Father Christmas Highland Ale - The Olde Burnside Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Father Christmas Highland AleFather Christmas Highland Ale

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BA SCORE
86
very good

53 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 53
Reviews: 30
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 6
Gots: 2 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
The Olde Burnside Brewing Company visit their website
Connecticut, United States

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  9.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
Legend has it that Father Christmas wandered through Scottish villages gathering a merry following and distributing sweets to children and "wee heavy," a cheery libation, to adults. Like its predecessors, Father Christmas is heavy and potent, tremendously and uniquely satisfying and flavorful. The aroma of toasted grain and mocha are mouth-watering. Father Christmas Ale is ruddy and ruby-brown, topped by a thick, loose, tan head. Sweet, roasted malt and mild smoky tastes merge into a phenomenal finish. The tall, cobalt-blue bottle, brightly labeled, makes for a wonderful presentation and host's gift. Delightful in every respect, Father Christmas Highland Ale is a Yuletide staple and Santa's favorite. He enjoys a pint at my house annually and never spares a drop.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-04-2005)
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Ratings: 53 | Reviews: 30 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Pahn:
Photo of Pahn
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1 liter swing top bottle into Duvel tulip. It's Christmas Eve, may as well start into this giant Father Christmas Highland Ale from my hometown brewery.

Appearance: Free pour yields a 2 inch frothy offwhite head that dissipates steadily and lacelessly. Pours a hazy red orange, and leaves small streaks and spots of lacing.

Smell: Butterscotch and caramel at first. Very rich and dessert like. Soon, a strong cherry cordial note emerges (it's not like cherry, or chocolate, or chocolate covered cherry, but the full on, syrupy flavor of eating a cherry cordial). The cherry cordial and caramel sort of vie for prominence. Faint sourdough aroma present underneath.

Unique and inviting.

Taste: Like the nose, but with a watery and sour Euro-lager-like tang, with cherry cordial in the middle and caramel in the crisp finish. Takes some getting used to, but after a few sips, I'm on board.

The two main players in the flavor and aroma remain prominent... in fact, this beer doesn't change much from start to finish. Alcohol is completely masked. Some toasted bread flavor is there under the fruit and caramel. It's good, and well balanced, but a bit bland.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. At times creamy, at times watery. High side of moderate carbonation. Crisp, semi-dry finish.

Overall: This is an interesting beer. Despite being decidedly less complex than the better Scotch ales of the world, the flavors here aren't something you often find in a beer. Nor is anything really out of place.

Father Christmas Highland Ale is a good one for celebrating. It doesn't have the character to stand up to the kind of "sit there, drink, think," kind of drinking that I often do, but it would be perfect for getting merry in the company of friends. Hidden alcohol, pleasant taste, giant bottle.

More User Reviews:
Photo of tigg924
4.43/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: high carbonation, 1/4 inch head, clear, brown in color

Smell: peat, caramel, and berries

Taste: big time caramel and cherries, light chocolate and bread

Mouthfeel: very sweet, medium body, moderate carbonation

Overall: I loved this beer and is now one of my favorites coming out of Connecticut. This is a malty dessert beer and not an everyday drinker. The caramel works perfectly with the cherry for a holiday treat. I will be getting this again.

Photo of kingcrowing
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big swing top poured into a tulip.

pours a nice dark ruby red with a small white head with no lacing. Nose is sweet, a bit fruity like cherry.

Taste is pretty dry and fruity but not over the top. Mouthfeel is pretty crisp and sharp and smooth. Overall very easy drinking.

Photo of far333
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Necktag number 3996. Served in an imperial pint glass.

Flipping up the swingtop cap resulted in a loud and energetic pop, calming any fears of a flat bottle. Pours a deep brown with ruby highlights, not totally opaque. A thick and frothy light brown head rises up an inch and slowly falls back down, but leaves a thick ring around the inside of the glass. Aroma of grassy hops with an underlying roasted malt backbone.

