Our Special Ale 2006 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Our Special Ale 2006 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2006 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

285 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 285
Reviews: 247
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 10.49%
Wants: 2
Gots: 10 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: TastyTaste on 10-28-2006

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
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Ratings: 285 | Reviews: 247
Photo of Sammy
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fir 'n' spruce flavoured and aroma ale. Always somewhat different and interesting and carbonated. Pours darkish brown with off-white head. Full mouthfeel. Some ginger, nutmeg and other soup spices to fill you up. Carmel, raisin, vanilla on the lips ,much after.

Photo of t0rin0
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

So I tried this again recently and its gotten a lot better. The ratings that I gave here are for the 1 year old version. When I tried this a year ago I thought it tasted like the brewers had stuffed a christmas tree through a chipper and sprayed the chips and sap into the fermenter. It was way too strong. Now, after a year, I think its mellowed nicely.

The appearance hasn't changed much in a year. It is still nice and clear. Has the same color that all the anchor christmas beers have, which is dark brownish red that looks nice in the light. There is a small head that fades to nothing except a ring in the glass. No lacing.

The smell is still of christmas tree but it has mellowed to very happy medium. It is balanced by the dark malts and a slight bit of fruityness. There is a little bit of hops present in both the aroma and taste. The flavor, like the aroma, is a more subdued version of when it was fresh. The only catch is that only certain flavors have subdued, which gives it a diferent balance. Nice flavor with just enough hop bitterness to allow it to mellow for the better over the next few years.

The body is somewhat thin but it has a good amount of texture to it. I still have a 6 pack that I will drink over the next 6 years.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Opened around Christmas 2009. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a garnet color with a modest off white head and a bit of lacing. Nose brings forward black licorice, nutmeg, other spices, and hints of citrus. Taste brings things together and this certainly has not become a mess. Well integrated and spicy without anything standing out too much. Some modicum of hops leftover. Feel is a bit thin but nice. Drinks fairly well, but wasn't the best in the mini vertical that we did.

Photo of brentk56
3.86/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a coffee color with a tan head that displays nice persistance and leaves interesting patterns on the side of the glass

Smell: Molasses spice cake aroma with licorice, raisins and a slight pine character

Taste: Starts with a nice roasted malt/molasses ginger character that builds mid-palate; after the swallow a surprising level of hops jumps in to add balance

Mouthfeel: A bit thin but medium bodied, nonetheless; moderate to high carbonation

Drinkability: Despite this year's flaws, I always enjoy the OSA; perhaps with a little age, it will drink better

Thanks, boolshot

Photo of BEERchitect
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

When I think of winter warmers, I think of all the characteristics that are present in this anual brew. Something that starts off with a healty dose of amber malts, hints of cocoa, and tons of added spices. This beer, in particular, begins with a heavy emphasis on the nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Then quickly follows up with a medium-strong nut-brown ale maltiness that halts just slight of molassas. A supporting role of chocolates, nuts, and figs compliment the spices and malts. A late hop bitterness adds complexity along with the bite of the spices. The brew feels slight in comparison to flavors; preferring the carbonation to carry the load instead of a more substantiated malt feel. Finishes with a cocoa / caramel sweetness and a residual 'Christmas' spice. Aftertaste starts to remind me of a cola; though not prefered, it harks back to the medium mouthfeel.

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.64/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Boboski: Poured a deep brown color ale with a ice off-white foamy head with great retention and lacing. Aroma of roasted caramel malt with strange spice mix. Taste is mix between some roasted caramel malt bordering on chocolate with some strange spices which make this beer feel really different. Body is quite full with some medium carbonation. I’m thinking that this beer would probably benefit from some additional alcohol but it was very good nonetheless.

Photo of largadeer
2.72/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This beer looks much like a dubbel in color (dark brownish red), but without the massive carbonation you'd come to expect from that style.

The nose is all spice, overwhelmingly so; I actually found it a bit unpleasant. Spice is very prevalent in the taste as well, but it's somewhat balanced by lightly roasted malts and milk chocolate. Any hops used in this brew are completely overwhelmed by the spices and malt. It's a bit too much for my tastes; I think I'd enjoy it a lot more with less nutmeg and a bit more hop presence.

For being a fairly full-flavored beer, I found the mouthfeel a bit thin; definitely not what I'd want or expect from a winter warmer. The drinkability is pretty low due to the excessive use of spices. While I like Anchor quite a bit, I found this pretty mediocre overall.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.63/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Burnt umber with orange edges and candy apple red highlights when sunshine streams through the glass. The caramel nougat colored lid has the texture of softly beaten egg whites and is at least as sticky. Plenty of lace make the appearance score an easy call.

