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Bell's Christmas Ale - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Bell's Christmas AleBell's Christmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,150 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1150
Reviews: 460
rAvg: 3.58
pDev: 13.41%

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Scottish Ale |  5.40% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BierFan on 11-06-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,150 | Reviews: 460 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Brenden


3.74/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Whatever its designation (Scottish ale? Winter warmer?), this beer is inviting to look at. It's almost a straight medium-red, bright and clear with a darker brilliant flare to its body. The head is a small, creamy off-white cap. Retention is good, while lacing is moderately deposited in spotting that almost manages patching at times.
This is a nicely spiced beer that doesn't go overboard. Cinnamon impresses itself on the nostrils under bready, toasty sort of malts with something like orange peel in it. There's a bit more fruit down under as well, a bit of yeast and just a very light note of hops.
The hops assert themselves slightly more strongly on the tongue with a bit more citrus and something slightly greener, but the show is still the malts and the cinnamon with backing from the citrus peel note. It has a touch of earth, and the yeast adds something not quite musty.
The body is medium, carbonation is firm and consistent, not too spritzy but holding a strong crispness. It's not quite creamy, and a dryness coming out in the finish may be either spicing or hops, leaving it semi-dry overall.

Serving type: on-tap

01-21-2014 22:48:49 | More by Brenden
Photo of Bernoulli

South Carolina

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

1/4" head with some lacing

Light hazy amber color.

Smell of winter-appropriate spices.

No taste of alcohol. Typical seasonal spices are ok. They either overwhelm the taste beneath them or there isn't much there.

Non-descript mouth feel.

Nothing offensive, but nothing makes it standout compared to the other seasonal's it's competing against. Maybe a good intro to the class for those who don't venture away from the standard American lagers and might be scared off otherwise.

Serving type: on-tap

01-17-2014 22:50:45 | More by Bernoulli
Photo of deebo


4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Bulldog-uptown
Served in a pint with a thin finger of white head that laces the glass. Looks like Christmas-copper/amber and clear. Smells of warm spices and breast caramel toasted malt. Slight aroma of pine tree hops. Taste is smooth. Malt forward with a nice finish of NW US hops. A full bodied brew with a hint of astringency/hop resin in the finish. Overall a very nice winter beer. Aromatic, malty with some nice complexity.

Serving type: on-tap

12-29-2012 01:08:32 | More by deebo
Photo of Darkmagus82


3.68/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a 10 oz pint glass

Appearance – The beer is served a reddish amber color with a nice one finger off white head. The head has a good level of retention giving a quite nice level of lacing.

Smell – The nose is overall quite light. It consists of a light bready smell mixed with some light citrus and brown sugar.

Taste – A bready and malty flavor greets the tongue. A decent sweetness is upfront being of a caramel and brown sugar flavor. Dark fruit flavors then come to the taste more toward the middle. While the dark fruit comes to the taste, the sugary tastes dwindling a bit. Some flavors of a smoky nature soon come to the tongue more toward the end and are accompanied by a light spice as well as some bitter citrus. These flavors, in the end, leave a malty but hop and sweet balanced flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel –The body of the brew was on the thicker and creamier side for a brew of only 5.5 % abv. The carbonation level was on the slightly lower side, but very close to average. The combo of the thicker body and medium carbonation made it a bit of a slower drinker, but not too slow where it wasn't still refreshing and to where all the spice and sweet flavors lost their draw. Quite nicely done.

Overall – A great drinking Christmas ale with a good flavor and mouthfeel.

Serving type: on-tap

12-15-2012 00:31:33 | More by Darkmagus82
Photo of DAllspaw


4.3/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into pint glass

Amber color, a little cloudy with solid 1 inch off white/tan head. Plent of tiny bubbles.

Malt is king here, most notable in the aroma then same in the taste. A bit of caramel and toffee which remind me of other scottish ales, though others I've had are darker.

Slightly sweet and even a little smoky aftertaste. Reminds me more of ESB with, but regardless a very nice beer and perfect for time of year. Plenty going on, another strong offering from Bells.

Serving type: on-tap

12-15-2011 00:50:53 | More by DAllspaw
Photo of NWFLyer


3.78/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a generic 'pint' glass at HopJacks Pizza Kitchen & Taproom, Pensacola, Florida.
A: clear copper color, minimal head, no lacing.
S: very slight notes of malt and undetermined spice
M: bright & effervescent up front, smooth and spicy on the back end. Very pleasant overall.
T: modest hints of cinnamon and clove with a fairly rich, malty finish.
Summary: When the weather outside is frightful, this ale is quite delightful.

Serving type: on-tap

11-23-2011 03:20:02 | More by NWFLyer
Photo of Gatch


4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Taste of Tops in Tempe, AZ.

