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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
82
good

1,403 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,403
Reviews: 473
rAvg: 3.58
pDev: 13.41%
Wants: 42
Gots: 124 | 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: 1,403 | Reviews: 473 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of zoso493
3.85/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Stone straight-sided pint glass.

Appearance: Bell's Christmas offering pours a copper amber that is looks more like an IPA than anything. I would hesitate to describe this brew as hazy, but it maintains a bit fair bit of translucency. A bubbly one-finger head is found atop the beer, which fades slowly to coat the top of the brew.

Smell: The nose is definitely on the lighter side of things, in both character and pungency. There are some bready, toasted malts that emerge first, followed by some grassy, herbal graininess, perhaps being provided by the hops.

Taste: The taste is equally as light as the smell, with the toasted malts and yeast playing the lead role. The grains are less present, however, and the hops are solely there for the bittering. This is actually not a bad Scotch ale by any means.

Mouthfeel: This is a very crisp beer, as it's pretty highly carbonated. A lot of maltier beers can stick to your a palate a bit, but this one is clean and refreshing.

Drinkability: This is a very drinkable and one that could be made into a session if need be. It's light, it's crisp, and it's refreshing, though it might be better suited to another season than winter for heavy consumption.

Overall, Bell's Christmas Ale is a very good example of a Scottish ale. I spent 6 months in Scotland last year and tried my fair share of Scottish ales, and this brew is one of the better examples I've had. That being said, I'm not a huge fan of Scottish ales, as they are too light on the flavor, but I've enjoyed this beer.

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!

Photo of billab914
3.48/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Starr Hill shaped glass. It poured a deep copper color with a frothy, inch thick head to it. The head faded to a thin transparent layer and left just a hint of lacing on the glass.

The aroma shows some herbal, earthy hops to it along with a moderate bready and malty flavor. I get just a hint of nuttiness to it as well. Not bad, but also not that much to it.

The taste has more caramel and nutty flavors to it, and less hops compared to the aroma. Some malty and bready sweetness come through as well. The hops are very faint in the finish and probably lend more of a balancing bitterness than anything else.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and carbonation is moderate. Drinkability isn't bad, it went down pretty easily and had some decent flavors. It wasn't bad at all but it also just wasn't all that special either. It seemed pretty plain for a Xmas beer as well.

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

Poured into a pint glass this brew was a nice red amber color, mostly transparent with a 1 finger white head that dissipated to a thin cap with decent lacing down the glass. The aroma was nice with a good citrus hop presence and a solid caramel malt essence. Truth be told I was expecting more of a winter warmer style which tends to be too over the top spicy with cinnamon and clove and the like but this brew being a scottish ale was nice and balanced. The caramel malts hit the front of your tongue while the slight citrus and pine hops hit the finish with moderate carbonation and a crisp finish this is a fine ale to sip on. Good session brew in my opinion.

Photo of RickS95
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Looks like the standard issue winter beer. It's a brownish, copperish orange, just dark enough to be slightly opaque.

It's differnt than other winter beers in that there are no spices evident in the nose. You pick up some hops and that's all. Not a bad smell, just not much of it.

The taste is pleasant. Malts and hops hit the palate, and it's got a fruity sweetness to it.

The mouthfeel is complex due to the hoppy bitterness and the fruity sweetness. The two feelings feed off each other giving a crisp feeling.

This goes down well. The fruity flavors make each drink worth it. The moderate alcohol mean you can have several.

Photo of Bitterbill
2.63/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Bottle courtesy of russpowell. Thanks Russ!
Coded 10023.

It's a hazy orange-red-brown with a 2 finger head of foam. Foam of the stubborn kind. A great looking brew.

I'm sticking my nose right into the glass as the smell is trying to evade me. Ok. I'm getting some malty/sugary sweetness. More whiffing and it's more of a fruity sweet.

The taste is kind of sweet, kind of tart/bitter as in fruity bitter. I've got me a weird tasting beer here. Getting some spicy notes now but not much of a malt profile, at least not to my palate and I've never tasted a Scottish Ale that tasted anything like this. Mixed feelings.

Good overall mouthfeel though maybe a bit brisk with the carbonation.

Getting down and dirty, I've decided this isn't my cup of tea at all and I'm, somewhat, struggling to finish the bottle. Bell's makes some really excellent brews so it's no big deal that I didn't find the Christmas Ale to my liking.

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

12oz bottle -> american pint
CODE: 10027

Pours a clear burnt copper with bright orange highlights. A small delicate head quickly disappears and deposits only a few dots of lace. Carbonation show up big on the pour, then retreats to a steady stream of bubbles of all sizes.

Nose: Light caramel, some herbal funk

Medium semi creamy almost slick mouthfeel. A full on blast of malt sweetness with candy caramel and sticky toffee. Some deep biscuit tones battle the caramels. A medium bitterness tips the sweet scales slightly and finishes the brew semi-dry and sticky sweet.

Another quality Bells offerering, not your typical spiced Christmas Ale brewed with locally grown ingredients, kudus Bells.

Photo of Shrews629
3.53/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

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

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.

Photo of dogger6253
3.95/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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

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..

Photo of projectflam86
3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of damndirtyape
3.78/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of maltusaurelius
4.1/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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.

**Edit**
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.

Photo of Maerzen
3.05/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of elgiacomo
3.03/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

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.

Photo of argock
4.15/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of RunForYourBeer
4.03/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.8/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

Photo of KidsDoc
3.23/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of ratrod53
3.78/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
82 out of 100 based on 1,403 ratings.