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Christmas Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

1,307 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,307
Reviews: 571
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 12.14%
Wants: 58
Gots: 114 | FT: 2
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-21-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,307 | Reviews: 571
Reviews by datalager:
More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Some ABAs can be murky, but this is actually quite nice. The brown color is a light-brown and very pretty, and the head came up on an easy pour and left a lot of lacing.

Smell - The malts are about as richly toasted as you can get without smelling burnt or roasted. The sugars are very, very mild. I can catch a few other smells like cocoa and coffee grounds but again they are very light. This is a subtle masterpiece.

Taste - This is like a whole-wheat piece of bread toasted until it's almost burnt. Again the sugar is very light, not even like sugar but more like the residual sweetness you get from eating raw barley. There's a sneak peak of hops in here that just does get noticed.

Mouthfeel - This is almost medium-bodied with just the right amount of dull carbonation and thankfully not overly bitter as some American efforts at the style tend to be.

Drinkability - As I said before, this is a subtle beer that will reward the patient drinker from beginning to end. I suppose you could age it a bit to meld the flavors, but I found the various smells and tastes to be quite entertaining.

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

Nice solid brew. Deep malt backbone, light hop bitterness that is just present enough to keep you thirsty for more. Slender sand head, mildly clingy. Caramel is the overriding aroma. Coffee with caramel syrup makes up the bulk of the flavor. Slightly smoky. Orange peal finish. This is a concrete beer with a great price. It’s really quite a steal.

Photo of JudgeRoughneck
3.34/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This one is a dark, murky, brown to deep cherry color. Three fingers of spongy, lightly toasted head slowly dindle to two and leaves a nice lacing. Smell is very faint but as a lightly roasted maltiness.

A rich caramel coffee slides into a quite bitter finish. This is clearly well-made beer, but the alcohol makes itself a little too well-known for my tastes. I will probably stow one of these and come back to it in a year.

Photo of skybluewater
3.41/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice garnet color. Not much lace. Smell is rather unusual. There's a bit of chocolate there, but there's also something else I don't care for, but can't describe. Taste isn't bad, just average. A touch of chocolate, with not much else. The mouthfeel's a bit too thin, and there's not enough alcohol to warm me up on a cold night.

I have to say I'm disappointed with this offering from GI. There are better, more warming beers of this style out there. While not a bad brew, I wouldn't buy again, unless part of a "pub pack".

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Here's another one I look forward to every year. Pours a nice raisin/red color, with hints of bright red popping out from behind the light. A nice tan head tops it off with some gentle lacing. Aromas of piney hops mix with toffee, fruit, nuts and caramel. Nice spicy tones as well, quite a sniffer.

First sip is a tantalizing mix of burnt chocolate, nuts and toffee all floating in some piney hop goodness. A nice bitterness flows over the back of the palate. There's alot going on here, with hints of fruit and spice as well. A tasty winter warmer that I always enjoy.

Mouthfeel has a good body and creaminess...a pleasure to consume. I could easily sit down to a sixer of this on a cold winter night. Just a damn fine brew and a must try from Goose Island.

Photo of chOAKbarrell
3.6/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle dated 9/29/05. No light passes through this beer at all. Nice frothy head with lots of lacing. Smells pretty malty sweet. Flavorful and pleasing to the palate. I dont know what to compare the taste to. The mouthfeel seems kind of thin for such a robust beer. Not knowing a whole lot about winter warmers, I'd say this is probably slightly above average.

Photo of warnerry
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Saying goodbye to the holidays with a couple of Christmas beers. 2011 release.

A - Pours a nice mahogany color with two fingers of tan head, but there is loads of suspended material, even after a gentle pour and being upright for at least a month. Head has decent retention and leaves a small amount of lacing.

S - Toasted bread malt, light floral hops, a bit of spice and caramel. Some sweetness in the aroma, maybe a touch of raisin. Actually pretty subtle, but good.

T - Similar to smell, with a bit more sweet malt than in the nose. Nice toasted bread with some spice and a mild hop presence. Also a faint tea taste.

M - Medium mouthfeel with a pretty dry finish.

O - A good Christmas brown ale, but not sure I would go back to this one too often.

Photo of Beaver13
3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, bottled on 09/18/12 - 2012 7.3% ABV version. Pours dark reddish brown with a medium creamy light tan head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is sweet nutty malts, brown sugar and dark fruits and a little alcohol.

The flavor is sweet sugary nutty malts, dark fruit and some fruitcake with a medium bitter alcohol bite in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with smooth carbonation.

Overall, a nicely balanced Christmas beer. A tad much on the sweet and nutty side for me.

Photo of generallee
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: It was poured from a 650ml brown bottle into a nonic pint glass, as is recommended on the label for best enjoyment. The label also has a born on date of 10/30/09 and a description of a local Chicago charity which Goose Island will donate a portion of the profits too from this beer.

