Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) | Anchor Brewing Company

very good
240 Reviews
Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by maxpower on 11-04-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 240 | Ratings: 277
Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A two year old sample...

An opaque brown with a creamy tan head. Sheeting lace on the glass. A quite piney smell under which is the aroma of rich roasty malt

The flavor is of roasty malt and lots of piney bitterness. Lightly sticky in the mouth with that piney taste all over the finish.
Lots more pine taste and a lot less spice than the 2006 recipe. Good stuff.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Acquired via trade from Solomon420, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of vanilla, spices, caramelized malts and some dark fruit.

T: The taste is smoky and malty, with strong flavors of caramel, spices, vanilla and dark fruits. There’s a decent hops presence especially considering the style and the fact that this beer is 2 years old. The after-taste is sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium-to-heavy body, medium carbonation, finish is cleaner than I expected.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, unfortunately I didn’t try this beer when it was released so I’m not able to draw a comparison, but it seems to me that aging has done this beer some good. Overall, I liked it a little better the 2006 release which I had fresh.

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Photo of PorterLambic
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A very dark brown with a rust orange at the edges. Nice medium tan head. Drops to 1/2" layer within 3 minutes leaving some light lace.
Smell is roasted/toasted malt, smoke, peat with just a whiff of alcohol.
Taste is the same with a touch of slightly burnt malt in the aftertaste.
Medium body, light effervescence. Slightly watery finish, smooth.
A very good beer overall.

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Photo of NClifestyle
4.01/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

decided to pop one of these tonight, it's pouring down rain, getting chilly, just felt right.
anyway, the cap seemed to come off waay too easily, but after a solid pour, all things looked wonderful. huge tan head of cream on top and medium bubbled below. drops to a dusting after a bit, but great spiderweb lace on the glass. color is cloudy and nearly black unless held to the light, which reveals purple highlights.
smell is just like i remember from two years ago, but maybe just a tad bit less. hints of tree bark, the outdoors in december, a little sweet smoked meat, great stuff.
taste seems less malty, but not really hoppy. spicy and herbal, very hard to place, if pine or spruce tastes like this, i'm all for it.
mouthfeel is medium with some carbonation, but a creamy glide as well. finish is sharp and biting. if it were colder, and i had a few cases, i'd have more of these.


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Photo of Floydster
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle from the Stuffed Sandwich in San Gabriel

Pour was a real dark brown with not much carbonation or head

Tasted like there was hints of tobacco and sugar cane, very dry for a winter beer of this nature, but the taste stuck with me for a long time

Could drink a good amount of these compared to other winter beers

All of these Anchor XMas brews have been pretty good

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, 2005 edition,

A: Dark brown, with a thick, white head.

S: Lots of fragrant pine and spruce.

T: Old feel, with juniper and pine, sweet spruce, cherries, cranberries, and Christmas-style spices - cinnamon and nutmeg.

M: Smooth, oily, resiny, with a fair bit of oxidation.

D: A great aged beer, the 2005 OSA has held up well, a great treat for me.

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

Roasted hazelnut, not quite opaque, with abundant black cherry highlights. The caramel nougat colored cap is the first clue that this is quality beer. Yeah, like I wasn't aware of that already. It's whipped cream sticky, looks gorgeous as it delflates and is beginning to deposit attactive sheets of lace-like lace.

I have no hope of remembering what the various OSAs smell like from year to year, but this one seems especially aromatic. Maybe that's because I'm drinking them fresher and fresher. If memory serves, this iteration is less evergreen and juniper-like, more dark malty and more brown sugary.

Those impressions hold on the palate, as I thought they might. I've always suspected that I'd like this winter warmer better if I drank it sooner after bottling. Since I didn't come across the versions from '98-02 until several years after their release, I had no choice but to drink them with a few Christmases under their belts. I'll be sure to remember not to age them from here on out.

The flavor profile consists of gently roasted malt, dark chocolate, brown sugar, sticky dates and a fir tree contribution (Quercus agrifolia is featured on the label) that, again, seems less aggressive than other years. I imagine there are only so many variations the brewers can use and keep the same basic theme, but it seems as though they've managed to distinguish this '05 from all the others.

There aren't too many good, sessionable winter warmers being brewed. By virtue of its relatively light, yet still incredibly smooth and acceptably expansive mouthfeel, this version qualifies without question. Having said that, I can't be the only one who would like to see an 8.5%, big-bodied version of Our Special Ale.

I will never be an adoring fan of this seasonal release, but I'm learning that younger is better. In spite of what just about everyone says, I don't think it holds up over time; especially the mouthfeel. I think I'll start picking up sixers instead of singles. Good job Anchor.