Although my memory isn't 100% reliable, this vintage's nose doesn't seem as dark malty. It's nice and juniper herbal-spicy, but that may be due to the shortage of roast. Unless things change with warming, the aroma falls into the 'not quite good' category.

The flavor hits me the same way. I seem to remember other OSAs as having been more porter-like. Maybe the spices haven't had as much time to mellow. Since I don't love this basic recipe, I'm not sure that I ever what to drink this ale fresh.

It's amazing how much OSA '06 tastes like a Christmas tree (or at least how a Christmas tree smells). There's a fresh-cut spruciness that seems slightly less junipery than usual. One of these days I need to get around to doing a true vertical tasting of this ale.

The mouthfeel isn't bad, but it's a little thin for the style. While I don't expect the typical winter warmer chewiness, more malt would have been good. Since the flavor score was rounded down, the drinkability score will be rounded up.

It looks like I'll never be blown away by Anchor Our Special Ale. It's still enjoyable buying and reviewing a single bottle each year, but that's as far as it will ever go.

Photo of oberon
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap last night on tap at Mammoser's in Hamburg,poured from the tap a deep dark brown with a thinner but well formed beige colored head.Alot of different subtle aromas going on I picked up some candied orange and definent brown sugar notes maybe a hint of winter spice (nutmeg,mace,clove) but it is rather light.Candied orange again came thru for me on the palate along a touch of roasted nuts and brown sugar as well with a lingering note of vanilla in the finish.Another solid OSA not a world beater but solid quaffable holiday season beer.

Photo of zeff80
3.24/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a brown color with hints of burgandy and a foamy, caramel-colored, two finger head. Left small traces of lace.

S - It smelled of straw and grass. It also smelled a little like potpourri.

T - It tasted of nutmeg and cinamon. Also, maybe a little pine. The malt flavor is understated.

M - It was fairly crisp and warm on the tongue. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This was interesting. It was a little too much nutmeg/cinamon flavor.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

The Eighth Day of Beermas... It pours a murky dark sienna topped by a half-finger of light ecru foam. The nose comprises raisins, figs, honey, light cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper. The taste holds notes of graham crackers, brown sugar, cinnamon, milk chocolate, light roasted malts, and clove. The body is a strong medium, with a light carbonation and a generally smooth feel. Overall, another step forward in this vertical, though the spices continue to miss the mark, just so this time.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The 2006 version of Anchor's Our Special Ale offers the typical dark mahogany body and creamy dark tan head that it's had in previous years past. The retention and lacing are just slightly better than average. The body remains very much the same: smooth, moderately carbonated, medium bodied. The flavor and aroma, however, seem a little more subdued than some previous years - which is, for the most part, a good thing. The nose is more delicately piney, softer, more woody, and even a touch cedar-like as it combines with the ginger. Beneath that, a touch of sweetish, darkly-caramelish, molasses-like, and bready malt also works with the ginger to give it a kind of ginger-snap cookie note. The flavor follows suit, and it's really quite accessible. The spruce/pine is soft, and it never becomes harsh in the finish as it sometimes has in the past. Nor do the spices linger or build. Yet they're there, dancing spritely across the middle of the palate: ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, perhaps a hint of orange peel - or is that yeasty fruitiness peeking it's head through. The malt is more cake-like, and soft, less cocoaish than some years, and perhaps lighter in general. But it's more balanced and drinkable! It doesn't loiter in the finish with bitter sap and raspy spicing as it has in the past, and instead offers a note of vanilla and some mild licorice. I could easily enjoy a pint of this, whereas I used to savor it sip by sip. Interesting! Enjoyable! I'm not sure that it would benefit from any aging at all. Well worth trying!

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark reddish brown color, with a thin tan head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is loaded with spices (ginger, vanilla & nutmeg) & dark fruit along with a heavy caramelized malt background.

T: The spice & sweetness that you get in the smell seemed understated by comparison in the taste, which isn’t a bad thing. Dark fruit flavors burst out at first, followed by touches of spice and a little smokiness. The roasted malt character holds it all together and the after-taste is a combination of those flavors. IntriqKen noted in his review “Taste is still a little on the Scottish Ale side” which I would agree with.

M: Very smooth, medium carbonation, medium-to-heavy body, clean finish for style that is normally a little sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easy, but it’s a little filling, overall it’s a good beer but it wouldn’t be my first choice within the style or season.

