Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

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

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
87
very good
240 Reviews
Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States | website

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
Reviews:
240
Ratings:
276
Avg:
3.85
pDev:
13.51%
 
 
Wants:
1
Gots:
7
For Trade:
0
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 240 | Ratings: 276
Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.67/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Pours a thick, almost opaque brown with a creamy, brown head. Generous lacing down the glass.

Smell is wonderful. Definitely smells like the winter season. Cloves, cinnamon, lots of nutmeg, gingerbread men. All of the aromas of the season. I love these spiced/ fruit beers. This one smells great; lets hope the rest translates.

Taste was a bit of a letdown. A littlw watery. Not very balanced. It seems the cinnamon and nutmeg are a bit overwhelming. With time, I assume it would mellow and taste a lot better. I do taste some chocoalte in there as well.

Right now, this beer needs more balance or more of a malt backbone. A little watery and pretty thin bodied. Give this one time and I think it would turn out great. Looks and smells great, the rest didnt add up.

 830 characters

Photo of granger10
4.4/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This years version pours a deep dark nearly black color with a larger sized tan head. Moderate lacing.

Aroma is chocolatey with ripe dark fruits. Some bready notes along with pine and spice contribute as well.

Taste has more of a molasses like sweetness to it. Ginger is prevalent but no spices are overbearing like last years. Almost a gingerbread taste in the body. Anise is there but in the background, where it should be. A bit of pine towards the finish but it ends with more of a fruity note.

Mouthfeel is nice and creamy, reminds me of some baltic porters. Much less acidic and harsh than what I thought it would be.

A very drinkable beer but one I would save for only the holidays to make it more special.

 729 characters

Photo of pmcadamis
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

This is my first review under the new scoring system (which I don't like), and I'm curious to see what letter grade this gets when I finish my review.

A - A massive three finger head of milk-chocolate colored foam rises above a black brew that shows some dark brown highlights. The creamy, dense head shows outstanding retention, and leaves a copious amount of lace on the glass.

S - From far away, I smell bourbon and oak. Putting my nose to the glass, I pick up more chocolate and thick honey, but the bourbon is still there too. I also smell some cedar chip woodiness and some dark bakery stuff....like dark bran muffins. There are some marshmallow notes there too. Outstandingly complex.

T - Tangy mesquite smoke hits me right of the bat, and is surprising given the more sweet and rounded nose. The flavor is definitely rustic and woodsy with loads of cedar and oak in addition to some salty soy sauce and charred hot dog flavors. This is one complex brew indeed! I'm picking up a shitload of crazy flavors that just keep developing with each sip.

M - Full bodied and lushly carbonated with a very dry and woody finish that feels like putting wood chips in my mouth. Despite the dryness, there is a very oily texture to this beer...almost waxy.

D - While this is very complex and intriguing, I don't think this has any real session potential. This is a damn fine brew, but it's too odd to be very drinkable.

 1,417 characters

Photo of Cresant
3.66/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a nonic. I purchased this cellared bottle from The Keg Liquors in Clarksville, IN. Body was nearly opaque. When I sat my beer next to my friend's glass of Coke they looked nearly indentical in color and highlights. The head was two finger or more and was made of fine foam. A heavy ring of foam remained throughout the drink.

Smell was slightly metallic. Floral hops (noble-like pilsner quality). Pleasant.

Taste was tart and porter-like. Toasty malts and zingy hops. Spicy. Coffee-grounds hints. Interesting and subtle.

Mouthfeel was smooth and creamy yet medium to thin in body. I enjoyed this one. Thanks Todd.

 659 characters

Photo of Frozensoul327
2.68/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A unique winter warmer from the Anchor Brewing Co. Poured out to a dark cherry color with a lively head of foam that calmed to about 1/4 inch. Aroma is very spicy - ginger, nutmeg, some plumb. Taste was too, ah, I don't know how to put it. To me it tasted like what I would imagine a Holly Bush to taste like. Maybe that is what they were going for. Very strong elements of green trees, some over sour cherries, some hops. Mouthfeel had substance to it, but not enought to make up for the odd and unappealing flavor. I probably wouldn't into another anytime soon...

