1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

1,194 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,194
Reviews: 461
rAvg: 3.57
pDev: 13.45%
Wants: 30
Gots: 56 | FT: 1
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,194 | Reviews: 461 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of lessthanhadley
lessthanhadley

Pennsylvania

2.6/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Really unimpressed by this beer. I bought it even after seeing a few negative reviews just because Bells is a brewery who I tend to give everything that they put out a try. Generally one of my favorite breweries just didn't get it right here at all. Its a mix of christmas spice, citrusy zest and belgian yeast that just never identifies with anything and really just is not enjoyable. While not a drain pour definitely not something I'd ever go back to.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2008 02:46:56 | More by lessthanhadley
Photo of tavernjef
tavernjef

Minnesota

3/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

On-tap at Lowertown Bulldog: Served in a full pint glass as one solid looking rusty brown with only the slightest of dark orange casting from within. Small capping of off-white foam was present.

Aroma is sweet and Belgian yeasty-like with a bunch of biscuity breads smoothered in lemon frosting and some slight herbal spicing. Not all that Scotch like but was quite perfumey none-the-less.

Taste was one mixed up beer. Trying hard with some sweet brown sugary maltyness, some cookie spices, but getting convulated with a big Belgian bite of lemon spritz and yeastyness that never quite fits. Making for an uncomfortable experience in the mouth as it never quite decides which way it should go or where it needs to go. It needs to go the way of getting a complete revamp in my book. This wasn't just me, the entire table I was with that had it was very unimpressed and most never finished theirs and just moved on to something else.

Feel was tight and gritty with a wierd yeasty chalky-like texture that didn't make the taste any better. Maybe its biggest downfall was how strangely dry while trying to stay smooth and malty just never pulled thru and seemed very messy and undrinkable.

Serving type: on-tap

12-15-2008 17:38:25 | More by tavernjef
Photo of wedge
wedge

North Carolina

2.6/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hazed orange-amber with a tall, fluffy head. Spotty lace. Smells...not like any Scotch ale I've ever had. Sweet fruit, hops, light bread, lemons. Herbal hops, delicate sweetness, spices, and peppery phenolics. No rich maltiness, no smokiness...why call this a Wee Heavy? It's not a bad beer, but they'd be better off leaving "Scotch ale" off the bottle. Medium bodied and fairly easy to drink, though it's strength is lower than what it should be. Meh...

"Malt driven Scotch ale" does not describe this beer at all.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2008 21:32:56 | More by wedge
Photo of DrJay
DrJay

Massachusetts

2.25/5  rDev -37%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Hazed copper colour with a fluffy, light beige cap that really lasted. Dense head of fine bubbles, streaky lacing. Musty aroma up front, then a bit of lemon and herbal hops. Malt was hiding in the background, a bit biscuity. Dry yeast smell. Moderate bitterness that lingered into the finish. Yeasty, bready flavour followed by herbal hops and a spiciness that was just short of acrid. Sort of fruity too. Herbal character lingered, along with a bit of lemon. Medium bodied with creamy carbonation, but had a weird dryness in the finish. Drinkability wasn't great, but I was able to finish it without too much trouble. This one was all over the place and didn't come together at all. I'm a big fan of Bell's and enjoy many a Christmas beer at this time of year, but this didn't work for me.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2008 02:21:36 | More by DrJay
Photo of Metalmonk
Metalmonk

North Carolina

3.78/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The head on this sucker is abundant, even with a hardly-aggressive pour. It retains well and leaves swaths of lace as it lessens. Hop-hazed rust-orange color with red shades, quite the looker.

Various pie/dessert spices come to the nose--mostly cinnamon, but some nutmeg, allspice, even a little ginger and a dusting of powdered brown sugar. Hops take on an interesting perfume-like vibe amidst these dominant spicy characters.

Flavor favors cinnamon, but is generally spicy all the way through. A big, tangy fruitiness enters the fray, and we've officially got a very Christmas-y tasting ale here. While I would've liked a firmer, rounder maltiness, or maybe just a lot more hops, it eventually won me over with its milky sweetness middle to end and the creamy undertow that peeks through and even shoves aside the fairly aggressive carbonation. My first bottle yesterday went from underwhelming to pretty good by the bottom of the glass. It's doing the same this time.

Although Larry Bell himself defines this is a "malt-driven Scotch Ale" on the label, I'm not sure I get that out of it. Seems more like a Winter Warmer to me...or maybe somewhere between the two. But hey--styles, shmyles...this is a worthy beer, regardless of how it's categorized.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2008 23:52:43 | More by Metalmonk
Photo of prototypic
prototypic

Ohio

4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: This one pours a very hazy and attractive light reddish brown color. It's topped off with two fingers worth of suds that are off-white in color. Retention was very good and a very sticky coat of lace clung to the glass.

