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

503 Reviews
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Bell's Christmas AleBell's Christmas Ale

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

Style: Scottish Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.40%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BierFan on 11-06-2008

User Reviews
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Reviews: 503 | Ratings: 1,633
Photo of ThomasMetal75
3.67/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A- Straight down the middle of the glass, the Christmas Ale pours a very thick tan, cream colored head. 3 fingered head. Rocky. The body of the beer is a hazy copper, red, maroon color. Pretty dark overall.

S- Big, bready, malt note. This is an all malt beer. It has a resinous hop smell that is quite pronounced. But at the same time, it's got toasted notes of toffee and of grains. The smell reminds me of the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. The Christmas Ale has some citrus going on, such as orange peels, mangoes, pineapple and grapefruit. I get pine and leather as well. It's overall a rich, sweet malt, grainy and toasted, with an IPA nose on it.

T- It is a lot like the Celebration Ale. This is not as heavy in your face, "Here's an IPA, recognize me". It won't slap you around in the hops. But it will give a hop head what he needs. It's got a lot of red ale quality. It quite toasted and grainy. You get toffee and a caramel sweetness. You do get some of the typical spices that are used in fruit breads. Even some kind of gingerbread-ish flavor is detected as well. That's light. The holiday type spices are not heavy enough to overpower the beer at all. The hoppiness has a oily, resinous, dank quality to it. The hops were more bitter on smell than taste. Had a leathery taste to the hops as well. It finishes pretty dry like an IPA does. I also detect a light biscuity note and some sweet molasses.

M- The body is on the medium side, more towards mild. It's pretty crisp, clean, and it is refreshing. It's only slightly sticky sweet. It is making me smack my lips. It's also a little bit chewy like a big red wine. It drinks like a red ale meets an IPA meets the Celebration Ale.

Overall, this beer gets a B+, and an 85/100 from me. If you like the sweet grainy notes, toffee and molasses, and a hoppy beer, this one is for you! The beer is fairly dry, so it's gone before you realize it. I'd say get some. It's pretty awesome!

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Photo of mothmanscott
3.39/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear medium amber producing 2 fingers of beige, frothy, somewhat lasting, head that leaves a super coating of pasty lacing. Aroma is lightly toasted pumpernickel bread, caramel apple with hints of butter, roasted nuts, floral hops & a faint earthiness. Taste is similar to nose with more toast, apple fruitiness & floral hops. Pepper, Graham crackers & dark honey are added. The bitterness is nicely balanced with the toasted maltiness. Finishes wet but faintly dry (if that makes sense) & peppery with toast that becomes a toasty, dark tea like bitterness in the aftertaste. No smoke or burnt notes/hints detectable. Mouthfeel is medium bodied & moderately carbonated & lightly prickly.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter

A- Amber with ruby highlights. Very light tan head. Dense, decent pad with a little lacing, and satisfactory retention.

S- Nice toasted malt. Bready. Fruity hop character. Dark fruit.

T- Toast comes out with some earthy hop bitterness. Not quite caramel, but some sweetness in there.

M- Medium body, with nice bitterness and a subtle sweetness.

O- Glad this isn't spiced, like most Christmas or Winter beers. Not bad. Mild. Could be a little heavier in body and ABV.

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Photo of BeerWithMike
3.77/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Sampling right now on 1/8/15. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a handled-glass thumbprint mug. Packaged on: '10/03/14'.

Pours a hazy burnt-orange in color with close to a 1-finger creamy off-white head with some sheets of lacing seen when sipped. Sediment is seen at the bottom of the bottle around the edges. The aroma is of malts for the most part with some spice. Pretty much the same is said for the taste with some hops with a hint of orange also. The finish is slightly dry but not bad. Medium-bodied with perfect carbonation for this style of brew. Overall it wasn't bad for a Scottish Ale.

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Photo of Brackh
3.83/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a light brown. Smells nice and is consistent with most Christmas beers. Get a little bit of hops and some sweetness in the smell. Taste the hops (almost has a lemon taste that gives it the bitterness) and they are not overwhelming. Some sweetness that matches the smell. A good holiday beer. Not the best but good.

