Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...
Dismiss Notice
Join The Buzz! Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest BeerAdvocate updates delivered to your inbox.

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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

483 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 483
Hads: 1,509
rAvg: 3.57
pDev: 7%
Wants: 45
Gots: 182 | 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:
Beer added by: BierFan on 11-06-2008

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 483 | Hads: 1,509
Photo of troysoy2
3.8/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a growler at 1 for the Road yesterday. Kept it cold and dark, so it should be alright. This is my first Scottish Ale, so bear with me.

Poured into a pint glass, the head recedes rather quickly, leaving just a dusting on the surface. It's a nice, deep brown-red. Lots of tiny bubbles rush to the top.

On the nose, the malt is most apparent. Not overly woody or chocolatey, or anything for that matter. Very tame, but with just a bit of sweetness and spicey hops.

The taste is definitely a winner for me. You wouldn't expect it from the smell, but this is decently complex. The body of the taste is sweet, spiced fruit, and almost funky malt. Balance that with a hint of spice on the aftertaste, a smooth, smooth mouthfeel, and you'll get a rather tasty option for the winter months.

I could use a little more to the nose, to really bring out the subtleties in the taste, but hey - it's nice to curl up with a growler-full of a great, sessionable beer and share with a friend. Happy holidays. (1,004 characters)

Photo of afdempse
3.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a 12 oz snifter

Head dissipates rather quickly, leaving behind a ruby-brown colored beer.

Aroma of sweet malts, slightly fruity. Grape, cherry perhaps? Some yeasty notes also.

Flavor is malty, with freshly baked bread, graham cracker, slight caramel sweetness. Hops are slightly spicy and provide a good level of bitterness to balance. Some peppery / spice notes in the finish.

Mouthfeel is smooth, medium carbonation. Overall it seems slightly astringent, but not terribly so. I think it would benefit from being a bit more malty overall, with the balance tipping away from hops. The finish is semi-sweet and the bitterness lingers for a while. (662 characters)

Photo of NODAK
4.12/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Smell starts off initially a bit piney from the western hops it boasts on the bottle, but eventually becoming quite a fruity bouquet, notably with plums and dark fruits obvious.

Taste deviates from what most people think of with winter seasonals, in that it isn't spiced up at all. Actually, it has an interesting grape and plum fruit characteristic to its body that is definitely different not only for the season but for the style. It's a pleasing taste that goes down very easily, just different. There's a subtle wheat taste that shows up at the finish, though I'm not sure if that was used at all in the making of this....with a small but noticeable herbal bitterness to wrap it all up at the finish.

Different as it may be, I certainly did enjoy drinking it....not sure if it's really think "winter" when drinking it, but that at least makes it more versatile if a person lets it sit around until spring! (912 characters)

Photo of JCaweinstein
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep amber in color. Agressive pour leaves a two finger bubbly white head. There's some lacing left down the glass. It's a little hazy.
Aromas are not popping out of the glass, after some agressive twirling I mostly smell caramel and a hint of spice that I can't name.
I taste toastiness, caramel and a hint of lemons.
It's medium bodied with a nice crispness. Very smooth from start to finish.
It's not as spicy as other holiday beers which makes it a little more unique in that aspect. I would like to try this on draft next time. (532 characters)

Photo of elNopalero
4.75/5  rDev +33.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I couldn’t stop raving about this. Wow.

It pours a light auburn color, almost like a dark blood orange tint. It’s lightly hopped with a bit of citrus and a touch of pine to it. Not a hoppy beer but I’m wondering if the hops are more forward with a fresh batch (bottled in October, purchased/drunk on Christmas Eve)? Regardless it was still great. I picked up some sweet cherry notes, a light maltiness that held up, and just a fantastic pleasing finish as well. What a treat. (482 characters)

Photo of Neorebel
3.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Amber with a touch of ruby red, with a huge frothy head, which clings nicely to the glass.

Smell - Sugary, malty and earthy - has a bit of a grape juice scent.

Taste - Bready and soft at first, then crisp - retaining that grape-like taste intermingled with the bitterness of the hops in the finish. Complex...

Mouth feel - light to medium. the finish leaves me thirsting for more. I would venture to say that this is light for a Scottish Ale.

Overall - This was a tough one to review for me, I tried to keep it simple. I haven't had a lot of Scottish ales but it does not seem like a typical example. Also not what I would really expect as a 'Christmas Ale.' Still, it is interesting and has good flavors to it. (729 characters)

Photo of gatorbreath
3.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance is glorious and christmasy, reddish amberish hue to a straw colored offering, really diggin this almost copper look.. head is pillowish and light to offwhite leaving a formidable lacing trail.. smells are of grain, malt and even some notes of hop to offer a nose balanced but not overly taken by any one element.. taste is malty and some notes of hops jump in there but not much. mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated and i would definitely have this at least 5 more times as i grabbed a sixer.. great job bells, as usual..

cheers (548 characters)

Photo of Strix
3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear reddish hue, decent head and lacing. Very pretty and Christmasey.

