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

BA SCORE
87
very good
287 Ratings
THE BROS
81
good
Read the review
Our Special Ale 2006 (Anchor Christmas Ale)Our Special Ale 2006 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
BEER INFO

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

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.

BEER STATS
Ratings:
287
Reviews:
246
Avg:
3.91
pDev:
10.49%
 
 
Wants:
3
Gots:
10
For Trade:
0
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 287 |  Reviews: 246
Photo of msimmons32
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Picked this bottle up from Lucky Baldwins in Sierre Madrea CA. It was stored in a cooler since the location has had it.

I was very happy to find this bottle and several others at this location. I bought 3 of these and this is the first one I have had.

Surprisingly this beer is very good and has not turned to soy sauce at all. ok here we go.

The pour was great with adequate bruising, as I poured, which led to a large head. It was comparable to the may Xmas ales that I have had. It was a light brown leaning more towards a cream color.

The nose was mellow with spices and hints of pine and cinammon. There seemed to be a very minute hint of soy sauce though.

The taste and mouthfeel was amazing. The massive creaminess coated my tounge after each and every sip. The beer seemed to go on for miles. The hints of cinammon, pine, and chocolate have mellowed over the years but are still very present.

After 4 years of aging this beer is still very good and seems like it may go on for several more years. The carbonation was still there but disapated after the beer warmed. If you are a fan of the Anchor Steam Xmas Ale then this a must try.

 1,148 characters

Photo of bigreduw64
4.21/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep chocolate brown with no head, just a slight lacing on top. I don't get a whole lot on the nose, but I have been stuffed up lately so I will give that a pass. I get just a slight maltiness in the nose. The flavor hits with a rich chocolate malt and slight bitterness. I pick up a little cinnamon/nutmeg/juniper in the spicing of this beer. It finishes with a dry biscuity malt. This is a wonderful beer and I can see how it has aged well and will continue to develop over time. Thanks to my secret santa for this one, it is a great beer.

 549 characters

Photo of gordavidson
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- A deep, dark murky brown with a creamy mocha head that settles to a thin covering.

S- Caramel, brown sugar, and raspberries. Smells like it definitely has some age on it. Very nice.

T- Brown sugar and berries. Kind of reminds me of a mild quad. The flavors have really blended over the years.

M- Creamy and smooth.

D- A smooth, well aged beer that gives no indication of alcohol. Very nice. It may not be better than it was fresh, but it is nice.

 453 characters

Photo of JTahoe
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured into snifter. Dark reddish-brown, cream colored head recedes quickly.

S - Rich fruity with dark molasses, lightly spicy.

T - Dark molasses, cocoa, dried fruit, spruce, licorice, dark malt, orange peel, slight smokiness, spice and herbal notes. Lots of layers and flavor here.

M - Medium bodied, but the moderately high carbonation lightens this up adding some welcome crispness to counter all of the deep flavors. Finishes slightly dry.

D - A good sipping beer--one in a sitting is enough for me. Nice and wintery.

 529 characters

Photo of kaseydad
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage bottle (cellar stored) from a friend.

Snifter pour and met with a dark brown ale (burgandy highlights) with a surprising one finger laced cream colored head.

Maple, brown sugar, candy aroma. Has some Barley Wine characteristics.

For a three year old beer (at 5.5%) this is not bad at all! A tart taste with some maltiness on the swallow and a dry finish. Just caught a glimpse of a cinnamon kick on the aftertaste. Nice.

Very easy drink after a number of years. The complexity is somewhat subdued but this has held up VERY well throughout the years! Very happy to have one more in my man fridge.

 607 characters

Photo of akorsak
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz bottle that I've been sittin' on for a while.

A: The ale is a dark red color that easily pass for black or a really dark chocolate brown color. The depth renders the ale opaque. A finger of head is fast to dissolve.

S: The nose is rather spicy, with gingerbread, cinnamon and nutmeg are heavy, giving the ale the aroma of a Christmas gingerbread. Eventually all things merge, and a burnt molasses aroma runs through it.

T: The ale has a very dry taste, throwing spices at you before turning arid. The flavor has a cocoa powder and molasses taste, a study in contrasts between the sweet and burnt. Gingerbread and allspice are prominent behind the darker malts. A mild cranberry flavor is a tart contrast to the dark body. Hoppiness is evident but not overpowering. For having such a low abv, there is a lot going on.

M: The ale is festive, packing a lot of spice into a small package. The gingerbread, molasses, hops and spices will not, even three years into its life, disappoint on the palate.

D: The alcohol is low but the spice profile is strong, so I'm not sure that I could really dig into a few bottles. A nice Christmas al though.

 1,151 characters

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.

 605 characters

Photo of paco1029384756
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a down murky brown color with a large off white head.

Scent of strong spiced, caramel, tobacco, yeast and earth.

Tate of spices, yeast, strong tobacco, earth, and grain. Maybe this has spent a bit too much time in the light, but it does not show any strong signs of being skunked.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with strong carbonation.

 341 characters

Photo of Onenote81
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cellared bottle consumed on 1/28/09.

Pours a very deep dark brown, with no light coming through at all. Small inch-sized head, that falls to a thin sheet quickly. No lacing present. Smells much more roasty than the '07 and '08. Some cocoa hints, and some nuttiness. Still a little cinnamon and ginger are present.

The flavor on this one aged well! This is much more chocolatey with some roasted characteristics. Picked up some slight hazelnut flavor as well. The spiciness has dropped of considerably, which in my mind, is ok. Mouthfeel is crisp and bubbly, even after 2 years. I find that I am burping alot more with this one, as well. I'm really surprised. I dig this. My favorite of the three I've had ('06,'07,'08).

