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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.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 214 |  Reviews: 193
Photo of clvand0
4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I was not happy with last year's OSA, but I figured I'd try this year's. Pours much darker than expected - pours a dark brown with a moderate head that falls quickly and leaves some lacing behind on the glass. The aroma has some ginger, dark malt, citrus, some pine. Gingerbread. The flavor is based on a nice dark and roasted malt, but has plenty of soft spicing to make it interesting. Flavors of nutmeg, brown sugar, citrus, ginger, caramel. Slight bit of pine. Has a nice thick body and is very drinkable. I am quite impressed. If you want to try this beer, be sure you grab this year and avoid last year.

 609 characters

Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev -0.5%
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 NEhophead
3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 edition.

Creamy tan head that fades after a moment to a few pools of bubbles. Spotted lacing with not much strength. Dark ruby red hidden under a veil of black.

Sweet malt character; almost chocolate like. Nutmeg, brown sugar, pumpkin spice, and ginger. Also, a distinct clove aroma.

A roasted maltiness; light coffee tones. A more mild sweetness than expected. Nutmeg, light pumpkin, clove, and ginger spices. The ginger flavor/spiciness seems to be the most dominant flavor on my palate. Very dry in the finish. The aftertaste is the spice (pumpkin and ginger), mild almond, and a hint of alcohol.

Medium bodied; a bit thick on the palate, but the ale's spices and carbonation seem to lighten this special ale.

I'm a bit disappointed since I loved the 2003 so much, but this is still a good ale worth a try. The ale's flavors are more subdued and even powdery on the palate compared to last year's edition.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
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 SheepNutz
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep black color with two fingers of light tan head. A darker beer than previous years if I remember correctly. There is just a little bit of lacing. The smell is malty and very spicy. Some ginger and nutmeg, even a hint of hops. The taste is very malty as well. Sweet and spicy with licorice and ginger. A great hoppy finish to boot! The mouthfeel is just a little thin and oily. The drinkability is good though. This beer put a smile on my face when I saw it on the store shelf, and it never ceases to put a smile on my face when I drink it.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2004 - Not sure of any tree being used in this one as there are not any notations anywhere on the bottle that states so. But I'm sure something is in there as the smell has good hints to a fir as does the taste, but not nearly like the past OSA's.

Ruby crimson lit within a dark brown maze; thin spongey, firm, and delicate dark tan cap. Maintains a good collar and the lacing starts in glaring sheets to break up fastly into big globuels.

Aroma is calming, soothing, and cleaner then the others in this vertical tasting of 2000, 01, 03, & 04. Dark ginger spice, roasty sweet malts, chocolate bread, slight pinewood fir notes whisps underneath.

Flavors are seemingly packed with much more chocolate then the others, and I do like it. Much more imploring and approachable in that manner. The spices aren't over the top as some years past when fresh. Spices of ginger, cinnamon, and fir are nicely meshed inbetween a malty roast and sweet chocolate cake drizzled with caramel. Ends delicately with an airy mist of sweetness then builds with some chewy roast and spice hinderenences. Swell finish.

Feel is smooth and calmingly slick with a sticky finishing over a sweet laden intangled spicy layered goodness. About medium bodyish and well-crafted.

Not sure what it is about this one right now, but man it goes down fast and easy. Especially against the other vintages. The 2001 still stands on its own as my favorite here, but the 04 is the drinker among the bunch. The spices now seem tame so as it ages the chocolate and roasty sweetness may subside letting those spices come through more. Time will tell...

 1,623 characters

Photo of Boilermaker88
3.74/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled the latest Anchor X-Mas ale at the Stuffed Sandwich. This year's vintage sported a dark blackish-brown color with only a modest, sputtering tan head that quickly settled down to a small cap and collar, leaving only light patchy lace. Not what I expected. The 2001 vintage had a better look to it.
The smell had a distinct piney hops character - lots of spruce needles. Also present in abundance were the usual line-up of spices Anchor employs; clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and molasses. Least detectable (at least to my beak) was the malt profile.
The taste had a moderate toasted malt flavor and touch of candy sugar sweetness up front. This morphed to an amalgam of spices that held sway until overrun by a somewhat harsh resinous pine and citrus rind hops bite. The flavors didn't seem to flow as seamlessly as in previous editions; rather, they jolted and bumped from one to the next without blending too well. The feel was lighter than in previous years, a touch thin and crisply dry.
Overall, the 2004 OSA has started off a bit slowly out of the gate. Still a decent brew, it doesn't quite measure up to it predacessers. In its youth, Anchor X-Mas Ale's tastes haven't started playing well together yet, like kids on a schoolyard. Perhaps it will improve with some time in a cool, dark place - the beer, not the schoolkids.