Barley, malt, rich bread in the nose.

Malt-forward, balanced by earthy and herbal tealike hops. Some caramel and nutty notes. Sort of a cardboard note in the finish that doesn't excite me.

Medium mouthfeel and carbonation.

The flavor combinations didn't really push my buttons here, but my wife liked it. Not bad, but behind about 12 other Bell's I've tried. (434 characters)

Photo of BlackBearForge
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bell's Chrisstmas Ale has a nice reddish tint to it's deep amber appearance, a small white head tops it and disappears shortly after pouring.

The aroma gives you a yeasty breadiness and hints of fruit.

The flavor has nicely muted, mellow and very bready malts, just a touch smoky with a nice earthy/spicey hop flavor the tingles the tongue though with little actual bitterness. There is just enough bitterness to keep the malts from being too sweet.

The mouthfeelis medium/light, perhaps a touch chalky and nicely carbonated.

A nice beer, perhaps not nice enough to justify being a "special" Christmas beer without being kicked up a few notches but very drinkable. That's perhaps what they were going for a somewhat sessionable very nice Christmas ale. It's definitely one of the better Scottish Ales I've had. (814 characters)

Photo of PossumMunsen31
3.08/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

As a big fan of this brewery was excited to give it a try. Must say, I was a little disappointed. Has a bit of a fruit scent to it and also kind of a sour note like sour prunes. Mediocre at best, fun to try but won't be enjoying it on Christmas this year. (255 characters)

Photo of falloutsnow
3.54/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle purchased from Hyvee in Council Bluffs, IA.
Bottled on 2011-10-19.
Poured into a willi glass.

Pours a 2cm head of off-white bubbles that quickly decreases to a very thin cap atop the body. Leaves some spots of lacing as it collapses. Body is a dark, reddish amber color out of the light, a hazy, lighter, red-amber color when in. Can make out some visible carbonation through the haze.

Aroma is medicinal, slightly like cough syrup, also nods towards syrupy fruit cocktail, plus some floral, slightly spicy, hops. Not bad, but still slightly off-putting from the medicinal aspect.

Taste is well-balanced between malt sweetness, almost fruit-like, and mild hop bitterness in the latter half of the tasting. Pleasant, but not particularly complex or noteworthy.

Medium-bodied with medium-low carbonation that's just about perfect with this beer. The effect is a crisp, but still slightly creamy mouthfeel with a dry finish.

Enjoyable enough to drink, but nothing really recommends this to be consumed en masse. I liked it, and would drink another if it were being served at a party or something, but wouldn't pick it up again on my own. (1,146 characters)

Photo of DeltaGolfSierra
3.65/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Color is dark amber with an orange tint. Initially the pour was clear, but some cloudiness came from the final pour off the bottom of the bottle. The full dense head is long lasting. Scents are like a nice fruit cocktail with ripe pear and peach. The taste is nicely balanced between caramel/bready malt flavors and floral/grassy hop flavors. A bitterness in the finish really comes through. Not very complex or intensely flavored, but enjoyable. (446 characters)

Photo of 33nickadams
3.9/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Translucent amber-orange color with about a finger of sticky white head. Smells of bread and brown sugar. Sweet tasting that is more balanced with a nice spiciness rather than a bitterness from the hops. Medium mouthfeel and nicely carbonated. I really like this one and prefer it over other holiday brews. Bonus for being made with Michigan ingredients! I'll get it every year. (378 characters)

Photo of BeerCon5
4.03/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber color with about two fingers of fluffy off-white head with very good retention.

The scent is of sweet fruit, caramel and bready malt.

The taste is of sweet fruit, then there is a relatively bitter toasted bready malt taste.

Light body, there is some crispness to this beer, moderate carbonation.

This was a fairly good beer, the flavor was good but nothing really above average. This is a nice easy drinker that I wouldn't mind having again. (467 characters)

Photo of kzoobrew
3.71/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear auburn colored body. Three and a half fingered eggshell colored head. Very tight bubbled head, very frothy. Great retention, the head recedes back slowly leaving a one finger cap floating for the duration. Scattered lacing left stuck to the walls of the glass.

Sweet toasted malt and caramel upfront. Floral hop aroma is subtle. Little depth, not much complexity but pleasant.

Sweet malt, hints of chocolate and coffee on the back end. Floral, slightly grassy hoppiness. Pleasant , again not complex.

Medium bodied, moderate carbonation. Soft feel. Medium finish.

Not a spectacular beer but one I really enjoy. Far too often we can get caught up in big bold flavors, huge depth and complexity and ignore a simple straight forward beer. This one may not blow anyones mind, its simply a good beer. (806 characters)

Photo of DAllspaw
4.28/5  rDev +19.9%
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. (484 characters)

Photo of SolipsismalCat
3.73/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Slightly hazy amber with lots of tiny particles and a three-finger, off-white, creamy head that lasted a while. Nice lacing.

S: Pine hops and fruit.