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Photo of davemathews68
2.66/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.5

I was hoping for something and got nothing. Nothing of this beer is Christmas. Average at best. This would be good named "Bell's Average Ale". I am not a fan.

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Photo of mooseisloose
3.4/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a six of this at TW before Xmas, had some on Xmas eve and Xmas, saved one to review, let's give it whirl. Popping the top I get a nice deep zesty caramel waft. Pours to a light root beer color with a thin tan head. On the taste this brew has good mouthfeel, thick but not syrup tick. The taste is a consistent slightly spicy, flatly bitter yet with bits of sweet caramel coming through. Not really dominant in one flavor or another, balanced and contrite. Would have expected a little darker a little spicier for a Christmas beer along the lines of a winter warmer, but its imbibeable.

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Photo of Roxie_B
3.65/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Looks: Translucent amber with rich copper highlights. Straw colored head.
Smell: Apricot, pear, and red apple. Sweet and fruity. Cloves.
Taste: Clove and nutmeg upfront. Transitions to dry pear and red apple.
Mouthfeel: Medium light body and sprightly carbonation.

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Photo of AngusOg
4/5  rDev +11.7%

Not sure what a Scottish ale has to do with Christmas, but nevertheless a tasty and very easy drinking ale. Three of the six pack gone in the blink of an eye, could have easily killed the other three if it had been one of those type of nights. Shlante!

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Photo of barczar
3.57/5  rDev -0.3%

Aroma is slightly sweet caramel malt, with soft notes of cinnamon. Fairly subtle. Flavor reveals a clashing slightly sour/specialty malt fruitiness and a bitter finish. Toffee notes are welcome, but clash again with floral and perfumey hops.

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Photo of DarthVorador
4.75/5  rDev +32.7%

A VERY good session ale. Malty, but well balanced. Just a very wholesome flavor that screams QUALITY!!! ...Not sure I'd call it a Scottish Ale though.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.57/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Amber in color with some red tinting. I see an abundance of light sediment suspended in the body. There's a half inch of small and tightly packed foam that appears beige with a hint of amber. I smell some slightly earthy barley and I don't pick up anything else. I taste that earthy to gently sweet barley along with a subtle use of piney hops. The hops are definitely muted with no bite and are meant to keep the barley sweetness in check. The mouth is creamy and smooth.

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Photo of BikeChef
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

A really in-your-face maltiness-- as in the malt acts like hops would in a pungent IPA. A very balanced beer, with bittering hops coming in to act as a foil to all the malt. Once you settle in with this beer it grows on you. Good alternative to huge and/or spiced Xmas beers.

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Photo of JamieDuncan
3.92/5  rDev +9.5%

When I first started drinking this beer I thought "meh", decent, interesting spice but a little off in the finish. But I continued to drink the beer it smoothed out and I found myself enjoying it. The score kept going up. A beer I think I could drink a few of and enjoy but definitely not outstanding so came in under a 4.

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Photo of microbrewlover
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

This brew pours a beautiful brownish/red color with a white, fluffy two finger head and good carbonation.

The smell is sweet malts and floral hops. There are also some fruits and nuts in the smell along with a dank earthy smell contrasting with a sweet wheat like smell.

The taste follows the nose with sweet malts hitting first then floral, spicy hops. There is also a nutty taste followed by light caramel and ending with hop spices.

Overall this is a complex brew with a lot going on. This would be a good beer for a cold day but the low alcohol content keeps it out of the 'winter warmer' class.

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Photo of Billet
4/5  rDev +11.7%

I like this one a lot. I was expecting some spicy flavors, but there was little to none. Instead I had a very smooth malty brew with a medium-light body. It reminded me of a malty Pale Ale or maybe an ESB, both of which I like very much. Nicely done.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.38/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bell's other winter offering besides its witbier is its Christmas Ale. Many thanks to Halcyondays for sharing a 12 ounce bottle with me. On to the beer:

Attractive dark amber rests in the glass. But despite its monikor as a Chirstmas Ale, this Bells offering tastes more like a light English bitter filled with esters than a warming spiced ale. The taste is straightforward as dates and esters make much of it. The beer is on the lighter side, which means you could fool people in a blind test for which season this beer is brewed for.

