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12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale - Thirsty Dog Brewing Company

Not Rated.
12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

175 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 175
Hads: 640
Avg: 3.87
pDev: 26.61%
Wants: 43
Gots: 128 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Thirsty Dog Brewing Company visit their website
Ohio, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  8.30% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: imaguitargod on 11-18-2008

This beer's name sums up the idea of bringing the best together to celebrate. It is filled with seasonal flavors from generous amounts of toasted and caramel malts, mixed with equally generous amounts of honey, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. We feel it is the perfect libation, filled with flavors of the season.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 175 | Hads: 640
Photo of dirtylou
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, scooped a sixer at city-wide in downtown south bend. 4 of these were consumed from the cooler pre-ND/BC

appearance: served in an unmarked chalice, deep dark crimson body, light beige ring with minimal retention...plus a neat little label

smell: a heavily spiced ale - fresh grated ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, honey. there is also a fair amount of pine and some nice caramel

taste: not sure i'm on board with all the poor ratings of this one - this a very nicely spiced winter warmer. Loads of pine, excessive ginger, a bunch of cinnamon, allspice & nutmeg. the alcohol is really nowhere to be found other than the nice warming provided after consumption

mouthfeel: active spicing keeps the palate lively, medium body with hidden abv

drinkability: very nice - even worked as a tailgater!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.82/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ferric oxide orange with a hint of brick red, crystalline clarity and very few visible bubbles. That hasn't stopped the creation of a thick chunk of ecru colored froth. The head doesn't have a great deal of character, but it's decent where glass decoration is concerned.

The nose is typical for a spiced winter warmer. Cinnamon is dominant, followed by nutmeg. I'm not sure that I could have idenfied the ginger and honey on smell alone. All in all, the aroma is balanced and good enough to make me want to upend the glass without further delay.

12 Dogs drinks lighter than the ABV would suggest. That probably has more to do with the mouthfeel than the flavor. My first impression is that this is a fairly well-crafted example of the style that gets the spice load just about right... if you like spiced beer.

Ginger is now appreciated and is almost as prominent as cinnamon and nutmeg. The honey (and some caramel malt) adds a background sweetness that smooths things out and keeps the spices from being palate fatiguing. Still, a single bottle in one sitting should be more than enough. Well-buried alcohol is a plus.

Although it does fill out a bit with warming, the mouthfeel isn't up to the task, especially considering the style and the ABV. I have no complaints about the laid back carbonation.

Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale isn't as good as Great Lakes Christmas Ale, but it's a pretty good effort all the same. If I still lived in the Buckeye State, I'd probably buy a sixer of this and two sixers of GL's version every December. Definitely worth a look.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.68/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer holds pretty true to Christmas-ey beers. It's just good to see a new beer from the brewery.

Dense aroma of molassas, caramelized malts, dark (fruit cake) fruits, and a hearty dosing of cinamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and corriander. Throw in some piney hops and we have a beer that rides the fence of complex vs. muddled.

Dark brown with some burgundy highlights. A clean, clear appearance with outstanding head formation and retention. Light tan laces on the glass- an inviting look.

Flavors get back on track with the nose- malty rich and molassas up front with a lot of sweetness (unresolved malts and sugars). Piney, grassy hops quickly rise to balance (doesn't quite achive it). Additional spices (see nose) thrown in to decorate the taste. The spices seem to scatter the beer too much.

Full, rich, and sweet body fits for the Winter season. Bitterness is primarily acheived with the hops but compounded by the spices (nearly astringent). Finishes quite sweet and with a lot of residual sugars on the mouth.

Sounds a bit harsh, but most Winter Warmers fall into this overly-sweet, artificially-spiced catagories. The beer is par of the course and delightful when in the mood for heavy sweetness and varying spices.

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Photo of neenerzig
3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Drank this one several months ago now with my friend Passow. This review is being written from notes. A 12 oz bottle was poured into my pint glass. This beer is a red color. Head was a decent size but settled to not much pretty quickly. Ok lace. Aromas of caramel malt, honey, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Flavors of sweet caramel malt along with hints of nut and a touch of honey. Rounded out with a bit of hops. Has a crisp, smooth medium bodied mouthfeel. Easy to drink in a good way I suppose. Easy to drink but certainly nothing special here.


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Photo of CaptCleveland
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Single 12oz pour into pint glass from cellared 6-pack from 2008-09 season.