T: Moderately sweet and moderately bitter. Sweet malt. Spicy hops. I do taste honey as others have mentioned.

M: Medium bodied with fizzy carbonation. Creamy and slightly dry.

O: This Scottish Ale is comparable to the other two I've had. Pretty good, but it especially look really good. (469 characters)

Photo of birderbeerer
3.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown ale with ruby hues, mostly white head, fairly translucent.

Smell is unremarkable, mostly malt with a little oaky sweetness.

Taste is a bit more complex. Good balance of sweetness and dryness. Toffee/caramel mostly. A little pepper. Mostly a dry, malty ale.

Perfectly nice as a session or as a one-off to break up the regular mix. (339 characters)

Photo of Jimmys
3.6/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle. bottled on 10/123/11

A: a slightly hazed ruby red body. 1 finger head with O.K. retention and lacing. good looking body, but i wouldnt hate a bigger, longer lasting head.

S: aroma is fruity, but with a significant hop nose. if i had to guess i would say a healthy dose of citra hops were used for aroma/dry-hop.

T: very bubblegum-like. very bubblegum-like. crystal malty-ness that has a fresh, fruity sweet flavor to it off the bat. a bitterness follows that brings a nice balance to the opening sweetness.

M: moderate amount of carbonation adds a tingle to this malt driven body.

D: not your typical holiday winter warmer. a neat take to have a scottish as their Christmas Ale. good tasting brew from a brewery that doesnt really make a ad one. (767 characters)

Photo of DesMoinesMike
3.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's December, time for the annual Christmas Ale run!

It's a medium tan color with lots of foam. Smells of malt, grapefruit, and nutmeg, ok but not impressive. The taste is quite nice, with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove floating over a nice malt base. The body seems light for either a scottish ale or typical winter lager but the taste more than makes up for it. (358 characters)

Photo of MNJR
3.67/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hazy copper color, thin head, lots of bubbles. Smells of leather, fruit, toasty malt; no hops come forward. The taste is unique, and strange. My first impression was creamy/milky, coppery, dry oatmeal, slight tartness on the finish. Nicely carbonated with a sparkle on the wash-down. When the carbonation dies it leaves a watery aftertaste. A good percentage of the initial flavor dies out quickly, leaving a mild alcohol burn and not much else. Too thin overall for a Scotch ale? I like Bell's in general, but I think they could do better job on this "special" ale. They have done much better on other beers. Just not much to report here in terms of anything memorable. (670 characters)

Photo of BasterdInABasket
3.41/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2012 vintage, 12 oz bottle poured into SA Perfect Pint Glass
A- Amber colored with a lot of carbonation, bubbles rising to top, 2 fingers fluffy, light-cream colored head, very good retention and lacing
S- Bready malt, sugary sweetness, slightly fruity. Pretty light nose overall, nothing really stands out
T- Toasted bread, candy sugar sweetness, almost Pez candy-like, minimal bitterness, A pretty easy, mellow taste to it
M- Meium body and carbonation, drinkable
O- Overall pretty solid, nothing really pops out, worth a try but not likely I'll be coming back to it
Reviewed 1-10-13 (585 characters)

Photo of DannyDan
3.81/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A. Pours an amber hue that has a thin whitehead that has good retention and fine lacing.
S. The aroma has a sweet caramel, honey and fruit scent.
T. The taste starts out with some fruit, followed by some caramel and finishes off with honey. A pleasant mix of sweetness and spiciness.
M. The mouthfeel is nice and creamy, but leaves the mouth dry.
O. A nice relaxing beer to enjoy on Xmas, also this makes a nice gift for the beer lover on your Xmas list. (454 characters)

Photo of soulfly1492
3.65/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aroma: Hoppy upfront. Pine. Some sweet malts, corn, mild phenols, wheat and spices.

Appearance: Amber brown, just a bit cloudy. ours a tall off-white head. Tons of lacing. Great retention.

Flavor: Tons of malt. Munich, caramel, sweet honey. Nice crisp bitter hops. Lots of honey in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Mild carbonation. Light and creamy. Overall a bit drying.

Overall: Pretty good, but I expect the best from Bell's. Nice malt flavor, and hops to balance out the mix. (492 characters)

Photo of OneDropSoup
3.93/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a stemmed tulip: Beautiful deep red with pink-gold highlights, finger of white head that drops with a little lacing. Love that color, like a tree ornament.

Sweet fruit smell, but candy/dessert-ish, like Gummi bears or Jell-o citrus salad. Full & present, a little sweet tea.

Same candy-like fruit in the taste: strawberry, bubble gum, lightly spicy & mildly bitter hop presence that on the dry side. Getting just a little malt flavor, maybe a touch of honey or caramel. Good "dressing" but not as solid a center as I'd like. Subtle snap in the finish, too. Not bad at all, pretty enjoyable.

On the light side, but substantial, active & tingly.

Good flavors, good smell. This being my first one, I'm impressed with what I'm getting from it, but I'm not sure I'd rush to get it again. Definitely unique. (817 characters)

Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 483 ratings.