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

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Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
214 Ratings
Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.25%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by lou91 on 11-03-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 214 |  Reviews: 193
Reviews by mmmbeer:
Photo of mmmbeer
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle with a batch code but no freshness date. Pours into the pint glass a very dark brown that looks red when held to the light. Has a 1 finger tan head that doesn't leave much lacing - kind of looks like a porter or stout. Smell is butter/butterscotch with ginger and caramel. Taste is of nutmeg, ginger, pine, nuts, dark fruits, and hops that contribute some grassiness and a nice bitterness. Feels very nice. Not really a warming beer, but this means I could drink more per session.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown with ruby highlights when held up to the light with a huge blooming slightly oof white head that sticks like glue to the glass,some deep molassis notes with some mulling spices (nutmeg,cinnamon,etc...) with a noticable piney evergreen aroma as it warms more.Taste has a peppery note something I wasnt expecting,woody and piney as well.Some medicinal notes for such a low abv% beer wow this is complex to the hilt,those mulling spices are there but are secondary and not the main focus wich is kinda cool.Holy shit my new favorite winter seasonal and its not some big bad ass over the top beer just a complex well made ale,will stock up this year thats for sure.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This is big and thick with a heavy brown color and a nice, darkly-tanned head. The foam left some nice little pits on top of the liquid as it went down.

Smell – They certainly haven’t toned down the spicing over the years. The nutmeg especially is very strong and goes well with the eggnog aroma. The darkish malts form a solid base, but I swear this smells like eggnog.

Taste – Yes, it tastes just as it smells. Good, quality eggnog spiked with vodka and covered in nutmeg.

Mouthfeel – This doesn’t seem quite as full as the ’01 that I had, but that was aged two years so maybe I need to cellar a few ‘04s. In either case, the spicing is huge and powdery in the mouth and provides some lingering bitterness to this wonderful ale.

Drinkability – This is an excellent sipping ale and will make a terrific eggnog replacement at any Christmas gathering.

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Photo of skybluewater
3.41/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark reddish-brown color. Fairly nice head, some lace. Smell's of caramel and spice. In all honesty, I'm not fond of the taste. It's a bit spicy, and there are hints of Anchor Porter (another Anchor brew I don't care for).

Call me a cretin, but I just don't like this beer. While I love Anchor's Steam and Liberty, this one just doesn't do anything for me. Sorry Anchor.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep dark brown, nearly black pour with a nice khaki head sitting on top. Magenta tones sneak through from the light along with sticky lacing. Roasted cocoa/caramel, cinammon, dark fruits, herbal/pine/woody notes along with an odd burnt spiciness I cannot place.

First sip brings a roasted, toasty, burnt maltiness with cocoa and caramel tones. A myriad of spices intermingle along with the same weird burnt, woody spiciness that was in the nose. Cinammon lingers on the way down along with a mellow herbal hop. A bit dry with some lactic notes.

Creamy medium bodied mouthfeel with good steady carbonation. Satisfying. A few of these on a cold night would be nice. I picked up this sixer for $5.99....I love it when they clear out the winter brews!! I look forward to seeing what some time in the cellar will do to this one.

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Photo of blitz134
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Two finger tan head which sat nicely on top of a dark burgundy red body.

Aroma was spicy with a complex blend of spices, most notably gingerbread, a bit of cloves and maybe a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. There was a touch of pine resin as well.

The taste is very nice. Initially there didn’t seem to be much to this but after a few seconds the taste really bloomed. I think bloom is a good descriptor as the beer went from hardly anything to a multitude of flavors. The initial flavor was a touch of roasted malt. After that there was a huge spice blast then followed by a nice gingerbread yeasty flavor. A very nice finish.

Mouthfeel was nice. A nice coating which stuck around long enough to allow for full flavor development. Drinkability is good as well. I could have a couple of these in a night, but it seemed to sit a little heavy in my belly. I would have to sip on these for a bit and let the warming take effect.

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Photo of Beaver13
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle - about 6 months old. Pours a dark brown with ruby highlights. It has a creamy brown head that goes to a fine film.

The aroma is nutmeg and ginger with a little chocolate, clove, pine trees, and cinnamon. There is a little cardboard as it warms. I love the spicy aroma of these beers!

