1. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Christmas Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,206 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1206
Reviews: 562
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 12.4%

Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co. visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
American Brown Ale |  7.30% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-21-2001)
View: Beers (269) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Christmas Ale Alström Bros
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 1,206 | Reviews: 562 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of 57md


4.31/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I enjoyed this gem while watching the Philadelphia Mummers’ Parade on New Year’s Day. I liked this baby so much that I decided to make it my 500th written review.

The bottle that I sampled was 2012 and had about 1.5 years of age on it.

Pours a cloudy brownish copper with two big fingers of beige head. Some of the head lingers and leaves nice lacing in its wake. The nose is an exquisite combination of malt and brandy notes. This offering is rich and malty with a semi-dry finish. The hints of brandy linger throughout the flavor profile.

Even though the ABV was not exceptionally high, this offering appeared to age very well.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2014 04:44:57 | More by 57md
Photo of elNopalero


4.68/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled on 11/11/11, enjoyed during the winter holidays of 2013.

I have no recollection purchasing this but found it tucked away in the basement of my parents’ house. Thought it would be fun to enjoy it.

This pours a ruddy raisin-color with thin foaming. It’s murky in appearance, like a poorly filtered French press cup of coffee.

The bottle calls this a American Brown Ale but honestly it pours more like a Belgian spiced dubble. There’s a light, low aroma of dried stone fruits, raisin and dates, with a sweet and sweetly-spiced flavor of cloves and allspice blended with the raisin and dates. I found it a delicious and welcome surprise.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2014 04:39:37 | More by elNopalero
Photo of boilermakerbrew


3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Double side-by-side review of the 2011 and 2012. I will note differences between the two in addition to describing their shared qualities.

A- Both pour a deep, hazy brown. The 2011 has a much smaller head, at about 1 finger, while the 2012 pours a giant head. Retention and lacing on both are great. *The 2012 had a fair amount of foam form in the bottle while opening, so there might be a carbonation level difference here.

S- Both have big, deep caramel malt scents. The 2011 has a dose of dark fruit that gives of the smell of a little bit of plums as well as some biscuity malts. Brown sugar sweetness is also evident in the 2011. *The 2012 has a very chemical/oxidation scent; I'm worried about this one.

T- Just like the scent for the 2011. Starts with your basic caramel malts and deepens with some of the brown sugar sweetness. A little bit off the biscuity malts are in there too, but just a tiny touch of the dark fruits. *The 2012 displays flavors similar to the scent and also has a very oxidized taste.

M- Fairly smooth, higher in carbonation, and easy to drink. The heavy flavors slow the drinking down a bit, but it is still a sessionable brew.

Overall, I have concluded that the 2012 bottle had gone bad. There was a tiny bit of rust under the cap, and the beer displayed some very off flavors and scents, both fairly consistent with oxidation. As for the 2011, it is still a pretty good beer. I'm not sure this will "develop in the bottle for up to 5 years." Still, this is a fairly complex brown ale, which is saying something for most brown ales. (ratings are for the 2011)

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2013 20:57:41 | More by boilermakerbrew
Photo of MarkQ617


3.31/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had the 2011 edition pured out of the bottle into a pint glass. Not sure how I feel about the whole aging in the bottle thing when it comes to beer and what the science is behind that, I guess to see the effects you'd essentially by a four pack, and drink one each year, or by the same year's 4 pack every year for 5 years or so. Seems like a lot of work. Anyway, not the best brown ale I've had. It had a nice nutty flavor to it, but there was an overpowering sour/sweetness to it that I didn't love. Hazy brown color that wasn't super appetizing. I prefer their Sixth Day around the holidays I think.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2013 15:59:17 | More by MarkQ617
Photo of fourstringer


2.99/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Becker pint glass. Moderate hand. Bottled on 08/31/2012. I held onto this one from last year's purchase to see how it did with a year in the cellar.

A: Cloudy brown with 3 fingers of off-white head. Good retention, but resulted in clumpy, unappealing floes on the surface. Significant lacing, which is nice.

S: Yeast hits first and strongly. Underlying roasted malt and dried fruit. Honestly, not terribly inviting.

T: Round malt with indistinct spice quickly transitions to a hop bitterness. Light, muddled chocolate notes and a dry finish. Alcohol is present, but not bothersome. Standard fare.

M: Surprisingly low carbonation in the mouth given the amount of head that blasted out of the bottle. Moderate body. Some stickiness, but overall pretty good.

O: Not sure why I though I should age this. Didn't blow me away last year. Wishful thinking it might improve significantly in a year, I suppose. Save your cellar space and just drink this fresh.

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2013 02:45:01 | More by fourstringer
Photo of fx20736

New York

4.64/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

2011 edition reviewed on 11/24/13
Appearance: 4.5 Aroma: 4.5 Mouthfeel: 4.25 Taste: 4.75 overall 4.75

I am now reviewing the 2011 edition 2 years after it was brewed as I scored a whole case for $ 20.

