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

This is Anchor's holiday special, bottled in the huge, 50.7 ounce Magnum Bottle. Pours a dark amber, leaving a thick, long lasting light brown head. Though billed as a special ale, there was nothing that remarkable about it. Pretty standard ale, though it has a rather a dry finish. Worth trying, but it is pretty expensive (I paid $11 for my magnum bottle)

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Photo of brewQ
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

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Photo of JanM
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
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 cheers2beers
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Flute glass

Appearance: Pours a deep ruby color with a slightly off white head that died down at a medium pace and showed minimal lacing. I dont see any beading due to the darkness of this brew.

Smell: Spices jump out in front. Ginger and nutmeg? Malt is detected faintly but its hard to smell much else through the spice.

Taste: As I suspected the spice character is showcased in the flavor as well. Ginger and soy sauce also a little sugary. I feel that the hops are presenting themself in the form of some woody notes. Interesting if anything.

Mouthfeel: Thin yet oily. Nice and smooth with a rush of bubbles at the end. I would expect a "winter warmer" to have more body though.

Drinkability: Due to the strange combination of flavors the drinkability suffers on this one. This beer is more suitable for pounding than for savoring. Maybe some aging will mellow out the odd spice and soy sauce character. They need to beef up the malt bill on this seasonal.


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

This was a 12oz.bottle with a perferated code on back label (5NQ) and it poured a dark mahogany-brown with a two-tone (off-white on top and beige below it) frothy head with a finger of thickness. A nice looking ale that left some intriquet, sticky lacing as you drink it.

Roasty dark malt nose filled with spices and some hops in the end. As the brew warms, it gets a nice alcoholic smell to it and more spiced and herbal like.

The taste is pretty much like the smell but doesn't seem as flavorful as I was expecting. It tastes pretty much the same to me each year, it just seems to lack a little flavor wise. It has a fairly sweet malt intro that gets taken by the spices quickly. Some spice flavor I taste are of cinnamin, nutmeg, ginger and ?. When the spice fades it just seems a bit watery with a slight bitterness.

The mouthfeel is a bit watery for a medium bodied winter warmer, the carbonation is just right.

Pretty nice brew that goes down easily, there are many more of this style that I prefer.

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

Poured a dark brown, with a dark tan head which ended quickly. Didn’t seem to be much carbonation. The aroma was of chocolate, spice, sweet malts and dark fruits. It smelled like a good balance of sweet and spice. The taste ended up being the same, mostly spices, but this time a definite amount of anise, cinnamon, sour cherries, dark fruits, plenty of alcohol, caramel. It was very bitter, but ended in a dark, almost burnt aftertaste, like a porter. It was an interesting take on a seasonal beer and I’d recommend it to anyone.

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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 SaCkErZ9
3.67/5  rDev -4.4%
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.

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

Tasted 2/2010

A - Nearly black with brown at the edges and khaki head.

S - A bit autolysed, some ginger, baker's chocolate.

T - Somewhat sweet, anise/licorice, giner, and molasses.

M - Pretty thin, killed by age. Half decent carbonation.

D - Drinks well enough for a 5 year old 6% beer.

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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 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 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 tweeder263
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured out a dark brew with red hues and a one finger head.Smells of sweetness ,,i cant figure out exactly what it smells like but it smells good.Taste is semi rich semi sweet and nicely hopped at the end of the sip. This is a good brew im unable to place the taste and smells of it.Mouthfeel is nice.

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Photo of kozmo
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From the taps at the Publick House in Brookline. Pretty freshly tapped, I believe.

Cold fall evening, so I tried this as a warmer-upper.

Appearance: Dark brown, couldn't see through it, light head

Smell: Spicy and somewhat fragrant without being overpowering. Sort of nutmegy or something, almost piney. However, this was fairly non-specific. Just smells like the holidays in a vague way.

Taste: Sweet and malt. Fairly well-balanced, although in other years, I can remember this tasting more like a beer and less like the beer-like spice beverage that this one does. Somewhat syrupy, but not to a fault.

