Our Special Ale 2006 (Anchor Christmas Ale) | Anchor Brewing Company

very good
246 Reviews
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Our Special Ale 2006 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2006 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by TastyTaste on 10-28-2006

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 246 | Ratings: 287
Photo of theopholis
1.79/5  rDev -54.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Appearance-Nice mohagany or a deep ruby red with a small, tight, tan head that dissipates fairly quickly.

Aroma- Not much. Some malt sweetness, Maybe a touch of citrus and earth. Very little nose.

Taste-Very spicy. You get a bit of complexity in the after-taste, but not much. Some nice burn on the back of the tounge, but overall, this beer is so unbalanced, it is not enjoyable. Bleah.

Mouthfeel-Medium body. Over-carbonated. It does cling nicely to the inside of your mouth, but the taste is so objectionable, that is not a good thing,

Drinkability- A beer should tantalize all of your senses. This one looks good, but taste is very dissapointing, and aroma and mouthfeel are far less than impressive.

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Photo of therica
2.07/5  rDev -47.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

I happened upon a 6-pack of this at Christmas 2007-- so, a year-old 6-pack.

Overall impression-- after reading other reviewers' lovely and sometimes poetic descriptions-- mine reads more like the "bad news bears" version of baseball.

A= interesting, maybe gorgeous totally dark-brown nearly black appearance, pours with some off-white head that does some good lacing but fades quickly.

S= ever opened a bottle of Old English Furniture Polish? Strong, burnt, bitter-chestnut, musty hardwood.

T= ever tried drinking a bottle of Old English Furniture Polish? Seriously-- everyone here tried some from a second bottle, the next night. I didn't even give my own opinion of my experience with the first bottle, the night before. I wish I'd had a camera for all of the wretching-headjerk reactions-- even of true beer-loving fanatics. You can try to find hints of chocolate and oak or coffee, but my own description would be more like chewing on my grandmother's musty cedar chest. My first bottle was refrigerator-chilled. The second bottle was only half-chilled, per the preferences of my London friends (who had just finished my case of lovely dark Dragonhead, by the way).

I do suspect that I will try yet another bottle, fully room-temperature warmed, poured and left to go flat. It may actually give me some enjoyment-- we'll see.

M= a bit off, residuals of whatever gives that furniture-polish effect-- maybe some burnt pine-tar or something-- but at least it's not a quick rush to the sink for a mouth-rinse. There might even be a hint of smoky burnt-caramel or molasses lingering.

D= Aww come on, read my review again!

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Photo of largadeer
2.72/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This beer looks much like a dubbel in color (dark brownish red), but without the massive carbonation you'd come to expect from that style.

The nose is all spice, overwhelmingly so; I actually found it a bit unpleasant. Spice is very prevalent in the taste as well, but it's somewhat balanced by lightly roasted malts and milk chocolate. Any hops used in this brew are completely overwhelmed by the spices and malt. It's a bit too much for my tastes; I think I'd enjoy it a lot more with less nutmeg and a bit more hop presence.

For being a fairly full-flavored beer, I found the mouthfeel a bit thin; definitely not what I'd want or expect from a winter warmer. The drinkability is pretty low due to the excessive use of spices. While I like Anchor quite a bit, I found this pretty mediocre overall.

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Photo of crzyd12
2.8/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer has a good head with a strong head. Hints of chocolate appear upon deep breaths but overall the smell is faint and lacking any robustness. The beer is crisp and slightly corrosive on the tongue, making small sips difficult to enjoy. The flavors are strong in malts and lack any noticeable hops. Hints of citrus and spices come forward at the end of a mouthful and highlight remind the drinker that this is a winter beer designed to warm your belly on a cold night in January.

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Photo of alexgash
2.99/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Dark root beer brown body sits below a large cushion of dirty khaki head. Looks good. Toasted, nutty malt plays second fiddle to a barrage of cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, and maybe vanilla. Smells like I knocked the spice rack over into nut brown ale. Too much spice! Toasted bitter flavors up front. Brown sugar drifts in, sweetening things up. Spices show up: cardamom, nutmeg, and pumpkin. Slightly astringent finish, with residual baking chocolate bitterness. Medium body with a soapy, filmy feel. Not excited about this one. Too much like a pumpkin ale.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.06/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I decided that this would be my Christmas in July beer and I also wanted to see if six months had changed anything. It turned out to be like a Christmas with no presents. When I first tasted this beer I didn’t care for it. Let’s see if it is doing any better. The head was a soft, fluffy cocoa color and quickly dissipated into a pathetic ring of bubbles. The color appears black with some brown at the edges. Smell is slightly spicy and also smells like blackjack gum, fucking weird. Carbonation is prickly and the mouthfeel is thin. The flavor is more strange gum flavors that thankfully don’t leave too strong of an aftertaste. I don't like this beer and I really can’t see how age will improve this. I guess it is all just a matter of preference but I plan on giving the rest of these away to unsuspecting friends.