The flavor is mostly roasty malts, slightly sweet. The spiciness is rather subdued, and there's a little acidity. It has a bitter and spicy (nutmeg, ginger, clove) finish. It has a very smooth and creamy palate.

Overall, I really like this beer. It seemed pretty similar to last years - maybe a littlle hoppier and a little more acidic.

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Photo of Doomcifer
4.1/5  rDev +2%

Photo of Jason
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle with a coded freshness date on the back label ... looks like it was bottled Nov 2nd 2004.

A- Deep shaded brown that could be mistaken for black, decent initial foam subsides to a tan lace.

S- Tart, earthy, woodsy, minty with a faint watery citric and pine smell.

T&M- Smooth and a tad creamy in the medium body. Quick bite of roasted malt, hops have held together well ... decent dry malt character. Spice, citric and pine unfold on the palate with fruity notes in the back. Finishes semi-dry with a powdery light roasted grain flavor.

D- Not too bad at all, not as good as other vintages ... does not seem like this one will age as well as the other either.

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Photo of merlin48
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appears dark and opaque sitting in the snifter, but is a strikingly clear, dark cherry mahogany when held to light. Beautiful body, with a longlasting, beige head that leaves sheets of lace all over the glass.
Aroma begins with a blast of spruce Christmas tree(like the tree on the label), followed by spicy cinnamon and nutmeg, and spiced prunes. The bouquet has a fresh, airy presence that evokes a pine forest with hints of wood bark. Solid malt base is noted underneath.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a spicy hop bite.
Taste is spruce pine hops and bitter orange peel in the beginning, with more spices and a woodsy yeast note in the middle. Very dry, overall, with a spicy bitter finish. Malt presence seems very understated compared to previous vintages.
Not as well balanced as earlier incarnations, but plenty of flavor and complexity. I would have preferred a more assertive malt character in the 2004 edition.

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Photo of Billolick
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ouncer sampled in a snifter. Pours a murky cloudy very dark and dense brown. Head is dark tan, dissolving to a thick tiny bubble film and leaving stringy, well developed lacing. nose is winter spicing, vanilla, chocolate milk, Yum. creamy dense mouthfeel, notes of cocoa, vanilla,cookies and cream, mint, nutmeg. Drying hops in the finish for balance. This yeas OSA is well balanced, super tasty and enjoyably warming. Its just been hitting stores the past month or so and its tasty and fully ready to enjoy, no need to age this one for very long, enjoy it now!

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Photo of olradetbalder
2.5/5  rDev -37.8%

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful and deep-looking amber-mahogany in color. Thick and long-lasting layer of tan-colored head laces the glass in distinct rings. Aromas are "wintry": christmas cookies, pine cones, cokking spices. Flavor is interesting in that I really perceived a piney "cologne"-like flavor. Not like a hoppy pine flavor. It's mixed with cookie-dough sweetness (gingerbread and nutmeg). Some cinnamon and all-spice spike in the middle, and at the end there's a flowery...almost "perfume-like" flavor that mixes with the bitterness for a unique experience. Thick and chewy mouthfeel. Another winner from Anchor.

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Photo of far333
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

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Photo of ADR
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark chestnut color, clear with ruby highlights. I got a nice 1/2 inch head of pillowy foam that left partial sheets of attractive lace. Aroma is sweet, not as particularly spiced as in some years, a little meander into caramel. Starts big, good body and a whopping molasses cookie and chocolate impression. Keeps on tucking in flavor, wintergreen, hops, and a very spicy cinnamon sense transition seamlessly -- but by the finish, you realize you have transferred to another train. Nice switch without fade. Another well-done Special Ale from Anchor, perhaps the sense of balsam and other conifers is a little less and a cocoa flavor a little more than some of the past five years of entries, but this is still a solidly done beer.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.06/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer pours a dark opaque brown body with a little tan head. I can only see an occasional tiny bubble rise up the side of the glass.

S- The smell is a slightly sweet cider hint with some dark malt balancing it. The finish has a faint chocolate malt note.

T- This beer has a smooth soft taste of dark malt in the beginning and a hint of sour oatmeal in the finish. The finish has a faint hop bitterness to it also.

M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with some lots of fizz that makes it seem more full.