 721 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Before I embark on a trip to Brazil tomorrow, I'm going to go back in time with this winter ale. It is also the year I met the person I'm visiting. How well will this do being over 2 years old? Well, on to the beer:

It's still alive down there. Deep ruby brown color, hues of red, the head is sticky and retains well. Smells like spiced wood. Gingerbread, pudding, fruity. My nose is dancing, and my mouth is excited.

The carbonation jumps out, and this bottle is very healthy. What's there to taste? Figs for starters. Pudding. Powdered cocoa. Fruit skins. Dry and powdery in the aftertaste. Yum, this is good.

If you have possession of this beer, don't worry, it should be in good condition. I'm glad I have a second bottle which I can open in the future to compare.

 772 characters

Photo of robbyc1
4.57/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Tasting notes I have are from December 2006 and more recently from a saved bottle vertical tasting in January 2008.

Look is roasty black with no head (in 2008) to speak of.

Malty nose with cinnamon, allspice, and intriguing chocolateness.

Taste has all the nose flavors, plus a good hop fix, and finishes quite dry with a chalky mouthfeel that all these seem to have. Really full but not heavy in the mouth, exceptionally drinkable as the dryness at the end tells you to drink more now! Very smooth and a great beer for the ages.

 532 characters

Photo of yesyouam
4.14/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

[30 Jan 2007] This beer pours a deep brown with a red-orange hue. It has a small, off-white head of big thin bubbles. Great clarity. The aroma is that of a medium malt, redwood trees, and orange peel. There are spices present in the smell as well: Clove, cinnamon, nutmeg-- maybe even coriander seed. This beer is commandingly hopped; more so than Liberty Ale. The aftertaste is of bitter grass with a powdered cinnamon feel. This is the kind of beer that gets me excited about beer.

 483 characters

Photo of wl0307
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at the UTOBEER stall in the Borough Market, London. The bottle marks 5.5%abv., BB OCT 08, served cool in a large tulip-shaped wine glass.

A: pours a deeply dark brown hue, nearly black even, showing reddish glows when seen against light; the creamy dark-tan head sustains well with constant streams of tiny fizziness.
S: a thick aroma of US fragrant flowery and lychee-honey-ish hops comes on top of a slightly milder presence of toffee-ish, treacle-ish and chocolatey malts, while longan-fruit-jam, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground Chinese root-herbs and licorice stay loyally in the background.
T: the bitter-sour herbal and richly raisiny foretaste of fruitiness and malts is followed by lots of smoked black prunes and tea-smoked longan-fruits, roasted tea, roasted walnuts, while the mixed spiciness and bitter-sweet herbs at the back of palate make a soothing kickback to enrich the moderately-flavoured maltiness. Aromatic in the finish, with bits of almost every element in the taste lingering here.
M&D: the mouthfeel is really relaxing, benefiting from the micro-scopic fizziness throughout the drink and lifting the fulsome flavour and full body skilfully. The balance on the flavour profile retains beautifully, b/w the sour-sweet fruits, malts, hop fragrance and bitterness, and the soothing input of spiciness. Overall, I find this vintage an utterly enjoyable winter warmer, even more so than the previous two vintages I was lucky to have tried!

 1,464 characters

Photo of nick76
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one was Less herbal than the 05 with an aroma of ginger, allspice, toasted malt, caramel, and citrus. The flavor is slightly sour but mostly like sweet coffee with spices and caramel. I always look forward to having this beer every Christmas but the 05 was better than the 06.

 281 characters

Photo of kinger
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Spices and fruits and malts oh my! Lovely spiced winter brew here. Aroma is rich with ginger, clove, nutmeg, and a splash of pine. Dark burgundy pour, nice tan head and moderate lacing. A touch watery on the palate but smooth and easily drinkable. Flavor resembles the hearty aroma but some nice fruit flavors come through. This is a prime standard of what a well spiced ale ought to be. A richer maltiness and this one would be hard to beat. Went really well with my Bavarian chocolate cream stick.

 499 characters

Photo of joshwlt
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed this 06 vintage next to an 06 vintage of SN Celebration:

Has a dark brown-red color with a light brown fluffy head. The head recedes much quicker than the SN Celebration and leaves a fewer lace rings. Smells a little boozy again like the celebration but has a stronger malt presence in the nose. Relatively no hop detected in the smell, dried dark fruits and roasted malt are present, and again a sugary sweetness, similar to a Belgian dark. A light hop spice hits the tongue, but a lasting and strong malt presence are dominating the flavors. A nice cocoa flavor exists -- great chocolate malt actually -- a split second of coffee bitterness, toasted bread, and a note of raisin. The mouthfeel is a bit thicker than the celebration and smoother, though without any significant balancing spiciness. The palate becomes a battle zone between drying roasted malt and juicier dark fruit sweetness. This is more of what I was expecting from an aged winter warmer, a complex yet strong malt profile.

Although it is hard to pick a favorite I would say the Anchor is certainly the more complex and flavorful of the two. The celebration was probably more heavily hopped as the spice seems to have still lasted after two years, but it is a simpler although a fun, zesty brew.

 1,277 characters

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.

 1,239 characters

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!

 1,154 characters

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.

 261 characters

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.

 1,097 characters

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.

 360 characters

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.

 1,436 characters

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.

 375 characters

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...

 1,228 characters

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

 403 characters

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Learn More