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

very good
214 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 214 |  Reviews: 193
Photo of Sammy
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
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 spycow
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

Photo of t0rin0
3.48/5  rDev -13%
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.

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Photo of brentk56
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a dark, ruby clear brown with decent head retention; a bit of lacing

Smell: Yeasty at first, but then the dark fruits -figs, dates - take over; elements of cinnamon and clove are also present

Taste: Very complex progression of flavors; starts out a bit woody and then the spices and hops kick in; simultaneous burst of cinnamon graham crackers and bitter orange that continue to build through the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, perhaps a little thin; modest carbonation

Drinkability: Very good effort; best winter warmer I've had yet this season

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Photo of oline73
3.4/5  rDev -15%
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.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%
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.

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Photo of olradetbalder
2.5/5  rDev -37.5%

Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
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 Gagnonsux
3.44/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The appearance of 2004 is almost perfect. The color is dark brown, almost black, with a creamy head. A layer of leftover foam rests on top throughout the beer. The only aroma I get off this is a spice, I think it is nutmeg. It smells alright, but isn't what I usually want from a beer. Taste is sweet and spiced. Nutmeg is the spice of choice here. Not bad at all, but not something I crave or go nuts over. As for drinkability, I could chill with this all-night, but I think I'd rather not. This is my first OSA, and I'm interested to see what they do next year, however for this year I guess I'll be the dissenting reviewer. For me this is very good, not great

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Photo of smcolw
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Christmas Ale from Anchor pours a dark brown with a beautiful beige head. Great lace, too.

I always smell pine needles with this beer, like putting up a Christmas tree. While I know that each year this brew has a different recipe, they are all strikingly similar. In fact, I'm now in the habit of storing a six-pack from the previous year for comparison purposes.

Dark chocolate flavors are dominating here. Very full body with a carbonation that is below average, but still works for this--almost chewy. The aftertaste features more chocolate and a touch of hop bitterness. However, it is not a sweet beer--more like a spiced porter. The spruce aroma does not show up in the taste; in fact, I really don't detect a lot of spices here.

Yet, all of this comes together nicely and it does provide the essence of a Holiday ale that is not duplicated as far as I know.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.71/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The loud opening 'pffft' led me to expect a large, glass-topping head and that is exactly what I got. And a fine looking lid it is too. Buttered wheat toast brown with an impressively sticky (almost gooey) upper surface of large, softly popping bubbles. Not much more than a few stray scraplets of lace though. The beer itself is roasted pecan brown with the expected infusion of garnet. The best looking OSA that I can recall, largely due to the magnificent crown.

No surprises when it comes to the nose. I'd love to do a vertical tasting of this beer to see just how each year varies. They're similar enough and I drink them far enough apart to preclude any hope of year-to-year comparison. Chocolate malty with earthy pine and the usual semi-pleasant mustiness. Most years don't stand out from the standpoint of aroma and this year is no different.

Memories of OSAs of old come flooding back with the first sip. This iteration doesn't seem to be as dark malty as some of the others. There's more of a sourness than I remember and perhaps a tad more spruce and spice. I wish I knew how each year's version varies, but I suppose that would take away some of the surprise and the magic (for some). Again, a vertical would be instructive. And entertaining.

At least this 2004 bottling, being not yet two years of age, doesn't taste as tired and worn out as some of the earlier beers. Of course the difference is that I've drunk them all relatively recently and this one is more fresh at the time of drinking than the others were. It just proves my point--to me if to no one else--that OSAs don't age all that well. Show me a 5% beer that does.

Warming brings nothing of interest, just the same basic ingredients (roasted malt, sour fruit, aged spruce) arranged in the same basic fashion with, perhaps, a somewhat tighter fit. The body is never anything larger than medium, although this one is as smooth and as creamy as possible given that constraint. Even though my sense memory is San Francisco foggy on the matter, the mouthfeel seems superior to other years.

I'll never be a huge fan of Our Special Ale, but I do enjoy seeing what Anchor has come up with each year, even if it's simply a variation on a so-so winter warmer theme.

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Photo of Jason
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
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 woodychandler
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow, what a beer! I got a huge head that was dark tan/light brown in color with lots of CO2 bubbles. The beer was a really deep brown color bordering on black. The nose was an intriguing mixture of pine, caramel, and chocolate. It had a really thick mouthfeel, almost like a shake. I got a lot of sweetness on the tongue, but the finish was of a lingering pine flavor. It was definitely interesting, but one at a time would be sufficient.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
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.

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Photo of imperialking
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

Photo of rab53
4/5  rDev 0%

Photo of Billolick
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
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 feloniousmonk
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Nearly clear, deep crimson coloring, shining ruby bright around the edges, beneath a most attractive cookie-ish cushion of foam, toasted tan, creamy and inviting.

Aroma: yeast and malt are thrust forward, matched well with spices, and sweet toffee-ish, cookie-and-cake associations. Sweetness, but not cloying. gingerbread, raw cookie dough, cinnamon, ...

...more will enter my mind, as we turn to the Taste: Full in the mouth, massive, malty mouthfeel, very tasty and smooth. Finish hangs in there for a while, leaving traces of ginger and clove, creamy and just about lush. Thoruoghly satifying texture, richly rewarding flavor. I'm usually pretty content with this beer from year to year, even overjoyed at times, but this one will probably get more purchase from me than usual.

Definitely the best winter warmer I've had so far this season, and it could still be beaten, but I doubt it. Really does the trick!

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Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11/29/04- Purchased at the local Safeway in San Mateo, CA

Appearance- Pours a dark brownish color. Kind of like a mix between a brown ale and a stout. A tan-brownish 1/2 inch head appears. Decent lacing around the edges.

Smell- Not sure what the hell I am smelling. Maybe some coca-cola scent and some kind of definite tree. Not sure if it's pine or redwood or birch?!?! Very odd scents. But not bad scents.

Taste- Wow, this beer had some funky tastes going on here. Definite darker taste. Maybe some roasted nuts? Maybe a little porter-esque? Maybe a brown ale kind of taste to it. Lots of stuff going on here.

Mouthfeel- Thicker and darker than I expected. Nice carbonation.

Drinkability- Wasn't at all expecting a taste like this. But, then again, I have never had an Anchor Christmas beer before. Very different and very pleasant. Can't wait to try the 2003 I have in the fridge.

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Photo of IPAchris
4.75/5  rDev +18.8%

Photo of Gonzoillini
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

Photo of brandoman63
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%

Photo of WesWes
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a very smooth and creamy malty scent that boasts of crystal and chocolate malts along with a slight hop aroma. The taste is good. It has a dry and malty flavor. It also has a spice addition that boasts of ginger and nutmeg. It goes down easy and finishes dry and smooth with a slight chocolate aftertaste. The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied beer with good carbonation. This is probably the best winter ale I've had this year. I love the aroma; a good drinker.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4/5  rDev 0%
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?

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Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 214 ratings.
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