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

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
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 | website

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.

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 240 | Ratings: 276
Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.67/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Pours a thick, almost opaque brown with a creamy, brown head. Generous lacing down the glass.

Smell is wonderful. Definitely smells like the winter season. Cloves, cinnamon, lots of nutmeg, gingerbread men. All of the aromas of the season. I love these spiced/ fruit beers. This one smells great; lets hope the rest translates.

Taste was a bit of a letdown. A littlw watery. Not very balanced. It seems the cinnamon and nutmeg are a bit overwhelming. With time, I assume it would mellow and taste a lot better. I do taste some chocoalte in there as well.

Right now, this beer needs more balance or more of a malt backbone. A little watery and pretty thin bodied. Give this one time and I think it would turn out great. Looks and smells great, the rest didnt add up.

 830 characters

Photo of dreadnatty08
3.49/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a pitch dark, slightly translucent brew with a bubble soda like head that lingers just long enough to get some aroma out. Aromas of baking spices like cinnamon, cardamom and licorice. Flavors basically mirror the aroma with a particular sweetness which I'm not really enjoying. Hops are nowhere to be found, and the spices and "natural flavorings" dominate the flavor. Carbonation is medium; alcohol makes quite a presence at the end, I'd guess around 7%. This is just a bit too overly spiced, not so enjoyable and suffers dramatically with drinkability. Tastes very much like a Coke with alcohol added, not so pleasant.

 626 characters

Photo of Reidrover
4.06/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wonderful looking ale here..dark brown with crimson and ruby accents and a totally gorgeous creamy "coffee n’ creme" coloured head..beautiful. Aroma is slightly fruity, hints of spice and treacle, slightest hint of hop. Thate taste is of dark maltiness, prunes come most to mind, then "mincemeat pies and orange peel, then a very dark roasted coffee, prune juice finishes off the mouthful..slight peppery aftertaste. Very good on the palate..quite invigorating. I really liked this and think it might age even better..truelly a Christmas Pudding in a beer glass!

 563 characters

Photo of orfeu
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle. Glowing transparent burgundy with a fluffy beige head. Aromas of cloves, cinnamon, and orange pulp, maybe allspice, too. Cloves predominate and lend this beer one of it's most unique and fascinating characteristics. The aforementioned "holiday" spices emerge in the taste (yet again, cloves are the strongest and most recognizable flavor), but an orange-lime juice acidity emerges as well. Initially airy and light, the mouthfeel follows through as primarily juicy. Medium-thin body. Not as roasty, malty, or heavy-bodied as other winter seasonals, but Anchor's offering is always interesting, and at best quite intriguing and tasty. I'm looking forward to next xmas already.

 690 characters

Photo of Jason
4.17/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle with a coded freshness date.

A- Raw black leather color, entrenched tan lace leaves a trail all the way down the glass.

S- Chocolate covered blood orange wedges, candied fruit, X-mas pudding and molasses cookies all come to mind.

T&M- Smooth and crisp, slightly refreshing carbonation bounces off of the medium body. Layers of dry malt from bready to toasted grain to dark chocolate. Mild twang of fruitiness, balanced hop bitterness with a thin layer of spice in the dry finish.

D- Interesting enough to keep me around for a session and complex enough for me to pair with a nice cloved ham.

 616 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a dark dark brown body with a tan head that leaves splasy lacing all over the place

Smell: Gingerbread, dark chocolate, prunes and nutmeg

Taste: Starts out with a dark fruity, spicy (ginger and nutmeg) compote; mid-palate, some bitterness kicks in along with a molasses bent; the overall effect is a subtle blend of dark chocolate and licorice

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: This is a great vintage year for Anchor; it really comes together for me

 511 characters

Photo of alexgash
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Chestnut brown to dark brown/black with a dense frosting of creamy tan head. Eggnog, nutmeg, cinnamon, sweet figs, vanilla. Very spice-laden, but not phony. Smells like xmas to me. There’s a faint reminder of shoe polish though, which is weird. Starts off with roasted caramel and singed brown sugar. Maybe a bit of chocolate graham cracker and hazelnut. Spices follow, with cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and cloves there. Slightly astringent herbal bitterness that adequately balances the fruitcake sweetness. A bit like a spiced porter if you ask me. Good, if a bit spicy. Medium-bodied, with a syrupy feel. Not bad for a very spiced beer.

