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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.

1,234 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,234
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: 1,234 | Reviews: 462 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of hosehead83
4.35/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a twelve ounce bottle into a standard pint glass
Attractive bright orange cloudy color, with a nice two-inch head of foam
Aroma-Spicy malt, wheat, biscuit, subtle orange zest
Taste-Malt, wheat, subtle honey, cinnamon-orange,biscuit, slight hop notes
Overall,very smooth, creamy and tasty. Would make a fine session beer-A bit surprising that this is considered a Scotch Ale, but whatever the style, it's a tasty offering.

hosehead83, Nov 09, 2009
Photo of katan
3.6/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz into a pint

A - Pours a copper to amber color. Lots of head, just a hair off white. Well retained. Little bubbling. Does look well filtered.

S - A combination of caramel malts and a light american hop note. Spicing is very muted.

T - Starts off with a light malt flavor, some roasted malts. Overall, pretty muted. Mid-stream starts to show the bitterness - bringing it into balance. Finishes with a malt and spice profile, warming, with some hints of cinnamon.

M - Moderate body - carbonation bite is fairly strong. Some clinging sweetness - also some bitterness sits on the tongue.

D - Moderate drinkability. ABV is manageable. Sweetness isn't overwhelming. Not filling. Does have a solid warming effect, good for winter.

katan, Nov 08, 2009
Photo of sweemzander
3.33/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. Batch #9422

(A)- Pours a clear red amber that produced a white head with good retention. Some lacing present.

(S)- A lightly sweet honey & spice with a toffee nuttiness to it.

(T)- A light sweetness with honey & nuts with a light spicyness. Has a very generic corn-husk flavor to its profile.

(M)- Good balance and carbonation level with a simple, but good feel to it. Straightforward.

(D)- Good, but was expecting something more than this. A great session beer, but definitely not what I thought this would be. Didnt think this was a scotch ale until I looked it up. . . definitely doesnt smell or taste as such :/

sweemzander, Nov 07, 2009
Photo of yelterdow
3.78/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 8802, packaged on October 24, 2008. Thanks to fellow bandmate and BA EPseja for the sample. I'll serve this at cellar temperature into an oversize brandy snifter for maximum sniffage.

Appearance- The color is a beautiful orange-amber, with a very light tan inch thick head that disperses elegantly over several minutes. Some patchy lacing lies in the wake, but this fiery orange presentation is absolutely stunning.

Smell- Incredibly unique, the nose baffles me. The domestic barley and Michigan hops lend a very specific aroma to this beer... the spices are more woody than fragrant, almost like sandalwood.

Taste- As with the nose, the vanilla-like wood notes take precedence over spices and overall ingredients... it's a different and quite interesting take on the style.

Mouthfeel- The texture is creamy and sublime, absolutely perfect in every way. It doesn't get any better than this.

Drinkability- An easy drinker with its low ABV... glad to have sampled such a unique brew.

yelterdow, Aug 29, 2009
Photo of glid02
3.8/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Last year's version purchased from Brawley's in Charlotte quite a while back.

Pours a chestnut brown color with a 1.5-finger tan head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of lightly toasted caramel malts with hints of nondescript fruit.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Caramel and toasted malt flavors up front carry through to a sweet ending. As the beer warms very slight fruit flavors enter into things but they're not as intense as the aroma would indicate and they take a backseat to the malts. Not a whole lot of complexity here but everything's done well.

Mouthfeel is good. There's a nice thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I had no problem finishing the bottle and could have another.