D- The flavors are very subtle but not really interesting. The fizz is big but it really is missing any character.

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Photo of asabreed
4.72/5  rDev +17.4%
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.

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Photo of cokes
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Misty soda-hued with a short beige head.
Nose of pine, clove, spruce, ginger, and a defined soapiness (Ivory?).
Begins full of roasted grain, leaning towards gingerbread as it progresses. Spice is obviously huge, full of clove, sassafras, vanilla extract, and spruce. Turns more persuasively caramelly late, with a lingering, burnt root-and twig-like nuances and that same soap quality as expressed in the nose. Ends with a notion of pine-leaning hops.
Body is an encompassing medium. Ful of carbonation and flavor, even if it's not al entrenched in that "positive" category.
Let it be said that I've never been much of a fan of this particular offering, and this year's may be as good a version as I've had.

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Photo of Sammy
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Good dark colour level, nice foam and lace. Powerful carbonation. Ginger-nutmeg nose. Coca-cola taste with spices. Lots of carmel, dry spices and bitterness and malt. Great change of pace. Very drinkable, and drying aftertaste assures that. Did I tell you how this reminds me of Coca-Cola?

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Photo of tweeder263
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured out a dark brew with nice ruby coloring thoughout. Tan 2 finger gead that sems to linger. Has a licorice type smell that isnt overbearing.Taste is quite mild,licorice and a dry coffee flavor thats well balanced and mild.Mouthfeel is ok not creamy but not watery. Pretty good brew,look forward to next years.

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Photo of pmcadamis
4.29/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Found this 2004 vintage at Benjamin's in Galena, IL. Not really a beer bar, but they have a few gems like this one, and their scotch and bourbon list is huge.

A - Very dark brown with a milk chocolate one finger head. Leaves a lot of lace on the glass. Looks rustic and nutty.

S - Creamy milk chocolate, bourbon, charred wood, woodsmoke, and a cigar-like note. Not like cigar smoke, but like sniffing the actual unlit cigar itself. Smells like a old country club room with wooden walls and leather furniture where all the old guys are drinking scotch and smoking cigars.

T - Boozy bourbon, wood, some light nut flavors...walnuts? A hint of tobacco, a little dark fruit, and some milk chocolate....Raisinettes maybe.

M - Medium, not quite full bodied with lots of alcohol booziness. Silky, rich, and sugary with a dry herbal finish. Nice.

D - It was neat to try the 2004 version first before I drink the 2005 that I have in my "cellar." A very warm and inviting after-dinner sort of beer that is perfect for the season. I wish more breweries would do a different release every year....it's fun to find old ones and compare them to more recent versions!

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Photo of ElGordo
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted along with 03 and 05 for comparison.

Pours a dark brown color with ruby highlights, topped by a one-finger tan head that's rather short-lived. Nose has a predominantly vinous character, along with roasted malt, dark brown sugar, dark fruit, and a hint of hops. Palate is well-balance between light roasted malt and mild fruity hops. Notes of dark fruit, brown sugar, light cocoa, and plum/prune. Mouthfeel is rich and creamy, though not quite as enjoyable as the 03. As always, an enjoyable winter warmer.

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Photo of swamiswamu
4.14/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This really is a pretty unusual beer. It seems that the hops have been balanced by pine flavored malt. The best part about the beer is the huge pine scent. Blindfold a person make them take a big whiff and you could convince them they in a British Columbia pine forest. The appearance is great with a decent lasting head and big lacing. I'm saving a magnum for next year to see how it cellars.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

apparently peace street market in raleigh overstocked on this one a bit because they have cases upon cases of it sitting around, at least as of a month ago

appearance: a very rich and dark blood red/brown color, slight creamy tan head with just a little lacing

smell: very potent, dark spice hits the nose hard, slight christmas tree odors, mild espresso, graham crackers. very nice!

taste: raisins, plum, delicious graham crackers, slightly piney with a little hoppiness to be found, moravian ginger cookies, a wide array of flavors to be found

mouthfeel: medium/full bodied, sweet malts balanced by a mild hoppiness, creamy winter warmer

drinkability: pretty high, cant wait for the 05 release

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Photo of KensWorld
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.

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Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 214 ratings