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

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Bell's Christmas AleBell's Christmas Ale

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1,506 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,506
Reviews: 495
rAvg: 3.58
pDev: 13.13%
Wants: 45
Gots: 177 | 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: 1,506 | Reviews: 495
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Aroma is malts, fruit, citrus and spices. The flavor is citrus, fruit, malts, mild/medium sweetness and a sour/tart finish.

Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +11.7%

Had on tap at the Bryant Lake Bowl - brilliant light brown, spicy, almost fruit cake, very soft carbonation, very pleasant and festive.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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"...

Photo of Brenden
3.74/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Whatever its designation (Scottish ale? Winter warmer?), this beer is inviting to look at. It's almost a straight medium-red, bright and clear with a darker brilliant flare to its body. The head is a small, creamy off-white cap. Retention is good, while lacing is moderately deposited in spotting that almost manages patching at times.
This is a nicely spiced beer that doesn't go overboard. Cinnamon impresses itself on the nostrils under bready, toasty sort of malts with something like orange peel in it. There's a bit more fruit down under as well, a bit of yeast and just a very light note of hops.
The hops assert themselves slightly more strongly on the tongue with a bit more citrus and something slightly greener, but the show is still the malts and the cinnamon with backing from the citrus peel note. It has a touch of earth, and the yeast adds something not quite musty.
The body is medium, carbonation is firm and consistent, not too spritzy but holding a strong crispness. It's not quite creamy, and a dryness coming out in the finish may be either spicing or hops, leaving it semi-dry overall.

Photo of Bernoulli
3.38/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1/4" head with some lacing

Light hazy amber color.

Smell of winter-appropriate spices.

No taste of alcohol. Typical seasonal spices are ok. They either overwhelm the taste beneath them or there isn't much there.

Non-descript mouth feel.

Nothing offensive, but nothing makes it standout compared to the other seasonal's it's competing against. Maybe a good intro to the class for those who don't venture away from the standard American lagers and might be scared off otherwise.

Photo of 57md
3.68/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear copper with two big fingers of off-white head that enjoyed some decent retention. The nose has mild malty notes. The malt flavor is richer than the nose might indicate. The finish is mildly dry and bitter. This offering is not heavy, but certainly not light-bodied either. Basically, this beer would pair well with practically any winter holiday meal.

Photo of Billolick
3.78/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle-Packaged 11-4-13

Pours hazed medium amber, typical medium khaki head, lasting nicely. leaves a thicker film, some low sheeting and nice looking strands of fine lacing.

Warm malty nose.

Smooth and tasty, nicely malted up beer. Notes of maple, caramel, vanilla and malty goodness.

Nothing special going on here. Worth a try if ya like da malt. Not overly sweet, with some muted hops drying out the rear.

Photo of Ryanm1
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bell's makes some quality beers, unfortunately this one does fall into that category. This was poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Transparent Copper color with little to no head/carbonation. Looks and taste is on par with a yuengling lager except more bitter. The ibu on this beer is on the high side exceptionally hoppy coming in at 80 as if it were an IPA. Slight Christmas spices, can't pick out a distinct one though. A Christmas session beer.

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.65/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aroma light caramel, malt, earthy, floral, nuttiness & herbal. Taste slight nuttiness, malt, caramel, bread, faint lemon & floral. Nice!

Photo of SerBennett
3.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not sure why this is classified as a "Scottish Ale". It's more of a hoppy pale ale with a stronger malt presence and some occasional hints of chocolate and honey and burnt notes.

Appearance: As typical with all of Bell's beers, tons of yeast sediment. Murky dark orange color. Great one finger head that quickly dissipated to a thin layer of foam. I really love clarity in beers, and being that Bell's is the biggest Michigan brewery, I wish they would just go ahead and start to make a greater effort to make their beers more appealing to look at.

Smell: First thing I got was a BIG hop presence. Very reminiscent of Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale. Did not get any spices, cinnamon, honey, or things of that nature. Picked up a little malt, but as the beer warmed I could eventually pull more malty scents from the beer, which is to be expected. Very pleasantly surprised by the aroma. I wasn't overwhelmed with spices like so many other Christmas ales tend to do. They were just barely there to be noticeable and enjoyable. Very yeasty smell as well.

Taste: Follows the scent with the big hop presence. First sip I could mostly only get hops out of the taste with a bitter bite at the end. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, but it definitely was NOT a typical Christmas Ale, and is certainly not what I'd classify as "Scottish Ale"... Great malt tastes come through as the beer gets a tad warmer. Very nice chocolate, honey, and bready qualities. Hops hang around to create a fantastic mix!

Mouthfeel: Nice tingling mouthfeel. Medium bodied. Pleasant on the palate.

