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

Not Rated.
Bell's Christmas AleBell's Christmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,221 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,221
Reviews: 461
rAvg: 3.57
pDev: 13.45%
Wants: 35
Gots: 58 | FT: 0
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: 1,221 | Reviews: 461 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Shrews629
3.53/5  rDev -1.1%

Appearance - A reddish/burnt orange/copper color with a very large soapy, off white head that stayed around for a bit and has sufficient lacing. The beer is mostly clear with several bubbles rising. The head settled to a nice film on top.

Smell - Faint bit of an earthy malt tone. Some ginger bread aromas. Detecting some nuttiness. Maybe almond. The aromas seem more laid back than I had anticipated.

Taste - The taste provided the ginger again along with some nutmeg spices I thought. A touch of a custard taste.

Mouthfeel - Medium/thin mouthfeel. Mostly smooth and mostly dry. Left suitable flavor on the palate. Would like to have had a fuller mouthfeel with a Christmas themed brew.

Drinkability - This beer is alright. Wouldn't be my first choice for a Winter/Christmas brew, but ok none the less. It's easily drinkable with tame aromas and flavors. I would drink it again if it was offered.

Shrews629, Dec 26, 2010
Photo of asabreed
3.9/5  rDev +9.2%

12 oz. bottle into a Pilsener glass.

Appearance: A nice copper color with layers in the glass and good carbonation, leaving an off-white head at the top.

Smell: Definitely floral, with a good sense of caramel maltiness and some fruit esters going on too.

Taste: As it warms, notes of spices come in, mostly cinnamon. But it's a fairly floral brew overall, both from what I imagine is the fruit esters and the hops. Finishes slightly bready with nice fruit esters and citrus hops and spice.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with nice, full carbonation.

Drinkability: A cool take on the style for the season. Drinkable, sessionable, and a good amalgam of flavors for the season. Merry Christmas everyone.

asabreed, Dec 25, 2010
Photo of dogger6253
3.95/5  rDev +10.6%

Nice dark amber color with a strong, foamy, glorious head on top. The head is really something special, the body not so much, but nothing off-putting.

The nose is sort of an amalgamation of floral hops and chocolate and tobacco. There is not much there, no power in the scent. Aromas are there, but they don't really sing.

Taste is nice and bready with a candy-like sweetness. There are barely any hops to speak of, no real bitterness of any kind. I'm searching for the chocolate and tobacco I smelled, not really there. The flavor is quite nice, but no real depth to make this exceptional.

This beer is quite refreshing and not heavy on the gut or the head. I might make this a go-to session beer this holiday season.

dogger6253, Dec 25, 2010
Photo of ZAP
3.78/5  rDev +5.9%

Not a scottish ale...more of a floral pale ale with a nice candy sweet maltiness...

A-Burnt orange...substantial creamy off white head

S-Hopes shine through...floral/herbal characteristics..

T-More of a candy like maltiness to the taste with earthy/floral hop notes..

D-Nice drinkable beer but there are a lot like that. If I want a Holiday Beer from Bell's I'd rather reach for an Expedition...scratch off the label and write HOLIDAY BEER in black market to appease myself. As a beer this is decent. As a Holiday special beer it is a disappointment. I'll rate it as a beer...an APA..

ZAP, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of projectflam86
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%

A- Pours an orange color with an amber hue. A nice thick head leaves some lacing.

S- Sweetness and some toasted oats in the nose. Not really picking up much?

T- Nice malted grain flavor with some sweetness in the finish. A touch of spice and the slightest bit of hops shine through.

M- Crisp clean flavor. High carbonation and hardly any alcohol is noticeable.

D- Highly drinkable because there isn't too much to think about and it won't wear your tastebuds out. Although I was expecting a bit more flavor.

projectflam86, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of damndirtyape
3.78/5  rDev +5.9%

Single bottle (Batch 10019) poured into a Tulip glass.

Appearance: Poured a clear coppery-orange color initial with a gradual pour to keep the sediment in, but some of it got through making the beer a hazy to translucent coppery orange. Due to the slow pour I got a thin light tan head, but it grew a bit as I drank it down. Nice lacing all over the glass.

Smell: Sweet malt with some hint of oranges and citrus hops.

Taste: Like many other reviews, I have a hard time believing this one is really classified as a Scottish Ale. An American Pale Ale maybe, but not a Scottish Ale. It certainly doesn't taste like one, with a balance between caramelized malt and orange-like citrus hops. When cold the orange flavors are much stronger, and the die back a bit as the beer warms up.

