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 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 stephendr
3.57/5  rDev -7%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

dark chocolate color, not a strong nose, chewy body, a bright malty beer that tastes of raw cookie dough slightly bitter finishdark chocolate color, not a strong nose, chewy body, a bright malty beer that tastes of raw cookie dough slightly bitter finishdark chocolate color, not a strong nose, chewy body, a bright malty beer that tastes of raw cookie dough slightly bitter finish

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Photo of arizcards
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle from AJ's on Central right before Christmas for $1.99. Figured a 110 degree day was as good as any to enjoy one.

Poured a deep reddish brown with a beautiful initial tan head. Nose is reminiscent of gingerbread which is perfect for the holiday season. Taste is slanted towards chocolate malts, a hint of ginger, with a subtle dry hop finish. Mouthfeel is a bit thinner than what I hoped for but is OK nonetheless. Drinkability is good. This is a beer to try if you are not looking for an over the top holiday special.

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

2005 Magnum: Deep dark brown color with a little red around the edges, with a thick beige head that retains well. Patchy lacing. Aroma of malt and pine, as well as some dark fruits. Pleasant flavor of roasted malts, spices (ginger mostly), and pine. The finish is spicy with some hops and a bit of chocolate. Solid, as with pretty much every year. It doesn’t seem like Anchor ever does anything too drastic to the recipe but that is fine.

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

From notes made on Memorial Day Weekend.

Typical Anchor 12oz bottle purchased at Huckleberry’s in Spokane for $1.49. No obvious freshness date, but the back label has been stamped “5NI”, or something to that affect.

Poured what looked to be black until held up to light, at which it took on a deep, dark ruby color. BIG, tan head that took it’s time dropping, leaving lots of lace behind.

The smells are spicy and doughy, like a pumpkin pie. There’s also a piney hoppiness, but it’s very mellow.

This tastes very similar to the smell, with the spiciness standing out the most. Very malty, with the piney hops hanging back to give the malts room to breathe. There’s a modest dryness at the swallow.

Mouthfeel was soft and velvety. The body of this beer would best be described as medium.

Not a bad Christmas beer at all, even if I’m drinking it on Memorial Day. The wet three-day-weekend is helping this beer feel at home.

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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.

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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 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 jwff
2.61/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours ruby black with red and brown edges and a nice head that slowly works itself down. Smells like nutmeg, cinnamon, and something I can only describe as buttery sweetness. Wish I knew what to put my finger on because it appears in the taste as well as the predominant flavor. Possibly ginger? Taste is underwhelming because of this predominant flavor, but is eased a bit by some toffee and a hint of hops in the finish. Cinnamon and nutmeg are also noted. Mouthfeel has a slight grittiness, but a drying one as if to leave unsweetened cocoa powder on the tongue. I feel like I need to brush my teeth to get this flavor out of my mouth. Don't think I'll be gettin this one again.

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Photo of mobyfann
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Paid $1.59 for a single a few months back...

The beer pours a cloudy dark chocolate colored base, with a medium white head, solid head retention and a gradual decline in lacing on the side of the glass. The aroma is spicy and apple-like.

The taste adds is strong of apricot taste, with a side of spice, a little too powerful in the apricot, but still high quality. The M&D are above par, relatively smooth but I think one is enough, given the apricot taste is a bit overdone.

Final Thought: A unique variety from one of the best out there, good work Anchor!

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Photo of garymuchow
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The aroma carried a strong quality of some cookies my grandmother used to make. Not sure if it's the currants or the allspice, but it was notable. In addition, there is a sweet malt with other spices (possibly clove, cinimmon) and a touch of alcohol.
Rich deep dark red, especially as held in light. Dark head that recedes to a ring and a thin layer.
I haven't had an OSA in a couple of years and it's nice to return to this beer. Rich without being sweet. Sweet yet still bitter and dry. Less spiciness in flavor as compared to the aroma.
Moderately thick. Carbonation is a bit excessive for me, otherwise the feel is nice.
A seasonal that's always worth waiting for.

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Photo of NoLiberty
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours from one of nicest bottle presentations on the market; short and stout with a classic label design.
In the glass it's color of a good porter with softer amber edges and mocha head that subsides into a low but persistant cover and long lacing.
Aroma is nice. Caramel apple and roasted malt; fairly sweet with an apple-fresh crispness. The nose is subtle but fulfills the flavor.
Taste is initially tart followed by a strong chocolate malt middle with tones of caramel apple - right where the sweetness lives. Finishes out clean, crisp and lightly sour for the overall richness of the beer. The beer is surprisingly sprite and has a zesty blend of matched flavors.
The body is filling and carries the beer throughout the mouth and continues during each drink.It's not coating, but enhancing.
Definitely awaiting next year!

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Photo of MSchae1017
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer was tasted in a pint glass from a bottle.