Smell: The nose is slightly sweet and malty up front. Smells like caramel malts mostly. It has a touch of a biscuity smell to it. Surprisingly, it has a nice mix of spices coming through. Smells like cinnamon and some other unidentifiable characters. The yeast smell lingers throughout. There's some hops (mostly floral). Smells a little earthy on the tail. All in all, pretty nice.

Taste: The flavor profile mimics the nose pretty well. Caramel malts are sweet and give it a nice base. It's very yeasty and biscuity. There is a little spiciness in there, but it's not very pronounced. Cinnamon is there, but I have no clue what the others might be. Hops provide a little bit of a bit which gives it some character. Tastes mostly floral in that respect, but it's not a strong hop flavor. It is a little earthy and grainy. Very interesting for a Christmas beer. I like it.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's light bodied and is relatively smooth. Carbonation feels very active and limits it to a degree. Nonetheless, it goes down easy. Drinkability is good. I could handle a few of these in a sitting.

Bell's has an interesting and pretty impressive Christmas release here. I prefer this to the Winter White release. It is a step overall, especially in terms of style in my opinion. Certainly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2008 02:44:21 | More by prototypic
Photo of drxandy
drxandy

Michigan

4.22/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz to footed ale glass, pours a deep amber reddish golden orange, cream colored head fades to lacing, looks deep

smells of sweet piney hops, spice, heavy malt

taste is of sweet pine, bitter, great flavor, spicy barley, dry, crisp, yeastly, good balance and easy to drink

mouthfeel is bitter and spicy, sweet, malty, creaminess, lingering flavors and highly sessionable

a nice addition to bell's portfolio, mmm

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2008 21:37:02 | More by drxandy
Photo of bruachan
bruachan

District of Columbia

3.25/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

i guess the aroma isn't too far from a wee heavy, except for the hop and its overall lack of heaviness

it looks pretty good. the head didn't last too long though it did leave some evidence on glass. the color is a nice garnet with sunburst highlights

i get a good base of grain-based aromas but it's not all that complex. fruitiness is appropriately subdued but the kind of bready, caramel notes i might look for are absent. granted, it's not a heavy beer, but i would be interested in more depth. the hop is distinct but not overpowering: wood cuttings, thyme

the hop contributes a blackcurrant and very spicy character. the malt here falls short of interesting. some caramel malts, but...meh

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2008 02:45:26 | More by bruachan
Photo of rustan
rustan

North Carolina

2.75/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a pale ambers with thin white head.

S - Faintly of honey, but not getting much more than that

T - Grapefruit, yeast, finish with subdued bitterness

M - medium body, foams, dry

D - One was enough

Overall this was not what i was expecting. It was more pale and less spiced than your typical holiday seasonal. I can see how such a departure could be of interest, but this attempt fell short. Wouldn't have called this a scotch ale in a blind taste test either. Overall I was not impressed and happy that I only bought a single of this batch.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2008 02:30:14 | More by rustan
Photo of IBUnit63
IBUnit63

Massachusetts

3.95/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch 8803 into Duvel tulip...

Excellent, translucent copper/bourbon body topped with buttery, bready sourdough head - full finger or so dissipating to 1/2 finger with solid lacing and chunky seam. Sparse visible carbonation.

Nose yields mild fall fruits (apples), a little soapy herbalness and a bit of grassy hop nose. A bit clammy at first...could use warmth. Slight buttery earth.

Almost a bourbonish almond feel at first...(grat...peach pits and arsenic!). Carbonation provides light floral tingle with hop bite. Husky malt profile - not quite carmelized - a little drier. Meshes well across the board.

Starts slow but gets to be more even. Actually has a little spicy Marzen/Fest-ish quality to it. Finishes evenly and consistently - not heavy...nice Germanic kick with clean hop and malt profile. Not a lot of noticeable alcohol here.

This goes quciker than expected - a little hefty but more sessionable than expected. Not as bountiful of a flavor profile as other Bell's products sampled to date but decent nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2008 14:47:54 | More by IBUnit63
Photo of waltonc
waltonc

Colorado

4.03/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Hazy burnt orange coppery appearance. Thick head that settles down to a still significant amount of lacing after an hour.

S: Malty, floral and sweet.

T: In addition to the smell notes, the hops lurk quietly and subtly. I'm not picking up a whole lot of spice.

M: Slick, medium bodied, slight creaminess with ample carbonation.

D: High marks here. Although only 5.4% ABV, this feels pretty full. Highly sessionable brew. Would be great to drink all night while playing euchre.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2008 05:57:06 | More by waltonc
Photo of Darkale
Darkale

Virginia

3.9/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

What an odd little beer this is. I was expecting something deep, malty, and boozy; instead, I got something light, slightly sweet, and eminently sessionable. Not a bad way to spend a Christmas, I don't think, and I'm warming to this beer, I really am -- it's just not like any other Christmas ale I've ever had.