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Photo of superspak
3.68/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into signature pint glass, bottled on 10/22/2014. Pours lightly hazy/cloudy deep orange/amber color with a 2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of lemon, orange zest, pear, apple, plum, caramel, toasted bread, light honey, herbal, floral, grass, light nuttiness, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance of bready malt, earthy hops, and fruity yeast ester notes; with solid strength. Taste of lemon, orange zest, pear, apple, plum, caramel, toasted bread, light honey, herbal, floral, grass, light nuttiness, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Minimal earthy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of lemon, orange zest, pear, apple, plum, caramel, toasted bread, light honey, herbal, floral, grass, light nuttiness, and herbal/yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Good balance and robustness of bready malt, earthy hops, and fruity yeast ester flavors; with a good malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with smooth, fairly crisp, and lightly creamy/bready mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a nice and pleasant Scottish ale style. All around good robustness and balance of bready malt, earthy hops, and fruity yeast ester flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A nicely enjoyable offering.

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Photo of martyl1000
4.2/5  rDev +17.3%

A Scotch Ale? Nah.

A surprisingly quaffable and bright flavored malty concoction? Yes. Definitely not a Winter Warmer or a spiced beer. (No spices added.)

Light-bodied. Low-hop-bitterness. Nice fruity flavor to balance the malt bill.

Way better than the bulk of the Christmas Ales out there.

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Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the Bryant Lake Bowl - Pours brilliant light brown crowned by a 2" cream to light tan foam collar. Spicy, almost fruit cake, very soft carbonation, very pleasant and festive.

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Photo of sween100
3.04/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours amber with a light tan head. Grainy malt aroma with a hint of spice. Could slightly smell some caramel and toffee. Tried this beer back in the winter months and enjoyed it as a winter beer. Wouldn't suggest drinking it during the summer months.

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Photo of ChrisL24481
3.82/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a murky amber color with a two inch head. Lacing lingers on the glass. The aroma and the taste of this brew combines of toasted bready malts, slight fruity hop flavors and some spice type flavor. Medium body with some carbonation. Goes down smooth too. A decent ale, but nothing spectacular though.

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Photo of Kendo
3.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured from a growler into a pint glass. Body is coppery-amber with an off-white/khaki-colored head. Good sheets of lacing left behind.

S: Some sort of spiciness over caramel malt. Ginger perhaps?

T: Modest cereal-grainy malt foundation, then some earthy spices: ginger and cinnamon come to mind. Reminds me of a gingerbread cookie, which I guess is appropriate for the style/theme.

M: Light-to-medium in heft with decent carbonation. Thinnish for the style.

O: OK. Nothing offensive about this one, but it doesn't blow me away either.

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Photo of brutusmuktuk
2.27/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A murky amber color with a white head. There’s a hint of some hoppy bitterness, but otherwise there’s not much there in terms of flavor or aroma. Has a smooth watery feel. It's odd that this should be a scotch ale, as it lacks the character of scotch ales that I have had. Also odd to call it a Christmas ale, as it lacks the fruits and/or spices associated with such a holiday brew. Disappointing.

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Photo of Murphious
3.34/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From Bells website:
"In contrast to many other seasonals, Christmas Ale doesn't contain any spices: all of the dry, toasted notes & subtle toffee flavors come from the 100% Michigan-grown barley, custom malted by Briess Malting, while a blend of hops from Michigan & the Pacific Northwest lend earthy, herbal aromas."
I agree, There are NO aromas nor flavors of spices/fruits. Just a standard red ale it seems to me---maybe a bit more hop in the finish. Pours with a nice 1 inch offwhite foam that disappears in a few minutes. Medium carbonation and mouthfeel is slightly oily. Taste of malted barley with slight hop finish. Some slight metalic finish once or twice but as glass warmed that flavor disappeared.
All in all this is good but I don't know why it's called "Christmas Ale"...

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Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 503 ratings.