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 timtheenchanta
4.45/5  rDev +15.9%
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.

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Photo of Terp96
2.79/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Had this on my last trip to Max's in Fells Point. Usually, I get anxious to get this beer around this time of year as it has always been one of my favorites.

This year's version is a little darker than last year. A very deep reddish-brown with a slightly brownish head. The head stuck around until about mid-pint.

Smells okay. Somewhat roasted flavor. Minimal hop presence. Can definitely smell the usual holiday spices.

Taste was all malt. Not that this is bad but the complex and abundant flavors of roasted malt, hops, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc. don't come through as in year's past.

Mouthfeel was terrible. Was this watered down? I seriously asked myself. Very thin and unusually high in carbonation.

Not very drinkable for the simple fact that it didn't taste that good. I couldn't wait to get through this to move onto something else.

Anchor has failed me for the first time, and hopefully, the last.

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Photo of Dizzy
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of akahn
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is my first time having this seasonal and my first time having a beer like this. Just putting that out there.

Pours very dark brown/black (with some deep ruby hues) with a tall, thick brown head. Not much lacing, but I'm not complaining.

This beer smells of burnt caramel. Maybe my sense of smell isn't too keen yet, but it's not a very strong aroma. The aroma reminds me of those of the handful of brown ales I've had.

Tastes of caramel, brown sugar and bittersweet chocolate. Complex but accessible. Very sweet. Finishes with a sort of sharp, sour warmth.

Drinkability? Good. Very smooth, with not much carbonation. I'd love to have another, but I've got to save some for Thanksgiving tomorrow! I suspect this beer will be quite good over dessert.

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

A: Very, very black; no light shines thru. The head is beautiful. Thick, very light tan head. The head lasted for about 3 - 4 minutes.

S: Delicious. Cherries, cinnamon, allspice, clove. Fresh bread. And raisins. This smells so yummy.

D: Very malty. Lots of bread. And it finishes with spices (clove, cinnamon) and coffee. This is pretty complex comparing it to the aroma. I tasted the cherries and raisins way way after.

M: Very thick and chewy. Little carbonation. Very nice.

D: Very nice.

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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 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 hanlonrn
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%

Photo of Px2GrafX
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

presentation: 12oz stubby bottle with a cream colored oval laid paper label with green ink. "merry christmas & happy new year • anchor brewing co." encircles the label. large illustration of a tree in the center. name of tree is: quercus agrifolia, which is a california live oak. "our special ale brewed with spices with natural flavors added". anchor's description of their special ale is on the neck label along with details of the california live oak's fruit and leaves. batch number is on the back label. looks like 60D, but also mysteriously like GOD. hmmm...no abv displayed.

appearance: pours a very dark brown with deep crimson highlights in a tulip glass (wanted to get a little more nose). head is a nice 2 fingers light tan. fluffy and tight with decent retention and good lacing. thin capper all the way down.

smell: smell is caramelly sweet with lotsa spices. very nice aroma. cloves and lightly vinous alcohol. bready with some roasted nuts and currants. nice holiday aroma.

taste: lightly sweet with dark fruits and a low balancing hoppy bitterness. alcohol phenols are present and almost instantly warming. raisins, currants, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. hops are piney and earthy. finishes sweet, yeasty and nutty. a soy sauce flavor comes out if you let the brew warm to room temperature. nice array of flavors.

mouthfeel: crisp and ever-so-slightly resinous medium body. rolls around smoothly, but swallow clunks a bit. carbonation is nice and burpy.

drinkability: i left myself one sip for the mouthfeel review. this baby was down the hatch. nice brew this time of year and can be sipped or be made a winter session. alcohol is warming, but not a hinderance.

overall: once again, a nice winter offering. not quite as hoppy as i remember last year's being. smells of christmas and each sip offers a different flavor. a must have each and every winter season.

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Photo of nvsblman
4.3/5  rDev +12%
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.

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Photo of mnapier
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed, 01132008. Service Temperature 40 degrees. Service Glassware, 12 ounce Tulip.

Appearance is on the level of dark and with little or no light throughout. The foamy head is salt and pepper with a modest fine hair of lace left behind. The aroma, a little bit of oak with some brown sugar, mild cinnamon, and mild cloves, waft across my nose. As I sip the dark fluid across my tongue, I detect mild spices; such as cinnamon, all spice; along with some biscuit & a medium hop back end.
Overall mouthfeel still remains heavy, and my feeling is that this has at least another year in it. Cheers

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Photo of dblinkhorn
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Drank this beer the same night of review, so it's nearly one year aged (in dark refrigeration the whole time).