 565 characters

Photo of rajendra82
4.07/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured out of the stubby anchor bottle with an Oak tree on the label for the year, the deep ruby color of the beer was distinctively OSA. The generous head and a foaming gush out of the bottle would have made a Belgian quadruple proud. The spicy and woody aroma was like gently soothing potpourri. The taste was laden with nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla, with sawdust like dryness. Not as sweet as I remember last year’s vintage to be, but feels more vigorous and refreshing. Some smoke also came through in the flavor. Easy to drink and well made as always. Age will likely bring out the hidden fruitiness.

 607 characters

Photo of paterlodie
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

BB sept 07. Litle wellasting beige head and black beer underneath. Nose is hoppy, aok/marple syrup, cinnamon, and sweet roasty. Taste is good and full too as it is giving rich roasty sweet marplesyrup well backed by alcohol and nice bitterness. Missing litle fullness of a good amber or munich but still quiet good IMO. Low carbonisation fits brew and maker mouthfeel even more smooth and plesant. Well drinkable brew, going in easy IMO.

 437 characters

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

Pours a deep brownish amber color with ruby highlights when held up to the light. A good inch of creamy tan head holds its own for a while before gracefully subsiding. Aroma of roasted dark malt, chicory, burnt brown sugar, and a touch of anise. Palate is held up by a backbone of dark roasted malt, accented by chicory, spruce, anise, some piny hops, and a bit of special Anchor yeast. Some more general spices that I can't really pinpoint. Body is slightly creamy and a good consistency for the flavors in this beer. I'm looking forward to comparing it to previous years in my vertical tasting later this week.

 612 characters

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

Poured a black color with a huge frothy light brown head that lasted with excellent lacing. Good complex sweet spicy aroma. Medium body with a sticky texture. Good bittersweet spicy flavor with a medium commplex bittersweet finish of average duration.

Complex good brew.

 271 characters

Photo of Hibernator
4.36/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Anchor Our Special Ale (2005)
5.8% ABV
12 oz brown bottle
Freshness date on the back label that reads 5OU
Served in a 16 oz Allagash chalice glass

Pours a dark brown color with light brown highlights. Beautiful fluffy khaki colored head on top. Patterns of lacings are scattered all over the sides of the glass.

Malty nose with obvious whiffs of spices and sugars.

Creamy mouthfeel with an earthy, malty backbone. Flavors of caramel, maple syrup, milk chocolate, nutmeg, spices, and cinnamon. Slight piney hop finish, but the sweetness of the malt and distinctiveness of the spices is what leaves your palate in pure enjoyment. This beer is so complex and flavorful. Every sip lends itself to new flavors. The drinkability level with this beer is off the charts. I didn't realize it until I was two deep in a short amount of time and ready for another. It's a very unique and tasty beer.

The Anchor Our Special Ale is one of those beers that I truly get excited about when I see on the shelves for the season. It's 11/04/05 and this beer is already out in stores..great news. Another extremely well crafted winter seasonal ale from Anchor.

 1,156 characters

Photo of taez555
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a dark black body with a very small off-white head.

Taste was medium to full bodied. A very light carbonation. Tastes are an amazing mixture of licorice, soft cocoa powder, milk chocolate, coffee and very subtle spices. There's a nice even but not overpowering bitterness. It's almost reminisant of a dobel bock in the big malt character, but it's clearly an ale. Hops are present and give it a nice balance of earth to to the malt.

Wow!! This is one great beer. Not overly hoppy or bitter, with just enough malt to make it oh so tasty. The perfect beer to sit and drink while taking in the relatives over the holiday season.

 649 characters

Photo of goochpunch
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours an absolute pitch black with a mountainous cafe au lait head that forms peaks and valleys and leaves some strung out lacing. Nose is a mix of roasted malt, rye bread, star anise, cinnamon, ginger, dark chocolate, molasses and butter cookies. Taste is composed of dark roast malts, marbled rye, and cane syrup with an undiscernable and subdued spice presence than in the nose. Finishes with a slight lactic twang, hop bitterness, mild citrus hops, and lingering chocolate and coffee flavors. Mouthfeel is really to thin and a little too bubbly for this. Not watery, just not all I think it could or should be. Goes down really fast, but this would be a lot more drinkable if it were more substantial. Wish I would've gotten this fresh almost a year ago.

