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 sinistermadman
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark crimson with a creamy, nut colored head which retains well.

Smell: Quite spicy. Candy, cinammon, brown sugar and caramel all come to mind.

This brew has a medium body with a juicy mouthfeel. Quite smooth and creamy. Taste is overlayed with hops, ginger snap cookies, iron and faint chocolate notes with an earthy malt balance.

Good drinkability with a pleasant spicy taste. Cheers.

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Photo of BeerNutta
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Anchor Chrismas Ale.

A = Poured out of the bottle a dark brown with a thin light brown head.

S = Smelt of a unique blend of caramel and citric fruits and spices with a hint of wet sock thrown in.

T = Initial sweet malty taste. Then the spices like nutmeg kick in finished off by a slightly hop finish.

M = Very nice mouthfeel. Slightly more fuller feel gives you a velvet moutfeel.

D = Good.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I love Anchor's offerings that I've had before, so I decided to pick this up and give it a try for the holidays. It was very interesting, and certainly one of the toughest beers that I've ever had to pinpoint, when it came to tasting, reviewing, and summarizing. Nevertheless, it was very enjoyable to drink!

Poured a deep brown with some burnt orange around the edges as I held it up to the light. Not a lot of head and even less lacing, which followed the level of the beer as it made it's way down my glass. Lots of toffee flavor here with some hints of caramel, chocolate, and malt - this is very deep, dark, and warming. Certainly not for those who want a kick out of their brew or anything terribly complex, even though the aftertaste has a slight bitterness to it that dimishes within 5 or 10 seconds. It's not a simple beer, but there aren't layers of taste that are discovered as it warms up over time or lingers after each taste or swallow.

A very nice mouthfeel is this beer's best aspect, and it's not quite as solid as their flagship Anchor Steam or the Liberty Ale (which I was quite font of as well!). That being said, this is a more than sufficient winter warmer and a joy to behold at a nice, smooth pace. Stone and Sierra Nevada are probably regarded as the Golden State's best microbrews, but this seasonal helps Anchor claim legitimacy to the "holy trinity" of California beers in my eyes. Certainly worth a try!

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Photo of geexploitation
4.19/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very tasty winter beer. Poured from a magnum bottle, the color of this brew is a dark mahogany. The head is fluffy, off-white, and responsible, in part, for the best characteristic of this brew: the nose. The nose is a wonderful mix of allspice, nutmeg, and a bit of cinnamon, laid over a warm, inviting sweetness. It's like sniffing a particularly delicious cookie.

The taste is good, but a bit of a let-down from the nose. The sweetness implied by the nose does not materialize, but is replaced by a balanced blend of sweetness and (this is Anchor Brewing, after all) hops. This brew goes down quite smoothly, and does not seem as high in alcohol as I thought it would. It does leave its mark in the morning, though. :)

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Photo of SheepNutz
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep ruby red, almost black color with three huge fingers of medium tan head. There's lots of sticky lacing left on the glass. The smell is rich and malty, with lots of sweet toffee character and some piney spices. Almost seems there's a hint of rosemary in there. A very full aroma. The taste is very spicy and malty up front. There's lots of pine character in this year's batch. It's almost like drinking tree sap! The spice character dulls out fairly quickly, leaving almost nothing of an aftertaste, too bad. The mouthfeel is just a little light and watery. The drinkability is good though. Another solid Christmas Ale from Anchor.

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Photo of clvand0
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a brown color with some red around the edges with a moderate head that falls slowly and leaves some lacing on the glass. The aroma has a lot of dark malt character with spice and has a big bunch of ginger that smacks you across the nose. The flavor is comprised of dark fruit, ginger, dark malts. Interesting. Mouthfeel is on the heavy end of medium and the drinkability is just ok ... these spiced beers aren't really my forte.

