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

very good
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 ElGordo
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brownish amber color with ruby highlights when held up to the light. A good inch of creamy tan head holds its own for a while before gracefully subsiding. Aroma of roasted dark malt, chicory, burnt brown sugar, and a touch of anise. Palate is held up by a backbone of dark roasted malt, accented by chicory, spruce, anise, some piny hops, and a bit of special Anchor yeast. Some more general spices that I can't really pinpoint. Body is slightly creamy and a good consistency for the flavors in this beer. I'm looking forward to comparing it to previous years in my vertical tasting later this week.

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

A 12 oz bottle courtesy of SQNfan.

A: The ale is amply carbonated, offering up 3 plus fingers of white head that slowly dissapate, leaving nothing in the wake. The ale is a dark red color, highlighted with crimson.

S: The aroma is very pungent, heavily spiced with nutmeg and orange peel. A hint of mint clears out the nostrils. Very heady and deep, could be spiced and mulled even.

T: Initially complex, the flavor quickly drops off leaving a mildly spiced dark ale. The nutmeg and orange hit the right notes, fully strong. They are a flash in the pan, quickly disappearing with only a mild nutmeg left behind. Dark malts try to fill the void, offering chocolate and coffee. The more I sip, the fuller it becomes. The big problem is the drop-off from spice to malts, it is too drastic and sudden without a decent buffer. The finish is nutmeg and mild hops.

M: The mouthfeel is complex, spicy and malty and mildly hoppy. The nutmeg upfront and wall of spice in the finish stand out.

D: The alcohol is mild, assisting the ale. The flavor profile is strong at times, a minus that balances things out.

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

Not a fan of the staple Anchor, but decided to give their seasonal a try...

Pours very deep mahogany, almost pitch. Not cloudy, but quite dark. Wisps of brownish head rim the top. Not very carbonated, but not flat either. Lacing is moderate. I was expecting more flavors to come forth from the nose, but it was a bit subdued. Ginger, nutmeg, cherries, and caramel. Taste followed suit with the same flavors, a good blending and balance but altogether a bit weak for my taste. Ending notes included bananas. Mouthfeel was a bit watery. Overall, a pretty decent beer, well balanced but weak in flavor.

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

12oz brown bottle

Anchor Our Special Ale 2005 was deep dark brown in color with a nice tan head. The head soon dissipated to a thin layer, but remained until the beer was gone, leaving a little lacing behind. Upon smelling, holiday spices fill your nose with a light malt backround. The taste has a nice malt base with various spices evident throughout. This is a medium bodied beer with medium carbonation. Goes down fairly easily.

I bought this in early December and decided to age some. When fresh I thought it was terrible, and tasted like a christmas tree, but it has mellowed out nicely since then and is now a petty good beer. I will sample again after more aging.

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

Presentation: Typical anchor bottle with a sprawling tree on the label. Freshness code on the back, but it is cryptic. For this beer it is probably not needed since it is well-labeled as 2005.

Appearance: After an overly aggressive pour I had to let the huge head settle before I could fill the glass. Looks like slightly under carbonated coke in the glass, with a well formed head.

Smell: Lots of spice in the aroma - a hint of hops and some herbal aromas. Smells more and more like juniper as it warms up.

Taste: The dominant flavors are definitely the spices here - tastes like a strong, dark herbal tea. The malt backbone holds up well.

Overall impression: A nice beer for the cold winter nights. Well spiced, and a hint of warming alcohol. Another quality offering from Anchor.

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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 CharlesRiver
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

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Photo of SteveO1231
3.52/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Grabbed a 6 packer of the X-mas ale from BevMo!

Pours an opaque black with beautiful ruby highlights. Thick frothy tan head that sticks to the glass. Tons of chunky lacing.

This brew has a musty aroma of gingerbread X-mas spices and citrus fruit.

The Anchor X-mas ale is light on the palate considering the dark appearance. Mild roasty malt sweetness. Very nice and crisp, full of X-mas spices. I can detect flavors of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, cherry and orange peel. The spiciness is nice but a little strong.

This beer is very nice, full of X-mas flavors, a little strong. I can only tolerate one at a time. This beer will probably mellow nicely in a few months.


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Photo of dannyfayy
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of ralerwen
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of TMoney2591
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

The Seventh Day of Beermas... It pours a murky black-brown topped by a half-finger of dirty ecru foam. The nose comprises raisins, red grapes, brown sugar, maple syrup, nutmeg, and slightly musty cocoa. The taste is dominated by a somewhat odd meatloaf sorta combination of gingerbread and pumpernickel, which is backed up by raisins, figs, red grapes, and the syrup from a can of mandarin oranges. As odd as it all sounds together, it wasn't quite as bad as the previous vintages have been. The body is a hefty-ish medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a kinda thick feel. Overall, another step in the right direction, though the spices come across a tad strangely. I'm now actually looking forward to the next few years.

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Photo of marine1975
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of imperialking
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of dreadnatty08
3.49/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

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Photo of LPorter33
3.46/5  rDev -9.9%
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 kkipple
3.46/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Goes into my goblet a very dark red with a small tan head that hugs the rim.

I thought this was a mistake at first. Bad bottle or something. It smells like fruitcake! Seriously, it smells like the Christmas fruitcake that we’d get sent every year by my grandparents. I hated the foul concoction… it always remained uneaten in the very back of our fridge for half the year till someone found the foil wrapped lump buried behind the mint jelly…

Childhood memories aside, what’s it like? I taste some chocolate and coffee notes, and a tart, citrus zestyness along with lots of dark fruit and burnt flavor. Sour, dark and definitely one to sip on a windy evening. Reminds me of heavily spiced Belgian dark ale. Also a bit… salty?

