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 LiquidBreadMan
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No matter the year, Anchor never disappoints with its holiday brew. This year's version pours a dark brown with a medium quickly-subsiding head. It's aroma is reminiscent of pine (rosemary perhaps), smoky caramel and chocolate. The taste is much the same -- a pleasantly peircing rush of rosemary, chocolate and burnt sugar. Mmmm.. Carbonation is light, which makes this brew easy to drink. I cannot wait until November, 2006.

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Photo of Biffster
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pouts a deep mahogany brown with garnet and amber highlights and a low tan head.

The aroma is appealing - bready and toasty, with some raisin and inky phenolics. The spices are present as always, but whatever it is this year is not as "in your face" as some past years. The spices mesh well with the beer. There are further chocolate and dark fruit notes as the sample warms.

The beer is sweet and caramelly at the sip. The maltiness yields reluctantly to the spices and a touch of subdued bitterness. The malt and caramel reassert themselves at the swallow, leaving a sweet spicy finish.

The mouthfeel is somewhat rich with a medium/full body and low to medium carbonation level.

I am compelled to try this every year and this undoubtedly the best they have put out in the last few years. After 31 years, they have produced a few versions with spice profiles that have been, shall we say, "interesting". This is a tasty and appealing winter ale. It is quite good alone, and would probably be good with many hearty winter meals, like a beef stew or ham and sausage, or even a dessert.

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Photo of ChiSox05
2.38/5  rDev -38%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured a viscous half-used motor oil shade of brown with a 1/2" head that dissipated into a ring around the surface of the beer.
Smells of ginger, pine, some other unknown spices and a bit chemical.

Tasted a lackluster slightly sweet malt and then a cloying rush of raw ginger took over. Couldn't help but to think of someone taking ginger slices often served with sushi and grinding them into my beer. Right afterwards there was an unappetizing astringency that I couldn't pin down.
Looks heavier than it actually feels, I'd say its medium in body with latent carbonation that smooths it out.

Man, what a let down this was. I won't buy this one again, suffered through most of the bottle. Can't believe this is from the usually reliable Anchor.

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Photo of dawg
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I've been enjoying this seasonal for the past few years. The 2005 pours dark amber and looks like an anchor (head, lace, pour). I tried this years from the bottle, in a wine glass, and in a stout glass. I prefer the bottle (not sure why but the anchor bottle seems to compliment this one). The aroma of the 2005 reminds me of fruitcake, cinammon, followed up with some hops and fruit. I didn't save any 2004 for comparison however I recall that the 04 was maltier, not as spicy. While the 2005 has a good and unique character, I recall that the prior years were more drinkable. I do think that the 2005 has a better aroma than I recall from prior years. Hopefully I can save a few for next year.

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Photo of loving44
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours creamy and inviting. Dark ruby almost black with an inch or so of bubbly tan head.

This brew smells absolutely delicious. The first thing that came to my mind was fresh gingerbread cookiesÂ… ginger, cinnamon, and sugary molasses sweetness. A very soothing aroma that just screams Christmas!

As I sipped this brew I again was bombarded by the gingerbread flavor. A nice balance of spice and sweetness with tight carbonation. It leaves your tongue feeling tingly from the spice and the hops are very well balanced with little bitterness. Although very tasty now, I think it would benefit from some aging to mellow the flavors a bit.

This beer has a very nice creamy syrupy thick mouth feel and is rather light on the tongue due to the tight but persistent carbonation.

I could probably drink these all night but this beer is such a special treat it really needs to be savored slowly and with care... I'm going to age a few bottles for sure!!