Served in a pint glass, served at cellar temp.

appearance: beautiful burgundian reddish brown with a sticky thick creme brulee head.

aroma: aroma: sweet dark fruit yummy

mouthfeel; good, soft and sinuous

taste: toe curling raisiny goodness with some brown sugar sweetness and some oak tannin like bitterness.

notes; a Grand Slam of a beer. Unbelievable


2012 edition. 4.43 reviewed on 3/10/13

Appearance: 4.75 Aroma: 4.5 Mouthfeel: 4.75 Taste: 4.25 overall 4.50

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass, served at cellar temp.

Gorgeous tawny port reddish brown with a thick, sticky creme brulee head that leaves nice lacing.

aroma: ripe dark fruit with some cocoa

mouthfeel: silky, soft and smooth

taste: plums, richly toasted malt, cocoa, maybe some diacetyl, with some woodiness, walnut and herbal bitterness.

notes: quite impressive. this is like a ramped up version of their brown ale with much higher hops and some dark fruits. It is complex with multiple layers of flavor. Yet another great beer from Goose Island.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2013 17:16:03 | More by fx20736
Photo of BlurryVisi0n

New York

3.91/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served in a pint, vintage 2012 bottle poured 09/24/2013.

Appearance: Dark cloudy copper brown with sediments in the body (morse than likely due to the age of the beer). Head is a slightly orange tinted white head that rose to maybe 1/4" at best.

Smell: caramel scent comes off light.

Taste: Sweet pecan type of feel with a light spiciness to it. Has caramel feel that is not had at all. Light yeast and malts, complex.

Mouth: Medium to heavy a bit on the body. Very sticky if you ask me which comes to a surprise consider most brown ales.

Overall: First time I'm having this and Goose Island comes once again delivers nothing but gems. It's a tad sweet for some, I think it's just right. When I catch the next batch I will be sure to grab them fresh. Salud!

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2013 02:57:06 | More by BlurryVisi0n
Photo of Mavigo


4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got a 2012 bottle of this from Tom's in East Lansing. It's only September but oh well, I can't wait. Served in a nonic as recommended by the brewer.

A: Pours an interesting cloudy, bubbly amber-copper color with a short beige-tan head that lasts for a few minutes before fading down to a thin ring on the edges of the glasses, leaving minimal amounts of lacing.

S: Faint aroma, smells of wheat, barley, malts, woods, brown sugars, spices, herbs

T: Excellent mellow flavors, tastes of wheat, malts, barley, as I would expect from a brown ale, but the spices used adds warmth to it, can tastes hints of vanilla, herbs, brown sugars

M: Medium bodied beer with subtle amounts of carbonation, quite balanced, nicely robust, very fulfilling

O: Overall this was great, it was an impulse buy without me knowing too much about the beer before I got it, though I am a big fan of Goose island, toured their breweries and have had many beers from them and as such, this is ale is just another number on their great beers list. Recommended hands down.

Serving type: bottle

09-14-2013 17:21:33 | More by Mavigo
Photo of RblWthACoz


3.76/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75


Got this beer as part of a 6 for 4.99 deal at a grocery store that wouldn't be my first stop for anything craft.

I think we're past the fresh stage, but still early on the aged stage on this one. Heavy malts going on. Mild spice. Seems very well made, but not quite the best time to approach this one. Nice enough to drink, I guess, but I will approach this one fresh or heavily aged next time.

Serving type: bottle

08-25-2013 03:35:19 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of cyclonece09


3.28/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a 14 oz "pint" glass. Pours a cloudy brown with very little head. Smells of chocolate primarily, with slight hoppy notes. Tastes of slight coffee and chocolate, with some piney hops. Beer goes down smooth, with its light body, good carbonation. Overall, a slightly above average beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2013 01:07:52 | More by cyclonece09
Photo of puboflyons

New Hampshire

4.21/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From the 12. fl. oz. bottle marked bottled on 08/31/12-0936. So this is 10 months old and of course well past Christmas. But I found it on clearance real cheap.

The color is a slightly murky amber-brown with a frothy tan head that lingers.

The aroma is subtle and sweet with esters of toffee, butterscotch, caramel malts, and nutmeg or brown sugar. The hops are even more subtle.

The body is smooth and medium.

The taste is surprisingly bitter considering the aroma is more sweet with creamy caramel and toffee merging with a moderate bitter bite that lingers and ends slightly dry. Still tasty all these months later.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2013 23:33:41 | More by puboflyons
Photo of mactrail


2.61/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.5

2012 edition. From the 12 oz bottle out of the cooler at Whole Foods in DC. Tastes more like an Old Ale, I can't conceive of this as a Brown. A little hazy, and I'd call it cherry-amber in color. Very thin but fine-grained foam.

