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

very good
193 Reviews
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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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Reviews: 193 | Ratings: 214
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 rhoadsrage
3.06/5  rDev -23.5%
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 silver0rlead
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drinking this at just over a year after bottling (november 10th, 2004): Pours a murky brown with some red highlights, and a thin tan head that retains well. The aroma is still sharp after a year: gingerbread, fruitcake, nutmeg, allspice, cinammon, toasted bread, plum, fig, berry, molasses and chocolate. The flavor is instensely malty with big fruit character (plum, fig, raisin, blackberry), gingerbread, spices (clove, cinammon, nutmeg, allspice), molasses, chocolate and some toasted bread. The mouthfeel is medium with moderate carbonation (surprisingly enough) and drinkability is good. I enjoyed this beer, and it tasted fine after a year but im not sure if it gained anything from cellaring though...i found a bit more sherry notes but nothing really noticeable, if you're holding onto one of these go ahead and drink it.

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Photo of doubleipa
3.3/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Been in the cellar for about a year. Aroma is toasted with some mild coffee. Almost all hoppiness has vanished. Additional smells of allspice and nutmeg. Head is creamy, light-brown with excellent lacing. Body is clear/flat and black in color. Initial flavor is lightly sweet with a short fonish. Taste is watery/flat with a moderate alcohol finish. I don't think this stood up as well as some people think it does. I can't see holding any of this for another year. Didn't progress well, at all.

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Photo of jasonmason
4.07/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewing this one late thanksgiving night, a bottle of 2004 OSA (30th bottling) that just seemed good entering into this christmas season. Poured darker than I'd expected from past tastings, a deep ruddy mahogany; about 1" of light brown head that dissipates quickly.
Nose is great at this age - sharp, resinous, alcohol. Definately stronger that I remember the fresh 2004 being. Some of that salty-soy character that OSA seems to acquire over time as well.
Taste seems to have been overpowered by the emergence of sappy resin, with a strong spiciness of cinnamon and clove. A hint of vanilla in the finish as well. The body has thinned out, and now leaves the finish awkwardly lingering.
I'm really not sure which way the '04 OSA is going to go from here. It seems to be thinning out, and while still good, may not go much longer. But who knows? All the better reason for more vertical tastings in the future...

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Photo of blackie
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: The pour creates a low, dark khaki colored head. The beer is a really dark, reddish brown in color. The characters 4HJ are stamped on the back label.

smell: The smell is pretty complex. Hints of molasses, chocolate, lightly roasted malt. The chocolate aroma is great...present at just the right level to make itself known yet not overpower the other flavors. Moderate use of hops.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is slightly higher than medium and the body is a light medium.

taste: Taste is very similar to the nose. There is a moderate, obvious chocolate flavor here, that is very interesting. Some lighter malt flavor is also obvious. Maybe some light holiday spice. Good amount of hop bitterness, and a light hop flavor. Finish is moderately bitter with other flavors lingering.

drinkability: Pretty tasty, and a couple is enough.

I think some time served this beer well. Acquired in some bastardized trade with dirtylou while he was visiting.

01-02-06: From the cellar fridge of dirtylou while in Mad Town. Looks about the same. Great blend of dusty milk chocolate and roast aromas, with no real hop presence. The aroma is just about the same. The mouthfeel is probably a little better than I gave last time.

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Photo of beersarang
4.56/5  rDev +14%
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 twelvsies
4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 batch, enjoyed on tap at Sunset, winter 2005. Appears very dark, opaque brown in color, with a thick and healthy head. Frothy and bubbly. Very inviting. Aromas all over the place. Robust, roasty malt provides a sturdy base for an array of sweet fruityness and candy spicyness. Really complex. Dark fruits, winter spices, and just enough herbyness and mustyness in the hops to balance, with out stealing the show. I could go on and on trying to describe each flavor in this brew, but that could take awhile. A bunch of goodness. Check it out. I can't wait til the 2005 comes out to see the difference in a fresh batch. Cheers.

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Photo of trevorwideman
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had in a bottle at Microbar in London, UK. Anchor beers (with the exception of steam) are hard to come by in Winnipeg.

Poured with very little head but Gorgeous lacing... Almost Black, like a stout, and with a brown coloured head. Smells of dark fruits, the aroma is easy to savour before quaffing. Lovely Nutmeg/Plum/Fruitcake flavours, all that one associated with Christmas. Very warm in the mouth, but not thin or soft (a bit of a personal pet peeve). A bit heavy and filling hitting the stomach, but I guess I shouldn't expect less from a winter warmer, should I? I want more!

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Photo of dirtylou
4.32/5  rDev +8%
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 DogFood11
4.6/5  rDev +15%
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 scooter231
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark, dark color with a decent amount of tan head. Smells of chocolate and coffee, with a hint of pine in the background, as well as a light, sweet, raisiny presence. Sweet, deep, and inviting.

