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Christmas Ale - Sly Fox Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

174 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 174
Hads: 382
Avg: 3.76
pDev: 21.81%
Wants: 6
Gots: 28 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Sly Fox Brewing Company visit their website
Pennsylvania, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: NeroFiddled on 11-24-2002

This malty, full-bodied red ale is made with traditional mulling spices: Ginger, Clove, All Spice, Cinnamon & Nutmeg. If this one doesn't get you into the Christmas spirit, you truly are a Scrooge.

Bottled: 16.0 OG | 16 IBUs | 6.5% ABV

Canned: 14.0 OG | 16 IBUs | 5.5% ABV
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 174 | Hads: 382
Photo of MmmIPA
4.89/5  rDev +30.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Overflow city...This beer's head was massive and went all over my table. 22 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

A-Reddish/Orangeish body with a huge head.Very fluffy and no lacing on my glass.

S-This is the best smelling xmas beer I have ever smelled.It really does remind me of xmas.I can smell cinnimon is very potent and nutmeg isnt as evident.I dont taste any hops at all.

T-Cinnimon hits ya first then I taste the nutmeg on the sides of my tongue.I do taste pumpkin pie also.Damn this beer is good.

M-Very carbonated, it almost attacks your tongue in a harsh way.

D-I really like this stuff,Its very xmasy and puts ya in the spirit.It may be one of the only beers that I can tell what the different flavors are in it.Im gonna buy a bottle of this for xmas eve.Thanks to Slyfox for making this tasty brew.

As the beer warms, the spices really start to come through to shine.

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Photo of WilliamPhilaPa
4.84/5  rDev +28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a clear copperish color, with a thin off-white head that holds well/leaves a good lace. The aroma is a combination of bread/biscuity malt, clove, spices and hints of cinnamon. The same on the palate with some spices, ginger bread, hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, emm, balanced flavor and tasty. Emm this stuff is so good. Nice recommendation Nero.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.67/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I haven't had a beer that's really turned my head in a while, but this is one of them. The body is a clear auburn topped by a thin, creamy ivory head that holds quite well and leaves some lace throughout the glass. The aroma entices you with a combination of lightly sweet biscuity malt & gentle spices (cinnamon & ginger) that's reminiscent of gingerbread. The body is medium with a very fine & moderate carbonation that leaves it smooth & creamy in the mouth. The flavor is very similar to the aroma, starting with a soft biscuity malt that reveals some sweeter caramel/toffee and light chocolatey notes as it warms and the mild spices start to appear. But the true spice character appears just as you swallow, with a vast array of flavors bursting forth including cinnamon, ginger, all-spice, nutmeg and clove. This is where the beer offers some complexity - certain spices will appear more clearly to you with each further sip. The spices continue to swirl about the mouth in a gently lingering aftertaste that generally dries with some clove character. Hop bitterness is well-heeled to allow the spice to do its job. Amazingly well-done for such a difficult style. The spice is fresh and vibrant, yet delicate. Restrained balance is obvious, and the way that the spice flavors play-off of the malt character is exquisite. An exceptional holiday treat. I may have to find myself some holiday shopping to do in Phoenixville so that I can get another growler before it's all gone! Absolutely worth seeking out.

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Photo of Nezzy
4.6/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Enjoying this one to keep me warm on a snowy day.

Appearance: An almost burgundy red mixed with red and the slightest tint of orange. Poured with minimal head and has some mild lacing, not a lot.

Smell: The smell is very well evened with everything blending together but it makes it slightly hard to point out some aromas. However nutmeg and spice cloves are the strongest.

Taste: Just what I would expect in a winter warmer. You can really taste the all spice and cinnamon, with an after taste of ginger. It very well blended and I can definitely taste malts.

Mouthfeel: Strong upfront carbonation but ends with little to none. Goes down easy and doesn't really stick around.

Drinkability: I've been struggling to find really decent winter warmers this season but this one succeeds. The taste and feel of the beer feels almost like you are eating a cookie and definitely is warming me up. I would want to see how it stands out more paired with food, but even on its own its a great beer that is easily drinkable.

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Photo of LunaChick
4.5/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally getting to some reviews before my notebook bursts.
I got my holiday spirit from this beer. No joke.

The beer pours a deep brown with ruby hues. Creamy head fizzes out but allows for lacing in the glass. The aroma is very malt forward with subtle hints of spices. Nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla. Hints of yeast in the background. Allowed to sit some alcohol comes thru but is only very subtle.
The flavor is rich with malts. The spices are present but none are overpowering. This is where many spiced beers fall apart--inbalance with the spices and other ingrediants and its either to spicy or too thin in the body. I cannot find anything that is out of place in this beer. The spices are crisp and clean. No bitterness anywhere. Subtle hints of sugar and vanilla come thru. Some caramel. All balanced out nicely by malts. Solid medium body with a slightly warm finsih. In the mouth its nicely carbonated, smooth, and again finishes clean. It all adds up to a very drinkable beer. And I drank a good portion of the keg.

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Photo of DMXLOX22
4.5/5  rDev +19.7%

Picked up the 2014 version of this brew at my local establishment, Civera's in Drexel Hill. Let's see how this brew goes on Thanksgiving eve.

Appearance: Pours a copper brown, deep red. Leaves behind a quite impressive head that is about an inch thick after pouring and dissipates kind of slowly as the brew goes down and leaves a decent lacing on the way down.

Smell: Upon first sniff, the aroma gives off cinnamon, some light allspice and some light biscut-like aroma. Further inspection of the aroma, I get more cinnamon and very light nutmeg-like and other gentle spices. Very little gingerbread aroma. Not too bad. Nice and somewhat balanced.

Taste: Upon first sips, I can detect some light allspice, also some light biscut-like flavors. Second and third sips, I can detect the nutmeg and cinnamon which isn't too bad and smooth and come creamy flavors. Sweeter caramel and some toffee flavors also comes through as the brew goes down.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation with a medium body. Goes well down the slower you go. Not too bad aftertaste, not very dry at all.

Overall: Coming into this brew, I was glad I grabbed it since I missed last year's version. Not too bad upon first pour and inspection. Smell and taste matches up pretty consistent and go well and well-balanced. I was quite satisfied with this brew, but the flavor was a bit overpowering. I would maybe try again maybe on a colder night. I would recommend to a friend. Cheers!

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Photo of caddybuyer
4.45/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Beautiful deep red brown with a huge light tan head that lasts forever

S-Malt and ginger with some clove in the background.

T-Spices come through with a malt and cherry sweetness that really shines when this warms a bit. The finish is dry and clean with an excellent hop balance to offset the sweetness. This is one tasty brew without being overpowered with seasonal spices.

M-A tad bit lighter than I was expecting, but that is not a bad thing. Above average carbonation, but overall very well done.

D-This is a very drinkable seasonal, and of everything that I have tasted yet this year...this is my hands down favorite when it comes to the spiced beer warmer variety. The cherry backdrop adds a very interesting twist to this, and while it sits behind the spices, it is a welcome and tasty addition.

I just had the opportunity to re-review this as somehow my local distributor just got a case of the 2008 version in from the brewery. The 2008 is far superior to the 2009 version, with a marked cherry character. Very nice, and a year has toned down the effervescent character that marked this last year.

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Photo of fuzzylogic
4.44/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the brewery in Phoenixville & also had it on tap at their other location in Royersford.

Aroma is exceptional, even better than it tastes. Scents of nutmeg and cinnamon. Smells like Christmas. Lighter w/a lower abv for a Christmas Ale but still substantial. Very nice beer, drinkable and uncategorizable like a good winter/X-mas ale should be.

A standout from an underrated brewery.

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Photo of Aprilluvsbeer
4.42/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Okay, this is my very first beer review in which I am only doing for myself so I remember what the heck it tasted / smelled like! :) So here it goes:

I only had this Christmas Ale once, so this is my inital reaction: yummy! A great way to get into the holiday spirit would be to drink one (or two) of Sly Fox Christmas Ale. Lots of spices that remind one of the holidays. You can smell cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, and the taste is packed with same. Not too bitter, which I like. As a matter of fact, I liked it so much that I bought a few bottles to give as gifts to my Yuengling Lager drinking friends - try to get them to the dark side :) And of course, I am saving a bottle for myself on Christmas Day!

One of the better holiday beers that I have had so far.


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Photo of stonelis
4.42/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark amber, tons of head..it overflowed my glass. Didn't take long until I was able to pour more, settled to a nice lacy head.

Smell: Cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Nice.

Taste: Heavy spice was my first impression, it faded to a nice balance after the first swallow.

Mouthfeel: a touch too much carbonation for my likes but it didn't detract from the overall feel.

Drinkability: I only had one 750ml bottle. Purchased at Royersford brewery/Reataurant for $6. Wish I had more!

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Photo of curlykate
4.42/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the first holiday beer i had this season that smacked me in the face with christmas. The ale is a beautiful red, with nice foamy head. It smells like my grandma's kitchen was poured into the glass with the beer, maybe i'm being a bit hyperbolic, but the aroma was just so warm and pleasant. The holiday spice i smelled (and tasted) most was nutmeg, although ginger is also prominent. Smooth and very drinkable this is my favorite beer from sly fox, the only thing disappointing about this beer was my inability to find it locally in bottles, i really wanted to bring this with me to holiday parties.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.4/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass deem amber heading toward brown with an almost tan frothy and very tall head which lasted forever to lace the glass.

The aroma was spices, cinnamon and clove most notable but others as well, allspice and some faint resemblence to pumpkin pie. The aroma was bready and toasty with a strong malt backbone filled with dark caramel notes. Also present as the head fell and the beer warmed were dark fruits, raisins and prunes most notably.

The flavor was malty with a strong caramel aspect and almost a Belgian yeast spice character. Present were dark fruits, some raisins and some prunes. The spices were nicely presented and cinnamon, clove and allspice could be picked out while other spices were muted and added complexity. The flavor also contained a graham presence and a bit of ginger snap cookies (like my grandmother used to make).

The finish was dry with a lasting impression of spices and a light bit of dark fruits lurked well into the aftertaste. The body was medium with a fairly high carbonation level but a nicely creamy mouthfeel. Although a spice beer, on the way to being a Belgian Strong Dark with an alcohol boost. A very interesting and complex beer with no appreciable alcohol presence but plenty of flavors and aromas to entice and enjoy.

750 ml corked and bailed bottle. Thanks BeerBeing!
Dunno where he got this one, the website says:
"A malty, full-bodied red ale made with traditional mulling spices: Ginger, Clove, All Spice, Cinnamon & Nutmeg. If this one doesn't get you into the Christmas spirit, you truly are a Scrooge. AVAILABLE IN 750ML BOTTLES ON A SEASONAL BASIS BEGINNING NOVEMBER 2006."

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Photo of Scoats
4.39/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This spiced holiday beer is a favorite of patrons at The Grey Lodge Pub, and with good reason. It's a palish ale with holiday spices such as cinnamin and nutmeg. The interesting thing I noticed last night is that the spices hit you exactly where the hop end taste is in most beers.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.35/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love Winter Warmers and this is exactly what they are supposed to be.
Aromas of warm winter spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg) and a light biscuit yeast or malt.
Taste is sweet amber malts, soft cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, and very, very soft hops at the end.
This brew is exceedingly mellow...very balance for as many different flavors exist in it. Nothing overpowers...everything works well.
This is a winter warmer as it should be...I love it.
Thank you April.
The season has started and finished with this brew.

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Photo of number1bum
4.35/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Arena Bar & Grill in Wilkes Barre. Reddish-brown with a bit of tan, foamy head. Smells very nice - nutmeg and cinnamon, maybe some clove, and definitely some malt that seems as though it will be sweet. Tastes like it smells - a lot of spice up front, that nutmeg and cinnamon again, primarily. Very smooth with a pleasant malt sweetness. Not much at all in the way of hops. I really enjoyed this beer; perfect sweetness and beautifully balanced with spice, this is a great winter warmer.

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Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another great offering from Sly Fox pours a deep red with some copper tints with a real nice fluffy head that leaves some nice lacing on its way down,aroma is of allspice and cinnamon with some light metallic hints.A real fine tasting brew cinnamon is the dominant taste I get with some light allspice notes a nice malty/bready backbone to makes it very appetizing.Gotta growler of it and now enjoying at home.

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Photo of Chas58
4.3/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: After removing the cage and popping the cork I readied a tulip glass for the long awaited Christmas Ale. The first pour which was gentle, yet yielded a glass with more than half foam, patience was going to be needed before getting at the pleasant brownish red beer. The thick mocha colored head dissipated slowly.

Smell: The beer has a rich, pleasant smell with a clear holiday smell of cinnamon, and Ginger with a hint of citrus. The smell is pleasant and not overpowering. You know you have treat awaiting you.

Taste: The taste of this ale is magnificent it is not subtle but well balanced and pleasing. What you smelled is what you get with a tight and pleasant amount of carbonation. The hint of citrus as well as the cinnamon and ginger come through the maltiness of the ale. The alcohol does not come on too strong but you recognize it exists. 

Mouthfeel: The upfront carbonation is moderate and appropriate and allows the taste to shine through

Drinkability: This is an enjoyable and drinkable beer. I am surprised when the 750ml bottle is empty. The true test is your reaction when empty and I clearly am looking forward to the next cool evening for the  Sly Fox Christmas Ale to find it's way into my glass again. 

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Photo of bigeyedfish
4.27/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL corked and caged bottle poured into a pint glass. No mention of abv and the only born on date is the 2007 on the label.

Good body color, real dark red/chestnut color with a ton of dirty head that's really sticky. The head may have been my fault, since it was glurping out of the bottle; probably should have let things settle a little bit before pouring. Still, nice looking beer- the head has the color almost of coffee with too much milk poured into it.

The nose is occupied mostly by spices with a nice hint of dirty bleu cheese (specifically, Vermont Butter and Cheese company Bonne Bouche.) There's some clove that stands out as the dominant of the listed spices. Some cinnamon and a little bit of I almost want to say a ginger component. Really nice to see a spiced beer not be over spiced.

Root-beer-ist taste at first which transitions into a very pleasing cinnamon sugar which then becomes an almost fruit like finish. Really really good taste. Some other spices present including a really nice nutmeg flavor. Wow, I'm actually digging this beer pretty hard. Nice blend of spices that was not overly heavy on one specific spice.

Some carbonation on the mouthfeel, some spice sensations in the mid palate, but really, for a beer that is a spiced beer, a really smooth drinker. Some overly-nutmeg hits the side of the palate slightly, but it fades pretty quickly. Really cool.

A pretty smooth, enjoyable winter warmer. Spicy enough that it can be enjoyed for its spice characteristics, but it's not so overly spicy that it has to be laid down for a couple months to smooth it out. I'm almost hesitant to take the remaining bottles from my cellar and drink them now; this is a pretty sweet fresh winter beer. One of the most tasty winter brews to come out of the northeast this season. Major props to Sly Fox.

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Photo of Dodo2step
4.23/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

P- Knickerbocker in Altoona, PA.

from notes/memory

A- a nice root beer like color. Decent head that does hang around for bit. gorgeous black licorice highlites.

S- cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, figs and ginger. The cloves are in the forefront and dominate the smell.

T- taste mimics the smell. Alcohol is also present in the taste moreso than in the nose.