Dark, mahogany-colored liquid with thin white foam; white lace covers the inside of the glass as the beer is consumed. Nutmeg predominates, tempered by the sweet fragrance of ginger and mild honey. Well-balanced combination of seasonal spices, but not too sweet. Just enough honey to reign in the nutmeg and ginger. Aforementioned spices mix with cinnamon to bring forth a nicely seasoned ale. Sweetness is tempered and the overall flavor is kept tight and dry, eliminating that sticky, sugar-cookie cloying flavor that is typical of these offerings. For a high ABV brew, the alcohol is nicely balanced, testament to the brewers skill.
Overall 12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale presents the seasonal category well but also is versatile to be sipped on any occasion.

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Photo of Sammy
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pleasant aroma, some dissipitating white cloudy head on cloudy yellow body.Mouthfeel is a tad above average, although tingling from carbonation though it was not apparent or obtrusive. Honey and some spices, nothing too much. Spice and lagerish taste really.Pleasant.

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Photo of sjohansen
2.78/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 Dogs pours a pretty clear amber; almost copper in color. There is very little head from a pretty rough pour, and what was there disappeared quickly. No visible rising bubbles.

The nose is off. It smells like a wild field. I don't want to say salad, because it's not the standard DMS, but there is a leafy green scent. It sweetens up to a Splenda like sweetener as it warms.

Hops come to the forefront (herbal bitterness,) but get smashed in the aftertaste by sweet caramel. The caramel turns to honey as it warms. Has a syrupy aftertaste, slightly cloying.

Medium bodied, smooth, slick.

It was ok. Winter beers have to come with something special, especially because of what's available. This one didn't cut it. As a side note... for as sweet as it was, I really wish there was more to the nose.

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Photo of CrellMoset
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle as an extra from thehand - thanks!! Split w/ dkachur, w/ my portion poured into a 12 oz. snifter.

Appearance: Pours a largely transparent, crystalline reddish copper colored brew with not-so-great head retention. Lacing is erratic, sort of thought-bubble-esque scattered all over the sides of the glass. The collar is off-white, and the effervescence is tight, clustered, fine, and fairly fast.

Aroma: I'd like some beer with my ginger, please, kthx. It absolutely dominates everything here, though some earthier, more neutral nutmeg, and perhaps a few light fruity esters.

Taste: Overripe bananas esters in a sea of caramel and spices - festive bananas flambe? Ginger is the most prominent spice here, the most prominent note in fact, though the roasted malts - caramel, maple syrup, toast - aren't far behind, followed by banana and other light fruit esters, with some very obvious nutmeg in the finish. Faint, faint hop bitterness. It's nice, but perhaps a little spice heavy.

Mouthfeel: Probably this beer's best quality - medium thickness, largely even, with enough crisp, fine-to-medium sized effervescence to cut through it well. Pleasant.

Drinkability: A solid if slightly overly-spiced winter warmer. The constituent parts are good, just out of balance. Cut the ginger back a few notches and you'd have a really good beer, perhaps not quite sessionable at 8.3%, but a good in-front-of-the-fire, Christmas-time sorta beer.

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Photo of BeTheBall
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

During this time of year I like to drink an occasional Christmas ale. Had only tried this brewery's stout before, so why not.

Poured a dark brown with a decent head that quickly dissipated.

Smelled of nutmeg, cinnamon and roasted malt.

Taste had hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger? Very tasty indeed; pleasurable for the entire glass.

Mouthfeel was average; nothing great, or bad.

Drinkability was good, light on the ABV, nice and tasty, although I would not drink more than one or two fo these.

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Photo of xare
3.25/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured as a brown clear liquid with a small amount of white head that disappeared after about a minute. Doesn't lace. At the edges of the glass, the color lightens up and becomes honey-colored.

Smell is of nutmeg and some alcohol. It's better than most winter warmers I've had in the past, but nutmeg isn't my favorite of the spices used in this brew. If you like nutmeg though, you'd bump this up a notch.

Taste is of nutmeg with a touch of cinnamon and a hint of ginger. Certainly couldn't detect the honey that they used. The taste is somewhat boozy as well, but if you're into that, bump this up a notch. It was almost like a nutmeg-rum-soaked cookie ball flavor, minus the cookie. And minus the rum flavors.

Mouthfeel was average. No creaminess after the head went away. It was crisp and clean though and not cloying or suffocating with spices. Solid 3.

Drinkability suffered a bit as you can taste the alcohol and it shows. I like the alcohol to be well-hidden or for the beer to be easily drunk without worrying about the heat coming from it. Maybe if the booziness goes away with age, then this would be a prime candidate for aging.

