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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 akahn
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is my first time having this seasonal and my first time having a beer like this. Just putting that out there.

Pours very dark brown/black (with some deep ruby hues) with a tall, thick brown head. Not much lacing, but I'm not complaining.

This beer smells of burnt caramel. Maybe my sense of smell isn't too keen yet, but it's not a very strong aroma. The aroma reminds me of those of the handful of brown ales I've had.

Tastes of caramel, brown sugar and bittersweet chocolate. Complex but accessible. Very sweet. Finishes with a sort of sharp, sour warmth.

Drinkability? Good. Very smooth, with not much carbonation. I'd love to have another, but I've got to save some for Thanksgiving tomorrow! I suspect this beer will be quite good over dessert.

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

Photo of cubedbee
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brownish maroon with a dense beige head, good retention, moderate lacing. Nose is sweet malt, maple syrupy, almost Christmas cookie like, overlaid with spices-ginger, licorice, nutmeg, very nice. Taste brings in some plumlike fruitiness, ginger still really comes through along with some other vague spiciness, there's a slight vanilla flavor, and just a slight hop finish. Really interesting interplay between all these elements. Mouthfeel is very smooth but a little on the thin side. This is a good beer, a little more complex and interesting to drink than some of the other winter warmer's I've had, definitely something I will be drinking every year from now on.

Photo of TastyTaste
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Very dark maroon body, big fluffy tan head, which fades slowly to a 1/3" creamy foam.

Smell: Smell is heavy with nutmeg and ginger, cinnamon and roasted malts, sweet with like fresh baked gingersnaps.

Taste: Robust yet sweet. Taste is very well spiced with more nutmeg and ginger. A good winter beer, as usual with OSA. Slght alcohol tingle, cream and vanilla bean in the finish. Moderate hop finish.

Mouthfeel: Full enough to carry the beer, nothing spectacular, but fitting.

Drinkability: OSA is good every year, but never my favorite Winter Warmer, I do recommend enjoying this at least once a hoiday season.

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.52/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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!

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 kosmoraios
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Grabbed a 6 of this at World Market. Pours a deep, opaque brown with bright ruby highlights when held up to the light. Head is tan in color, and dissipates quickly but rings the glass to the end of the ale.

Aroma is of spices - cinnamon, anise, ginger, tamarind - some pineyness on top of caramelized sugar. Malt is prevalent in the nose. Taste is excellent - dark fruit and spices. Figs, plums, some malty sweetness along with the anise and cinnamon. There is a bit of a flavor that I can't quite pin down .. just barely on the edge of my brain. I almost want to say lightly smoky, but that isn't quite it. I saw that another reviewer noticed the same thing. The hint of pine and dark, warm flavor is just superb for a winter warmer.

The mouthfeel is smooth and a bit oily, with very fine carbonation. Very well done. Very drinkable, not overpowering. You could easily enjoy a 6-pack of these in front of the fire over the course of cold winter's evening. A very well-done winter ale from Anchor. I love this time of year!

Photo of loving44
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours creamy and inviting. Dark ruby almost black with an inch or so of bubbly tan head.

This brew smells absolutely delicious. The first thing that came to my mind was fresh gingerbread cookies… ginger, cinnamon, and sugary molasses sweetness. A very soothing aroma that just screams Christmas!

As I sipped this brew I again was bombarded by the gingerbread flavor. A nice balance of spice and sweetness with tight carbonation. It leaves your tongue feeling tingly from the spice and the hops are very well balanced with little bitterness. Although very tasty now, I think it would benefit from some aging to mellow the flavors a bit.

This beer has a very nice creamy syrupy thick mouth feel and is rather light on the tongue due to the tight but persistent carbonation.

I could probably drink these all night but this beer is such a special treat it really needs to be savored slowly and with care... I'm going to age a few bottles for sure!!

Photo of RedHaze
3.43/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a really nice ruby/brown with a two finger tan head that fades slowly to a nice cap, and leaves tons of lacing on the sides of my glass as I drink it.

Smell; cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of chocolate and a little pine tree. It smells sweet, and the spices definitely make me think of the holidays.

Taste; the spices hit first, cinnamon and ginger, caramel, a little bit of pine tree, and just enough of a hop bite to it. I also get a little vanlla as it gets warmer. It's not as sweet as the smell would have led me to believe, which I'm thankful for. Overall though, there's just something about this that just doesn't sit right with me. I think the spices just don't meld very well together. Mouthfeel is thin to medium in body, and very smooth.