Tastes moe coffeeish, kind of goes from a sweet raisiny/chocolately note to a more bitter, coffee/espresso, bitter hops kind of flavor. More pine in the background as well. Fair amount of sweet malt helps to really balance the whole thing out- just a chewy, yummy flavor.

Mouthfeel is slick, light bubbly, and creamy. Full. Fairly drinkable but a bit too heavy after a while- definitely a tasty sipper though. I'd get this again.

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Photo of ommegangpbr
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Carbonated espresso with a little bit of cream and sugar (in flavor).
Looks like a chocolate stout being black, opaque, with a tan to brown head; tastes a little like one, too... not as much chocolate but definately stout notes.
Hints of pine in the taste and the smell... more in the smell than the taste.
The mouthfeel goes from thin to thick. The initial texture is a bit watery but the finish is almost creamy. Pretty big maltyness going on with plenty of hops bitterness to linger on the tongue.
This isn't one you really want to guzzle but as a winter warmer I could see this as being welcome on a cold winter night.
Those that like moderately hopped porters and stouts should enjoy this.

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Photo of Ellbert
4.49/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Blood red color when held up to light. Light brown/tan head that stays the whole pint. Nice lacing.

Smell: Sweet rasins, slight roasted coffee, and chocolate. Peanuts also make it into the aroma. Very sweet and malty. A great rich and full smell.

Taste: Sweet and tart. A little roasted. Carbonation and sweetness are upfront followed by a tart flavor then roasted malts and bitter hops follow. Very nice flavors that come in different waves.

Mouthfeel: Very bubbly but smoot and creamy.

Drinkability: Great drinkability, I could drink this all night.

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Photo of rrwiltse
4.78/5  rDev +19.5%
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 Ricochet
3.6/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

After trying (and not liking) thier Summer wheat beer, I figured this would be redemption. However..

S: Slight winey note, mostly dark malt with no alcholol to speak of

A: Dark. Porter to stout. Just as a said porter/stout should be.

M: Odd but welcome thinness that foamed up nicely and told of what flavors would be there to savor. It had an alcohol/acidity that seemed unusual.

T: I want to say this was closer to a stout rather than a porter, but they are so close in flavor. However when compared with Anchors outstanding porter, this was different, but not as appealing. All the malt/alcohol/wine flavors are there but the dry taste left by the spicing used just seemed odd. Rich roasted malt finished.

D: It's different. It was nice as a part of a sampler pack, but wouldn't be something I'd reach for again. Perhaps this should age a lot more to make the spicing smoother.

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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 Beaver13
4/5  rDev 0%
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 donchata
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This years offering is very nice. Dark and malty, spiced up like most Christmas brews. Flavors of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and pine. An offeral sweet experience once it hit's your tongue. The delayed enjoyment of the hoppy bitterness sneaks up on you with a smooth, slow punch. An overall good winter brew.

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Photo of tweeder263
3.8/5  rDev -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 ppoitras
3.68/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle purchased as a single, well, somewhere...

Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed a 1/2" tan head over the somewhat cloudy burgundy brew. Head is reasonably resilient, with excellent lacing. Aroma is doughy, with spicing evident. The taste is upfront with a malty sweetness, giving way to a spicy, possibly overly so, character that dwells on the tongue. Mouthfeel is somewhat limited by the spicy bitterness, but it is hard to ignore the creaminess of the brew over the tongue. Drinkability for me is not the best, but I tend to have more of a sensitivity to spicing than many. A nice warm-you-up-round-the-fire brew.

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Photo of ypsifly
4.53/5  rDev +13.3%
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 UnionMade
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
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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Photo of ChrisBowers
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Re-reviewing after cellaring since 1st week in December. The beer has mellowed a lot in that time and has become much more pleasant to drink. Originally the spicing was very harsh, not very well combined. Quite bitter, and not in a good way. Now, all the spicing has combined for a slightly mellower, smoother brew. Notes of cinnamon, allspice, spruce, candied fruits/fruitcake. Still has a nice bite at the end. Great beer. I bought 2 cases around Christmas, still have about a case that I'l going to hold on to for years to come.

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

The 2004 OSA is another fine addition to the fine seasonal series of winter warmers from Anchor Brewing. Slightly less complex than in year's past, it still manages to kick up the jams and please the palate.

The 2004 OSA pours exceptionally well, with a dark and creamy profile. Thick and rich looking, it looks a lot like a porter or a stout. Nice head full of tightly compacted foam, much like Anchor Steam. The nose was all pine resins and malt.

The taste was dominated by mellow pine sap and hickory nuts with a firm hop presence on the back end. It smoothed out a little as it warmed. Nothing overwhelmingly different from the other versions of this beer that I have tasted.

Good mouthfeel with excellent carbonation level. Very drinkable.

I kept this bottle cellared from the Christmas season to see how the beer would change with a little time to sit, but it tasted pretty much how I remembered it from a few months ago. Still, this was a rewarding addition to a solid seasonal series of fine beers from Anchor.

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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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