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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 tfinn
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

pours a deep almost opaque brownish black, which gives dark purple/plum tinges when held up to the light. thick head with lots of lace.

smell is spices: nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, with a sweet baked brown-bread aroma, a little vanilla... and this just poured out of a cold bottle. I expect even more as it warms up.

taste, unfortunately, doesn't seem to match up to the smell. it is spicy with a little black pepper and quite a bit of brown / roasted malt, but the sweetness in the nose doesn't come out in the flavor.

mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I expected, and with this much spice, I want a big body. the finish is a spicy astringency, like those last few bits of nutmeg you always end up chewing after having an egg nog or the dregs of the holiday punch from the company party. I would've liked a sweeter tail to balance the spice.

from what I remember, last year's offering was a little more substantial, although I have a magnum of last year's that I will be busting out with the neighbor here over the next couple months. it's quite possible that a few months will let the spices die down, and I'll be keeping the sixer I bought of this in my basement over the next few months to see what happens.

drinkability is alright, but not fantastic, and I don't savor this as much as traquair jacobite, for instance.

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Photo of BigAl723
3.21/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I purchased this from the late great Bello Vino in Ann Arbor three years ago. I figured a 75 degree September afternoon would the perfect time to crack it open.

A: Ruby red and dark. This beer is a lot darker than I thought it would be. It also had a fairly dark/tan head. Only about a half inch thick.

S: Lemons and alcohol. A little carmel seeps through as well. I think the time it has had to age lets the alcohol out big time. It smells like pure alcohol.

T: Okay, the taste helps out the smell big time. Orange, lemon zest, cocoa, and nutmeg. Spicy too, like a winter warmer should taste. Slightly malty and complex.

M: Very light in the mouth. Light carbonation also.

D: Like I mentioned earlier, I think because it sat for so long the alcohol is very pungent. It takes away from the drinkability slightly but not too much. I'm not a big fan of winter warmers so IMO it's so-so.

Overall, a decent brew. I probably could have drank this three years ago but I never did. Not sure why either.

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Photo of denjen
3.09/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought at/Price: Woodman's / $8.79 6pack
Dennis: Last year we reviewed the 2004 version of the special brew from Anchor. And while I really wish I could say that the beer has proven to grow better with age, or more worth the price I just simply can't. The aroma is good, spicy and nutmeg'y...but everything else just disappoints. The body is flat and almost carbonation-less. The taste is just a bit of spices with a bitter twinge, and almost no follow-through. Over all it reminds me of coke that somebody shook up and made flat. It's a good beer, and over all worth having, but for the price they charge it's just not worth it.
Jen: Okay, this is a "special" brew that Anchor brewing does different every year. In my opinion, this one only slightly differs from last year. It has a a chalky, malty backbone, with very mild spices. I also get a slight taste of dry roasted coffee with a little toffee. This is not worth the $$, and I may have a hard time buying the '06 when it is released.

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Photo of skynxnex
3.96/5  rDev +3.1%
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 Brewlore
3.89/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 12oz bottle into a Tulip glass. Pours a very dark burnt red/brown color with very minimal tan colored head that barely sticks around yet lingers around the edges of the glass. Fairly nice lacing.

Smells like winter! Notes of pine and citrus. Very nice and refreshing scent to this brew.

Tastes like winter as well. The toasty malts hit you first along with some light spices and then some decent hops kick in to give it that needed bitterness. Very pleasant drink.

Feels very light in the mouthfeel department. Has light carbonation, a very smooth feeling and leaves a little bite at the end.

Very drinkable. Not to heavy and all the ingredients blend well together. Quite a good match for the Holiday season.

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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 SurgeonGeneral
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
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 edchef1850
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I thouroughly enjoyed this years offering from Anchor, a wonderful aroma waftsd up to my nose as i stare into the glass , a guy sitting next to me comparing it to used motor oil, a pretty accurate parallel but oh so misleading. Nice spice in the mouth subtle but real, i dont get a lot of hop in this brew but its not a malt bomb either. its a really drinkable beer, i could drink it all night long no problem. A great beer for a cold december night sitting in a bar with friends enjoying the holidays.

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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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Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
3.84 out of 5 based on 277 ratings.
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