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Photo of hopbar
3.1/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Mo's Wines and Spirits, Fairfield, CT
12 oz. bottle
Pint Glass

A: Dark, non-transparent, brown color with a creamy, dirty-white head.

S: Extremely rich smell filled with a variety of spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, caramel and even pumpkin.

T: Not as sweet as it smelled; in fact, it was fairly bitter with too much variety.

M: Not much body and little carbonation.

D: This was not exactly what I expected. It looked and smelled like a great brew but I thought it had an overly complicated flavor.

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Photo of FunkyMacGroovin
3.17/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. I can't vouch for how the bottle was cellared, though I did find it on a low shelf out of direct light at the store.

A - The pour is deep amber that nearly turns to black as the glass fills up. A half finger of mocha head forms at first, but falls quickly to a small ring. A modest amount of lacing remains.

S - Smells intensely of dark fruits like cherries and raisins, as well as spices - I can pick out cinnamon and nutmeg specifically. Also smells slightly of soy, but just barely. There's almost a brandy character to the smell (minus the wood). Four years doesn't seem to have diminished the beer much in this respect.

T - The flavors have started to fade, but I can definitely taste dark-roasted malts, some orange peel, and a few spices - clove, cardamom(?), and cinnamon. Aside from a slight lingering sweetness there's almost no finish to this beer, and the mid-palate doesn't have much going on either. Either through improper cellaring or just the passage of time, I fear this beer is a ways past its prime.

M - Medium-full in body, with more carbonation than I expected (but still not a lot). There's a light coating left in my mouth after each swallow that quickly fades - very nice.

D - It's easy enough to quaff, but I doubt I'd want more than one.

This falls into the category of "beers that have faded, but it's still apparent they used to be excellent." I can only wonder how much improved it would be if cellared ideally.

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Photo of RedChrome
3.2/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A very deep garnet colored beer. Khaki colored half inch high head stayed for quite a while. Above average medium sized bubbles rising to the surface.

A very sweet smelling beer. A combination of allspice and clove reminds me of pumpkin pie spice. Dark cherry aroma is also faintly noticable. No bittering element in the nose.

Very sweet dark grape flavor. Reminiscent of a shiraz wine. A light bittering in the back of the throat doesn't keep this from being too sweet. Flavor would be great if more balanced.

Decent thickness clings to the surfaces. A above average tingling effect of carbonation on the tongue.

A decent beer. Nice choice to enjoy on it's own. Try one if you can get your hands on one, but don't go out of your way. A slightly above average offering in a varied style.

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Photo of MiScusi
3.21/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is from a 6-pack purchased back at the beginning of December.

The appearance is very nice, with a large fluffy tan head and a body that looks very dark brown until held up to the light where it appears a clear dark ruby red. The smell is what I'd expect from a "christmas beer" although I'm not one to be able to pick out different spice smells... but spice in general is noticeable.

The taste starts really toasty and bitter up front. It becomes very sweet in the middle and finishes with like a sweet but almost astringent feeling finish. Maybe a little sour at the end.

The body feels a little off to me. It's medium, but on the thinner side, and it feels *too* smooth for the body, if that makes sense.

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Photo of aaronh
3.22/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Intensely deep walnut colored beer id topped by a thin head that disappears quickly. Interesting aroma this year. I've missed a couple years of this, but this is strong on the nutmeg. Almost has an egg-nog type aroma. Really interesting. The flavor is pretty bitter, with a bit of a funky woody note. Not too much spice comes through, and almost no malt backbone. Not nearly as nice as the past several year's iterations of this brew I have had. Mouthfeel is a bit thin, drinkability is OK, but I'm glad I didn't buy that magnum!

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Photo of zeff80
3.24/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a brown color with hints of burgandy and a foamy, caramel-colored, two finger head. Left small traces of lace.

S - It smelled of straw and grass. It also smelled a little like potpourri.

