Our Special Ale 1998 (Anchor Christmas Ale) - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Our Special Ale 1998 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 1998 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Educational use only; do not reuse.

34 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 34
Reviews: 22
rAvg: 3.55
pDev: 20.28%
Wants: 0
Gots: 2 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  ABV ?

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 03-28-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (27) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Ratings: 34 | Reviews: 22
Reviews by matjack85:
More User Reviews:
Photo of orbitalr0x
4.08/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Well...this is about the oldest beer I've yet to sample. 7 years old...should be interesting as I wasn't even old enough to drink when this was made. Pours a dark dark brown, basically black with a nice creamy, frothy two finger tan head. Not much light is getting through here except for some dark brown on the edges. Nice! Big strong spicy nose with black licorice and some cinammon. Massively dark, roasted, rich malty nose with a big piney aroma as well. Sweet caramel and molasses maltiness kicks me in the nose. Quite nice!

First sip brings a heavy rich maltiness on the palate. A myriad of flavors run across my mouth...black licorice, molasses, caramel along with a piney, woody flavor. Hints of cinammon along with a velvety cream. The wood really comes out mid palate and lingers after each sip. Impressive.

Mouthfeel is smooth with a medium body and a great creaminess. A very enjoyable experience overall...amazing how well this brew ages. I'd say this is very worth trying if you are given the opportunity. I'm looking forward to a '97-'04 vertical sometime soon here.

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

Presentation: 12oz brown fatty bottle with a cream label and juniper tree. No freshness date.

Appearance: Deep, dark brown with dark orange hues and a tan, creamy head.

Smell: The aroma runs sweet with a semi-pine/spruce nose.

Taste: Light malt, semi-astringent chocolate malt flavour that dries -- mixed with a hop bitterness, the two create a bit of a twang. This brew is spiced with juniper, which is very dominant throughout and carries into the aftertaste.

Notes: This is Anchor's 24th Special Ale and a very unique beer, in general, but, probably an acquired taste for most. Regardless, well worth a try.

Photo of KensWorld
3.98/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

We'll here we are 16 years in the waiting. I'd figure I should open this before it's too late. Bottle cap was rusty but underside just fine. Poured into a Chimay glass. thick dense almost black in color. No head but a few tan bubbles. Still somewhat carbonated with a few rising bubbles. Smell of red wine dominate. Tangy, spicy aromas that are very hard to describe. Pretty much smells like a good port wine.

The moment of truth, did it hold up after 16 years? I think so? It tastes really really mellow, not what I was expecting. Taste of plums with nutty & smokey undertones. Slightly sweet aftertaste. Very complex flavors. These flavors seem to go away as the beer warms. The last of it tastes more like stale red wine or soy sause. I'm sure it's far past it's prime, but it was still very enjoyable for it's age. 3.8

Photo of DrunkMcDermott
3.46/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Sample taste at Chicago Beer Society vertical tasting, Dec. 1, 2005. Settled to the same brown color as the 1999. Nice impressions of leather and pipe tobacco, and a touch of chocolate. Also has some stoutie sourness that comes in nicely. A well balanced Christmas beer, once the spices have lost some of the capacity to annoy.

Photo of Elemental
4.1/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Recently tried this at at tasting at weefisheads (thanks).
Aged for 5 years....
Nice dark brown with a thin head and little lacing. The aroma is very hoppy with an earthy floral aroma to it. The taste is nice and mellow but big bodied. It has a great flavor the isn't to spicy. It has hints of spruce and licorice in both the aroma and taste. Good bitterness that fits the beer well. Overall an very well balanced and interesting beer!

Photo of bditty187
4.13/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark mahogany hue with reddish highlights where the light penetrates the edges of the glass. The beige head reached about a half finger in height, sturdy bubbles, a most impressive spectacle for an ale that is five years old. Lacing was sparse and unorganized but present nevertheless. The nose is impressive, especially in regards to potency; it is very malty, rich and inviting. Underneath is spices, caramel, rich raisins, black licorice, a kiss of alcohol too. I am very pleased with the bouquet on this aged ’98! While I couldn’t detect any “tree” influences in the nose the palate was blessed with modest notes of Juiperus Californica that in parts a sweet yet sappy twang. The maltiness is very sturdy, faintly roasty, some spiciness, the fruitiness resides behind the malt. Very well rounded, soft yet the insurrections of very tasty pine and licorice really propel this beer. I must admit the pure maltiness of OSA ’98 is absolutely fantastic. The carbonation is damn near gone, the body feels heavy in the mouth, medium-full I’d say but the lack of carbonation my have tricked my senses. Some of the bulk is real as it is not slick. Tremendously drinkable; I found this to be wonderfully tasty, complex yet oh so quaffable. I recently found a six-pack of this in a local butcher shop. It was buried underneath a mass of old-ass micros; there was no price tag so they sold it to me for $7.00, what a deal. The other five bottles are going in the cellar, unless a trade is offered. It is a damn good beverage.

