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

BA SCORE
86
very good
277 Ratings
Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
anchorbrewing.com

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.

BEER STATS
Ratings:
277
Reviews:
240
Avg:
3.84
pDev:
12.5%
 
 
Wants:
1
Gots:
8
For Trade:
0
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 277 |  Reviews: 240
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.47/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this beer twice over the last couple of months. The first time in Chicago, the second time in Atlanta compliments of Ding- thanks so much for the opportunity! In a vertical tasting of the 2003-2007, I thought the 2004 was the best,but in a different tasting of the 2004-2007 I liked the 2005 best. Oh well,cellaring can be fickle.In any case this review is based on my first tasting in Chicago, where this year was the winner.

Pours dark brown with a nice caramel tinged head that settles to a thin cap. Aromas of spice and caramel, gingerbread, and that beautiful spruce note that I love so much. Tastes nicely of spruce as well as mint, Moravian spice cookies, and orange peel. Mouthfeel is soft and a little sweet, with a slight bite of tannins on the finish. What a great beer!

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Photo of BillRoth
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of biegaman
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled at Beer Bistro, 330ml bottle aged one year. 2005 Edition.
My first experience of the Anchor OSA.
Pours a robust black with firey orange highlight from the bottom. Head that settles off to mere trim, though quite responsive to even light swirls. Beautifully classy looking, especially in the snifter. Wowza, what a spice in the aroma. Almost like a perfumy insence. I could only make guess as to what's in there - heather, black licorice, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, candamom ... basil? I could swear basil! Most certainly though I DO taste pumpkin. I'll swear to that! Spices seem mostly for aromatics, lovely bouquet. Not so many of these spices come through in the taste however. For a black coloured beer this is deceiptfully light. Although potent and lively. Some residual sweetness. Body isn't robust. Soft spoken, timid despite what colour might have you expect. A little too light bodied to be fully satisfying. I'd really like to see little more lingering roast to add dimension beyond the spices. I want to go raid mom's spice rack to figure out what's in this!
All in all though this was fantastic. The spices make it a bit of a sipper, a good dessert beer too. I would recommend sharing this one. For a first impression of the Anchor OSA series I thought this was a neat-o spiced beer.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled December, 2005
Pours with a frothy, large bubbled, though thick, light brown colored head. The beer is a deep brown almost black color that has amber highlights to it when held up to the light. The aroma is much more focused on dark molasses notes and dark malt than the spices. The spices are here though, just a bit softer than in the past; definitely has a resinous, sharp, tree sap type character (perhaps a mix of pine, mint, menthol, and a vibrant character I don't know how to describe, is it the spruce). The aroma also has notes of milk chocolate, a bit of ginger, and a mix of spices that definitely reminds me of root beer.

The taste is pretty dry, but it does start out with a soft chocolate note, but quickly moves to a sharp spicy character. The dryness really plays up the spice character, though the finish has a long, lingering note reminiscent of the impurities found in molasses. Some how this beer seems slightly tart; which almost makes me think of tamarind, though I don't mean to say this was an actual ingredient. There is definitely a sort of resinous, almost mint like flavor (that coolness that mint has is here), and it mixes quite well with the chocolate notes.

I am not quite too sure how this will age; it is softer and quite drinkable now (this seems to be a trend the last couple of years), which is unlike the vintages from a couple of years ago on back. This is definitely still nice (though I could wish it was a bit fuller in the body) and it is always a treat every year.

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

A: Black with a tan head; very little retention or lace (may be due to its age).

S: Molases, dark ginger-bread, dark raisins, pine, vanilla, brown sugar, touch of sherry.

T: Plenty of flavour for it's weight: molases; dark bread (a little rye and christmas fruit cake?); lightly spiced (noticable, but not identifiable... nutmeg & ginger?); brown sugar; pine (presumably from the hops); dark chocolate. Balanced slightly to the bitter side, with faint hints of a roasted tartness in the finish.

M: Moderate body is somewhat creamy but chalky; carbonation on the light side of moderate.

D: Not overly warming, but that makes it all the more drinkable!

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

12 oz. bottle, 2005 edition,

A: Dark brown, with a thick, white head.

S: Lots of fragrant pine and spruce.