T - It tasted of nutmeg and cinamon. Also, maybe a little pine. The malt flavor is understated.

M - It was fairly crisp and warm on the tongue. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This was interesting. It was a little too much nutmeg/cinamon flavor.

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Photo of loren01
3.25/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a dark black color, small tan head. Good lace down the glass
S: Spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg). Also has an astringent scent to it.
T: Dark fruits, spices (same as smell), mostly cloves. Slight dark chocolate flavor as well
M: Medium/heavy bodied beer
D: I didn't really care for the taste of this beer too much, too much spiciness for me. Not what I expected. Would probably not buy this again. Might be pretty good on cask though.

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Photo of Damian
3.27/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drank from a 12 fl. oz. bottle purchased at Downtown Wine & Spirits, Somerville, MA

Poured a very dark brown/black with a small, light tan, fizzy head that quickly faded to a thin ring of lace. No noticeable lacing.

Smell was quite faint initially. Malts and spices (nutmeg and allspice) dominated, with some herbal/medicinal-like qualities as well. As the beer warmed, the aroma became significantly more pronounced. Notes of licorice and vanilla became noticeable, displaying an almost root beer-like quality to the beer.

Taste was mild and rather dull. Malts and brown sugar on the front end along with spices (nutmeg and cinnamon) and some medicinal-like qualities once again. Somewhat biting. The malts soon gave way to a moderate hoppiness, which crescendoed on the rear of the palate. Aftertaste was somewhat hoppy and dry.

Mouthfeel was thin but surprisingly creamy.

Drinkability was decent. This beer contained a plethora of flavors but they were rather flaccid and dull.

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Photo of Padron4KM
3.33/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2006 version.

Dark brown with a tan head. clumps of lace.

Aroma is interesting and complex, roasty, chocolate, liquorice, prune, spice.

Flavor is along the same lines, but the liquorice stands out more, with a little vanilla in the finish.

Interesting beer, but the heavy liquorice makes it hard for me to drink more than one.

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Photo of auntfloyd
3.33/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a US pint glass. When I tried this, it was slightly warmer than normal.

Pours a nice dark mahogany, almost black, with a big tan head that sticks around. Smell is malty, with hints of spices, sugar, and dried fruits. The taste was all sweet malts up front, with cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg playing a supporting role. There is a definite bitter hoppy finish as well, and some taste of alcohol. The mouthfeel is somewhat thick, but drinkability is good as this style is supposed to be somewhat big and filling.

All in all, a good winter ale. Pleasantly sweet with spice hints to put you in the holiday spirit, whatever holiday it is you choose.

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Photo of EStreet20
3.33/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a 20 ounce nonic pint glass.

A - Pours out a deep brown with a beautiful reddish tint that really shows through when held up to light. A large head of tan bubbles sits atop. The brew really looks nice, with the appearance of a Pepsi/Coke other than the chunky, lasting head.

S - Has a spicy aroma along with some fruits.

T - Lots of spices up front along with an odd fruit flavor (Juicy fruit gum???) that I can't identify. A bit of an herbal taste as well.

M - A light body overall, decent carbonation.

D - This one is fairly light bodied but the flavors don't balance out well for me.

Notes: I definitely enjoyed last year's more. Still a decent spiced winter warmer.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.34/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer has a dark opaque brown body with a mousey thick creamy head that last and lat. There are lots of tiny bubbles that only appear when they run into the side of the glass. The head last as it pulls away from the glass a bit.

S- This beer has a very clean smell with a faint hint of dark roasted malt or prunes and as it warms quite a bit the notes of brown sugar and alcohol come through.

T- This beer has a smooth soft dark malt flavor with some pot caramel notes. There is also a nougat taste with some dried fruit followed by a faint almost oatmeal and coffee hint. The slight tartness at the end of the malt flavors switches to a slight sweetness with a faint green herbal hop hint.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a bit of alcohol heat at the finish.

D- This beer is pretty subtle in flavor with no real yeast characteristics or strong malt flavors to give any support. The alcohol was a bit strong but I don't think aging would help this beer any.

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Photo of jim102864
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I just now realized (this review was written March 2009) this brew is over three years old and I'm not sure that's a good thing. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into me Sam Adams glass. No head. Black as night though it is carbonated. Not really sure it was intended to be aged. This was part of a trade. Anyway, though its over three years old, the cinammon spice, nutmeg and raisen nose hangs on. Taste reflects the nose. Cinnamon spice. Not an overwhelmmingly pleasant flavor. Seems like what's left of the flavor is fading. Mouthfeel is carbonated. Drinkability? Not a session brew. More like one and done.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.4/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Dark brown in color with a tan/chocolate colored head. Nice sized head. Stiff and firm. Copious amounts of lacing.