Photo of russpowell
4.09/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

6NG ( Born in November 06)

Poured a deep rudy/chestnut red with a 2 fingers deep mocha head. Average head retention & not much lacing

S: Medicinal & juniper notes

T: Medicinal, cinamon & toasty malt notes up front, with a little warming alcohol. Some choclate notes along with more alcohol & hint of raisins. Finishes warming with nutmeg, allspice ginger, spicy cinamon & a hint of licorice

MF: Slight pricklyness & a medium body

Drinks okay, I enjoy this since its different than most winter warmers, but I couldn't session all night on it. at $10 a sixer, a bit too pricey IMO. I will buy a least a sixer every year just to see how the beer is tweaked

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appears a deep ruddy mahogany tone and it forms a large tan head leave light layers of lacing around my snifter. Aroma contains a mild piney scent compared to last years...to me it comes of floral and slightly perfumey with sharp sweet fruit notes and mild caramel softness. Flavor has a weird mix of alcohol and tree bark that some how end's up just working more mild pine a bit unrefined but damn we know how this one ages...nice bitter finish definitely a flavor that sticks around on the palate with some evident alcohol coming through and a ripe fruit profile as well blended in with a beer that truly screams Xmas. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied even smooth carbonation coats the palate with a bit of lacquered bitterness. Drinkability is classic for sipping and celebrating with family and friends one of the most notable seasonals around.

Photo of smcolw
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark, dark brown. One finger beige head that dies quickly but retains a single tight bubble layer. Light lace.

The smell is more muted than in past years. Still, the traditional bark/pine aromas are present, perhaps a touch of vanilla too.

Thick and rich beer, always one of my favorites. This seems to be dryer than past years. Some spiciness that seems like a distant cousin to licorice. This bite lasts through the swallow and well into the aftertaste.

One of the strongest (in terms of taste, not alcohol) beers to be tasted. The extreme of a dark beer, yet it is very different. I anticipate this beer every winter and I'm never disappointed.

Photo of jwc215
3.65/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark brown - almost black - with tha thin off-white head.

Smell is of earthy, woody, wintery spices - cinnamon - licorice root and roasted grains.

The taste is of a rooty, medicinal herbs. Sweetness balanced by bitter herbs and alcohol (which is more noticeable than the abv level would indicate). Ginger, cinnamon and licorice emerge, all at once. Roasted grains give it a touch of underlying smokiness. Spices are very complex - almost too much so, giving it a medicinal character. Spicy, dry finish.

Medium body. The spices stick to tongue, but then all but vanish.

A sipper, more from medicinal herbal spices than from alcohol level. Gets to be almost too much after a little while, but nice enough to have one this time of year.

Photo of GClarkage
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12/26/06- On tap at the Toronado in San Francisco, CA.

Presentation- From the tap into a standard pint glass.

Appearance- Soda pop cola colored with some dark red aspects. Smaller 1/4 inch head with limited lace trails.

Smell- Cinnimon, nutmeg and cloves noted. Not as outgoing as some of the previous vintages.

Taste- Seems quite watery. Nutmeg and clove combine with a cola like mollasses flavor. Not really any woody notes like past releases. Still tasty though.

Mouthfeel- Fairly higher carbonation level. Nice spicy aftertaste.

Drinkability- Was a tad let down by this years vintage. Haven't tried it from the bottle yet, will crack one sometime this year and update if there is a considerable difference.

Photo of woodychandler
4.82/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was served with a huge, deep-brown head with a good bit of CO2 action visible and good retention as far as the head was concerned. The nose was redolent with nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and pine. The color was an extremely deep, dark bron with garnet highlights. The mouthfeel was thick and full with an amalgam of spices on the palate. The dominant flavors were anise, pine, bittersweet chocolate, and dried fruit, like prunes or raisins. Oh my, was this good! The finish had the same complexity, plus it just seemed to coat the interior of my mouth so that the flavors lingered on, seemingly endlessly. A wonderful holiday beer!

Photo of Halcyondays
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, 2006 edition,

A: Dark brown/black, with a thick, white head, with excellent lacing, and retention.

S: Spices, cinnamon, allspice, with some spruce, and sweet pine flavors and fragrances.

T: Bombardment with holiday spices, cinnamon and nutmeg, with sweet spruce, and some pine and hops.

M: A little weak for my tastes, but it probably degraded a bit over the past year, still quite oily and resiny, medium-bodied.

D: This year's OSA is certainly more spiced than the 2005, it is interesting to taste these ales at different times throughout their evolution, to see how they have changed, and how each recipe differs from year to year. The orientation of the spice and plant character will definitely affect how each of these vintages ages. I will continue to look forward to every holiday season when these wonderful ales are available, it will definitely be fun to see how they change over time. I know I had fun tonight with my little vertical tasting from '05-'06. Thanks to Hollingshead for having these vintages available in July to August of '07.

