Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Anchor Brewing Company

Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Winter Warmer
4.06 | pDev: 11.08%
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
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Reviews: 193 | Ratings: 214 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of hxdiaz
hxdiaz from Texas

2/5  rDev -50.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Stored in bedroom closet for 12 years and never cold cellared. Heavy layer of sediment on bottom. I thought I could cellar for many many years, but I guess not as this is pretty flavorless and lifeless. There was a slight pfft when the cap popped but poured with zero head or carbonation. The initial smell was spicy and Christmas like, but this one's all around goner. Nonetheless, it must be drunk.

Jan 02, 2017
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KensWorld from Florida

4.04/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I know it's past its prime but it has to be drank. Christmas in July! As expected for a 12 year old low ABV beer, it looks flat with no such carbonation. The smell is soy sauce and slight vinegar, but has a nice spice note. The taste is nothing like it looks and smells. Wow it still holds the classic Anchor taste though it has smoothed out quite a bit. I mean it's is so light tasting and extremely mellow. There is a slight sour feel to it that reminds me of a Flanders Red. Overall this was very enjoyable even though it has morphed into something totally different from when it was new. There is something mysterious about the spices that make this beer cellar so long. Worth seeking out if any exist.

Jun 15, 2016
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Sean9689 from Illinois

3.41/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared at Alex's Birthday Bash.

A - Looks like all the other Our Special Ale's.

S - Light spice, dark fruits, figs, oak, caramel. A little more spice then previous years, which helps create a bit more complexity. Not quite as smooth with the sweetness though.

T - Similar to the nose. Spices, sweetness, dark fruits. Tastes like a spicy brown ale to me. Finish is sweet brown sugar.

M - Light body, good carbonation, dry finish.

O - I preferred the 2001 version to this beer, but still decent. I like the addition of the spice to this one but would rather have the smoothness of the 2001.

Jun 27, 2012
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DoubleJ from Wisconsin

4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Where was I when this beer was released in 2004? For starters, I couldn't drink legally. I was in my first year in college. I only had alcohol on two occasions up to that time. And perhaps most strange when I look back at it, I thought that wine would become my forte among alcoholic beverages. I never thought that I would be interested in beer, let alone re-checking my vision to see if those were indeed 2004 vintages of Our Special Ale that I picked up a few weeks ago. Christmas Day is winding down, so let's pop the crown of one of the bottles, and on to the beer:

The "pfft" sound coming out of the bottle is a good sign of things to come. Its color is very dark brown, nearly black, with definate ruby brown hues. The head forms ½ inch thick, and settles to a creamy lace which kicks up spotty lace. There's a lot to like from the aroma. There's powdered cocoa, spotted dick, a little nutmeg and ginger. All around pleasant.

I've recently had the current 2011 edition, and this tastes like a mellower, rounder version of that. Plum pudding, molasses, dry cocoa, assorted drying spice. A little bitterness builds and finished off the beer with a spruce note. It's medium bodied with low carbonation yet a moderately silky texture.

The individual pieces are very good in Our Special Ale 2004. That helps make it a heck of a beer. Now what should I do with the other, unopened bottle?

Dec 26, 2011
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seanyfo from Scotland

3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2004 bottle poured into nonic pint glass

A- aggressive pour produces 4 finger mocha head sitting atop a black body with no light perception. Head retention and lacing are very good.

S- gingerbread. For our Uk ba's, it's like liquid Old Jamaica ginger cake

T- spice up front - ginger and nutmeg. Toasted malts come through with a vinous streak running throughout.

M- low carbonation and a bit thin in the body

D- overall, I'd say the flavour profile has held up well although not having the beer fresh it's hard to tell how it's aged. Nevertheless a nice presence of spice and a solid toasted malt profile with a full body/fresh carbonation this would be excellent

Dec 16, 2011
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oline73 from Maryland

3.4/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a large bottle into a 4 oz. tasting glass at Max's Christmas in July event.

Appearance: Pours a murky brown with a some red coming through when the light hits. There is a layer of light tan head that leaves a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Malty with notes of caramel and brown sugar and some mild spice.

Taste: Very malty with lots of molasses and brown sugar flavor but not too sweet overall. Some holiday spices with a bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with very mild carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: Perhaps a bit past its prime. The spice has faded, mostly malt. I'm glad I got to try this.

Jul 15, 2011
Photo of TMoney2591
TMoney2591 from Illinois

3.23/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a Half Acre shaker pint glass.

Big thanks to whartontallboy for helping me finish my vertical!

