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Harveys Christmas Ale - Harvey & Son Ltd.

Harveys Christmas AleHarveys Christmas Ale

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

164 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 164
Reviews: 151
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 15.92%

Brewed by:
Harvey & Son Ltd. visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  8.10% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-18-2001)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 164 | Reviews: 151 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of russpowell


3.78/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky brown with minimal beige head. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Plums, figs & a bit of wet cardboard

T: Rich plums, figs & herbal hops up front. Dryness, metallic hops, apples with cinnamon, & brown sugar as this warms. Finishes fruitty, with a touch of leafy hops, candi sugar & doughy notes

MF: Chewy with minimal carbonation, balances well

Drinks okay, I could do a pint or 2 before moving on. Solid winter warmer that I'm sure would be stellar on cask

Serving type: bottle

06-27-2008 04:32:36 | More by russpowell
Photo of tastybeer

North Carolina

4.08/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark red burgundy, cloudy and dense topped by a modest bubbly head. Aroma is tart and sweet, with green grapes, orange peel, lemon peel, purple grapes, plumbs, chocolate, pipe smoke, molasses, toffee, and probably a whole bunch of other stuff. The smell goes on forever until the next beer. Taste is similar in length. Nice balance between the sweetness and dry fruitiness. Body is full feeling but still like an ale. Nice mellow carbonation. Easy to drink at an enjoyable pace.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2008 01:56:23 | More by tastybeer
Photo of BeardedBoffin

New Mexico

3.6/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A dark clear brown with a small amount of off white foam. The smell is sweet burnt sugar, ripe dark fruit, raisins perhaps, with some autumn spiciness and alcohol esters. The beer is sweet and sugary. The sweetness is slightly offset by some mild earthy hops, but the sweet dark fruit flavors and sugary malt character is dominant. The finish is smooth and the alcohol is hidden well. The feel in the mouth is medium bodied and has an almost oily smoothness about it. This is an elixir to be sure.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2008 01:06:23 | More by BeardedBoffin
Photo of beerthulhu

New Jersey

4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a dark cranberry red with virtually no head. Visible carbonation was soft almost non-detect.

S: The nose was beautiful with a burbon-brown sugar toasted sweetness with spicy alcohol (cinnamon, nutmeg) hints. There was a dark roasted caramel, some lightly burnt woodiness and boozy alcohol as well detected.

T: The initial flavor was malty and sweet with a spicy burbon barrel woodiness, cinnamon and sweet dark fruit. There was a nice roasted caramel and a dominant spicy black licorice flavor that really stood out. An earthy bitterness and warming caramel malting with festive spicing added complexity making this one of the finer xmas ales ive tasted. Perhaps it was the black licorice flavor that added a nice zesty and spicy zing to this beer.

M: The mouthful was medium-full with a nice viscosity and nice soft carbonation factor.

D: Overall a nice dark festive drink with a spicy black licorice flavor makes this a standout amongst other xmas beers and very enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2008 01:28:28 | More by beerthulhu
Photo of Gueuzedude


4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a frothy, scant-half-finger thick, amber tinged, tan colored head that sits on top a opaque, reddish tinged, dark amber colored brew. When held up to the light the beer shows an almost brilliantly clear, ruby hue. The aroma is a mix of fruit and malt aromatics with perhaps just a hint of herbal character thrown in. The nose reminds me of tart, dried cherries, brown sugar, caramelized bread crust, prunes and lightly noticed burnt grain. As the beer warms up a bit the herbal hop character becomes much more aromatic in scope, though I would still say that the nose is malt / fruit leaning.

Sweet up front, with a substantial herbal hop character and a finish that is a bit astringent from dark malt flavors and hop bitterness. Quite hoppy with a lingering mix of bergamot, light-menthol notes, and a grassy / herbal edge that lingers on in the finish for quite some time. A substantial malt character that is made up of complex sugars is found in this brew though and it contributes flavors of treacle, dark brown sugar and toffee, when combined with the fermentation influence notes of caramelized fruit, raisins, figs, dried berries and perhaps a touch of sweet cherry flavors. A medium fullness to this brew makes this much more drinkable than many an American alcohol bomb, but it still achieves a richness appropriate to the holiday season.

This is quite hoppy, or much hoppier than I was expecting from this English brew. I really like how the hop character is offset b the complex, dark malt flavors. It is surprisingly evenly balanced between sweet, enveloping malt and sharp hop character. This is definitely a pleasant surprise, one that I will have to pick up more of when I get the chance.

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2008 03:09:13 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of wedge

North Carolina

3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The bottle says something about a best by date on the bottle top, but I don't see anything. I assume its an '07.

