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

very good
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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 BeerAdvocate
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Review from Inaugural Issue of Beeradvocate Magazine.

Anchor Brewing Company's 32nd installment of their Christmas Ale is more than enough proof that even back in the '70s people were interested in drinking something different. This brand has been kicking around since before many of you were legal (that includes us), or even born. Every year there's a different tree on the label, and this year it's a European beech tree. The neck label gets all crunchy with copy about winter solstice and the earth.

Brew boasts a black, leather, stain color, with a reddish tint at the edges of the glass. Quite the foamer, it rises quick with an active carbonation, and leaves a decent lace in its wake. Superb ripe fi g, plump raisins, burnt sugar, spruce and mulled orange peel aroma. Smooth semi-full body, with a rolling crispness. Pungent mulling spices, spruce and herbal hops. The slight, burnt grain and mild molasses in the middle is covered with a juicy, fruity twang. Hermit cookies and candied fruit come to mind. Finishes slightly dry, with burnt sugar and orange peel fl avors. We're really interested to see how this one cellars, as many of the other vintages have lasted several years, if not decades, with good results.

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Photo of gmcfarre
4.89/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1.5L Magnum bottle with foil wrapped top
I've been waiting for a special occasion to open this massive bottle, and I figured my first stab at homebrewing was a proper occasion (Sopris Sledgehammer Stout is in the primary!).

A - Pours a dark chestnut brown with a moderate 1/2 inch tan, dense head. Fades to a solid yet thin layer which leaves sheets of lacing. Opaque.

S - Spicy and sweet with great balance. Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and all other sorts of "winter" spices. Creamy and delicious. Chocolate and roasted malt. A bit of citrus appears as it warms. Complex.

T - Sweet and super smooth oatmeal-tasting malt with chocolate flavor and lots of holiday spice. Clove, nutmeg, dark fruits and a touch of orange citrus. Super well-balanced. Smooth and creamy. Delicious.

M - It really has the mouthfeel of a nitro as it is overwhelmingly smooth and creamy. Nice drying bitterness at finish.

D - The best aged beer I've had to date, and one of the best all-around beers I've ever had. Delicious and utterly drinkable with well hidden alcohol, I could've had the whole magnum by myself. A must buy every winter, too bad I missed the 2007 edition!

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Photo of Sammy
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fir 'n' spruce flavoured and aroma ale. Always somewhat different and interesting and carbonated. Pours darkish brown with off-white head. Full mouthfeel. Some ginger, nutmeg and other soup spices to fill you up. Carmel, raisin, vanilla on the lips ,much after.

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Photo of Natural510
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I purchased the last three bottles of this year-old seasonal at Wine Works in Springfield, Ohio. Due to the age-ability of this brew, I'm not worried about getting a bad bottle (despite the dust).

Pours a dark brown, nearly opaque color with excellent, lasting head.
Smells spicy...cinnamon & nutmeg, perhaps clove or corrainder as well. Molasses is apparent. Scents are very similar to other versions of this seasonal.
Tastes heavily of the molasses & spices. This gives it an overall sweetness, but not one linked to sugar...which keeps it very drinkable. The flavors are more subtle than the 2007 version I had a couple months back, which could be due to the age (or simply how it was brewed in 2006). A distinct bubble-gum aftertaste as well, abeit one which is dry.
It doesn't hop around too much in the mouth, and is slightly watery for a brew of this magnitude, but nice & smooth nonetheless.
Quite drinkable, and welcome in this cold Midwestern weather. I can't wait for the OSA 2008 & beyond!
Will store away the other two bottles for later judgement on how the spices hold up over time.

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Photo of Dogbrick
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 Bottle: This year's version (sampled Oct 2007) is a dark reddish-brown color with a medium light beige head that dissipates pretty quickly. Speckled lacing. Spicy, malty aroma with some herbs. Medium, smooth body with nutmeg, fruit and earthy malt flavors. The finish is mildly spiced and short. Not quite as good as the previous year but still enjoyable.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.63/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Burnt umber with orange edges and candy apple red highlights when sunshine streams through the glass. The caramel nougat colored lid has the texture of softly beaten egg whites and is at least as sticky. Plenty of lace make the appearance score an easy call.

Although my memory isn't 100% reliable, this vintage's nose doesn't seem as dark malty. It's nice and juniper herbal-spicy, but that may be due to the shortage of roast. Unless things change with warming, the aroma falls into the 'not quite good' category.

The flavor hits me the same way. I seem to remember other OSAs as having been more porter-like. Maybe the spices haven't had as much time to mellow. Since I don't love this basic recipe, I'm not sure that I ever what to drink this ale fresh.

It's amazing how much OSA '06 tastes like a Christmas tree (or at least how a Christmas tree smells). There's a fresh-cut spruciness that seems slightly less junipery than usual. One of these days I need to get around to doing a true vertical tasting of this ale.

