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.
BA SCORE
87
very good

273 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 273
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.
View: Beers (27) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 273 | Reviews: 239
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 scruffwhor
4.57/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- excellent dark red cabbage tint. A slight blood red color that makes me think of Irish red ales.

Smell- Unexpected bouquet of creamy malt, vanilla and cookis and cream aromas.

Taste- Very unexpected flavor from this beer. Heavy on the vanilla, but I loved it. Vanilla backbone is well fused with malt and milky essence in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- A little sour at the end but as a whole, perfect for a darker ale.

Drinkability- I coud drink a sixer of thiese if the family wasn't over right now. Very easy to enjoy and not feel boged down for desert after a big Thanksgiving meal.

Photo of Gagnonsux
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2005 is a deep, dark brown with a large beige head. The aroma has a rich sweetness with smells reminiscent of molasses and toffee. A cinnamon spice smell also has a strong presence. The taste consists of dark malt flavor infused with cinnamon. Molasses and chocolate flavors are most prevalent. A coffee-like roastiness comes in towards the middle and provides an enjoyable, roasty finish. A touch of piney hop flavor also pops up near the end of a sip. Overall, this is a great spiced beer with only one big downside: a thin mouthfeel. One of the better winter seasonals I've sampled this year.

Photo of Gusler
4.48/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Release 2005
Upon its extraction from the 12-ounce stubby brown bottle, the beer sets in the glass jet-black with a creamy tan head that is mountainous in size as it’s slowly fades to nothingness, the lace forms a thick blanket to obscure the glass. Nose is sweet with hints of Oak, Cherries, maple syrup, quite a treat for the old schnozzle, start is lightly sweet, the grain presence delightful, top is light to medium in its feel. Finish is delectable in its acidity, the hops pleasingly spicy, the aftertaste dry and long lasting, a fine drinking beer that does improve with a little age.

Photo of dirtylou
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz single, Steve's-Mineral Point

appearance: very dark purplish black, defined ruby tone throughout, slight bubbly tan head, slight lacing, definitely one of the better labels out there

smell: loaded with spices as usual, ginger, nutmeg, sweet caramel, roasted malts, vanilla, quite woody

taste: certainly different than last year but quite tasty. loaded with spices...ginger, vanilla, nutmeg. sweet cookie-like flavors, sweet chocolate, roasted malt backbone.

mouthfeel: medium, plenty of bubbly carbonation

drinkability: very drinkable, probably have to get some more

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.03/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle split and poured into a Corsendonk Christmas Ale stemmed glass. 2005 Vintage.

Thanks to Sweemzander for sharing this beer!

A - Dark ruby amber, mostly black looking, with a low tan head. Low retention to the loose bubbles but left a big ring and a thin blanket. Bits of lacing stuck to the glass.

S - Very potent aroma on the pour. A bit of soy sauce mixes in with a deep malty bread nose and a dark fruit blend of raising and plum with molasses. Very funky. Not too appetizing but definitely intriguing.

T - For as potent as the aroma is, the taste is very thin. A roasted raisin bread flavor that comes and goes pretty quickly. A sharp but short burst of soy sauce is there too. Its just too plain.

M - Smooth with a dry bitter finish. Low carbonation aids in its drinkability a bit. Thin feeling too.

D - Really not bad for a 2005 bottle, but it's definitely not a beer to be aged. The aroma is potent and funky while the flavor is just lacking. Just not good this far out.

Photo of champ103
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark ruby brown color. A two finger beige head forms and leaves some sticky lace.
S: Of rich, dark roasted malt. A dark roasted coffee flavor and chocolate. Some dark fruits. A hint of spices and peppermint. Three years has been great to this beer.
T: This has a wonderful roasted malt, chocolate and coffee flavor. A light twang of hops. Spice, peppermint, and pine flavors are very light. Very porter like IMO.
M/D A medium to full body. A light crisp snap of carbonation, and a good creaminess follows. This is easy and smooth to put away.