Pours a dark mahogany color with hardly any head...more of a fine sheet and creamy, bubbly ring. Some minor lacing. The aroma is strong - heavy, rich malts, apples, brown sugar, toffee, and sweet bread. Raisin and black tea flavors...lots of raisins actually. Rich malts and dark, sugary fruits. The mouthfeel is smooth and coating. This is a nice, festive English strong ale of sorts. No heat from the alcohol at all, just a rich, flavorful beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2008 03:37:21 | More by wedge
Photo of Monkeyknife


4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle the color of dark tea and barely a head or lacing.

Aroma of figs, dark ripe fruit, warm malts, toffee, and alcohol.

Tastes of raisins, dark fruits, dark caramel, brown sugar, and toffee. Alcohol is more hidden than I thought it would be based on the aroma.

Medium mouthfeel, sticky, and lightly carbonated.

I'm glad I stumbled onto this beer. It was quite enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2008 00:53:53 | More by Monkeyknife
Photo of udubdawg


4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

275 ml bottle. I'm guessing I've held onto this one for 4 years. Let's see how it's done.

pours a reddish brown color, with pretty good clarity and a very brief head. No lace. Nose may be the highlight, featuring lots of fruit, especially prune, somehow sweet and tart at the same time. Quite a bit of biscuity malt background, with a definite aged character. Alcohol? None here. Really nice.

Plenty of carmelized sugar in the flavor, plus more fruit though less noticeable than in the aroma. Very pleasantly surprised that the bitter hoppy kick has not been completely beaten into submission by the age - along with a vague sour hint that I can't nail down the bitterness keeps the sweet nature from ever approaching cloying. Very good.

Minimal carbonation and smooth. Figured it would be sticky with this much sweetness but it is quite enjoyable. Body is pretty full otherwise, and quite enjoyable. Couldn't tell you how much I paid for this, but I've noticed it showed up in Kansas in the past several months, so it looks like I can replenish my supply.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2008 16:33:29 | More by udubdawg
Photo of aforbes10


4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from John's Grocery in Iowa City. Pours brown with no head, but lots of bubbles. Lacing slow and fracticious. Smells of toasted caramel, figs, hints of cherries, brandy, malt syrup. Flavor is rather reserved for what i was expecting. Toffee with chocolate notes giving way to a sweet bitterness, vegetal and lemony. Spiced flavors of anise and nuts. Bitterness slightly over the top. Mouthfeel a bit sticky. Medium bodied. Overall, its good, but im a little overwhelmed. Still, its well made and interesting.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2008 13:38:09 | More by aforbes10
Photo of NCSUdo


3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 255 mL bottle

A: Pours a clear rusty brown under a near nothingness of head. No retention or lace.

S: Very nice blend of dark fruit and some fruity sourness, along side of caramel and toffee.

T: Not much hint of the sour character in nose. A lot of dark fruit character, nothing over the top and some sweet caramel maltiness, some cherry and maybe some pluminess, finishes with a slightly roasted malt and a decent amount of bitterness. Slight hint of alcohol as well. A little dry.

M/D: Solid medium body, kind of slick mouthfeel. Drinkability is pretty good on this one, as nothing is really wrong with it, just no totally redeeming qualities (although the sourness in the nose was a surprise). In the world of winter warmers, this is a pretty solid offering.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2007 22:52:15 | More by NCSUdo
Photo of blackie


3.68/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a: Produces a scant head upon pouring into my snifter. The beer is a dark brown in color.

s: Not obviously complex upon first sniff, but eventually reveals its subtlety. Heavy on the toasted caramel grain, with a highish level of sweetness and some sugary English pipe tobacco. Plump raisins and dates on the nose with just a hint of the ABV. Reminiscent of crusty baked goods incorporating dark sugars and candied tree fruits. Strange enough, the mention of orange marmalade I read in another review rings true. Enough English hops to give some balance. Nice.

m: The carbonation is low, and the body full.

t: Considerable caramel grain presence in this malt forward warmer. Not terribly but pretty tasty. Subdued dark fruits and the same crusty baked goods found on the nose. Moderate level of English hops and a low bitterness. In the aftertaste I pick up on some sulfuric molasses and a metallic note that diminishes a bit after allowing the beer to warm. Pretty clean finish, considering.

d: Not bad, not great...ABV well hidden. This beer isn't really for me, but I gotta give a little respect.

single bottle from Whole Food Raleigh

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2007 02:05:25 | More by blackie
Photo of gubbt


4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Unknown vintage pours a dark brown with a thin head that quickly dissipates.

Aromas are of ripe plums, unripened banana, vinegar (perhaps from an old vintage), and a bit of bourbon.

Taste is quite sweet throughout. Notes of plums, ginger snaps, and dark chocolate. It's sweet, but not cloying or boozy like some english strong ales can be.

Mouthfeel is bigger side of moderate.