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

Appearance: Beautiful. A crystal clear mahogany with fine, active carbonation. Tight, dense, 1" caramel head with excellent retention. No lace, but collar throughout.

Smell: If you've ever had a Moravian spice cookie, this is it. Sweet and spicy, with hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, perhaps ginger and orange oil. Malt and hop spice play a supporting role. Very nice and toned down a bit from last year's brute.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Nice and far milder than last year's. You'll notice the spiceiness and orange rind sharpness right off the bat. There's a slightly coating chocolate malt sweetness, and there seems to be a hint of clove. It finished surprisingly clean, dry and hoppy bitter. The mouthfeel is crisp, thin and fairly light; I'd like a bit more heft in a seasonal, but hey, that's me.

Drinkability: It's a nice flavor and fairly light to boot, but its sweet and spicy "dessert" quality doesn't lend itself to a session beer, nor (IMHO) would this pair well with many foods.

I've never been bowled over by this beer, but I certainly enjoy it. Nice after dinner treat, but if you live somewhere where it's not easily available, I don't know that I'd kill myself to track it down.

 1,194 characters

Photo of assurbanipaul
4.31/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark and near-black with a thick khaki head. Aroma is malty and sweet with hints of chocolate, molasses and bubblegum.

Taste is not as sweet as the scent implies. Roasty and dark malts and a little on the sweet side, to be sure, but bitter enough to balance. Rich coffee flavors, maybe a little cocoa (but not chocolate) and a trace of earthy spices. Includes a vinous quality, like a good merlot blended into the batch, that retains a faint fruity element like currants or raisins.

Mouthfeel is medium, not as thick as it looks in the glass. Finish is slight with a dry aftertaste similar to espresso. Not enough to bowl you over, certainly not a "big beer," but an excellent winter seasonal. Could probably use a bit higher ABV, IMO, for that true winter warmer feel.

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

Sampled the new 2004 version, with slightly new labeling of a cartoonish Xmas tree on the main label. This is the thirtieth year of the brew. The maturity and complexity of those years of quality improvement show through. Seems to be out just a bit earlier this year.

Pours a deep dark, almost opaque, brown. A meringue-like tan head had staying power. It held strong until half way through the first brew, eventually falling down to a sticky lacing.
Sweet roasted malts on the nose.
Amazingly creamy and juicy beer, with sweet caramel and roasted malts make you think you are enjoying a nice after dinner liquor or coffee drink. It isn’t candy sweet, just enjoyable. No bitterness or hops to really speak of. Light carbonation compliments the creamy and medium mouthfeel. Coats your mouth like a watery molasses.

This is a definitely drinkable beer. Two washed down munchies while watching a nail-biting Ravens/Jets game.

 932 characters

Photo of BrewMaster
4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a plump 12 oz bottle. It has a puffy tan head and a brownish amber color. This is actually the first Anchor Christmas I've even tasted. The aroma is sweet and spicy with sort of a candy smell. A bit of pine and swet fruit scents show up too.

The flavor is very sweet, but not overpowering. It has notes of caramel malt, fir tree, ginger, clove, and a piney hop finish. There is also an unintended bitter bark earthiness at the end that would probably disappear with some age.

 490 characters

Photo of lackenhauser
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very dark this year-borders on black. A deep deep mahogany color. Good head. Malty and spicy aroma-reminds me of ginger snaps. Caramel and molasses. Good flavor-this beer doesnt seem to change that much year to year-the spices and flavor levels tend to change thats about all. A slight molasses taste. Gingersnaps again. Slightly spruce like though not as heavy handed as other years. Very nice body-through and through a very drinkable year. I have 4 other years in my cellar to comapre it to. Get some for now and later.

 522 characters

Photo of lou91
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow I can't believe I'm the first to review this year's vintage! I was surprised to see it at bev'mo on election day since it usually shows up around Thanksgiving. I'm a big fan of this beer every year and this year's does not disappoint. While this beer always looks good, this is a beer you love to smell if you like the spice, ginger bread, and maple syrup combo in a winter beer. The taste is spicy (ginger, pepper, pine), sweet with a dry hoppy aftertaste and a great burp. This is a beer that you must taste for yourself but there are no subtle flavors here. This beer ages well but it is great to taste it fresh.

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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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