Special Holiday Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Special Holiday AleSpecial Holiday Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

320 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 320
Reviews: 290
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 10.71%
Wants: 21
Gots: 6 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-23-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

A collaboration ale between Jolly Pumpkin / Nøgne-Ø / Stone with chestnuts, juniper berry, white sage & caraway seed and 25% rye malt.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 320 | Reviews: 290
Photo of jvillefan
4.55/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep amber/brown body with a off white lacy head.

S: There is a bitter bite in the beginning of the aroma. There is a deep caramel and sweet aroma.

T: A nice balance between the bitter hops (citrus and pine) and the malty notes. There is sweet caramel and toffee.

M: Perfect body and carbonation.

O: Great beer. It's a shame it's not going to be brewed again.

Photo of jzeilinger
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to alelover for sending this one.

A - Pours a cloudy chestnut brown color with a thick, creamy, tan lacing ring and tons of carbonation.

S - Juniper, caraway seeds, mint, mild molasses, plumbs, raisins, and figs.

T - Complex flavor with several layers going on. Juniper and juniper berry stands out the most and is present all the way to the end, light chocolate caramel, caraway, light molasses, dark fruit, and some alcohol effervescence. Everything plays well together and they all hit the palate in layers. Light juniper bitterness plays throughout.

M - Thick, full bodied, rich, and velvety.

O - This one grew on me as I worked my way through the bottle, nice complexity.

Photo of beagle75
3.1/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Opaque medium brown color with no foam head. Scant lacing remains on the glass.

S: Molassses and juniper work together to suggest decayed resinous foliage. Minty sage is mild and complementary. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins dry, with volatile sage, some unctuous chocolate, and distracting saccharine sweetness that builds toward the middle. Roast emerges in the middle before more typical winter spices dominate the finish with an astringent quality. No alcohol is detected.

M: Medium viscosity, oddly numbing on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: This well-aged winter beer is a clashing juxtaposition of brewing skill and misguided ingredient selection. At its best it is suggestive of Unibroue/Trader Joe's Vintage Ale. At its worst it is merely confused.

Photo of tectactoe
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

When I first had this beer long ago, I didn't care for it very much. I recently found it again in the store and decided to try it one more time to see if my tastes had developed at all. Pours a dark, murky brown and slightly ruby color - muddy, cloudy, opaque. Almost looks like a strong-ass Belgian quad. Thin tan head that recedes almost immediately. Very thick on the pour, looks like maple syrup coming out of the bottle.

Aroma is HUGE. Whether you like it or not, the aroma is as powerful as they come, super herbal, super malty, and full of spice. Ginger, toffee, caramel, sage, juniper berry come to mind (of course, a few of those are written on the bottle). Ginger seems to be the most powerful at this point. Upon tasting, I was right - almost gives a gingerbread like flavor, followed up both other spices; sage, cinnamon - very spicy. Sweetness comes alive in the form of juniper berries, dark fruits; plums, raisins, hard to pick out other specifics. Bitterness plays a roll about three-quarters of the way through, all the way to the end - hops are leafy and herbal in character, dry and slightly harsh, almost like a strong earl tea. After the beer is gone, my mouth is left with hints of pumpernickel or rye bread, most likely due to the combo of rye and yeast - it's quite nice. Alcohol shines through quite a bit, adding a nice warming effect. Thick and syrupy, juicy mouthfeel, leaves the mouth feeling kind of sticky and coated, low carbonation.

This beer is way better than I remember it, so I'm glad I had the chance to try it again. My tastes have certainly evolved since that time and now I can appreciate a beer like this. Very aromatic and full of unique flavor, this beer would be a nice choice for a holiday meal or sitting by a campfire.

Photo of Sammy
3.92/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black, little head. Easy drinking, subtle x-mas spices,everything blends well together,toasty chestnut, dry finish and understated carbonation. Tasty no sourness at all, only a tad of wood and a mellow bitterness and glad I caught up with it.Liam's bottle.

Photo of liamt07
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle shared by Steve, 12oz into a tulip.

Browned red, with a beige head - good lacing and mild retention. Sage/thyme in terms of spicing, berries are quite present with some caramel and chocolate. Taste has spice, caramel, seedy bread notes (caraway likely), cinnanmon and some earthy and chocolatey flavours. Sweeter, light bitterness and a tad drying. A really nice winter/holiday ale, a lot of what I look for in the style here.

Photo of Rizalini
4.17/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my Stone tulip. Received this one in a trade with scottfrie a while back.

A - Pours a hazy burnt mahogany color, with almost no head. Even when swirled, the head is just a thin cap.

