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Special Holiday Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Special Holiday AleSpecial Holiday Ale

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

312 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 312
Reviews: 290
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 10.94%
Wants: 21
Gots: 7 | FT: 2
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:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-23-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 312 | Reviews: 290 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bigdaddypolite


4/5  rDev +1.8%

11-28-2011 02:21:21 | More by bigdaddypolite
Photo of StarRaptor


3/5  rDev -23.7%

11-25-2011 00:24:07 | More by StarRaptor
Photo of whatthehull


3.53/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tasted oct. 27th 2011 (from notes)


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

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2011 08:32:30 | More by whatthehull
Photo of brandoman63


4/5  rDev +1.8%

11-20-2011 03:37:58 | More by brandoman63
Photo of jerz


4/5  rDev +1.8%

11-18-2011 05:16:25 | More by jerz
Photo of adamant1912


4/5  rDev +1.8%

11-17-2011 07:28:43 | More by adamant1912
Photo of kkrez


5/5  rDev +27.2%

11-14-2011 22:02:02 | More by kkrez
Photo of AlexM


4/5  rDev +1.8%

11-14-2011 19:43:14 | More by AlexM
Photo of armock

New York

3.5/5  rDev -10.9%
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

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2011 21:53:42 | More by armock
Photo of HopHead84


3.75/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


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.

Serving type: bottle

09-16-2011 04:13:09 | More by HopHead84
Photo of ngeunit1


4.33/5  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.

Serving type: bottle

06-29-2011 05:10:37 | More by ngeunit1
Photo of THECPJ


3.53/5  rDev -10.2%
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.


Serving type: bottle

05-24-2011 23:30:06 | More by THECPJ
Photo of abar22


4.47/5  rDev +13.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2011 04:27:20 | More by abar22
Photo of BeerAndBourbon


3.7/5  rDev -5.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-22-2011 04:26:35 | More by BeerAndBourbon
Photo of beerhan


3.45/5  rDev -12.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2011 18:03:41 | More by beerhan
Photo of Ambiorix


4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-21-2011 00:08:25 | More by Ambiorix
Photo of macktbone


4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2011 02:46:22 | More by macktbone
Photo of mentor


3.65/5  rDev -7.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2011 06:21:00 | More by mentor
Photo of corby112


3.55/5  rDev -9.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2010 03:40:54 | More by corby112
Photo of mothman

United Kingdom (Wales)

1.85/5  rDev -52.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2010 03:15:08 | More by mothman
Photo of kbutler1


3.13/5  rDev -20.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2010 03:12:15 | More by kbutler1
Photo of BeerAdvocate


4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-20-2010 20:07:19 | More by BeerAdvocate
Photo of mdfb79

New York

3.75/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my Duvel tulip.

a - Pours a dark mahogany brown with 2 inches of off whit head and moderate carbonation evident. Little bit of rentention and lacing.

s - Smells of chocolate, roasted malts, juniper, spices, pine, alcohol, and a hint of coca cola.

t - Tastes of pine and juniper berries, as well as roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, and nuts.

m - Medium body and low carbonation, smooth and very easy to drink.

d - I thought this was a pretty good winter warmer. I think the juniper berries have a very distinct smell and taste. It's very interesting but enjoyable. If you don't like that smell/taste, you might want to skip this one, otherwise definitely worth checking out. I would try again.

Serving type: bottle

09-13-2010 22:07:10 | More by mdfb79
Photo of DaveJanssen


3.83/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Split a 12 oz two ways. Poured into tulips. Reviewed 6/4/2010.

Ar: spice, juniper, floral, candy sweetness, herbal spice, spice very strong, nutty, brown malt toasty hints (but doesn't have a strong brown malt presence ), dark caramel, sage, alcohol, *figs and dates, *fruit, *earthy/woody

Ap: very fine dusting of almond colored head, medium retention, clear brown with red highlights, lace dots

T: strong spice, juniper and sage in front, caramel (dark), wheat toast and toast crust, light alcohol, herbal, nuttyness is apparent, good malt, sweetness is fitting for the style and balanced by the spice, sweet>dry, full but not cloying, malt>hop, spice>malt, ends with spice bitterness, *earthy, *mild sweet fruit (figs and dates), *chocolate, *jam notes

M: low fine carbonation, viscous and mouth coating, sweet finish, heavy and full, spice drys it out a bit, light alcohol

*ideas form fellow taster

O: almost spice soup, unique, sweet, would like less spice, but fitting for style (anchor our special ale...), i like the malt profile

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2010 03:49:34 | More by DaveJanssen
Photo of jlindros


3.68/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Guess this has been in the back of my fridge since winter. I found it while moving things around, and it has little specks of mold on the outside, hope it's still good.

A: Pours a rich 2 finger head that rises up with a creamy thick look, and fades slowly, leaving a slight lacing on the sides. The beer is very dark raisin brown color with very little light getting through.

N: The nose is mostly what I expected. Some darker malts are there, not heavy, some sweet malt aromas with hints of booze. Some fruits, dried fruits, raisin, touch of apricot. Spices galore, nutmeg, cinnamon, nutty aromas like the Xmas nuts, I think there's some juniper too, perhaps some other berries of the bittering kind.

T: A dry taste to start. Some rich malts, darker malts, that I would have expected to be sweet and syrupy, but are instead dry and lackluster almost. I wonder if that is a product of the age or meant to be. It has a slight creamy note, like an oatmeal feel. More dried fruits, raisin, etc. Also more nuts, not as much but a little nutty quality. And again tons of spices. Nutmeg and cinnamon like Xmas spices. I def get juniper now, very dominant, semi Sahti like. I personally am not a big fan, but it seems to work a little in this one, as there are some many strange flavors melded together. As it warms and I get used to the aniset like spices, I start to get some dark roasty porter malts, and hints of chocolate malt.

M: Medium body, not as syrupy as I expected, and very dry, with good carbonation.

F: Finishes still very dry, with almost a feel that it was sticky sweet but it wasn't. Lots of juniper lingering again, adds that bitterness that is not my style. Then more Xmas spices again, with more nutty flavors, and a little creamy feel on the finish, almost as if there were lactose in it too, and slightly buttery too.

I bet this would make a nice sit by the fire winter beer to sip on, and share! A 1pt 9oz bottle by myself is a little tough.

Serving type: bottle

06-29-2010 02:46:14 | More by jlindros
Special Holiday Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 312 ratings.