Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company
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Ratings: 271 | Reviews: 239 | Display Reviews Only:
4/5 rDev +3.6%
Roasted hazelnut, not quite opaque, with abundant black cherry highlights. The caramel nougat colored cap is the first clue that this is quality beer. Yeah, like I wasn't aware of that already. It's whipped cream sticky, looks gorgeous as it delflates and is beginning to deposit attactive sheets of lace-like lace.
I have no hope of remembering what the various OSAs smell like from year to year, but this one seems especially aromatic. Maybe that's because I'm drinking them fresher and fresher. If memory serves, this iteration is less evergreen and juniper-like, more dark malty and more brown sugary.
Those impressions hold on the palate, as I thought they might. I've always suspected that I'd like this winter warmer better if I drank it sooner after bottling. Since I didn't come across the versions from '98-02 until several years after their release, I had no choice but to drink them with a few Christmases under their belts. I'll be sure to remember not to age them from here on out.
The flavor profile consists of gently roasted malt, dark chocolate, brown sugar, sticky dates and a fir tree contribution (Quercus agrifolia is featured on the label) that, again, seems less aggressive than other years. I imagine there are only so many variations the brewers can use and keep the same basic theme, but it seems as though they've managed to distinguish this '05 from all the others.
There aren't too many good, sessionable winter warmers being brewed. By virtue of its relatively light, yet still incredibly smooth and acceptably expansive mouthfeel, this version qualifies without question. Having said that, I can't be the only one who would like to see an 8.5%, big-bodied version of Our Special Ale.
I will never be an adoring fan of this seasonal release, but I'm learning that younger is better. In spite of what just about everyone says, I don't think it holds up over time; especially the mouthfeel. I think I'll start picking up sixers instead of singles. Good job Anchor.
05-26-2007 20:30:43 | More by BuckeyeNation
4.35/5 rDev +12.7%
Appearance: Pours a dark dark brown body with a tan head that leaves splasy lacing all over the place
Smell: Gingerbread, dark chocolate, prunes and nutmeg
Taste: Starts out with a dark fruity, spicy (ginger and nutmeg) compote; mid-palate, some bitterness kicks in along with a molasses bent; the overall effect is a subtle blend of dark chocolate and licorice
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation
Drinkability: This is a great vintage year for Anchor; it really comes together for me
03-06-2006 01:06:15 | More by brentk56
4.03/5 rDev +4.4%
Nutmeeeg! Here a nutmeg, there a nutmeg, everywhere a nutmeg, nutmeg. The aroma is all nutmeg. ...with a touch of ginger, cinnemon, alspice, bready, and maple syrup thrown in to lessen the nutmeg aroma. Looks brownish amber and mostly clear, except for chunks of nutmeg floating arround in it. Tasted...you got it, like nutmeg with just enough beer to keep the nutmeg dust down. Barley flavor reminescent of maple syrup without the cloying or thickening. Caramel and vanilla is amped up with nutmeg flavored nutmeg and ginger....see aroma. An overcarbonated body with an alcoholic gets a bit harsh. Alcohol with the spiciness makes for a dry beer. Good beer. I always look forward to the Christmas experiments from Anchor Steam.
11-23-2005 21:41:25 | More by BEERchitect
4.18/5 rDev +8.3%
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.
12-01-2005 20:16:55 | More by oberon
3.5/5 rDev -9.3%
Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.
The Seventh Day of Beermas... It pours a murky black-brown topped by a half-finger of dirty ecru foam. The nose comprises raisins, red grapes, brown sugar, maple syrup, nutmeg, and slightly musty cocoa. The taste is dominated by a somewhat odd meatloaf sorta combination of gingerbread and pumpernickel, which is backed up by raisins, figs, red grapes, and the syrup from a can of mandarin oranges. As odd as it all sounds together, it wasn't quite as bad as the previous vintages have been. The body is a hefty-ish medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a kinda thick feel. Overall, another step in the right direction, though the spices come across a tad strangely. I'm now actually looking forward to the next few years.
12-23-2010 08:22:56 | More by TMoney2591
3.95/5 rDev +2.3%
Acquired via trade from Solomon420, so a big Thank you goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.
A: The beer is a deep brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.
S: The aroma is of vanilla, spices, caramelized malts and some dark fruit.
T: The taste is smoky and malty, with strong flavors of caramel, spices, vanilla and dark fruits. Theres a decent hops presence especially considering the style and the fact that this beer is 2 years old. The after-taste is sweet.
M: Smooth and crisp, medium-to-heavy body, medium carbonation, finish is cleaner than I expected.
