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

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.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 214 |  Reviews: 193
Photo of ellisdee97
4.88/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to my new Brother-in-law Charlie, who gave this to me as part of a mix case for Christmas.

A: Pours motor oil black with blood red highlights around the edges. A one finger thick coffee colored head tops the brew which slowly dissipates leaving a beautiful ring with wonderful light sticky lacing.

S: Chocolate malt, toast, licorice, vanilla, orange rind, slight coffee and some smokiness as it warms.

T: Smokey licorice up front. Toasty and biscuity malt and then deep chocolate and coffee. There is still a nice bite of hops after two years in the cellar.

M: Creamy and sweet. Like the best milkshake ever. Still has nice carbonation.

D: Awesome. Wish I had more than one, I'm just going to have to wait for this years to age.

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Photo of marburg
4.87/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Something I'm beginning to learn is that, for me, breaths of varying depths and intensity often yield surprisingly different sensations and that this phenomenon occurs in some things more than others.

In this case, the dominant and pervasive aromas are of a nutty, woody chocolate with a full sort of air about it, almost creamy or yogurt-like. Deeper probing reveals peanut butter cookies and vanilla with a subtle spiciness.

Almost milkshake like in substance and feel, it glides over the tongue with an oily grace. More wood and vanilla are heaped over generous helpings of burnt, roasted, tanic flavors that almost hide a lactose and chocolate sweetness. While I'm not currently tasting them side by side, this is, I believe, vastly superior to the past incarnations of this product.

Is Anchor one of the greatest American breweries? Have I been dabbling in Belgians and their ilk too much? Or is it just that this beer stands tall among Anchor's fantastic offerings to be one of the great American beers? I think that notion gets my vote.

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Photo of putnam
4.82/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I see CRJMellor out west (12 days ago) and walleye (yesterday) in Macomb Co. are the only other members of my state caucus to post reviews for this beer. I've been pestering my rep for some time now. I suspect the distributor simply didn't get it until this week.

I think that's a little weird for a market this size.

It's been since 1998 when I last had a beer in this series. This surprised me with its deep, liquified dark brown sugar-like color. The mocha-colored top is tenacious, if sheet-thin. Aromas of black ginger cookies and over-ripe grapes are generous and immediate. The dried, seasoned, woody, sweet spices both tighten and play on the palate: cinnamon, mace, vanilla, birch. The texture is characterized by incredibly fine, mousse-like gas. A narrow frame of coffee liqueur sweetness is exceeded by the hard, aromatic grip of the tannins and by the fluffy mass. Slick sweetness connects the dots (while the dots taste like bizarro Ethiopian coffees and wild-fermented Venezuelan cocoa.)

I view this as a rustic, heavily hopped (or otherwise infused with botanicals) descendant of an Abbey Dubbel. Serious beer. Maybe I can get another 3 or 4 cases.

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Photo of rrwiltse
4.78/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow! Anchor continues to prove it is one of the best--an excellent winter beer that can be enjoyed year round (I just had one here in August!).

Poured into a pint glass--what a gorgeous color, very dark brown/nearly black, with a nice rocky head. The aroma is fantastic, I'm not even sure where to start, there's so much going on here from second to second! Malty, spicy, piney, a truly exciting experience even before drinking! Great mouthfeel, smooth and spicy, malty goodness. This and Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale are a great double team for the cold winter months!

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Photo of deejaydan
4.77/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served at cellar temp, poured into a pint glass. Paid $1.69 for a single.

Pours a beautiful deep ruby color with a tall fluffy head. Aromas of pine, heavy cloves and some cinnamon-nutmeg notes. Taste is very well blended, rich malt and spice forward with an burst of hops at the end. Light carbonation gives this beer a medium slightly creamy mouthfeel. I am nicely surprised by this beer compared with some other Christmas/winter warmer beers that I have had.

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Photo of IPAchris
4.75/5  rDev +18.2%

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 dauss
4.72/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation: Standard Anchor short round brown bottle. Picture of a Christmas tree, and it says Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

Appearance: Nearly no head came when I poured, but after vigorous pouring I was able to coax the head out of the beer. Large light yellow head with heavy lacing. Looks black from far away, but a deep and clear blood red when held up to the light.

Nose: It smells like a sweet stout, deep roasty malts, with a strong aroma of gingerbread.

Taste: Strong flavor of gingerbread or gingersnaps, cinnamon, and holiday spice like. Sweet smooth malt, chocolately, with some molasses. Finishes with a very light bitterness in the back of the tongue. The carbonation bubbles into small fine bubbles making it light and creamy.