The Sixth Day of Beermas... It pours a murkily opaque black-brown topped by a healthy tan foam. Best-looking offering thus far. The nose comprises light mint, chocolate, cardboard (corrugated, o' course), nutmeg, brown sugar, light molasses, ginger, and stale Rice Krispies. The taste comprises fishy cocoa, fig, light green apple, ginger, nutmeg, and some more o' that cardboard. The body is a Stimpy medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a grainy feel. Overall, another step in the right direction, but there's still a good amount of ground to be made yet.

Dec 21, 2010
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Vdubb86 from Illinois

3.08/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served in a pint glass

Thanks to TMoney2591 for this beermas gift.

This beer pours a deep dark brown with mahogany shades and a nice beige foam. The smell is of brown sugar, caramel, butterscotch and a little bit of older oxidized whiskey. The taste is a bit like old cold coffee with a tint of whiskey in it. It's not really all that good and I'm sure that is due to the fact that it is past it's prime. This starts out ok and fades to a dryer acidic mouth feel that is pretty nasty on the palate. It's not that pleasant to drink, I'm happy this was a split bottle.

Dec 21, 2010
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MPLS from Minnesota

3.36/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nabbed a few random "Christmas beers" of older vintages a while back and this one seemed to be calling me before I went to bed. This bottle has 5 years on it and honestly have not tried any of the other vintages of this beer.

A: Pours a dark cocoa with a head that almost edges out of the 12 oz snifter glass. Carbonation still in tact just from visual inspection. Some rainy day lacing, nice ring atop the glass, opaque color.

S: Raisin, caramel, cardboard, but mostly a lot of spicy juicy fruit/warped citrus.

T: Mellow natured beer @5.25 ABV this may be pushing the boundaries of cellaring for this one. Up front the beer has cocoa + juicy fruit that is followed by some spiced cinnamon cardboard. There is something about the finish of this beer that doesn't sit well with my palate.

M: Medium-bodies and it certainly can't be the alcohol level that makes it spicey, Lower carbonation, more so from extended aging.

D: Above average offering here. A great looking beer that has some promise in the nose, but the finisih didn't quite seal the deal for me. Alcohol is masked completely and a mellow beer with a spicy earthy juicy fruit element to it.

Dec 15, 2009
Photo of Lothore
Lothore from California

3.81/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep, dark brownish hue with a nice, 2 finger frothy head.

S- Sweet, brown sugar notes, hints of raisin.

T- Lots of roasted malt, hints of sweet brown sugar that fade off into nothingness.

M- Thin with low/medium carbonation

D- This may be past it's prime. Looked and smelled great but carbonation was a little low.

Dec 13, 2009
Photo of Floydster
Floydster from California

3.76/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle purchased from Stuffed Sandwich in San Gabriel for five dollars and some change a few months back, drank on 2/11/09, reviewed from notes, poured into my Humboldt pint glass, color is a nice dark brown with a one inch beige creamy head that lasts over five minutes, some lace too, aroma consists of earthiness, nutmeg, roasted malts, dark cocoa, cinnamon, burned caramel, and clove, taste is caramel first, then roasted malts and chocolate in the middle, tons of spice in the finish, lots of clove and cinnamon, like how this evolved since the last time I had it, nice mixture of bready and roasted malt, along with a large amount of spice, mouthfeel is spicy, earthy and roasty, medium bodied, decent level of carbonation, taste lingered well, also warming, could drink a few of these, not too filling, alcohol is well hidden, this particular year has aged nicely and I look forward to drinking more of it down the road, recommended

Feb 19, 2009
Photo of far333
far333 from Connecticut

3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bottle stashed away in the cellar. Pours a dark chestnut brown color with some ruddy highlights at the base of the glass. A medium thick head of light brown foam rises up to a half inch and settles out slowly.

Low aroma of raisin, prune, and spruce.

Flavor fairly matches the aroma, prune and fig upfront with hints of cocoa. Resiny spruce notes line the finish.

Even mouthfeel, full and rich with a tingly finish. Amazing how well this holds up over the years.

Jan 04, 2009
Photo of jpaltan
jpaltan from Texas

4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice and dark with an egg shell head that sticks up top. Lots of lacing. I'm surprised by the head on this 4 year old beer. Smell is much better than the 07. A much gentler nose - more fresh ginger than anything else I can pick out. Taste is malty, with a good hop in the middle with a touch of nutmeg or other spice in the finish. Much better than the 07 imo. mouthfeel suffers from lack of carbonation, but could be b/c of age.

Dec 27, 2008
Photo of tmoneyba
tmoneyba from Ohio

4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle found at Village Pub in Covington, KY.

Poured dark reddish brown color with an average frothy light brown head that lasted with good lacing. Good complex sweet spicy aroma. Medium body with a sticky texture. Good sweet dark fruit spicy flavor with an average sweet finish of moderate duration.