S - The smell is very herbal. Almost menthol like. The sage is definately present, as well as the caraway.

T/M - The taste is more complex than the nose. On the front is the sage and caraway. The middle gives way to a smooth nuttiness, and a slightly sweet maltiness. Then a get a hint of, possibly, red licorice. The back finishes with a thick molasses. Very different how this beers flavor profile unfolds. Mouthfeel is medium-heavy mouthfeel.

O - A very unique brew to say the least. I've never had a brew like this before. Multi-dimensional. The 9% is very well hidden. An amazing brew for sure. Not your average holiday ale. Thanks Scott for sending this one my way. Cheers!

Photo of kojevergas
3.72/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into an EKU 28 snifter in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm as consumption progressed. Not paired with food or anything. Expectations are high; I trust Nogne quite a bit and Stone tends to be hit and miss. I'm hoping she's a good one; it's been a long day. Winter Warmers are one of me top five favourite styles.

A: Pours a one finger head of good cream, pretty good thickness, and good retention. Colour is a nontransparent solid black.

Sm: Chestnuts, heavy berry esters (I don't know that I'd necessarily detect it as juniper), and spices. Toasted malts, chocolate, and caramelized malts. Chocolate and berry are dominant. A moderate strength aroma.

T: Chocolate, heavy berry, lovely spices, chestnut, caramel, cream, and underlying toasted malt. Balanced quite well, with impressive subtlety. It doesn't fully commit to its flavours, leaving it feeling a bit muted. Quite enjoyable and pleasant. I like it. It's complex. Rich and delightful.

Mf: Silky smooth, wet, and creamy. Quite lovely, especially for the ABV. The most impressive aspect of this beer. Not too thick or too thin. Exquisite. Almost perfect. I'm extremely impressed.

Dr: Very drinkable - especially for the high ABV, which is well hidden. I'd have it again, preferably either aged in the bottle or on draught. I don't know that it'd get much better, but I do like it. I just wish it was more forward and confident with its flavours.

B

Photo of SpdKilz
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A long time want (read tick) for me though I never really tried that hard to get it. Picked up this summer during a brand new Binny’s opening in IL. Such a random place to finally be able to pick some bottles up!

Appearance – Pours into a tulip with a ruddy burgundy color. There are definite floaties in the beer. Slight head is achieved with a moderate pour.

Smell – Still plenty of spices and juniper in the beer after a few years in the bottle. Sage, chestnut, and malt.

Taste – Maltier than expected. Slight spices with the juniper coming through at first. Just a hint of the sage is there, along with chestnuts. Heavy caramel and toffee at the end.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, mild carbonation.

Overall – Have a few more left in the cellar…but honestly don’t know how much “better” this will do with age. Glad to tick it, though not a spectacular beer by any means.

Photo of warnerry
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a very deep garnet color with some suspended material and one finger of tan head. Head has pretty good retention, but only leaves spotty lacing.

S - Big toffee and caramel malt with juniper and some nice spice of sage and caraway. Also a bit floral in the aroma.

T - Similar to the nose, this is very malty with a nice spice profile. Juniper is quite prominent, and the rye gives a nice bite. The spices are actually somewhat subtle at this point, not sure what is was like fresh. Sage is quite nice.

M - Nice, creamy medium mouthfeel. Spices give some dryness on the finish.

O - Nice, unique winter warmer. Spices really elevate the beer in this case, which isn't often true in my experience. Glad I got to try this.

Photo of whatthehull
3.52/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tasted oct. 27th 2011 (from notes)

Tulip

A - deep swampy brown, no head and no lacing

S - lots of malts, toasty, funk, flowers, hops, fall weather, pie spices, flowers and crisp everything

T - hoppy, sour, tons of roasted malt, pumpkin seeds, flowers, citrus, fall spices, earth and maybe a slight pumpkin pie

M - full bodied, nice complexity, well balanced, low acidity and medium finish

D - very nice easy to drink beer. Tastes like the holidays. Reminds me of fall and relaxing watching football with a nice fire

Final thought - stone colabs never disappoints. Get it and get a couple if you like holiday ales

Photo of armock
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Perry's Liquor in Livermore, CA.

A - Poured a muddy brown color with a thin tan head that leaves some lacing behind

S - Has a spicy herbal nose with some sweet malt scents

T - The juniper and rye are very noticeable right away then fades to a sweet malt finish

M - This beer has a full body with higher carbonation to it

O - While this isn't a bad beer I'm just not into it all that much and I think its the junipers fault but if your into that this would be a decent beer to check out if you can still find it

Photo of HopHead84
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

9/15/2011

Bottle poured into a snifter. This has been in my cellar for 1127 days.

