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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)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

272 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 272
Reviews: 239
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 12.44%
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:
Beer added by: maxpower on 11-04-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 272 | Reviews: 239 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of CharlesRiver
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is one of those beers that I always seem to enjoy the appearance off. Dark brown with a good size tan head. Year in and year out.

Smell is lacking this year. Not much there at all. Seems to be a big brown all, in terms of smell. Actually, some Belgian notes come through. Dates, figs and raisins but not much spice which is what I have come to expect.

After my first taste, this is a very different year. Seems to be smaller than other years. Some malty chocolate notes and again the figs and raisins show up. VERY light in terms of the spice and overall flavor. I pick up some weird sour notes in the end. I don't remember that.

Not a great year in my opinion and I don't think this will last for very long.

Photo of Fish113d
3.54/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

*On-tap served into a pint glass chilled.

Pours a dark brown color (chestnut) with a slight tan edge layer. Nothing remotely interesting.

Aroma is mostly of spices (nutmeg) with a weak bit of chocolate on the nose, and maybe a tiny bit of hops. Kinda weak all around.

Sipping reveals some bitter chocolate falvors with very little sweetness to it (baker's choco. IMO). A slight nutmeggy flavor also on the swallow with some slight pine hops flavors (cascade) and a tad bit of alcohol drying this one up just a bit.

The carbonation is very sharp and stings my tongue pretty good. Medium-bodied with a hint of alcohol. Slightly creamy with a tiny bit of drying on the finish.

Overall, this is not my favorite from Anchor, but it was decent. I'd like to sample one from a bottle at home instead next time.

Photo of Bighuge
3.55/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer is almost black, but clear dark ruby streaking is visible when held to a light source. The lid is small and brown. The slight collar does leave some decent lace though. Once again, this beer smells like a Christmas tree and there's nothing wrong with that. Spruce tips and chocolate dominate the aroma. The taste is all that the nose offered plus a coarse bitterness. Which is hop derived and/or black patent derived (or something of the sort). Doesn't mix in all that well. But still, this is quite unique and festive.

Photo of VoodooBrew
3.56/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Spice is, not surprisingly, the dominant feature of this holiday offering from Anchor. Sweet pine and spice feature on the nose of this attractive, deep chocolate brown beer. The front of the palate is sweet, with spices that suggest chai tea, and the finish is bitter and quite long.

Photo of stephendr
3.57/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

dark chocolate color, not a strong nose, chewy body, a bright malty beer that tastes of raw cookie dough slightly bitter finishdark chocolate color, not a strong nose, chewy body, a bright malty beer that tastes of raw cookie dough slightly bitter finishdark chocolate color, not a strong nose, chewy body, a bright malty beer that tastes of raw cookie dough slightly bitter finish

Photo of Freshie
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I am drinking this now a bit late in the Winter Warmer season. Maybe my palate is too worn down by similar winter brews, but this year's vintage just seems a little too bland. After all I have been drinking Harpoon, Sam's, and other holiday creations for over a month now.

The appearance is dark caramel brown, and pours a generous head, and laces nicely. It smells rich in maltiness.

The taste is alright with some cinnamon, citrus and caramel flavors, but I feel overpowered by a dark roasted highlights in the malt. The aftertaste lingers a bit too long.

I wish I had gotten to this one sooner.

Photo of xgrigorix
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Twelve ounce brown twist cap bottle.

Deep mahogany hue. Thin tan coloured cap of foam. Small, thin patches of lace.

Aromas of ginger, spruce, cola, & nutmeg.

Tastes preety much run parallel to the nose. Some subtle hints of fruit - cherries? - are added. On the thin side of medium bodied. Moderate carbonation. Interesting, but I can't say that this is begging me to pick up some bottles for the cellar.

Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.6/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle from my friend Ira.

Pours a dark brown with some crimson highlights. Has a tan head that fades. Decent lacing on the glass.

Aroma of chocolate, roasted grains, and a spicy piney scent that I just can't quite place. Spruce, perhaps?

Taste of chocolate and roated grain upfront, which is slightly bitter. This is followed by that piney spiciness which finishes out with a hop bitterness. I like the combination of flavors, but it seems a little on the young side. I hope that these flavors mellow and blend more with some age.

Body seems thin. Could use a little more uumph...

Decent at this point, I can drink it wth no resistance. We'll see what I think again in 12 months.