Photo of Billolick
4.08/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I've enjoyed this since I was a teenager...I'm 46 years old...Pours the familiar dark, dark shade of burnt amber, great dark tan, long lasting head and copious lacing, herbal nose, loads of holiday spice, ginger, spruce, smoke and holiday cheer, seems a wee bit thin in the body department. Still tasty, robust flavor wise, the annual return of an old friend. Always to be tried, savored and enjoyed. A yearly must for any beer enjoyer from coast to coast.

Photo of DoubleJ
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Before I embark on a trip to Brazil tomorrow, I'm going to go back in time with this winter ale. It is also the year I met the person I'm visiting. How well will this do being over 2 years old? Well, on to the beer:

It's still alive down there. Deep ruby brown color, hues of red, the head is sticky and retains well. Smells like spiced wood. Gingerbread, pudding, fruity. My nose is dancing, and my mouth is excited.

The carbonation jumps out, and this bottle is very healthy. What's there to taste? Figs for starters. Pudding. Powdered cocoa. Fruit skins. Dry and powdery in the aftertaste. Yum, this is good.

If you have possession of this beer, don't worry, it should be in good condition. I'm glad I have a second bottle which I can open in the future to compare.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite Christmas beers year after year. The last couple of years prior to this one were marked by more nutmeg and less spruce. This one returns more to the spruce direction, but remains balanced. Its not as piney tasting as earlier examples (which I miss), but better than the last couple of years running.
This beer pours very dark brown, almost black, with a short tan head that fades fairly quickly leaving little lacing.
The aroma is nice, but a little hard to place. There is pine and spice and hops, and although the malt is there, the other scents overwhelm it.
The delicious thing to me about this beer has always been its astringency. The nutmeg and cinnamon contribute, as do the hops, but the spruce really pulls it together. The bitterness on the finish gives way to a light spicecake flavor and gentle maltiness. Really unlike any other winter warmer. The astringency contributes a refreshing mouthfeel, making this a winter quencher and warmer at the same time for me. Very drinkable. My absolute favorite Anchor product, and a miracle that it has been produced for over 30 years.

Photo of wl0307
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at the UTOBEER stall in the Borough Market, London. The bottle marks 5.5%abv., BB OCT 08, served cool in a large tulip-shaped wine glass.

A: pours a deeply dark brown hue, nearly black even, showing reddish glows when seen against light; the creamy dark-tan head sustains well with constant streams of tiny fizziness.
S: a thick aroma of US fragrant flowery and lychee-honey-ish hops comes on top of a slightly milder presence of toffee-ish, treacle-ish and chocolatey malts, while longan-fruit-jam, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground Chinese root-herbs and licorice stay loyally in the background.
T: the bitter-sour herbal and richly raisiny foretaste of fruitiness and malts is followed by lots of smoked black prunes and tea-smoked longan-fruits, roasted tea, roasted walnuts, while the mixed spiciness and bitter-sweet herbs at the back of palate make a soothing kickback to enrich the moderately-flavoured maltiness. Aromatic in the finish, with bits of almost every element in the taste lingering here.
M&D: the mouthfeel is really relaxing, benefiting from the micro-scopic fizziness throughout the drink and lifting the fulsome flavour and full body skilfully. The balance on the flavour profile retains beautifully, b/w the sour-sweet fruits, malts, hop fragrance and bitterness, and the soothing input of spiciness. Overall, I find this vintage an utterly enjoyable winter warmer, even more so than the previous two vintages I was lucky to have tried!

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.34/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer has a dark opaque brown body with a mousey thick creamy head that last and lat. There are lots of tiny bubbles that only appear when they run into the side of the glass. The head last as it pulls away from the glass a bit.

S- This beer has a very clean smell with a faint hint of dark roasted malt or prunes and as it warms quite a bit the notes of brown sugar and alcohol come through.

T- This beer has a smooth soft dark malt flavor with some pot caramel notes. There is also a nougat taste with some dried fruit followed by a faint almost oatmeal and coffee hint. The slight tartness at the end of the malt flavors switches to a slight sweetness with a faint green herbal hop hint.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a bit of alcohol heat at the finish.

D- This beer is pretty subtle in flavor with no real yeast characteristics or strong malt flavors to give any support. The alcohol was a bit strong but I don't think aging would help this beer any.

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Our Special Ale 2006 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 285 ratings.