M- feels like xmas all over again. I feel like i should be opening presents. I nice winter warmer that goes down smooth and warms the trachea.

D- a great beer but it is a lil heavy that could take it down a notch ot two in my rating.

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Photo of Pinto21
4.23/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

grabbed a pint down at boxer's in huntingdon. This place gets beers i thought i would never see out here in the middle of pennsllytucky.

anyway... dark cherry red color with a good head.

smelled of cinnamon and little bit of cherry.

tasted like it smelled, but the tastes werent overpowering. The bitterness came through and balanced the slight sweet.

looking at the brew and smelling it would lead you to think it was a very heavy beer. In fact, it was very drinkable. I would compare it to the mouthfeel of an APA.

Overall an interesting beer. Not too heavy, very drinkable, and tasty. Not all things I would think would be in a christmas beer. I enjoy this one since I can have more than one in a sitting and it still makes a great christmas beer.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.22/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

In a nice little Christmas beer sampling in the middle of the spring, cracked this one open and poured it into my long-stemmed tulip glass.

The pour produces a garnet-hued body capped by a thick fluffy white head. There is no lacing to speak of, though after each sip, a few spotty bubbles linger on the walls of the glass and slowly slink back down into the beer.

Ginger, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg are all evident in the nose and balance nicely with the Munich malts that provide a nutty backbone. The taste tracks almost directly with my initial impression of the aroma, as the beautifully balanced spices really just serve to highlight the actual body of the beer itself. The only addition is a touch of caramel in the finish that lingers on the palate with cinnamon and clove.

Creamy, but light in consistency. Carbonated like a Belgian, but it doesn't overwhelm the palate and take away from the beer. This beer is very nicely done. The spice is clearly a focal point, but Sly Fox hit it right on the nose with the balance.

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Photo of bob3701
4.22/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass. Clear dark mahogany color with a tan head and minimal lacing. Heavy spicy aroma in a very pleasant way. The clove cinnamon and nutmeg really standout to me here. While the spices are strong here they are not that sickly type of strong. I enjoyed this beer, to me it was almost like drinking and not so sweet Christmas cookie.

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Photo of whartontallboy
4.22/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a reddish-cola brown with a big, bubbly tan head that holds pretty well and leaves a fair amount of lace in my mug.

Smell is quite spicy, big aromas of gingerbread, cinnamon-toast-malt, with a little bit of nutmeg in there, too.

Pretty spicy as it hits the mouth, with the ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg flavors coming together to give it a little Christmas-cookie flair. It stops just short of being another overspiced winter warmer-type brew, and the dry, toasty finish and lingering aftertaste go a long way towards making it surprisingly drinkable. Mouthfeel is a bit light, but still chewy enough to stand up to the spices.

Overall: Wow, this is the first of the much-anticipated Sly Fox bottles I've tried, and I'm pretty impressed. Spicy enough that you wouldn't want to drink it every night, but a nice winter treat that's a steal at around five bucks for a 750.

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.22/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a very good spiced beer. I can only describe it as a pumpkin ale with less nutmeg, leaving you with cloves. Some other spices I cannot make out. Let's be honest. You can't taste the pumpkin in pumpkin ales. I feel somewhat weird rating it so highly, because I have had better beers which I have rated lower. But for what it is trying to be, I believe it deserves the rating. It smells very good. It looks good. It tastes good. It was very smooth to drink.

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Photo of Lupe
4.21/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy honey-amber with a huge frothy head. The head slowly shrinks to a fluffy sheet and leaves sporadic lacing.

Sweet malty aroma with ginger and holiday spice.

Nice malty flavors of biscuit, molasses, and roasted malt. The sweetness is well balanced by the spice - ginger, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In comes fresh baked bread, a bit of dough, and more spice to keep things crisp. Very well balanced between the sweet and spicy.

Medium bodied, smooth and creamy with nice carbonation. Great drinkability. More comforting than impressive - a great beer for the season.

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Christmas Ale from Sly Fox Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 174 ratings.