Photo of clvand0
3.6/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a brown color with some red around the edges with a moderate head that falls slowly and leaves some lacing on the glass. The aroma has a lot of dark malt character with spice and has a big bunch of ginger that smacks you across the nose. The flavor is comprised of dark fruit, ginger, dark malts. Interesting. Mouthfeel is on the heavy end of medium and the drinkability is just ok ... these spiced beers aren't really my forte.

Photo of WMBierguy
3.6/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is Anchor's holiday special, bottled in the huge, 50.7 ounce Magnum Bottle. Pours a dark amber, leaving a thick, long lasting light brown head. Though billed as a special ale, there was nothing that remarkable about it. Pretty standard ale, though it has a rather a dry finish. Worth trying, but it is pretty expensive (I paid $11 for my magnum bottle)

Photo of brewQ
3.63/5  rDev -6%
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.

Photo of JanM
3.63/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Anchor Christmas Ale used to be my preferred brew for Christmas dinner but in the late 90's I moved over to dark Czechs and occasional English winter ales. The 2005 edition of Anchor Christmas Ale pours with a finger of latte colored foam. The color is dark red-brown, almost black.The semll is mostly of peach. The first taste is bitter followed by roasted malts and a lot of ginger. It feels a little sandy in the palate and flashes of the ginger shots back and forth in the mouth. It's pretty good but I prefer more body in a Christmas ale.

Photo of cheers2beers
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Flute glass

Appearance: Pours a deep ruby color with a slightly off white head that died down at a medium pace and showed minimal lacing. I dont see any beading due to the darkness of this brew.

Smell: Spices jump out in front. Ginger and nutmeg? Malt is detected faintly but its hard to smell much else through the spice.

Taste: As I suspected the spice character is showcased in the flavor as well. Ginger and soy sauce also a little sugary. I feel that the hops are presenting themself in the form of some woody notes. Interesting if anything.

Mouthfeel: Thin yet oily. Nice and smooth with a rush of bubbles at the end. I would expect a "winter warmer" to have more body though.

Drinkability: Due to the strange combination of flavors the drinkability suffers on this one. This beer is more suitable for pounding than for savoring. Maybe some aging will mellow out the odd spice and soy sauce character. They need to beef up the malt bill on this seasonal.


Photo of scottoale
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was a 12oz.bottle with a perferated code on back label (5NQ) and it poured a dark mahogany-brown with a two-tone (off-white on top and beige below it) frothy head with a finger of thickness. A nice looking ale that left some intriquet, sticky lacing as you drink it.

Roasty dark malt nose filled with spices and some hops in the end. As the brew warms, it gets a nice alcoholic smell to it and more spiced and herbal like.

The taste is pretty much like the smell but doesn't seem as flavorful as I was expecting. It tastes pretty much the same to me each year, it just seems to lack a little flavor wise. It has a fairly sweet malt intro that gets taken by the spices quickly. Some spice flavor I taste are of cinnamin, nutmeg, ginger and ?. When the spice fades it just seems a bit watery with a slight bitterness.

The mouthfeel is a bit watery for a medium bodied winter warmer, the carbonation is just right.

Pretty nice brew that goes down easily, there are many more of this style that I prefer.

Photo of Illinick
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The O.G. of the Christmas/Winter ale.
A: Extremely dark chestnut, close to black. Tan head that dissipates fairly quickly to ring and island formation.
S: Aromatic spice-cinnamon, nutmeg, nut scents, and a faint hint of dark fruits with a roasted smell also.
T: Spicy, nutty flavor, malty. A flavorful spice bouquet-ginger, spicy, some cinnamon. Also, some dark fruits peek up in the background with some earthy flavors. Overall the spice is the real winner here.
MF: light but smooth with a nice spicy bite.
Overall: This year's offering is solid, but nothing special. Heavy spice bouquet is the real winner. Still worth the get every year.

Photo of sinistrsam
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark brown, with a dark tan head which ended quickly. Didn’t seem to be much carbonation. The aroma was of chocolate, spice, sweet malts and dark fruits. It smelled like a good balance of sweet and spice. The taste ended up being the same, mostly spices, but this time a definite amount of anise, cinnamon, sour cherries, dark fruits, plenty of alcohol, caramel. It was very bitter, but ended in a dark, almost burnt aftertaste, like a porter. It was an interesting take on a seasonal beer and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Photo of Cresant
3.66/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a nonic. I purchased this cellared bottle from The Keg Liquors in Clarksville, IN. Body was nearly opaque. When I sat my beer next to my friend's glass of Coke they looked nearly indentical in color and highlights. The head was two finger or more and was made of fine foam. A heavy ring of foam remained throughout the drink.

Smell was slightly metallic. Floral hops (noble-like pilsner quality). Pleasant.