Mouthfeel: warm and bordering on thick. Nothing heavy about it, but you definitely know you've got something in your mouth. Aftertaste nicely spicy and not bitter at all.

Drinkability: Definitely one you need to savor. not good for chugging, but why would you. This winter warmer is for enjoying slowly as you warm from the winter chill.

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Photo of ericj551
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

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Photo of swid
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
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...

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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 MarineHokie
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

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Photo of Xadoor
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a thick dark brown with a frothy head that didn't last long. Some lacing in the glass. Aroma was mild, but slightly sweet with a bit of spiciness. Flavour is sweet to start, but quickly turns more spicy with flavours of orange peel, ginger, nutmeg and coffee bitterness coming through. Finishes dry and spicy.

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Photo of alexgash
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

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Photo of blitz134
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours Coca-Cola brown with the same opacity. Head was light to medium tan. Came up about 1" thick and reduced to a thin layer of bubbles. Lacing is nice and coats the glass with a nice curtain.

Smell is sweet with a strong dose of spices. Ginger and some clove come through to me. I'm not a spice connouisseur, so its hard to really pick out anything specific. A nice aroma, although a bit light.

The key to really tasting this beer is to let it warm. I had it much colder the other night and was disappointed as it exhibited nearly no flavor. Mine is just below room temperature. Taste is mainly malty with a "strong" spiced body. Some light toasted malts come into play with the piney spices. Finishes with a touch of gingerbread. This isn't as strong as last years flavor. Decent, but needs more oomph.

Mouthfeel is my largest complaint about this beer. It really comes across thin and I feel a winter warmer should have a thick hearty body to warm the soul while you drink it. Its medium at best.

Drinkability is good. Nothing which is a turnoff with this beer, but not much to really make it stand out. It is still something I look forward to every year though.

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Photo of Foxman
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It came to me a deep ruby, cum brown, clear and obviously carbonated. A tight, light tan head settled soon to pithy swirls of froth. Rings of lacing slid down the inside of the glass.

The aroma bore pulses of very toasty malt, along with hints of chocolate, cherries, caramel, and sprucy nuts. A backdrop of dark fruit and spices provided an earthy presence.

Upon tasting, a hood of roasted darkness descended, followed by a raisin/sherry vinous twinning. The sweetness dropped in the center to a clove and cinnamon spiciness that bore the merest nip of alcohol. As the finish neared, the details of spice and malt faded to a more vague but very strident bitterness, bordering on acrid, but mellowing before crossing the line. The scare was notable, and weighed a bit against the overall flavor.

Medium bodied at first, the elements combined progressively to coat in a rather resinous way. A potent bitter finish lingered on the palate.

In the past, the OSA has presented some memorable specifics. While this version is certainly not just mediocre, neither does it bring anything especially great to the table. It's spicy, as expected, but it never makes a real push in any way, and the malt aspect follows a similar path. It's drinkable, in a non-threatening, inoffensive way, but there's just enough alcohol in tow to make one wary. It's worth trying to know what each year's version has in store, but I think I'm already looking forward to next year's.

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Photo of Dithyramb
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled on tap, a little too cold, at Frisco's in Columbia. As usual, pours a nice red tinged brown with tan head.
Sugar filled aromas of brown sugar filled cookies and molasses
Evergreen needle hop bitterness that reminds you of the holiday season with some other spices tossed in. Gingerbread? Tree sap? spiciness is all there as in every year, just seemed a bit muted and too syrupy for me so far this year. Some dark chocolatey malt is in there, but playing in the background. I'll try a bottle or too to see if it was just this tapped version that isn't doing it for me this year. Heavy medium bodied brew that goes down and finished a little on the syrupy side.

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Photo of Bleedingshrimp
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Aged now for about 4 or 5 months. Hard pour into pint glass yielded 1/2 inch head that went away quickly. Dark almost black. Smell was subtle vanilla bean, rum, nutmeg, cinnamon, and plums. Mouthfeel is just short of a porter. Taste was slightly more acrid than I remember it being at release. Spiciness toned down as well taste of oak, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Finish is pretty good. Not bad but not WOW either. Definitely prefer it fresh.

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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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