1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.
BA SCORE
87
very good

271 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 271
Reviews: 239
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 12.69%
Wants: 1
Gots: 5 | 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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) Alström Bros
Ratings: 271 | Reviews: 239 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of clvand0
clvand0

Kentucky

3.58/5  rDev -7.3%

Pours a brown color with some red around the edges with a moderate head that falls slowly and leaves some lacing on the glass. The aroma has a lot of dark malt character with spice and has a big bunch of ginger that smacks you across the nose. The flavor is comprised of dark fruit, ginger, dark malts. Interesting. Mouthfeel is on the heavy end of medium and the drinkability is just ok ... these spiced beers aren't really my forte.

01-17-2006 15:40:10 | More by clvand0
Photo of Bierguy5
Bierguy5

Ohio

3.78/5  rDev -2.1%

Pours a very dark brown, nearly black. No highlights around the edges at all. Thick creamy tan head. Good retention. Aroma of spruce, black licorice, and cocoa powder. Floral hop aroma. Dark malt, roasty but not overly robust. Bittersweet chocolate flavor, spices, maybe ginger. Spices seem very restrained this year. Citrusy hop flaovr, some bitterness. Medium body. Overall, different than usual. Still good, but not as impressive as before.

12-17-2005 18:23:49 | More by Bierguy5
Photo of DogFood11
DogFood11

California

4.63/5  rDev +19.9%

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.

11-16-2005 02:52:59 | More by DogFood11
Photo of WanderingFool
WanderingFool

Massachusetts

4.18/5  rDev +8.3%

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.

12-03-2005 23:57:34 | More by WanderingFool
Photo of bonbini26
bonbini26

New Jersey

4/5  rDev +3.6%

01-11-2012 20:38:12 | More by bonbini26
Photo of brewandbbq
brewandbbq

New Hampshire

3.9/5  rDev +1%

Pours dark, opaque mahogany, with chestnut edging.
Thick, rocky, tan head left behind some nice lacework.
Roasted malts, coffee dusted chocolate up front in the nose.
Spices step forward with warming alcohol.
Nutmeg, clove, peppercorns, with an underlying citrus essence and mint.
Nose finishes spicey, mildly bitter, with hints of coriander and ginger skin.
Body medium, slightly chewy, and smooth.
Pallet starts off with bitter chocolates, coffee grounds, and a bit of smoke.
Follows through with a substantial bitterness and mild grapefruit, then a blend of orange peel, nutmeg, cardamon, and spruce.
Finishes fairly long, bitter, roasty, warming, with lingering spice.

12-08-2005 00:59:51 | More by brewandbbq
Photo of budgood1
budgood1

Minnesota

3.88/5  rDev +0.5%

pours out a nearly opaque dark brown colour with ruby and crimson hues. short lived tan head. touches of lace. big ole pine and spruce aroma....lots of rich maltiness. smells like OSA. upon tasting...oh, this is gonna be hard to describe...a definite spicy, minty flavour envelops my tastebuds followed by a definite hoppiness that is welcome. choco and caramel maltiness hold up the foundation well. anise, black licorice, nutmeg, prunes...maybe you could say this is liquid puree of gingerbread and oatmeal raisin cookies. yeasty and velvety with a smooth mouthfeel and ample body are nice. preliminary thoughts are that i much prefer this to last years rendition but probably not as good as two years ago...this being only the third i've had the pleasure of consuming this winter seasonal. i believe i have some cellaring so i might have to do some comparisons. finishes feverishly festive. warms and satisfies. i like it...i'm gonna drink a few more tonite and see where it goes as my six pack warms a bit.

01-07-2006 02:00:48 | More by budgood1
Photo of Drew966
Drew966

Florida

4.6/5  rDev +19.2%

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.

02-19-2006 01:23:56 | More by Drew966
Photo of PorterLambic
PorterLambic

Florida

3.88/5  rDev +0.5%

A very dark brown with a rust orange at the edges. Nice medium tan head. Drops to 1/2" layer within 3 minutes leaving some light lace.
Smell is roasted/toasted malt, smoke, peat with just a whiff of alcohol.
Taste is the same with a touch of slightly burnt malt in the aftertaste.
Medium body, light effervescence. Slightly watery finish, smooth.
A very good beer overall.

11-03-2007 02:26:59 | More by PorterLambic
Photo of granger10
granger10

Wisconsin

4.4/5  rDev +14%

This years version pours a deep dark nearly black color with a larger sized tan head. Moderate lacing.