T: Old feel, with juniper and pine, sweet spruce, cherries, cranberries, and Christmas-style spices - cinnamon and nutmeg.

M: Smooth, oily, resiny, with a fair bit of oxidation.

D: A great aged beer, the 2005 OSA has held up well, a great treat for me.

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Photo of sweemzander
2.78/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle poured into a stemmed glass. No bottled date, but its the '05 vintage.

(A)- Pours a thick dark brown color that is totally opaque. Produced a thick tan to brown head that dissipated quickly.

(S)- Potent burnt raisin bread & a slightly sour cherry/soy sauce; almost salty finish/ Fig-like, but in a funky way. Overly flat, sour cola like aromas. Bits of brown sugar.

(T)- Very thin; the age definitely has diminished the potency & richness of what this would be fresh. Very bread-like with roasted raisins that turn into a sour coffee thing. The taste definitely has diminished.

(M)- Good to see it still has good carbonation, but the feel of the beer just seems thin & watery at this stage.

(D)- Surprisingly kinda drinkable, but funky & watery. This much age definitely was too much, however, I am glad I was able to try it anyways. Not awful though.

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Photo of DucksFan16
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of wl0307
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

355ml brown bottle, 5.5%abv., BB SEP07. Served cool in a large tulip-shaped wine glass.

A: deep brownish to almost black colour, with mahogany silhouette against light~~ effervescent, creamy tan head with superb retention, on top of very gentle and fine carbonation.
S: treacles and oriental black-suger dominate the nose, on top of very rich mixed spice (licorice, cinnamon stick, a touch of mint), sweet coffee-flavoured toffee, creamy and semi-smoked malts, and aromatic fruity overtone mixed of dried dates and a touch of port... vertically-structured nose and all complex aromas are threaded nicely together~~
T: creamy-textured dark malts hit the palate upfront, with touches of fortified wine, lots of flat-textured dark fruits, leading towards a cold-coffee-ish and unsweetened dark chocolatey aftertone decorated with bitter spices (led by cinnamon+nutmeg) and lightly toasted wood-chips at the deep end of the palate; mild but reasonably lingering bitter finish, whilst remaining quite clean and light. Not bad, though not as promisingly complex as the aroma.
M&D: this beer remains soft on the mouthfeel but the body is surprisingly thin, much thiner than the aroma suggests. Not a bad X'mas beer, though a little heavier malty presence could better balance the weight IMO.

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Photo of beertunes
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip glass. Poured a bright deep amber color with a light tan head that left more sticky lacing than expected for a 3 year old. A lovely aroma that has a solid but not sweet malt foundation topped with just enough spice and hops. The taste is just wonderful. The time has let all the flavors meld together, while keeping their personalities visible. Nicely drinkable, I could have 3 or 4 of these in a row. I feel this beer is probably at or near peak. Much more time and the flavors may start to lose their independence. Highly recommended.

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

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer pours a thick dark brown body that is opaque. The head is a dark tan with a hint of red to it. The head settles to a thin even layer.

S- The smell of sweet roasted and toasted malt is balanced with a slight hop bitterness and a very faint apple/pear note.

T- This beer starts with a roasted barley and roasted malt hint that is a little bitter like a dark lager. It finishes with a gentle hop bitterness. The taste is very smooth and a hint of sulfur in the finish. The finish also has a note of dark cherries with a slight bitter quality.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a good bit of fizz that makes it a bit more full.

D- This beer has subtle qualities but the fizz and slight bitterness at the finish interfere with the taste. Some nice qualities and some qualities I could do without.

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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 stereosforgeeks
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

Photo of JamLand
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

Photo of scruffwhor
4.57/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- excellent dark red cabbage tint. A slight blood red color that makes me think of Irish red ales.

Smell- Unexpected bouquet of creamy malt, vanilla and cookis and cream aromas.

Taste- Very unexpected flavor from this beer. Heavy on the vanilla, but I loved it. Vanilla backbone is well fused with malt and milky essence in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- A little sour at the end but as a whole, perfect for a darker ale.

Drinkability- I coud drink a sixer of thiese if the family wasn't over right now. Very easy to enjoy and not feel boged down for desert after a big Thanksgiving meal.

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Photo of Bighuge
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer is almost black, but clear dark ruby streaking is visible when held to a light source. The lid is small and brown. The slight collar does leave some decent lace though. Once again, this beer smells like a Christmas tree and there's nothing wrong with that. Spruce tips and chocolate dominate the aroma. The taste is all that the nose offered plus a coarse bitterness. Which is hop derived and/or black patent derived (or something of the sort). Doesn't mix in all that well. But still, this is quite unique and festive.

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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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Photo of champ103
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark ruby brown color. A two finger beige head forms and leaves some sticky lace.
S: Of rich, dark roasted malt. A dark roasted coffee flavor and chocolate. Some dark fruits. A hint of spices and peppermint. Three years has been great to this beer.
T: This has a wonderful roasted malt, chocolate and coffee flavor. A light twang of hops. Spice, peppermint, and pine flavors are very light. Very porter like IMO.
M/D A medium to full body. A light crisp snap of carbonation, and a good creaminess follows. This is easy and smooth to put away.

I had this recently at the Gingerman in Houston. They had a vertical of the 05, 07, and 08 Our Special Ale's. This is without a bought the best of the three. The spicy peppermint flavor has really taken a back seat here. Instead of being up front and center, it is a nice compliment to the other roasted malt flavors.

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

There is something that sets this warmer above the rest, something that will make it forever popular in certain groups, will have others refer to is a "holiday classic," while still others will claim it indispensable, the greatest of its style. That something is price, and it's what Anchor's annual holiday ale has in spades. I've never reviewed it before because of its price, because I'm not "beer enough" to spend twelve big ones on a six pack, but I was fortunate enough to find a store that sold it by the single bottle and so doled out nearly three dollars for the privilege of supping 12 ounces of this storied concoction.

The verdict? Good, not great.

Pours very dark, about as nice a pour as this style is capable of. Nice foamy brown head that stays for a little while.

Dark brown malt dominates the nose. Hollyspice, almost synthetic like a green and red aerosol can. Ginger, gingerbread men molasses cookies.

Very spicy and sweet flavor. Ginger and black licorice against a sweet malt. A very strange chemical finish leaves the taste of scented candle wax in my mouth (yes, I have tasted scented candle wax), and serves to knock the whole beer down a peg.

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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 WOLFGANG
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of THECPJ
4/5  rDev +4.2%

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

12oz single, Steve's-Mineral Point

appearance: very dark purplish black, defined ruby tone throughout, slight bubbly tan head, slight lacing, definitely one of the better labels out there

smell: loaded with spices as usual, ginger, nutmeg, sweet caramel, roasted malts, vanilla, quite woody

taste: certainly different than last year but quite tasty. loaded with spices...ginger, vanilla, nutmeg. sweet cookie-like flavors, sweet chocolate, roasted malt backbone.

mouthfeel: medium, plenty of bubbly carbonation

drinkability: very drinkable, probably have to get some more

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.03/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle split and poured into a Corsendonk Christmas Ale stemmed glass. 2005 Vintage.

Thanks to Sweemzander for sharing this beer!

A - Dark ruby amber, mostly black looking, with a low tan head. Low retention to the loose bubbles but left a big ring and a thin blanket. Bits of lacing stuck to the glass.

S - Very potent aroma on the pour. A bit of soy sauce mixes in with a deep malty bread nose and a dark fruit blend of raising and plum with molasses. Very funky. Not too appetizing but definitely intriguing.

T - For as potent as the aroma is, the taste is very thin. A roasted raisin bread flavor that comes and goes pretty quickly. A sharp but short burst of soy sauce is there too. Its just too plain.

M - Smooth with a dry bitter finish. Low carbonation aids in its drinkability a bit. Thin feeling too.

D - Really not bad for a 2005 bottle, but it's definitely not a beer to be aged. The aroma is potent and funky while the flavor is just lacking. Just not good this far out.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This brew pours a solid opaque black color. The head is two-fingers high, creamy, tan and has good aretention. The aroma is of malt, ginger and other spices, and is rather strong. The taste is identical to the aroma. The mouthfeel is creamy and medium-full bodied with nice carbonation. Overall, this is a superb winter warmer.

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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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