavor), but an orange-lime juice acidity emerges as well. Initially airy and light, the mouthfeel follows through as primarily juicy. Medium-thin body. Not as roasty, malty, or heavy-bodied as other winter seasonals, but Anchor's offering is always interesting, and at best quite intriguing and tasty. I'm looking forward to next xmas already.

orfeu, Mar 12, 2006
Photo of malty
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cola colored liquid with a healthy 1" beige head.

Lovely aroma of figs, coffee, licorice, lavender, pinesap, chocolate & mint. The dark roasted malts smell so very FRESH, almost as if they were right there damp in the palm of your hands.

The flavors are slight variations of the aroma, but still very similar. I definitely get the coffee & chocolate notes mixed with the piney hops flavors also. There's also a hint of jasmine hidden way in the back.

Mouthfeel is a little softer and lighter than previous years, but that's a good thing IMHO. Medium bodied with a velvety soft feel thanks to the ultra fine carbonation coming in at just the right level. A somewhat dry and chalky (long and flavorful) finish.

Drinkability is very nice. Again, since this year's version is a bit lighter in body and the flavor profile is 'simpler', I sure can see me putting a few of these babies to bed before putting myself to bed. An excellent choice on this Christmas morning.

malty, Dec 25, 2005
Photo of NoLiberty
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours from one of nicest bottle presentations on the market; short and stout with a classic label design.
In the glass it's color of a good porter with softer amber edges and mocha head that subsides into a low but persistant cover and long lacing.
Aroma is nice. Caramel apple and roasted malt; fairly sweet with an apple-fresh crispness. The nose is subtle but fulfills the flavor.
Taste is initially tart followed by a strong chocolate malt middle with tones of caramel apple - right where the sweetness lives. Finishes out clean, crisp and lightly sour for the overall richness of the beer. The beer is surprisingly sprite and has a zesty blend of matched flavors.
The body is filling and carries the beer throughout the mouth and continues during each drink.It's not coating, but enhancing.
Definitely awaiting next year!

NoLiberty, Apr 28, 2006
Photo of cubedbee
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brownish maroon with a dense beige head, good retention, moderate lacing. Nose is sweet malt, maple syrupy, almost Christmas cookie like, overlaid with spices-ginger, licorice, nutmeg, very nice. Taste brings in some plumlike fruitiness, ginger still really comes through along with some other vague spiciness, there's a slight vanilla flavor, and just a slight hop finish. Really interesting interplay between all these elements. Mouthfeel is very smooth but a little on the thin side. This is a good beer, a little more complex and interesting to drink than some of the other winter warmer's I've had, definitely something I will be drinking every year from now on.

cubedbee, Nov 23, 2005
Photo of Derek
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black with a tan head; very little retention or lace (may be due to its age).

S: Molases, dark ginger-bread, dark raisins, pine, vanilla, brown sugar, touch of sherry.

T: Plenty of flavour for it's weight: molases; dark bread (a little rye and christmas fruit cake?); lightly spiced (noticable, but not identifiable... nutmeg & ginger?); brown sugar; pine (presumably from the hops); dark chocolate. Balanced slightly to the bitter side, with faint hints of a roasted tartness in the finish.

M: Moderate body is somewhat creamy but chalky; carbonation on the light side of moderate.

D: Not overly warming, but that makes it all the more drinkable!

Derek, Oct 04, 2006
Photo of garymuchow
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The aroma carried a strong quality of some cookies my grandmother used to make. Not sure if it's the currants or the allspice, but it was notable. In addition, there is a sweet malt with other spices (possibly clove, cinimmon) and a touch of alcohol.
Rich deep dark red, especially as held in light. Dark head that recedes to a ring and a thin layer.
I haven't had an OSA in a couple of years and it's nice to return to this beer. Rich without being sweet. Sweet yet still bitter and dry. Less spiciness in flavor as compared to the aroma.
Moderately thick. Carbonation is a bit excessive for me, otherwise the feel is nice.
A seasonal that's always worth waiting for.

garymuchow, Apr 30, 2006
Photo of macpapi
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

As Christmas is approaching and my semester of teaching is over, I thought it would be a good time to try a cult classic type of beer. This was my choice.

Anchor Christmas pours a unique black color, with a hint of purple tinge. Fascinating coloring. Nice, active tannish head with pretty decent lacing.

Smells very spicy, somewhat fruty and malty on the whole. Nutmeg and cinnamon are present. I also detect a combination of strong fruits like figs and raisins with spice. Very strong and unique.

The taste is malty and sweet. Chocolate is most obvious on the palate. Strong spice quality. The sharpness provided by the spice is very impressive

Full and spicy in the mouth. A very strong presence, with a crisp, spiced sharpness. Balanced, complex and weighty.

Overall this is a more than drinkable beer. Perfect for Christmas Eve or New Year's parties.

macpapi, Dec 19, 2005
Photo of oberon
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
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 WanderingFool
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I look forward to this beer every year and always anticipate that first sip. This year's Our Special Ale seems to come alive as it warms in the glass.

The beer pours a very dark brown, almost black, into the glass with some ruby hues around the edges. A thick creamy tan head sits on top before it slowly dissolves to a thick ring around the surface. A good amount of lace displayed in netting patterns clings to the sides as the beer empties.

An spicy aroma of ginger with hints of roasted malt greets you before each sip. This smooth, dry, medium bodied beer is packed with flavor. The flavor begins with some roasted malt before the spices quickly take over. It's mainly ginger, but there's some pine, nutmeg and cinnamon mixed in. It finishes slightly tart with a mild fruity (cherry?) flavor. It leaves a mildly spicy flavor behind.

Like I mentioned before, as the beer warms in the glass the flavors really begin to come out. At first I didn't think this beer had much of an aroma or flavor. It seemed like mostly malt, but as it warmed I was pleased with the complexity I found in this brew.

WanderingFool, Dec 03, 2005
Photo of gkatsoris
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Very, very black; no light shines thru. The head is beautiful. Thick, very light tan head. The head lasted for about 3 - 4 minutes.

S: Delicious. Cherries, cinnamon, allspice, clove. Fresh bread. And raisins. This smells so yummy.

D: Very malty. Lots of bread. And it finishes with spices (clove, cinnamon) and coffee. This is pretty complex comparing it to the aroma. I tasted the cherries and raisins way way after.

M: Very thick and chewy. Little carbonation. Very nice.

D: Very nice.

gkatsoris, Oct 15, 2008
Photo of AlexJ
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Oily, black pour with crimson highlights and a thick head of light tan that retains majestically and leaves crusty lace everywhere.

Aroma is dark malts, chocolate, plum, raisin bread, grapes, and sweet spices balanced by pine tree hops.

Flavor is rich and malty, with pronounced raisin bread and dark fruitnotes, various spoces, juniper or pine needles, and citrus/pine hops. Hoppier and more subtly spiced than last year's version.

Body falls just below big with a velvet smooth mouthfeel and oily, dense texture. Subtler spice profile definately enhances drinkability.

AlexJ, Dec 26, 2005
Photo of Jason
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
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 blackie
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: The pour produces a .3" tan head that gradually recedes, leaving a thin cover of bubbles over the surface. The beer is a very reddish mahogany in color. The dating code 5N1 is marked into the back label.

smell: Very very light chocolate character. There are plenty of woody and nutty aromas present. Some tamed ginger is present in the form of gingerbread. Not the stuff you get at the store, but the old fashined homemade stuff. Not much spice other than that, save for a light sassafrass note I am picking up. Getting a little EtOH in there too.

mouthfeel: Carbonation is a high medium and the body a little heavier than light. The high carbonation and light body could use a little work for a beer of this type.

taste: Lightly sweet with just the right hop bitterness. Very light flavors of bitter chocolate are in there and come out especially after the swallow. Seems pretty woody, oak comes to mind. Some flavors are reminsicent of the gingerbread I mentioned on the nose. The finish is pretty astringent, and is when I notice the tannins. Dry.

drinkability: ok, and not hard to put down

I drank this beer tonight to see if I should pick up another sixer while they are still available. I don't think I'll be doing that, but am curious to see how this ages.

11/05/06 - This beer ages very well. The wood, chocolate, malt, and spice have melded together so perfectly, with each making itself most prominent at a different time. Bumping smell up 1 point, taste up 1 point, mouthfeel and drinkability up 0.5 points...not because I believe it has changed THAT much, but because I must've not been in my right mind when first reviewing.

blackie, Dec 03, 2005
Photo of Px2GrafX
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

presentation: 12oz stubby bottle with a cream colored oval laid paper label with green ink. "merry christmas & happy new year • anchor brewing co." encircles the label. large illustration of a tree in the center. name of tree is: quercus agrifolia, which is a california live oak. "our special ale brewed with spices with natural flavors added". anchor's description of their special ale is on the neck label along with details of the california live oak's fruit and leaves. batch number is on the back label. looks like 60D, but also mysteriously like GOD. hmmm...no abv displayed.

appearance: pours a very dark brown with deep crimson highlights in a tulip glass (wanted to get a little more nose). head is a nice 2 fingers light tan. fluffy and tight with decent retention and good lacing. thin capper all the way down.

smell: smell is caramelly sweet with lotsa spices. very nice aroma. cloves and lightly vinous alcohol. bready with some roasted nuts and currants. nice holiday aroma.

taste: lightly sweet with dark fruits and a low balancing hoppy bitterness. alcohol phenols are present and almost instantly warming. raisins, currants, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. hops are piney and earthy. finishes sweet, yeasty and nutty. a soy sauce flavor comes out if you let the brew warm to room temperature. nice array of flavors.

mouthfeel: crisp and ever-so-slightly resinous medium body. rolls around smoothly, but swallow clunks a bit. carbonation is nice and burpy.

drinkability: i left myself one sip for the mouthfeel review. this baby was down the hatch. nice brew this time of year and can be sipped or be made a winter session. alcohol is warming, but not a hinderance.

overall: once again, a nice winter offering. not quite as hoppy as i remember last year's being. smells of christmas and each sip offers a different flavor. a must have each and every winter season.

Px2GrafX, Nov 04, 2005
Photo of HoboAGoGo
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the Anchor bottle we all know and love. As this was my first adventure outside of Steam, it's kind of strange seeing something so dark come out of that bottle. Dark brown, red around the edges where light shines through with a tan head that sticks around and laces the edges. Smells of roasted brown sugar, fig and nut with a slight saltiness. Sour grain, roasty sugar bread, mild hop bitterness with a lasting aftertaste that coats your mouth with all of those flavors, but the hop and sugar being at the forefront. I am enjoying this beer greatly, I wish I could find a six pack, but I only found it in a 12 pack holiday sampler thus far. Great beer.

HoboAGoGo, Dec 11, 2005
Photo of geexploitation
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very tasty winter beer. Poured from a magnum bottle, the color of this brew is a dark mahogany. The head is fluffy, off-white, and responsible, in part, for the best characteristic of this brew: the nose. The nose is a wonderful mix of allspice, nutmeg, and a bit of cinnamon, laid over a warm, inviting sweetness. It's like sniffing a particularly delicious cookie.

The taste is good, but a bit of a let-down from the nose. The sweetness implied by the nose does not materialize, but is replaced by a balanced blend of sweetness and (this is Anchor Brewing, after all) hops. This brew goes down quite smoothly, and does not seem as high in alcohol as I thought it would. It does leave its mark in the morning, though. :)

geexploitation, Jan 19, 2006
Photo of rodrot
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours nearly black, with a nice tan head. Looks like a porter.
The nose is herbal and spicy. Taste is also very spicy, with notes of cinnammon, nutmeg and coffeeish flavors too. This is one of my favorite winter seasonals and I try to pick up at least a six pack every year. I'm looking forward to aging a couple of bottles to see how it matures after a year or so.

rodrot, Jan 10, 2006
Photo of Vancer
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First winter warmer from Anchor, man, have I been missing out !!! Very impressive pour; dark brown, almost black with a foamy, sticky brown head. Chocolate and spices in the aroma. Complex taste; spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, spruce) blend with the malty start, then finishes hoppy – hint of anise in there.

Rich & tangy, this bad boy has to be around 7-8%, after one the face was flushing and reddening. Just one drawback, a bit harsh on the aftertaste. Still ready for another.

Vancer, Dec 28, 2005
Photo of ADR
4.13/5  rDev +7%
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 tempest
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep ruby red with tall tan head. Leaves some lacing and a little head all the way down.

Smells sweet and a little fruity. Taste is of rich esters with a little caramel. Some holiday spice in there and this makes a great winter beer. Unlike many of the previous Winter Warmer's I've had and also my favorite thus far.

Wow, very drinkable for such a dark, rich tasting beer. Give me another please and pass the turkey.

tempest, Nov 24, 2005
Photo of russpowell
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cinamon/red hue with great beading and vigorousoff white head that held up nicely with persistent lacing.

Smell: Cinamon and and ainiseed smeel realy pops out at you.

Taste: Edgy piney bitterness is subdued by molasses and cinamon flavors

MF: Felt a bit thin, bit carbonation level was good and fairly balanced

Another good companion to the gingerbread, but nut sure I could do more than 2 a session. Last years seemed like there was little bit more spectrum spread on flavor varieties. But I'd buy this again none the less

russpowell, Dec 23, 2005
Photo of joecast
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a great looking beer. too bad its been so warm here in so cal, as this would be nice to sip on a cold winter night.
looks almost black until held to light. shines through the darkest of reds. very attractive. head is dark tan which fades quickly. small sheets of lacing slide down the sides of the glass after each sip.

heavily spiced aroma. smells very fresh, and i imagine this would be best if not aged too long. but i could be worng. some dark malt aroma as well. a little roasted malt, but more like darker crystal.

taste comes across as a porter more than a stout, with some light spices. nothing too sharp or peppery. more nutmeg or cinnamon.

mouthfeel is a bit on the light side. not too light, but could be a bit heavier. no abv on the bottle, but i think its around the 5-6% mark so i wouldnt expect it to be too much of a heavy drinker.

that fact probably aids the drinkability. doesnt leave a sweet after taste, and its not all that bitter. liked it more than i thought. well done.

joecast, Dec 26, 2005
Photo of GreenWBush
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Relative placidity of pour, intense brown towards black. Smallest coating of head that leaves bubbled, striated beads of lace.

Nose hints initially at cherries, wet oak, cinnamon, vanilla, gingerbread, fruitcake, molasses. Builds to brown-sugar filled conclusion.

Strange tart/fruit notes on palate and body that make OSA a challenging beer for those who aren't big on herbed/spiced beers...but much more approachable this year. I'm digging on the taste even though the body and character are a bit lighter this year than last.

Sort of like the beer version of the chocolates with mysterious pink goo inside. Brown ale-esque maltiness beside fruitcake intensity. Pumpkin meat.

Mouthfeel relatively thin but enough to fill you up on a warm winter's evening.

GreenWBush, Jan 03, 2006
Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 271 ratings.