Overall this is a solid low ABV scotch ale. Worth a shot.

glid02, Aug 18, 2009
Photo of popery
3.18/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A good but fairly bland Scotch Ale. There's nothing particularly wrong with this beer, but it also fails to provide much excitement. The beer pours a murky medium amber with a spattering of particulates and a medium head/lacing. The aroma is subdued. There's light caramelized malt with touches of spice and apricots/apple. The flavor is similar and similarly fails to provide any really interesting notes. A Scotch Ale needs more punch than this one provides for me to find enjoyment. This beer tastes more like a watered down Scotch Ale. It's not bad, just fairly bland and middle-of-the-road for the style.

popery, Aug 16, 2009
Photo of orbitalr0x
3.25/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Found this lurking in the cellar. '08 Release. Pours into my glass a nice red/orange hue with good clarity and an inch of khaki foam on top of the brew. Sticky lacing moves into aromas of caramelized grains. Earthy accents with a bit of spice. Plums and dark fruits mix in with bread. Mellow herbal hops.

First sip brings solid crisp malts upfront with some caramel sweetness and toasted accents. Earthy spice flavors meld in with some plums, dark fruits as it flows down. Herbal hops sneak in with some bitterness on the finish. Somewhat one dimensional to me.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with good carbonation. Nice and malty overall. Still the flavor is just a bit too mild for me and I guess I'm not personally a big Scotch Ale fan. I was happy to sample it but it doesn't make me want to grab another. If you're a malt lover check it out.

orbitalr0x, Aug 13, 2009
Photo of yourefragile
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this a few times back in "season" and just found a straggler so we'll see how this is holding up and try to review it. 12 oz bottle poured into a nonic.

Translucent, muddy amber color with a rocky, fizzy cream head that has sticky clumps and rings of lacing and nice retention. As promising as the appearance is, the aroma is comparatively lacking. Grainy, toasted malt, biscuit, occasionally light fruit, all very mild, while not expecting this to be a bomb of a wee heavy, this doesn't resemble much of anything in the aroma. Medium body with light, fluffy carbonation and slight hop bite in finish. Not as heavy or thick as expected for a true scotch ale, but pleasant, nothing to complain about. Flavor has large caramel malty backbone, slightly fruity sweet, yeasty flavor. Not... bad, but even for not expecting this to be a true scotch ale somewhat disappointing. All that said, still a pleasantly drinkable beer and tastes much better to me at start of summer than it did in middle of winter.

yourefragile, Jun 07, 2009
Photo of ThePeskyDingo
3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured with a 1 finger head that dissipated quickly.
Beer is a hazy copper brown with a lot of yeast sediments in it.

Smells of malt, hops, spices and some sort of fruit, not a very strong smell.

Tastes of hops, malts and kinda of bland to be honest.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, mild carbonation. Smooth with a dry finish.

Drinks pretty easy not as much to the beer as i thoght there mibht be.

ThePeskyDingo, May 10, 2009
Photo of AltBock
3.08/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle with a fabricated photo of a Christmas tree with white and gold bulbs standing in the middle of a wheat field on a bright sunny day. The back label has all the mandatory US information, a brief description of the beer, and a batch number of 8803. That means it was bottled on October 27th, 2008

I had no other choice then to pour this beer into my Bell's pint glass. I didn't know what to expect when it came to this beer, I know I wasn't expecting a murky Christmas Ale. There are a lot of particles floating around this beer. As for the color, it was a dark cranberry orange in the center and amber orange along the sides. The head of foam was an off white color and was a tiny less than 1/4 of an inch in height. It had OK retention that only left behind a miniature string of rings.

The back label said it was going to be malty, but I swear that I smelled malted wheat in this beer. Behind what that smelled like wheat was a hint of dried cranberries, a drop of toasted nuts, and a small spattering of spices at the end. I'm not sure what spices were in the aroma. My nose had hard identifying the spices.

This Bell's beer tasted like a cross between a wheat and a malty beer. It almost taste like it couldn't make up it's mind what it wanted to be. Following the malt/wheat taste were some dried cranberries, a few toasted nuts, and then it suddenly finishes up with a dry bitterness. I don't know where that came from because I couldn't taste any hops in this beer.

This was a medium bodied beer with the right amount of carbonation and a slight malt/wheat aftertaste of dried cranberries and toasted nuts.