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Photo of BeerAngel
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours very dark brown with no hazing and nearly no head. It produced merely a thin layer that dissipated rapidly leaving only a ring where the beer meets the glass. The aroma consists of hints of chocolate, raisins, & spices. The taste revealed more of the aroma along with a slight licorice taste that isn't too overwhelming. I'm not a fan of licorice, but I can see where those that are, might adore this quality. This is a medium-bodied beer that finishes slightly bitter-sweet. OSA 05 would be quite nice for the season in which it is intended. Cheers!

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Photo of wingnutter
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Dark colored. Nice head.

Smells a bit spicy...holiday spicy.

Taste is smooth and balanced....sweet holiday spice - pumpkin pie, nutmeg, cinnamon, coffee....If I lived where it snowed I would probably appreciate this beer a bit more, but being in Florida, Im more partial to non-spiced winter ales.

Halfway through the glass, it gets even smoother and the flavors blend better. Has a porter-like feel to it at the end of the glass. Not a bad beer at all. Anchor makes some pretty good beers, and this is no exception.

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Photo of JISurfer
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is one good beer. Why? Well, it's got a good WW taste/smell, something that most WW's try to strive for. The head on this bad boy was crazy! Very frothy and soild all the way through. Very dark amber body, almost black. The smell was nice and spicey, with hints of pine, as well as a very strong malt scent. The taste was just as good. Just a little more taste in the spicey/malty area. Overall a great Christmas beer. This is one that I'll keep going back for every year. It's neat to see what it'll taste like from year to year.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep rubyied color, bordering on brown, with a finger of head that falls to a very light full coat over top. The nose is apparent without really sticking my nose in it. There are big gingerbread notes. Good thick molasses with a piney undertone that really smells nice. I also get nutmeg and allspice. Flavor is more caramel sweet and chocolatey and less thick than the nose would imply. Spices are also more subdued. The most subdued version of this beer that I can recall. Feel is a very full moderate with a moderate carbonation as well. Drinkability is good here. The caramel and chocolate are nice and full with the other flavors playing in the background. I dig it.

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a single at Riley's here in Madison.

Pours a beautiful coffee black with a dark brown frothy creme brulee head. Nose is potent gingerbread, spices, and interestingly enough - bubblegum. Taste is surprisingly chocolatey for a winter warner, but then again this is much darker than the typical WW - along with the typical sweet, malty, Christmas cookie flavor. Mouthfeel is thick and smooth. This was a unique warmer/porter that fits the season quite well.

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

This beer pours nearly black, with a nice tan head. Looks like a porter.
The nose is herbal and spicy. Taste is also very spicy, with notes of cinnammon, nutmeg and coffeeish flavors too. This is one of my favorite winter seasonals and I try to pick up at least a six pack every year. I'm looking forward to aging a couple of bottles to see how it matures after a year or so.

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Photo of burnstar
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a very dark opaque brown with a big tan head. It has a distinctive wintery aroma, malty with spicy notes - cinnamon especially. There is some noticable hoppiness as well. The taste is mostly smooth and heavy roasted maltiness with many wintery spicy notes. A bit of pine hoppiness is present in the finish to balance out the brew. Good but not quite as flavorful as I had hoped from the smell. This beer has a nice creamy mouthfeel. It's fairly drinkable but I wouldn't want to drink too much of this at once.

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Photo of Dubblebock
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is my third year drinking the Anchor OSA, following stellar 2003 and 2004 vintages. The OSA is the one winter warmer that I ALWAYS make sure to include in my 'fridge come the holiday season. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without it now. The presentation is nice as usual, the broad tree on the label looking inviting and regal. It's a truly pagan beer, the neck label extolling the virtues of the winter solstice.

But, hmmm...I have to admit that this year's version is a bit off compared to the previous versions that I've sampled. There's less reliance on pine character and more emphasis on spiciness and hoppiness.

The pour is fantastic, though. Dark and dense in body, the beer tops off with a rich head of tightly compacted foam. The nose is good but not overwhelming.