Appearance: It has a beautiful deep crimson red body with very good clarity. The head on top has a creamy off white color and a thick, frothy texture. It also hangs on well and leaves loads of thick clingy lacing on the glass.

Smell: The aroma had a much stronger hop presence than I was expecting. It had a very solid pine like hop character with a touch of holiday spice underneath it.

Taste/Palate: First up is a firm hit of hops which bring good earthy and citrusy/pine notes and bitterness. With the hops also comes a solid backing of sweet toasted caramel maltiness. From here spice notes like nutmeg, cinnamon and maybe some bitter orange peel, creep in and add some more depth of flavor. All of these flavors seem to come together and balance each other in the slow lingering finish. The palate has a good firm medium to full body and texture with nice active carbonation.

Notes: The hops were a bit surprising to me at first for a brown ale/Christmas beer but everything comes together nicely in the finish. I also like that it keeps the spicing to a mellow level which adds to its drinkability in my opinion.

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

12oz brown bottle with a vintage date of 2011 on the label.

LOOK: Hazed mahogany, awesome lacing

SMELL: Toasted biscuits, chicory, herbal, minty, dried plums, yeast

TASTE: Smooth, creamy, medium body, very toasty, biscuity, dried grass, bread crust, caramel, figs, herbal, orange pith, hop bitterness, tea, semi-dry finish.

An American brown ale strutting around like a Winter Warmer, you have to let this one get to celler temp as it becomes a real treat. Here's to a long winter so I can go through all of the seasoanls I have ... Goose Island was a great way to kick it off.

Photo of merlin48
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This Goose pours a clear, red mahogany with a thin beige head that quickly fades into even lacing of patches and sheets. Aroma begins with caramel, with a spice background, then evolves into a prominent bouquet of citrus and floral hops. Mouthfeel has moderate carbonation, and a mild, spicy bite on the tongue. Taste is dominated by sweet caramel malt, with cinamon and nutmeg in the background. As it warms up, there seems to be an abundance of fresh, green hops that lend a citrus balance. I've gotten this fresh, green, hoppiness from other Goose Island brews, as well, and find it very pleasant. Well balanced, overall, and has very good drinkability for a Christmas seasonal ale, due to the restrained use of the spices.

Photo of Billolick
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle sampled (Just missed this one on tap at the Blind Tiger..rats..) Bottled on dating (bottled less then a month ago) and label tells me this will "continue to develop over 5 years" !Anyway this is a good looking and good tasting winter brew. Dark Honey almond in color with a long lasting tan head, leaves gobs of fine lacing. Nose is bready malts and light spice. Malty smooth brew, pleasingly flavorful and satisfying. With notes of caramel, oatmeal cookies. Softly rounded on the tongue. Very nice christmas/winter sessioner.

Photo of Mora2000
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glad I got to try this one. 2009 vintage.

The beer pours a brownish-amber color with a white head. The aroma is very one dimensional. I get a lot of toffee notes, but that is it. No hops, spices, etc... The flavor is much more complex and a big improvement over the aroma. I get a lot of caramel and toffee malts, but there is also a nice hop component to the flavor. I get some grass and pine hops which provide a nice bit of bitterness to balance out all of the malt sweetness. I also get some cocoa in the flavor and maybe a little bit of spice, but if it is there, it is very subtle. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Another good beer from Goose Island.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
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!

Photo of bsp77
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bomber into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Slightly dark rich amber under thick cream colored head.

Smell: Caramel and toasted malts. Hoppy smelling - both American (citrus) and English (spicy).

Taste: Much more sweet upfront then the smell indicated. Dark fruit, caramel, figs, citrus and spicy hops. The hops really build at the end of each sip.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, medium and slightly creamy body, dry finish.

Drinkability: Seems like a very nice cross between an American Brown Ale and an English Strong Ale. Nice stuff!

Photo of gibgink
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

I recommend this beer, if you like a sweeter beer. No real hoppy bitterness to speak of, with a nice warming aftertaste. Spot on Christmas ale! Will pickup more.

Photo of pat61
4.08/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I’ve had this on tap at the Bryant Lake Bowl and the Pig & Fiddle and from a bottle poured into a craft beer glass.
A: Brilliant chestnut, 1” off white foam collar, provides thin lines of lace.
S: Mild fruit cake in a glass with citrus, light fruit, spice.
T: The dark malts have a cakey bread character with dried fruit, orange, cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of clove. It starts sweet but there is some drying astringency from the spices on the finish.
F: Creamy, medium body and carbonation.
O: This is a good, rich Christmas ale. It is a little on the rich side to drink more than a bottle of this at a sitting.

Photo of dogfishandi
4.06/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009- 22oz bottle at room temp split with a friend poured into a plastic cup (all we had available) bottled 10-2009

poured a huge crazy billowy biege head, tons of sticky lace, from what i can tell, brown color. most amazing looking beer in a plastic cup.

woody hops, fruits, chocolate malts.

woody hops balanced nicely by fruity, toasty malts, toffee, caramel, dark fruits, bitter hop finish.

smooth, almost velvety feel, medium bodied, good feeling carb.

easy drinker. definatly worth a try!

