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RATINGS: 1810   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.54   SEASONAL: Winter   EST. CALORIES: 165   ABV: 5.5%
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COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
This is our special ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons appears born anew.

Editor’s Note: due to the significant similarity in style and strength from year to year (despite potential differences in the exact spice blend), this beer is no longer separated by vintage.


3
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 11/20
BeerRules (243) - Houston, Texas, USA - NOV 21, 2005
Cola colored with ruby edges, pillowy beige head. Aroma dominated by holiday spices. Man I really dont llike these spiced up beers, but aside from the spices which I dont like, the beer is good.

3
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 1/5   OVERALL 12/20
Nuffield (3639) - Roseville, Minnesota, USA - DEC 5, 2005
Mahogany brown with some yellow at the edges, moderate head production. Aroma blends roasted notes with Christmas tree hops, and touches of lemongrass, nutmeg, some alcohol, and a little smoke. The flavor gives a little more dark fruit, such as dried blueberries, gingerbread dough, and a light toffee. Some gentle bitterness rides out the finish. It went very flat very quickly and although somewhat oily, the palate is really tiresome--while a good English bitter works well with this level of carbonation, the darker, more roasted side does better with a little gentle lift. Not my favorite incarnation of this beer, in large measure due to the flatness I experienced.

3
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
heykevin (1273) - Decorah, Iowa, USA - DEC 13, 2005
Deepest of rubies, with a tannish head. Strong ginger aroma, bits of liquorice and nutmeg/allspice. Medium-bodied with a significant ginger zing, a malty chocolate note, but then back to a spicy dryness. I think Clark is right on with the mincemeat pie analogy. This is decent, but I really don’t feel like having another of these. I am tempted to pull an old bottle out of the archives and remind myself how these things taste when the spices tame down a little bit

3
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 10/20
hezron (609) - Viroqua, Wisconsin, USA - DEC 17, 2005
Aroma of chocolate, licorice, butterscotch and bourbon. Great aroma. Dark mahogany brown with a light brown head. Flavors of spruce, coffee and chocolate with a woody, cardboard-like finish. Light body, watery texture, seems a little weak. This would be great without the cardboard flavors and an improved palate.

3
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 11/20
fiulijn (13533) - Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA - DEC 17, 2005
UPDATED: AUG 8, 2010 2010-08-08, vertical tasting, vintage 2008, 2 years old, 7-4-4-3-10=28
The color is very dark, no light passes through; generous, compact head. Good aroma, chocolate cake, cedar peel, chinese spices. The body is lean, the mouthfeel quite dry; it has some roasted malt flavor, heavily roasted nuts, not very good. The final is dry, with the black, roasted malt only, dusty. Not pleasant.

2010-08-08, vertical tasting, vintage 2006, 4 years old, 6-4-6-3-12=31
The color is very dark, no light passes through; generous, compact head, a bit more brownish than the 2008; immediately evident that it has less carbonation. Strange aroma, mild, gingerbread and soap, almost metallic; some chocolate. The body is a bit rounder and less dry than the 2008; chocolate and roasted malt flavor, also here the malt is heavily roasted, but better hidden; there are traces of a starting oxidisation and of metal. Balanced, better than almost all Scandinavian Julöl, but nothing spectacular.

2010-08-08, vertical tasting, vintage 2005, 5 years old, 6-4-6-3-13=32
The color is very dark, no light passes through; generous, compact head, more similar to the 2008 than 2006. Delicate aroma of roasted malt, chocolate and spices. The body is round enough like the 2006, but a bit more dynami, probably because of a light sourness; the flavor is again chocolate and roasted malt and roasted nuts; it shows less oxidization than the 2006, and it doesn’t have the metallic trace. Balanced, as well not spectacular.

2008-02-15, vintage 2007, 6-4-6-3-11=30
Dark chestnut color, almost back, with a reasonably big head. The aroma is strange, with soap, meat, sweet nuts, spices and cookies. It has a medium mouthfeel, with a medium flavor of roasted malt and some spices (nutmeg and maybe cinnamon in the front); the almost roasted malt feeling is more evident at the end. Boring, unbalanced, not very pleasant. I won’t come back on this one soon.

2005-12-12, vintage 2005, 7-4-7-4-15=37
Dark brown color; creamy beige head. I’m quite disappointed by the first impression (too dry mouthfeel) so my recommendation is to leave it to breathe in the glass for 20 minutes…
The aroma is nice, with malt, caramel, spices, light gingerbread or cookies. The taste is round, well malty, with a brandy touch, caramel, spices and raisins (a light Christmas pudding). And the hopping is quite good as well. Very pleasant.

3
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
beerbuzzmontreal (3490) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - DEC 28, 2005
Pours a deep black color with a thin light brown head. Aroma of gingerbread and spices. Flavor of roasted malt, gingerbread and spices with a bitter finish. The palate is light and dry. I feel that this year’s OSA is less interesting and remarkable than the previous years.

3
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
GarrettB (920) - San Diego, California, USA - FEB 7, 2006
UPDATED: JAN 4, 2013 I had the Special Ale 2005 in the midst of many “same ol’ same ol’” winter ale beers that I had cheap from the local liquor store as part of an eclectic variety pack. The general theme of the six pack had me believe that this fun little gem from Anchor would be like its consanguineous brothers in the other five slots. Not so. The beer did pour the regular dark stoutish color with a mocha lab color transparency, and had a similarly flat and unexciting head, but the aroma and taste were far from the resounding conformity the other beers had displayed. What set it apart was a well placed floral essence that fit into the darker melody of the beer with sartorial precision. All the familiar groupies were there; the broad shouldered and dower chocolate, the everyman’s visage of malts, the peppy and somewhat obscure flow of fruits, and then there’s the new guy: an aromatic and potent fellow of a garden variety flavor. A flower one to be specific, and it makes the whole drink dark enough for to satisfy the testerone requisite, and floral to make it a good dark drink for an indoor feast. Now that I think about this, the flavor of this beer would fit in very well in the Redwall series of books. December 16th 2011 Tasting Notes Update - 2011 edition. Pillowy, tan and brown head. Brilliant aroma of blueberries, celery salt savoriness, and a salty gravity. Flavor is unpleasant. Muted, woodiness, underripe fruit. Sugar, but mostly ligneous wood flavor.

3
   AROMA 4/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 14/20
rgrep (156) - Wellington, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 27, 2006
Thanks to beer_ledgend for this one. Pours black with a light brown head. I’ve probably held on to this bottle for a bit too long as the aroma is barely there but I can still detect some toasty malt, a touch of cinnamon and tarry notes. The body is thinner than expected and drops off quickly without lingering. It has a spicy sweetness, some apple and a little astringency in the finish.

3
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 11/20
grease (42) - Reno, Nevada, USA - DEC 20, 2006
An annual disappointer, the spices are always way too much in this beer. To Anchor’s credit, age can work wonders on some years. I had the pleasure of multiple vertical tastings of 20+ year-old to near-current bottles, and there were some real winners in the pile. 2006 has assertive spruce and other holiday spices, but not quite as intense as the last several years. Still, one bottle a year usually does it for me. Worthy of setting aside to follow the maturation.

3
   AROMA 3/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
dornoy (701) - Copenhagen, DENMARK - DEC 30, 2006
2006 version. Brown head , orange body. Very tasty, good for a new year beer. Worth the try.


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