This is just a peculiar taste. Buttery and roasted grainy flavor. Maybe the musty smell is the tip-off that not all is well. Distinct cola flavor with some earthy hops. The carbonation is quite nice, however. Sweet and slightly bitter. Well, this is sort of drinkable, it doesn't seem to be spoiled, but the rest of the bottle is going down the sink.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2013 03:01:19 | More by mactrail
Photo of deltatauhobbit


3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on 8/31/2012, been in my fridge since around Christmas time.

Pours a deep copper color with a decent sized light tan head, leaves a cap on top and some nice patchy lacing on the glass.

Smell is mostly roasted malt with a touch of toffee.

Taste is not overwhelming, fairly straight forward roasted malt aspect although the toffee flavors do add a touch of complexity, very soft carbonation but plenty of it, nice and creamy.

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2013 01:06:33 | More by deltatauhobbit
Photo of YoDude


4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Goose Island Christmas Ale 2009, aged 3 years 7 months in my beer cellar, 5.7% ABV, and poured into a Goose Island MBA Tulip glass.

Appearance: Poured amber brown with a deep thick head and a lacing that refuses to recede from its initial pour line.

Smell: A nice Holiday scent of dried fruit and nutmeg that is not overpowering.

Taste: The buttered toast and caramel malts lead to a lingering cinnamon-like bitter finish. As the beer warms, the flavor of black licorice emerges.

Mouth feel: Medium body and good carbonation, with a balanced sweet and bitter finish.

Overall: This American-style Brown Christmas Ale has aged very well. If any one flavor was originally dominant, that is not longer true. The Holiday spices have married well with the caramelized malt to make it very easy to enjoy more than one glass full. This beer may very well have reached its peak age, but I will continue to test as I still have three bottles in my cellar.

Serving type: 22 oz. bottle

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2013 04:55:55 | More by YoDude
Photo of Pencible


3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: This poured an opaque mahogany with a little tan head.
S: It smelled like roasted barley and earthy toffee, with a bit of vanilla and nutmeg.
T: It tasted like copper hops and roasted barley, with some earthy toffee and vanilla and nutmeg. It had a clean and bittersweet aftertaste.
M: It was watery with moderate carbonation. Light body.
D: This was reminiscent of Our Special Ale. Nice scent and taste, but nothing special. The body was only ok. The finish was smooth enough, so it was easy to drink. Seemed like it could really improve with age. Fresh wasn't bad, but fairly mundane.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2013 01:12:39 | More by Pencible
Photo of mick303

Ontario (Canada)

3.81/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 edition. Poured a nice fluffy tan head, pretty good retention. Colour itself is a deep mahogany brown. Leaves a really nice lacing.

Smell has a fair bit of caramel toffee and malt, slightly roasty. Stewed apples, roast coffee beans, and some citrus hop bitterness, cooked lemons. Quite nice and keeps getting better, balance is good.

Taste is has slightly sour bitterness, good body of bready malt, some tart caramel, a bit flat though. Some cherry fruitiness and raisins, hops come through with a bit of citrus and a nice earthy note. Alcohol pretty well-hidden, a slight astringency comes a bit spicy on the end. Finish is herbal bitter, dry, a nice drawn out spiciness.

Mouthfeel has a good deal of carbonation, moderate malty body. Decently refreshing, some alcohol spiciness on end. Spicy end is warming. A bit boozey, like brandy poured over fruity spicey christmas cake.

Tasty stuff, hard to put down for long. A pretty good example of a strong brown ale. Smell is first class. Taste could be more interesting though and more drawn together, a couple rough spots. Together it is pretty good, undecided whether the high abv works in its favour or not. I'll be interested to see how subsequent future years stack up.

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2013 00:02:52 | More by mick303
Photo of ujsplace


4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a nonic glass.

Deep amber brown in color with a sticky antique white head.

Smells of sweet caramel malt, dark fruits and some earthy hops.

Tastes of nice big Burt caramel malt, figs, dark cherries, cinnamon and nutmeg wither a mildly bitter hop finish.

Medium thick mouthfeel. Dense. Leaves a coating behind.

One of the better Christmas ales I've had. Looking forward to next year's batch.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2013 02:24:52 | More by ujsplace
Photo of Flounder57


4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle was poured into a nonic pint glass. 2011 version bottled on 9/27/11. As all GI beers, matures in the bottle for 5 years. This should be good after 16 months.

Appearance: This beer poured a small head that reduced to a thin layer quickly. It is an amber brown hue with little clarity and bubbles coming up through the glass.

Smell: Smells good. Fruity malty, sweet, caramel, and orange marmalade.