A: Dark brown and opaque with an inch of tan cream that lasts for half a minute.

S: Caramel blends with earth and a rich bready malt profile. The juniper berry makes itself known immediately, and it lingers in the foreground at all times. Rye accompanies caraway and a touch of chocolate. Sage is pronounced. This smells nice.

T: Lightly spicy rye and caraway with caramel, bread, and a whisper of chocolate. The juniper is present but not near as strong as it was in the nose. The finish is rich with malt and lightly spicy, with just a dash of alcohol.

M: Upper medium in body with a creamy moderate carbonation and a sticky, smooth mouthfeel.

Overall: I don't know why I waited so long to open this, it's a nice Winter Warmer.

Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a rich cloudy red-black color with a finger of frothy off-white head atop. The head fades down leaving behind some spots of lace.

S - The aroma is a wonderful mix of spices including cinnamon and nutmeg with a balancing amount of sweet caramel malt in the background.

T - Starts off with the spices from the aroma with the addition of some clove and again a nice balance provided by the sweet caramel malts. Through the middle, the caramel malts get a bit stronger and richer with some brown sugar jumping in as well. The finish is a mix of sweet and spice elements that linger.

M - Medium-plus bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth and just a bit syrupy. The spices provide a nice dry mouthfeel, especially at the finish.

D - Very drinkable. The spices are very nicely balanced with the malt flavor and they never get too strong.

Photo of THECPJ
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: dark murky brown with a 1 finger off white head

smell: holiday spices, caramel, malts,

taste: holiday spices, caramel, malts,

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, medium body,

overall: pretty nice winter warmer. to bad I will probably never see it again.

Cheers,
The CPJ

Photo of abar22
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz, DFH Signature Glass

Dark, murky brown with ruby highlights when held to the light. Spotty-white cap with average lacing.

Smells fantastic! A multitude of spices meet up to make a mouth-watering scent. Alcohol takes a peek here as well.

I really don't know what juniper berry, white sage, and caraway seed tastes like but I know they combine with chestnuts to make a damn good Winter Warmer. Spices show early and nutty alcohol shows late. I get that nice warm feeling in my belly from this beer which puts it over the top. I wish I could buy this every winter.

Dry finish and a silky smooth mouthfeel. One would think this was an oatmeal warmer with that smoothness.

Too drinkable! I look at what is very likely the only bottle of the best Winter Warmer I'll ever have and it makes me sad. This beer is fantastic. The spices are perfectly balanced and it gives me the warm feeling it's supposed to. Beautiful.

Photo of BeerAndBourbon
3.72/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A. Pours a thick brown (sludge) with a one finger foamy tan head that seems to rise out of nowhere and stays as a nice cap with some not so pleasant looking suspended yeast clumps.

S. Strange; smells like a mixture used to baste a chicken in - sage with fennel and juniper - very herbal with some almost citrusy bright notes.

T. Some dark fruit notes with a touch of citrus. I don't really get the rye, but the chestnuts are quite apparent (I only recently tried my first chestnut). I think I'd like this with a sage roasted chicken.

M. Thick body with a high level of creamy carbonation.

D. An interesting complex brew. I'm interested and I like the dark fruit flavors that continue to come out as it warms.

Photo of beerhan
3.47/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle. Little over a year on it. Dark ruby color with a thin head that stays throughout the glass. Smells very spicy. The sage really stands out as well as a lot of bread, malt, and citrus notes. This tastes very hot with a lemon pepper burn. Quite an odd beer and not all that balanced. The spices are all over the place and nothing really goes together that well. I found there to be too much alcohol and it was not the most pleasant to get down.

Photo of Ambiorix
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Small Bar, San Diego.

A: Dark brown pour, very active, foamy tan head.

S: Spicy malt nose, hint of juniper.

T: Gently spiced, malty, hint of alcohol. Very nice.

M: Medium, nice dry finish.

D: Really nice. I'm glad I had a chance to try this retired beer and to have it on tap was even better.

Photo of macktbone
4.02/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was one of many colaboration bottles picked up at Ledgers in Berkley. Cellered for two years and enjoyed just after the 2010 holiday season. Kind of a hold out since my tree is still up and the lights are still shining brightly outside my house.

A- Mulled and dark caramel like, no discernable head.

S- Lots of caramel and Christmas like spice, (nutmeg), and bread , maybe a little soap and nut.