Photo of IrishRedRock
4.04/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cola-like brown in appearance. Nutmeg and tree sap in the nose. Flavor is heavy on the caramel sweetness, with just a twang of herbal hop bite to counter the spicy tartness and chewy pinecone this has goin' on. Mildly warming. Carbonation is a bit high on this very fresh bottle, but I'm sure aging a few of these will mellow that, in addition to allowing the flavors to meld and blend together. Bought a few bottles and this is one I expect to age quite nicely. Quite nice fresh though.

Photo of neonbrown82
4.72/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm a virgin of the Anchor OSA this year. Just purchased a magnum, however. I'm quite enjoying it, but it's not something I would drink often were it always available.

Pours to a dark brown with ruby highlights and a nice creamy off-white head. Can't see any carbonation through the dark liquid. Leaves a spotty lacing.

The smell is great. If the sensation of an orgasm could be translated into an aroma, this would be it. Smells like pine, bubblegum, and cotton candy, along with a bit of cinamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and molasses. I could bury my nose in this all night, but I've got some drinking to do if I'm going to finish this magnum.

The taste is quite good as well. Has a sweet grainy flavor up front that flows seamlessly into a brown sugar and piney bubblegum flavor. The spices hit in the finish. Only a little bit of molasses in the flavor. I'm loving this beer so far.

The mouthfeel is a bit on the thin side, but I can't complain. Doesn't leave much of an aftertaste other than the pine and spices, but I still can't complain. I love this beer, and I will drink more of it during the season. I'll probably have to buy a case before long.

Photo of sabrills70
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark ruby brown with a brown 2 finger head and very good lace. Aroma mainly of chocolate, with some ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg in there. A somewhat sweet aroma. Chocolate and ginger flavors predominate. Much like a gingersnap with some good dark molasses. Rich and sticky with some alcohol notes. A coffee like roasted bitterness in the aftertaste. All in all a good brew this year - not quite as good as last year but close. A must for this time of year.

Photo of DogFood11
4.6/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter it forms a reddish/tan head that is silky smooth and leaves sporadic lacing on the way down. dark dark brown/black mix of color. Looks like a meal in a bottle.

smell is spicey and floral with some dark fruity backbone. truly a spectacle and one of the most complex smelling beers I've ever sampled.

Super fine carbonation hits the palate then the explosion hits. All the dark goodness of mollasses, chocolate, raisin, hit you up front then the spices take charge, I mostly get cinnamon, ginger and cloves but its beautifully balanced angainst this dark winter warmer. A bit of citrus at the end cleans things up and the mouthfeel is light for such a dark beer. Truly a spectacle that must be sampled at the very least.

This is nightcapper material. I can't think of too many beers that I would be able to give a fair shake after consuming this. Its pallate friendly but its so complex that anything after this would be a challenge.

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 mmmbeer
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. with some sort of code on the back. Pours a very dark brown/black that has ruby highlights and a 1 finger yellow/tan head that doesn't leave much lacing. The aroma brought me back to when I drank last year's version - very distinctive. Smells of spruce, nutmeg, clove, and chocolate, but I wish the aroma were stronger because it smells so good. The taste follows suit but with additional notes of piney hops, a mild bitterness, perhaps some ginger, and some noticeable alcohol in the last sip. The body is light to medium with a high initial carbonation that becomes smoother and fuller as I drink. Maybe not quite as good as last year's, but it still tastes good to me.

Photo of kozmo
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From the taps at the Publick House in Brookline. Pretty freshly tapped, I believe.

Cold fall evening, so I tried this as a warmer-upper.

Appearance: Dark brown, couldn't see through it, light head

Smell: Spicy and somewhat fragrant without being overpowering. Sort of nutmegy or something, almost piney. However, this was fairly non-specific. Just smells like the holidays in a vague way.

Taste: Sweet and malt. Fairly well-balanced, although in other years, I can remember this tasting more like a beer and less like the beer-like spice beverage that this one does. Somewhat syrupy, but not to a fault.

Mouthfeel: warm and bordering on thick. Nothing heavy about it, but you definitely know you've got something in your mouth. Aftertaste nicely spicy and not bitter at all.

Drinkability: Definitely one you need to savor. not good for chugging, but why would you. This winter warmer is for enjoying slowly as you warm from the winter chill.

Photo of Terp96
2.79/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Had this on my last trip to Max's in Fells Point. Usually, I get anxious to get this beer around this time of year as it has always been one of my favorites.

This year's version is a little darker than last year. A very deep reddish-brown with a slightly brownish head. The head stuck around until about mid-pint.

Smells okay. Somewhat roasted flavor. Minimal hop presence. Can definitely smell the usual holiday spices.

Taste was all malt. Not that this is bad but the complex and abundant flavors of roasted malt, hops, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc. don't come through as in year's past.

Mouthfeel was terrible. Was this watered down? I seriously asked myself. Very thin and unusually high in carbonation.

Not very drinkable for the simple fact that it didn't taste that good. I couldn't wait to get through this to move onto something else.

Anchor has failed me for the first time, and hopefully, the last.

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

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.

Photo of chOAKbarrell
2.71/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I remember the first time I had Anchor's O.S.A., and a friend telling me how it tasted like they used Worcestershire sauce in it. I couldn't really tell then, and I still can't tell now.

I'm sure this is supposed to be a pretty solid winter brew. But after drinking most of a six pack on 5 different occassions, I just cant help thinking that there is this "soapy" flavor/texture to the beer. It really turns me off.

I'm not picking up much of anything in the smell. That's probably more my fault, as I'm not exactly sure of what to look (smell) for.

The taste... like I said, there's this wierd texture & flavor that makes me think of soap. There's somewhat of an unpleasant aftertaste to this beer as well. Kind of sour, and it lingers.

After all is drank and done, I guess I have to say that there just doesnt seem like there's much depth to this beer. It reminds me of
Michelob Amber Bock in that it is dark, but dark without a whole lot of substance. The carbonation seems a bit high, and it is just not much of a pleasant drink. At $10 a six pack, I will not be having this again.

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.

Photo of Hibernator
4.36/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Anchor Our Special Ale (2005)
5.8% ABV
12 oz brown bottle
Freshness date on the back label that reads 5OU
Served in a 16 oz Allagash chalice glass

Pours a dark brown color with light brown highlights. Beautiful fluffy khaki colored head on top. Patterns of lacings are scattered all over the sides of the glass.

Malty nose with obvious whiffs of spices and sugars.

Creamy mouthfeel with an earthy, malty backbone. Flavors of caramel, maple syrup, milk chocolate, nutmeg, spices, and cinnamon. Slight piney hop finish, but the sweetness of the malt and distinctiveness of the spices is what leaves your palate in pure enjoyment. This beer is so complex and flavorful. Every sip lends itself to new flavors. The drinkability level with this beer is off the charts. I didn't realize it until I was two deep in a short amount of time and ready for another. It's a very unique and tasty beer.

The Anchor Our Special Ale is one of those beers that I truly get excited about when I see on the shelves for the season. It's 11/04/05 and this beer is already out in stores..great news. Another extremely well crafted winter seasonal ale from Anchor.

Photo of Px2GrafX
4.17/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

presentation: 12oz stubby bottle with a cream colored oval laid paper label with green ink. "merry christmas & happy new year • anchor brewing co." encircles the label. large illustration of a tree in the center. name of tree is: quercus agrifolia, which is a california live oak. "our special ale brewed with spices with natural flavors added". anchor's description of their special ale is on the neck label along with details of the california live oak's fruit and leaves. batch number is on the back label. looks like 60D, but also mysteriously like GOD. hmmm...no abv displayed.

appearance: pours a very dark brown with deep crimson highlights in a tulip glass (wanted to get a little more nose). head is a nice 2 fingers light tan. fluffy and tight with decent retention and good lacing. thin capper all the way down.

smell: smell is caramelly sweet with lotsa spices. very nice aroma. cloves and lightly vinous alcohol. bready with some roasted nuts and currants. nice holiday aroma.

taste: lightly sweet with dark fruits and a low balancing hoppy bitterness. alcohol phenols are present and almost instantly warming. raisins, currants, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. hops are piney and earthy. finishes sweet, yeasty and nutty. a soy sauce flavor comes out if you let the brew warm to room temperature. nice array of flavors.

mouthfeel: crisp and ever-so-slightly resinous medium body. rolls around smoothly, but swallow clunks a bit. carbonation is nice and burpy.

drinkability: i left myself one sip for the mouthfeel review. this baby was down the hatch. nice brew this time of year and can be sipped or be made a winter session. alcohol is warming, but not a hinderance.

overall: once again, a nice winter offering. not quite as hoppy as i remember last year's being. smells of christmas and each sip offers a different flavor. a must have each and every winter season.

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