The mouthfeel isn't bad, but it's a little thin for the style. While I don't expect the typical winter warmer chewiness, more malt would have been good. Since the flavor score was rounded down, the drinkability score will be rounded up.

It looks like I'll never be blown away by Anchor Our Special Ale. It's still enjoyable buying and reviewing a single bottle each year, but that's as far as it will ever go.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Taken from my notes.

Pours a brown color with some amber hues, has a thin head that goes quickly with almost no lacing.

The smell is quite spicy with caramel and roasted malt being the dominant character, some hints of cinnamon as well.

Taste has a good roasted malt feel with some hop balance, but is mostly controlled by the spice, some bitterness and chocolate flavors.

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Photo of jameaterblues
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had aways heard that this beer hold up to time, but didn't quite understand how considering the fairly low alcohol. So it is January 5th and this beer has been sitting around my house for over a year The color pours a opaque murky brown with amber highlights around the top and bottom of the pint. 1/3inch head that was of an off white color disappeared quickly. This beer has big nutty malt smell, along with some phenol(rubbery hints, as well as strong spice(you know those pumpkin pie spices...cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, and the rest)(when I say rubbery...this is one of those descriptors that I have always read on this site, but very few beers come close to it...this is one of the few that has this scent, and I wonder if it is due to the age.) Although the smell isn't what I thought it would be this beer is a very pleasant brown ale...medium bodied, full mouth feel, tongue coating but not syrupy, light spice up front and in the finish, and very mellow hop character(that doesn't really add much to the flavor). I am surpised how well this one held up, but I am glad that I drank it when I did. Now as I look on at the wonderful yearly tree label, I wonder if I will be able to find some of the 2007...I hope so...

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Photo of kingjames1
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one has one year under its belt. The spices have dulled a bit, it seems, but it has also blended and become a bit more interesting. Chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and cloves. Goes great with the filet mignon I'm enjoying right now :). The only issue I have with it is that it seems just a tad watery. I can't remember if it had this character before. Otherwise, great beer! A Christmas classic

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Photo of Gehrig
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very delicious vintage from Anchor. 2006 provides much to consider in a smooth bouquet. Nice pour, a thin head atop a black-cherry colored body--beautiful. Nice smell, with cherry protruding, and some vanilla. The taste is stellar--cherry, vanilla, malt, with a sugar cookie flavor. Modest carbonation costs the mouthfeel slightly. But this is eminently drinkable, and I'm glad that I have a couple more year's vintage to try in a few weeks.

Very good.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

So I tried this again recently and its gotten a lot better. The ratings that I gave here are for the 1 year old version. When I tried this a year ago I thought it tasted like the brewers had stuffed a christmas tree through a chipper and sprayed the chips and sap into the fermenter. It was way too strong. Now, after a year, I think its mellowed nicely.

The appearance hasn't changed much in a year. It is still nice and clear. Has the same color that all the anchor christmas beers have, which is dark brownish red that looks nice in the light. There is a small head that fades to nothing except a ring in the glass. No lacing.

The smell is still of christmas tree but it has mellowed to very happy medium. It is balanced by the dark malts and a slight bit of fruityness. There is a little bit of hops present in both the aroma and taste. The flavor, like the aroma, is a more subdued version of when it was fresh. The only catch is that only certain flavors have subdued, which gives it a diferent balance. Nice flavor with just enough hop bitterness to allow it to mellow for the better over the next few years.

The body is somewhat thin but it has a good amount of texture to it. I still have a 6 pack that I will drink over the next 6 years.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A year old version...

It's a dark mahoghany in the glass and sports a dense and frothy tan head. Nice thick lacing on the glass. Ginger and other sweet spice (perhaps nutmeg and clove) fill the nose, underpinned by a sweet, dark, almost biscuity malt. There's a hint of pine but its very subdued.

The mouth is filled by the flavors of the rich dark malt and it dominates the taste buds. Slowly, the sweet spice mentioned before becomes apparent. It finishes with some piney flavors, much more pine than in the mose, and woodier in the aftertaste. Its a very full mouth, a bit sticky but an offsetting piney aftertaste as the beer goes down.

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Photo of drpimento
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured with a medium head; somewhat fine and somewhat textured. Not so much lace. Flavors and aromas are more muted that the current version. More sweetness throughout the beer. Amber brown color with slight red highlights. Almost a tobacco finish there. But interestingly good. Not really a session beer.

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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 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 MmmIPA
3.65/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer poured out to a reddish/brown body with a nice half inch brown head.I smell nutmeg,cinnimon and other various christmas spices.I taste chocolate the majority of the taste with some faint christmas spices in the backround.The chocolate taste sweet on the palate and the carbonation is like soda.The mouthful is creamy and very easy on the palate.Some small spects of lacing on my glass.This is a interesting beer that would be good with some age to it.I bought 2 of them and will look forward to having the other one on christmas day.

2006 vintage

Dark brown/red colored body with a small brown head that doesnt last long at all and falls to a patch in my Chimay goblet.

