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

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.

Photo of jaluria
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nearly black in color with a thick, light brown-colored head that stands the test of time. The viscosity of this beer seems to be considerable higher than most winter warmers. Aromas of ginger, maple syrup, candy, and various spices come out very nicely. The taste is just incredible with an enormous amount of sweetness that incredibly does not overpower the palate. The various spices blend seamlessly as the beer warms generating little perturbations in taste. This is definitely a rich and complex beer with great flavors and character. The aftertaste consists of a lingering sweetness that tends towards dryness. The drinkability is good, but not great because this beer is so intense in flavor and rich I wouldn't be able to handle more than 2 of these, but how enjoyable those 2 would be!

Photo of ypsifly
3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz poured into a pint glass.

Deep brown with a good sized head of light tan. Strong retention with layered webs of lace.

Smells sweet and spicy with some ginger and cinnamon, a little bit of chocolate, and some hop/pine aromas.

The mouth is a little lighter than years past. It also has more of a roasty-chocolate flavor upfront followed by the spices and a drying bitterness. Not as piney tasting as it has been in the past. After a few more sips some licorice starts to come through.

I like this version as it seems to break away from what the pattern has been over the last few years. The roasted malt and chocolate flavors give this years version a little more character. I'll buy more for sure.

Photo of jmz62565
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This looks like a porter when pouring with a large creamy tan head.This has a very piney spice filled aroma with some cranberry.The taste is very spice filled at first,but as it moves thru your mouth you can taste cranberries,coffee and carmel.The m/f isn't as balanced as I would like,but it is a pretty heavy beer.I don't know how many of these I could have,but it is a good holiday beer.Merry Christmas!

Photo of Bcant
3.06/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2005 vintage.

Stout brown bottle, a botanical drawing of Quercus agnifolia. Poured into a large brandy snifter. Dark brown color with shads of deep red, nice clarity. Poured with a three finger head which dissipated but some lacing.

The bouquet is sweet, crème caramel and over ripe strawberries. The flavor is also sweet; toffee carries through the start and middle with some coffee bitterness at the end. Not at all the complex spiced flavor that I was expecting; not particularly sophisticated.

Mouthful is a torch sandy. Almost the sensation of an agitated bottle conditioned beer without the sediment. Still, it leaves the mouth dry enough, but not parched, to both enjoy the space between sips and call for wetting the palate.

Note: I am hesitant about posting this review. This is a beer that I have enjoyed for several years. Some years are better than others but until this year none have disappointed.

Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
3.86/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I am interested to know if this beer is brewed the same way as the other Anchor beer, in the steaming method? Sure has that pressed taste. Varies considerably from other Winter Warmers I've had. Deep brown in color, almost opaque black (does that make sense?), awesomely formed head. I would assume this was a porter had this website not informed me differently. Interesting taste, does not remind me of a beer I'd like to cozy up to a fire too. Pretty malty, with a nice chocolate aftertaste. Actually is quite heavy.

A pretty good offering, defiantly not a session beer. Aren't the holidays all about sessions?!?!?!?!?!

Photo of MattBrooks
4.14/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a minimal head, but some clarity. The nose explodes with spices like nutmeg and coriander. Very rich and interesting smells. Tastes almost apple-y with more spices from the nose continuing. Still, expected more spices based on the smell alone. The taste is good and I think the finish is just long enough although it could be a little heavier in the mouthfeel. Not overly spicy like some other holiday brews.

Photo of oberon
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of LPorter33
3.46/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Purchased single bottle from Martignetti's

Appearance = beautiful dark brown, nearly black, with a tiny tinge of red. Good 1/2'' head, which fades quickly. looks extremely rich and wholesome.

Smell = Full of spice and floral scents. Lavender I believe dominates or some scent that one often finds in soap. It's a little too overpowering but pleasant.

Taste = Not a bad Winter warmer. Thick and malty with a nice balance of sweetness. The taste is dominated by the same floral smell. It's interesting although I don't think I'd want more than one.

Overall = a very good beer to sample one of. I think the drinkability isn't so great as it's a bit too strong in one direction but I recommend you try one.

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 SurgeonGeneral
3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Serving temp: 50F Serving glass: Pint glass

Aroma: Carmalized sweetness & maple syrup. Some freshly baked gingerbread cookies become more dominant as I savor the smell a bit longer.

Appearance: Beautiful deep crimson with a creamy tan head that receeds quickly leaving small amounts of lace.

Taste: A restrained sweetness come through at first in line with the maple/ginger combination mentioned above. A little spiciness ties the opening sweetness and finishing bitterness together pretty well. Good balance between all the elements, although the ginger is not a personal favorite.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with low/moderate carbonation & a creamy smoothness to it, yet finishing somewhat dry.

Drinkability: A good and unique brew, but perhaps a bit too unique for me. It certainly fits the holiday spirit, but the spice character of this brew make it difficult to have more than a couple per session.

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 Naes
3.03/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Almost black in color with a tall tan head.
The aroma is of malts and spice, mostly cinnamon.
The flavor has many unique tones. There is a malty base that gives way to the spices. Cinnamon, many other spices and a slight coffee flavor are the ones that jump out at me. The hops are not very intense, yet remain noticeable throughout.
Mouth feel is light bodied and generously carbonated.

Photo of whynot44
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very dark reddish brown color with a substantial milk chocolate colored head that dissipates to just a collar fairly quickly.

