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

Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Liked This Beer
3.85 w/ 277 ratings
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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Ratings: 277 |  Reviews: 240
Photo of mynie
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

There is something that sets this warmer above the rest, something that will make it forever popular in certain groups, will have others refer to is a "holiday classic," while still others will claim it indispensable, the greatest of its style. That something is price, and it's what Anchor's annual holiday ale has in spades. I've never reviewed it before because of its price, because I'm not "beer enough" to spend twelve big ones on a six pack, but I was fortunate enough to find a store that sold it by the single bottle and so doled out nearly three dollars for the privilege of supping 12 ounces of this storied concoction.

The verdict? Good, not great.

Pours very dark, about as nice a pour as this style is capable of. Nice foamy brown head that stays for a little while.

Dark brown malt dominates the nose. Hollyspice, almost synthetic like a green and red aerosol can. Ginger, gingerbread men molasses cookies.

Very spicy and sweet flavor. Ginger and black licorice against a sweet malt. A very strange chemical finish leaves the taste of scented candle wax in my mouth (yes, I have tasted scented candle wax), and serves to knock the whole beer down a peg.

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Photo of skynxnex
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a light brown head and a nearly opaque body with red highlights. Leaves good lacing.

Smell is of spices: ginger, maybe caramelized sugar, and a touch of pine sap. Taste matches that along with roasty malt with hints of coffee and fairly mild hops until the end where a nice tingle of bitterness is left behind.

Creamy texture, but the flavors seem somewhat weak overall. Fine, small carbonation leave a dry feeling, but enjoyable.

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Photo of JanM
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Anchor Christmas Ale used to be my preferred brew for Christmas dinner but in the late 90's I moved over to dark Czechs and occasional English winter ales. The 2005 edition of Anchor Christmas Ale pours with a finger of latte colored foam. The color is dark red-brown, almost black.The semll is mostly of peach. The first taste is bitter followed by roasted malts and a lot of ginger. It feels a little sandy in the palate and flashes of the ginger shots back and forth in the mouth. It's pretty good but I prefer more body in a Christmas ale.

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Photo of WanderingFool
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I look forward to this beer every year and always anticipate that first sip. This year's Our Special Ale seems to come alive as it warms in the glass.

The beer pours a very dark brown, almost black, into the glass with some ruby hues around the edges. A thick creamy tan head sits on top before it slowly dissolves to a thick ring around the surface. A good amount of lace displayed in netting patterns clings to the sides as the beer empties.

An spicy aroma of ginger with hints of roasted malt greets you before each sip. This smooth, dry, medium bodied beer is packed with flavor. The flavor begins with some roasted malt before the spices quickly take over. It's mainly ginger, but there's some pine, nutmeg and cinnamon mixed in. It finishes slightly tart with a mild fruity (cherry?) flavor. It leaves a mildly spicy flavor behind.

Like I mentioned before, as the beer warms in the glass the flavors really begin to come out. At first I didn't think this beer had much of an aroma or flavor. It seemed like mostly malt, but as it warmed I was pleased with the complexity I found in this brew.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer pours a thick dark brown body that is opaque. The head is a dark tan with a hint of red to it. The head settles to a thin even layer.

S- The smell of sweet roasted and toasted malt is balanced with a slight hop bitterness and a very faint apple/pear note.

T- This beer starts with a roasted barley and roasted malt hint that is a little bitter like a dark lager. It finishes with a gentle hop bitterness. The taste is very smooth and a hint of sulfur in the finish. The finish also has a note of dark cherries with a slight bitter quality.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a good bit of fizz that makes it a bit more full.

D- This beer has subtle qualities but the fizz and slight bitterness at the finish interfere with the taste. Some nice qualities and some qualities I could do without.

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Photo of blackie
4.18/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: The pour produces a .3" tan head that gradually recedes, leaving a thin cover of bubbles over the surface. The beer is a very reddish mahogany in color. The dating code 5N1 is marked into the back label.

smell: Very very light chocolate character. There are plenty of woody and nutty aromas present. Some tamed ginger is present in the form of gingerbread. Not the stuff you get at the store, but the old fashined homemade stuff. Not much spice other than that, save for a light sassafrass note I am picking up. Getting a little EtOH in there too.

mouthfeel: Carbonation is a high medium and the body a little heavier than light. The high carbonation and light body could use a little work for a beer of this type.

taste: Lightly sweet with just the right hop bitterness. Very light flavors of bitter chocolate are in there and come out especially after the swallow. Seems pretty woody, oak comes to mind. Some flavors are reminsicent of the gingerbread I mentioned on the nose. The finish is pretty astringent, and is when I notice the tannins. Dry.

drinkability: ok, and not hard to put down

I drank this beer tonight to see if I should pick up another sixer while they are still available. I don't think I'll be doing that, but am curious to see how this ages.