I honestly don't know what to think about this beer. It's really not a Christmas Ale and it didn't taste like a Scotch Ale to me either. I don't know what it was. I probably should have had this beer during the Christmas holiday instead of early May, but I fully doubt I would have liked then. Bell's makes some great beers, but I would pass up this Bell's beer.

AltBock, May 10, 2009
Photo of Martin2D
3.1/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Amber with barely any head at all

S - Smells not much of anything, a bit of alcohol and indistinguishable flavors.

T - Not much going on here. Some flavors, that like the scent are indistinguishable.

M - Medium carbonation and medium in body.

D - Somewhat drinkable. Took me a while to polish this one off because I didn't want to drink it that much. Not enough flavor.

Martin2D, Apr 30, 2009
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 mothman
3.95/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoying this beer while listening to the Kaiser Chiefs: Ruby

Poured into Sam Adams Sensory Glass.

Pours a 1 and 1/2 finger head, slightly tan. Great retention. Leaves some big lace walls. A lot of yeast sediment. Color is ruby when held to sunlight, but that is not the proper way, so it is actually a hazy burnt copper color.

Aroma: Comes of with a burnt carmel smell. Has some sweet hops as well. Very sweet malts. I am diggin' the smell.

Taste is a lot of hops which surprised me. Sweet malts. Kind or a burnt taste to it. Carmel. Pretty decent.

Mouthfeel is more refreshing than anything. A little creamy. Goes down easy and ends clean, but a little chewy. Good carbonation.

Overall, I really enjoyed this beer. It is April and not December, so that may have an influence in my ratings. That or I just enjoyed the beer. I highly recommend, but at the regular price, it is spendy. I got this on clearance which was great.

mothman, Apr 17, 2009
Photo of jeremyd365
3.33/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Batch 8802. Pours a dirty, hazy medium brown and smells of fruity spiciness. The mouthfeel is on the high end of medium while the flavor is decently so-so. It's got a wide range of flavors but finishes kind of alcoholy. It's an alright brew but not the best holiday one out there.

jeremyd365, Apr 07, 2009
3.15/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I easily achieve three fingers of light tan caverness bubbles that turn rocky as they slowly fade. Scattered blobs of lace are left. Body has sharp tones of ruby and brown. Nose has an invigorating phelonic spice profile up front. Followed by carmel malt and a splash of vanilla. Enters the mouth with a toasty feel and a soft peppery dusting. Now the richness of the malts never truly develop as I would expect for the style. There is a bit of a earthy, woodsy hop feel that peeks through on the end of the palate. The mouthfeel is left with a hint of the pale spices and slight bitter. This beer is very easy to drink but overall falls short for me.

SPLITGRIN, Mar 19, 2009
Photo of neenerzig
4.08/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes as I drank this one awhile ago now. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my pint glass. Pours a cloudy, medium copper/amber color. Slightly tan head about 1/3 inch when poured that settles to a nice thick ring lining the inside of the glass. Good lace. malty aromas of brown sugar, and grainy hop tones. Sweet caramel taste is evident along with some cinnamon, a bit of fruit, and rounded out with a nice hop touch. Not quite what I was expecting tastewise. But then again this is not a winter warmer as the majority of Christmas ales seem to be. I do have to admit I thought it would be different and a little bit better. Has a crisp, smooth, medium to full bodied mouthfeel with moderate to heavy carbonation. Very easy to drink in the way good beer should be.


neenerzig, Mar 13, 2009
Photo of timtim
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

very easy on the eyes this one is, but i think i was expecting mopre oomph from a christmas ale. nose is rather light, but exhibits some nice cereal, grain, brown sugar and hop notes. everything comes together in a fairly well balanced way, but the taste just isn't all i'm used to with bell's products. especially their one-off lines. i definitely wasn't expecting a hop monster or anything, i just assumed htere would be a little peat or smoke or just something i can't put my finger on that isnt' there. good beer, but i don't think i'll seek it out next year unless they do some fine tuning.

timtim, Feb 24, 2009
Photo of becktone
4.05/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From notes 11-20-08

Eye: Great on the eyes! Slightly hazy orangish copper body. Head has excellent formation and retention. Sitting at about two fingers its texture is midway between foamy and creamy, its color is off white, white with hints of tan/light amber. Lacing could use some work, its pretty thin. This is one really great looking beer. Bell's never seems to disappiont in this aspect.