 639 characters

Photo of stouty1
3.35/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Very spicey pour with no head retention. I smell the chocolate malt and caramel, together with spices. Almost too many spices, but I guess that makes it a Winter Warmer, but they could have spared some of the spice. Not much mouthfeel, almost a flat tatse of spice and chocolate malts. Not the most impressive Winter Ale I have tried.

 334 characters

Photo of ericj551
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep red, light barely visable throughout, with a small brownish white head. I smell sweet malts and spices, no hops at all. There is some fruitiness in the smell. The spices slightly dominate the taste, although I taste a raison maltiness, and some darker malts, followed by a nice hop bitterness. The aftertaste is mostly fruits and spices. This is a nice beer for the holidays, and I don't think this bottle has suffered since the season. I wouldn't enjoy it as much in July, but it definitely has its place as a winter warmer.

 538 characters

Photo of VoodooBrew
3.56/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Spice is, not surprisingly, the dominant feature of this holiday offering from Anchor. Sweet pine and spice feature on the nose of this attractive, deep chocolate brown beer. The front of the palate is sweet, with spices that suggest chai tea, and the finish is bitter and quite long.

 284 characters

Photo of Fish113d
3.54/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

*On-tap served into a pint glass chilled.

Pours a dark brown color (chestnut) with a slight tan edge layer. Nothing remotely interesting.

Aroma is mostly of spices (nutmeg) with a weak bit of chocolate on the nose, and maybe a tiny bit of hops. Kinda weak all around.

Sipping reveals some bitter chocolate falvors with very little sweetness to it (baker's choco. IMO). A slight nutmeggy flavor also on the swallow with some slight pine hops flavors (cascade) and a tad bit of alcohol drying this one up just a bit.

The carbonation is very sharp and stings my tongue pretty good. Medium-bodied with a hint of alcohol. Slightly creamy with a tiny bit of drying on the finish.

Overall, this is not my favorite from Anchor, but it was decent. I'd like to sample one from a bottle at home instead next time.

 817 characters

Photo of swid
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Anchor Our Special Ale 2005 pours a near-black color into my pint glass; only a scattering of deep ruby are picked up when the glass is held up to the light. Atop the nearly opaque liquid sits a 1/2", dark tan head that quickly dissipates. Low carbonation, little lacing. The smell is a mix of caramel, coffee, and assorted herbs and spices, along with a sweet presence that I can't quite pin down to any particular aroma.

The taste of this beer is also big and malty; as expected, the caramel, coffee, and chocolate flavors predominate. The initial taste is very sweet; it takes a couple seconds for the (relatively restrained) bitterness to come through. When it does, it's as a mixture of the spices and the hops. The amount of alcohol in this beer is best classified as "sneaky". The mouthfeel is very smooth and silky, with just the right level of fullness. Finishes with a very pleasant sweet/roasted/bitter aftertaste.

Overall, while each of its elements are a bit underwhelming when considered alone, Anchor has made a decent winter beer. I should have bought another bottle to hold back until summer...

 1,117 characters

Photo of nvsblman
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed as part of vertical tasting including '03, '04, and '05 versions in Jan 2005.

Nearly opaque dark brown with about a finger of slightly brown head. Brown sugar, pine, coffee, and spices in the aroma. A little more aromatic than the older versions. The flavors already seem to be blending well with this one! Roasty malts, caramel, and spruce with some nice cinnamon and nutmeg notes. Meduim bodied and well carbonated. This is already drinking so well I'm not sure that there's much room to improve this with age.

 524 characters

Photo of jameaterblues
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was the first Anchor OSA that I have ever had. It was also the first spiced beer that did not overwhelm me. A friend's father sent it to me when they came to visit....I really wish I had a whole six pack.