D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, unfortunately I didnt try this beer when it was released so Im not able to draw a comparison, but it seems to me that aging has done this beer some good. Overall, I liked it a little better the 2006 release which I had fresh.
12-13-2007 03:44:27 | More by TheManiacalOne
4.15/5 rDev +7.5%
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.
03-09-2006 01:26:43 | More by Jason
4.13/5 rDev +7%
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
12-23-2005 05:04:23 | More by russpowell
4.53/5 rDev +17.4%
Off comes the cap, and the brew starts bubbling up, but not out...better get into the glass (a St. Bernardus chalice seems best) and get it going!
Ebon hued, with a crown of toasted tan, a creamy espresso-tinted 1/4" ring.
Sweet nose, vanilla and oak, white chocolate, nuts, maple, pepper, and more...probably...gets deeper as we go in...and I rather like it.
Creamy mouthfeel, soft, yet spicy. Warm, easy on the palate, and luxurious. Taste is a mix of vanilla and tree bark, with special secret spices. Syrupy feel kicks in and dominates. Feels breadier, heartier the more we sip. Spice and syrup, vanilla and oak, oh, my...or as we say in Minnesota, "that's different."
Might be one of the tamer OSA's of my recent memory, but I still like it lots. They've yet to disappoint me, year after year. Once again, a unique and highly satisfying winter warmer. Thanks again, Anchor!
11-23-2005 00:46:02 | More by feloniousmonk
3.85/5 rDev -0.3%
Sampled December, 2005
Pours with a frothy, large bubbled, though thick, light brown colored head. The beer is a deep brown almost black color that has amber highlights to it when held up to the light. The aroma is much more focused on dark molasses notes and dark malt than the spices. The spices are here though, just a bit softer than in the past; definitely has a resinous, sharp, tree sap type character (perhaps a mix of pine, mint, menthol, and a vibrant character I don't know how to describe, is it the spruce). The aroma also has notes of milk chocolate, a bit of ginger, and a mix of spices that definitely reminds me of root beer.
The taste is pretty dry, but it does start out with a soft chocolate note, but quickly moves to a sharp spicy character. The dryness really plays up the spice character, though the finish has a long, lingering note reminiscent of the impurities found in molasses. Some how this beer seems slightly tart; which almost makes me think of tamarind, though I don't mean to say this was an actual ingredient. There is definitely a sort of resinous, almost mint like flavor (that coolness that mint has is here), and it mixes quite well with the chocolate notes.
I am not quite too sure how this will age; it is softer and quite drinkable now (this seems to be a trend the last couple of years), which is unlike the vintages from a couple of years ago on back. This is definitely still nice (though I could wish it was a bit fuller in the body) and it is always a treat every year.
12-02-2005 19:52:20 | More by Gueuzedude
3.98/5 rDev +3.1%
Very dark brown (nearly black) with a solid, thick three-finger. It leaves excellent lace.
Dark sweet malts in this aroma--less spruce as in other years. Some cream smells.
Thinner body than in past years, but the taste is still fulfilling. Lots of chocolate malt and surprisingly noticable hop, particularly in the aftertaste where a coffee taste also makes an appearance.
Here's a great beer that does not live up to past years greatness. Still it remains my favorite seasonal.
12-10-2005 21:29:56 | More by smcolw
4.43/5 rDev +14.8%
12 oz. bottle, 2005 edition,
A: Dark brown, with a thick, white head.
S: Lots of fragrant pine and spruce.
T: Old feel, with juniper and pine, sweet spruce, cherries, cranberries, and Christmas-style spices - cinnamon and nutmeg.
M: Smooth, oily, resiny, with a fair bit of oxidation.
D: A great aged beer, the 2005 OSA has held up well, a great treat for me.
08-02-2007 06:03:42 | More by Halcyondays
4.38/5 rDev +13.5%
11/08/05- Purchased at Beverages and More in San Mateo, CA.
Presentation- 12oz bottles right off the truck. Can't get much fresher unless had at the brewery. Poured into my Pike Brewery pint glass.
Appearance- Porter-like dark color with some dark cherry highlights. 3/4 inch off white head with light lacing.
Smell- A bit more subdued scent than the 2003 or 2004. Lots of spices. Mainly some nutmeg and cinnimon. Some dark sweet malt as well.
Taste- Ahhh, this one is better than the '04 IMO. This one doesn't taste like you are bitting down on a spruce tree branch. There is a touch of spruce or tree like flavor though. Heavy on the sweet caramel and the cinnimon and nutmeg spices. Maple sryup sweetness as well.
Mouthfeel- Thicker and sweeter than expected. Pretty smooth and creamy.
Drinkability- This one is very drinkable. Maybe a tad too sweet, but overall worth the purchase to drink and age.