This, overall, is a nice beer to have after dinner if you are in the mood for something sweet. Glad I had the opportunity to taste this beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2007 04:40:58 | More by gubbt
Photo of gamblor21

New Jersey

3.68/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I had heard about this beer for years, and finally got a chance to have it. Sweet in taste, high abv but still very drinkable. Leaves your mouth feeling a sticky, i guess that is the best way to say it. Enjoyed the beer and would def drink it again. Would recommend to try if you get a chance

Serving type: bottle

07-04-2007 13:48:18 | More by gamblor21


4.35/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured bigorously but I only get a quarter inch of tan head that quickly turns into just a skim after a few seconds. Body is a deep brownish red with a ruby shine in the light. Nose is super sweet with cordial cherry, port, and waxy chocolate notes. Zesty sweetness jumps at the senses with first sip. A distinct malty feel overall, inculding a burnt malt mouthfeel on the finish. Slightly soured feel also rounds out the mouthfeel. This is a really bice belly warmer for 8% alchol. Rich and a joy to drink this holiday season. (reviewed on 12/26/06)

Serving type: bottle

06-23-2007 17:22:42 | More by SPLITGRIN
Photo of jamie2dope


4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Not exactly the ideal beer for a hot day like today, but what the hell, I wanted to try something a little out there. It poured into a Erdinger weizen glass a nice dark brown, with a slightly tanned head that had impressive retention. In the aroma was baked bread, ginger, chocolate, alcohol, and dark fruit. Wow this beer is much more complicated than I had originally thought. Taste had lots of dark fruit, cocoa, raisins, alcohol, and a bit of molasses. It had a certain red wine character to it as well. Mouthfeel was slick and creamy, without much hop presence. One bottle of this is damn easy to drink, though more than one, and the alcohol would be hitting me for sure. This is a really interesting beer. It would go well with lots of different red meats I bet. I will definitely be picking up more of these around Christmas time. Cheers

Serving type: bottle

05-10-2007 22:17:08 | More by jamie2dope
Photo of gmfessen


4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass, beer pours a hazy, dark apple-cider color with a thin, frothy white head. Smell is sweet like fruit, dates and grapes, with a whiff of alcohol. Taste is very much like the smell with the fruitiness coming out, but is well balanced by the warming alcohol bite. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and slightly creamy. This is a pretty drinkable beer and although it isn't spiced like most of the winter warmers I've had, I can still see this being a good choice for a cold winter night. Enjoyable and smooth.

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2007 03:48:24 | More by gmfessen
Photo of ByTor2112

North Carolina

3.95/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Spencer at City Beverage said this was a 2005. Pours a light slightly murky brown color. Very thin head formed and was gone.
Aroma-sweet, malty, buttery, fruitcake-ish with lots of dried fruit aromas. Alcohol was detected on a deep inhale.
Mouthfeel-sweet mellow English Barleywine taste. This aged well and the hops have diminished to an almost nonexistant state. Alcohol is faint and this ale stays sweet to the finish. Very tasty and I would like to taste a fresh one sometime. It was very good as an after dinner beverage also.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2007 01:17:54 | More by ByTor2112
Photo of Fish113d


3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass chilled, it pours a dark amber to chestnut color with a thin cream-colored surface layer. Nothing real exciting here. Aroma is first of some oak wood as though it is barrel-aged, which I don't think it is. UPon a second sniff I notice a fruity nose of berries and a bit of vanilla and chocolate malts. Very sweet on the nose really. No hops detected. Sweet to tart plums and berries, to which much of the entire sip is engulfed in the fruit. Nothing but fruit really until the swallow to which soem alcohol and drying come through. Not much carbonation at all, but most is wrapped up in the alcohol of it. it's a tasty brew, but judging by previous reviews, it's identity seems to be a bit "lost" in teh fact that most warmers I've had contain some sort of spice, to which this one doesn't have except maybe a hint of coriander. I've had better in teh style. however, it IS tasty and I'm sure I'll enjoy the 8%!

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2007 01:20:46 | More by Fish113d
Photo of Toddv29424

District of Columbia

3.4/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

*NOTE: Upon completion of this beer and review, I looked at the price tag and the date was marked 11/23/03. This would make it three years old (presuming the datestamp was correct, which it might not have been) and could account for why mine was so flat. I will publish this anyway.* This beer pours a dark brown color with little to no head. There seems to be very little carbonation as well, but there is a strange veil-like ring of bubbles floating on top in the glass. The smell is large and dense. Mostly of dark malts and grains, but a bit of candided fruits as well. Many more flavors than I would expect to find in a Winter Warmer. The most striking characteristic about this beer is how flat it is, there is no carbonation whatsoever. It goes down almost like a juice, with lots of different flavors crowding the tongue. Lots of dates, raisins and molasses initially. Goes down very easy because of this, and it would not be hard to go overboard with this brew. Terrific for a winter warmer!