The color of the beer was a dark brown/blackish tint...with a head that remained me of the anchor porter. This beer was much darker than I expected it to be, but that ended up being a good thing.

The smell was nice and roasty...the malt was very much prevalent, and the spicing really did remind me of the holidays....even though I was trying to be done with them.

Taste also remained me of a porter, but not quite as heavy. It had a nice cinnamon and spice flavor in the body and the finish. It was very nice medium to heavy body, and was slightly heavy on the stomach.

Drinkability: I really wished that I had more of this beer, especially to save for next year. If you can still find it I highly recommend giving it a try.

 951 characters

Photo of Drew966
4.6/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep, dark brown with a thick fluffy tan head from a twelve ounce brown bottle. I dig the tree labels (I might even have to get me a copy of the poster they sell that pictures all of them over the years). Aroma is of malt and spice. I really like the 2005 version, it's quite tasty. Nice, creamy mouthfeel. I had to search out a case of this, it's not too easy to find where I'm at, it was well worth it, and I imagine I'll do the same come next year. Highly recommended.

 479 characters

Photo of murrayswine
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is some damn fine beer!

Poured a lot darker than I thought it would, a blood ruby with brown murk. Very good head retention.
The smell is subtle candy sweetness, light, airy malts, and a slight English style hop sense, I smell Fuggle, though I have no idea what the hops really are.
The taste is slightly tart at first, like a dubbel. Sweet with yeast. low dark fruits and a slight nutty toffee finish round this beer out.
Damn fine brew!

 449 characters

Photo of acrawf6
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was cellaring this one, but i didnt know the alc./vol and decided tonight i'll crack it open in case it sucks 10 months from now.

Pours out a deep dark brown, barely any light through. A red amberish and clear color comes through when brought up to the light. Tan head about an inch high comes up and went down a little quick, but still lots of bubbles to show. decent lacing.

Smell is very interesting. very natural smelling, a little bit of menthol tobacco jumps out to me. is malty and has some very interesting spices. little bit of vanilla, touch of clove, and a tiny bit of sweet cinnoman.

Taste is different. I do taste the hops in this, but didnt smell them. Vanilla taste comes out with some spicyness kick. A touch of the alcohol during the swallow and follows in the aftertaste. earthy spices, a bit of pine, but not as much as 04's. a little clean medicinal taste to it as well.

Mouthfeel is ok. I had a few bottles before about 3 months ago, and i didnt think their mouthfeel was any good, but i think that little bit of time helped. This one is decent; decent balance with some good carbonation. Is slightly on the full side.

Overall, is an interesting brew, i liked this one on tap a little more, but i think giving it a few months to sit helped. Its good but not as good as last years, imho. maybe i better review last years if i find the notes i might have made for it.

 1,403 characters

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

I missed a few years- good to catch up.

The tan head over black looked Porterlike. A fine compact head yielded waves of light to darker foam not unlike a weather map.

The aroma was not pronounced but there was some fruitiness (plum) and earth smells.

Taste largely echoed the aroma- intriguing but not overpowering.

The finish was clean making this year fulfilling but not overly filling.

Aging may bring out the nuances of fruit, malt and spice.

Happy New Year to the good folks in san Francisco.

 515 characters

Photo of whartontallboy
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark-ruby mahogany pour with brilliant red edges and a medium-sized root-beer head.

Aroma is full of pine, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, and a bit of ginger. Maybe even a little wintergreen in there. It's a big aroma.

Flavor is well-spiced, but not overdone. The same spices you smell come through even more clearly, with the pine/spruce flavors and a Christmas-cookie ginger flavor coming in as well. Sweet, but not overly done.

Overall: A pretty good effort, not as overwhelming as I thought last year's was out of the gate, but I wonder if this one will age as well. It will be fun finding out.

 602 characters

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

This is one of those beers that I always seem to enjoy the appearance off. Dark brown with a good size tan head. Year in and year out.

Smell is lacking this year. Not much there at all. Seems to be a big brown all, in terms of smell. Actually, some Belgian notes come through. Dates, figs and raisins but not much spice which is what I have come to expect.