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Photo of Hammarby
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown with a ruby edge, cloudy. One finger of tan, somewhat foamy head (with some big bubbles).
S. Fudge, caramel, dark berries, dried fruits, figs.
T: Bitterness, charcoal, figs, caramel. Aftertaste of bitterness and figs.
M: Below medium body, low carboration, almost no sweetness, as the sweet tones are balanced out by the strong presence of bitterness.
D: Good.

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

Into a pint glass, pours a dark black, a tan head with lasting power, some nice lacing. Aroma is a good dose of chocolate and espresso with warming alcohol and sugars and spices. Taste is delicious, a good and complex bunch of goodness, syrupy malts and spices and.. well, its just good. Mouth is creamy, but thinner than I'd have liked. I just had a four year old OSA a while ago, and I think perhaps this would have done a bit better with some age under it to develop more.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
3.31/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

The head is nice and big with thickness and a pretty hard to move lacing. The smell is perfume-like with flowery and sweet tones. It always reminds me of Christmas cookies. Taste is very dry and light with a little less flavor than when I had it over a year ago. Mouthfeel is very dry and a little harsh. Overall it was nice to try, but I wouldn't want to have it very much...occasionally.

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Photo of Cresant
3.66/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a nonic. I purchased this cellared bottle from The Keg Liquors in Clarksville, IN. Body was nearly opaque. When I sat my beer next to my friend's glass of Coke they looked nearly indentical in color and highlights. The head was two finger or more and was made of fine foam. A heavy ring of foam remained throughout the drink.

Smell was slightly metallic. Floral hops (noble-like pilsner quality). Pleasant.

Taste was tart and porter-like. Toasty malts and zingy hops. Spicy. Coffee-grounds hints. Interesting and subtle.

Mouthfeel was smooth and creamy yet medium to thin in body. I enjoyed this one. Thanks Todd.

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Photo of lehows
4.65/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a near opaque amber color with a thin tan head that rises near the end of the pour. Wonderful and complex nose of roasted malt, chocolate, and fruit. Wow...big flavors of roasted malt, chocolate powder, raisins, alcohol soaked fruit, and spice. Just an awesome mouthfeel with a fine carbonation. Drinkabiltity is incredibly high considering all the flavors here. This is my new favorite brew for Christmas time, hands down. I wonder what this tasted like last year when it was fresh because it seems to have aged incredibly well. I also have some 2006 that I can't wait to compare to. Try this if you find it!

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Photo of jj21
2.68/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was looking forward to this one since purchasing it last winter as a closeout. I drank one right away (I should have reviewed it looking back) and it was great. Nice and hoppy. Since this is supposed to age well, I thought, why not. Let me tell you why not.

Pours Dark brown with decent carbonation and a strange colored head- almost a hint of green(?) to it. Aroma was way too much juniper. I couldn't figure out what I hated about it until reading a few reviews after tasting and then it hit me. That's all I could smell and it was hard to get anything else but there were the usual dark fruits and other spices. The flavor didn't offer much more than the aroma. Too much juniper on the nose. The mouthfeel was nice though. Lighter than expected and lively carbonation. All-in-all, a dissapointment. Next time, I'll drink them fresh. Live and learn.

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Photo of Noxious26
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

341ml bottle shared with friends at a beer/wine tasting party this past weekend. Special thanks to Viggo for the brew!

Dark brown with chestnut highlights. Just translucent enough to let light through. Tight tan cap.

Aroma is mainly sweet with juniper/spruce highlights. We were trying to figure out just what this scent is, and one said, "What ever it is, it's definintely coniferus." That's about the best description you could give.

Happily, the juniper/spruce doesn't shine through as much in the flavour. It's more of a background element and really just lends itself to make this beer unique. Otherwise, this is a rich semi-sweet beer with cherries and dark malt and an almost syrupy background.

Solid, smooth and full bodied mouthfeel with minimal carbonation. Almost velvety.

This was quite a unique treat, but I don't think I could have had a full bottle by myself. The juniper/spruce quality, while unique, was a bit of a turn off for me.

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Photo of phishgator
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

SO it's been about a year aging this fellow. I poured it into a small mouth goblet and the dark hue completimented the nice creamy head. The aroma is a great mix of nutmeg, pine, spruce, and licorise. The taste is much the same as the aroma all of the smells pair into the flavors! There is no feeling of hops, but with the spruce/pine tree addded to the brew it takes the place. There is a kind of thin body even though there is a presence of stickiness in the mouth. It is a great holiday beer, but no more than one at a time.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Anchor Steam glass. Black in color with a nice head, lots of lacing afterwards as well. Scents of sweet toffee/caramel, hops. The taste is sweet/malty with a nice touch/bite of toffee/caramel in the finish. Medium body with a great sweet after taste. Not much of a warmer, but very drinkable. Would make a very nice session drink around Christmas time.