A - deep amber in color with a thin, white head. Not much head formation, but it could have been due to the bartender's pour.

S - Malt, slightly roasted. Caramelized sugar.

T - Sweet, sugary malt & caramelized sugar. Raisins. A little smokiness. Slight alcohol that warms in the throat & stomach.

M - very slight carbonation, smooth, sweet, drinkable. Good representation of the style.

Serving type: on-tap

11-18-2011 06:14:34 | More by Gatch
Photo of DrDemento456


4.33/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Out of all the on tap offerings today this one was the best!

A - Looks to be a deep color amber with a nice bit of foam and the best lacing on the sides of my glass. Great presentation!

S - Smells faint but I can get cinnamon and nutmeg with some hops and malts.

T - Very good! I can pick up the cinnamon, maybe some all spice, and nutmeg but also a mild cherry tone. Tastes awesome!

M - Very light to medium bodied. Was able to finish the sample pretty quick.

D - I don't remember it being this great out of the bottle but it sure impressed me on tap! Great flavor and surprisingly smooth low ABV scotch ale!

Serving type: on-tap

01-03-2011 23:05:19 | More by DrDemento456
Photo of Spider889


2.6/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Mad Mex. Not my first choice given the reviews but it was one of the cheaper offerings.

This was a cinnamon/amber color that was pretty clear. Had no head, left no lace. I can't fault Mad Mex because my other two beers that night had a great head on 'em.

Smells of weak cinnamon and honey, clover flowery notes waft in a little as well, I imagine as a relation to the honey.

Taste is strong honey, light cinnamon and other not-so-forthright spices. Mild orange rind permeates through the bland under spicing. Very light caramel crackery malt that doesn't add much body.

On the light end of medium bodied. Lighter carbonation than I would like for the style.

This was very simple and drinkable, but not very inspiring of the season it claims to represent. At a party or something I imagine this would go over well, but there are too many damn good Christmas beers around OH to waste my money on this one.

When I ordered this I did not realize it was a Scottish Ale. This only further proves the point that this beer isn't up to snuff - I had no notiion at all that this was anything other than an attempt at a spiced Christmas Ale.

Serving type: on-tap

12-21-2010 20:00:13 | More by Spider889
Photo of LiquidBread219


3.95/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A lot better on-tap than in the bottle

A= It was light brown in color had a little head.

S= I picked up some fruit and wood on the nose.

T= Starts off with a carmel malt and then I pick up on a bread malt of some type. Nice noasty winter beer.

M= Medium bodied for me it had a little to much carbonation.

D= This was a nice beer to have on a cold winter day really enjoyed it a lot better on draft than in the bottle.

Serving type: on-tap

12-19-2010 22:21:40 | More by LiquidBread219
Photo of xnicknj


3.38/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

on tap at devils den

Pours a clouded auburn with a solid white head. Fades to film which disappears rather quickly, leaving hardly any lacing.

Some malty peat and chocolate in the nose, with notes of breadiness as well.

Begins with citrusy hops and pine, followed by notes of chocolate and bitterness. Slight smoke and leather with some caramel malt. Finishes a little dry with some bread crust and lightly roasted malt.

Thinner medium body, higher carbonation, a little chewy. Drinks okay, but I really wasn't impressed with the flavor and pretty much wanted to be through with this to get to something better.

Serving type: on-tap

12-16-2010 01:18:38 | More by xnicknj
Photo of atsprings

North Carolina

3.55/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Flying Saucer served in a standard pint glass a crisp amber with a thin khaki head. Aroma is a nice amount of burnt caramel malts. The taste is smooth caramel malts with slight sweet fruits and a hint of cinnamon. The beer is fairly light bodied with mild carbonation. This is a decent Winter beer, but it seems like beer that could be enjoyed year-round.

Serving type: on-tap

11-19-2010 18:08:58 | More by atsprings
Photo of Buebie


3.3/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

$3 pour, not bad.

Into a pint glass producing just under an inch of off white head. Receding a bit slow to leave a nice solid cap. Lace is thin leaving very little drapery.
Deep copper color, redish amber. Transparent. Had to let it sit a bit it was served colder then desired.
Aroma is sweet with malt, juicy caramel, grassy hops are muted a bit but mildly present.
Taste is not as sweet as aroma might lead you to belive. It actually tastes a bit different then I remember. Cereal grains, a touch of bittering hops and mildly charred caramel flavor. A bit of fruity esters too.
Mouthfeel is slick and well carbonated.
I had an '08 bottle last month that tasted much better then it does fresh.
Age does nice things to this beer. But again, this isnt how I remember it, recipe tweak?