The taste is unusual. Not as malty as previous versions, the 2005 OSA seems to be relying on less pine resin and more on nut and clove flavors to make it's holiday case. There's a hint of ginger there, and a strange bitterness on the back of the tongue that sort of takes away from the initial warmth in the mouth. The bitterness gets even more pronounced as the beer warms, making for a less than completely satisfying journey to the bottom of the mug.

I have to give this one middling scores for mouthfeel and drinkability. I'll probably cellar one or two and see if things even out over a period of months. As is, it's a good but not great addition to the series.

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Photo of dawg
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I've been enjoying this seasonal for the past few years. The 2005 pours dark amber and looks like an anchor (head, lace, pour). I tried this years from the bottle, in a wine glass, and in a stout glass. I prefer the bottle (not sure why but the anchor bottle seems to compliment this one). The aroma of the 2005 reminds me of fruitcake, cinammon, followed up with some hops and fruit. I didn't save any 2004 for comparison however I recall that the 04 was maltier, not as spicy. While the 2005 has a good and unique character, I recall that the prior years were more drinkable. I do think that the 2005 has a better aroma than I recall from prior years. Hopefully I can save a few for next year.

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Photo of budgood1
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours out a nearly opaque dark brown colour with ruby and crimson hues. short lived tan head. touches of lace. big ole pine and spruce aroma....lots of rich maltiness. smells like OSA. upon tasting...oh, this is gonna be hard to describe...a definite spicy, minty flavour envelops my tastebuds followed by a definite hoppiness that is welcome. choco and caramel maltiness hold up the foundation well. anise, black licorice, nutmeg, prunes...maybe you could say this is liquid puree of gingerbread and oatmeal raisin cookies. yeasty and velvety with a smooth mouthfeel and ample body are nice. preliminary thoughts are that i much prefer this to last years rendition but probably not as good as two years ago...this being only the third i've had the pleasure of consuming this winter seasonal. i believe i have some cellaring so i might have to do some comparisons. finishes feverishly festive. warms and satisfies. i like it...i'm gonna drink a few more tonite and see where it goes as my six pack warms a bit.

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Photo of EPseja
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this one from both a 12oz bottle as well as a magnum (which I prefer), so this review is a concatenation of both experiences.

Served in a pint glass at just below cellar temperature.

A - Pours a clear, deep chestnut color, spawning a creamy medium tan head that rises to a respectable two fingers. The head remains for quite some time, setting its hooks into the side of the glass as a base for some beautiful lacing. A fine looking brew indeed.

S - Ah, there's that good old OSA smell... for some reason, even though each year's batch is different, there is still that common Anchor smell -- clean, crisp, and wintery. Warm, roasted malts with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, offset by a blanket of piney hoppiness. Hints of vinous alcohol are also present, but in amounts small enough to keep it from being a detractor. This beer smells delicious and inviting like a warm fire on a chilly night.

T - The first thing in the mouth is a fire-ember smokiness that belies a rauchbier tone. This is quickly supplanted by a full-bodied but clean maltiness. The swallow brings out notes of dark, dried fruit and finishes up with a great hoppy dryness that rounds out the flavors. This is one tasty brew.

M - Fairly active carbonation that leads to a tinge of over-sudsing in the mouth. However, this beer remains creamy and smooth despite that one shortcoming.

D - Happy New Year! Now pick a good winter beer and stick with it for the rest of the evening. No problems. I've got my Anchor OSA right here and I intend to savor it all night long. Unless of course you'd like a sip... in which case I'd be glad to spread the word like a good BA.

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Photo of Tupperwolf
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Writing this from my (mostly mental) notes -

Pours a brownish color with red-amber notes when held up to the light; An average tannish head, minimal lacing.

Earthy, seriously spicy notes in the scent. Like sticking my face into Mom's spice cabinet and taking a whiff. Cinnamon, moss, brown sugar, plum.

Similar flavors; A well-rounded sweet-bitterness focusing on warming spice and fruit notes. My first thought is that this is really earthy and natural tasting, like a walk in the woods. Pine needles, coriander, plums.

Pretty good mouthfeel; Medium carbonation, some sleek carmally aftertaste left behind.