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Photo of Damian
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Drank from a 12 fl. oz. bottle purchased at Kappy's Liquors, Cambridge, MA

Poured a dark, murky brown with small, fizzy, chestnut-colored head that quickly faded to a lasting ring of lace.

Smell was rich and spicy. Intense malts with a plethora of baking spices, including nutmeg and clove. A touch of nuttiness too. Some maple syrup and vanilla notes were also noticeable.

Taste was very malty as well. Rich and hearty. A mix of chocolate, caramel and roasted malts with some spices. The dark chocolate flavors came out strong in both taste and smell as the beer warmed. Licorice was also present. Up front this beer was rather good, but the flavors trailed off rather quickly. A pinch of hops was detectable on the back end. Aftertaste was moderately spicy with a touch of residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel was rich, full and very creamy. The beer turned into a rich froth soon after hitting the tongue.

This is a decent beer to sip and savor on a cold night but overall it was not very exciting. With a bit more complexity in the taste and a more flavorful finish it could vastly improve.

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Photo of biegaman
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled at Beer Bistro, 330ml bottle aged one year. 2005 Edition.
My first experience of the Anchor OSA.
Pours a robust black with firey orange highlight from the bottom. Head that settles off to mere trim, though quite responsive to even light swirls. Beautifully classy looking, especially in the snifter. Wowza, what a spice in the aroma. Almost like a perfumy insence. I could only make guess as to what's in there - heather, black licorice, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, candamom ... basil? I could swear basil! Most certainly though I DO taste pumpkin. I'll swear to that! Spices seem mostly for aromatics, lovely bouquet. Not so many of these spices come through in the taste however. For a black coloured beer this is deceiptfully light. Although potent and lively. Some residual sweetness. Body isn't robust. Soft spoken, timid despite what colour might have you expect. A little too light bodied to be fully satisfying. I'd really like to see little more lingering roast to add dimension beyond the spices. I want to go raid mom's spice rack to figure out what's in this!
All in all though this was fantastic. The spices make it a bit of a sipper, a good dessert beer too. I would recommend sharing this one. For a first impression of the Anchor OSA series I thought this was a neat-o spiced beer.

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Photo of joe1510
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz. Bottle 2005
$10.99 6-pack
Binny's Orland

Our Special Ale poured an extremely dark mahogany that is only transparent along the edges of my pilsner glass when held to the light. A creamy 2 finger mocha head sits on top and fades a a 1 finger dense craggy head. Sticky webbed brown lacing trails down the glass.

The smell makes me think of Christmas with all the smells coming from the kitchen. There are a lot of spices in the nose including nutmeg and maybe a touch of cinnamon. The others are hard to pick apart. Theres even some bing cherry and plum. Also, reminiscent of warm bread pudding. A slight roasted malt in the background but the fruits and spices take over. I think this is what a winter warmer should smell like. It has it all crammed in there.

The roasted malts serve as the backbone and don't really show themselves until a minor bitterness in the finish. The spices come through up front with the nutmeg taking the front. The dark fruit come through mid-palate and dance around on your tongue in holiday cheer. Very nicely done.

The mouthfeel is the only thing holding this beer back. It's average but if it was a little heavier in body it would be great. The mouthfeel is on the thin side and feels a little dead in my mouth. Don't get me wrong it's not bad just nothing to get excited about.

The weaker mouthfeel actually helps the drinkability a little bit. If it were creamier it would make a better beer but it would be too filling to get high marks for drinkability. I could definately sit around and drink a couple of these on a cold winter night.

I really like Our Special Ale and would recommend it to anyone to try at least once. The spices really add a nice touch. Great cold weather beer. One to share with friends and family.


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Photo of jcdiflorio
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

served into a tulip glass a 12oz brown bottle twist-off cap. A BA buddy brought this over a year late,still seemed good enough to review.
didn't get to review when it first came out.Will have to review the 06' also.

Deep chestnut brown,thick tan head,retentative,lacing the glass.
The aroma seemed well balanced for the complexity.It was spicey,piney,carmelly,roasty,hints of vanallia,with a smoked peat smell also.
A very complex taste,chocolaty,smokey,caramelly,hints of licorice.
A warming of alcohol,with a sharp,dry finish,with a taste of chocolate lingering on the palate.
A medium mouthfeel,with a slight pricklyness.
Drinkable to an extent,becomes filling,kind of just sets in the gut. I'll be drinking the 06' very soon. One of my favorite Cristmas beers.