After my first taste, this is a very different year. Seems to be smaller than other years. Some malty chocolate notes and again the figs and raisins show up. VERY light in terms of the spice and overall flavor. I pick up some weird sour notes in the end. I don't remember that.

Not a great year in my opinion and I don't think this will last for very long.

 723 characters

Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.33/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I try to pick this up every year. I applaud a brewery that will openly state they change the recipe every year. That said, I sampled this brew and found it has changed some from what I remember. Poured a nice black color with a mild head. This years batch seems to definitely stand on the malt base more so than prior years. Theres a good balance of toffee flavor here with hints of caramel, cinamon and nutmeg.

this is a nice drinkable winter spiced ale. It is a well balanced medium bodied example of the style. It satisfies nicely without trying to be extreme in any particular area. I would prefer a larger bottle than the 12oz but I'm just happy to be able to find it in NH.

 682 characters

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

Half a shade from black. Very very dark brown with slim edges of red shining through. Aggressive pour leaves a slightly disappointing one finger head but the thick sticky lacing makes up for it. Huge spicy nose! Freshly baked gingerbread cookies and cinnamon. Slight chocolatey malt smell in the back. The first thing I notice is how smooth and creamy this brew is. Wow. This feels heavenly on the mouth. Little bit of a chocolate malt taste to this one with faint hidden spices. This has to be one of the sweetest alcohol tastes I've ever experienced. It's almost fruity. The palate is mostly spice. Thirty-one thanks go out to hero27 for this wonderful brew.

 660 characters

Photo of wl0307
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

355ml brown bottle, 5.5%abv., BB SEP07. Served cool in a large tulip-shaped wine glass.

A: deep brownish to almost black colour, with mahogany silhouette against light~~ effervescent, creamy tan head with superb retention, on top of very gentle and fine carbonation.
S: treacles and oriental black-suger dominate the nose, on top of very rich mixed spice (licorice, cinnamon stick, a touch of mint), sweet coffee-flavoured toffee, creamy and semi-smoked malts, and aromatic fruity overtone mixed of dried dates and a touch of port... vertically-structured nose and all complex aromas are threaded nicely together~~
T: creamy-textured dark malts hit the palate upfront, with touches of fortified wine, lots of flat-textured dark fruits, leading towards a cold-coffee-ish and unsweetened dark chocolatey aftertone decorated with bitter spices (led by cinnamon+nutmeg) and lightly toasted wood-chips at the deep end of the palate; mild but reasonably lingering bitter finish, whilst remaining quite clean and light. Not bad, though not as promisingly complex as the aroma.
M&D: this beer remains soft on the mouthfeel but the body is surprisingly thin, much thiner than the aroma suggests. Not a bad X'mas beer, though a little heavier malty presence could better balance the weight IMO.

 1,290 characters

Photo of MarineHokie
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark, dark clear mahoghany color. Massive tan head with flecks and swirls of white foam sloooowly fades to a thin layer leaving quite a bit of lace.

S - Malt sweetness and faint cinnamon, coffee chocolate aromas.

T - Bittersweet chocolate, toffee, and cinnamon flavors. Starts bitter, rounds and sweetens mid quaff, then leaves a dark-chocolate like finish.

M - Medium body, crisp bitter finish.

D - This beer shines with food. First had OSA on-tap this year with a cheese plate @ Grammercy Tavern in NYC. Absolutely killer! Follow-on OSA's have not measured up in awesomeness...This review is of a 12 oz bottle at home sans cheese plate.

 654 characters

Photo of BillyB
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tried a 12 oz. bottle of Anchor's 31st "Our Special Ale".
Pours dark brown to black, almost opaque with a thick tan head.
Lots of spices; cinnamon, nutmeg, typical winter beer spices. More like a stout than a warmer.
Slight piney hop aroma like a christmas tree. Roasty/toasty.
Mouthfeel is stout like, full bodied. Not too carbonated. A little tingle on the tongue.
Nice bitter sweet balance leaning toward sweet. Deep rich maltiness balanced out by a piney bitterness.

 477 characters

Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 276 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!