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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.

483 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 483
Hads: 1,511
Avg: 3.58
pDev: 23.18%
Wants: 45
Gots: 186 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 483 | Hads: 1,511
Photo of Darkale
3.84/5  rDev +7.3%
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.

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Photo of bamadog
2.94/5  rDev -17.9%
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.

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Photo of NCBeernut
4.03/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

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Photo of jkrich
3.65/5  rDev +2%
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).

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Photo of emerge077
3.46/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

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Photo of youngleo
3.6/5  rDev +0.6%
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.

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Photo of bassmantin
3.78/5  rDev +5.6%
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!

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Photo of GbVDave
3.48/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

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Photo of sickpuppy
2.66/5  rDev -25.7%
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.

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Photo of beveritt
3.3/5  rDev -7.8%
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?

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Photo of tburkhart
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of theviper
2.62/5  rDev -26.8%
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?

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Photo of Greggy
3.88/5  rDev +8.4%
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.

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Photo of chaz410
4.22/5  rDev +17.9%
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!

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Photo of CortexBomb
2.4/5  rDev -33%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Strange beer. First of all, the entire idea: a Christmas themed beer that purports to be a Scotch Ale? Call me confused. I know that this had to be shoehorned into some category, but do not go and have a pint of this expecting full bodied Scotch goodness, because you'll be disappointed.

Amber pour with a generous head. Nose is gentle, malty. The flavour of this beer is...odd. It has a bit of an herbal hop bite that is vaguely clove-like and somewhat astringent, and then it segues into an inoffensive, but also unimpressive malt section. That's it.

The bottom line for me is that Bell's needs to either run with this ball or just forget even coming to the field. MI is full of breweries that are putting out top tier Scotch Ale style product (Founders and Arcadia both come to mind) and this doesn't hold a candle to either of those.

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Photo of cvstrickland
3.21/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 12-ounce bottle poured into my DFH pint glass yields a copper-amber body with a three-finger cap of grainy ivory foam. The head deflates very slowly, leaving a creamy cap that deposits soft patches of lacing on the glass.

The smell is pretty faint, but what there is of it is lightly spicy with a mellow whiff of toasted sugary caramel maltiness.

The taste is sweet and vaguely malt-fruity, with a splash of diluted dark caramel syrup and a mild finishing bitterness. No smoke, spice, hops, or alcohol make a mark in the bland, unexciting profile.

Bell's Christmas Ale is mild and light medium-bodied with plenty of carbonation and a feel that sloshes it's way toward "watery". Not in any way a bad beer, but in no way a good one either. Unremarkable.

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Photo of weasbri
3.46/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy orange color, nice head and lacing.
A good bit of malt on the nose.
The flavor doesn't follow that lead though. The hoppiness bites the tongue first but is quickly smoothed by a malt sweetness. The sweetness then dominated until being replaced by the bitterness at the back of the mouth again. Finished nice and clean.
Perhaps not what I expected but I liked it well enough.

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Photo of JISurfer
2.38/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Eh, this was a bit of a let down. I really like Bell's beer, but this one wasn't up to par. For me, it was more of a Scotch Ale light, or if one of the Macros tried to make a Scotch Ale, this is what I would think of. There was no pronounced presence of malt at all. It was just lightly placed with the light hops. Nothing more, nothing less. I would pass on it again.

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Photo of Mitchster
2.01/5  rDev -43.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

$1.99 for a single at Jack's. "A malt driven scotch ale, made with 100% Michigan grown barley and a blend of Pacific Northwest and Michigan hops".

Pours to a hazy deep chestnut with red highlights. Forms a modest creamy off yellow head with good retention and lacing. Carbonation is kinda mild. The aroma is of dark fruity malts, a touch of floral soap, and when swirled, a faint perfume of jasmine and saffron on a base of souring milk. Mouthfeel is smooth at first, then takes on a stinging fruity quality. Begins with a touch of dark fruit like rotting apples and cherries, then is overloaded with this funky soap/floral character. This is followed by a moderately strong hop bitterness, burning PVC, toast and a hop extract finish. Despite it's quoted 5.4% ABV, there are alot of higher alcohols which give it a harsh, aggressive quality.

