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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

282 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 282
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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 282 | Reviews: 247 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jim102864
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I just now realized (this review was written March 2009) this brew is over three years old and I'm not sure that's a good thing. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into me Sam Adams glass. No head. Black as night though it is carbonated. Not really sure it was intended to be aged. This was part of a trade. Anyway, though its over three years old, the cinammon spice, nutmeg and raisen nose hangs on. Taste reflects the nose. Cinnamon spice. Not an overwhelmmingly pleasant flavor. Seems like what's left of the flavor is fading. Mouthfeel is carbonated. Drinkability? Not a session brew. More like one and done.

Photo of paco1029384756
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a down murky brown color with a large off white head.

Scent of strong spiced, caramel, tobacco, yeast and earth.

Tate of spices, yeast, strong tobacco, earth, and grain. Maybe this has spent a bit too much time in the light, but it does not show any strong signs of being skunked.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with strong carbonation.

Photo of Onenote81
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cellared bottle consumed on 1/28/09.

Pours a very deep dark brown, with no light coming through at all. Small inch-sized head, that falls to a thin sheet quickly. No lacing present. Smells much more roasty than the '07 and '08. Some cocoa hints, and some nuttiness. Still a little cinnamon and ginger are present.

The flavor on this one aged well! This is much more chocolatey with some roasted characteristics. Picked up some slight hazelnut flavor as well. The spiciness has dropped of considerably, which in my mind, is ok. Mouthfeel is crisp and bubbly, even after 2 years. I find that I am burping alot more with this one, as well. I'm really surprised. I dig this. My favorite of the three I've had ('06,'07,'08).

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 robbyc1
4.57/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Tasting notes I have are from December 2006 and more recently from a saved bottle vertical tasting in January 2008.

Look is roasty black with no head (in 2008) to speak of.

Malty nose with cinnamon, allspice, and intriguing chocolateness.

Taste has all the nose flavors, plus a good hop fix, and finishes quite dry with a chalky mouthfeel that all these seem to have. Really full but not heavy in the mouth, exceptionally drinkable as the dryness at the end tells you to drink more now! Very smooth and a great beer for the ages.

Photo of yesyouam
4.14/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

[30 Jan 2007] This beer pours a deep brown with a red-orange hue. It has a small, off-white head of big thin bubbles. Great clarity. The aroma is that of a medium malt, redwood trees, and orange peel. There are spices present in the smell as well: Clove, cinnamon, nutmeg-- maybe even coriander seed. This beer is commandingly hopped; more so than Liberty Ale. The aftertaste is of bitter grass with a powdered cinnamon feel. This is the kind of beer that gets me excited about beer.

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 nick76
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one was Less herbal than the 05 with an aroma of ginger, allspice, toasted malt, caramel, and citrus. The flavor is slightly sour but mostly like sweet coffee with spices and caramel. I always look forward to having this beer every Christmas but the 05 was better than the 06.

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

Spices and fruits and malts oh my! Lovely spiced winter brew here. Aroma is rich with ginger, clove, nutmeg, and a splash of pine. Dark burgundy pour, nice tan head and moderate lacing. A touch watery on the palate but smooth and easily drinkable. Flavor resembles the hearty aroma but some nice fruit flavors come through. This is a prime standard of what a well spiced ale ought to be. A richer maltiness and this one would be hard to beat. Went really well with my Bavarian chocolate cream stick.

Photo of joshwlt
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed this 06 vintage next to an 06 vintage of SN Celebration:

Has a dark brown-red color with a light brown fluffy head. The head recedes much quicker than the SN Celebration and leaves a fewer lace rings. Smells a little boozy again like the celebration but has a stronger malt presence in the nose. Relatively no hop detected in the smell, dried dark fruits and roasted malt are present, and again a sugary sweetness, similar to a Belgian dark. A light hop spice hits the tongue, but a lasting and strong malt presence are dominating the flavors. A nice cocoa flavor exists -- great chocolate malt actually -- a split second of coffee bitterness, toasted bread, and a note of raisin. The mouthfeel is a bit thicker than the celebration and smoother, though without any significant balancing spiciness. The palate becomes a battle zone between drying roasted malt and juicier dark fruit sweetness. This is more of what I was expecting from an aged winter warmer, a complex yet strong malt profile.

Although it is hard to pick a favorite I would say the Anchor is certainly the more complex and flavorful of the two. The celebration was probably more heavily hopped as the spice seems to have still lasted after two years, but it is a simpler although a fun, zesty brew.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Review from Inaugural Issue of Beeradvocate Magazine.