 758 characters

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

Oily, black pour with crimson highlights and a thick head of light tan that retains majestically and leaves crusty lace everywhere.

Aroma is dark malts, chocolate, plum, raisin bread, grapes, and sweet spices balanced by pine tree hops.

Flavor is rich and malty, with pronounced raisin bread and dark fruitnotes, various spoces, juniper or pine needles, and citrus/pine hops. Hoppier and more subtly spiced than last year's version.

Body falls just below big with a velvet smooth mouthfeel and oily, dense texture. Subtler spice profile definately enhances drinkability.

 579 characters

Photo of mmmbeer
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. with some sort of code on the back. Pours a very dark brown/black that has ruby highlights and a 1 finger yellow/tan head that doesn't leave much lacing. The aroma brought me back to when I drank last year's version - very distinctive. Smells of spruce, nutmeg, clove, and chocolate, but I wish the aroma were stronger because it smells so good. The taste follows suit but with additional notes of piney hops, a mild bitterness, perhaps some ginger, and some noticeable alcohol in the last sip. The body is light to medium with a high initial carbonation that becomes smoother and fuller as I drink. Maybe not quite as good as last year's, but it still tastes good to me.

 678 characters

Photo of Foxman
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It came to me a deep ruby, cum brown, clear and obviously carbonated. A tight, light tan head settled soon to pithy swirls of froth. Rings of lacing slid down the inside of the glass.

The aroma bore pulses of very toasty malt, along with hints of chocolate, cherries, caramel, and sprucy nuts. A backdrop of dark fruit and spices provided an earthy presence.

Upon tasting, a hood of roasted darkness descended, followed by a raisin/sherry vinous twinning. The sweetness dropped in the center to a clove and cinnamon spiciness that bore the merest nip of alcohol. As the finish neared, the details of spice and malt faded to a more vague but very strident bitterness, bordering on acrid, but mellowing before crossing the line. The scare was notable, and weighed a bit against the overall flavor.

Medium bodied at first, the elements combined progressively to coat in a rather resinous way. A potent bitter finish lingered on the palate.

In the past, the OSA has presented some memorable specifics. While this version is certainly not just mediocre, neither does it bring anything especially great to the table. It's spicy, as expected, but it never makes a real push in any way, and the malt aspect follows a similar path. It's drinkable, in a non-threatening, inoffensive way, but there's just enough alcohol in tow to make one wary. It's worth trying to know what each year's version has in store, but I think I'm already looking forward to next year's.

 1,471 characters

Photo of putnam
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown. Aromas of chicory and Postum lead to strawberry, baked raspberry jam and grapey, dark red wine. Gingerbread underlies hand picked, juicy sweet strawberries. Angry, charred bitterness snaps at the delicate fruitiness. Purple grapes upon grapes: Black Muscat, Pineau d'Aunis, Gamay, Concord, etc. Irrationally scented. Deeply sour, like burnt, freshly milled pine timbers. Ripe, sweet perfumes of stones, marsh and moss. Unyielding, dry and shriveled, sour finish beckons renewal. Drink this beer warm, like red wine! Grape jam flavors. Grapey. Irresistible.

I went crazy for the 2004 edition because it combined two familiar forms: west coast rusticity and abbey dubbel fruitiness. This beer is great because it is *unlike* anything anywhere. It is the essence of beer that should not be judged too quickly. It was a battle at first (because of its uniqeness), then the light shone. Then I drank it with ham stew. Amazing!

 936 characters

Photo of jujubeast6000
3.28/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 12/19/2005 (12oz bottle):

Pours a very dark black-brown color, large head, tan in color, good lacing around the edges. Roasted aroma with malts, chocolate, flowers, slight hops. Flavor of malts, sweet, light alcohol, spices, slight bitterness, good carbonation, slightly tannic. Cellaring might do this one good.