Aroma is chocolatey with ripe dark fruits. Some bready notes along with pine and spice contribute as well.

Taste has more of a molasses like sweetness to it. Ginger is prevalent but no spices are overbearing like last years. Almost a gingerbread taste in the body. Anise is there but in the background, where it should be. A bit of pine towards the finish but it ends with more of a fruity note.

Mouthfeel is nice and creamy, reminds me of some baltic porters. Much less acidic and harsh than what I thought it would be.

A very drinkable beer but one I would save for only the holidays to make it more special.

12-30-2005 14:32:20 | More by granger10
Photo of pmcadamis
pmcadamis

Illinois

4.08/5  rDev +5.7%

This is my first review under the new scoring system (which I don't like), and I'm curious to see what letter grade this gets when I finish my review.

A - A massive three finger head of milk-chocolate colored foam rises above a black brew that shows some dark brown highlights. The creamy, dense head shows outstanding retention, and leaves a copious amount of lace on the glass.

S - From far away, I smell bourbon and oak. Putting my nose to the glass, I pick up more chocolate and thick honey, but the bourbon is still there too. I also smell some cedar chip woodiness and some dark bakery stuff....like dark bran muffins. There are some marshmallow notes there too. Outstandingly complex.

T - Tangy mesquite smoke hits me right of the bat, and is surprising given the more sweet and rounded nose. The flavor is definitely rustic and woodsy with loads of cedar and oak in addition to some salty soy sauce and charred hot dog flavors. This is one complex brew indeed! I'm picking up a shitload of crazy flavors that just keep developing with each sip.

M - Full bodied and lushly carbonated with a very dry and woody finish that feels like putting wood chips in my mouth. Despite the dryness, there is a very oily texture to this beer...almost waxy.

D - While this is very complex and intriguing, I don't think this has any real session potential. This is a damn fine brew, but it's too odd to be very drinkable.

12-24-2007 06:11:17 | More by pmcadamis
Photo of bennetj17
bennetj17

Arizona

3.98/5  rDev +3.1%

Has a nice thick tan head that sticks around. Nice lacing. Dark coffee color. Plenty of carbonation. Smells like coffee, with a hint of spiciness or fruitiness. Tastes of dry roasted coffee, the darker malts impart a nice a nice bitterness. The sweetness is rather low-key, however. Full mouthfeel, somewhat thick, but smooth and bubbly as it goes down easily. The alcohol is not very noticible. One of the better holiday selections I've tasted this winter...

12-29-2005 06:52:14 | More by bennetj17
Photo of Doomcifer
Doomcifer

Rhode Island

4.5/5  rDev +16.6%

11-15-2013 03:48:14 | More by Doomcifer
Photo of joe1510
joe1510

Illinois

4/5  rDev +3.6%

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!

11-20-2006 23:59:05 | More by joe1510
Photo of SaCkErZ9
SaCkErZ9

Florida

3.63/5  rDev -6%

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.

03-19-2006 21:23:34 | More by SaCkErZ9
Photo of Frozensoul327
Frozensoul327

Michigan

2.65/5  rDev -31.3%

A unique winter warmer from the Anchor Brewing Co. Poured out to a dark cherry color with a lively head of foam that calmed to about 1/4 inch. Aroma is very spicy - ginger, nutmeg, some plumb. Taste was too, ah, I don't know how to put it. To me it tasted like what I would imagine a Holly Bush to taste like. Maybe that is what they were going for. Very strong elements of green trees, some over sour cherries, some hops. Mouthfeel had substance to it, but not enought to make up for the odd and unappealing flavor. I probably wouldn't into another anytime soon...

12-26-2005 23:17:18 | More by Frozensoul327
Photo of woemad
woemad

Washington

4.03/5  rDev +4.4%

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.

07-04-2006 21:47:24 | More by woemad
Photo of Cresant
Cresant

Kentucky

3.65/5  rDev -5.4%

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a nonic. I purchased this cellared bottle from The Keg Liquors in Clarksville, IN. Body was nearly opaque. When I sat my beer next to my friend's glass of Coke they looked nearly indentical in color and highlights. The head was two finger or more and was made of fine foam. A heavy ring of foam remained throughout the drink.

Smell was slightly metallic. Floral hops (noble-like pilsner quality). Pleasant.

Taste was tart and porter-like. Toasty malts and zingy hops. Spicy. Coffee-grounds hints. Interesting and subtle.

Mouthfeel was smooth and creamy yet medium to thin in body. I enjoyed this one. Thanks Todd.

12-24-2006 14:58:09 | More by Cresant
Photo of paterlodie
paterlodie

Belgium

3.88/5  rDev +0.5%

BB sept 07. Litle wellasting beige head and black beer underneath. Nose is hoppy, aok/marple syrup, cinnamon, and sweet roasty. Taste is good and full too as it is giving rich roasty sweet marplesyrup well backed by alcohol and nice bitterness. Missing litle fullness of a good amber or munich but still quiet good IMO. Low carbonisation fits brew and maker mouthfeel even more smooth and plesant. Well drinkable brew, going in easy IMO.

12-10-2005 10:33:06 | More by paterlodie
Photo of ElGordo
ElGordo

Oregon

3.53/5  rDev -8.5%

Pours a deep brownish amber color with ruby highlights when held up to the light. A good inch of creamy tan head holds its own for a while before gracefully subsiding. Aroma of roasted dark malt, chicory, burnt brown sugar, and a touch of anise. Palate is held up by a backbone of dark roasted malt, accented by chicory, spruce, anise, some piny hops, and a bit of special Anchor yeast. Some more general spices that I can't really pinpoint. Body is slightly creamy and a good consistency for the flavors in this beer. I'm looking forward to comparing it to previous years in my vertical tasting later this week.

12-18-2005 03:29:51 | More by ElGordo
Photo of JISurfer
JISurfer

South Carolina

3.98/5  rDev +3.1%

This is one good beer. Why? Well, it's got a good WW taste/smell, something that most WW's try to strive for. The head on this bad boy was crazy! Very frothy and soild all the way through. Very dark amber body, almost black. The smell was nice and spicey, with hints of pine, as well as a very strong malt scent. The taste was just as good. Just a little more taste in the spicey/malty area. Overall a great Christmas beer. This is one that I'll keep going back for every year. It's neat to see what it'll taste like from year to year.

01-12-2006 03:50:49 | More by JISurfer
Photo of rajendra82
rajendra82

Georgia

4.05/5  rDev +4.9%

Poured out of the stubby anchor bottle with an Oak tree on the label for the year, the deep ruby color of the beer was distinctively OSA. The generous head and a foaming gush out of the bottle would have made a Belgian quadruple proud. The spicy and woody aroma was like gently soothing potpourri. The taste was laden with nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla, with sawdust like dryness. Not as sweet as I remember last year’s vintage to be, but feels more vigorous and refreshing. Some smoke also came through in the flavor. Easy to drink and well made as always. Age will likely bring out the hidden fruitiness.

12-16-2005 03:56:02 | More by rajendra82
Photo of tmoneyba
tmoneyba

Ohio

4.03/5  rDev +4.4%

Poured a black color with a huge frothy light brown head that lasted with excellent lacing. Good complex sweet spicy aroma. Medium body with a sticky texture. Good bittersweet spicy flavor with a medium commplex bittersweet finish of average duration.

Complex good brew.

11-25-2008 02:26:23 | More by tmoneyba
Photo of SkinniePost
SkinniePost

Wisconsin

4/5  rDev +3.6%

04-18-2014 00:21:29 | More by SkinniePost
Photo of Damian
Damian

Massachusetts

3.7/5  rDev -4.1%

Drank from a 12 fl. oz. bottle purchased at Kappy's Liquors, Cambridge, MA

Poured a dark, murky brown with small, fizzy, chestnut-colored head that quickly faded to a lasting ring of lace.

Smell was rich and spicy. Intense malts with a plethora of baking spices, including nutmeg and clove. A touch of nuttiness too. Some maple syrup and vanilla notes were also noticeable.

Taste was very malty as well. Rich and hearty. A mix of chocolate, caramel and roasted malts with some spices. The dark chocolate flavors came out strong in both taste and smell as the beer warmed. Licorice was also present. Up front this beer was rather good, but the flavors trailed off rather quickly. A pinch of hops was detectable on the back end. Aftertaste was moderately spicy with a touch of residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel was rich, full and very creamy. The beer turned into a rich froth soon after hitting the tongue.

This is a decent beer to sip and savor on a cold night but overall it was not very exciting. With a bit more complexity in the taste and a more flavorful finish it could vastly improve.

12-05-2006 06:01:26 | More by Damian
Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 271 ratings.