Anchor Brewing Company's 32nd installment of their Christmas Ale is more than enough proof that even back in the '70s people were interested in drinking something different. This brand has been kicking around since before many of you were legal (that includes us), or even born. Every year there's a different tree on the label, and this year it's a European beech tree. The neck label gets all crunchy with copy about winter solstice and the earth.

Brew boasts a black, leather, stain color, with a reddish tint at the edges of the glass. Quite the foamer, it rises quick with an active carbonation, and leaves a decent lace in its wake. Superb ripe fi g, plump raisins, burnt sugar, spruce and mulled orange peel aroma. Smooth semi-full body, with a rolling crispness. Pungent mulling spices, spruce and herbal hops. The slight, burnt grain and mild molasses in the middle is covered with a juicy, fruity twang. Hermit cookies and candied fruit come to mind. Finishes slightly dry, with burnt sugar and orange peel fl avors. We're really interested to see how this one cellars, as many of the other vintages have lasted several years, if not decades, with good results.

Photo of gmcfarre
4.89/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1.5L Magnum bottle with foil wrapped top
I've been waiting for a special occasion to open this massive bottle, and I figured my first stab at homebrewing was a proper occasion (Sopris Sledgehammer Stout is in the primary!).

A - Pours a dark chestnut brown with a moderate 1/2 inch tan, dense head. Fades to a solid yet thin layer which leaves sheets of lacing. Opaque.

S - Spicy and sweet with great balance. Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and all other sorts of "winter" spices. Creamy and delicious. Chocolate and roasted malt. A bit of citrus appears as it warms. Complex.

T - Sweet and super smooth oatmeal-tasting malt with chocolate flavor and lots of holiday spice. Clove, nutmeg, dark fruits and a touch of orange citrus. Super well-balanced. Smooth and creamy. Delicious.

M - It really has the mouthfeel of a nitro as it is overwhelmingly smooth and creamy. Nice drying bitterness at finish.

D - The best aged beer I've had to date, and one of the best all-around beers I've ever had. Delicious and utterly drinkable with well hidden alcohol, I could've had the whole magnum by myself. A must buy every winter, too bad I missed the 2007 edition!

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 Natural510
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I purchased the last three bottles of this year-old seasonal at Wine Works in Springfield, Ohio. Due to the age-ability of this brew, I'm not worried about getting a bad bottle (despite the dust).

Pours a dark brown, nearly opaque color with excellent, lasting head.
Smells spicy...cinnamon & nutmeg, perhaps clove or corrainder as well. Molasses is apparent. Scents are very similar to other versions of this seasonal.
Tastes heavily of the molasses & spices. This gives it an overall sweetness, but not one linked to sugar...which keeps it very drinkable. The flavors are more subtle than the 2007 version I had a couple months back, which could be due to the age (or simply how it was brewed in 2006). A distinct bubble-gum aftertaste as well, abeit one which is dry.
It doesn't hop around too much in the mouth, and is slightly watery for a brew of this magnitude, but nice & smooth nonetheless.
Quite drinkable, and welcome in this cold Midwestern weather. I can't wait for the OSA 2008 & beyond!
Will store away the other two bottles for later judgement on how the spices hold up over time.

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

2006 Bottle: This year's version (sampled Oct 2007) is a dark reddish-brown color with a medium light beige head that dissipates pretty quickly. Speckled lacing. Spicy, malty aroma with some herbs. Medium, smooth body with nutmeg, fruit and earthy malt flavors. The finish is mildly spiced and short. Not quite as good as the previous year but still enjoyable.

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 deltatauhobbit
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Taken from my notes.

Pours a brown color with some amber hues, has a thin head that goes quickly with almost no lacing.

The smell is quite spicy with caramel and roasted malt being the dominant character, some hints of cinnamon as well.

Taste has a good roasted malt feel with some hop balance, but is mostly controlled by the spice, some bitterness and chocolate flavors.

Photo of jameaterblues
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had aways heard that this beer hold up to time, but didn't quite understand how considering the fairly low alcohol. So it is January 5th and this beer has been sitting around my house for over a year The color pours a opaque murky brown with amber highlights around the top and bottom of the pint. 1/3inch head that was of an off white color disappeared quickly. This beer has big nutty malt smell, along with some phenol(rubbery hints, as well as strong spice(you know those pumpkin pie spices...cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, and the rest)(when I say rubbery...this is one of those descriptors that I have always read on this site, but very few beers come close to it...this is one of the few that has this scent, and I wonder if it is due to the age.) Although the smell isn't what I thought it would be this beer is a very pleasant brown ale...medium bodied, full mouth feel, tongue coating but not syrupy, light spice up front and in the finish, and very mellow hop character(that doesn't really add much to the flavor). I am surpised how well this one held up, but I am glad that I drank it when I did. Now as I look on at the wonderful yearly tree label, I wonder if I will be able to find some of the 2007...I hope so...