Flavor is also initially grassy hops, but morphs quickly to dark malts, a little roasty, some hints of talc, and fine charred bark. There are hints of cocoa and molasses, but they never totally come to the top. An espresso bite lingers. Hop burps punctuate. If the ABV is for real, it is undetectable, both on the tongue and seemingly on the brain (just drank a liter of nearly 12% ABV and I could operate a crane right now). Mouthfeel is just a bit thin, medium-bodied, but fine carbonation tingles the tongue. Pretty drinkable, it’s a good sipper.

This is a fine effort from a local brewer, but it’s unfortunate that they can’t provide a consistent product/experience for the home state supporters that are sincerely routing for them to do well.

Photo of jmz62565
3.58/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a black liquid with a thick 2 finger foamy tan head.The smell wasn't too strong,but I could make out some malt.The taste has a very carbonated feel with malt and fruitiness being the main flavor along with some holiday spices.The m/f is medium and well balanced.This is a pretty good offering from Olde Burnside.

Photo of MarkD
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Really cool,cobalt bottle, almost don't want to return it for the deposit. Pours an opaque rusty brown, with a small bubbly head that leaves a bubbly ring that lasts to the end, and given the size of this bottle and the ABV, thats a long time. The aroma was incredible, a wonderful smell of toffee or peat, maybe burnt coffee or roasted malt.and it didn't quit, it lasted from start to finish. It has a slick mouthfeel with a slight sweetness, and a pleasant malty flavor profile, with just a hint of hops.The same roasted malt/coffee flavor is presant also. The alcohol is very subtle, almost unnoticeable. One of the best scotch ales I've ever had.

Photo of pbrian
2.65/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Dark brown with ruby highlights around the edges, ample tan head which dissapates into thin film pretty quickly. Fresh chocolate malt aroma with slight yeast undertones. But, as will be a common theme with this beer, the aroma is lacking any depth. Flavor is subtly chocolatey and biscuity with a dark fruit sweetness. That's it. This is supposed to be a Wee Heavy? Where's some smoke or peat? Or anything. Finishes dry, quick and thin. All flavors just vaporize and you're left with nothing to savor. Drinkability is good, but the "drinkabilty" of an 11.4% Wee Heavy (would that make it an Imperial Wee Heavy?) is supposed to be such that you would want to sip it out of a snifter in front of a fire on a cold night. This beer would not fit that bill. Mind you- there are no super offensive off flavors and it's not a terrible beer. But if they're going to label it as a 11.4% Wee Heavy (and defend that designation when questioned about it) I'm going to review it as such and it did nothing for me. And I usually feel something after drinking just a bomber of any 10% beer. Why didn't I feel anything after drinking this liter of 11+% beer? Hmmm.

Photo of bgjohnston
4.53/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

It's back for Fall 2009... and it is so nice to see it in my glass again.

I couldn't resist reviewing it this time around, even though I have lost a few reviews on this site lately, as it is not only back, but as good as ever.

Pours a dark caramel color with a big, foamy brown head. The head dies down quickly, but at least a little of it stays around for most of the pour. Smell is sweet, mildly spicy, and a bit of fruitiness.

Taste is an intense delivery on the promise. Sweet, with a roasted flavor, a caramel flavor that goes on forever, and the quick little bite of a hoppy bitter finish. There is no hint of alcohol whatsover, and the finish is dry enough to leave you ready for the next sip, whether it is the 2nd or the last.

Very easy to drink a lot of this. A really wonderful seasonal beer.

Photo of Atomicskis5
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of Ryanpro
4.12/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of yeti123
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of wowbagger
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this while traveling for the holidays. Decent head. Pours dull brown with reddish notes. Smells of yeast and cherries. Sharp flavor, but mild hops and malt. Sweet but only just, which balances well. Aftertaste is bready.

Overall, very pleased with this one. I would recommend it to anyone who can find some.