Photo of MattyG85
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. Bottled on 10/31/11.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy brown with some copper orange. Lots of rising bubbles and a solid four finger off white head with good retention. Lots of lacing around the glass.

Smell: Roasted caramel and toffee malts with some nuts and a subtle spicing of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove. Light hints of citrus and earthy hops. Also a little brown sugar.

Taste: Big caramel and toffee malt flavor up front which is followed by a little citrus orange. Has a pretty noticeable presence of molasses. Subtle spices including ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Also some nuts and earthy hops. Tastes more like a Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy than an American Brown Ale.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Crisp and syrupy.

Overall: A nice tasting Christmas ale. Far from a standard brown ale.

Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 650ml bottle of 2009 vintage. Bottled on 10/09/09. ABV is stated as 7.0% (importer's sticker). Acquired early last year from my local beer specialist as part of a Christmas beer sell-off. Label mentions that this ale will develop over 5 years, and should be served in a nonic pint glass.

Poured into a Sam Smith's pint glass. A hazy reddish-brown with decent carbonation. Yields an off-white head of foam that lasts for a few minutes before subsiding. Aroma of sweet caramel malt with notes of brown sugar, toffee, fruity yeast esters, dried fruit and alcohol. Hints of pine - much faded after 2 years. Fantastic balance.

Tastes of sweet, sugary malt with notes of brown sugar, caramel/toffee, fruit cake, yeast esters and stewed hops. A hint of aromatic pine and a boozy finish. Some bitterness upon swallowing, but this is attenuated by the sweet character. Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, with great body. Slightly dry; coats the palate. Aftertaste of sweet malt with a hoppy bitterness.

A class act, especially for a beer of this age. One is left with the impression that the hops have faded away, leaving a dominance of sweet malt flavours - sort of a barleywine lite. The aroma is magnificent, although the flavour is a bit too sweet and syrupy. Lovely mouthfeel. A decent Christmas brew that trumps quite a few I've tried this season.

Photo of far333
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Chestnut brown with caramel highlights where light gets through, a thick one-inch high oatmeal-colored head rises up quickly and hangs out for a while, slowly falling down to a thin lacey cap that rises up at the edges of the glass. Smell is dark and intense, drawing me closer - dark roasty malt, caramel and raisin, brown sugar and molasses, just a bit of bitter chocolate. Full and chewy mouthfeel ushers in a rich flavor of powdery cocoa, some tangy raisin, caramel and toffee, perhaps a hint of cherry. Slightly hoppy tingly finish, dry and crisp, a bit tannic. Interesting winter warmer, a little lower ABV than others I've had, but a very enjoyable beer.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.3/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark fluid brown with a good amount of sediment or something, thin head. Aroma was not exactly Christmas like, some elements to it like nutmeg and other non descript spice.

Taste, enjoyable, more to the flavor profile than the appearance or style label would have led on. Even though brown, caramel and toffee all over it, maybe brown sugar, pronounced sweetness without being a turnoff. Highly carbonated. Pulls out some pine flavor without really having any hop assertiveness.

Photo of ADR
4.04/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Holiday time, 2002...

Slightly hazed (bottle-conditioned) darker amber, head is 1/8 of an inch and has three primary bubble sizes. Slightly hoppy aroma. Nicely "American" profile to the flavor, peppery and cinnamon malty flavors with a citrusy hop that kicks in mid-mouth and helps close the impression. Nice beer, good balance, interesting flavor, and refreshing incorporation of big hops. Maybe slightly thin in body. Another of six or so Winter beers that will give me plenty of variety for my moods this holiday season.

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Deep ruby brown with a nice moccha colored head leaves nice collar of lacing not bad. Aroma: Smells piney, with hints of nutmeg and other Christmas spice deep malt toastiness seems winter warming to me, hast the right color. Taste: A nice piney hop presence rides a wave of toasted malts with hints of spice and chocolate making for an enjoyable holiday inspired ride. Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied ale with mellow carbonation to form an interesting mouthfeel and nice smooth but syrupy texture. Drinkability: The piney earthy flow found in the middle of the malt wave is most impressive keeps my taste buds wanting more.

Photo of FrognutUnl
2.91/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Clear ruby in color, with a single finger off-white head.

S - Sweet malts coupled with a noticeable, but not very distinct hop aroma. Spices are nearly absent from the aroma, but not entirely.

T - Sweet with a hint of bitterness and notes of cinnamon and allspice in the finish.

M - Medium to light body with a enough carbonation to compensate without being overly carbonated.

D - While finding this beer relatively enjoyable, I am a little disappointed in the lack of spices that I think generally defines the winter warmer style. The bottle says to age up to 5 years and perhaps it will be better then. In short I am glad I have tried it, but really isn't anything to write home about.

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Christmas Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
85 out of 100 based on 1,307 ratings.