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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.
BA SCORE
85
very good

268 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 268
Reviews: 35
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 12.66%
Wants: 13
Gots: 68 | FT: 3
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 268 | Reviews: 35
Reviews by BrewUSA:
Photo of BrewUSA
4.14/5  rDev +9.2%
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

More User Reviews:
Photo of WVbeergeek
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
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.

Photo of Brenden
3.62/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is a pretty dark, somewhat standard (for a style that has no particular standard) sort of reddish-brown. A tight cream-colored head forms, growing to almost a finger tall, retains itself pretty well, and leaves a modicum of spotty lacing as it recedes.
Initially smelling this and thinking it's a winter warmer, expecting a touch more sweetness and a bit more warmth, it makes sense that it's in an even broader category. The backbone is malty, mostly caramel with some bread, accompanied by some mostly floral hops notes. The spicing is such that it doesn't add sweetness, something of a mix of kitchen and holiday spices. There is a slight kick of cinnamon, and it's well integrated, but otherwise it's more like allspice with an obvious note of nutmeg. The coriander gives it a hint of something like one of those uncategorized Belgian browns. They went safe with it, balancing everything well, making sure it's not too sweet or too heavily spiced. Playing it safe, though, does mute it just a bit overall.
The body is moderate. The carbonation borders on high but is kept in check. Generally it's pretty smooth, definitely plenty crisp but not biting. Alcohol doesn't factor too much in the feel, which is good.

Photo of prototypic
3.67/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

Photo of zimm421
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

Photo of buschbeer
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

Photo of rlee1390
3.76/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

Photo of twiggamortis420
3.94/5  rDev +4%
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.

Photo of stumac
4.09/5  rDev +7.9%
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

Photo of BB1313
3.03/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Pours a hazy auburn, off-white head which eventually fades but leaves nice lacing and retention. The aromas are full of the usual suspects like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. There are some berries noticeable in the nose as well, especially blueberries. The flavors are pretty malty. The spices definitely shine as well. More cinnamon and ginger, which dominate. The honey isn't too noticeable in the flavors, in my opinion. Very grainy and has a mineral-like quality. There's a subtle bitterness. The flavors just seem to fall flat and don't come off as memorable. I'm also picking up some blueberries in the flavors, for what it's worth. The mouthfeel is nice. High carbonation, almost fizzy, but smooth. The alcohol is well hidden and not noticeable.

I love Fat Head's, but I was underwhelmed by this one. If you're into spiced Christmas ales, give it a shot, but it's not as tasty as Great Lakes, Thirsty Dog, Hoppin' Frog, and The Brew Kettle's interpretations, in my humble opinion. I hate to compare beers in reviews, but it's only fair since they are all too similar and Ohio brewed.

** I'm not sure if this is the same beer/recipe as their Christmas Ale of years past. Seems very similar.

Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

Photo of OWSLEY069
2.96/5  rDev -21.9%
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.

Photo of ckollias
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

Photo of AC-Mivsek
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%

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.

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.38/5  rDev -10.8%
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!

Photo of Crafts_and_recreation
4.43/5  rDev +16.9%
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.

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

Photo of Hoptometrist
4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
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.

Photo of brighteyes868
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.25

Easy drink...a little sweet, not a lot of carbonation, but overall I really enjoyed it. Surprising for me because I'm not normally a Fatheads fan.

Photo of BeerLoverCRM
3/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Great label good Xmas spirit

Photo of AndrewMichael
3.56/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A solid winter warmer. 12 oz bottle, bottled at 14:47 on 11/05/14, poured into a pint glass.

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this in a beer exchange. Thanks Chris!

12oz bottle served in a glass beer mug.

L - cloudy amber color with a beige head that thinned out but still left a fair amount of lacing.

S - lots of holiday spices, nutmeg, ginger and raw honey.

T - the spices and honey come through in the taste with just a little bitterness on the finish.

F - medium bodied with a silky smooth feel.

O - a good example of the style.

Photo of barczar
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
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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Holly Jolly Christmas Ale from Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon
85 out of 100 based on 268 ratings.