Mouthfeel: Good to high carbonation, thicker than water and clings to the teeth a bit. Above average but nothing special.

Drinkability: The orange aspect to this beer is unusual, but I think it works for a Christmas Ale. I think of oranges as gifts during the holidays, and with the orange balanced out by the malt, it comes out as a sipping beer to savor on a cold evening - it's certainly festive. However, I found I could not have another one by the end, one is enough. But it is definitely not a Scottish Ale and should not be thought as such nor rated as such.

damndirtyape, Dec 22, 2010
Photo of maltusaurelius
4.1/5  rDev +14.8%

I'm not sure why this is labeled a Scottish Ale on BA. Nothing on the label or anything from Bell's calls it a Scotch Ale. I'd put it firmly in the American Amber category, and it is pretty similar to Bell's Amber Ale.

It doesn't have any spice and is not a "big" beer, so it is atypical for a Christmas seasonal offering. I don't mind having something new to try this time of year that tastes like a good, standard beer - i.e. something sans exotic flavorings that doesn't overwhelm the palate. On the minus side, with the Amber already in their lineup this seems somewhat redundant.

Pours a dark amber color, with an off white fluffy head that dissipates after a few sips to leave a light foam on top. Minimal lacing on the glass. In color I think it's a half shade darker than Bell's Amber (I'd have to look at them side by side to tell for sure) - call it a brownish amber.

It's a malt forward beer, but with enough hop bitterness to make it balanced. Notes of toast, caramel and a slight hint of cotton candy are present. It would be good to drink with a meal - it's got enough flavor to pair with a wide variety of foods without being overwhelming - or as a session beer. I like it pretty well but if you are looking for something with some seasonal spice or something big and hearty this won't fit the bill. If you're entertaining and want to stock a beer that's drinkable, but has enough flavor that beer snobs won't scoff, this would do nicely.

maltusaurelius, Dec 21, 2010
Photo of Spider889
2.6/5  rDev -27.2%

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.

Spider889, Dec 21, 2010
Photo of Maerzen
3.05/5  rDev -14.6%

I'm really torn on how to review this beer. First of all, it's very good and I've really enjoyed drinking it. However, it doesn't have any qualities that I would usually associate with a Christmas Ale. In fact, I'm noticing on the description at the top of this page that someone as listed it as a Scottish Ale. hmm. It reminds me a bit of a light Marzen.

A - It pours a nice copper color with good foam and some lacing.

S - Nice hints of malt. However, no spice at all.

T - A very nice scottish ale. Too bad it's supposed to be a Christmas Ale.

M - This is actually the best attribute of this beer. Nice creamy feel.

D - This beer is very drinkable. However, it would not be what I was expecting or wanted if I were ordering a Christmas Ale.

Maerzen, Dec 21, 2010
Photo of elgiacomo
3.03/5  rDev -15.1%

12oz bottle.

Pours cloudy amber/orange with a two finger off white head that leaves some initial lacing and holds a good foamy cap.

Aroma is bready, yeasty, caramel, herbal, grassy, moderate to good strength.

Flavor of caramel, pears and apples, some citrus hop bite, rather watery and a bit bland.

Mouthfeel is thin to medium bodied, medium carbonation.

Average Scottish Ale, but drinkable enough. Glad I just bought a single, though.

elgiacomo, Dec 20, 2010
Photo of LiquidBread219
3.95/5  rDev +10.6%

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.

LiquidBread219, Dec 19, 2010
Photo of argock
4.15/5  rDev +16.2%

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a Samuel Adams Perfect Pint glass. Batch number 9422 on back label. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $2.

A: Cloudy chestnut-amber with foamy, frothy 2-finger beige-capuccino colored head with decent retention and ample lacing.

S: A big blast of fruity, woody maltiness is blended with some floral and herbal hops with afaint whiff of peaty smoke

T: A very artfully done beer which tastes great despite inadvertently being held for a year. Big earthy maltiness with light peat note and balancing floral, earthy, herbal hops really bring this brew together nicely. The maltiness is thick and lays on the palate very lazily and leaves a slightly husky, woody aftertaste.

M: The thickness of the flavor is enabled by the mouthfeel, which is a lot bigger than the 5.5% ABV. The body is medium-plus and is lightly tacky.

D: A really superb Scottish ale, on mark for the style, and a really good choice by Bell's for a winter ale.

argock, Dec 19, 2010
Photo of RunForYourBeer
4.03/5  rDev +12.9%

Batch 10019, bottled 10/8/10

A: Pours a light copper color with about 2 fingers of white head.

