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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.
very good

273 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 273
Reviews: 239
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 12.73%
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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: maxpower on 11-04-2005)
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Ratings: 273 | Reviews: 239 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gusler
4.47/5  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 allengarvin
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
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 cheers2beers
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
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 cameraman
2.17/5  rDev -43.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A dark brown color with hints of red, the head is a nice tan color and sustains very well. The first scent is of alot of spices from ginger and nutmeg, no hop or malt aromas are present. The taste the spices are pretty evident and then strangely enough some hop flavor comes in at the end. The taste is very unbalanced, the spices and the hops seem to counter one another. The mouthfeel is like a very thin syrup and a little oily, there is a tingle of carbonation at the end. This was very disappointing, the flavors just did not seem to fit together.

Photo of bahumutx
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark ruby with a small tan head.

Smell: The first and most dominate smell that I pick out is a sugary sweetness, there are also hints of spices and some fruit.

Taste: Starts with a piney, clove and then moves onto a roasted malt and coffee like bitterness. There is also a hint of orange and dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Smooth Mouthfeel with the right amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. This would be great for the winter season.

Another good beer from the Anchor brewing company and I am looking forward to trying future Christmas Ales.

Photo of bditty187
3.28/5  rDev -14.8%
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 Suds
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
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 SaCkErZ9
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
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 dreadnatty08
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a pitch dark, slightly translucent brew with a bubble soda like head that lingers just long enough to get some aroma out. Aromas of baking spices like cinnamon, cardamom and licorice. Flavors basically mirror the aroma with a particular sweetness which I'm not really enjoying. Hops are nowhere to be found, and the spices and "natural flavorings" dominate the flavor. Carbonation is medium; alcohol makes quite a presence at the end, I'd guess around 7%. This is just a bit too overly spiced, not so enjoyable and suffers dramatically with drinkability. Tastes very much like a Coke with alcohol added, not so pleasant.

Photo of Reidrover
4.05/5  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 orfeu
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

Photo of Jason
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

Photo of brentk56
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

Photo of alexgash
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
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 stouty1
3.4/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Very spicey pour with no head retention. I smell the chocolate malt and caramel, together with spices. Almost too many spices, but I guess that makes it a Winter Warmer, but they could have spared some of the spice. Not much mouthfeel, almost a flat tatse of spice and chocolate malts. Not the most impressive Winter Ale I have tried.

Photo of ericj551
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
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.

Photo of VoodooBrew
3.55/5  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 Fish113d
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
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 swid
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Anchor Our Special Ale 2005 pours a near-black color into my pint glass; only a scattering of deep ruby are picked up when the glass is held up to the light. Atop the nearly opaque liquid sits a 1/2", dark tan head that quickly dissipates. Low carbonation, little lacing. The smell is a mix of caramel, coffee, and assorted herbs and spices, along with a sweet presence that I can't quite pin down to any particular aroma.

The taste of this beer is also big and malty; as expected, the caramel, coffee, and chocolate flavors predominate. The initial taste is very sweet; it takes a couple seconds for the (relatively restrained) bitterness to come through. When it does, it's as a mixture of the spices and the hops. The amount of alcohol in this beer is best classified as "sneaky". The mouthfeel is very smooth and silky, with just the right level of fullness. Finishes with a very pleasant sweet/roasted/bitter aftertaste.

Overall, while each of its elements are a bit underwhelming when considered alone, Anchor has made a decent winter beer. I should have bought another bottle to hold back until summer...

Photo of nvsblman
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed as part of vertical tasting including '03, '04, and '05 versions in Jan 2005.

Nearly opaque dark brown with about a finger of slightly brown head. Brown sugar, pine, coffee, and spices in the aroma. A little more aromatic than the older versions. The flavors already seem to be blending well with this one! Roasty malts, caramel, and spruce with some nice cinnamon and nutmeg notes. Meduim bodied and well carbonated. This is already drinking so well I'm not sure that there's much room to improve this with age.

Photo of jameaterblues
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was the first Anchor OSA that I have ever had. It was also the first spiced beer that did not overwhelm me. A friend's father sent it to me when they came to visit....I really wish I had a whole six pack.

The color of the beer was a dark brown/blackish tint...with a head that remained me of the anchor porter. This beer was much darker than I expected it to be, but that ended up being a good thing.

The smell was nice and roasty...the malt was very much prevalent, and the spicing really did remind me of the holidays....even though I was trying to be done with them.

Taste also remained me of a porter, but not quite as heavy. It had a nice cinnamon and spice flavor in the body and the finish. It was very nice medium to heavy body, and was slightly heavy on the stomach.

Drinkability: I really wished that I had more of this beer, especially to save for next year. If you can still find it I highly recommend giving it a try.

Photo of Drew966
4.6/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep, dark brown with a thick fluffy tan head from a twelve ounce brown bottle. I dig the tree labels (I might even have to get me a copy of the poster they sell that pictures all of them over the years). Aroma is of malt and spice. I really like the 2005 version, it's quite tasty. Nice, creamy mouthfeel. I had to search out a case of this, it's not too easy to find where I'm at, it was well worth it, and I imagine I'll do the same come next year. Highly recommended.

Photo of murrayswine
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is some damn fine beer!

Poured a lot darker than I thought it would, a blood ruby with brown murk. Very good head retention.
The smell is subtle candy sweetness, light, airy malts, and a slight English style hop sense, I smell Fuggle, though I have no idea what the hops really are.
The taste is slightly tart at first, like a dubbel. Sweet with yeast. low dark fruits and a slight nutty toffee finish round this beer out.
Damn fine brew!

Photo of acrawf6
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was cellaring this one, but i didnt know the alc./vol and decided tonight i'll crack it open in case it sucks 10 months from now.

Pours out a deep dark brown, barely any light through. A red amberish and clear color comes through when brought up to the light. Tan head about an inch high comes up and went down a little quick, but still lots of bubbles to show. decent lacing.

Smell is very interesting. very natural smelling, a little bit of menthol tobacco jumps out to me. is malty and has some very interesting spices. little bit of vanilla, touch of clove, and a tiny bit of sweet cinnoman.

Taste is different. I do taste the hops in this, but didnt smell them. Vanilla taste comes out with some spicyness kick. A touch of the alcohol during the swallow and follows in the aftertaste. earthy spices, a bit of pine, but not as much as 04's. a little clean medicinal taste to it as well.

Mouthfeel is ok. I had a few bottles before about 3 months ago, and i didnt think their mouthfeel was any good, but i think that little bit of time helped. This one is decent; decent balance with some good carbonation. Is slightly on the full side.

Overall, is an interesting brew, i liked this one on tap a little more, but i think giving it a few months to sit helped. Its good but not as good as last years, imho. maybe i better review last years if i find the notes i might have made for it.

Photo of brewQ
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

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