Overall, it's a decent beer but certainly not a replacement for either Great Lakes or Barley's Christmas Ales. The three are similiar - the thing that makes this one different is the nutmeg and the booziness of the brew. If you're into either one of those features, then by all means go for this brew. Otherwise, it's a solid beer but not one that I'd buy year after year.

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Photo of hopdog
3.65/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle consumed on Christmas Day.

Poured a medium to deep amber color wth an averaged sized off whtie head. Aromas of caramel and spices - all kinds, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and some others. Tastes of the same spices, caramel, and toasty. Definitelhy a spice beer. Alcohol content well hidden as I just noticed it was +8%.

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Photo of ddtprm
3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz into a Unibroue tulip. For a local beer, I am embarrased to say this is only the second brew I've had from Thirsty Dog. I thoroughly enjoyed their Siberian Night Imperial Stout.

A: The beer poured a clear copper color with a smallish head. Good lacing. Looks good so far...

S: Nutmeg is the dominant spice scent, but not offensive like some other winter warmers I've had this year.

T: Taste is quite good here. I enjoyed it very much. The spices are very apparent, but not out of control. Yum.

M: This brew is very smooth on the palate and not as full bodied as I anticipated it would be. Nice!

D: 8.3%? Look out! There is no hint of the gravity here, and it certainly catches up to you. I can certainly see myself going through a few of these in a sitting. I can't wait to enjoy the rest of the 6.

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Photo of FishHeadLover
3.57/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brewery is one of my and my wifes favorites.
A- It poured brownish with a nice two finger white head.
S- As soon as you pour this beer you smell the pine and spices. Smells a bit malty with a stong cinnamon and pine as you investigate further. With an 8.3% abv you would think you would get more of an alcohol smell.
T- Piney but no alcohol bite.
M- Slight carbination but no alcohol BUT no doubt pine and spice.
D- This beer isn't bad for a christmas beer but the more I drink the more I cant get that pine taste out, yea too much pine.

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Photo of tmoneyba
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from River's Bend.

Pours a clear brown color with an average frothy off-white head that mostly lasted with good lacing. Moderate toasted malt, honey and allspice aroma. Medium body with a sticky texture and soft carbonation. Medium to heavy spicy sweet flavor with a medium spicy sweet finish of moderate duration.

Good drinkable beer.

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Photo of weeare138
4.12/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Capone's...
Appears a dark, semi-transparent brown with a fluffy, off white head that slowly fades out. Scattered bits of lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of hefty amounts of brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and a touch of nutmeg. I'm not a huge fan of spiced ales but this one is pretty enticing stuff.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a mild earthy hop note coming through, along with the caramel, and cinnamon flavors melding into a delicious winter brew.
Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied, balanced spicing with a warming alcohol sensation in the swallow.

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Photo of tempest
3.65/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Out of a mixed 6-pack from Liberty St. Tavern. Yeah, the spices are heavy, but paired with a god Christmas cookie, it's quite tasty. There's a overwhelming presence of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger over a sweet, caramel roll malt profile and mellow, but spicy, hops finish. There's no hint of alcohol and if you don't mind the spice, this is a tasty winter treat.

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Photo of hustlesworth
3.47/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- short beige head, kinda dense with a lot of bubbly movement. body is clear and reddish cherrywood in color with orange highs and a shiny ruby red against the christmas lights.

S- pungent ginger aroma especially as it warms, as well as cinnamon and fresh grated nutmeg, respectively. some caramel sweetness, could be from the honey but i'm sure its a little bit of both. i've read the blah blah blah and yeah it smells alot like GLBC but i think theirs has more cinnamon in the aroma.

T- ginger dominates again from front to back as cinnamon and nutmeg only pluck minor strings on this yuletide harp. ginger tastes fresh, spicy, and lemon-esque, but toasted and caramel malt flavors pull their fair share with some dark chocolate as well. hops are earthy and somewhat bold, perhaps keeping the cinnamon and nutmeg in check. honey sweetness is light and fleeting and is equally met with some fruity acidity. grainy spiced finish with some woodsy bitterness.

MF- powdery and residual, spice resins, a little over medium body and carbonation. rasps the roof of the mouth a little.

D- again, not a fan of eastern baking spice in beer but, in the eastern spiced winter warmer category it fares about the same as its butt buddy, just balanced in a differrent way.

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Photo of Ohiovania
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tried it on tap and boy was it delicious. The smell was very inviting and so the moment I got my nose right down in there, I knew this one was going to be good. Although I think some of the spices could of been toned down a bit it didn't bother me much and i enjoyed the flavor all the way through. I have heard rumors that the 12 dogs recipe is the old great lakes Christmas Ale recipe before they made some alterations. Not sure if it's true but this one is definitely worth trying.