Complex good brew.

Nov 25, 2008
Photo of Halcyondays
Halcyondays from California

3.4/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle at Naja's Place,

A: Pours a murky very dark brown, almost black, with a light cap of tan foam, very much a mysterious look.

S: Notes of dark malt, light fruit - fig, cola, and some winter spices.

T: Intersting mix of malt and berry flavour. Definite pine needle character. Sugary element in the end with some cinnamon.

M: Light carbonation, nice spicy feel overall, oily.

D: This is a good beer though I think it has already peaked. Nice one to drink and the oldest OSA I've had, if you see a bottle check it out.

Nov 23, 2008
Photo of nick76
nick76 from Florida

4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow this one really tastes like a Christmas beer. It has a dark color, the smell is of sweet nutmeg and ginger as well as malt. The taste is very sweet and spicy with nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, clove and ginger. The flavor and aroma are very complex and each time you taste it you will get something new out of it. Overall a great beer.

Nov 17, 2008
Photo of hopdog
hopdog from Pennsylvania

3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I tried 5 vintages on tap at the Stuffed Sandwich ('00, '01, '02, '03 & '04). The '01 was my favorite with the '00 a close 2nd. Nice subtle, malty, caramel aromas and tastes. Molasses. Light spices. I'm glad I had the chance to compare the 4 vintages on tap.

NOTE: did a tasting on 1/15/05 that included years '87, '90, '94, '97, '98, '00, '01, '02, & '03. The '02, '01 & '94 stood out as the best of the bunch. The '94 had a nice whiskey taste to it that the others did not. I thought the older vintages held up well over the years.

Nov 13, 2008
Photo of ChainGangGuy
ChainGangGuy from Georgia

3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a deep, dark brown body with a full, though quickly thinning, light beige head.

Smell: Earthy, smokey dark maltiness, some chocolate and caramel with notes of aniseed, nutmeg, cinnamon, and even allspice.

Taste: Dark malts with minor hints of sweetened cocoa and dark caramel. There's still a big sprucy spiciness present, but it's definitely died down over the years. There's still a dull, earthy bitterness surrounding the maltiness. Touch of fruit, along with citrus and candied ginger in the background. Wisp of smoke. Drying finish with a lingering taste of spiced cocoa powder.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium low carbonation.

Drinkability: A pleasing wintery treat from yesteryear.

Sep 17, 2008
Photo of thekevlarkid
thekevlarkid from Maryland

4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled this four year old bottle at American Flatbread during their Christmas in July promotion (Thanks Kristy!). Not much tan head out of the bottle and it faded in a scant thirty seconds. The color was a very dark, wood-stain brown almost like black coffee. Surprisingly, the thin ring of bubbles around the lip of my glass did lace a little. Aromas were of sour cherries, sweet malts, spices and egg nog. Wild. The flavors were delicious, gingerbread, cloves, bread y malts, hints of wheat and the high alcohol esters lend a brandy-like quality to the brew. This tastes just like Christmas, uncanny! I'm sure it's good fresh but it's great aged.

Aug 20, 2008
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asabreed from New York

4.72/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Purchased around 3 years ago for $1.99 for the bottle. Figured now's a good time to crack it open.

Appearance: A beautiful red and brown dark hazy color, with tons of yeast and sediment at the bottom of the glass. With a little beer left, I swirled and poured, so it probably made it darker. Nice brown-tinged soapy lacing, leaving more pocked bubbles than rings.

Smell: A very interesting mix of sour cherries, ripe fruit (strawberries and citrus), chocolate, and roasted malt. Reminds me a bit of a liquid chocolate covered cherry with so much more going on. Vanilla, woodsmoke, earthiness, raisins, vinous characteristics. I wonder how long this would last if I'd kept it unopened, but damn, this is nice.

Taste: I can't imagine this getting any better. An initial burst of chocolate, roasted malt, spiciness, sourness, and fruit, all the amazing things I love in beer coming together, especially for a Christmas brew. This scream's the flavors of the season, minus the sourness I suppose. Everything's in there: the mix of ripe fruit and sour cherries, along with some citrus, sweet chocolate combated by the roasted malt, earthiness, vanilla, woodsmoke, vinous characteristics, sweet raisins, finishing semi-sweet and going into a more roasted spicy flavor. Pretty exquisite stuff. And at only around 5% ABV, it's incredible.

Mouthfeel: There's an interesting fullness to the body while remaining not overly carbonated or cloying, but still feeling rich and slightly chewy.