Don't care for this one. It is not very enjoyable, and doesn't resemble a Scotch ale in the slightest. I will have a hard time finishing this 12oz bottle.

Addendum: The more I drink this beer, the more I am convinced it is poison. It has this terrible acrid/chemical burn in the back of the throat long after you've drank it...something I have not experienced with even the worst swill.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.71/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a rusty, ruby amber with bright copper highlights. Great two finger head after the pour that recedes to a lovely thick skin of foam that lastst the whole twelve ounces. Great bubbling too. Very faint note of spices in the nose that add a nuancing glaze to the dry tasted malt nose. Toasted whole grain bread starts the taste,then a some spearminty hops come in the middle. The finish is a spicey herbal note. Hints of cardamon and even a little cinnamon play with the minty hops and bready malts. Pretty hoppy for a Scottish ale. Bready and grist in mouthfeel. Good mix of flavor, hough I don't think it falls under the Scottish ale category.

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Photo of JayQue
3.63/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Don't know about this as a Scotch Ale, more of a Winter Warmer in my opinion. A good beer, nonetheless. Pours a hazy orange/amber with a medium size white head. Weak head retention and short lived sheets of lacing on the glass. Lots of tiny bubbles fueling the head.

Smell is mild, some sweetness and a bit of something that reminds me of a Belgian (probably coriander).

The taste is somewhat malty (caramel) and sweet. It is very mild and smooth and gives off a nice warming effect beyond the 5.4 abv.

Mouthfeel is fairly rich and soft, very smooth. Drinkability is good. This beer does not have really pronounced flavor but serves as a nice warmer and certainly worthy of a second helping.

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Photo of gmcfarre
3.28/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into traditional pint glass
Batch 8802

A - Pours a cloudy color that is somewhere between ruby, copper, and orange. Ever so tan head is very small at about 1/4 inch. Some sediment seems to be suspended throughout.

S - Scent is rather tame. A fruity sweetness emerges as it warms that seems to display some strawberry notes. A dry graininess dominates the sweetness.

T - Begins with a mild sugary sweetness on the tongue, accompanied by some nice fruit flavor. Strawberry and orange citrus come to mind. Very little bitterness at finish.

M - Mild carbonation that revels a smooth and medium body. Some residual sweetness at the finish with no detectable finish.

D - Not very complex and actually a bit boring. I was expecting more of a hearty winter ale from a terrific brewery like Bell's.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.87/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Now after 5 of these beers into my 6-pack, I am still wrestling with it. The beer takes on the rich, malty flavors, aromas, and textures that a Scottish Ale should, but it seems too well attenuated and carries very little weight on the tongue. The flavors are very firm through the malt flavor with the caramelized toffee, light pungent earthy character. But the malts never give the phenolic rich, heavy toffee, light smoke character that make Scottish Ales worth it. Still, I cannot detract the creamy, well-attenuated malts and relatively clean flavors and aromas. The beer is lightly hopped, but picks up a lot of bitterness and light astringency from the spice additions. The finish is a bit cola-like, but otherwise both sweet and dry with an evaporative quality. A nice beer, but it's nuances are not kicking it for me.

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Photo of oberon
4.32/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Man I love a little cheer from the north country,I didnt know they grew hops back in the home state,ya learn somethin new everyday.Poured into a standard pint glass a hazed lighter amber/copper with a nice frothy 1/2 finger white head that left broken lace as it never fully settled.Wow love the aromas,a mix of full sweet malt and spicey hop,with even a hint of winter-like spice to it wich I dont think it has.Toasty and warm up front with some brown sugar and caramel sweetness,and again I get a hint of Xmas spice,a big herbal racey hop finish ends nicely.Wow this beer is rated pretty low but hot damn I love it,another gem from K-zoo.

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Photo of Bung
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Suprisingly light amber pour. Disapating off white head. Some malt, raisin aromas, but more piney/citrus hops than would be expected for the style. Tastes similarly. Finish hop bitter clean. Overall, pretty drinkable, but I would classify this as somewhere between a pale and a scotch ale. I expected more with this style being one I've taken a liking to and Bell's usually producing quality in the traditionally stronger flavored/abv styles. Bell's still has it's standouts, but many of their low gravity style beers are becoming rather mainstream.

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Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 483 ratings.