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Photo of Applesauce1
3.28/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I picked up the 2005 winter warmer at the Cloverleaf in suburban Detroit.

Appearance: dark, dark brown; opaque with a nice half inch light brown head off the pour; looks much like an American Stout off the pour
Smell: coffee (surprisingly), alcohol (surprising also), some type of spice too (maybe cinnamon or nutmeg)
Taste: very unique; coffee flavor; a very malty beer; a weird taste overall; some spices in the back of my mouth; some fruit flavors also in there; it tasted much better at the beginning; it developed too much of a belgian style ale with the fruit flavors coming in more at the end
Mouthfeel: medium bodied
Drinkability: kinda fills you up

Overall, this is not a typical American Winter Warmer (I haven't experienced enough English Winter Warmers to get a feel for those.). It has a complex flavor mixture.

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Photo of goochpunch
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours an absolute pitch black with a mountainous cafe au lait head that forms peaks and valleys and leaves some strung out lacing. Nose is a mix of roasted malt, rye bread, star anise, cinnamon, ginger, dark chocolate, molasses and butter cookies. Taste is composed of dark roast malts, marbled rye, and cane syrup with an undiscernable and subdued spice presence than in the nose. Finishes with a slight lactic twang, hop bitterness, mild citrus hops, and lingering chocolate and coffee flavors. Mouthfeel is really to thin and a little too bubbly for this. Not watery, just not all I think it could or should be. Goes down really fast, but this would be a lot more drinkable if it were more substantial. Wish I would've gotten this fresh almost a year ago.

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Photo of Brewlore
3.89/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 12oz bottle into a Tulip glass. Pours a very dark burnt red/brown color with very minimal tan colored head that barely sticks around yet lingers around the edges of the glass. Fairly nice lacing.

Smells like winter! Notes of pine and citrus. Very nice and refreshing scent to this brew.

Tastes like winter as well. The toasty malts hit you first along with some light spices and then some decent hops kick in to give it that needed bitterness. Very pleasant drink.

Feels very light in the mouthfeel department. Has light carbonation, a very smooth feeling and leaves a little bite at the end.

Very drinkable. Not to heavy and all the ingredients blend well together. Quite a good match for the Holiday season.

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Photo of Derek
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black with a tan head; very little retention or lace (may be due to its age).

S: Molases, dark ginger-bread, dark raisins, pine, vanilla, brown sugar, touch of sherry.

T: Plenty of flavour for it's weight: molases; dark bread (a little rye and christmas fruit cake?); lightly spiced (noticable, but not identifiable... nutmeg & ginger?); brown sugar; pine (presumably from the hops); dark chocolate. Balanced slightly to the bitter side, with faint hints of a roasted tartness in the finish.

M: Moderate body is somewhat creamy but chalky; carbonation on the light side of moderate.

D: Not overly warming, but that makes it all the more drinkable!

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Photo of dblinkhorn
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Drank this beer the same night of review, so it's nearly one year aged (in dark refrigeration the whole time).

Appearance - Has a three finger dark tan head that is very creamy. . It has supremely good lacing all the way down. The beer is a reddish brown color that is very clear, with only slight haze.

Smell - Smells like the Christmas season. There are notes of clove, nutmeg, and pine (juniper ?) on the nose. Molasses and some caramel also play a small role in the aroma. The malt character is rich and toasted, very doughy. Some semi-crisp hops character that has a hint of citrus to it. Little alcohol presence in the smell.

Taste - Rich, toasted, bready malt mixed with some wet and oily bitterness from the hops. Again some juniper flavor is there, along with clove, but it is more in the background than it was in the smell. A nice mix of sweet and sourness is also present. A strong influx of pine comes in just before the finish. It has a slightly earthy and oily hops finish to it, and becomes a bit bitter in the aftertaste. What an excellent and unique taste.

Mouthfeel - Medium- to full-bodied with a very smooth texture. Medium and refreshing carbonation. There is no bite at all, but the carbonation is still of decent intensity.

Drinkability - Has a very winter season feel to this brew. Probably the best winter brew I've had, since it truly tastes like the season. Nothing is overpowering or undesirable about this beer. Good drinkability.

What a wondeful winter ale. This thing really tastes like a Christmas beer. I love the piney/juniper taste and smell to this beer. Also, the toasted malt character reminds you of Christmas dinner. Highly recommended!

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Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
3.84 out of 5 based on 277 ratings.
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