Notes: First year I have had this winter warmer, and I am thoroughly impressed. The smell is amazing, mouthfeel is excellent. Very easy to drink, I could see myself polishing a sixer of these on a cold winter night. Extremely tasty.

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Photo of BeerBob
4.7/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Anchor “Our Special Ale 2004” A Christmas Ale, pours a midnight ebony red from a stubby brown 12oz glass bottle. The tan head goes to over two fingers, before lacing the sides of the glass as it settles to a thick carpet of fine foam atop the ale.

Sweet prune, pine, and mace, make up the nose. The palate is creamy and smooth pine, prune, malt and mace, with a pleasant citrus note. A dry citrus pine aftertaste builds after the third or forth brew to make this review a most enjoyable task.

“Marry Christmas & Happy New Year. Anchor Brewing Co.” is on the front label... and they (Anchor Brewing Co.) can deliver the goods!

Epilogue... WOW!!!

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Photo of Ahhdball
4.69/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

It's funny but the wife was going to pick this up for me but changed her mind. So instead, I come home with it. Funny? Yeah I don't get out much.
So anyway as soon as I cracked one of these open I could smell the pine and floral aroma. Escaping the bottle the wonderful deep amber ale hit the glass erupting again in the pine aroma. After the half inch beige cap settled to a small oily ring I gave another sniff and swore I smelled some banana.
At first I didn't like the taste. Bark, evergreen, and a smokie after taste had sort of turned me off due to me not being that experianced in this seasonal. I am used to a fruitier taste from GLBC and Barley's. After a few more drinks and letting it come a little closer to room temperature I can barely put this down. This stuff is great. Slick, oily mouthfeel left smooth with a small afterbite of hops and pine. Definitely a refined classic that will require another six pack.

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Photo of JISurfer
4.64/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is an exceptional beer. I was finally able to get my hands on some thanks to the Vintage Cellar, in Blacksburg, Va. At any rate, the beer was a nice super dark amber color. It really depended on how you looked at it. Some angles would give it a black color. The head was a creamy tan color. It was very thick and frothy in the beginning, but then died out to a thick laceing. The smell was awesome. Smells of caramel, coffee, chocolates, and fruits all filled the air. Not sure how they managed to get that done in one beer, but they did great with it. The taste was as complex as the smell. Started out with the fruits and caramel, then faded to the coffee, then faded to the chocolate. Wow! My tastebuds were totally freaking out, but in a good way. The warmer the beer got, the better it got. The great thing about this one, was that even though it's a beefyesque type beer, it's very refreshing and didn't make you full. Get it if you can!

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Photo of littlebibs
4.62/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

this dark mellow delicious brew is a welcome ale and my first
from Anchor Brewings "Special Ales" for the holiday . Wow, what a nice smell to this gem. Lightly
carbonated, perfect actually, lacing right down my glass until
I finished. I wanted to slowly take this in as it gets better as it
warms abit. I first detected a slight pine/woods scent which is
just right for the season and the malts mixing with some of the
tastey spices(ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg) smoked over a slight dry hop bitter finish just makes
this special ale a winner. Its got some bite to it, fitting for a special 30th
anniversery holiday brew. As you sip on this you start to take in more of these spices, showing themselves, if this is anything like what they've
been doing all these years, I'll be looking every year for this one.

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Photo of DogFood11
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip on several occasions including tonight. Pours a dark deep brown but light is visible and it forms a modest head that has minimal lacing. Smelled floral, caramel, dark fruits, maybe a bit of burnt malt as well that added a bit of a charcoal type aroma. I was a bit taken back by the first couple brews as it seemed so complex that I'd have to drink a few cases to try and sort this out. Some cinnamon spiceyness. lots of carbonation in the mouth but its really fine and not annoying at all, infact in this rare occasion the massive amount of carbonation was a nice compliment to the lazy heavy mouthfeel. Only complaint is an over the top perfume/floral taste. This fits the style perfectly and screams "Winter". I could see this as a nice after dinner december type beer and love it.

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Photo of IceAce
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ah yes...how I love the Holidays!

Dispensed from the faucet into a Libby straight-sided pint glass with a suede collar of foam that stood a full ½ finger above the top edge of the glass...simply a spectacular presentation. Body is a ruby-mahagony color reminiscent of centuries old furnature.

Aroma is complex...like Aunt Rose's kitchen when you walk in Christmas morning. Spices rule the nose; nutmeg, corriander, and cinnamon with a deep malt and beautiful yeast presence.

