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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.

1,222 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,222
Reviews: 461
rAvg: 3.57
pDev: 13.45%
Wants: 35
Gots: 60 | 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: 1,222 | Reviews: 461 | Display Reviews Only:
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
Photo of philbe311
2.93/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Unique color for a beer, a mix of tangerine and peach... Slight tan head fades leaving big chunky bubbles in the center of the glass and a moderate lace of small crisp bubbles around it... Still with a very slight haze to it...

S - Slightly medicinal... Malty... Bubble gum... A hint of spiciness... A faint musky scent...

T - Spice... Malt... Perhap a hint of hops... Overall, quite medicinal... This brew seems to have a severe identity crisis... Lots of distinct flavors, none of which seems to work well with each other...

M - Lots of carbonation... Medium bodied... Slight oily texture...

D - Overall this was quite dissappoint from a brewery that I typically have a lot of respect for... You can't hit a homerun everytime, but this was more a foulball off of their foot... Sorry Bell's, but it's the truth... The worst part is that there is nothing that I can grasp that leads me to believe that this is in fact a Wee Heavy... By far the most dissappointing Christmas brew of this holiday season...

philbe311, Jan 17, 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 SLeffler27
3.63/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A modest almond, rocky head develops over an opaque, dark amber, almost red beer. A very nice glow emanates when put to the light as the head drops leaving lots of lace.

The aroma carries sweet orange and bubblegum as well as other pleasant but unusual scents.

Loaded with malt and spices with a subtle, lingering bitterness.

The alcohol is barely noticeable in this light-bodied, very slick beer with soft carbonation and a touch of metallic notes.

Bell's Christmas Ale goes nicely with pizza and bar food. One could easily make a session with this selection.

date consumed: 12 Dec 2008

SLeffler27, Jan 11, 2009
Photo of Gouxman
3.48/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was fairly unimpressed by the newest edition to the Bell's line-up. Usually all of their beers are stellar. When I heard that they were coming out with a Scottish Christmas Ale, I was eager to try one.

A mild Scotch Ale with an orangish amber color. A malt based ale with an sweet hop presence and a touch of holiday spice. Brown sugar and caramel malt give this winter warmer ale a full-bodied, crisp finish.

This holiday beer is still quite drinkable. The holiday spice does not overpower this ale like most do. Still a decent beer, but not one of Larry Bell's finest.

Gouxman, Jan 09, 2009
Photo of djeucalyptus
3.23/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured a light amber with orange highlights and a fair bit of suspended particulate creating a light haze. A two finger head of a light cream color fades leaving behind some impressive lacing to the bottom of the glass.

malt-centric aroma, with sweet and toasty aromas dominating. hints of pine and a touch of fruit - dried apples and grapefruit? mild on the whole.

Taste is malty up front, giving way to a sweeter roasted malt with hints of chocolate and vanilla. Some fruity esters show up in the middle, with apples, citrus and plums. Candi sugar and a touch of hops finish, giving a fairly neutral lasting hop bitterness.

mouthfeel is smooth with ample carbonation. Very light and thin for a scotch/wee heavy though. I was expecting a bit thicker and fuller.

All in all, not a horrible brew, but not one I'd seek out again. Glad I tried it, but that's about it. It's labeled as a scotch, but between the lightness of body, lightness of aroma and flavors, and the odd fruit and spice flavors creeping in, it doesn't really fit the style all that well. All in all, a fairly disappointing brew that was far from satisfying.

djeucalyptus, Jan 08, 2009
Photo of CHSLBrew
3.35/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A-Thick off-white head, attractive and with great retention, slowly going down to a strong reduced head. This dark amber beer is hazy with some floaties.

S-What was there was toffee and sweet malts; very appropriately malt-centric. Not as much aroma as I expected and/or desired.

T-Prominent toffee and nutty, scotchy malts. A very present bitterness helps to keep these malts from going hog wild on my palate. Finishes clean.

M-Medium-high carbonation. This is a nice, slippery but substantial, medium-bodied beer.

D-A brew appropriate for a cold night indoors (or outdoors, I suppose). As far as Scotch ales go, though, it seemed perhaps a bit too small on the flavor and aroma. Overall, enjoyable but lacking.

CHSLBrew, Jan 06, 2009
Photo of stewart124
4.35/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Quite a bit a of light tan head atop this hazy copper colored beer. Decent lacing along the sides but I was expecting more after seeing three fingers of dense foam.

The smells coming from this scotch ale are malty, bready and a touch of citrus hops. Some earthy/floral aromas as well.

This has a very nice mouthfeel coupled with a smooth creamy body. Plenty of caramel malts add a nice sweetness with a biscuity/bready character. There is also a little bit of citrusy spice from the northwestern hops.

This is very drinkable and very tasty. Nice American version of a scotch ale.

stewart124, Jan 06, 2009
Photo of Atricapilla
2.53/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Of all the Bell's Beer I've tried, i probably liked this one least (by far). Poured a medium amber color with a thin head that went away quickly. Aroma consisted of light malt, not a whole lot there, especially for a Christmas Ale. Tasted like malt and candy sugar, a little cloying.

Atricapilla, Jan 05, 2009
Photo of lhaqq
3.98/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a light copper with a light tan head that dissipates somewhat quickly.
S: Smells of spices and alcohol. Also some sweetness of darker fruits.
T: The spiciness starts off the taste, but it shifts into the (light) sweetness of dark fruits and some maltiness.
M: Good; I think a beer where the mouthfeel would leave it enjoyable cold or at cellar temp.
D: When I ordered it, I assumed I was getting a winter warmer. But scotch ales are one of my favorite styles, so I didn't mind that it wasn't. Yet it didn't really taste like any other scotch ales I've had. Not sure what category I'd have put it in. Nevertheless, probably would get it again.

lhaqq, Jan 04, 2009
Photo of hops4me
2.15/5  rDev -39.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a cloudy amber. I expected a little darker for a Scotch Ale. The smell was very faint. Sweet bready aroma and some yeast in there as well. The taste was nothing like I expected. Not the usual raisins and figs you expect. Actually, it wasn't much of anything. The mouthfeel was far too light for the style. Not a good beer and I will not be buying again. Big dissapointment.

hops4me, Jan 03, 2009
Photo of Drewcifer
3.08/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a murky, rusty red-gold, with a good inch of rocky white head.

Light malt and cherry aroma. I expected a heavier aroma out of a scotch ale.

Bready malts and a hint of cherry. Some spiciness at the back end, but overall, a bit bland.

Mouthfeel was quite light for the style. Scotch ales should be thicker, heavier, more coating.

The drinkability is pretty decent, but not something I would look to drink much of - it's just not that great of a beer.

Drewcifer, Jan 01, 2009
Photo of BellsGuy
4.83/5  rDev +35.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ok, I'm a big fan of Bell's so I came in assuming I would already love it. For a Scotch, it's a little weaker than I would prefer, but regardless I really enjoyed this brew and went back for more.

My favorite beer appearance is a reddish/golden look and this matches up perfectly. Nice froth on the poor, not too much lace left behind, and an excellent ale aroma. A nice beer that tastes like a beer, something I'm always looking for.

BellsGuy, Jan 01, 2009
Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 1,222 ratings.