Photo of HopsHopenstein
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of erosier
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer comes in a very cool 1 Liter Blue swingtop bottle. I picked this beer up from my local liquor store because it was stuck in the back of the fridge laying down, for probably a year or so. I got it because the homebrew shop I go to bought out their brewery of their bottles and I bought them from him so I had to clean them all out. I figured I should give this a try. It is a very nice christmas beer. It pours a dark brown, almost black from the bottle with a short caramel head. The aroma is much like the taste. Very thick in rich and roasty malts. Not much else I could detect, however. I think this has to do with how old it was. But either way, it was very enjoyable. I also don't think they make this anymore so getting a bottle of this is a treat as it is.

Photo of raythealeman
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of Arenbeer
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big Purple Bottle into a Snifter Glass

A- Pours a extremely dark reddish brown with a super thin tan head that doesn't bother leaving any lacing as it leaves the glass.

S- Real sweet toffee, figs, and a nice vanilla, wood and malt base.

T- Woah! Almost has a sour flavor to it. Maybe from the age!?! Real sweet fruits with a nice dark crystal malt body and a slight burnt flavor in there. Pretty decent, held up nice for being summer!

M- medium body with low carbonation and a nice bitter dry finish.

Photo of Robtobfest
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of ppoitras
3.28/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

1L swing-top bottle purchased at Julio's, Westboro, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 3/4" light brown head over the clear garnet brew. Head lasts nicely, with ample foamy lacing. Aroma is lightly chocolatey. The taste is starts with the same light chocolate, but fades into a light fruitiness and closes with a somewhat odd aftertaste. Mouthfeel is pretty thin, and drinkability is not too bad. Frankly, if this is 11.8abv, I'll eat my hat. Can't sense that at all, for better or worse. This Wee Heavy could definitely use more depth of flavor and just more oomph overall.

Photo of PicoPapa
3.71/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle. Part of the ever so popular 2 pack.... Pours a dark brown color with some medium brown ruby hues and a half inch of head. Minimal lacing. Aromas of caramel and butterscotch. Malty and boozey. The taste is more of the butterscotch with lots of caramel malts. Slightly watery with lots of alcohol flavor. Earthy towards the end. Slightly medicinal. Butterscotch finish. Mouthfeel is a bit thin. Overall, a decent Scotch Ale I'd buy again, but I'm not a big fan of the 2 pack format.

Photo of JTomczak
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%

Photo of Rifugium
3.43/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at Capone's, Norristown, PA

Served in a snifter, a garnet-brown liquid, hazy, with a thin cap of beige bubbles on top; minimal retention and lacing. Muted aroma of caramel, nutty, woody, touch of brown sugar and cocoa. Taste was fairly mild, caramel malts, brown sugar, light fruity esters, hints of cocoa cobwebs, and smoked wood. I find some beers of this style to be bland and flavorless, and others to be overblown and even sickeningly sweet. This one was at a pretty solid mid-ground, though overall not very interesting. Medium body, perhaps thin for the style, but easily drinkable; soft carbonation, and ABV fairly well-hidden.

Photo of sulldaddy
4.08/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opened up my 1 liter bottle with some friends nite before the cask fest.
I pour a sample into mypint glass,the brew pours dark brown with ruby tints. A bubbly beige head foams up easily and dissipates to a thin layer across the surface. THe aroma is mostly sweet caramel malts with some roastiness as well. I also detect very mild floral hops underneath the other scents.
First sip, this is a fairly thick brew, almost chewy. The flavor is roasty caramel and is very rich like good toffee.
I get a mild hop bite in the middle but the finish returns to the caramel dominance. Wish I had bought more bottles of this one.

Photo of Thads324
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of chrispoint
2.5/5  rDev -35.4%

Photo of jdhilt
3.6/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a one-finger brown head that fades quickly leaving a little lace. Deep cloudy amber color. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Nose is like an oak barrel. Flavor is a roasted coffee, smooth finish, quite different - not as heavy - from any scotch ales I have had; the high ABV (11.5%- [from brewer]) is totally unnoticeable. $8.55 for a 1 liter bottle [nice split with a drinking partner] from Colonial Spirits Acton, MA.

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Father Christmas Highland Ale from The Olde Burnside Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 53 ratings.