Aroma is spicy, piney with a fruity dark malt background.

Taste starts sweet dark malt with caramel, apple and light molasses notes, then anise, chocolate and pine flavors kick in with a fairly dry, nutmeg and cinammon finish. Spicing and hops although pleasant, are a little sharp at the end.

Still easy enough to drink, medium/full bodied.

Photo of nortmand
2.95/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours brown with a hint of red. Huge, fluffy brown head.

Smell is chocolate, allspice, fennel. Very nice.

Very astringent flavor. Not infected sour, just harsh roasted barley sour. The spices are hidden beneath the astringency. Not my cup of tea. Leaves a harsh hop bitterness that has no malty back bone.

Thin, watery mouth, very little body. The appearance and smell of this beer scream "huge", but then there is nothing. A thin, lifeless beer, I'm not sure what to make of it.

Photo of czechsaaz
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very spicey aroma. Licorice maybe this year? Similar to past OSA in aroma. Not terribly hoppy, just a hint, some darker malt character and lots of spicey and yeasty esters. Very nice.

Dark brown, almost black, thick tan head. Does let some light through when held up and appears clear but it's dark enough to not really matter.

Rich and toasty, a generous amount of darker malts in there. Also has that slightly acidic flavor that comes from roast malts (think dry stout). I get licorice again in the spicing (Anchor never reveals the spicing from year to year). Fairly subdued spicing. Looking at my notes from the past few years, this was highly spiced (including huge spruce some years.) This is much more subtle. Sweet malty aftertaste, brown malt or mild malt flavor mostly.

A little light on the body but the rich flavor makes it seem pretty satisfying. Carbonation level is medium.

Very nice offering this year. It has enough of what I love about OSA but is a lot more tame than previous years. I could probably get the misses to drink this which I haven't been able to do before. (She comlains that it's too spicy) Probably not an ager like some other years versions but I'll try it anyway.

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

Anchor Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2005 sampled from a 12oz bottle

First time I have tried this brew, and I gotta say it definitely puts me in the holiday spirit. Pours a nice dark espresso color and makes a bubbly tan head, laces nicely down the glass as I imbibe. Aroma is rich and malty with hints of dark chocolate and cherry. What a nice flavor too, this is like a liquid gingerbread cookie. Dark chocolate bitterness, nutmeg, ginger & cinnamon spices, caramel & a hint of dark dried fruit -- makes me want to go bake something. Peppery carbonation on the palate, medium bodied and has a dry finish, warms the soul a bit. Nice drinker this one, I'll definitely pick it up again next winter.

Photo of cracgor
4.43/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A nice looking beer. Very dark brown with a flimsy tan head. Little bits of head stick to the glass. Smells really great. Strong chocolatey malts and a touch of sourness but a surprising spice in it. Sort of reminds me of Gingerbread cookies. I only wish I could taste it more in the flavor. The flavor is more straightforward, a nice chocolatey malt. The gingerbread flavor comes out in the back and as it warms up. Medium body. A little astringent. And just enough warmth to feel it in my stomach. This is very good. I enjoy drinking it very much. Hope to save a couple to try it out with age:-D

Photo of mattcrill
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stubby brown twist-off bottle.

Appearance: A chocolate to deep ruby pour with a tight and thin tan cap.

Smell: Citrus, dark fruits, earthy notes, and just a touch of yeast noted.

Taste: Chocolate, cloves, with a touch of bitterness near the end. There is a nice wheaty base to this. A pine-like bitterness emerges as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with pleasant carbonation.

Drinkability: Much more balanced this year. Not a full on spice bomb assault like last year. Still, can't wait to compare them side by side. This is much better fresh than I've had in the past. With it's mild and balanced nature, I would be concerned that it would really lose something over time. Strongly recommended.

Photo of Billolick
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of ggaughan
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this bottle of 2005 OSA as Cooper's in Scranton the day after thanksgiving. What a treat with lunch. The OSA pours a nice dark brown color with no real head. It has nice spice notes, nutmeg and/or cinnamon. The taste is nice and malty taste yet sweet. This is definitely a beer that you can drink a few of as the dark taste is deceiving. Based on all the positive reviews of prior vintages of OSA, I play on buying more of this to cellar and enjoy in the future as well.

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 tfinn
3.87/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

pours a deep almost opaque brownish black, which gives dark purple/plum tinges when held up to the light. thick head with lots of lace.

smell is spices: nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, with a sweet baked brown-bread aroma, a little vanilla... and this just poured out of a cold bottle. I expect even more as it warms up.

taste, unfortunately, doesn't seem to match up to the smell. it is spicy with a little black pepper and quite a bit of brown / roasted malt, but the sweetness in the nose doesn't come out in the flavor.

mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I expected, and with this much spice, I want a big body. the finish is a spicy astringency, like those last few bits of nutmeg you always end up chewing after having an egg nog or the dregs of the holiday punch from the company party. I would've liked a sweeter tail to balance the spice.

from what I remember, last year's offering was a little more substantial, although I have a magnum of last year's that I will be busting out with the neighbor here over the next couple months. it's quite possible that a few months will let the spices die down, and I'll be keeping the sixer I bought of this in my basement over the next few months to see what happens.

drinkability is alright, but not fantastic, and I don't savor this as much as traquair jacobite, for instance.

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

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.

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