11-08-2005 22:45:37 | More by GClarkage
4.25/5 rDev +10.1%
This poured with a huge, deep-tan/light-brown head above a very dark colored liquid that was deep-brown with garnet undertones. The nose was spicy, like a mix of pine and nutmeg. Yow! The mouthfeel was thick and full, with a cinnamon-like spiciness on the tongue. As it warmed, it took on a chocolaty-fudgy aspect both in taste and mouthfeel. It left behind one of the most really sticky Belgian laces that I have seen in a long time.
04-16-2006 18:22:05 | More by woodychandler
4.13/5 rDev +7%
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.
11-24-2005 03:38:10 | More by tempest
United Kingdom (England)
3.75/5 rDev -2.8%
355ml brown bottle, 5.5%abv., BB SEP07. Served cool in a large tulip-shaped wine glass.
A: deep brownish to almost black colour, with mahogany silhouette against light~~ effervescent, creamy tan head with superb retention, on top of very gentle and fine carbonation.
S: treacles and oriental black-suger dominate the nose, on top of very rich mixed spice (licorice, cinnamon stick, a touch of mint), sweet coffee-flavoured toffee, creamy and semi-smoked malts, and aromatic fruity overtone mixed of dried dates and a touch of port... vertically-structured nose and all complex aromas are threaded nicely together~~
T: creamy-textured dark malts hit the palate upfront, with touches of fortified wine, lots of flat-textured dark fruits, leading towards a cold-coffee-ish and unsweetened dark chocolatey aftertone decorated with bitter spices (led by cinnamon+nutmeg) and lightly toasted wood-chips at the deep end of the palate; mild but reasonably lingering bitter finish, whilst remaining quite clean and light. Not bad, though not as promisingly complex as the aroma.
M&D: this beer remains soft on the mouthfeel but the body is surprisingly thin, much thiner than the aroma suggests. Not a bad X'mas beer, though a little heavier malty presence could better balance the weight IMO.
02-02-2006 02:51:07 | More by wl0307
4.47/5 rDev +15.8%
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 the 2004 was the best,but in a different tasting of 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, where this year was the winner.
Pours dark brown with a nice caramel tinged head that settles to a thin cap. Aromas of spice and caramel, gingerbread, and that beautiful spruce note that I love so much. Tastes nicely of spruce as well as mint, Moravian spice cookies, and orange peel. Mouthfeel is soft and a little sweet, with a slight bite of tannins on the finish. What a great beer!
01-10-2008 16:00:00 | More by Georgiabeer
3.9/5 rDev +1%
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.
11-26-2005 18:25:30 | More by Billolick
3.53/5 rDev -8.5%
A 12 oz bottle courtesy of SQNfan.
A: The ale is amply carbonated, offering up 3 plus fingers of white head that slowly dissapate, leaving nothing in the wake. The ale is a dark red color, highlighted with crimson.
S: The aroma is very pungent, heavily spiced with nutmeg and orange peel. A hint of mint clears out the nostrils. Very heady and deep, could be spiced and mulled even.
T: Initially complex, the flavor quickly drops off leaving a mildly spiced dark ale. The nutmeg and orange hit the right notes, fully strong. They are a flash in the pan, quickly disappearing with only a mild nutmeg left behind. Dark malts try to fill the void, offering chocolate and coffee. The more I sip, the fuller it becomes. The big problem is the drop-off from spice to malts, it is too drastic and sudden without a decent buffer. The finish is nutmeg and mild hops.
M: The mouthfeel is complex, spicy and malty and mildly hoppy. The nutmeg upfront and wall of spice in the finish stand out.
D: The alcohol is mild, assisting the ale. The flavor profile is strong at times, a minus that balances things out.
07-03-2009 01:53:06 | More by akorsak
3.53/5 rDev -8.5%
(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.
12-03-2005 03:23:39 | More by rhoadsrage
United Kingdom (Wales)
4/5 rDev +3.6%
Poured into Bruery snifter glass.
Pours 1/2 finger of light tan head. Fades down to a thin layer. Leaves slightly splattered lace. Color is a dark ruby hued dark chocolate.
Aroma: Lots of spice notes, caramel, malt, molasses, chocolate, nutmeg, and even some pumpkin.
Taste: More spices, big caramel and molasses flavors. This beer has a big malty taste to it; not a lot of hops. Lots of cocoa and raspberries. Pretty solid.
Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, and legit. Medium bodied with a nice amount of carbonation. Ends slightly dry and spiced.
Overall, a pretty solid beer. It definitely help up for being over 4 years old. I am glad I got to try this one. Pretty drinkable as well.
02-09-2010 04:30:56 | More by mothman
Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 271 ratings.