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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.
BA SCORE
81
good

1,237 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,237
Reviews: 462
rAvg: 3.57
pDev: 13.45%
Wants: 36
Gots: 63 | 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: 1,237 | Reviews: 462 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of djrn2
3/5  rDev -16%

djrn2, Jan 10, 2012
Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev +12%

spycow, Dec 01, 2011
Photo of Thorpe429
4.2/5  rDev +17.6%
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.

Thorpe429, Apr 23, 2009
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Classic ochre with a blizzard of swirling yeast that stays in suspended animation. I love the look of unfiltered beer! The head is a thick chunk of firmly creamy, pastel orange foam that has character to burn. It's also very good at laying down loads of delicate lace. What's not to love?

The nose for one thing. To be fair, I don't *not* like it, I'm just not thrilled with it. It's too weak and doesn't seem like it belongs to a beer of this (supposed) style. Each sniff brings toasted malt, almost no earthiness and a hint of citrus fruit. Simple and subtle.

Christmas ale is too light to be a wee heavy or a Christmas ale. It's definitely well-brewed, but there aren't enough malty guts and there isn't a very distinctive personality. No spices either, which is fine by me (and wouldn't have fit the style anyway). I guess if Larry had wanted to brew a bigger beer, then he would have brewed a bigger beer.

This is as basic a Scottish ale as you're likely to run across. If peat-smoked malt was used, you couldn't tell it by me. The flavor profile consists of toasted bread-like malt (probably some combination of Vienna and Munich) and what tastes like German hops with added orange peel. The flavor intensity knob needs a good firm twist.

The body/mouthfeel is typical for this brewery. In other words, it's at least medium for the ABV (not the style!) and is supremely smooth and soft. Just like Great Lakes, Bell's always gets mouthfeel right.

Christmas Ale should be renamed Summer Scottish Ale. That way, Mr. Bell can give us the *real* Christmas Ale next year. You know, the 8.0% beast that is packed with smoke and caramel malt that melts in the mouth like warm toffee. Now that would be a beer worth drooling over.

BuckeyeNation, Jan 14, 2009
Photo of BEERchitect
3.88/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Now after 5 of these beers into my 6-pack, I am still wrestling with it. The beer takes on the rich, malty flavors, aromas, and textures that a Scottish Ale should, but it seems too well attenuated and carries very little weight on the tongue. The flavors are very firm through the malt flavor with the caramelized toffee, light pungent earthy character. But the malts never give the phenolic rich, heavy toffee, light smoke character that make Scottish Ales worth it. Still, I cannot detract the creamy, well-attenuated malts and relatively clean flavors and aromas. The beer is lightly hopped, but picks up a lot of bitterness and light astringency from the spice additions. The finish is a bit cola-like, but otherwise both sweet and dry with an evaporative quality. A nice beer, but it's nuances are not kicking it for me.

BEERchitect, Nov 25, 2008
Photo of GRG1313
2.58/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark orange amber with a thick and full white head.

Nose is very light, even at room temperature. There was an initial "flash" or light orange marmalade and then, literally, nothing! No nose, despiste room temperature and some swirling in a nice tulip glass.

Mouthfeel is clean and simple with nice balance and light creamy character. "Feels" well made.

Flavors are simple toast and lightly roasted grain. A modest beer that tastes like a decent brown ale. No spice character, nothing to indicate a Christmas or holiday brew.

Finish is simple light bitter coffee.

GRG1313, Feb 05, 2011
Photo of mikesgroove
3.8/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 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 ygtbsm94
3.25/5  rDev -9%

ygtbsm94, Dec 18, 2013
Photo of kylehay2004
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this back to back with Goose Island's Christmas Ale. Reviewed from notes.

A: two finger head on a hazy amber body.

S: lots of caramel malt, some hops which provide an earthy note.

T: caramel malts and honey. The hops add more of an earthy and herbal flavor.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: A nice beer but not quite to the usual Bell's standards.

kylehay2004, Apr 25, 2012
Photo of Knapp85
3.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After trying Bells' Winter White Ale I stumbled upon this brew. Figure maybe it would be a more logical choice for a winter brew than a White Ale. This beer poured out as a deep amberish red color with a tan fizzy head on top. So far it looks morel like a winter ale. The smell of the beer has some faint spices on the nose along with hops and malts. The taste seems to have a good amount of caramel sweetness upfront that fades into a spicy sweetness. The mouthfeel could probably be a little thicker or heavier. Overall it's not that much of a winter brew either in my opinion. I can't say that I'd have to buy it again or not.

Knapp85, Jul 19, 2011
Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.35/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce bottle - $2.09 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Batch: 11572, PKGD 10/22/12.

Appearance: Pours a medium amber-hued body chock full of suspended particles hidden beneath a thin, off-white head for not a hazed, but dingy appearance.

Smell: Weak bready-scented malts, slight citrus, slight additional fruitiness, with slight dirty, dead yeastiness given one last sip of half-sweetened iced tea.