Photo of rmcnealy
3.38/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Anchor Brewing - "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" - Our Special Ale - 1998

Trying a 1998 12oz bottle, 9 years old. In that time between Xmas and New Years '08 and got 5+ inches of snow on the way. What better thing to do? After just sampling an '07, I can compare & contrast.

Poured dark brownish red, darker than the newer. Had a 3/4" tan head of mixed laced that left quickly. The '07 had a lighter color lace and faded just as quickly. First scents of malt, roasted nuts, dark chocolate. Slight hint of age. Aged a bit too long, perhaps. Taste reduces that oder and leaves a pallette to a sweetness, almost dry cocoa. Very different taste than the current 2007. This pushes along the same lines as a strong english brown ale.

If you have a 1998 cellared, I'd suggest drinking it real soon. Might not be as good another year. This should have been consumed a few years ago.


Photo of avaulteriam
3.38/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A well aged bottle of this one, found in the cooler at the Pub on the UofC campus. Deep brown. Spicey nose, nutmeg dominates. Nutmeg is the primary flavor on top of porter base. Some chocolate comes through, as does the cookie and bread notes. Nice. Very much a holiday brew.

Photo of AgentZero
2.49/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Levifunk told me this was hanging out at Sal's in Elmhurst, so I took a trip out there and grabbed a sixer.

A - Pours a nice chocolate brown with a surprisingly tall 1/2 inch brown head. Pretty impressive for a beer that is pushing 12 years here.

S - I think this might have went bad at some point in the last 12 years, although I don't have anything to compare it to. Smells like soy sauce and ginseng with some hints of nutmeg and spice. Some roasted malts as well.

T - I am fairly sure this is not how this is supposed to taste. Soy Sauce, black olives and overtones of ginseng. You can taste almost an afterthought of nutmeg and a porter like roastiness to it. I think it might have been good once, but not really now.

M - Fairly smooth with the appropriate amount of carbonation.

D - Poured a lot of it, assuming it's bad and would have been much better had it not spoiled. If this is how it's supposed to taste, well, yuck.

D - Becomes too sour and strange to drink.

Photo of womencantsail
1.61/5  rDev -54.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

I hate you, Bobby.

A: The pour is nearly flat and almost black in color.

S: Awful. Chocolate, cardboard, mild vanilla, and vinegar. Just awesome. Mild spice and herbal notes on this. Light molasses and toffee to provide some sweetness.

T: The flavor is no better. Pure soy sauce. Mild vinegar, chocolate, and quite watery. Woody herbs and spices with a bit of bread and toffee. More soy sauce and perhaps some Worcestershire sauce.

M: Light in body, watery, and flat.

O: This was terrible.

Photo of jahred
3.73/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Found a 6-pack of this stuff on the dusty floor of a local liquor store. Reviewed 3/12/04. Pours a dark black color with a medium-sized, brownish-tan head. The scent is pleasant, but faint - lemon, caramel and perhaps a little but of malt.

The taste is much sweeter than most other OSA vintages that I've tasted. Caramel seems to be the predominant flavor, mixing with mint, lemon, and the usual OSA anise/licorice notes. The beer is a little bit thinner than OSA from other years, but otherwise still tasty.

Photo of clvand0
3.93/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to sheepnutz for sharing his magnum of this with me. Pours a very dark color with a tall head that has nice retention and leaves some lacing on the glass. Still has some spunk after seven years. The aroma is almost all pine needles. There's also a lot of dark malts, but the pine takes the front stage. The flavor is very woody - like chewing on a pine cone or something. Very interesting. There are some chocolate and coffee notes, but they are dominated by the pine spice. Meduim to thick body. Drinkability is ok on this one, but it's a little spicy for my tastes.

Photo of SheepNutz
4.03/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1.5L Magnum poured into a snifter. It pours a deep black color with three fingers of medium tan head. There is a decent amount of lacing. The smell is malty, and has a good amount of pine needles and sap to it. Lots of Christmas tree aroma. The taste also has lots of wood. More and more pine, and just a bit of hops on the finish. The mouthfeel is decent for a beer that's getting old. The drinkability is very nice. A decent vintage.

Photo of freed
3.98/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle with another of Anchor's lovely OSA labels. Pours a flat brown with no head. Aroma is almost unpleasant in its combination of spruce and spices.

Tasting is much more pleasant than the aroma. Its nearly like drinking ginger bread, despite its nearly watery presence in the mouth. The spruce/pine addition gives it a slight tang. It finishes easily and would have made an excellent stocking stuffer.

thanks again to weefishheads for sharing this.

Photo of wisrarebeer
3.75/5  rDev +5.6%

Just going through my cellar and pulling a few vintage OSAs to see how they're holding up. Actually, for a 16 year old beer, not bad at all. Just a slight amount of oxidation but still has a lot of body and depth. Spicing is still evident but definitely toned down. Still amazed at how this lower ABV beer holds up so well.