Overall: Definitely one of my favorite Bell's beers. Love how it's not overly spicy and it's very very much like a more malty Celebration Ale.

Can we please change this beer from a Scottish Ale, though?

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

12oz bottle dated 10/22/13 poured into a pint glass
A: Burnt orange with a 1/2-finger head and lots of yeast sediment
S: Caramel, cinnamon, malt
T: Toffee, candied orange and cinnamon
M: Medium-bodied, a touch spicy
O: Worth a try, not as much winter spice as many other Christmas ales

Photo of vette2006c5r
3.89/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Christmas ale pours a hazy brownish color with a long lasting and lacing head. There is a sweet smell, sugary and hints of cinnamon. The taste has strong sweetness, with a strong sharp malt notes; all spice cinnamon, with hints of nutmeg. Good flavors and body, but very flat on the palette. Overall its a nice full flavor Christmas beer, the sharpness does take away from this beer a bit.

Photo of kojevergas
2.68/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with appealing label art and branded pry-off pressure cap acquired at Zipp's Liquor in Minneapolis, MN for $1.79 and served into a stem-tulip. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery. 5.5% ABV according the label. Packaged 10/09/13. There's no indication on the label that it's a Scottish ale, so I'm reviewing it as an open-ended Christmas ale.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a one finger wide had of white-light khaki colour. Nice creaminess and thickness. Retention is above average - about 3 minutes. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Body colour is a translucent nontransparent orange-amber. Robust. Fine floating yeast particles are visible. Average vibrance.

Overall, it's a festive looking brew that isn't unique or special. There are no egregious flaws. I'm looking forward to trying it, but nothing stands out as exemplary.

Sm: Caramalts, candi sugar, bready malts. Fruity hop character is the only noticeable hop note I find. On the sweeter side.

Not much yeast character is detectable. There's no overt alcohol presence here. Not finding any spices. No off-notes.

I was expecting some festive spices given that it's a Christmas ale, but overall it's pretty pleasant. A clean aroma of average strength.

T: Candi sugar lends it a questionable sweetness. I'm shocked by how shallow the depth of flavour is; each note is barely evocative and comes off feeling a bit empty. Bready malts, bread crust, toffee, caramel, malty sweetness. Has a vague hint of unrefined sugar - maybe brown sugar or even piloncillo. Lightly syrupy. Balanced enough, but ultimately unimpressive. Cohesive, but not gestalt.

Average duration of flavour. Subpar intensity of flavour.

Lacks discernable complexity, subtlety, intricacy, and nuance. Very one-dimensional stuff. I'm not a big fan, but it's enjoyable enough.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through. There's no spicing.

Mf: Smooth, wet, fairly syrupy. Thick and medium-bodied. Overcarbonated. Okay presence on the palate. Unrefreshing.

Doesn't suit the flavour profile all that well.

Not oily, astringent, harsh, gushed, hot, or boozy.

Dr: Not for the discerning drinker. It's downable but forgettable stuff, and is disappointing coming from Bell's. Not sure what they were after with this one, but it's a pretty mundane Christmas Ale. I wouldn't trifle with it again or recommend it to friends. Really shallow.


Photo of BradtheGreat7
4.01/5  rDev +12%

12 oz brown bottle with excellent Bell's style label art. A Christmas tree sitting in the middle of a Michigan field. Nice brief description on the back and overall a very Christmas looking bottling. Poured into a Bell's standard pint glass.

A - reddish amber in color with a hint of orange in the light. Cloudy body with tiny bits of sediment floating about. Head pours fairly nice, but looks a bit thin due to the size of this ale. Off white in color forming a thin ring of lace that surprisingly leaves some stick. I enjoyed the look of this brew.

S - sweet sugary malt, faint barley, and Christmas like sugar cookies. A touch of dark fruits with the smallest hint of hop spice. This is exactly the way I want a Scottish style Christmas ale to smell. Brilliant.

T - soft sweet Bell's Amber style malt up front. Some toasty malt follows quickly after. Notes of dark fruit and bread like flavors balance one another nicely. A touch of citrus hops toward back with a malty and smooth finish. Yeast is a highlight of this one.

M - lighter medium bodied with the usual Bell's texture and thickness. It's an easy drinker and very session like all while keeping the thickness I want and expect. I had no problem knocking back 4 of these. Something anyone could enjoy on this Black Friday lunchtime.

O - A different take on a Christmas ale, but well done in my book. It's a bit of a change of pace from your typical Winter Warmer/Spiced up ales the Christmas season brings us, but there is still a place for Bell's Christmas. It's of the same mold as their Year Round Amber ale, but still different enough to create its own fan base. This is something I could drink any cold evening. Again, a different take, but still very very good.

Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 1,506 ratings.