Serving type: bottle

02-07-2007 03:06:50 | More by Toddv29424
Photo of dgallina


2.93/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

275ml thin brown bottle without freshness date. Was labeled a 2002 vintage on the shelf.

Pours clear red-brown without head or lace. Smells sweet and toasted; full of raisins, spiced cookie dough, and caramel laced with alcohol spice. The taste is unexpected to say the least. Starts rounded and toasty, but rapidly turns quite bitter and unpleasant. Mostly an herbal sourness that develops out-of-control diacetyl and phenols in the finish. Medium-sticky body with surprisingly lively carbonation for the age. Perhaps worthwhile when fresh, but hard to tell at this age.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2007 01:20:36 | More by dgallina
Photo of sulldaddy


4.05/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I split a bottle of this beer with Stopper. Beer is cellar temp to chilled. Pours into a snifter and exhibits a clear mahogany color.
A minimal beige head foams up and fades to a thin edge layer.
Aroma is rich with brown sugar and raisins, some yeast notes create some dough and a bit of fruit. I also get some hot alcohol whiffs. First sip reveals an average body with silky texture. Carbonationis spacious and not very prevelant. Flavor is mostly sweet with caramel and brown sugar mixing with a bit of red grape as well. I get some peppery alcohol on the finish. The beer is good and has some good flavor meshing, but the heat on the finish keeps it a sipper and drops the drinkability a bit, although I find it suitable for the style. Not an intro beer for sure, but a nice brew for a cold nite!

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2007 02:36:00 | More by sulldaddy
Photo of ChainGangGuy


4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a radiant tawny body with a yellowish creamy, sudsy head that spackled the sides of my snifter with gooey lacing.

Smell: Strikingly fragrant nose full of malts both sweet and fruity - burnt toffee and toasted caramel, raisins and plums.

Taste: This one is profoundly sweet, with a complex maltiness, starting off with a strong, tangy honey-toffee-brown sugar flavor. Secondary fruity notes of raisins and juicy cherries layered with overtones of wood. Though light, some flowery hops peak through now and again to provide some bitterness. Semi-dry orgeat-flavored finish with a warming alcohol sensation emerging in the aftertaste. Being all at once sweet, lush, and vinous, this beer really appeals to my port-loving sensibilities.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body that's very velvety. Softly carbonated.

Drinkability: I regret not getting to this one sooner, and will surely pick up a few more. Definitely my fave of the winter warmer league.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2007 21:03:45 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of xav33


4.45/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Harvey's Christmas Ale
275 ml bottle
Strong pour in an English pint
Recent brewing, x-massed 1/07

Poured a clear red brown with an average fizzy somewhat lasting yellowish off-white head that settles in a ring of lacing.

Smelt of sherry, banana candy, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, maraschino cherries.

Taste was upfront moderate bittersweet ginger and allspice bread, with hints of banana followed by a strong bitter dark molasses, roasted almost burnt grain taste with light sweetness on a long finish. Palate was medium to full bodied, creamy and velvety, softly carbonated, and moderately astringent.

Overall, this is my favorite christmas beer yet. Good sweetness upfront followed by a nice bitter roasty malt punch at the end.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2007 05:51:05 | More by xav33
Photo of

3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

10oz. bottle

Dull, muddy brown color, lots of sediment. Virtually no head despite vigorous pour or after agitation.

Aroma included cherries and chocolate, brandy - port. Alcohol.

Taste similar to aroma. Chocolate, bread and port. Dark fruits - prunes and plums. Alcohol, but pretty mild for ABV. A very mild bit of bitterness at end.

Medium in body, with low to no carbonation. This beer could definately be improved with just a bit more bubbles. Alcohol warming kicks in quickly. Not drying.

Overall, decent, but there are better winter/Christmas beers out there. If you like the taste of port/brandy/scotch, you might want to give this one a try.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2006 21:49:29 | More by
Photo of Westsidethreat


4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Can't really tell how old this beer is, but the lack of carbonation makes me think it might have some age to it. Pours like a cola with cocoa powder added to it. Only the faintest rim can we found hugging the side of the glass.

S: Caramel, dried figs, aluminum, sherry and some chocolate.

T: Begins very sherry like with some port characteristics as well. Very woody with vanilla, prunes and more dark fruits. Surprisingly bitter, didn't see that coming. Some butterscotch, raspberry and pudding flavors can be found once the bitterness dies down. Finishes with lots of rum raisin qualitities. Quite pungent, this one.

M: Full mouthfeel with a medium body to it. Not carbonation isn't helping it out though.

D: Quite nice and rounded with pronounced flavor. Alcohol is there but not overwhelming what so ever. Really grows on me after a while.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2006 06:07:07 | More by Westsidethreat
Harveys Christmas Ale from Harvey & Son Ltd.
85 out of 100 based on 164 ratings.