11/05/06 - This beer ages very well. The wood, chocolate, malt, and spice have melded together so perfectly, with each making itself most prominent at a different time. Bumping smell up 1 point, taste up 1 point, mouthfeel and drinkability up 0.5 points...not because I believe it has changed THAT much, but because I must've not been in my right mind when first reviewing.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled December, 2005
Pours with a frothy, large bubbled, though thick, light brown colored head. The beer is a deep brown almost black color that has amber highlights to it when held up to the light. The aroma is much more focused on dark molasses notes and dark malt than the spices. The spices are here though, just a bit softer than in the past; definitely has a resinous, sharp, tree sap type character (perhaps a mix of pine, mint, menthol, and a vibrant character I don't know how to describe, is it the spruce). The aroma also has notes of milk chocolate, a bit of ginger, and a mix of spices that definitely reminds me of root beer.

The taste is pretty dry, but it does start out with a soft chocolate note, but quickly moves to a sharp spicy character. The dryness really plays up the spice character, though the finish has a long, lingering note reminiscent of the impurities found in molasses. Some how this beer seems slightly tart; which almost makes me think of tamarind, though I don't mean to say this was an actual ingredient. There is definitely a sort of resinous, almost mint like flavor (that coolness that mint has is here), and it mixes quite well with the chocolate notes.

I am not quite too sure how this will age; it is softer and quite drinkable now (this seems to be a trend the last couple of years), which is unlike the vintages from a couple of years ago on back. This is definitely still nice (though I could wish it was a bit fuller in the body) and it is always a treat every year.

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Photo of jaluria
4.45/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nearly black in color with a thick, light brown-colored head that stands the test of time. The viscosity of this beer seems to be considerable higher than most winter warmers. Aromas of ginger, maple syrup, candy, and various spices come out very nicely. The taste is just incredible with an enormous amount of sweetness that incredibly does not overpower the palate. The various spices blend seamlessly as the beer warms generating little perturbations in taste. This is definitely a rich and complex beer with great flavors and character. The aftertaste consists of a lingering sweetness that tends towards dryness. The drinkability is good, but not great because this beer is so intense in flavor and rich I wouldn't be able to handle more than 2 of these, but how enjoyable those 2 would be!

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Photo of ypsifly
3.93/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz poured into a pint glass.

Deep brown with a good sized head of light tan. Strong retention with layered webs of lace.

Smells sweet and spicy with some ginger and cinnamon, a little bit of chocolate, and some hop/pine aromas.

The mouth is a little lighter than years past. It also has more of a roasty-chocolate flavor upfront followed by the spices and a drying bitterness. Not as piney tasting as it has been in the past. After a few more sips some licorice starts to come through.

I like this version as it seems to break away from what the pattern has been over the last few years. The roasted malt and chocolate flavors give this years version a little more character. I'll buy more for sure.

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Photo of Dewey0603
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This looks like a porter when pouring with a large creamy tan head.This has a very piney spice filled aroma with some cranberry.The taste is very spice filled at first,but as it moves thru your mouth you can taste cranberries,coffee and carmel.The m/f isn't as balanced as I would like,but it is a pretty heavy beer.I don't know how many of these I could have,but it is a good holiday beer.Merry Christmas!

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Photo of Bcant
3.06/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2005 vintage.

Stout brown bottle, a botanical drawing of Quercus agnifolia. Poured into a large brandy snifter. Dark brown color with shads of deep red, nice clarity. Poured with a three finger head which dissipated but some lacing.

The bouquet is sweet, crème caramel and over ripe strawberries. The flavor is also sweet; toffee carries through the start and middle with some coffee bitterness at the end. Not at all the complex spiced flavor that I was expecting; not particularly sophisticated.

Mouthful is a torch sandy. Almost the sensation of an agitated bottle conditioned beer without the sediment. Still, it leaves the mouth dry enough, but not parched, to both enjoy the space between sips and call for wetting the palate.

