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

Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Liked This Beer
3.85 w/ 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 Dogbrick
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
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 arizcards
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
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 tavernjef
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This years batch is made with Quercus agrifolia or commonly know as Coast Live Oak which has dark green holly-like leaves and is native to the coast ranges of California.

Dried dark blood reddish brown color with a small, densely compacted, and smooth sandy brown cap. Keeps a solid skim present for a good length of the session. Thin sheeting lace sticks along the glass.

Aroma is of chocolate waffer cookies with a broad dashing of floral-esk vanilla and ginger. Smells like many other OSA's from past years with perhaps a bit less woody spice. A bit more subdued here, as oak tends to be less aromatic then pine or spruce. It does tend to have a mixed peppery/minty/ rosey thing going on thats creatively mingling into a potpourri of bakery spices.

Taste is mildly dashing within some molasses-like malts with a slide into some chocolate cookie dough and brown sugaryness. Mild woody and chocolatey bitterness leans into the middel areas and floating off from there. Some spices of vanilla flowers, ginger, and blackened banana find there way in and out at opportune times but come up short overall. Finish is nicely rounded in chocolateyness, which I liked. Overall, cookie-ish, short lived, and tamer then years past. It was a bit to shy and perhaps to light at first but then it began to grow on me. Especially well into the second helping. The chocolate tones were nice enough for me to enjoy it a bit more then I thought.

Feel is foamy and fluffy in a light milky-like texture. Mediumish body, with a light drying finish, mildly spiced and bittered with one nice little build of chocolatey things as you get into it.

Perhaps not one of the better years Anchor has produced this classic, yet the 2005 still has its subtle quality and overall special uniqueness that is still likeable enough for this lover of the OSA. It doesn't always have to be a complete masterpeice does it? A very easy going edition this year. Smooth and quite drinkable; two or three won't be a problem.

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Photo of ROGUE16
4/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of jfcaa193
4/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of birchstick
4/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 OSA - Sampled Fresh

Presentation: Oh so familiar short fat squat clean lined 12 fluid ounce heavily seamed Anchor bottle. The OSA format is, as always, maintained to perfection. The cream colored label has red writing and a green picture of a "Quercus Agrifolia" (Coast Live Oak) as the chosen foliage for the 2005 label.

Appearance: Served, for once, in the right glassware (I happened to snap up a 2005 straight sided gold rimmed Pint Glass) the body has a glazed but clear dark mahogany with ruby flashes. Thick and creamy tan colored head seems to have excellent retention in the Anchor OSA2005 Pint Glass for some reason, does it know it’s in the proper glass maybe!? Average carbonation, but a generally a very good presentation.

Nose: Spicy as always but a heady gingery tingle fingers the testicles of the malty middle and Brandy Snap ending. Thermal gradients reveal chocolate, oak and warm freshly baked Gingerbread soaked and covered in a melting home made Vanilla Ice-Cream. Damn good.

Taste: Hints of currants and warm Parkin (a Yorkshire delicacy made with Oatmeal and Treacle) fill the mouth. The middle has a feel so reminiscent of Lyles Golden Syrup, which adds a rich depth to this years treat. Dark malts are nicely hidden. Feels so English at times,

Mouthfeel: The head never disappeared, neither did the carbonation. Aerated like a freshly baked soft Gingerbread Man, yet as soft as melting Vanilla Ice Cream it has it all. Spicy and enthralling.

Drinkability: Almost cracked another one straight from my Six-Pack, I loved it.

Overall: My favorite, at least of the OSA’s that I have tried whilst residing in the USA since 2001, has always remained the 2002. Yet, unlike others, I actually took to the OSA2005 quickly and enjoyed the 2005 straight off the bat….

…you know I always tried to explain to myself why I love OSA so much, and strangely enough, for a brew from one of, if not the, first American Craft Brewers, I think it is because it has a very English Dickensian Christmas feel to it; my fellow Limeys that love Lyle’s Black Treacle and Golden Syrup, McVitie’s Jamaica Ginger Cake and English Brandy Snaps will know exactly what I mean. This is a winner, not as good as the 2002 but a close second; I will not be missing the opportunity to get a Magnum of this one if I can.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, with a more than obvious vintage date, and a code on the label 5OU. I'm cracking open a little piece of history here today, in the spirit of the Christmas season. Anchor Brewing Co.'s Christmas ale, vintage 2005. This bottle is eight years old this year, making this the oldest beer I've ever drank. I have no idea what to expect.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours a thick viscous ruddy caramel color; nearly opaque in the glass with some caramel coloring around the edges when held to the light. Conjures about a quarter finger of light brown foam. Forms a ring of bubbles around the glass. Produces a nice thick finger of mocha foam when given a good swirl. Looks excellent.

S - Smell is of sweet caramel malt, earthy tea leaves, toffee, molasses, brown sugar, dark fruits - raisins, black cherries, currants, figs, hint of faded herbal spice, vanilla, and some woody earth character.

T - Taste follows the nose: smooth creamy caramel, toffee, notes of chocolate / cocoa, earthy tea leaves, wood, twigs, some vanilla, some vinous grape / cherry / berry notes, and some raisin / fig presence.

M - Feel is smooth and creamy, but still retains a bit of crisp carbonation to it, even after all this time. Light-bodied, and slightly watery. Some dark chocolatey roast notes lingering on the palate.

Overall, I'd say this was an excellent winter warmer that has thoroughly stood the test of time well. Definitely excites me to try out the other vintages to see what they hold. Definitely worth seeking out.

Anchor Brewing Our Special Ale 2005 ---4/5.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
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 Reidrover
4.06/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wonderful looking ale here..dark brown with crimson and ruby accents and a totally gorgeous creamy "coffee n’ creme" coloured head..beautiful. Aroma is slightly fruity, hints of spice and treacle, slightest hint of hop. Thate taste is of dark maltiness, prunes come most to mind, then "mincemeat pies and orange peel, then a very dark roasted coffee, prune juice finishes off the mouthful..slight peppery aftertaste. Very good on the palate..quite invigorating. I really liked this and think it might age even better..truelly a Christmas Pudding in a beer glass!

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Photo of cokes
2.59/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Muddied blackened orange floating a sticky ecru mushroom.
Gingerbread and bread pudding nose, laid with fig jam, root vegetables, and cocoa powder.
Begins with a gingersnap maltiness that flees disjointedly towards sweeter things. Molasses draped sassafras, brown-sugared carob, orange paste, and date-heavy fruit cake. An astringency washes through midway, and is somewhat welcome, as it rids the mouth of the beginnings of cloy. Winds down with an uptick of ginger, and especially allspice, along with a notion of burnt potatoes, and concludes with a lazy impression spruce. Mentholated cherry preserves and singed gingersnap goop cling past the swallow.
The puffy body apes airiness up front, but soon gels into a coalgulated syrup, yet still maintaining a thin indistictness of structure. By the end of the first glass, I was working on finishing it, not enjoying it. Everything here seems to compete against itself.
The result is atonal and abrasive.
It should be noted that I've never been a big fan, and this year's will keep me off the bandwagon for another calendar year.

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Photo of whartontallboy
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark-ruby mahogany pour with brilliant red edges and a medium-sized root-beer head.

Aroma is full of pine, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, and a bit of ginger. Maybe even a little wintergreen in there. It's a big aroma.

Flavor is well-spiced, but not overdone. The same spices you smell come through even more clearly, with the pine/spruce flavors and a Christmas-cookie ginger flavor coming in as well. Sweet, but not overly done.

Overall: A pretty good effort, not as overwhelming as I thought last year's was out of the gate, but I wonder if this one will age as well. It will be fun finding out.

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Photo of blackie
4.18/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: The pour produces a .3" tan head that gradually recedes, leaving a thin cover of bubbles over the surface. The beer is a very reddish mahogany in color. The dating code 5N1 is marked into the back label.

smell: Very very light chocolate character. There are plenty of woody and nutty aromas present. Some tamed ginger is present in the form of gingerbread. Not the stuff you get at the store, but the old fashined homemade stuff. Not much spice other than that, save for a light sassafrass note I am picking up. Getting a little EtOH in there too.

mouthfeel: Carbonation is a high medium and the body a little heavier than light. The high carbonation and light body could use a little work for a beer of this type.

taste: Lightly sweet with just the right hop bitterness. Very light flavors of bitter chocolate are in there and come out especially after the swallow. Seems pretty woody, oak comes to mind. Some flavors are reminsicent of the gingerbread I mentioned on the nose. The finish is pretty astringent, and is when I notice the tannins. Dry.

drinkability: ok, and not hard to put down

I drank this beer tonight to see if I should pick up another sixer while they are still available. I don't think I'll be doing that, but am curious to see how this ages.

11/05/06 - This beer ages very well. The wood, chocolate, malt, and spice have melded together so perfectly, with each making itself most prominent at a different time. Bumping smell up 1 point, taste up 1 point, mouthfeel and drinkability up 0.5 points...not because I believe it has changed THAT much, but because I must've not been in my right mind when first reviewing.

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Photo of Beginner2
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Photo of tpd975
1.84/5  rDev -52.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a nice dark cola color with very little head.

S: Very pungent aromas. Smoke and pine right out front. A touch of vanilla along with cherry and apple. Over ripe raisons really linger with touches of rum. Unique aromas but a little too much for me.

T: Pretty complex. Dark fruits kissed with brandy and gin. Vanilla and a very deep dark malty taste.

M: Medium bodied and smooth.

D: Not really. Not a favorite of mine

Just too much going on here. I can't get past the aroma on this one. It is not pleasing as I raise it to the mouth. The taste is just a mix of several things that don't really mesh together. Not one I will revisit.

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Photo of alexgash
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
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 PorterLambic
3.87/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A very dark brown with a rust orange at the edges. Nice medium tan head. Drops to 1/2" layer within 3 minutes leaving some light lace.
Smell is roasted/toasted malt, smoke, peat with just a whiff of alcohol.
Taste is the same with a touch of slightly burnt malt in the aftertaste.
Medium body, light effervescence. Slightly watery finish, smooth.
A very good beer overall.

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Photo of Brent
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've been following this interesting annual offering since 1999, and I think this year's edition is probably the most drinkable fresh that I've tried. Largely foregoes the sprucy resin that has dominated some of the editions, focusing this year on a bigger spiced malt character. Fruitcake spices with notes of buckwheat and a touch of dark roast coffee. A bit of the spruce resin is there, but a mere shadow of the past. More like an OSA with a year or two under its belt, and some similarity to Rogue's Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale. Curious as to where this one will go in a year or two.

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Photo of WanderingFool
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I look forward to this beer every year and always anticipate that first sip. This year's Our Special Ale seems to come alive as it warms in the glass.

The beer pours a very dark brown, almost black, into the glass with some ruby hues around the edges. A thick creamy tan head sits on top before it slowly dissolves to a thick ring around the surface. A good amount of lace displayed in netting patterns clings to the sides as the beer empties.

An spicy aroma of ginger with hints of roasted malt greets you before each sip. This smooth, dry, medium bodied beer is packed with flavor. The flavor begins with some roasted malt before the spices quickly take over. It's mainly ginger, but there's some pine, nutmeg and cinnamon mixed in. It finishes slightly tart with a mild fruity (cherry?) flavor. It leaves a mildly spicy flavor behind.

Like I mentioned before, as the beer warms in the glass the flavors really begin to come out. At first I didn't think this beer had much of an aroma or flavor. It seemed like mostly malt, but as it warmed I was pleased with the complexity I found in this brew.

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Photo of Vancer
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First winter warmer from Anchor, man, have I been missing out !!! Very impressive pour; dark brown, almost black with a foamy, sticky brown head. Chocolate and spices in the aroma. Complex taste; spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, spruce) blend with the malty start, then finishes hoppy – hint of anise in there.

Rich & tangy, this bad boy has to be around 7-8%, after one the face was flushing and reddening. Just one drawback, a bit harsh on the aftertaste. Still ready for another.

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Photo of Mitchster
1.92/5  rDev -50.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Pours out to a clear very dark ruby, forming a meringue-like dark khaki head with very good retention and lacing. The aroma is hideous...absolutely tons of soap, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon, overpowering any aroma of what might be beer. There is a touch of smoke in there as well, which is the only appealing thing about the aroma. As it warms, vanilla becomes apparent. This reminds me of a Xmas beer I brewed (which I hated and all my friends loved), and since then I've never been fond of heavily spiced ales. Carbonation is moderate. Mouthfeel is oily and medium bodied. Surprisingly, the beer actually tastes less like spices and more like leather and tobacco. The bitterness level accents the leather, and detracts from the spices which is nice. There is a sharply pungent fusel-like bitterness, like unflavored snuff mixed with burning tires. Very odd. The finish is chemical, acrid spice. Fermented too warm, as there are abundant higher-alcohols which actually add a chemical bitterness that probably wasn't, nor should have been, intended. Perhaps not quite the sink-dumper as last years was, but still a sink-dumper. A really awful beer. Pass on it...it sucks.

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Photo of allengarvin
3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
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 JerzDevl2000
4.02/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I love Anchor's offerings that I've had before, so I decided to pick this up and give it a try for the holidays. It was very interesting, and certainly one of the toughest beers that I've ever had to pinpoint, when it came to tasting, reviewing, and summarizing. Nevertheless, it was very enjoyable to drink!

Poured a deep brown with some burnt orange around the edges as I held it up to the light. Not a lot of head and even less lacing, which followed the level of the beer as it made it's way down my glass. Lots of toffee flavor here with some hints of caramel, chocolate, and malt - this is very deep, dark, and warming. Certainly not for those who want a kick out of their brew or anything terribly complex, even though the aftertaste has a slight bitterness to it that dimishes within 5 or 10 seconds. It's not a simple beer, but there aren't layers of taste that are discovered as it warms up over time or lingers after each taste or swallow.

A very nice mouthfeel is this beer's best aspect, and it's not quite as solid as their flagship Anchor Steam or the Liberty Ale (which I was quite font of as well!). That being said, this is a more than sufficient winter warmer and a joy to behold at a nice, smooth pace. Stone and Sierra Nevada are probably regarded as the Golden State's best microbrews, but this seasonal helps Anchor claim legitimacy to the "holy trinity" of California beers in my eyes. Certainly worth a try!

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Photo of Pegasus
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep, dark amber brown in color, with a massive, dense, and persistent tan head, and thick, utterly glass-coating lacing.

Aroma: Deep notes of coffee, figs, dark roasted malts, bitter cocoa, dark plums, raisins, vanilla, wood, and somehow spicy alcohol.

Taste: Begins with a wave of dark malt, soon followed by wood and vanilla. As the taste progresses, warming spicy alcohol presents. Later in the taste, bitter cocoa, and dark fruits present. Christmas spices, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla are present also. Late in the taste, tea-like hop notes appear. Finishes with a long, mild herbal bitterness.

Mouth feel: Very soft and full, quite pleasant.

Drinkability/notes: A venerable example, which has more than withstood the test of time. Might we all, in old age, be infused with fire and grace.

Presentation: Packaged in the ubiquitous Anchor twelve-ounce brown glass bottle with a twist-off crown (as Anchor did for a brief time), served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice.

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Photo of Floydster
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle from the Stuffed Sandwich in San Gabriel

Pour was a real dark brown with not much carbonation or head

Tasted like there was hints of tobacco and sugar cane, very dry for a winter beer of this nature, but the taste stuck with me for a long time

Could drink a good amount of these compared to other winter beers

All of these Anchor XMas brews have been pretty good

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Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 70.4% out of 100 with 277 ratings
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