Nose: Nice big malt sweetness in this brew supported by some grainy malt notes. This beer supports more of a candy sweetness as opposed to a caramelly malt sweetness. Some fruity aromas in the nose as well. Hops are present in the aroma, light citrusy notes-grapefruit-and light floral notes. Overall the aroma is faint and pretty weak, I'm having trouble getting much out of this brew. One thing is for sure, if they were going for a scotch ale they missed out on the peat malt. Pretty much grainy notes and sweetness, keep looking for more but nothing to be found.

Tongue: This beer seems to me to be comprised of three to four flavors. Malt sweetness, a grainy type of flavor, a soft fruitiness and a soft herbal or floral hop flavor. I won't lie, at first I was really let down by this beer, the flavor seemed to be so bland. Where this beer shines is in its complex delicacy. Its much like a Kolsch in that way, each flavor is very delicate and comes out as such, lots of balance and lots of flavors that compliment each other nicely. This is number 5 of the the sixer, it took me five beers to really understand this beer. This isn't your typical Christmas Ale, much, much different. This is a very nice delicate and well balanced beer. It took me quite a few of these to figure it out. I'm all for this beer, but if you want a classic scotch style ale I wouldn't look here. I like the beer and appreciate the complexity of the balance of these delicate flavors that don't just jump right out at you. This is just a good beer. I think what really makes me like this brew is the fact that it takes alot of thinking and critical tasting to really understand, and to taste, what's going on. This is a beer where you need to actively search for what is going on, that and be sure to drink it much warmer than fridge temp.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability: Feel is medium-heavy on this brew. Carbonation is low as not to interfere with complexities in flavor. The beer itself is slick on the palate and goes down easy with a real nice finish. This is one that I'll gladly be picking up again. Before I took a critical look at this beer I had absolutely no intention of drinking it again, I felt as though this was a big let down from Bell's. This is not so, just take a minute to really dive into this beer, there's more there than you think...be sure to drink it at the correct serving temp, as drinking it too cool will kill its delicacy. Another great offering from Bell's.

becktone, Feb 15, 2009
Photo of bahumutx
3.25/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours with a 2 finger head that dissipates slowly. Copper in color.

Smell: Malt and slight caramel. Some floral notes.

Taste: Malt, toffee, caramel. Ends with a hop bitterness. There a lingering malt flavor after taking a sip.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. A little thin but with a good amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Very drinkable.

This is an OK beer but I am not sure if it is a wee heavy. Give it a try and decide for yourself. It might be able to be classified as a Scotch ale but I am not sure. Not really a "Christmas Ale" in my opinion. It will be interesting to see if it changes next year.

bahumutx, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of HopHead84
3.43/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Batch 8802. I notice this is categorized as a Wee Heavy. 5.4% seems to be a bit too low for the style. But, beer shall not be confined to style guidlines!

Poured into my Delirium Tremens tulip, the beer is dark orangish amber with a two finger head and some lacing. The aroma is of sweet caramel malt and alcohol with some citrus (orange). The more I smell it the more dominant the citrus becomes.

The taste is also quite citrusy. This could be a malty, underhopped pale ale. It tastes unlike any Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy I've had. Sweet, toasted malt with some alcohol. Somewhat yeasty with a mild spiciness to it. The finish is dry and contains the majority of the bitterness. Some alcohol is present once again, and the citrus is still there.