 322 characters

Photo of mattcrill
3.91/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stubby brown twist-off bottle.

Appearance: A chocolate to deep ruby pour with a tight and thin tan cap.

Smell: Citrus, dark fruits, earthy notes, and just a touch of yeast noted.

Taste: Chocolate, cloves, with a touch of bitterness near the end. There is a nice wheaty base to this. A pine-like bitterness emerges as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with pleasant carbonation.

Drinkability: Much more balanced this year. Not a full on spice bomb assault like last year. Still, can't wait to compare them side by side. This is much better fresh than I've had in the past. With it's mild and balanced nature, I would be concerned that it would really lose something over time. Strongly recommended.

 714 characters

Photo of Gehrig
4.53/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Yet another tasty version of Anchor's OSA, 2005 does not disappoint. I've had this cellaring for a few weeks and decided to rest my sore back with a good Winter Warmer. This does not disappoint. The appearance is first-rate, with two fingers of dark mocha froth resting atop a black body with brownish tint. The smell is typically curious--some roasted caramel and honey, mixed with cedar and a good deal of fruit. I detect grape, orange, and cherry. The taste is no less impressive, with the fruit most pronounced, but the roasted bite isn't far behind.

This is eminently drinkable, and should serve me well as I finish it by the fireplace taking about animals with my son. Cheers!

 683 characters

Photo of Shaw
3.41/5  rDev -11.4%
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.

 573 characters

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

Presentation: Typical anchor bottle with a sprawling tree on the label. Freshness code on the back, but it is cryptic. For this beer it is probably not needed since it is well-labeled as 2005.

Appearance: After an overly aggressive pour I had to let the huge head settle before I could fill the glass. Looks like slightly under carbonated coke in the glass, with a well formed head.

Smell: Lots of spice in the aroma - a hint of hops and some herbal aromas. Smells more and more like juniper as it warms up.

Taste: The dominant flavors are definitely the spices here - tastes like a strong, dark herbal tea. The malt backbone holds up well.

Overall impression: A nice beer for the cold winter nights. Well spiced, and a hint of warming alcohol. Another quality offering from Anchor.

 794 characters

Photo of wcudwight
4.07/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep mahogany color. Thin head, but it has a nice creamy texture. Smells of cherries and caramel. Reminds me of a fruity, spicey, porter. Has more dark beer characteristics than I thought it would. Very balanced and complex, but not overly so. Has a good aftertaste that I just can't put my finger on. Feels thick and crisp in the mouth. You can feel the long dissapated head in the mouth. Very drinkable, but is too complex for me to session.
Overall Anchor hit the nail on the head with this holiday brew. I can't think of a brew that better reminds me of the sights, smells, and taste of the holidays.

 613 characters

Photo of Naerhu
3.06/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to JackieTreehorn for bringing this over.
A - Dark brown body tan small dark head.
S - Fruity spicy aroma
T - Nutty, herbacious, a bit of choclate, low bitterness, not much maltiness. Not a real complext brew, nothing pronounced.
M - Medium to light body
D - This beer has no pizazz

 294 characters

Photo of jmz62565
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This looks like a porter when pouring with a large creamy tan head.This has a very piney spice filled aroma with some cranberry.The taste is very spice filled at first,but as it moves thru your mouth you can taste cranberries,coffee and carmel.The m/f isn't as balanced as I would like,but it is a pretty heavy beer.I don't know how many of these I could have,but it is a good holiday beer.Merry Christmas!

 406 characters

Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle from my friend Ira.

Pours a dark brown with some crimson highlights. Has a tan head that fades. Decent lacing on the glass.

Aroma of chocolate, roasted grains, and a spicy piney scent that I just can't quite place. Spruce, perhaps?

Taste of chocolate and roated grain upfront, which is slightly bitter. This is followed by that piney spiciness which finishes out with a hop bitterness. I like the combination of flavors, but it seems a little on the young side. I hope that these flavors mellow and blend more with some age.

Body seems thin. Could use a little more uumph...

Decent at this point, I can drink it wth no resistance. We'll see what I think again in 12 months.

 701 characters

Our Special Ale 2005 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 240 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe