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Holly Jolly Christmas Ale - Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon

Not Rated.
Holly Jolly Christmas AleHolly Jolly Christmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

31 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 31
Hads: 295
Avg: 3.83
pDev: 37.34%
Wants: 14
Gots: 86 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon visit their website
Ohio, United States

Style | ABV
Herbed / Spiced Beer |  7.40% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BB1313 on 12-07-2012

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 31 | Hads: 295
Photo of schoolboy
4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The Lake Erie region has a lot of great breweries and great Xmas drinks coming out of those breweries. This is the best of those holiday drinks I've tried this year. Really, there is no reason to look any further, this is the one. I had a taste at their pub on Lorain and now a bottle too.

It is a pretty brown ale. Nice and clear with extremely fine head. The aroma is exquisite. As good as any in the style. It smells hoppy and spicy all nicely balanced.

The taste is an easy drinking strong holiday drink. Not too bitter but not too spiced and punchie. It lingers on the palate on the sweet side, appropriately. I hope to serve these to guests a few times this year but I don't want another right now - one is enough, give me something sour or sitter or ... over the top. Cheers.

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Photo of Hop_God
3.82/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Deep brown mahogany to ruby red.

S: very spicy and "christmas" forward, baking spices

T: much of the same as the smell, some spiciness, nutmeg, hint of cinnamon, then a blast of hops.

F: very crisp and a big bite.

O: for the type of beer it was a pretty decent version.

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Photo of barczar
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

I'm not a Christmas beer fan, and I'm not a fan of ginger, so this is not my fave.

Ginger and allspice dominate both aroma and flavor. Cola notes become evident in the aftertaste. There's a touch of toasted malt.

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Photo of stumac
4.09/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Guess I gotta write a review cuz it's not letting me do a quick score. My buddy brought this down from his hometown in Ohio back here to Texas. Nice treat. Looks solid. Very clear. No head. Nose isn't too pungent. Nose and flavor are the same except the flavor has more malt flavor. Holiday spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla. Medium body, mellow carbo, solid brew

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Photo of Beef_Curtains
4.5/5  rDev +17.5%

Caringly dispensed into a mug from a 12 oz bottle

Appears a sedatious reddish-brown color with a solid finger of fluffy foamy goodness

Smells like Christmas: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, fuitcake, honey and a little caramel.

Also tastes like Christmas: a smooth wave of the aforementioned spices and more stemming from a rigid malty spine.

A nicely carbonated, medium bodied beer

Very similar to the classic Great Lakes Christmas Ale. At 10.99 a sixer, this will definitely be added to my annual Christmas lineup

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Photo of Spadoof
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Served from a 12oz bottle into a 22oz snifter. No bottled on date present.

A - Pours a semi transparent hue of red/orange/brown with a finger thick white cap. Most of the lacing falls leaving some soapy bubbles on the side of the snifter.

S - The smell really packs a punch... Christmas in a bottle. Fresh ginger and cinnamon up front followed by sweet blast of honey, cherry and alcohol.

T - Ginger, cinnamon and festive spices up front are sharp on the tongue. Hints of fresh fruit and sweet malt come through in the middle followed by pungent honey. Alcohol and carbonation come through at the to gently cleanse the palate leaving a semi sweet mixture of honey and ginger.

M - Medium carbonation, thick body.

O - Fantastic! Probably in my top three christmas ales! Will definitely be purchasing more.

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Photo of Hoptometrist
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served from the bottle into a goblet glass. The third beer of my 2014 twelve beers of Christmas.

A- Poured a dark reddsih brown color with lots of streaming carbonation and off-white soapy head that left dense, splashy lace.

S- Big aroma of cinnamon, ginger, honey, and cracker malt character. This really smells like Great Lakes Christmas Ale.

T- Huge cinnamon and ginger, some honey sweetness, cracker and bready malt notes, light orange peel and brown sugar notes.

M- Smooth, medium body, prickly carbonation, and semi-dry finish.

O- Very good spiced Christmas Ale that tastes that is heavy on the spices of the season and a nice malt backbone. This beer is very similar to Great Lakes Christmas Ale in my opinion with Holly Jolly being just a little more malt forward.

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Photo of AC-Mivsek
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%

A- Pours a clear reddish amber, thin khaki head which dissipates quickly. Mild carbonation.

S- Very spicy, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, honey, some cola aspects to it as well. Hearty, robust nose.

M- Smooth, silky. Coats the tongue with cinnamon sweetness.

T- Spicy and sweet. Cinnamon and honey seem to dominate, malty back-end.

O- I feel this is a great example of a christmas ale. Very spice heavy, not quite warming enough for me though. I'd go winter warmer over herb/spice ale next time.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle pours a mostly clear brownish-crimson color with a fluffy head of tan head. Fades pretty fast and does not leave much lace.

Aroma is ginger galore with the sweet cinnamon-honey coming a close second. Smells very much like a gingerbread cookie.

Taste mixes malt flavors with the spices better than the nose would indicate, still quite cookie-esque though. The honey comes forth in this beer more so than any other beer I have had, maybe even as much as DFH Midas Touch. The ginger seems to help that perception, as does the rich malt. Mouthfeel is great - full and silky. I like this one quite a bit but I could see it being too rich for more than one or two in a sitting.

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Photo of BrewUSA
4.14/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Look 9/10
Smell 18/20
Taste 37/40
Feel 9/10
Drinkability 17/20

Overall 90/100

Fat Heads Holly J olly pours a amber reddish orange, with just a bit of Haze~ Light and radiant lacing~a Aroma is nice and spicy, citrus ginger and honey, smells wonderful~ Palate is kicking with some dazzling citrus and spice, dry but sweet, light to med body~ Taste is Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice, Orange Peel, Honey, Coriander, Clove, Hops, Bread malts and Caramel~ A very good winter warmer~ Smooth and spicy not very complex, yet easy to drink~ A bit of bitterness lingers on the tongue~ Overall: 7.9

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Photo of rlee1390
3.76/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Clear deep amber, not much carbonation, one finger head that doesn't long at all.

S-Very spice heavy; nutmeg, cinnamon, some caramel and slight honey.

T-Rather sweet with spices. Caramel and malt to begin with cinnamon and nutmeg in the finish. No bitterness though.

M-Light, very light and watery without any carbonation.

O-As it warms it becomes slightly bland, the spice is still there but nothing special. A good beer but not worth having again.

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Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 10/24/2013. Pours moderately cloudy deep ruby red color with a 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with some moderate streaming carbonation. Aromas of big raisin, caramel, brown sugar, toast, brown bread, honey, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, clove, and herbal earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt and spice notes; with great strength. Taste of raisin, caramel, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, honey, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, clove, and herbal earthiness. Minimal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, caramel, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, honey, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and herbal earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance, robustness, and complexity of malt, honey, and spice flavors; with a great malt/spice balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth and lightly slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice spiced Christmas ale! All around good balance and complexity of malt and spice flavors; and very smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.84/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The coldest winter in a half-century deserves a Christmas beer anytime – cheers.

Bottled 11/14/2013, nearly three months before the date of this tasting.

A: Dark auburn body, with a pristine transparency that’s only visible when held up to the light – otherwise it just looks like darkness. Short, fizzy head of thin bubbles dissipates quickly, leaving little lace and nothing but a dusting of retention.

S: Notes of spice, booze, and sweets abound: each whiff provides a noseful of allspice, nutmeg, and ginger on a bed of bright, minty vanilla malt scents. Smells like a spice cake, one with an extra thick layer of icing.

T: White cake and rum raisin ice cream with cinnamon-sugar on top: delicious sugar and spice fill out the body with wonderful balance. Both extremes are drinkable and controlled, a filling blend of sweet cake, dark fig, and brown sugar topped with nutmeg, cardamom, and allspice. Finishes a little on the thin side of sugary, like a diet cola, but that’s the only downside I’m getting in this palate.

M: The carbonation is light, adding nothing but a bit of texture to the spice, while the body is just thick enough to be filling. The texture fits the palate perfectly.

O: This beer is a meal in a glass, showing off enough spicy complexity to endlessly entertain the palate. If you’re looking for a pleasantly-spiced, drinkable beer for the colder months, look no further.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.84/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown color with a white head that recedes to a fine layer. Aroma of molasses, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and spice.

In the taste, fairly spicy, with allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg balanced by sugary malts and a balancing hop bitterness. The mild citrusy hops give the impression of lemon candies. There is a smallish nutty malt flavor. Medium to full bodied ale that drinks easy

Overall this is a nice spiced ale and a good holiday brew. The spices were not overwhelming, like in some renditions of the style. This is pretty good stuff, as to be expected from this brewery.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.38/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Appearance - a pretty pour, clear amber/ruby brew with a finger of manila cream. Festive and elegant.

Aroma - cola/anise, powdery grain.

Taste - like the nose, a cola/anise flavor, malty sweetness. A middle of the road seasonal, but a good crossover into the winter ale styles that tend to be sweeter.

Mouthfeel - smooth, decent weight for the style, slightly muted carbonation.

Overall - decent session Christmas beer, though GLC still rules the roost. A toast of this beer to Steve who introduced himself at the King of the Hill IPA tasting at Incline Public House. He needed a sitdown and I was happy to share my table. Joined by his brother Frank and sister-in-law Leanne, I was about to leave but they bought me one, so thanks for that!! Meeting new friends over good beer is always a keeper in the holiday memories department. Great to meet you guys, cheers!

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Photo of Crafts_and_recreation
4.43/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep, ruby hue with dense, fluffy off-white head which dissapated but left a nice 1/4 inch on top. Tons of carbonation, bubbles continue to rise in the glass while I write this, and a thin, spotty lacing throughout.

Aroma is very complex of ginger, cinnamon, clove, pine, some honey or molasses, breads malts. Smells sweet and spicy, very pleasant with a hint of brown sugar and orange peel.

Flavor is very smooth, spices hit the palate first but are followed by a clean malt base and it's a hint sweet without overdoing it. Almost reminiscent of fruitcake, it starts out with cinnamon and spice, followed by pine, and with a smooth orangey finish. Very little noticeable bitterness if any and mild fruit flavors.

Mouthfeel is one of this beer's strong points in my opinion, it's smooth and silky with a full body and clean finish. Flavor is really carried across the palate by this rich brew and is surprisingly drinkable for its strength.

Overall this is one of the better Christmas beers I've tried. It's spicy without being overwhelming, piney without being too pungent, and has a deep, satiny body that goes down easily with a pleasant aftertaste. This beer is what I had hoped ST 2xmas would be like, the aromas are similar, but FH presents a much smoother and more palatable flavor in my opinion. Not something I'd want all the time, but I would certainly recommend trying it.

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Photo of zimm421
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a stemless wine glass. Appears a beautiful deep amber color with a nice tan head. The head has good staying power, and leaves decent lacing.

The nose has hints of ginger, honey, spices and sweet caramel malt. Very nice aroma here, just what you would expect. The taste is right in line with this with the malts dominating, and the honey playing a supporting role. The spices also come through in the forefront with ginger and cinnamon dominating. The combinations here work really well, and the hops even seem to appear in the finish with a little floral note.

The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, with active carbonation, and there's a pretty sticky finish that you can feel for a good 30 seconds after each sip. Overall, this is a good winter beer / Christmas ale. Not the best style on earth, but this gets the job done when you're looking for something to warm you up or looking for something that fits in during the season.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Six packs released with a deep mahogany brown crimson hue with light khaki tan head forming nicely in intricate patterns down the sides of my chalice. Aroma has spices for Christmas, ginger, cinnamon, etc. with a definite honey tone fermented out a bit. Strong spice character throughout each sip it's super spicy limiting the enjoyment of each sip, to how high your tolerance is to the honey, cinnamon, ginger, dry spice additions are. Mouthfeel gets cloying at times be ready to share this beer with those folks who love Great Lakes Christmas ale hell rim the glass with a mix of cinnamon and sugar if you have to. Overall I love Fathead's this beer is off my palate's radar for beers I truly love, but I consider it to be a good solid Christmas ale.

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Photo of sarbast
3.38/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber pour with decent head and retention. Aroma is light; nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon, primarily nutmeg. Taste is sweet, with cinnamon up front and the other spices following. Honey is in there somewhere. I like this as a holiday ale, but am not overwhelmed by it. Enjoyable but not the best.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 FL.OZ. bottle
Served in a perfect pint glass

A - This beer is rust with orange highlights. It has a fleeting inch of tan head.

S - The smell is cinnamon and some clove.

T - The taste is loaded with cinnamon as well. I also notice some gingerbread.

M - Medium

O - This is a pretty good winter warmer. I know it is July, but it has held up quite well.

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Photo of prototypic
3.67/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Holly Jolly pours a deep copper color. Looks to be clear for the most part. Backlighting shows attractive crimson highlights. I like the color quite a bit! An off-white head covers the top. It stands just a little over a finger tall. Retention was on the shorter side. It fell back to a surface covering quickly. Lacing was moderate and spotty. Not bad.

The nose is good. The malt base smells nice. It features some caramel notes, but doesn’t smell overly sweet. Toasted malts and a bit of light chocolate are also noted. Holiday spices are rather strong in the mix. Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg are front and center. There’s a rather strong piney or spruce scent that follows. It’s not bad, but smells just a tad strong for this guy. Alcohol is blended pretty well. This bottle is listed as 7.4% abv. Smells good overall.

The flavor isn’t quite as good. The malt base is solid. It’s a mix of light caramel, chocolate, and toasted malts. The chocolate variety tastes like cocoa, and the caramel sweetness is held in check pretty well. The piney, spruce-like flavor follows and is a bit too strong for me. Not bad, just too strong. Holiday spices follow. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger are all present and add quite a bit of flavor. Alcohol isn’t all that strong. It’s blended well. Finishes spruce-y, spicy, and sweet.

Holly Jolly has a medium body. Carbonation is dialed back nicely and is light and soft. It’s smooth and easy drinking for the most part. The spruce flavor grows a tad tiresome, but I’ll still finish the bottle!

Holly Jolly is a pretty solid Winter Warmer from Fat Heads Brewery. Here in Ohio, it’s not a threat to dethrone Great Lakes Christmas Ale, but it’s a nice supplement to the Christmas season. If the strong sprucey, piney flavor could be toned down a little, it’d be even better. Easy recommendation nevertheless.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a Green's tulip. Pours a nice clear reddish-amber color with 2 fingers of rocky off-white head. Average retention. On the nose I get the holiday spices typical of a winter warmer. Ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg all combined with sweet bready malt and a lemony hop note.

The beer has a medium to full body. Firm feel. The flavor follows the nose quite well. Sweet malt up front with a peppery character imparted by the spices. Fairly dry, peppery finish that doesn't linger too long. No trace of alcohol burn. Quite drinkable, but could stand to be a little sweeter.

Last year I went overboard buying Christmas beers and got tired of them really fast. This year, I only bought one - a sixer of this one. I probably won't buy it again. Not because I don't like it. I simply prefer Great Lakes Christmas Ale. It's a little sweeter than this one and feels a bit more festive somehow. Perhaps it's the label on the bottle.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
2.96/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a lightly hazy orange-ish to amber color with an off white head. In the aroma, a light spice and quite faint. In the taste, spices, especially all spice, but mellow in the end. A spice bite and a medium to lighter bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry spice in the aftertaste. Nice spice but mellow and faint.

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Photo of ckollias
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this 12oz stubby bottle out of a Belgian tulip glass.

A: Pours a dark amber-orangish with a thick, fizzy, off-white, head that slowly dissipates down the side of the glass ending in a solid lace.

S: Malty aroma with spicy backbone consisting of mostly of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

T: Similar to the smell this malty brew has flavors of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg Lots of spices and complex flavors here.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: Excellent winter spiced ale. Very flavorful and balanced.

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Photo of tankg
4.5/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very nice winter beer, not surprising from this outfit. Had on draft several times before stockpiling some 4 packs from Ds in Monroeville PA and the original Fatheads bar in the south side of Pittsburgh - best bar food in a town full or good bar food by the way...

Copper pour into a pint from a bottle, with a cinnamon aroma than hits you before you even get close. There are hints of ginger, honey, nutmeg and lemon , but for me, the cinnamon remains prominent in the taste profile. Very drinkable for the ABV as well. Surprised at the few reviews, must be a limited release. In a style that I enjoy, this in my new find this year along with the 2Xmas which is very nice....both are better than the usuaul winter suspects.. Anyway, haven't had a bad Fathead's beer (Headhunter IPA is excellent) or a bad Church Brewworks Beer out of Pittsburgh also ...their seasonal Zwarte Brown is excellent...

Happy Holidays...

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Holly Jolly Christmas Ale from Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon
86 out of 100 based on 31 ratings.