S: Some citrus hops, didn't get much here.

T: Starts out with caramel malt, then fades into a more bready malt with a bit of alcohol warmth. Finishes with some slight citrus hop bitterness and some toastiness.

M: Medium. Slightly less than average carbonation.

D: High.

RunForYourBeer, Dec 19, 2010
Photo of mikesgroove
3.8/5  rDev +6.4%

another mixed sixer that led me to this after dinner wonder from bells. could not belive i had not had it before, but it works. served cold and into a pint glass.

aroma is light spices, hints of hops and a light grain note but nothing really standing out to me to be crazy. definite loading of hops in the flavor with up front pine and cinnamon an hints of nutmeg and a touch of light earthiness that really sets it apart. not expecting soo much in the way of hops but i really am starting to dig it. starting to fade now with a light dry finish and a medium feel that works very well for me.

overall a very solid offering a nice change up for a winter beer. not sure about the scottish ale side of it, but damn nice.

mikesgroove, Dec 18, 2010
Photo of KidsDoc
3.23/5  rDev -9.5%

12 oz bottle poured into Unibroue snifter

Scottish ales are my current favorite style and this has to be mislabeled or I'm way off when tasting this one. Maybe it's the "Christmas" part of the name that sets the expectation for a big winter warmer offering from Bell's.

S: deep amber tone with thin off white head. no much lacing but overall an inviting color to this one

A: minimal. very little going on with this one. Not a lot of discernable features at all. Faint caramel and hint of spice

T: hops dominates this beer - subdued bitter hops offset by a bland malt presence. Nothing complex. No real flavor adjuncts coming through although there were a few sips where I detected a smooth chocolate taste.

M: Overall very good. Carbonation seems spot on. Nothing wrong here. Medium bodied

D: If it matters, it is certainly easy to drink but very mild and unimpressive. THis is a Christmas seasonal I will likely pass over in the future.

KidsDoc, Dec 18, 2010
Photo of ratrod53
3.78/5  rDev +5.9%

A - It's a nice amber golden color. With a nice head and a good lace.

S- I get a lot of malt with some toast type smell.

T- Again vary malty that is also sweat it a vary good taste.

M- It" a good mouth feel. It warms me up after a long day of getting dripped on by melted snow underneath of a car. They nailed the carbonation.

D- It's a vary drinkable beer. The taste is not to strong to kill your taste buds. I'm ready to have another one. Only if I didn't have to work tomorrow.

ratrod53, Dec 18, 2010
Photo of Rumplemintz
3.9/5  rDev +9.2%

Another great seasonal from Bells.
This beer poured a amber color into my trusty pint glass leaving a 1 inch creamy head.
Smelled very similar to the amber ale, malty and a little of those toasty notes.
Taste was sweet and malty, with toffee and a bit of caramel in the flavor.
A very drinkable Ale!
Maybe the best Christmas ale of the season.

Rumplemintz, Dec 17, 2010
Photo of Chadpaq
3.3/5  rDev -7.6%

Picked up a six-pack of this with fairly high hopes, given my prior experiences with Bell's. Didn't think they'd steer my wrong with a seasonal brew.

Batch #10019. Plugged it into the (convenient) batch locator on the Bell's website: Bottled October 8th, 2010. Good to go.

Poured a bottle into my tulip glass. Very cold. It pours with a fairly small head that has little staying power and doesn't leave much behind in regard to lacing. A sort of milky film develops on the surface of the beer after the recession is complete. THe beer itself is pretty: Dark gold and murky. Reminds me of apple cider. Perhaps I'll warm up a glass of that after I'm done with this one...although I hope that after tasting it, I'll reach for another one of these instead.

Smell isn't all that complex, and to be honest, it just isn't festive enough for me. I smell some seasonal spices. Nutmeg? Cinnamon? Probably there, but in an extremely small degree. I smell a lot of wheat, to be honest, and maybe some minimal malt and hop characteristics. Probably more malt than hops. All-in-all, this thing smells pretty mild. I guess it is only 5.4%...

Finally, I let a sip of this stuff touch my otherwise-unscathed palate. I give it a minute to swirl around, thinking it over. But as I started to expect from the smell, there isn't much to analyze. This is one of the more simple seasonal brews I've ever had, and from Bell's nonetheless. Sort of bizarre. Not bad...just bizarre.