Taste: Very lightly bready malts with a thin sweetness. Holds just shy of delivering a taste of toast, a taste of toffee. Curious fruitiness in addition to some orangy citrus qualities. Slight spicy pine hint as well with sufficient bitterness. Hmm, it just doesn't mesh well or come together for me.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium-plus carbonation.

Overall: This is one of the regular seasonal Bells offering that I seem to always miss every year like clockwork, which I did regret from time to time, and, now that I've had it, well, I wouldn't have it again.

ChainGangGuy, Nov 10, 2012
Photo of oberon
4.33/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Man I love a little cheer from the north country,I didnt know they grew hops back in the home state,ya learn somethin new everyday.Poured into a standard pint glass a hazed lighter amber/copper with a nice frothy 1/2 finger white head that left broken lace as it never fully settled.Wow love the aromas,a mix of full sweet malt and spicey hop,with even a hint of winter-like spice to it wich I dont think it has.Toasty and warm up front with some brown sugar and caramel sweetness,and again I get a hint of Xmas spice,a big herbal racey hop finish ends nicely.Wow this beer is rated pretty low but hot damn I love it,another gem from K-zoo.

oberon, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of TMoney2591
3.73/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Chicago Bears shaker pint glass.

It's Christmas in March, thanks to this beer. Sure, it's not quite Christmas in July, but Rudolph and Frosty can't be everywhere at all times. Anyway, it pours a generally clear light russet-amber topped by a finger of cream-white foam. A healthy population of particulates wafts about the glass. The nose comprises caramel, orange peel, light red grapes, and a pinch of nutmeg. The taste follows pretty closely, though with the addition of some mild toffee and some cinnamon. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a lightly grainy feel. Overall, a nice Scottish ale, nothing special, but tasty and enjoyable.

TMoney2591, Mar 12, 2011
Photo of emerge077
3.48/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip, the foamy head rose above the lip and hovered there, defying gravity momentarily. A murky auburn orange body, a skim of foam with nice drippy lacing around the edges. Coarse malt aroma, hay and tobacco leaf.

Bitter dry hops and toasted malt dominates the flavor, with a tobacco and tea leaf finish. Very mild phenols present, lending a little clove or pepper also. One was enough for me in this case. It didn't really have the peat or richness I like in a Scotch Ale. This is a lighter rendition, but also fairly bitter. Worth a try, I was glad to find a single of this new Bells beer at Vrai Amour in Chicago.

emerge077, Dec 05, 2008
Photo of zeff80
3.88/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

zeff80, Jan 22, 2010
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.28/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bell's Christmas ale pours a very hazy reddish amber body beneath a creamy head of off-white froth. The head retention is good, and it leaves some very nice lacing as it goes.

The nose is malty with a gently caramelish and biscuity note, a hint of fruitiness, and some minor hops (perhaps some citrusy hops?).

In the mouth it's dextrinous and decidedly medium bodied (not quite medium-full) and creamy smooth.

The flavor is as the nose suggests, with a rich but only lightly caramelish malt that's bready, a touch nutty, and perhaps even subtly toasty - smeared with leafy, herbal, spicy, and citrusy (lemon zest) hop flavors, and accented by underlying yeasty fruitiness (berries, apple) and yeastiness.

Quite enjoyable, and readily drinkable, it's a bit of a mini malt monster that's well balanced by hop bitterness, and well-accentuated by a wide range of mild yeasy and hoppy flavors. Nicely done!!!

NeroFiddled, Dec 18, 2008
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.95/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

unique take on a christmas beer. pours a heavy amber color with an off white head 2 inches high. smells very different, like wine grapes and other acidic fruits. malty and rich. flavors of the grapes are really bold, very unfamiliar territory on my beer palate, but i like it. theres fruit without sweet, which i like a lot. also a very smooth bready malt flavor which balances everything out. mouthfeel is a little heavy for me on this one, especially as it warms. it filled me up, which most beers usually do not. overall though an excellent beer which is apparently quite hard to come by. really different flavor, worth a try for sure.

StonedTrippin, Jan 01, 2012
Photo of nickfl
3.3/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - One finger of off white head with nice retention and good lace. The body is orange-brown with decent clarity.

S - Some malt and a bit of nondescript spice, otherwise there is surprisingly little going on.

T - Malty with some toasted notes and more of the nondescript spice from the aroma. Some cinnamon and maybe nutmeg. Slightly fruity yeast and mild hop bitterness in the finish.

M - Medium body, medium carbonation, and a slightly dry finish.

D - Mild and drinkable, but I really expected more from Bell's. Kind of bland and a bit disappointing.

nickfl, Dec 25, 2008
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.03/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a glowing orange amber hue when held toward the light, I guess this one has some hops from and barley grown in Michigan, how cool dude! Large thicket of off white head looks delicioso while staring at my full frothing pint in front of me, lacing is left in thick chunks between sips.