Photo of kingjames1
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one has one year under its belt. The spices have dulled a bit, it seems, but it has also blended and become a bit more interesting. Chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and cloves. Goes great with the filet mignon I'm enjoying right now :). The only issue I have with it is that it seems just a tad watery. I can't remember if it had this character before. Otherwise, great beer! A Christmas classic

Photo of Gehrig
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very delicious vintage from Anchor. 2006 provides much to consider in a smooth bouquet. Nice pour, a thin head atop a black-cherry colored body--beautiful. Nice smell, with cherry protruding, and some vanilla. The taste is stellar--cherry, vanilla, malt, with a sugar cookie flavor. Modest carbonation costs the mouthfeel slightly. But this is eminently drinkable, and I'm glad that I have a couple more year's vintage to try in a few weeks.

Very good.

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 ViveLaChouffe
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A year old version...

It's a dark mahoghany in the glass and sports a dense and frothy tan head. Nice thick lacing on the glass. Ginger and other sweet spice (perhaps nutmeg and clove) fill the nose, underpinned by a sweet, dark, almost biscuity malt. There's a hint of pine but its very subdued.

The mouth is filled by the flavors of the rich dark malt and it dominates the taste buds. Slowly, the sweet spice mentioned before becomes apparent. It finishes with some piney flavors, much more pine than in the mose, and woodier in the aftertaste. Its a very full mouth, a bit sticky but an offsetting piney aftertaste as the beer goes down.

Photo of drpimento
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured with a medium head; somewhat fine and somewhat textured. Not so much lace. Flavors and aromas are more muted that the current version. More sweetness throughout the beer. Amber brown color with slight red highlights. Almost a tobacco finish there. But interestingly good. Not really a session beer.

Photo of therica
2.07/5  rDev -47.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

I happened upon a 6-pack of this at Christmas 2007-- so, a year-old 6-pack.

Overall impression-- after reading other reviewers' lovely and sometimes poetic descriptions-- mine reads more like the "bad news bears" version of baseball.

A= interesting, maybe gorgeous totally dark-brown nearly black appearance, pours with some off-white head that does some good lacing but fades quickly.

S= ever opened a bottle of Old English Furniture Polish? Strong, burnt, bitter-chestnut, musty hardwood.

T= ever tried drinking a bottle of Old English Furniture Polish? Seriously-- everyone here tried some from a second bottle, the next night. I didn't even give my own opinion of my experience with the first bottle, the night before. I wish I'd had a camera for all of the wretching-headjerk reactions-- even of true beer-loving fanatics. You can try to find hints of chocolate and oak or coffee, but my own description would be more like chewing on my grandmother's musty cedar chest. My first bottle was refrigerator-chilled. The second bottle was only half-chilled, per the preferences of my London friends (who had just finished my case of lovely dark Dragonhead, by the way).

I do suspect that I will try yet another bottle, fully room-temperature warmed, poured and left to go flat. It may actually give me some enjoyment-- we'll see.

M= a bit off, residuals of whatever gives that furniture-polish effect-- maybe some burnt pine-tar or something-- but at least it's not a quick rush to the sink for a mouth-rinse. There might even be a hint of smoky burnt-caramel or molasses lingering.

D= Aww come on, read my review again!

Photo of skillerified
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Still settles with a fizz after a year of storage. Nearly black with hints of chocolatey brown around the edges. Head lifts to a half finger or so with a nice dark tan color. Fades fast though. Lacing is generous with a little agitation.

Milk chocolate with dark fruits and berries. Rum. Spices - clover with a splash of mint. Raisins. Seems to have held up well. Lots of scents, but a little one dimensional still. Not a complaint, just an observation.

Big and rich - dark roast coffee. Grapefruit at the back of the throat. (Which hop variety is it that does that again? Not really a fan of that one.) Cola. A little limp. Maybe I waited too long. Doesn't taste spoiled or skunked, just a touch weak and lacking of complexity. The spices seem to be trying to assert themselves, but just keep coming up short. Gets a little raisin-y as it warms. More flavors - dark berries in particular, but washed in stale coffee - are seeming to push through, but there's still a weak point in the middle.

A touch on the light bodied side. Could be a product of time. Not sure how that works. There's plenty of carbonation bite, so it's not spoiled. Might have just missed this brew's peak time. Long bitter finish.

I'm no expert, but I'd say if you've got a few of these lying around it might be time to finish them off. Closer to room temp is where this one seems to need to be too. I think I might have gotten more out of this if'd drank it a little warmer.

Our Special Ale 2006 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 282 ratings.