Serving type: on-tap

11-06-2010 20:17:31 | More by Buebie
Photo of zeff80


3.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured a clear, rusty copper color with a two-finger, khaki-colored head of foam. It left thin rings of lace.

S - It smelled of caramel, toffee and toasty malt. It had a subtle earthy quality.

T - It tasted of toasty malt and sweet caramel. There was a light toffee flavor and an earthy hop presence.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a smooth finish. It was light to medium-bodied.

D - This is a nice Christmas ale. I always like it when a Christmas ale isn't just a winter warmer.

Serving type: on-tap

01-22-2010 02:02:43 | More by zeff80
Photo of Gehrig


3.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on tap at Jupiter's.

Clear reddish-amber body with two full fingers of off-white head; nice retention and lacing--a good-looking beer. Lots of orange peel in the nose, but not much else. What I smell here, I like, but the problem is the aroma is tepid.

Nice taste, very citrusy and a bit hoppier for a Scotch Ale than one would expect. To be honest, also, I didn't know that this was a Scotch Ale until I located the beer here at BA. I had it pegged as a seasonal. It's not bad at all, but it's an atypical for a Scotch Ale--less malty, more fruity, not so robust. There is a slight bite to it, but it's mild.

This certainly smooth and easy on the palate--good stuff. I would love it if Bell's dumped in a few heaps more of malt to take this from nice to very impressive. It's nice now, but ramping up the malt would make it a must-have Christmas beer.

Serving type: on-tap

01-22-2010 01:54:15 | More by Gehrig
Photo of BeerBelcher


3.3/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Solid, but hardly remarkable. I didn't really know what to make of this beer...I tried it because I didn't think I'd already had it, and that made it stand out on the draft list at Mellow Mushroom. But what a non-memorable beer...I didn't know anything about it such as targeted style when I ordered it, and I didn't know any differently after examining, smelling, and tasting it. It sort of struck me as a middle-of-the-road amber, not an APA and certainly not a Scotch Ale. It was brassy in color with a really nice head formation - this is a good-looking beer. Aroma was caramel, a bit of toffee, and just a touch of hop. The hop was more evident in the taste, and it was mild and understated. Body was firm and malty. I was sort of bracing for a ton of holiday spice (it being a Christmas beer), and that is noticeably absent from this beer. You know how Sierra Nevada sort of turns every beer into an IPA (i.e. Celebration - their Holiday beer)? I feel a little like Bell's has turned this beer into an amber (or more likely, based the recipe on Bell's Amber), which given the size of Bell's Amber in their portfolio, would hardly be surprising. Mouthfeel was pretty good.

This is a solid beer and I didn't mind it - but there was nothing in it to make me order another (I got a 2-Hearted after this instead). Not one to avoid, but not really one to seek out either.

I had this on-tap at Mellow Mushroom on Polaris Parkway in Columbus, OH.

Serving type: on-tap

01-11-2010 15:21:58 | More by BeerBelcher
Photo of DerekP


3.55/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer reminds me of Great Divide's Hibernation Ale, which I bought a case of for the Christmas holiday. Compared to Hibernation Ale, it is a lot drier, with less sweet raisin flavor. Bell's Christmas is dry with a taste that is sort of thick, between a porter and a stout. Solid head retention, with a nice nougat-colored foam. A lot of roasted coffee notes. The smell and look of the beer are both pretty remarkable elements. I like it, but I don't know if I could have more than a few. I'm not sure what the ABV is (I'm going to check afterward), but considering how I felt after having one at McGrogan's (Canonsburg, PA), I'd say it's sitting at 6% or higher (maybe I'm off, they serve 20 oz glasses - practically two beers).

Definitely worth a try, but definitely a strong one to finish. A Christmas treat for sure, but I'm not exactly in love with it.

Serving type: on-tap

01-04-2010 23:19:14 | More by DerekP
Photo of BARFLYB


3.65/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-Tap at Monk's

A- Bell's Christmas is a medium dark amber color with some burnt gold hazed within. This one is bordering on light copper. Much lighter than what I was expecting for a scotch ale. A nice white cap that left hardly anything resembling lace.

S- The smell is of a light Scottish ale that really does not resemble a Christmas ale at all. While there is a light (and Im being generous there) spicing the beer label is a bit misleading. Caramel with some light fruit.

T- I kinda like this. It's not a Christmas ale, and it's not really a scotch ale. While it leans towards the latter, it's kind of a light version with a bit of roast some caramel, vanilla and some nuts in the background. The spices are light and don't scream holiday time, it's something different that I cant put into words. a bit of cinnamon and a taste of faded hops.