T- Wholesome and winter sturdy. Nuts, nutmeg, well balanced hop backbone.

M- Creamy and well done for a winter warmer.

D- Nice example of a multicultural conglomoration of beer. Enjoyable but not something I would go out of my way to get a hole of again.

without having a basis for Nogne-O and Jolly pumpkin its hard to say who wore the pants on this beer. Definately a sepatation from Stone's normal hop forward style and tastes, feels, and looks like a NATO compromise.

Photo of mentor
3.67/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Cellared one year by me. Foamed over when opened. Pours a four finger light tan head over a red-brown liquid. Smells wonderful. Fruity, spice, malt, and light alcohol. Pine, lemon, coriander, cherry, dry chocolate.

Tastes piney, lemon and oranges, sage, mild cedar wood, baker's chocolate, heavily toasted bread, and some alcohol zip. Drying overall with a lemon balm finish and what comes across as a hop bitter and light astringency. Md thick body and sharply carbonated. Pretty good beer.

Photo of corby112
3.49/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes:

Pours a very dark ruby/chestnut brown color with mahogany edges and a thin tan head that quickly fades leaving no lacing.

Very bland aroma with hints of peppery spice, hazelnut and caramel malt.

Medium bodied with a heavy spice flavor profile as well as hints of dark fruit, medicinal syrup and a slightly dry, sweet finish. Lots of peppery zest as well as hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove along with sweet candy sugar, cherry, berries, raisn and toasty malt. Decently balanced with a well masked ABV and slight hop profile.

Photo of mothman
1.86/5  rDev -52.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Poured into Stone Old Guardian glass.

Pours a half finger of beige head. Color is a mahogony brown. Hazed.

Aroma: Potpourri, juniper berries, figs, brown sugar, spices, and malts. Not bad.

Taste: Way more malty and boozy than the nose would suggest. Juniper berries, figs, plums, raisins, toffee, and other malts and spices.

Mouthfeel: Spiced and dry. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry and spiced again with some booze showing.

Overall, it is an alright beer for how much spiced was used in it. It is somewhat of a sipper, but I am slowly getting through my glass.

Edit: Review #2

Pours a half finger of beige head. Decent retention. Color is a murky caramel brown.

Aroma: Just a massive amount of spices. Coriander, cloves, cinnamon, herbal florals. It also has a decent amount of malts. Chocolate and caramel.

Taste: More spices. Just like in the nose. Too much spice. It also has the same malt profile. Not very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: Spiced and creamy. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends with more spices.

Overall, this wasn't a very enjoyable beer. I could hardly drink it. Just not for me. Way to much spice.

Photo of kbutler1
3.06/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle. Pours a on the light side darker brown that collars around the glass in a wispy head. The aroma is, well, kind of bad and reminds me of sticking my head in an aquarium to clean it. Swirling gives it some life with notes of spice. Thankfully the taste is WAY better than the nose. Notes of candy, spice, and herbs intensify this brew. Man, the nose kills me but I'll keep drinking. Nuts and berry make themselves present as this warms a bit. Booze shows slighlty. No lace. Ends with a lingering spicy and booze note.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from BeerAdvocate magazine Issue #26:

A collaboration ale between Stone/Jolly Pumpkin/Nøgne-Ø with chestnuts, juniper berry, white sage and caraway seed, plus 25-percent rye malt. Check out stonebrew.com for the full story.

Pours a dark garnet with deep ruby hues, dressed in a creamy beige head, which drops to a solid lace that sticks to the glass. Nose is full of spice and herbal notes. The sage is soft, but dominant. Spicy notes from the caraway and rye pull through with a fruity, berry base, and a finish of alcohol and esters. Suggestions of lilac, too. Mouthfeel is a blissful surprise. It's creamy up front as the carbonation hits the palate, but dense beneath, with a chewy viscosity that melds into a silky-smooth palate and the formation of a malty, sweet base with chestnuts making a slight appearance. Some bready, toasty and charred flavors, too. Zesty punch of lemongrass. Herbal sage follows and dominates again, but the caraway sneaks in a spicy jab here and there with a nice rye snap. This segues into a prickly and spicy alcohol note that has some very distinct gin-like characters, thanks to the juniper berries. Some berry esters, hints of blood orange and warming alcohol, though the 9-percent ABV is fairly well hidden. Finishes dry with some residual spice, sage and rye.

Delicious. A unique take on the Winter Warmer style that pairs some very distinct and unusual ingredients and makes them work. For us, this is what the whole extreme beer movement is all about.

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Special Holiday Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 320 ratings.