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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.
BA SCORE
87
very good

272 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(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.
View: Beers (24) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 272 | Reviews: 239 | Display Reviews Only:
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 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 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 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 jfcaa193
4/5  rDev +3.6%

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 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 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 stereosforgeeks
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%

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 birchstick
4/5  rDev +3.6%

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 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.

Photo of JamLand
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%

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 Floydster
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle from the Stuffed Sandwich in San Gabriel

Pour was a real dark brown with not much carbonation or head

Tasted like there was hints of tobacco and sugar cane, very dry for a winter beer of this nature, but the taste stuck with me for a long time

Could drink a good amount of these compared to other winter beers

All of these Anchor XMas brews have been pretty good

Photo of kmpitz2
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep rubyied color, bordering on brown, with a finger of head that falls to a very light full coat over top. The nose is apparent without really sticking my nose in it. There are big gingerbread notes. Good thick molasses with a piney undertone that really smells nice. I also get nutmeg and allspice. Flavor is more caramel sweet and chocolatey and less thick than the nose would imply. Spices are also more subdued. The most subdued version of this beer that I can recall. Feel is a very full moderate with a moderate carbonation as well. Drinkability is good here. The caramel and chocolate are nice and full with the other flavors playing in the background. I dig it.

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.

Photo of arizcards
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle from AJ's on Central right before Christmas for $1.99. Figured a 110 degree day was as good as any to enjoy one.

Poured a deep reddish brown with a beautiful initial tan head. Nose is reminiscent of gingerbread which is perfect for the holiday season. Taste is slanted towards chocolate malts, a hint of ginger, with a subtle dry hop finish. Mouthfeel is a bit thinner than what I hoped for but is OK nonetheless. Drinkability is good. This is a beer to try if you are not looking for an over the top holiday special.

Photo of WanderingFool
4.13/5  rDev +7%
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.

Photo of matjack85
2.75/5  rDev -28.8%

Photo of bditty187
3.33/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

As a “massive” snow storm slows down in Omaha it is time I finally review OSA 2005…

Ruby brown in hue, fairly dark but not close to black; I can tell the liquid is clear. Beige foam, at the apex the head was over two fingers tall. Head retention was good, the bubbles slowly faded to a thin cap. Lacing started before I took a sip. Lovely. The subsequent lacing was very widespread, it looked like worn wallpaper! Yet again OSA is a gem to look at!

I’ve had this beer about five times previously, mostly on-tap. I was not too impressed but this is the first time I have actually sat down to think about this beer. The nose is too soft spoken for me; ginger snaps upfront, pine infused molasses, spiced orange peel and sweet orange candy, hints of chocolate, vanilla, and some tea leaves. The ginger is the loudest aroma and I like that tremendously but the supporting cast is average, at best… for OSA. I wanted more "Quercus Agrifolia." Okay, I am sold on the bouquet, it is agreeable and inviting.

The palate doesn’t match the nose. I thought maybe it was an “on-tap” issue. Apparently it is not. Thin maltiness; where is the chocolate or kisses of roast? Juicy throughout, which is odd, IMO. Hints of spiced pine soaked molasses, I need more. At no point do I consider this beer rich. Clean oak notes, boring. Hints of ginger and orange peel, yawn. Come on! What is the point of dancing around all the good stuff? Give more of everything. Turn up the intensity. Every OSA before this scored a “4” for taste, no matter the year or age. Every OSA before this had depth and it matured with age. I don’t think this batch will hold up until next Christmas. As is, it tastes okay; there is nothing wrong with it. It is very safe. This should not be a safe beer, it should be special. OSA 2005 is not.

Medium in body, on the thin side though, low carbonation only hurts the mouthfeel. Spiced aftertaste numbs the tongue, sweet residue lingers too long as well; I figure a more aggressive carbonation would help this aspect. Tolerable mouthfeel.

Drinkable? Shit this beer is poundable as there is so little too it. This is the most sissified OSA I have had. It has training wheels. I don’t know why I tried so hard to find a six-pack. I didn’t care for it on-tap yet I kept the faith. I will be leery next year. I hope this was a one-time hiccup. Sigh. My bottles came from Lincoln, NE. Moving on…

Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A bottle from the cellar. Uncapped and poured into my nonic Imperial pint glass. OSA appears a deep chestnut brown color , almost opaque, with about a finger of light ecru foam. Flavors and aromas consist of birch syrup, root beer, molasses, bitter cocoa powder, mocha, some coffee, raisins, medium roasted grains, dark bread, slightly sour. Body is a bit thin at this point, but the carbonation has held up very well. Not sure if this would benefit with any more time in the cellar.

Photo of lackenhauser
3.89/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very nice, mahogany colored beer. Good tan head that quickly is gone but leaves some nice lacing. Low aroma-some hints of spice and maybe vanilla. Malt dominates the flavor. The spiciness of this years beer is very subdued but definately there-some cloves, all spice and a touch of vanilla. The major "spruceness" of previous years isnt here. Good level of hop bitterness to round it all out. Overall the flavor is somewhat complex but well balanced and certainly isnt the pot-pourri of years past. Good mouthfeel. A very drinkable beer this time round. One of the best in a while from Anchor.

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