Feels pretty good in the mouth. Carbonation's more than adequate. I'm just not getting that warming feeling that I'd like. Drinkability's good...but not really for this cold winter night. Don't think that's what Bell's had in mind. Ah well. I'll still enjoy this sixer.

Overall, not what I was expecting. But not terrible. Just doesn't quite fit the season. Perhaps Bell's should come out with a second, heavier version of this stuff. Then I'd be satisfied.

Chadpaq, Dec 17, 2010
Photo of plfahey
2.48/5  rDev -30.5%

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance-Medium amber color. Clear. Generous beige head with pretty good retention and nice lacing.

Aroma-Aroma overall is rather low. Some caramel malt and light citrus hops-not much else. Certainly not what I would expect from a Scotch Ale.

Flavor-Flavor falls flat. Up front bready, grainy, and caramel malt flavors appear first, followed quickly by soft citrus and herbal hop flavors, with moderate hop bitterness. Also has somewhat of a carbonic bite to it from the moderately high carbonation. Not terrible per se, but it bears almost no resemblance to a scotch ale or a christmas ale.

Mouthfeel-Moderately low body is augmented slightly by the moderately high carbonation. No alcohol warmth.

Could I drink a lot of this? Sure. Would I want to? No, not really. This beer certainly doesn't fit it's description, and that withstanding, is still not a great beer by any stretch of the imagination.

plfahey, Dec 16, 2010
Photo of xnicknj
3.38/5  rDev -5.3%

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.

xnicknj, Dec 16, 2010
Photo of AgentZero
2.53/5  rDev -29.1%

Batch 10093. Nice looking bottle.

A - Poured an amber-red color with a two finger head that had nice retention. Faded to an uneven cap.

S - Honestly, there is not a whole lot to talk about here. Smells like a lot of caramel, with some english hops. Not particularly good, but not offensive.

T - Tastes like a caramelly amber beer with some sort of english hops added just to try something. I don't really like this at all, pretty much is a bad mix, like a watered down scottish or failed attempt at a holiday beer.

M - Smooth, low carbonation, medium bodied. Needed a bit more kick on it.

D - This is a very easy to drink beer, which should be expected. It is not good though.

AgentZero, Dec 16, 2010
Photo of msfoster77
4.33/5  rDev +21.3%

I think this beer was a great buy. I like christmas ales tha don't taste like you are drinking a spice ball. This beer smelled of hops and oranges. It poured an orange red color and looked almost pulpy after I poured it, but that was probably a product of the pour. It had great carbonation.

The taste was of hops and citrus, and small hints of spices. I thought it was great, but it tastes more like a mild IPA than a christmas ale.

msfoster77, Dec 14, 2010
Photo of tjsdomer2
3.38/5  rDev -5.3%

Appearance: Good brown thickness and tan foam that sticks to mug. Carbonation is nice overall as well.

Smell: Mineral water and some vague hops. A fair amount of caramel malt as well. As far as Scottish ales go, this one fizzles a bit.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Initially a strong alcoholic presence with bitter hops. This beer is pretty bitter overall, but not in bad way. The aftertaste comes off a bit sour and this is unfortunately a thin beer all around.

Drinkability: Accessible to drink, since nothing is overwhelming.

Overall: Not nearly as good as Oberon.

tjsdomer2, Dec 13, 2010
Photo of BlueCat1
2.6/5  rDev -27.2%

Christmas holiday beers are always something to look forward to. Frankincense and myrrh make for some pretty funky additives! Over the years many crafts have offered interpretations of an undefined style, so there's not really any right or wrong.
Bell's Xmas Ale, at least for 2010, is tame and uninteresting. It has a reasonably nice amber color. But beyond that there's nothing that strikes a notable chord. Not much hop taste exhibited, and the malt aspect is weak and almost watery.
There are many excellent holiday offerings out there. If you're looking for something to excite you don't look here. If you're looking for something that your Lite drinking sister-in-law might consent to drink you might try this.

BlueCat1, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of Rifugium
3.45/5  rDev -3.4%

First had: ?

A: Reddish brown, and slightly hazy, with a nice moderate head.

S: Slightly malty, slightly citrusy, slightly spicy.

T: Well balance of smooth malts, citrusy hops, and subtle spice. Not as flavorful as some holiday ales I've tried, but nice and subtle and well-blended. Slight alcohol tinge.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation.

D: Drinkable and pleasant.

Rifugium, Dec 11, 2010
Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 1,221 ratings.