Aroma is pretty clean with citrus pine and a mild spicy characteristic that is hard to pin point. Mild mint and herbal tones with caramel malts backing the party. Not in my face christmas just a nice table ale with nuances of the festive season bring more on soon please, this was a 1.89 a bottle not bad. A nice yeast driven bread like note goes on and on in this brew, an easy to fall in love with characteristic in this substance some call liquid bread.

Flavor is subtle with herbal, pine, mint, and citrus pith. A solid team of effervescent carbonation, semi sweet malt that has a great slice bread appeal with a peppery biscuit finish. Mild tart tang the yeast unfiltered Bell's offering provides warmth and sustenance in the winter months. I love the label the beer the brewery, what a trifecta.

Mouthfeel is solid slightly textured with hop oils and mild spice bitterness, this carbonation level just works sturdy yet natural. The semi hazed unfiltered approach adds a bit much more body than your average low alcohol Christmas ale just like artisan bread.

Drinkability is delivering this beer will be searched out for, I'm in love while the limited release we need to get some down here in Steubenville, I picked this one up in Boardman. Last year it hit Pittsburgh but I missed it sold out everywhere quickly.

WVbeergeek, Dec 12, 2009
Photo of Slatetank
3.55/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I picked this bottle up at Brass Rail in Campbelltown.
Poured chilled into my cervoise.

A - A dark amber w/ sunburst gold at the base w/ particles throughout (yeast or hops?). The head is 3 fingers and rocky w/ tight beads and light cream color. The lace clings to the glass well.

S - Smell is like christmas w/ pine hop scents and roasted nuts w/ a smell of dried fruit from the yeast.

M - Medium full carbonation w/ dry malt textures and subtle yeast spice

T - The taste of malt is both dry nutty, grainy and biscuit-like The caramel malt finishes and the PNW hops give a nice spice to balance the scotch ale w/ a pine essence and the yeast gives it crisp and clean scotch flavors which is both spicy and bready w/ nutty+ toasted notes

D - This is a tasty and drinkable scotch ale w/ plenty of flavor in respect to the moderate abv. The hops are pretty tasty but slightly more upfront in the flavor. Overall I find the drinkability of this to good and this is a pleasant Christmas offering

Slatetank, Dec 28, 2008
Photo of russpowell
3.8/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes, had this about 2 months ago
from Batch 10023

Pours an effervescent amber with 2+ fingers of cream colored head. Good head retention and lacing

S: Leafy & herbal hops, figs

T: Follows the nose, plus a touch of lemons & pine, plus a kiss of toffee & orange rind up front. Breadyness & herbal hops fight it out as this warms,along with leafy hops, tangerine & figs. Finishes with herbal hop bitterness, dryness, caramel. figgy notes & woody hops. .5 deduction for drifting off style

MF: Chewy enough, low carbonation, good balance & a nice warming sensation

Drinks easy enough, a nice one to relax by the fire with. This one did not age well, had a couple bottles a month after purchase & it was going down hill fast

russpowell, Jan 30, 2011
Photo of MasterSki
3.63/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this at Twisted Kilt while watching UFC. Batch 10,023. Served in a pint glass.

A - Pours with two fingers of soapy foam that settles to a solida cap, leaving behind a few spots of lace. The body is a mostly transparent, amber-bronze body.

S - Tastes of light English hops and big toasted caramel malts. Not overly smoky - feels like more of an American amber than a Scottish Ale.

T - The taste is more toasty and less sweet. More biscuit and Christmas cookie in there as well. There's some faint fruity yeast character.

M - Zesty carbonation, lightly dry finish, with some light residual oily resins. Body is medium, and of average viscosity.

D - This was surprisingly decent. I'm glad that they didn't spice this like every other Christmas on the market. It was one of the best options available at the Kilt, so I may be having it again sometime.

MasterSki, Nov 23, 2010
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.2/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazey, opaque color, bordering on a lighter brown, nice, creamy toned head, ...

Fruity malt sweetness hits the nose at first, matched by hops, high hops, higher than I'd expect out of a Scotch Ale, as this is purported to be...grapefruit and orange, a twist of lemon, matched with juicy malt. Interesting...

Whoa! Big, bitter bite right off the bat...not sure I'd call this a Scotch Ale or a Wee Heavy, after the pithy attack of hops with each new taste. I like it, mind you, I might even love it...

Described on the label as a "malt-driven Scotch Ale". the malt may drive it, but the hops take over the steering wheel and take command. Scotch Ales shouldn't taste like Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale or Surly Furious. But I like it, despite that...
It's great, ...bright hops smack up into lush, lovely malt. Great balance, ... like a big IPA, with full Scottish malt at hand. I can enjoy this. Stylistic sticklers should be warned, though.

I think I'll be having a lot of this, this winter!

feloniousmonk, Nov 09, 2008
Photo of oline73
4/5  rDev +12%

oline73, Nov 16, 2011
Photo of Rifugium
3.45/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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
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Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 1,237 ratings.