Taste was tart and porter-like. Toasty malts and zingy hops. Spicy. Coffee-grounds hints. Interesting and subtle.

Mouthfeel was smooth and creamy yet medium to thin in body. I enjoyed this one. Thanks Todd.

Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.67/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Pours a thick, almost opaque brown with a creamy, brown head. Generous lacing down the glass.

Smell is wonderful. Definitely smells like the winter season. Cloves, cinnamon, lots of nutmeg, gingerbread men. All of the aromas of the season. I love these spiced/ fruit beers. This one smells great; lets hope the rest translates.

Taste was a bit of a letdown. A littlw watery. Not very balanced. It seems the cinnamon and nutmeg are a bit overwhelming. With time, I assume it would mellow and taste a lot better. I do taste some chocoalte in there as well.

Right now, this beer needs more balance or more of a malt backbone. A little watery and pretty thin bodied. Give this one time and I think it would turn out great. Looks and smells great, the rest didnt add up.

Photo of fropones
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tasted 2/2010

A - Nearly black with brown at the edges and khaki head.

S - A bit autolysed, some ginger, baker's chocolate.

T - Somewhat sweet, anise/licorice, giner, and molasses.

M - Pretty thin, killed by age. Half decent carbonation.

D - Drinks well enough for a 5 year old 6% beer.

Photo of wingnutter
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Dark colored. Nice head.

Smells a bit spicy...holiday spicy.

Taste is smooth and balanced....sweet holiday spice - pumpkin pie, nutmeg, cinnamon, coffee....If I lived where it snowed I would probably appreciate this beer a bit more, but being in Florida, Im more partial to non-spiced winter ales.

Halfway through the glass, it gets even smoother and the flavors blend better. Has a porter-like feel to it at the end of the glass. Not a bad beer at all. Anchor makes some pretty good beers, and this is no exception.

Photo of Dubblebock
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is my third year drinking the Anchor OSA, following stellar 2003 and 2004 vintages. The OSA is the one winter warmer that I ALWAYS make sure to include in my 'fridge come the holiday season. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without it now. The presentation is nice as usual, the broad tree on the label looking inviting and regal. It's a truly pagan beer, the neck label extolling the virtues of the winter solstice.

But, hmmm...I have to admit that this year's version is a bit off compared to the previous versions that I've sampled. There's less reliance on pine character and more emphasis on spiciness and hoppiness.

The pour is fantastic, though. Dark and dense in body, the beer tops off with a rich head of tightly compacted foam. The nose is good but not overwhelming.

The taste is unusual. Not as malty as previous versions, the 2005 OSA seems to be relying on less pine resin and more on nut and clove flavors to make it's holiday case. There's a hint of ginger there, and a strange bitterness on the back of the tongue that sort of takes away from the initial warmth in the mouth. The bitterness gets even more pronounced as the beer warms, making for a less than completely satisfying journey to the bottom of the mug.

I have to give this one middling scores for mouthfeel and drinkability. I'll probably cellar one or two and see if things even out over a period of months. As is, it's a good but not great addition to the series.

Photo of jcdiflorio
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
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.

Photo of tweeder263
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
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.

Photo of kozmo
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From the taps at the Publick House in Brookline. Pretty freshly tapped, I believe.

Cold fall evening, so I tried this as a warmer-upper.

Appearance: Dark brown, couldn't see through it, light head

Smell: Spicy and somewhat fragrant without being overpowering. Sort of nutmegy or something, almost piney. However, this was fairly non-specific. Just smells like the holidays in a vague way.

Taste: Sweet and malt. Fairly well-balanced, although in other years, I can remember this tasting more like a beer and less like the beer-like spice beverage that this one does. Somewhat syrupy, but not to a fault.

Mouthfeel: warm and bordering on thick. Nothing heavy about it, but you definitely know you've got something in your mouth. Aftertaste nicely spicy and not bitter at all.

Drinkability: Definitely one you need to savor. not good for chugging, but why would you. This winter warmer is for enjoying slowly as you warm from the winter chill.

Photo of ericj551
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep red, light barely visable throughout, with a small brownish white head. I smell sweet malts and spices, no hops at all. There is some fruitiness in the smell. The spices slightly dominate the taste, although I taste a raison maltiness, and some darker malts, followed by a nice hop bitterness. The aftertaste is mostly fruits and spices. This is a nice beer for the holidays, and I don't think this bottle has suffered since the season. I wouldn't enjoy it as much in July, but it definitely has its place as a winter warmer.

Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 272 ratings.