Appearance - Has a three finger dark tan head that is very creamy. . It has supremely good lacing all the way down. The beer is a reddish brown color that is very clear, with only slight haze.

Smell - Smells like the Christmas season. There are notes of clove, nutmeg, and pine (juniper ?) on the nose. Molasses and some caramel also play a small role in the aroma. The malt character is rich and toasted, very doughy. Some semi-crisp hops character that has a hint of citrus to it. Little alcohol presence in the smell.

Taste - Rich, toasted, bready malt mixed with some wet and oily bitterness from the hops. Again some juniper flavor is there, along with clove, but it is more in the background than it was in the smell. A nice mix of sweet and sourness is also present. A strong influx of pine comes in just before the finish. It has a slightly earthy and oily hops finish to it, and becomes a bit bitter in the aftertaste. What an excellent and unique taste.

Mouthfeel - Medium- to full-bodied with a very smooth texture. Medium and refreshing carbonation. There is no bite at all, but the carbonation is still of decent intensity.

Drinkability - Has a very winter season feel to this brew. Probably the best winter brew I've had, since it truly tastes like the season. Nothing is overpowering or undesirable about this beer. Good drinkability.

What a wondeful winter ale. This thing really tastes like a Christmas beer. I love the piney/juniper taste and smell to this beer. Also, the toasted malt character reminds you of Christmas dinner. Highly recommended!

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

An interesting brew to be sure. Very thick but not overdone. Goes very well with Pork with Peas and Rice.

Pours thick and black with nice dark tan head. Smells like a hoppy porter. Tastes of light hops and malts, full bodied with nice caremel sweetness.

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Photo of lehows
4.65/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a near opaque amber color with a thin tan head that rises near the end of the pour. Wonderful and complex nose of roasted malt, chocolate, and fruit. Wow...big flavors of roasted malt, chocolate powder, raisins, alcohol soaked fruit, and spice. Just an awesome mouthfeel with a fine carbonation. Drinkabiltity is incredibly high considering all the flavors here. This is my new favorite brew for Christmas time, hands down. I wonder what this tasted like last year when it was fresh because it seems to have aged incredibly well. I also have some 2006 that I can't wait to compare to. Try this if you find it!

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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 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 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 Bcant
3.06/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2005 vintage.

Stout brown bottle, a botanical drawing of Quercus agnifolia. Poured into a large brandy snifter. Dark brown color with shads of deep red, nice clarity. Poured with a three finger head which dissipated but some lacing.

The bouquet is sweet, crème caramel and over ripe strawberries. The flavor is also sweet; toffee carries through the start and middle with some coffee bitterness at the end. Not at all the complex spiced flavor that I was expecting; not particularly sophisticated.

Mouthful is a torch sandy. Almost the sensation of an agitated bottle conditioned beer without the sediment. Still, it leaves the mouth dry enough, but not parched, to both enjoy the space between sips and call for wetting the palate.

Note: I am hesitant about posting this review. This is a beer that I have enjoyed for several years. Some years are better than others but until this year none have disappointed.

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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 sevineyes
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a brown bottle featuring a round label with a tree in the center.

A: Pours dark but not as dark as most porters. Very red highlights show through. Began with a moderate head that went down but remained. Some sparse lacing.

S: Strong nose. Spicy, piney with almost a nutty smell. Big malt overtones. Chocolate. Cloves. Nutmeg? Smells like nutmeg occasionally. Brown sugar. Hops lend a floral aspect.

T: Spiced, but not as much as I was expecting from the smell. Sweet malt hits you before it segues into the spices. Pine, nutmeg and cinnamon - even some bubble gum like flavors -lead off into darker tastes of coffee and chocolate. Ends quicker than I'd expect with hop flavor. Leaves a long lingering aftertaste that is slightly dry.

M: Carbonation keeps it from being what I'd call "creamy" but it has a decent feel. Not as much as a porter and not very coating. Actually a bit light.

D: This is a good beer, but I just don't think I could go for another right afterward. Even this glass I find myself nursing. Sip, savor and take time.

Overall: I really enjoyed this beer. Sure, it's sweet and spicy but it's not overbearing. I'll look forward to next years offering.

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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 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 murrayswine
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
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!

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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 MattBrooks
4.14/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a minimal head, but some clarity. The nose explodes with spices like nutmeg and coriander. Very rich and interesting smells. Tastes almost apple-y with more spices from the nose continuing. Still, expected more spices based on the smell alone. The taste is good and I think the finish is just long enough although it could be a little heavier in the mouthfeel. Not overly spicy like some other holiday brews.

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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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