I had this recently at the Gingerman in Houston. They had a vertical of the 05, 07, and 08 Our Special Ale's. This is without a bought the best of the three. The spicy peppermint flavor has really taken a back seat here. Instead of being up front and center, it is a nice compliment to the other roasted malt flavors.

Photo of Dogbrick
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 Magnum: Deep dark brown color with a little red around the edges, with a thick beige head that retains well. Patchy lacing. Aroma of malt and pine, as well as some dark fruits. Pleasant flavor of roasted malts, spices (ginger mostly), and pine. The finish is spicy with some hops and a bit of chocolate. Solid, as with pretty much every year. It doesn’t seem like Anchor ever does anything too drastic to the recipe but that is fine.

Photo of tavernjef
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This years batch is made with Quercus agrifolia or commonly know as Coast Live Oak which has dark green holly-like leaves and is native to the coast ranges of California.

Dried dark blood reddish brown color with a small, densely compacted, and smooth sandy brown cap. Keeps a solid skim present for a good length of the session. Thin sheeting lace sticks along the glass.

Aroma is of chocolate waffer cookies with a broad dashing of floral-esk vanilla and ginger. Smells like many other OSA's from past years with perhaps a bit less woody spice. A bit more subdued here, as oak tends to be less aromatic then pine or spruce. It does tend to have a mixed peppery/minty/ rosey thing going on thats creatively mingling into a potpourri of bakery spices.

Taste is mildly dashing within some molasses-like malts with a slide into some chocolate cookie dough and brown sugaryness. Mild woody and chocolatey bitterness leans into the middel areas and floating off from there. Some spices of vanilla flowers, ginger, and blackened banana find there way in and out at opportune times but come up short overall. Finish is nicely rounded in chocolateyness, which I liked. Overall, cookie-ish, short lived, and tamer then years past. It was a bit to shy and perhaps to light at first but then it began to grow on me. Especially well into the second helping. The chocolate tones were nice enough for me to enjoy it a bit more then I thought.

Feel is foamy and fluffy in a light milky-like texture. Mediumish body, with a light drying finish, mildly spiced and bittered with one nice little build of chocolatey things as you get into it.

Perhaps not one of the better years Anchor has produced this classic, yet the 2005 still has its subtle quality and overall special uniqueness that is still likeable enough for this lover of the OSA. It doesn't always have to be a complete masterpeice does it? A very easy going edition this year. Smooth and quite drinkable; two or three won't be a problem.

Photo of sweemzander
2.78/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle poured into a stemmed glass. No bottled date, but its the '05 vintage.

(A)- Pours a thick dark brown color that is totally opaque. Produced a thick tan to brown head that dissipated quickly.

(S)- Potent burnt raisin bread & a slightly sour cherry/soy sauce; almost salty finish/ Fig-like, but in a funky way. Overly flat, sour cola like aromas. Bits of brown sugar.

(T)- Very thin; the age definitely has diminished the potency & richness of what this would be fresh. Very bread-like with roasted raisins that turn into a sour coffee thing. The taste definitely has diminished.

(M)- Good to see it still has good carbonation, but the feel of the beer just seems thin & watery at this stage.

(D)- Surprisingly kinda drinkable, but funky & watery. This much age definitely was too much, however, I am glad I was able to try it anyways. Not awful though.

Photo of mynie
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

There is something that sets this warmer above the rest, something that will make it forever popular in certain groups, will have others refer to is a "holiday classic," while still others will claim it indispensable, the greatest of its style. That something is price, and it's what Anchor's annual holiday ale has in spades. I've never reviewed it before because of its price, because I'm not "beer enough" to spend twelve big ones on a six pack, but I was fortunate enough to find a store that sold it by the single bottle and so doled out nearly three dollars for the privilege of supping 12 ounces of this storied concoction.

The verdict? Good, not great.