Taste: This beer tastes like a fruit cake. Very interesting and a bit of spiciness and alcohol to the beer too. Oranges and nice bitterness in the end of the palate.

Mouthfeel: A bit on the light slide with a watery feel to it, smooth, medium carbonation, and slightly chewy.

Overall: Pretty solid ABA that has aged well and could be aged longer. Might have to go back to Granite Liquors in Weymouth to buy a few more.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2013 03:56:04 | More by Flounder57
Photo of flyingpig

United Kingdom (Scotland)

4.11/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

355ml Bottle from Good Spirits Co, Glasgow (£3.00):
Dark ruby to copper colour with a pinky sized, bubbly and tan brown head that has nice retention and leaves some nice lacing too.

Sweet with some good caramel malts and dried fruits. There is a nutty aroma too and a fair bit of spice too, this is backed up with some subtle hops.

Sweet with a few caramel malts and some dried, darker fruits, notably some cherries, figs and plum. There is also a touch of hops that comes across lighter than it did on the nose. Quite creamy and with a lot of spice, there is also some brown sugar.

Medium to full body with a creamy mouthfeel and a good balance between the sweet malts and the bitterness with the faintest of alcohol tastes right at the end, this is all rounded off with a nice touch of hops.

Definitely something different and not at all what I was expecting when I learnt that this one was a brown ale. It wasn't as malty as I was expecting and there was more hops too, that and it was sweeter than your usual brown ale in my opinion.

Serving type: bottle

02-14-2013 10:37:31 | More by flyingpig
Photo of JohnnyBarman

Ontario (Canada)

4.01/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Single bottle from the 2012 edition, picked up at Premier Gourmet in Buffalo. Missed this one around the holidays, but I figure it is wintery enough for one of these.

Defied the bottle's suggestion for a nonic and went with a tulip on this one. Chestnut ruby in colour, amber when held to the light. Good half inch of head recedes into a thick ring and sturdy layer of foam. Icicles of lacing. Looks the part at any rate.

Nose is quite nice, especially when the brew is allowed to warm. Caramel, bread, a bit of chocolate, orange, cream and holiday spices, with a faint citrus hop lingering in the back. Very good stuff.

Equally tasty, and the slightly Belgian mouthfeel made this a pleasant drinking experience. Malty to start, nice crusty bread and faint chocolate, before finishing with cream, fruit (plum, fig, orange), hops and spices. I only got one and I regret it immediately. Great mouthfeel on this, creamy and with mild carbonation.

Great Christmas ale - I'll certainly hope for a few more of these before next Christmas!

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2013 00:19:42 | More by JohnnyBarman
Photo of MaxFenig

District of Columbia

4.69/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This was the best seasonal, in this case a special Christmas variety, I have ever had! It had a touch of Christmas spices and provided a very pleasurable taste on my pallate. I had it on tap and the glass came with a nice foamy head, was served quite cold and it required a second glass to confirm the experience.

Serving type: on-tap

02-06-2013 13:51:48 | More by MaxFenig
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

3.94/5  rDev +4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a four-finger light tan head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Murky brown color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Brown sugar and malty nose and flavor is caramel and spicy malt. Bottled 8/31/2012, $2.80 for a 12oz bottle from Bert's Better Beers Hooksett, NH

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2013 23:40:26 | More by jdhilt
Photo of wac9


1.85/5  rDev -51.2%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 1.5

what can i say about this beer i dont like it its leave a nasty after taste in my mouth doesnt given look good in a glass yes everybody loves it but i dont ,i dont go with the flow looks light a light brown ale not dark and it goes down bitter and it doesnt do anything for me

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2013 01:45:53 | More by wac9
Photo of Perduret

4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got a case 2012 for christmas and have a couple left. It is a rich deep brown. the Aroma has a sweet malts and a really nutty waft. There is another spices that try to come out, maybe nutmeg?

Taste starts with toasted malt and moves to licorice and fruit. Finish even has a descent hop kick to it for a brown. i really enjoyed the different flavors of this one.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2013 18:26:01 | More by Perduret
Photo of ColdWaffles


3.96/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Reviewed from notes of stuff I've had over the past month or so.

Poured into a Samuel Smith's tulip pint from a 12 oz bottle.

Appearance: Poured a nice deep red/brown color with a short, short-lived off-white head.

Smell: Sugar, sweet, dried fruit and caramel and roasted malts. All pretty evident. Scent is pretty inviting.

Taste: Initially a sweet, roasty malt flavor with a plum undertone. Led me to believe this was a little boring at first. However, a nice hop background comes to play off of the moderate to good carbonation to make an interesting two-phase taste. Not bad at all.

Mouthfeel: Sticky medium bodied ale with good carbonation levels.

Bottle looks really classy.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2013 23:58:04 | More by ColdWaffles
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Christmas Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
85 out of 100 based on 1,206 ratings.