Appearance is attractive, with good lacing, a cloudy and very sediment-filled body, and a tan head that fades to a lingering skim. Now, I just got this beer home from the store, perhaps it is too cold, but I don't get any aroma at all. My sense of smell wins no awards, but usually that's because I don't know how to describe the smell, and not because I get no aroma at all. Perhaps as it warms up something will arrive.

The taste is light, with a little caramel, a good burning dose of hops, and brisk carbonation. Very pleasant, and the mouthfeel is about as creamy as 5.4% ABV is going to get you.

I could drink quite a few of these. Though light, it is interesting, with good body and a nice mellow sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2008 00:09:23 | More by Darkale
Photo of bamadog
bamadog

Kentucky

2.95/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is the third Bell's brew that I've reviewed, and I was definitely disappointed. The other two were great, but this one just didn't do a thing for me. Oh well, you can't win them all...

Appearance: Cloudy, dark-burnt orange in color (almost like the University of Texas school color?) with a 1 and 1/2 finger head that disappeared quickly. What's visible in terms of the carbonation just seemed frozen where it was in the glass that I poured it into, so it was interesting to look at.

Smell: Not much at all - and my nose went as far as being dipped in the little head that was left at this point. I do think I picked up a little bit of a vinegar-esque smell to it though. Definitely disappointed with that.

Taste: Almost bland. Nothing much in hops or bitterness or spices or really anything. There was a slight (and when I say slight, I mean very slight) reminder of the cinammon/spice of the Great Lakes Christmas ale, but nothing really close to what I was hoping for after trying a couple of other Christmas Ales this year.

Mouthfeel: Nothing special to the palate. Doesn't stick to anything or dry me or anything. No real reaction. Definitely disappointed.

Drinkability: Can't see much reason in drinking mroe than the one I tried. No offense to Bell's because I still think they're an awesome brewery and I will always be a fan of the Two-Hearted, but this just fell really short for me.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2008 03:29:40 | More by bamadog
Photo of NCBeernut
NCBeernut

North Carolina

4.05/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pillowy head on top of a burnt orange body with a dust of sediment - looks similar to celebration but with a little less lacing and "glow." Earthy aromas with hints of smoke and hops. Lots of pleasant buttery toffee flavors infused with caramel. Taste is definitely malt-forward with a twist of belgian yeast. A touch of ester fruitiness, but just in the background. More smoke in the taste, but very subtle. A little bitterness near the finish helps to balance. I like the Scotch Ale classification on BA, but a bit more light and drinkable than the heavy Wee Heavy ales that I have had. Very solid Christmas ale. Really gives off good holiday vibes. Further solidifies my feeling of Bell's brewing superiority.

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2008 22:49:28 | More by NCBeernut
Photo of jkrich
jkrich

Indiana

3.63/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle with no freshness date; number 8803 stamped on back label.

The pour revealed a murky, amber color (quite similar to Bell's amber)with some slight brownish red highlights. The head was off-white and short-lived with light lacing.

The sweetness of the malt is prevalent in the aroma along with a spicy aroma of hops.

The ale is surprisingly light given the aroma. The malty sweetness attacks the palate and leaves a slight candy aftertaste (though not cloying) with a slight metallic twang. Tastes more like an amber style ale than a scotch ale.

This one is moderately carbonated with a good malty sweetness on the tongue and also refreshing mouthfeel for this style.

Not a hugely complex ale like most holiday season products, but its flavors keep it interesting and with a 5.4 % ABV you could drink several at one time. Bell's always offer something interesting and unexpected (think about their winter white ale - a wit style ale usually ubiquitous in the summer).

Serving type: bottle

12-06-2008 23:53:10 | More by jkrich
Photo of emerge077
emerge077

Illinois

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.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2008 01:34:43 | More by emerge077
Photo of youngleo
youngleo

Michigan

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

Poured to a nice head that had some big bubbles. Head was slightly offwhite in color with a slight reddish tint. Ale was light brown in color with lots of stuff floating in it. Head hung around a while. Had some nice lacing that left rings with every swallow. Smelled of malt, hops and a little citrusy. Had that dry hoppy flavour, along with malt and a slight pine. Left the last ounce in the bottle and swirled it around to get all those nice tastes out of it. Felt good in the mouth and carbonation was about right. Would love to make a session out of this ale. Will buy again and maybe a session with this brew is in my future.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2008 19:40:28 | More by youngleo
Photo of bassmantin
bassmantin

Illinois

3.8/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Watch out for the head on this one. I overpoured the glass. Pours a glowy brown/orange with the aforemention head the clumps and clings to the glass.

