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

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

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

1,490 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,490
Reviews: 492
rAvg: 3.58
pDev: 13.13%
Wants: 44
Gots: 161 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Scottish Ale |  5.40% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BierFan on 11-06-2008

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,490 | Reviews: 492 | Display Reviews Only:
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
2.62/5  rDev -26.8%
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
3.07/5  rDev -14.2%
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
3.96/5  rDev +10.6%
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
3.76/5  rDev +5%
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
3.21/5  rDev -10.3%
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
3.8/5  rDev +6.1%
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
3.31/5  rDev -7.5%
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.

Photo of plfahey
2.52/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance-Medium amber color. Clear. Generous beige head with pretty good retention and nice lacing.

Aroma-Aroma overall is rather low. Some caramel malt and light citrus hops-not much else. Certainly not what I would expect from a Scotch Ale.

Flavor-Flavor falls flat. Up front bready, grainy, and caramel malt flavors appear first, followed quickly by soft citrus and herbal hop flavors, with moderate hop bitterness. Also has somewhat of a carbonic bite to it from the moderately high carbonation. Not terrible per se, but it bears almost no resemblance to a scotch ale or a christmas ale.

Mouthfeel-Moderately low body is augmented slightly by the moderately high carbonation. No alcohol warmth.

Could I drink a lot of this? Sure. Would I want to? No, not really. This beer certainly doesn't fit it's description, and that withstanding, is still not a great beer by any stretch of the imagination.

Photo of xnicknj
3.37/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

on tap at devils den

Pours a clouded auburn with a solid white head. Fades to film which disappears rather quickly, leaving hardly any lacing.

Some malty peat and chocolate in the nose, with notes of breadiness as well.

Begins with citrusy hops and pine, followed by notes of chocolate and bitterness. Slight smoke and leather with some caramel malt. Finishes a little dry with some bread crust and lightly roasted malt.

Thinner medium body, higher carbonation, a little chewy. Drinks okay, but I really wasn't impressed with the flavor and pretty much wanted to be through with this to get to something better.

Photo of AgentZero
2.58/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Batch 10093. Nice looking bottle.

A - Poured an amber-red color with a two finger head that had nice retention. Faded to an uneven cap.

S - Honestly, there is not a whole lot to talk about here. Smells like a lot of caramel, with some english hops. Not particularly good, but not offensive.

T - Tastes like a caramelly amber beer with some sort of english hops added just to try something. I don't really like this at all, pretty much is a bad mix, like a watered down scottish or failed attempt at a holiday beer.

M - Smooth, low carbonation, medium bodied. Needed a bit more kick on it.

D - This is a very easy to drink beer, which should be expected. It is not good though.

Photo of msfoster77
4.31/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I think this beer was a great buy. I like christmas ales tha don't taste like you are drinking a spice ball. This beer smelled of hops and oranges. It poured an orange red color and looked almost pulpy after I poured it, but that was probably a product of the pour. It had great carbonation.

The taste was of hops and citrus, and small hints of spices. I thought it was great, but it tastes more like a mild IPA than a christmas ale.

Photo of tjsdomer2
3.36/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Good brown thickness and tan foam that sticks to mug. Carbonation is nice overall as well.

Smell: Mineral water and some vague hops. A fair amount of caramel malt as well. As far as Scottish ales go, this one fizzles a bit.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Initially a strong alcoholic presence with bitter hops. This beer is pretty bitter overall, but not in bad way. The aftertaste comes off a bit sour and this is unfortunately a thin beer all around.

Drinkability: Accessible to drink, since nothing is overwhelming.

Overall: Not nearly as good as Oberon.

Photo of BlueCat1
2.63/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Christmas holiday beers are always something to look forward to. Frankincense and myrrh make for some pretty funky additives! Over the years many crafts have offered interpretations of an undefined style, so there's not really any right or wrong.
Bell's Xmas Ale, at least for 2010, is tame and uninteresting. It has a reasonably nice amber color. But beyond that there's nothing that strikes a notable chord. Not much hop taste exhibited, and the malt aspect is weak and almost watery.
There are many excellent holiday offerings out there. If you're looking for something to excite you don't look here. If you're looking for something that your Lite drinking sister-in-law might consent to drink you might try this.

Photo of Rifugium
3.45/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

First had: ?

A: Reddish brown, and slightly hazy, with a nice moderate head.

S: Slightly malty, slightly citrusy, slightly spicy.

T: Well balance of smooth malts, citrusy hops, and subtle spice. Not as flavorful as some holiday ales I've tried, but nice and subtle and well-blended. Slight alcohol tinge.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation.

D: Drinkable and pleasant.

Photo of Spica66
4.05/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip.

A: Reddish brown and slightly hazy. Excellent head formation and retention.

S: Malt and citrusy hops on the nose with an undercurrent of spices (like nutmeg maybe?).

T: Extremely nice malt profile with a strong dose of hops and the finish leaves the spices rattling around on your tongue, but not in an overpowering way. I like this one much better than last year's.

M: Medium body with perfect carbonation level for smoothness in your mouth.

D: With no overpowering spices this year, this beer is a joy to drink!

Photo of Frothboss
2.1/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Pours a light brown color with light brown head about two fingers high

S - Very light hop and malt, not much smell to it.

T - Tastes kind of neutral, nothing really jumping out at me, light hop on the back of tongue. very light malt taste but didnt notice at first sip.

M - this one coasts all the way down. Light, kind of thick but it might just be to cold. It would probably loosen up a bit if it warmed up.

D - Good one to serve to my family or friends who is not into craft beers. Almost reminds of Budweiser select. Wont be buying it again....might even be in my fridge till next christmas! LOL!!

Photo of Joemark
2.12/5  rDev -40.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Very disappointed in this beer.
Pours a nice lookin amber. All downhill from that point on. Scent is dull, and taste is light and unimpressive. I'm a big fan of winter/christmas beers for their robust scents, and complex flavors. This beer falls short in all aspects, as far as what I look for in a winter seasonal ale. Oh well, off to the next

Photo of BeardedBoffin
3.41/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass very active. The coppery brown liquid was topped with a big cap of foam which left moderate lacing down the glass.

The aroma is modest. Some nutty character and malt combine to convince you are drinking a "brown" beer, but nothing else. I would expect a deeper malt character for a Scotch ale. More of the same on the palate. Non-sweet malt which morphs into a dry hop character at the end. It finishes a little pepper, which must be from the hops. For a Christmas ale, comment on the lack of spice. For a Scotch ale, I would ask for more malt and less hop.

Photo of BeerImmediately
3.39/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a short, off-white head over a cloudy, orange-to-amber body with good carbonation showing. Great lacing.

Aromas were too light - only very faint cinnamon, and some sweet cherry-like aromas.

Light Northwestern hoppy bite on the palate, malts come through sweetly, a touch of clove, but no other discernable spices.

Plenty of carbonation keeps the mouthfeel clean, and somewhat powdery.

Drinks easily, nothing terribly strong or off-putting.

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

I poured this one into my St. Bernardus chalice, and was a little bit disappointed given Bell's great line of brews.

Pours amber, with light head and significant lacing. No real head here though, thats the major issue. Nose is full of piney hops - perhaps they are going for Christmas tree?

From a flavor perspective the first thing you notice is that this beer is too bitter/hoppy to be a scottish ale, and honestly isnt my style for my favorite beer season - Christmas. Mouth is a little thin. This beer is made for the hopheads, not those of us who love scottish or Christmas beers - at least in my opinion.

Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 1,490 ratings.