The first taste reveals itself as deeply roasted malt quickly followed by well-rounded flavors reminding me of plum, nutmeg, and applejack. The finish is extremely dry showing just a little muted pine. The taste lingers long after the finish with fading spicy warmth.

Can't wait to pair this with a nice slow cooked pot roast.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.57/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Up untill this year, I didn't realize that the OSA was a different beer each year. Damn me and my lack of attention to detail. I wasn't going to let another year go by without trying one, so here goes. The beer pours a deep dark brown color with a finger of tan head that falls to a quarter inch over the beer. The nose on this is reall nice. It smells like a ginger snap cookie. There is definately ginger, some molasses maybe in there, possibly brown sugar, and a touch of piney hop in there to complete a holiday aroma. I dig on the smell. The flavor is more subdued than the nose. The first flavor that hits me is a sweet light molassesey brown sugar that melts quickly to a mellow ginger and finishes with a touch of piney hop on the sides of my tongue. I like it. The feel is moderate, a little below thick. I'd like a touch more body on it, but what can you do. Drinkability is not bad on this one either. Its not too bold on the flavors to be offensive. I think this beer is nice to drink now without having to sit it down at all.

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Photo of beersarang
4.56/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a beautiful dark brown with hints of ruby in the light. Tan head is so creamy and leaves behind sheets of lace that glistens when light hits it. So frothy and appetizing.

One dimensional sweet slightly burnt caramel aroma.

Heavy malts comprised of caramel and later toffee. Slightly roasted toffee flavor holds for a long time and a complex sweet finish mixes with the characteristic anchor tartness that is present in their porter and steam beer. So unique and multidimensional. Alcohol malt, and bitterness is in balance. Hops blend in with the malts and are at time overwhelmed by the roasted chocolate and coffee flavors.

Medium to full bodied with extremely small bubbles giving the sensation of velvet. Goes down so easily. A joy and pleasure to drink.

It's been a while since I have enjoyed a beers different qualities this much. I've got two sitting in the cellar for years to come!

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Photo of GeoffRizzo
4.54/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A dark ruby red; and a consistent and constantly thin-ringed tan bubbly head that maintains until the end. The nose is highly anticipated; and it doesn’t disappoint – nutmeg, fresh baked cookies, cinnamon and some malts; near breath-taking for a bottled beer. The also-anticipated taste is fabulous – licorise, roasted malts on the tongue; definitely full bodied and full flavored; sappy and molasses/honey offerings; maintains a wonderful slickness throughout and is almost too easy to quaff; cinnamon and fresh baked apple pie offerings in the body. Some clove and nutmeg in the backround; the body has the texture of a milkshake and the flavorings are remarkable; not as rich or creamy as past offerings, but no worries here; a true holiday treat, and a swirl of flavorings to boot! Simply amazing!

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Photo of ypsifly
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz with no dates into an imperial pint.

Deep mahogany with a large and rocky head of tan that shows great retention and lots of heavy lacing.

The nose is very spicy with nutmeg and maybe some coriander blended nicely with some bready yeast and piney hop aromas.

Tastes spicy with some dark roasted malts giving it some notes of cocoa. There's a brief bite from the hops, but the finish is rather sweet from the malts. Nice thick almost stout like mouthfeel. Very drinkable as it goes is damn tasty with an abv that allows you to enjoy many of these without getting too 'faced.

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Photo of Wolfsdenbrew
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one to celebrate the coming of the New Year.

It pours a gorgeous dark ruby-brown, with a light brown head with some rosy tones to it. Huge thick head that lasts for the entire experience.

The aroma screams piney hops and spruce essence, with some sweet malt backgounds and cinnamon and nutmag lingering.

Lots of piney hop flavor with sweet dark fruit background, sweet and roasty malts with cinnamon and nutmeg, and hints of coffee.

Good carbonation, with a nice full feel to the body, nice and creamy.

I continue to like the winter warmer style, broad as it may be!

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Photo of Hibernator
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Anchor Our Special Ale: 2004

I had this out of a 12 oz short Anchor brown bottle and served in a tulip. There is a freshness date on the back of the label that reads 4NB. The Anchor website explains the translation. Beautiful label design with a solo Christmas tree on the front. Clean and tasteful graphic design.

Very dark reddish brown in color. A light shade of black. Attractive tannish head that sustains over time. Rocky lacings are spotted all over the tulip sides.

Unique aroma blending faints whiffs of cinnamon, dough, sugary sweet malts and mint. The smell is inviting and not overpowering. Pleasant.

Sweet and milk chocolate malt moufeel. I am tasting vanilla cookies, cinnamon, fruity-mint flavors and then a precise hop snap on the finish. Very tasteful on the palate.