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Photo of BigD1972
1.72/5  rDev -55.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Just like the Harpoon Winter Warmer,..this Beer is awful!!! It's like drinking a liquid Christmas tree. The piney taste and over spiced taste makes this brew hard to swallow. The smell is actualy not that bad but, it is the calm before the storm. Not impressed at all.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.27/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appears a dark chestnut brown hue with a large off white khaki head with fine intricate lacing between each sip, retention is decent. Aroma offers up a nice mix of Christmas spices, according to the label it says honey cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. What stands out to me is the spicy ginger along with earthy and pine hops, of course a strong honey sweetness rides in the sidecar. Very complex and full of Christmas senses, supposedly the same recipe as the Great Lakes Christmas ale according to a recent thread, rumor? I'm not sure but it smells pretty close. Flavor is nice spices play nice with bitter and spicy edges, I'm getting Christmas spiced bread with powdered yeast drizzled with honey and caramel, let's not forget spruce tips and a raw earthy bitterness with just a touch of booziness about it. I can't believe this brew is scoring in the middle of the road category, because it's fantastic. I'm ready for a whole sixer better yet a mixed sixer half Great Lakes Christmas Ale and half of this fine brew. Mouthfeel is medium to fuller bodied with some thicker textures joining the party, some honey and some rough spice induced bitterness in the finish. Also some soothing alcohol burn that makes the whole experience work a little better, and drinkability wise it's pretty easy to drain a 12 ounce pour if you let your palate adjust to the honey and spices. Throw a cigar into the mix and it will hold up equally as well.

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Photo of zsk
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, dark copper color with a 3/4 inch head. Good lacing on the glass as I drink it. The taste is everything listed onthe bottle. This beer tastes like Christmas. It is similar to Great Lakes Christmas Ale. Cinnamon, nutmeg and in the background, honey and ginger. It is too high in alcohol to be a session beer, but the alcohol is hidden behind those spices. I like Old Leghumper from Thirsty Dog and now this one. It might be time to revisit their beers.

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Photo of schoolboy
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

First off, I have to say that up until today I had no idea that Thirst Dog was a local company. Local to me, you know. I have long loved a number of their products - hoppus maximus and their imperial stout, Siberian Night, come to mind as outstanding and unique. The Leg Humper stuff is outstanding too. In fact, I think I liked everything of theirs that I've tried.

So today I try 12 Dogs for the first time and also find out that they are local. I generally like spiced ales a lot (I like everthing). I've had a lot of Great Lake's Christmas Ale already this season. It is outstanding. 12 Dogs tastes very similar to the Great Lakes (to me). I will have to do a side by side taste test some day. The Thirsty Dog has more spice and not as creamy a finish. I wonder what it is like on tap. It would be great if it were a little stronger - really strong. Then all that spice could be hiding 12% alcohol.

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Photo of Doomcifer
2.8/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a relatively clear, darker shade of amber with minimal head. Not much lacing to mention. Smells VERY strongly of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice. Smells of relatively nothing but holiday-like spices, and very strongly. Taste is much the same...strong nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, subtle hop spice...malty. Decent carbonation, medium bodied. Very sweet and spicy. One bottle is enough. Not totaly impressed.

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Photo of bigdeuce
4.16/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a kinda thin head that goes down quickly, no lacing. Scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla bristle through. Tastes very much as to what it smells like. Very pleasant and easy drinking with nice spices. Not a beer you can guzzle, but nice to have one around the fireplace. Deceptively strong, beware and be careful. True to the style of this spicey beer.

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Photo of imaguitargod
2.31/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

After extensive searching I was surprised this one wasn't here on BA, so it's time to add my first beer. This spiced Ale pours to a medium head that dissipates to a slight foam ring around the edge of the bottle. No lacing appears on the glass and the color of the beer can only be described as Klingon Blood Wine Red. A decently spiced taste with an overwhelming syrupy thickness. The syrup taste is way distracting and comes across as bad honey/maple syrup. This is followed up by the ginger. The cinnamon and nutmeg hit as an aftertaste and the nutmeg grabs you at the back of the throat which comes off as a bitterness which isn't quite pleasant. Really a middle of the road beer that can be slightly enjoyed for a pint but after that it's a bit tough. I definitely recommend drinking it out of a tulip glass because it softens the spices slightly.

~Jonathan Passow

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12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 175 ratings.