Smells nice and sweet, but not overpowering. The taste is impressively well balance. It has a nice sweetness to it, much like a red ale, but it's overly sweet or artificial. The hops are mild but well incorporated. The finish is a bit watery, but still good.

A great session beer!

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2008 02:19:09 | More by bassmantin
Photo of GbVDave
GbVDave

Illinois

3.48/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a 20oz imperial pint.

Batch # 8802

A: Pours a cloudy honey color with an impressive 3 or 4 finger lid of light orange colored foam. Retention is decent and the lacing (webs, sheets, and a couple of ropes) is excellent.

S: This features roasted barley and a hop aroma that is vaguely reminiscent of the Hopsoulution (original batch) hop scent. I was looking for some smoky peat, but sadly there was none to be found.

T: See above. Toasty and malty and featuring some vaguely floral hops. Once again, no peat smoked malt to be found.

M: Not bad, just a little too thin and dry. Could use a little more slick oiliness.

D: Again, not bad, but definitely not what I expected.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2008 22:25:00 | More by GbVDave
Photo of sickpuppy
sickpuppy

Pennsylvania

2.7/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

This beer poured a ruby to dark red color with a cloudy appearance. The aroma is of faint spices and plum notes, almost herbal with a hint of malts and hops detected.
The taste is malty and medium bodied and although a great beer, it is a bit unremarkable for a Scottish ale in my opinion. With that said I think this is a great beer to share with family and friends around the Christmas holiday.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2008 17:22:20 | More by sickpuppy
Photo of beveritt
beveritt

Ohio

3.28/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into a standard pint glass. Oh, to have a thistle. Label depicts a small Christmas tree in the middle of a field. I understand this took the place of Java stout and am now kicking myself for never getting around to trying the Java. Oh well. Bottle code, but no clear freshness date.

Appearance: Pours with a little over two fingers of light tan head. Enough that the whole bottle doesn't make it into the pint glass on the first pour. This settles slowly to a thin coating of pillowy foam and leaving behind thick, sticky lacing. The beer itself is honey orange and cloudy. It looks like there is a large number of very small particles suspended throughout the beer. Lots of sediment in the bottle.

Smell: Smells of sweet, thick caramel. Strange that an aroma can convey thick, but this certainly does. Slight notes of butterscotch.

Taste: Significant carbonation bite upfront and not nearly as strong of a caramel flavor as I would have expected from the smell. Vegetal and metallic flavors on the body with an almost smoky aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Average carbonation level. Body is good.

Drinkability: Another nice selection from Bell's. The particulate bothers me a little, maybe they rushed this one to market?

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2008 03:20:26 | More by beveritt
Photo of tburkhart
tburkhart

Ohio

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

BATCH 8803

Pours an extremely murky brown. Fingers width of head that dissipates quickly to a thin lacing. Sediment galore suspended throughout the glass.

Smells of spices and some dark fruit. Not overwhelming malts or hops.

Tastes of the dark fruits as well. Malts come through with a faint twinge of hops.

I've had better from Bell's. Truly not a fan of this one.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2008 00:29:53 | More by tburkhart
Photo of theviper
theviper

Ohio

2.6/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I'm generally a fan of Bell's beers. The look and pour fit the bill of my past experiences--rich in amber color, nice head. The smell was a faint spice that this reviewer could not place. The beer was smooth going down, but its flavor was rather bland and nondescript (a touch of toasted malt and sweetness). It's easy to drink, but why bother?

Serving type: on-tap

12-01-2008 19:49:10 | More by theviper
Photo of Greggy
Greggy

Minnesota

3.9/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a 2+ finger thick off-tan head over a hazy copper colored body. As the head recedes, it leaves some lacing.

S- Nose is very tight. Malty nose, nice light citric hops, some dark fruit.

T- Starts off with some nice maltiness, some peaty malt, light fruitiness of apple and hints of dark fruit. The finish has some residual maltiness with some light hoppy balance.

M- Low carbonation. Nice malty feel

D- This was nice and malty, but lacked some characteristics usually enjoyed in scotch ales. As it is though, it's pretty drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2008 01:11:57 | More by Greggy
Photo of chaz410
chaz410

North Carolina

4.2/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very excited to try this puppy. It pours a beautiful dark red, nice for the season. The smell has notes of figs, lots of malts, caramel, some berry notes like cherry. The taste is very warming, thick fruit and backgrounds with mild spices blending well in with the caramel malts. I really liked this beer, it's in my top three favorite winter warmers without a doubt. Grab while you can!

Serving type: on-tap

12-01-2008 00:12:09 | More by chaz410
Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 1,194 ratings.