HopHead84, Jan 29, 2009
Photo of OWSLEY069
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy orange-ish/ amber color with a light tan head. In the aroma, sweet caramel maltiness. In the taste, sweet malt, nice presence of caramel and a nice bitter all the way through. A bitter and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a semi dry, piney hop in the aftertaste. Nice hop presence and nice maltiness.

OWSLEY069, Jan 29, 2009
Photo of Bierguy5
3.73/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle. Batch 8803. Pours a cloudy amber to copper color, with a fair amount of sediment. Tan rocky head. Pretty good head retention and lace.

Lots of toasty malt in the nose. A bit of toffee. Some earthy notes. Certainly malt driven in the nose.

Good dose of caramel, slightly toasty malt. A bit of an odd metallic edge. Some earthy bitterness at the end.

Medium body, with a good dose of carbonation. Very easy to drink. While I wouldn't call this a wee heavy personally, it is a good beer. I am not sure how this beer ties in with Christmas, but it is worth a shot.

Bierguy5, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of PatrickJR
3.15/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into nonic pint glass.

A - Murky orange/amber with about 3 fingers of off white head. Retention is decent, some minimal lacing.

S - I have a hard time believing this is a wee heavy. Some caramel and brown sugar but very faint. A spicy/hoppy note is most prevalent in the nose, with some pine and grass. Weak and unfocused nose in general.

T - Again, not exactly a wee heavy. Moderate sweetness accompanied by mild fruit and brown sugar flavors. The hops are quite apparent with grassy and hay like notes from the nose with an oniony flavor reminiscent of body odor. Small bitterness wraps things up with some graininess in the aftertaste.

M - Light to medium bodied, certainly too thin to showcase the malt or to call itself a wee heavy. Carbonation is moderate and while initially it feels overdone, it would probably be less noticable with a fuller body.

D - Bell's Christmas Ale is an above average beer, but I'm having a hard time thinking of this as a wee heavy; this might be closer to an American brown. Quite drinkable, but the thinness, hop forwardness, and lack of malt presence render this very different from a wee heavy.

PatrickJR, Jan 21, 2009
Photo of twiggamortis420
3.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark copper color with a creamy tan head. Wonderful lacing.

Nose has quite a bit going on. I get some candy apple fruitiness, a mix of grassy and citrus hops, graininess and some green grapes. Reminds me of a box of gobstoppers jaw breakers.

Taste is mostly of pine needles and fresh grains. Hints of light fruits...golden apples and pears. Quite hoppy upon further inspection, but is balanced well. Not getting much scotch ale characteristics here. A pretty decent beer, but I don't think it is quite up to par with the rest of Bell's stellar lineup.

twiggamortis420, Jan 20, 2009
Photo of GruvisHops
3.48/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Let's get one thing out on the table, right now. I don't see how "Scotch" fits anywhere in the description of this ale. I just had to get that off of my chest before I went any further.

A: A 12 oz. brown bottle with a most uninspired Christmas tree in the middle of what appears to be a field of wheat or barley on the front label. Seriously, that tree should have been taken out of its misery years ago. It pours a deep orange with a nice 1/2" of slightly orange, creamy white head that leaves some wonderful lace. Very hazy with a great deal of yeast particulate floating around. This is the only part about this beer that I really like. It actually screams Christmas to me, but this is the only part that screams. It certainly looks nothing like a "scotch ale" as described on the back label.

S: The nose is not very strong, but Christmasy enough; mostly cinnamon spice with a hint of caramel and orange peel in the background. It's OK, just not big enough to compete with the big boys.

T: This beer took some serious warming and swirling before I actually started to enjoy the taste. A heavy dose of Munich malt comes through in the flavor profile. Once again, caramel (just a touch), cinnamon and orange peel lie in the background. I'm still sticking with my original score, but I really did enjoy the flavor after about 45 minutes.

M: The mouthfeel is medium and very smooth.

D: Although certainly not at all what I think Bell's is capable of, it's still a very drinkable beer.

Notes: see first paragraph.

GruvisHops, Jan 20, 2009
Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 1,234 ratings.