This beer pours a dark brown with hints of red. There is also a sizeable tan head that leaves a good film the whole way down that laces nicely. The beer smells of pine, nutmeg and cinamon. There is also the smell of dark chocolate malts. The taste hits you with the chocolate malts but also mixed in is the same mix pine, nutmeg, and cinamon. The thickness is good and there is a significant amount of cabonation which complements this style nicely. Overall, better than average on drinkability but the spices would prevent me from having more than one in a sitting, plus I am not overly fond of this style.

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Photo of PatYoda
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with ruby highlights. This leaves a great 2 finger cream colored head that takes forever to go away and leaves some solid lacing. Smell is very unique - I get some spices, maybe some cinnamon, definitely some bready malt, and a toffee aroma.

The taste imparts a strong toffee flavor onto the palate which lingers for a loooong time in the finish. Along with that is the cinnamon and other spices also found in the smell, and a vinous, dark fruity flavor. I also get some herbal hops in the finish. I love it!

The mouthfeel is plenty full enough that it complements the brew nicely and adds some serious smoothness. The drinkability here is only hindered by the herbal flavor and the toffee which never seem to leave the palate.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.29/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This poured with a huge, deep-tan/light-brown head above a very dark colored liquid that was deep-brown with garnet undertones. The nose was spicy, like a mix of pine and nutmeg. Yow! The mouthfeel was thick and full, with a cinnamon-like spiciness on the tongue. As it warmed, it took on a chocolaty-fudgy aspect both in taste and mouthfeel. It left behind one of the most really sticky Belgian laces that I have seen in a long time.

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Photo of ProfessorHops
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- dark with a beige head. Nothing deceptive or over eccentric about the look.

Smell- sweet, sassy, with elements of cedar.

Taste- excellent. Most seasonal X-mas brews are just a cheesy version of their regular brew, with some cinnamon added. But this one is different. Anchor went out to achieve something new with this brew, and I commend them on it. Plus they added some of the cheesy spices as well.

Mouthfeel- moderately light.

Drinkability- not as easy as it could be. But keep in mind it's a winter warmer, not a winter quencher.

One of the finniest X-mas beers I've ever had. The 31st Christmas recipe by Anchor, they change it every year. I hope next year's is as good as this one.

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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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Photo of Gusler
4.48/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Release 2005
Upon its extraction from the 12-ounce stubby brown bottle, the beer sets in the glass jet-black with a creamy tan head that is mountainous in size as it’s slowly fades to nothingness, the lace forms a thick blanket to obscure the glass. Nose is sweet with hints of Oak, Cherries, maple syrup, quite a treat for the old schnozzle, start is lightly sweet, the grain presence delightful, top is light to medium in its feel. Finish is delectable in its acidity, the hops pleasingly spicy, the aftertaste dry and long lasting, a fine drinking beer that does improve with a little age.

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

Oops, I forgot to review this at Christmas. Fortunately, I saved several. 12-oz bottle, poured into a 2003 Anchor OSA glass. Dark black color, ruby-tinted on the edges, with a small head the color of a lightly poured creme brule. Roasty malt nose, maybe with vanilla beans? Flavor is roasted--perhaps slightly burnt--malt, generally sweet with few spices. The usual pine-resin/juniper/evergreen flavor is missing this year. There might be just a touch of ginger in here. Body is moderate to thin.

The weakest OSA since the 1999 batch, in my opinion.

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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 cameraman
2.18/5  rDev -43.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A dark brown color with hints of red, the head is a nice tan color and sustains very well. The first scent is of alot of spices from ginger and nutmeg, no hop or malt aromas are present. The taste the spices are pretty evident and then strangely enough some hop flavor comes in at the end. The taste is very unbalanced, the spices and the hops seem to counter one another. The mouthfeel is like a very thin syrup and a little oily, there is a tingle of carbonation at the end. This was very disappointing, the flavors just did not seem to fit together.

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

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark ruby with a small tan head.

Smell: The first and most dominate smell that I pick out is a sugary sweetness, there are also hints of spices and some fruit.

Taste: Starts with a piney, clove and then moves onto a roasted malt and coffee like bitterness. There is also a hint of orange and dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Smooth Mouthfeel with the right amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. This would be great for the winter season.

Another good beer from the Anchor brewing company and I am looking forward to trying future Christmas Ales.

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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 Suds
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful, deep, dark brown color with a touch of red. The head is small, but thick and creamy. Nice aroma: sugar, spice, a little fruit. Molasses and sugar. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Orange zest and ginger. There’s a lot of spice flavor, but it’s well-layered on top of a distinct malt aroma. There’s not much in the way of hops in the smell. The taste not very sweet, but the flavor of malt and spice come out strong. Nice dryness contributes to the mouthfeel, which is full and satisfying. Very good winter ale.

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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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