I gradually let this beer warm up and all qualities became more enhanced. I paid $9.99 for a six pack of this and I was a little hesitant going in, but this is one enjoyable winter seasonal. Quality.


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Photo of hero27
4.52/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Beautiful bowling-pin shaped bottle. I love the custom label that is unique each year...really adds a lot of appeal. Pours an extremely dark brown, almost reddish color. Pitted, foamy beige head about two fingers thick that has quite a bit of staying power. I wasn't sure if I was going to like this beer to begin with..I tend to shy away from some of the more "different" dark beers, and this was no exception. but I had heard good things and figured I should give it a try, even if it did practically empty my wallet to do so...and thank God I did.

Smell: What can I say that hasn't been said? Very complex aromas from this bad boy.. Hefty toasted, malty aromas of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, toffee, caramel, gingerbread, molasses..you name it. To sum it up, it smells like Christmas in a bottle.

Taste: Tastes just like it smells. One of the reviews of this beer likens it to a "liquid Christmas cookie". What a perfect summary of it's taste. Very rich and downright lip-smacking smooth..

Mouthfeel: Thick to moderate body. Carbonation is virtually nill, but it's to be expected with something such as this. What a great winter ale/warmer, whatever you wanna call it. Well-balanced and complex without being overwhelming.

1. It's thick. Definitely a sipping beer.
2. It was damn expensive...I picked up SNCA for around $9 a six-pack, which is still pricy but fair enough, considering that it's the definition of nectar. Anchor OSA was priced at $11.99 a sixer.. I'm sorry, but it seemed quite overpriced to me. I would have tried somewhere else but it was the only place I could find it around here.

Overall, one of my favorite seasonals behind SNCA & SN Bigfoot (which are nearly, flawless, imho). I'll be cellering a few of these and hopefully have the willpower to wait till next Christmas before cracking them open to compare.

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Photo of hanlonrn
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

Photo of matjack85
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

Photo of orfeu
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Notes from a three-year vertical tasting of Anchor Our Special Ale, 2004-2006:

Served slightly chilled, 2004 Anchor OSA pours a deep, cloudy mahogany color with blood-burgundy highlights and an impressively-proportioned, dense and creamy manilla head with a slight pink tint. Very sticky lacing. The bouquet, while subtle, is very inticing, with vanilla and caramel notes coming to the fore as scents of dark plums, raspberries, and clove bring up the back. The recognizeable aroma of prune and pine also emerge, identifying this as a true-blue OSA. A bitterness smacks the palate at first, bearing qualities of dried young spruce cones and alcohol bite. A vinous blackberry and raisin flavor emerges next, with clove and nutmeg following. A slightly sweet caramel-clove finish leaves a mellow and earthy aftertaste, very reminiscent of spiced rum. The mouthfeel is smooth and "settled" with a medium body providing plenty of substance. Two years in the cellar has made this thicker and heavier; it now expands on the palate. I haven't had one of these in over a year. I remember enjoying it then, but time has done this beer well. This is my last sample, and I imagine that this won't get much better than it is right now. Perhaps the last year of OSA worth cellaring? The vinous qualities coming through at this point are enjoyable, but I can see them becoming stronger and making it a less drinkable beer than it is right now. Very fine winter warmer from Anchor. A traditional release I'll always look forward to.

[Side note: This year's bottling has a pop-top crown, rather than the current twist-off caps. Could this have any effect on quality? Probably not, but I'll always wonder...]

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Photo of UnionMade
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Last bottle of my six pack, aged since December.
The beer pours a hazed, russet umber, auburn if you will, topped with a thick crop of almond colored head. Great lacing, clinging to the glass in sheets. The aroma is richly spiced. Roasted malt pillowing nutmeg, ginger, dark friut and perhaps some cinnamon. Mild woody hops. The flavor opens with a dried roastiness, immediately dusted with ginger and nutmeg. Luscious prune and fig fruitiness, blending with the heady spices excellently. Some piney notes in the finish, with a mild, wooden hop profile. The spice is ever present, but never overwhelming. Dry, roasted malt dominates throughout, keeping things in check with an iron fist. Dry finish, replete with roasty char and nutmeg. A lingering gingery aftertaste. Mild carbonation with a dry, smooth mouthfeel that coats the tongue. Excellent.
I want to say that this is their porter recipe, only spiced. One of the best seasonals out there, I look forward to this every year. This one is exceptionally smooth, probably my favorite behind the 2003. This will be wonderful with a year or so on it. Unfortunately, I can hardly ever wait that long.

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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
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