Note: I am hesitant about posting this review. This is a beer that I have enjoyed for several years. Some years are better than others but until this year none have disappointed.

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Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
3.86/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I am interested to know if this beer is brewed the same way as the other Anchor beer, in the steaming method? Sure has that pressed taste. Varies considerably from other Winter Warmers I've had. Deep brown in color, almost opaque black (does that make sense?), awesomely formed head. I would assume this was a porter had this website not informed me differently. Interesting taste, does not remind me of a beer I'd like to cozy up to a fire too. Pretty malty, with a nice chocolate aftertaste. Actually is quite heavy.

A pretty good offering, defiantly not a session beer. Aren't the holidays all about sessions?!?!?!?!?!

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Photo of MattBrooks
4.14/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a minimal head, but some clarity. The nose explodes with spices like nutmeg and coriander. Very rich and interesting smells. Tastes almost apple-y with more spices from the nose continuing. Still, expected more spices based on the smell alone. The taste is good and I think the finish is just long enough although it could be a little heavier in the mouthfeel. Not overly spicy like some other holiday brews.

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Photo of oberon
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I always like many others look eagerly for this beer during the holiday season,poured a deep brown with e real deep red hue with a one finger almond colored head that settles nicely into a creamy top.Aromas of vanilla bean and molasses with an underlying roasted nut,wow the complexities and the boldness vanilla and roasted nuts up front with a touch of woodiness with a nice finish almost like gingerbread in the aftertaste wich is different but very nice.A nice smooth body feel but can get heavy after awhile,another winner this year Iam gonna hold one or two for awhile to see if they mello after a bit.

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Photo of LPorter33
3.46/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Purchased single bottle from Martignetti's

Appearance = beautiful dark brown, nearly black, with a tiny tinge of red. Good 1/2'' head, which fades quickly. looks extremely rich and wholesome.

Smell = Full of spice and floral scents. Lavender I believe dominates or some scent that one often finds in soap. It's a little too overpowering but pleasant.

Taste = Not a bad Winter warmer. Thick and malty with a nice balance of sweetness. The taste is dominated by the same floral smell. It's interesting although I don't think I'd want more than one.

Overall = a very good beer to sample one of. I think the drinkability isn't so great as it's a bit too strong in one direction but I recommend you try one.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This brew pours a solid opaque black color. The head is two-fingers high, creamy, tan and has good aretention. The aroma is of malt, ginger and other spices, and is rather strong. The taste is identical to the aroma. The mouthfeel is creamy and medium-full bodied with nice carbonation. Overall, this is a superb winter warmer.

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Photo of SurgeonGeneral
3.93/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Serving temp: 50F Serving glass: Pint glass

Aroma: Carmalized sweetness & maple syrup. Some freshly baked gingerbread cookies become more dominant as I savor the smell a bit longer.

Appearance: Beautiful deep crimson with a creamy tan head that receeds quickly leaving small amounts of lace.

Taste: A restrained sweetness come through at first in line with the maple/ginger combination mentioned above. A little spiciness ties the opening sweetness and finishing bitterness together pretty well. Good balance between all the elements, although the ginger is not a personal favorite.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with low/moderate carbonation & a creamy smoothness to it, yet finishing somewhat dry.

Drinkability: A good and unique brew, but perhaps a bit too unique for me. It certainly fits the holiday spirit, but the spice character of this brew make it difficult to have more than a couple per session.

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Photo of cokes
2.59/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Muddied blackened orange floating a sticky ecru mushroom.
Gingerbread and bread pudding nose, laid with fig jam, root vegetables, and cocoa powder.
Begins with a gingersnap maltiness that flees disjointedly towards sweeter things. Molasses draped sassafras, brown-sugared carob, orange paste, and date-heavy fruit cake. An astringency washes through midway, and is somewhat welcome, as it rids the mouth of the beginnings of cloy. Winds down with an uptick of ginger, and especially allspice, along with a notion of burnt potatoes, and concludes with a lazy impression spruce. Mentholated cherry preserves and singed gingersnap goop cling past the swallow.
The puffy body apes airiness up front, but soon gels into a coalgulated syrup, yet still maintaining a thin indistictness of structure. By the end of the first glass, I was working on finishing it, not enjoying it. Everything here seems to compete against itself.
The result is atonal and abrasive.
It should be noted that I've never been a big fan, and this year's will keep me off the bandwagon for another calendar year.