Pours very dark, about as nice a pour as this style is capable of. Nice foamy brown head that stays for a little while.

Dark brown malt dominates the nose. Hollyspice, almost synthetic like a green and red aerosol can. Ginger, gingerbread men molasses cookies.

Very spicy and sweet flavor. Ginger and black licorice against a sweet malt. A very strange chemical finish leaves the taste of scented candle wax in my mouth (yes, I have tasted scented candle wax), and serves to knock the whole beer down a peg.

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 OSA - Sampled Fresh

Presentation: Oh so familiar short fat squat clean lined 12 fluid ounce heavily seamed Anchor bottle. The OSA format is, as always, maintained to perfection. The cream colored label has red writing and a green picture of a "Quercus Agrifolia" (Coast Live Oak) as the chosen foliage for the 2005 label.

Appearance: Served, for once, in the right glassware (I happened to snap up a 2005 straight sided gold rimmed Pint Glass) the body has a glazed but clear dark mahogany with ruby flashes. Thick and creamy tan colored head seems to have excellent retention in the Anchor OSA2005 Pint Glass for some reason, does it know it’s in the proper glass maybe!? Average carbonation, but a generally a very good presentation.

Nose: Spicy as always but a heady gingery tingle fingers the testicles of the malty middle and Brandy Snap ending. Thermal gradients reveal chocolate, oak and warm freshly baked Gingerbread soaked and covered in a melting home made Vanilla Ice-Cream. Damn good.

Taste: Hints of currants and warm Parkin (a Yorkshire delicacy made with Oatmeal and Treacle) fill the mouth. The middle has a feel so reminiscent of Lyles Golden Syrup, which adds a rich depth to this years treat. Dark malts are nicely hidden. Feels so English at times,

Mouthfeel: The head never disappeared, neither did the carbonation. Aerated like a freshly baked soft Gingerbread Man, yet as soft as melting Vanilla Ice Cream it has it all. Spicy and enthralling.

Drinkability: Almost cracked another one straight from my Six-Pack, I loved it.

Overall: My favorite, at least of the OSA’s that I have tried whilst residing in the USA since 2001, has always remained the 2002. Yet, unlike others, I actually took to the OSA2005 quickly and enjoyed the 2005 straight off the bat….

…you know I always tried to explain to myself why I love OSA so much, and strangely enough, for a brew from one of, if not the, first American Craft Brewers, I think it is because it has a very English Dickensian Christmas feel to it; my fellow Limeys that love Lyle’s Black Treacle and Golden Syrup, McVitie’s Jamaica Ginger Cake and English Brandy Snaps will know exactly what I mean. This is a winner, not as good as the 2002 but a close second; I will not be missing the opportunity to get a Magnum of this one if I can.

Photo of cokes
2.59/5  rDev -32.9%
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.

Photo of KarlHungus
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This brew pours a solid opaque black color. The head is two-fingers high, creamy, tan and has good aretention. The aroma is of malt, ginger and other spices, and is rather strong. The taste is identical to the aroma. The mouthfeel is creamy and medium-full bodied with nice carbonation. Overall, this is a superb winter warmer.

Photo of whartontallboy
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark-ruby mahogany pour with brilliant red edges and a medium-sized root-beer head.

Aroma is full of pine, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, and a bit of ginger. Maybe even a little wintergreen in there. It's a big aroma.

Flavor is well-spiced, but not overdone. The same spices you smell come through even more clearly, with the pine/spruce flavors and a Christmas-cookie ginger flavor coming in as well. Sweet, but not overly done.

Overall: A pretty good effort, not as overwhelming as I thought last year's was out of the gate, but I wonder if this one will age as well. It will be fun finding out.

Photo of blackie
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

Photo of Suds
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

Photo of tpd975
1.84/5  rDev -52.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a nice dark cola color with very little head.

S: Very pungent aromas. Smoke and pine right out front. A touch of vanilla along with cherry and apple. Over ripe raisons really linger with touches of rum. Unique aromas but a little too much for me.