Drinkability: I suppose this is an odd review since the brew may be nearly impossible to find. But if you have one, or a few, I'd try one now. I absolutely loved it. Took me a while to drink it, and again, at only 5% that's astounding to me. The yeast and sediment did it's thing, and the balance was amazingly singular and worth the wait.

May 17, 2008
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yelterdow from New Jersey

3.79/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Cellared for a few years, I saved this last bottle for a review. Served at just over fridge temperature in an imperial pint glass.

Appearance- This pours a beautiful raisiny brown with cognac highlights, supporting a strong, resililent brownish three finger head. I notice a thick, unfiltered quality especially towards the end, which excites me.

Smell- EGG NOG!!! Totally balls out nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon, this nose is phenomenal... I'm almost getting brandy too... Christian Brothers or the like... vanilla, even rum soaked cake with fruit now. Perfect after more than three full years in the bottle, I couldn't imagine a better aroma for a winter warmer. I wish I'd have saved the other five as long as this last one!

Taste- The malts and spices are front and center, however the hops have flattened a bit as might be expected. There is a mild sourness that counters the sweet and savory spices here... not necessarily good, but I'll gladly accept it for its contrast alone. Overall I'm digging this.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Especially thin weight in the mouth... watery and unimpressive. With a bit of swishing, it prickles slightly but dies in a matter of seconds. In all, this beer has the right ingredients in the right amounts... and the lighter weight and ABV certainly made this an overall pleasant tasting.

Mar 25, 2008
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Phyl21ca from Canada (QC)

3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Unclemattie: Poured a deep dark brown color ale with a nice light brown foamy head with good retention but no lacing. Aroma of big caramel and toffee malt with light spices, which may include spruce. Taste is also dominated by some spices with huge caramel and toffee malt with some moderate sweetness. Full body with average carbonation and no apparent alcohol.

Feb 25, 2008
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wcudwight from North Carolina

4.37/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to mushroomcloud for the bottle.

Nice dark brown color with a beautiful black cherry wood colored head that rose to 2" and quickly fell. Much more lacing that I was expecting given the year.
Wonderful aromas of tobacco, leather, and a nice mixture of spices that I couldn't begin to identify. Smells like one of those pipe tobacco shops.
The flavor is amazing given the mixture of flavors present but they still stay well balanced. Chocolate covered raisins and chocolate covered cherries. Plums and dates. Nutmeg, cinnamon and juniper and just enough hoppiness to make it interesting. Lovely is the only thing I can think of to describe it.
Mouthfeel has held up well over the years. Carbonation is still good.
Very drinkable, very yummy. It looks like I'll be buying another winter warmer next year to compete with my stand-by....Cold Mtn. This is delicious.

Feb 05, 2008
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t0rin0 from California

3.48/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I think I'm going to have to go against the grain and say that this wasn't nearly as good as the other years that I've had. Granted this is now 3 years old and the others that I've tried the past few months have all been aged different amounts, but it had a stragne funk to it that I didnt care for. That was of course offset by the good qualities.

The beer looks like every anchor christmas beer does, that is it pours a black/brown color with a good amount of clarity to it. This one was still fresh enough to produce a nice fluffy 2 inch head that dissipated fairly quickly and didn't lace the glass. The foam, while it lasted, was a nice tan color.

The smell was partially of dark malts and fruits (prune/raisin) and some strange spicess that I've detected in the other years of this beer. Theres a subtle hint of lavander that was real strong in the 07 version. Not sure what else is in this beer. The taste was strange and kinda harsh, not sure what this tasted like new but if its this noticeable at this age I can only imagine how strong that weird taste was when it was new. Its got a bit of a piny taste of hops or possibly some clippings from an actual tree, who knows. There was a nice sweet raisiny flavor possibly from some dark malts, but not quite roasted malts (no coffee flavor present). I know this beer is already 3 years old but I think its still aging and would like to try it again in another 3 or 4 years.

The body was medium/light with a good amount of CO2 to help it out. Definitely drinkable just strange.

Jan 26, 2008
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Georgiabeer from Georgia

4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've had this beer twice over the last couple of months. The first time in Chicago, the second time in Atlanta compliments of Ding- thanks so much for the opportunity! In a vertical tasting of the 2003-2007, I thought this the best, but in a different tasting o the 2004-2007 I liked the 2005 best. Oh well, cellaring can be fickle.In any case this review is based on my first tasting in Chicago.

Pours ruby brown with a thin head that fades to a slight ring and leaves some spotty lacing. Smells exactly like gingerbread. Notes of crystallized ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg, with a light breadiness in the background.Slightly sweeter than the '05-'07. Taste is quite similar to the smell, but with a very slight grain/spice sourness on the finish. Mouthfeel is creamy and it tastes as delicious as always.

Jan 10, 2008
Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 214 ratings