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Photo of Naes
3.03/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Almost black in color with a tall tan head.
The aroma is of malts and spice, mostly cinnamon.
The flavor has many unique tones. There is a malty base that gives way to the spices. Cinnamon, many other spices and a slight coffee flavor are the ones that jump out at me. The hops are not very intense, yet remain noticeable throughout.
Mouth feel is light bodied and generously carbonated.

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Photo of whynot44
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very dark reddish brown color with a substantial milk chocolate colored head that dissipates to just a collar fairly quickly.

Aroma is spicy, piney with a fruity dark malt background.

Taste starts sweet dark malt with caramel, apple and light molasses notes, then anise, chocolate and pine flavors kick in with a fairly dry, nutmeg and cinammon finish. Spicing and hops although pleasant, are a little sharp at the end.

Still easy enough to drink, medium/full bodied.

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Photo of nortmand
2.95/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours brown with a hint of red. Huge, fluffy brown head.

Smell is chocolate, allspice, fennel. Very nice.

Very astringent flavor. Not infected sour, just harsh roasted barley sour. The spices are hidden beneath the astringency. Not my cup of tea. Leaves a harsh hop bitterness that has no malty back bone.

Thin, watery mouth, very little body. The appearance and smell of this beer scream "huge", but then there is nothing. A thin, lifeless beer, I'm not sure what to make of it.

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Photo of czechsaaz
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very spicey aroma. Licorice maybe this year? Similar to past OSA in aroma. Not terribly hoppy, just a hint, some darker malt character and lots of spicey and yeasty esters. Very nice.

Dark brown, almost black, thick tan head. Does let some light through when held up and appears clear but it's dark enough to not really matter.

Rich and toasty, a generous amount of darker malts in there. Also has that slightly acidic flavor that comes from roast malts (think dry stout). I get licorice again in the spicing (Anchor never reveals the spicing from year to year). Fairly subdued spicing. Looking at my notes from the past few years, this was highly spiced (including huge spruce some years.) This is much more subtle. Sweet malty aftertaste, brown malt or mild malt flavor mostly.

A little light on the body but the rich flavor makes it seem pretty satisfying. Carbonation level is medium.

Very nice offering this year. It has enough of what I love about OSA but is a lot more tame than previous years. I could probably get the misses to drink this which I haven't been able to do before. (She comlains that it's too spicy) Probably not an ager like some other years versions but I'll try it anyway.

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Photo of kmcnair
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anchor Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2005 sampled from a 12oz bottle

First time I have tried this brew, and I gotta say it definitely puts me in the holiday spirit. Pours a nice dark espresso color and makes a bubbly tan head, laces nicely down the glass as I imbibe. Aroma is rich and malty with hints of dark chocolate and cherry. What a nice flavor too, this is like a liquid gingerbread cookie. Dark chocolate bitterness, nutmeg, ginger & cinnamon spices, caramel & a hint of dark dried fruit -- makes me want to go bake something. Peppery carbonation on the palate, medium bodied and has a dry finish, warms the soul a bit. Nice drinker this one, I'll definitely pick it up again next winter.

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Photo of cracgor
4.43/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A nice looking beer. Very dark brown with a flimsy tan head. Little bits of head stick to the glass. Smells really great. Strong chocolatey malts and a touch of sourness but a surprising spice in it. Sort of reminds me of Gingerbread cookies. I only wish I could taste it more in the flavor. The flavor is more straightforward, a nice chocolatey malt. The gingerbread flavor comes out in the back and as it warms up. Medium body. A little astringent. And just enough warmth to feel it in my stomach. This is very good. I enjoy drinking it very much. Hope to save a couple to try it out with age:-D

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Photo of mattcrill
3.91/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stubby brown twist-off bottle.

Appearance: A chocolate to deep ruby pour with a tight and thin tan cap.

Smell: Citrus, dark fruits, earthy notes, and just a touch of yeast noted.

Taste: Chocolate, cloves, with a touch of bitterness near the end. There is a nice wheaty base to this. A pine-like bitterness emerges as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with pleasant carbonation.

Drinkability: Much more balanced this year. Not a full on spice bomb assault like last year. Still, can't wait to compare them side by side. This is much better fresh than I've had in the past. With it's mild and balanced nature, I would be concerned that it would really lose something over time. Strongly recommended.

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Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 70.4% out of 100 with 277 ratings
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