T: Pretty complex. Dark fruits kissed with brandy and gin. Vanilla and a very deep dark malty taste.

M: Medium bodied and smooth.

D: Not really. Not a favorite of mine

Just too much going on here. I can't get past the aroma on this one. It is not pleasing as I raise it to the mouth. The taste is just a mix of several things that don't really mesh together. Not one I will revisit.

Photo of alexgash
3.73/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Chestnut brown to dark brown/black with a dense frosting of creamy tan head. Eggnog, nutmeg, cinnamon, sweet figs, vanilla. Very spice-laden, but not phony. Smells like xmas to me. There’s a faint reminder of shoe polish though, which is weird. Starts off with roasted caramel and singed brown sugar. Maybe a bit of chocolate graham cracker and hazelnut. Spices follow, with cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and cloves there. Slightly astringent herbal bitterness that adequately balances the fruitcake sweetness. A bit like a spiced porter if you ask me. Good, if a bit spicy. Medium-bodied, with a syrupy feel. Not bad for a very spiced beer.

Photo of Brent
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've been following this interesting annual offering since 1999, and I think this year's edition is probably the most drinkable fresh that I've tried. Largely foregoes the sprucy resin that has dominated some of the editions, focusing this year on a bigger spiced malt character. Fruitcake spices with notes of buckwheat and a touch of dark roast coffee. A bit of the spruce resin is there, but a mere shadow of the past. More like an OSA with a year or two under its belt, and some similarity to Rogue's Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale. Curious as to where this one will go in a year or two.

Photo of Reidrover
4.06/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wonderful looking ale here..dark brown with crimson and ruby accents and a totally gorgeous creamy "coffee n’ creme" coloured head..beautiful. Aroma is slightly fruity, hints of spice and treacle, slightest hint of hop. Thate taste is of dark maltiness, prunes come most to mind, then "mincemeat pies and orange peel, then a very dark roasted coffee, prune juice finishes off the mouthful..slight peppery aftertaste. Very good on the palate..quite invigorating. I really liked this and think it might age even better..truelly a Christmas Pudding in a beer glass!

Photo of Vancer
4.13/5  rDev +7%
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.

Photo of allengarvin
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Oops, I forgot to review this at Christmas. Fortunately, I saved several. 12-oz bottle, poured into a 2003 Anchor OSA glass. Dark black color, ruby-tinted on the edges, with a small head the color of a lightly poured creme brule. Roasty malt nose, maybe with vanilla beans? Flavor is roasted--perhaps slightly burnt--malt, generally sweet with few spices. The usual pine-resin/juniper/evergreen flavor is missing this year. There might be just a touch of ginger in here. Body is moderate to thin.

The weakest OSA since the 1999 batch, in my opinion.

Photo of garymuchow
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

Photo of Mitchster
1.92/5  rDev -50.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Pours out to a clear very dark ruby, forming a meringue-like dark khaki head with very good retention and lacing. The aroma is hideous...absolutely tons of soap, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon, overpowering any aroma of what might be beer. There is a touch of smoke in there as well, which is the only appealing thing about the aroma. As it warms, vanilla becomes apparent. This reminds me of a Xmas beer I brewed (which I hated and all my friends loved), and since then I've never been fond of heavily spiced ales. Carbonation is moderate. Mouthfeel is oily and medium bodied. Surprisingly, the beer actually tastes less like spices and more like leather and tobacco. The bitterness level accents the leather, and detracts from the spices which is nice. There is a sharply pungent fusel-like bitterness, like unflavored snuff mixed with burning tires. Very odd. The finish is chemical, acrid spice. Fermented too warm, as there are abundant higher-alcohols which actually add a chemical bitterness that probably wasn't, nor should have been, intended. Perhaps not quite the sink-dumper as last years was, but still a sink-dumper. A really awful beer. Pass on it...it sucks.

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