I can’t get over the smell. Alcohol, burnt bread, figs, nutmeg, cinnamon, coffee. Brown sugar. Loads of complexity. High marks here.

Bottom line; this is fruitcake beer. Mouthfeel is creamy and satisfying. Feels like you’re drinking a meal. While I can definitely appreciate the complexity and uniqueness of this beer, the taste doesn’t click with me. But in the end, for a seasonal, it’s not bad. I look forward to having one for future Christmases.

 1,199 characters

Photo of RedHaze
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a really nice ruby/brown with a two finger tan head that fades slowly to a nice cap, and leaves tons of lacing on the sides of my glass as I drink it.

Smell; cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of chocolate and a little pine tree. It smells sweet, and the spices definitely make me think of the holidays.

Taste; the spices hit first, cinnamon and ginger, caramel, a little bit of pine tree, and just enough of a hop bite to it. I also get a little vanlla as it gets warmer. It's not as sweet as the smell would have led me to believe, which I'm thankful for. Overall though, there's just something about this that just doesn't sit right with me. I think the spices just don't meld very well together. Mouthfeel is thin to medium in body, and very smooth.

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Photo of lpayette
3.42/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Appearance- Stout-like in apperance- very dark, near black, but closer investigation during the pour reveals red and brown hues. Head is tan and respectable.

Smell- dark malty tones give way to a more subtle nuttiness, notes of spruce, nutmeg, cinnamon and perhaps other spices. Gingerbread was evident as well.

Taste and Mouthfeel- In no particular order of dominance- gingerbread, coffee, nutmeg, and random spices. I got several hints of dark fruit, but this was a rare occassion. Hops pretty much out of the equation until hints of them at the finish.

Other notes- The tastes are complex and appropriate for the style. You really can see what the brewers were going for. This beer tastes like Christmas in a bottle. Unfortunately, for me the various spices and other flavors were a bit much and didn't combine as well as they could have. I would have liked to see a more malt dominant profile with the spices and whatnot more in the background. Excess really hurt the drinkablity for me on this one.

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Photo of Shaw
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was surprised to see this beer in Sarasota. I haven't had it in years and the last time I did it was on tap.

It's nice a dark with a head that's almost orange. The head quickly tightens to just a dollop of foam in the center of my glass.

It smells of orange peel. Burnt orange peel, to be more precise.

Thankfully, the taste is better. It's light and crisp with notes of spices. There's not much malt sweetness or hop bitterness.

The body is as light as the taste.

Overall this is quite light for a winter warmer; I wish this beer were more substantial.

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Photo of stouty1
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
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.

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Photo of bditty187
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

As a “massive” snow storm slows down in Omaha it is time I finally review OSA 2005…

Ruby brown in hue, fairly dark but not close to black; I can tell the liquid is clear. Beige foam, at the apex the head was over two fingers tall. Head retention was good, the bubbles slowly faded to a thin cap. Lacing started before I took a sip. Lovely. The subsequent lacing was very widespread, it looked like worn wallpaper! Yet again OSA is a gem to look at!

I’ve had this beer about five times previously, mostly on-tap. I was not too impressed but this is the first time I have actually sat down to think about this beer. The nose is too soft spoken for me; ginger snaps upfront, pine infused molasses, spiced orange peel and sweet orange candy, hints of chocolate, vanilla, and some tea leaves. The ginger is the loudest aroma and I like that tremendously but the supporting cast is average, at best… for OSA. I wanted more "Quercus Agrifolia." Okay, I am sold on the bouquet, it is agreeable and inviting.

The palate doesn’t match the nose. I thought maybe it was an “on-tap” issue. Apparently it is not. Thin maltiness; where is the chocolate or kisses of roast? Juicy throughout, which is odd, IMO. Hints of spiced pine soaked molasses, I need more. At no point do I consider this beer rich. Clean oak notes, boring. Hints of ginger and orange peel, yawn. Come on! What is the point of dancing around all the good stuff? Give more of everything. Turn up the intensity. Every OSA before this scored a “4” for taste, no matter the year or age. Every OSA before this had depth and it matured with age. I don’t think this batch will hold up until next Christmas. As is, it tastes okay; there is nothing wrong with it. It is very safe. This should not be a safe beer, it should be special. OSA 2005 is not.

Medium in body, on the thin side though, low carbonation only hurts the mouthfeel. Spiced aftertaste numbs the tongue, sweet residue lingers too long as well; I figure a more aggressive carbonation would help this aspect. Tolerable mouthfeel.

Drinkable? Shit this beer is poundable as there is so little too it. This is the most sissified OSA I have had. It has training wheels. I don’t know why I tried so hard to find a six-pack. I didn’t care for it on-tap yet I kept the faith. I will be leery next year. I hope this was a one-time hiccup. Sigh. My bottles came from Lincoln, NE. Moving on…

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
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.

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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 jujubeast6000
3.28/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 12/19/2005 (12oz bottle):

Pours a very dark black-brown color, large head, tan in color, good lacing around the edges. Roasted aroma with malts, chocolate, flowers, slight hops. Flavor of malts, sweet, light alcohol, spices, slight bitterness, good carbonation, slightly tannic. Cellaring might do this one good.

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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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