Photo of psugrad98
4.37/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Out of the 5 or so Our Special Ales I've sampled, this one is more noteworthy. It's dark, with almost a slight purple hue. Smell is of spices and clove. Taste is rich and sweet, with strong hints of spice. Taste reminds you of the Christmas season.

Photo of UncleJimbo
4.12/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz amber bottle. The label reads "Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 1998. Our Special Ale." It shows a tree marked Juniperus californica. I suppose this is a clue that it is spiced with juniper.

Appearance: Pours to give a thick, dark brown (with hints of red) beer with thin, tan foam that leaves some wispy lace on the glass. Slightly cloudy.

Smell: The smell is very nice and strong -- very malty (dark malt), with a hint of spiciness and a glimmer of fruitiness, and a faint alcohol aroma.

Taste: Heavy and rich! There is an initial acridity, which passes. The dominant flavor is coffee, with some aromatic hoppiness and some caramel. The aromatic hops hit your tongue first, followed by the coffee. The finish is dark coffee with a touch of licorice and an aftertaste spiked with juniper and pine.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is thick and rich, like a good porter or stout. It hints at the robust character of this special ale.

Drinkability: Good. I am not sure I am big fan of the juniper, but it was not too distracting. The juniper seemed more noticeable as the beer warmed slightly.

Photo of scruffwhor
3.34/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance- Pours a good tan head that held itself up very well considering its age. Left a sturdy ring and film of foam throughout enjoying the entire 12oz bottle.

Smell- Some yeasty old malts with some mold to boot. I'll chalk this up too age.

Taste- The best way to put it is old. Nit bad, but maybe this was sitting on the shelf a tad too long. Not way too long, just a tad. Lots of concentrated deep malt flavor with not a lot of hops to speak of. This beer would go very well with lots of different ripened cheeses.

Mouthfeel- Definetly taste the yeast. But I wasn't expecting to not taste that considering its eight years old. Pretty smooth but at the same time sticky on the center of the tongue.

Photo of kmpitz2
3.78/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a magnum into a tulip. The beer is a murkey dark brown color with a 3 finger head that falls to a half finger over the top. The nose is okay. Lots of woody, slightly tanniny pine and sweet mollasses. Just a bit harsh. The flavor is not bad. Some sweet big fig and dark molasses. The spicey and pine are very subdued. I would like to see a little more in the pine in the flavor. The feel is moderate. Drinkability is pretty good. Its smooth and clean. Not as good as the 97, but still a good beer.

Photo of Dogbrick
3.8/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a nice little find at City Beverage in Winston-Salem. The downside is I think this beer is starting to get a little long in the tooth. Pours a nice dark brown color with a ruby halo and a thin light tan head. Aroma of malt, spice and a little soy sauce. Medium-bodied and smooth with an interesting mixture of caramel, roasted malt and a hint of chocolate. The finish is where I felt this beer came up a little short, and where I think the age might be showing. There was a slightly sour character toward the end of the glass that contradicted the initial flavor but it wasn't too distracting. Either way I'm happy I had a chance to try it this holiday season.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.53/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep, dark, melted chocolate brown. The malted milk ball cap is both creamy and firm and is a wonderful color compliment to the beer on which it sits. I doubt that much lace will result from a head like this, but it sure looks good at the moment. In the end, the lid falls without fanfare and leaves very little lace.

The nose can only be called disappointing. I had hoped that at six years of age, it would have acquired some amount of depth and complexity. Moderately roasted malt is uppermost with a somewhat pleasant cocoa powderiness. Spices are given short shrift and make it difficult for me to think of this as a winter warmer.

OSA '98 simply tastes old to me; an impression that I would hope would have occured to me even without the knowledge that it was bottled during the Clinton administration. I appreciate roasted barley, wet tobacco and faint ashy notes. There's very little, if any, chocolate and juniper is still alive and well. [note: smell, taste and mouthfeel all improve with warming and earn across-the-board bumps in scores.]

The finish delivers a sour tweak and a mild bitterness that is uncoupled from any actual hop flavor. The body/mouthfeel appears to have suffered the most over the years. Each mouthful starts out medium in heft and deteriorates to light-medium by the swallow. A great deal more cohesiveness in the mouth would be welcome, although that might be too much to expect for a beer this far along in years.

I know that there are plenty of styles that hold up very well and actually improve with age. I don't believe this is one of them though; it just isn't big enough beer. I'll dutifully sample the rest of the OSA line (in order), but I have a sneaking suspicion that I just don't care for this general recipe in any of its iterations.

Photo of mhewes
3.98/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A : Pours a nice brown with a good tan head. I was surprised with the amount of head for one this old

S : Malts with a little bit of age. Not picking up much else

T : You can taste the age a little bit but overall it was really good. Had some malt and chocolate flavors. Surprisingly, I picked up some smoke flavors.

M : Smooth with good carbonation

D : I wouldn't keep it much longer but I thought it was really good for being 10 years old.

Our Special Ale 1998 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
81 out of 100 based on 34 ratings.