I smell chocolate,licorice,spices that have meld together since my first sample of this beer.The taste is very earthly,some hop flavor in there as well.The chocolate really starts to come out as the beer ages.

Mouthful is still a tab bit overcarboted IMO It does roll off your tongue smooth.

I dont know what to say about this beer.Its not one of my favorite WW but it is tasty.

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Photo of hockeydude
4.94/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

came across a bottle of this tucked away in my fridge the other day and decided to try it. I wish i could come up with a better word to describe it except for incredible. after one year of consistent temperature in the fridge all the flavors just melded together for what could only be described by my friends who i tried it with and i as christmas in a bottle pine needles, mistletoe and the rest of the winter/ christmas ale flavors. Now it is time to go to my local store that keeps telling me that they have a sixtel still left from last year and through it on tap.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - a deep ruby beer, a one finger head of mocha on top.

Aroma - the usual assortment of spices for the Christmas edition. Clove, allspice, chocolate, ginger, anise. A fun beer to pick apart, olfactorily speaking...

Taste - almost a cola flavor, some chocolate out in front. Heavy anise, clove, some supporting ginger. The swallow brings on some mild tartness/bitterness, the hops have a masked grapefruit that take a few seconds to develop. Palate drying, and a late balance via some roasty malts on the finish.

Mouthfeel - good smoothness, a carbonation level that doesn't interfere with the flavors. Full-bodied.

Drinkability - always an enjoyable way to toast the impending holiday season. I find a six pack to be a bit much, but one or two a season is always welcome.

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Photo of Gusler
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours from the stubby 12 ounce brown bottle a deep mahogany color, the head modest in size, color a light tan and the texture creamy as it fades away, the lace forms a concealing blanket to cover the glass. Nose has a sweet malt presence, spicy and appetizing, hints of pine. Start has a nice malt profile, the top light to moderate in feel. Finish is sternly acidic, somewhat sweet, the hops delightful, and the aftertaste dry and lingering, a good beer, but one that improves with age.

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Photo of marcpal
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am not by any means a professional beer taster, but this is one of my all-time favorites. I am proud to say I have a nice stash of this to enjoy all year. I may be completely off-base, but the fig and nutmeg taste to this one is absolutely addictive and delicious.

A - Some head from the pour, just the right amount. Amber shade reflected the nutty flavor.

S - Nutmeg was the first smell that came from the beer and woodsy.

T - I detect fig and nutmeg on every delicious sip.

M - It was thicker out of a glass than straight from the bottle and exactly what I would expect from this type of beer.

D - Ive never found a meal or an instance where I could not pair this beer or enjoy much more than one. Works on a cold winter snowstorm or grilling in the summer for me.

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Photo of Wasatch
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been sitting on this one for about a year.

Pours a dark brown/black color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger plus creamy tannish head, lots of stick lacing to follow. The nose is malty, slightly licoricy, slight oak, spicy, toffee, and caramel. The taste is very nice, malty, slightly sweet, licoricy/oak, a good dose of toffe/caramel. Medium body, a complex, well-rounded brew. Very Drinkable, I like this one. It's been awhile since I've had a Christmas Ale from Anchor, but they are still tasty. Recommended.

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Photo of Floydster
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle from Hollingshead's Deli in the city of Orange

Pour was a dark brown/black with a tan head about a half inch thick

Tasted like hints of a latte type coffee taste, holiday spices and herbs, as well as lots of sweet malt

This one tasted like candy to me and I was still able to drink a lot of it

I hope the 2007 edition of this beer is as good as this one

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Photo of beeragent
3.77/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass. The beer poured a deep brown, almost black, forming a 1/4 inch tan head. The aroma is strong holiday spices, mostly of cinnimon and nutmeg. The taste is a complex mix of holiday spices, along with sweet malt and a light coffee finish. The mouthfeel is smooth and thick. For a winter warmer, the beer is especially drinkable. Full flavor and decent abv.. Overall, I great holiday brew. I will be sure to save a case of this for the rest of the year. Try it!

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, 2006 edition,

A: Dark brown/black, with a thick, white head, with excellent lacing, and retention.

S: Spices, cinnamon, allspice, with some spruce, and sweet pine flavors and fragrances.

T: Bombardment with holiday spices, cinnamon and nutmeg, with sweet spruce, and some pine and hops.

M: A little weak for my tastes, but it probably degraded a bit over the past year, still quite oily and resiny, medium-bodied.

D: This year's OSA is certainly more spiced than the 2005, it is interesting to taste these ales at different times throughout their evolution, to see how they have changed, and how each recipe differs from year to year. The orientation of the spice and plant character will definitely affect how each of these vintages ages. I will continue to look forward to every holiday season when these wonderful ales are available, it will definitely be fun to see how they change over time. I know I had fun tonight with my little vertical tasting from '05-'06. Thanks to Hollingshead for having these vintages available in July to August of '07.

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