Aroma is seasonable. Mostly nutmeg and cloves and cinnamon. Some chocolate as well. Soft hop presence.

Taste is kind of thrown together without any thought or balance. Lots of different spices that dont really meld together by the finish. Nutmeg and cinnamon are first. Some piney notes and cloves followed by bitter chocolate. Slight citrus hops in the end as well.

Not very balanced, thin on the mouthfeel, too spicey. Tastes like a homebrew I made that was ok but not very good overall. One or two and I think the taste would start to wear thin and become tedious. After looking at last years reviews, maybe this needs another year or two. Heres to hoping!

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3.42/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I had the 2006 Special Ale previously on draft, and believe that it is better in a bottle. All around, it is a good winter warmer and definitely benefits from being served a bit warmer than draft beer typically is.

It pours a nearly-black color with a medium amount of white head. Body of the pour appears somewhat substantial, even from the pour.

The beer's aroma is one of abundant coffee notes and I believe had a brandy smell also. Taste is of coffee with subtle notes of liquorice. Mouthfeel is substantial and appropriate. All-in-all, a very festive beer for moderate drinking.

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Photo of Mdog
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark brown, but a unique reddish purple when held up to the light.

Smell: Sweetness, a little alcohol.

Taste: Toffee, sweet flavor with a strange candy-like aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Seems light to me.

Drinkability: Something about the spices and sweet flavors just doesn't do it for me.

Got a free bottle from the great guys at Dennis Brothers. I need some more practice on identifying spices compared to the other reviews. This is decent, but one a year is enough for me.

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Photo of tcfishler
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Deep mahogany-brown with a good-sized, fairly sticky tan head.

Aromas are roasted but at the same time high-toned, with anise, vanilla, and even a hint of soap.

Moderately heavy carbonation and a medium body, with a suggestion of acidity from front to back. Flavor profile is less roasted than the nose, with more fruitiness, spice and some yeastiness too. Ends tangy and ever so slightly astringent.

Doesn't suit my tastes nearly as perfectly as Anchor Steam or Liberty, but still a very characterful brew. Tends towards the acidic side of things; perhaps it would be improved by pairing with food.

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Photo of skillerified
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Still settles with a fizz after a year of storage. Nearly black with hints of chocolatey brown around the edges. Head lifts to a half finger or so with a nice dark tan color. Fades fast though. Lacing is generous with a little agitation.

Milk chocolate with dark fruits and berries. Rum. Spices - clover with a splash of mint. Raisins. Seems to have held up well. Lots of scents, but a little one dimensional still. Not a complaint, just an observation.

Big and rich - dark roast coffee. Grapefruit at the back of the throat. (Which hop variety is it that does that again? Not really a fan of that one.) Cola. A little limp. Maybe I waited too long. Doesn't taste spoiled or skunked, just a touch weak and lacking of complexity. The spices seem to be trying to assert themselves, but just keep coming up short. Gets a little raisin-y as it warms. More flavors - dark berries in particular, but washed in stale coffee - are seeming to push through, but there's still a weak point in the middle.

A touch on the light bodied side. Could be a product of time. Not sure how that works. There's plenty of carbonation bite, so it's not spoiled. Might have just missed this brew's peak time. Long bitter finish.

I'm no expert, but I'd say if you've got a few of these lying around it might be time to finish them off. Closer to room temp is where this one seems to need to be too. I think I might have gotten more out of this if'd drank it a little warmer.

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Photo of drumrboy22
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into a Belgian chalice.

Head is lasting with an off-white color. Moderate lacing around the glass.

Aroma is of clove, nutmeg, pine and molasses. The best way I can describe the armoa is a pumpkin ale mixed with a Harpoon Winter Warmer. Kind of odd, but still nice.

Flavors of brown sugar and cloves. Moderate alcohol taste present. Hard to believe it's only a 5.5% beer. Seems like it should be higher.

Not overly impressed by this one. Nothing really stands out. It's ok, but not great. I have 5 more in the cellar. I'll pull another out next fall and see how it's going.

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Our Special Ale 2006 (Anchor Christmas Ale) from Anchor Brewing Company
3.91 out of 5 based on 287 ratings.
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