1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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 (23) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) Alström Bros
Ratings: 272 | Reviews: 239 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of joe1510
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz. Bottle 2005
$10.99 6-pack
Binny's Orland

Our Special Ale poured an extremely dark mahogany that is only transparent along the edges of my pilsner glass when held to the light. A creamy 2 finger mocha head sits on top and fades a a 1 finger dense craggy head. Sticky webbed brown lacing trails down the glass.

The smell makes me think of Christmas with all the smells coming from the kitchen. There are a lot of spices in the nose including nutmeg and maybe a touch of cinnamon. The others are hard to pick apart. Theres even some bing cherry and plum. Also, reminiscent of warm bread pudding. A slight roasted malt in the background but the fruits and spices take over. I think this is what a winter warmer should smell like. It has it all crammed in there.

The roasted malts serve as the backbone and don't really show themselves until a minor bitterness in the finish. The spices come through up front with the nutmeg taking the front. The dark fruit come through mid-palate and dance around on your tongue in holiday cheer. Very nicely done.

The mouthfeel is the only thing holding this beer back. It's average but if it was a little heavier in body it would be great. The mouthfeel is on the thin side and feels a little dead in my mouth. Don't get me wrong it's not bad just nothing to get excited about.

The weaker mouthfeel actually helps the drinkability a little bit. If it were creamier it would make a better beer but it would be too filling to get high marks for drinkability. I could definately sit around and drink a couple of these on a cold winter night.

I really like Our Special Ale and would recommend it to anyone to try at least once. The spices really add a nice touch. Great cold weather beer. One to share with friends and family.

Slainte!

Photo of jcdiflorio
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

served into a tulip glass a 12oz brown bottle twist-off cap. A BA buddy brought this over a year late,still seemed good enough to review.
didn't get to review when it first came out.Will have to review the 06' also.

Deep chestnut brown,thick tan head,retentative,lacing the glass.
The aroma seemed well balanced for the complexity.It was spicey,piney,carmelly,roasty,hints of vanallia,with a smoked peat smell also.
A very complex taste,chocolaty,smokey,caramelly,hints of licorice.
A warming of alcohol,with a sharp,dry finish,with a taste of chocolate lingering on the palate.
A medium mouthfeel,with a slight pricklyness.
Drinkable to an extent,becomes filling,kind of just sets in the gut. I'll be drinking the 06' very soon. One of my favorite Cristmas beers.

Photo of Applesauce1
3.28/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I picked up the 2005 winter warmer at the Cloverleaf in suburban Detroit.

Appearance: dark, dark brown; opaque with a nice half inch light brown head off the pour; looks much like an American Stout off the pour
Smell: coffee (surprisingly), alcohol (surprising also), some type of spice too (maybe cinnamon or nutmeg)
Taste: very unique; coffee flavor; a very malty beer; a weird taste overall; some spices in the back of my mouth; some fruit flavors also in there; it tasted much better at the beginning; it developed too much of a belgian style ale with the fruit flavors coming in more at the end
Mouthfeel: medium bodied
Drinkability: kinda fills you up

Overall, this is not a typical American Winter Warmer (I haven't experienced enough English Winter Warmers to get a feel for those.). It has a complex flavor mixture.

Photo of goochpunch
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours an absolute pitch black with a mountainous cafe au lait head that forms peaks and valleys and leaves some strung out lacing. Nose is a mix of roasted malt, rye bread, star anise, cinnamon, ginger, dark chocolate, molasses and butter cookies. Taste is composed of dark roast malts, marbled rye, and cane syrup with an undiscernable and subdued spice presence than in the nose. Finishes with a slight lactic twang, hop bitterness, mild citrus hops, and lingering chocolate and coffee flavors. Mouthfeel is really to thin and a little too bubbly for this. Not watery, just not all I think it could or should be. Goes down really fast, but this would be a lot more drinkable if it were more substantial. Wish I would've gotten this fresh almost a year ago.

Photo of Brewlore
3.89/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 12oz bottle into a Tulip glass. Pours a very dark burnt red/brown color with very minimal tan colored head that barely sticks around yet lingers around the edges of the glass. Fairly nice lacing.

Smells like winter! Notes of pine and citrus. Very nice and refreshing scent to this brew.

Tastes like winter as well. The toasty malts hit you first along with some light spices and then some decent hops kick in to give it that needed bitterness. Very pleasant drink.

Feels very light in the mouthfeel department. Has light carbonation, a very smooth feeling and leaves a little bite at the end.

Very drinkable. Not to heavy and all the ingredients blend well together. Quite a good match for the Holiday season.

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

A: Black with a tan head; very little retention or lace (may be due to its age).

S: Molases, dark ginger-bread, dark raisins, pine, vanilla, brown sugar, touch of sherry.

T: Plenty of flavour for it's weight: molases; dark bread (a little rye and christmas fruit cake?); lightly spiced (noticable, but not identifiable... nutmeg & ginger?); brown sugar; pine (presumably from the hops); dark chocolate. Balanced slightly to the bitter side, with faint hints of a roasted tartness in the finish.

M: Moderate body is somewhat creamy but chalky; carbonation on the light side of moderate.

D: Not overly warming, but that makes it all the more drinkable!

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Drank this beer the same night of review, so it's nearly one year aged (in dark refrigeration the whole time).

Appearance - Has a three finger dark tan head that is very creamy. . It has supremely good lacing all the way down. The beer is a reddish brown color that is very clear, with only slight haze.

Smell - Smells like the Christmas season. There are notes of clove, nutmeg, and pine (juniper ?) on the nose. Molasses and some caramel also play a small role in the aroma. The malt character is rich and toasted, very doughy. Some semi-crisp hops character that has a hint of citrus to it. Little alcohol presence in the smell.

Taste - Rich, toasted, bready malt mixed with some wet and oily bitterness from the hops. Again some juniper flavor is there, along with clove, but it is more in the background than it was in the smell. A nice mix of sweet and sourness is also present. A strong influx of pine comes in just before the finish. It has a slightly earthy and oily hops finish to it, and becomes a bit bitter in the aftertaste. What an excellent and unique taste.

Mouthfeel - Medium- to full-bodied with a very smooth texture. Medium and refreshing carbonation. There is no bite at all, but the carbonation is still of decent intensity.

Drinkability - Has a very winter season feel to this brew. Probably the best winter brew I've had, since it truly tastes like the season. Nothing is overpowering or undesirable about this beer. Good drinkability.

What a wondeful winter ale. This thing really tastes like a Christmas beer. I love the piney/juniper taste and smell to this beer. Also, the toasted malt character reminds you of Christmas dinner. Highly recommended!

Photo of afinepilsner
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown bottle

Anchor Our Special Ale 2005 was deep dark brown in color with a nice tan head. The head soon dissipated to a thin layer, but remained until the beer was gone, leaving a little lacing behind. Upon smelling, holiday spices fill your nose with a light malt backround. The taste has a nice malt base with various spices evident throughout. This is a medium bodied beer with medium carbonation. Goes down fairly easily.

I bought this in early December and decided to age some. When fresh I thought it was terrible, and tasted like a christmas tree, but it has mellowed out nicely since then and is now a petty good beer. I will sample again after more aging.

Photo of stephendr
3.57/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

dark chocolate color, not a strong nose, chewy body, a bright malty beer that tastes of raw cookie dough slightly bitter finishdark chocolate color, not a strong nose, chewy body, a bright malty beer that tastes of raw cookie dough slightly bitter finishdark chocolate color, not a strong nose, chewy body, a bright malty beer that tastes of raw cookie dough slightly bitter finish

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 scottoale
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was a 12oz.bottle with a perferated code on back label (5NQ) and it poured a dark mahogany-brown with a two-tone (off-white on top and beige below it) frothy head with a finger of thickness. A nice looking ale that left some intriquet, sticky lacing as you drink it.

Roasty dark malt nose filled with spices and some hops in the end. As the brew warms, it gets a nice alcoholic smell to it and more spiced and herbal like.

The taste is pretty much like the smell but doesn't seem as flavorful as I was expecting. It tastes pretty much the same to me each year, it just seems to lack a little flavor wise. It has a fairly sweet malt intro that gets taken by the spices quickly. Some spice flavor I taste are of cinnamin, nutmeg, ginger and ?. When the spice fades it just seems a bit watery with a slight bitterness.

The mouthfeel is a bit watery for a medium bodied winter warmer, the carbonation is just right.

Pretty nice brew that goes down easily, there are many more of this style that I prefer.

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

From notes made on Memorial Day Weekend.

Typical Anchor 12oz bottle purchased at Huckleberry’s in Spokane for $1.49. No obvious freshness date, but the back label has been stamped “5NI”, or something to that affect.

Poured what looked to be black until held up to light, at which it took on a deep, dark ruby color. BIG, tan head that took it’s time dropping, leaving lots of lace behind.

The smells are spicy and doughy, like a pumpkin pie. There’s also a piney hoppiness, but it’s very mellow.

This tastes very similar to the smell, with the spiciness standing out the most. Very malty, with the piney hops hanging back to give the malts room to breathe. There’s a modest dryness at the swallow.

Mouthfeel was soft and velvety. The body of this beer would best be described as medium.

Not a bad Christmas beer at all, even if I’m drinking it on Memorial Day. The wet three-day-weekend is helping this beer feel at home.

Photo of kkipple
3.46/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Goes into my goblet a very dark red with a small tan head that hugs the rim.

I thought this was a mistake at first. Bad bottle or something. It smells like fruitcake! Seriously, it smells like the Christmas fruitcake that we’d get sent every year by my grandparents. I hated the foul concoction… it always remained uneaten in the very back of our fridge for half the year till someone found the foil wrapped lump buried behind the mint jelly…

Childhood memories aside, what’s it like? I taste some chocolate and coffee notes, and a tart, citrus zestyness along with lots of dark fruit and burnt flavor. Sour, dark and definitely one to sip on a windy evening. Reminds me of heavily spiced Belgian dark ale. Also a bit… salty?

I can’t get over the smell. Alcohol, burnt bread, figs, nutmeg, cinnamon, coffee. Brown sugar. Loads of complexity. High marks here.

Bottom line; this is fruitcake beer. Mouthfeel is creamy and satisfying. Feels like you’re drinking a meal. While I can definitely appreciate the complexity and uniqueness of this beer, the taste doesn’t click with me. But in the end, for a seasonal, it’s not bad. I look forward to having one for future Christmases.

Photo of Shaw
3.41/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was surprised to see this beer in Sarasota. I haven't had it in years and the last time I did it was on tap.

It's nice a dark with a head that's almost orange. The head quickly tightens to just a dollop of foam in the center of my glass.

It smells of orange peel. Burnt orange peel, to be more precise.

Thankfully, the taste is better. It's light and crisp with notes of spices. There's not much malt sweetness or hop bitterness.

The body is as light as the taste.

Overall this is quite light for a winter warmer; I wish this beer were more substantial.

Photo of lpayette
3.42/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Appearance- Stout-like in apperance- very dark, near black, but closer investigation during the pour reveals red and brown hues. Head is tan and respectable.

Smell- dark malty tones give way to a more subtle nuttiness, notes of spruce, nutmeg, cinnamon and perhaps other spices. Gingerbread was evident as well.

Taste and Mouthfeel- In no particular order of dominance- gingerbread, coffee, nutmeg, and random spices. I got several hints of dark fruit, but this was a rare occassion. Hops pretty much out of the equation until hints of them at the finish.

Other notes- The tastes are complex and appropriate for the style. You really can see what the brewers were going for. This beer tastes like Christmas in a bottle. Unfortunately, for me the various spices and other flavors were a bit much and didn't combine as well as they could have. I would have liked to see a more malt dominant profile with the spices and whatnot more in the background. Excess really hurt the drinkablity for me on this one.

Photo of jwff
2.61/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours ruby black with red and brown edges and a nice head that slowly works itself down. Smells like nutmeg, cinnamon, and something I can only describe as buttery sweetness. Wish I knew what to put my finger on because it appears in the taste as well as the predominant flavor. Possibly ginger? Taste is underwhelming because of this predominant flavor, but is eased a bit by some toffee and a hint of hops in the finish. Cinnamon and nutmeg are also noted. Mouthfeel has a slight grittiness, but a drying one as if to leave unsweetened cocoa powder on the tongue. I feel like I need to brush my teeth to get this flavor out of my mouth. Don't think I'll be gettin this one again.

Photo of mobyfann
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Paid $1.59 for a single a few months back...

The beer pours a cloudy dark chocolate colored base, with a medium white head, solid head retention and a gradual decline in lacing on the side of the glass. The aroma is spicy and apple-like.

The taste adds is strong of apricot taste, with a side of spice, a little too powerful in the apricot, but still high quality. The M&D are above par, relatively smooth but I think one is enough, given the apricot taste is a bit overdone.

Final Thought: A unique variety from one of the best out there, good work Anchor!

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

Pours from one of nicest bottle presentations on the market; short and stout with a classic label design.
In the glass it's color of a good porter with softer amber edges and mocha head that subsides into a low but persistant cover and long lacing.
Aroma is nice. Caramel apple and roasted malt; fairly sweet with an apple-fresh crispness. The nose is subtle but fulfills the flavor.
Taste is initially tart followed by a strong chocolate malt middle with tones of caramel apple - right where the sweetness lives. Finishes out clean, crisp and lightly sour for the overall richness of the beer. The beer is surprisingly sprite and has a zesty blend of matched flavors.
The body is filling and carries the beer throughout the mouth and continues during each drink.It's not coating, but enhancing.
Definitely awaiting next year!

Photo of MSchae1017
3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer was tasted in a pint glass from a bottle.

This beer pours a dark brown with hints of red. There is also a sizeable tan head that leaves a good film the whole way down that laces nicely. The beer smells of pine, nutmeg and cinamon. There is also the smell of dark chocolate malts. The taste hits you with the chocolate malts but also mixed in is the same mix pine, nutmeg, and cinamon. The thickness is good and there is a significant amount of cabonation which complements this style nicely. Overall, better than average on drinkability but the spices would prevent me from having more than one in a sitting, plus I am not overly fond of this style.

Photo of PatYoda
4.28/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with ruby highlights. This leaves a great 2 finger cream colored head that takes forever to go away and leaves some solid lacing. Smell is very unique - I get some spices, maybe some cinnamon, definitely some bready malt, and a toffee aroma.

The taste imparts a strong toffee flavor onto the palate which lingers for a loooong time in the finish. Along with that is the cinnamon and other spices also found in the smell, and a vinous, dark fruity flavor. I also get some herbal hops in the finish. I love it!

The mouthfeel is plenty full enough that it complements the brew nicely and adds some serious smoothness. The drinkability here is only hindered by the herbal flavor and the toffee which never seem to leave the palate.

Photo of woodychandler
4.29/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This poured with a huge, deep-tan/light-brown head above a very dark colored liquid that was deep-brown with garnet undertones. The nose was spicy, like a mix of pine and nutmeg. Yow! The mouthfeel was thick and full, with a cinnamon-like spiciness on the tongue. As it warmed, it took on a chocolaty-fudgy aspect both in taste and mouthfeel. It left behind one of the most really sticky Belgian laces that I have seen in a long time.

Photo of ProfessorHops
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- dark with a beige head. Nothing deceptive or over eccentric about the look.

Smell- sweet, sassy, with elements of cedar.

Taste- excellent. Most seasonal X-mas brews are just a cheesy version of their regular brew, with some cinnamon added. But this one is different. Anchor went out to achieve something new with this brew, and I commend them on it. Plus they added some of the cheesy spices as well.

Mouthfeel- moderately light.

Drinkability- not as easy as it could be. But keep in mind it's a winter warmer, not a winter quencher.

One of the finniest X-mas beers I've ever had. The 31st Christmas recipe by Anchor, they change it every year. I hope next year's is as good as this one.

Photo of Bleedingshrimp
3.77/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Aged now for about 4 or 5 months. Hard pour into pint glass yielded 1/2 inch head that went away quickly. Dark almost black. Smell was subtle vanilla bean, rum, nutmeg, cinnamon, and plums. Mouthfeel is just short of a porter. Taste was slightly more acrid than I remember it being at release. Spiciness toned down as well taste of oak, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Finish is pretty good. Not bad but not WOW either. Definitely prefer it fresh.

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