Okay drinkability, maybe a little pungent. I had a couple of these in a row and the Winter Warmer flavors get a little intrusive after some time. This is a great beer in rotation. Cheers to Anchor!

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Photo of Freshie
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I am drinking this now a bit late in the Winter Warmer season. Maybe my palate is too worn down by similar winter brews, but this year's vintage just seems a little too bland. After all I have been drinking Harpoon, Sam's, and other holiday creations for over a month now.

The appearance is dark caramel brown, and pours a generous head, and laces nicely. It smells rich in maltiness.

The taste is alright with some cinnamon, citrus and caramel flavors, but I feel overpowered by a dark roasted highlights in the malt. The aftertaste lingers a bit too long.

I wish I had gotten to this one sooner.

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

I've been following this interesting annual offering since 1999, and I think this year's edition is probably the most drinkable fresh that I've tried. Largely foregoes the sprucy resin that has dominated some of the editions, focusing this year on a bigger spiced malt character. Fruitcake spices with notes of buckwheat and a touch of dark roast coffee. A bit of the spruce resin is there, but a mere shadow of the past. More like an OSA with a year or two under its belt, and some similarity to Rogue's Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale. Curious as to where this one will go in a year or two.

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Photo of GreenWBush
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Relative placidity of pour, intense brown towards black. Smallest coating of head that leaves bubbled, striated beads of lace.

Nose hints initially at cherries, wet oak, cinnamon, vanilla, gingerbread, fruitcake, molasses. Builds to brown-sugar filled conclusion.

Strange tart/fruit notes on palate and body that make OSA a challenging beer for those who aren't big on herbed/spiced beers...but much more approachable this year. I'm digging on the taste even though the body and character are a bit lighter this year than last.

Sort of like the beer version of the chocolates with mysterious pink goo inside. Brown ale-esque maltiness beside fruitcake intensity. Pumpkin meat.

Mouthfeel relatively thin but enough to fill you up on a warm winter's evening.

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Photo of Illinick
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The O.G. of the Christmas/Winter ale.
A: Extremely dark chestnut, close to black. Tan head that dissipates fairly quickly to ring and island formation.
S: Aromatic spice-cinnamon, nutmeg, nut scents, and a faint hint of dark fruits with a roasted smell also.
T: Spicy, nutty flavor, malty. A flavorful spice bouquet-ginger, spicy, some cinnamon. Also, some dark fruits peek up in the background with some earthy flavors. Overall the spice is the real winner here.
MF: light but smooth with a nice spicy bite.
Overall: This year's offering is solid, but nothing special. Heavy spice bouquet is the real winner. Still worth the get every year.

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Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle from my friend Ira.

Pours a dark brown with some crimson highlights. Has a tan head that fades. Decent lacing on the glass.

Aroma of chocolate, roasted grains, and a spicy piney scent that I just can't quite place. Spruce, perhaps?

Taste of chocolate and roated grain upfront, which is slightly bitter. This is followed by that piney spiciness which finishes out with a hop bitterness. I like the combination of flavors, but it seems a little on the young side. I hope that these flavors mellow and blend more with some age.

Body seems thin. Could use a little more uumph...

Decent at this point, I can drink it wth no resistance. We'll see what I think again in 12 months.

 701 characters

4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - 1/4" tan, creamy head. Hangs around nicely until it finally falls to a spotted cap. Dark brown - porter like in appearance. Great sheet of lace.

S - Spice cake. Cinamon. Orange. Ginger. Nutmeg. Clove. Rich.

T - Malt. Sweet. Spices. Ginger. Clove. Molasses cookie.

M - Full, creamy mouthfeel.

D - Very, very nice.

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

another year and always look for this one, and finally found
it to ring in the NEW YEAR. As always this excellent brew
has just a hint of pine or spruce and a delicious blending of
many spices. It has some hoppy kick, but not so much to
over power the blend of fruity spice and malts. Its a dark rich ale brew
that could put some off with its smell but its a special end of
the year tastey concoction that I really enjoy.

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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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