M,D- A light scotch ale, not very roasty, above light bodied with medium carb, leaves a small crispness on the buds but goes down smooth. Not spicy at all, it wont overwhelm anything. Easy drinking and small alcohol. This is good, it's just not memorable.

Serving type: on-tap

12-25-2009 07:47:59 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of ffejherb


3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Brass Rail Deli on 12/3/09.

A - Emerged from the tap as a very effervescent, deep amber/orange liquid, reminiscent of a snow globe, with a solid finger's width of creamy beige head that retained well and deposited thick foamy lace down the sides of the glass.

S - Light bready notes and subtle spices akin to gingerbread cookies or ginger snaps. Otherwise, the aroma is muted and kind of ho-hum. This could definitely benefit from a more fragrant nose.

T - The flavor is a bit more well-rounded with a hefty bready, grainy malt profile complemented by caramel sweetness, a hint of vanilla and ample winter spices (especially ginger). Some light citrus hops appear in the backend, followed by a hint of brown sugar.

M - Pretty firm medium body with soft carbonation, especially given the bubbly appearance. Mouthfeel is actually pretty creamy and pleasant overall.

D - Easy drinking holiday ale overall. Although a little weak in the aroma department, I was pleased that the flavor of this brew wasn't too overly spicy, like many Christmas beers tend to be. While this wasn't too terribly exciting, it was enjoyable overall.

Serving type: on-tap

12-24-2009 00:58:35 | More by ffejherb
Photo of Seanibus


4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a pleasant surprise. Christmas ales tend to be packed with extra flavor, a heavy, soggy fruitcake of a beer to greet the holiday. But this one was light, subtle, and delicious - like an unexpectedly delicious fruitcake.

Pours a clear rubyish with a decent head and rich lacing. Aroma is like a cherrywood tobacco. Flavor is strong and tobacco-like, like my grandfathers pipe. Cherry and fruitcake, with a solid malt backbone and a woody bitterness. A little phenolic clove develops as the beer warms in the glass, but it is delightfully subtle. Mouthfeel is creamy, emphasizing the sour cherry bitterness. Good.

Serving type: on-tap

12-14-2009 18:38:42 | More by Seanibus
Photo of montecristo2

New Jersey

4.25/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass at Mother Murphy's Irish Pub in Chicago. Served on tap!

A nice reddish/mahogany colored ale. Nice head in the glass, good lacing.

A really tasty Christmas Ale-one I could drink all night, actually. Not overly spiced, and the alcohol is tolerable, in fact, barely noticeable.

I really like Bell's Brews, and this is another to add to the already delicious lineup. Whatever they are doing works for me. I enjoy everything they do, and this Christmas Ale will go on my list for future purchase.

Serving type: on-tap

11-26-2009 21:40:12 | More by montecristo2
Photo of Travlr

District of Columbia

3.95/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance was bright amber with a scant white head but good lacing.
Smell involved nutmeg and caramel.
Taste had lots of malt and good scotch flavor, maybe some wood (but not pine) in the background. Bitter, dry, and not sweet at all. Long finish.
Good body.
Very drinkable for the style.

Serving type: on-tap

11-14-2009 00:36:22 | More by Travlr
Photo of Thorpe429


4.2/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Before starting off this review, I have to say that I absolutely love the bottle artwork. (I've had this from the bottle as well.)

A: Red-amber color with a pretty creamy head. Good lacing.

S: Caramel and malt with a decent amount of hops.

T: Good taste; very interesting. Big fan of the modifications to the style.

M: Good balance and a nice body to it. Good amount of carbonation.

D: Quite drinkable. Much better on tap than in the bottle. I'm looking forward to having this one again next year.

Serving type: on-tap

04-22-2009 23:58:48 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of Gouxman


3.48/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was fairly unimpressed by the newest edition to the Bell's line-up. Usually all of their beers are stellar. When I heard that they were coming out with a Scottish Christmas Ale, I was eager to try one.

A mild Scotch Ale with an orangish amber color. A malt based ale with an sweet hop presence and a touch of holiday spice. Brown sugar and caramel malt give this winter warmer ale a full-bodied, crisp finish.

This holiday beer is still quite drinkable. The holiday spice does not overpower this ale like most do. Still a decent beer, but not one of Larry Bell's finest.

Serving type: on-tap

01-09-2009 16:59:26 | More by Gouxman
Photo of Atricapilla


2.53/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Of all the Bell's Beer I've tried, i probably liked this one least (by far). Poured a medium amber color with a thin head that went away quickly. Aroma consisted of light malt, not a whole lot there, especially for a Christmas Ale. Tasted like malt and candy sugar, a little cloying.

Serving type: on-tap

01-05-2009 02:32:52 | More by Atricapilla
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Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 1,150 ratings.