Gordon Fest Beer - John Martin's (John Martin SA)

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Gordon Fest BeerGordon Fest Beer

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54 Ratings
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Ratings: 54
Reviews: 31
rAvg: 3.71
pDev: 14.02%
Wants: 1
Gots: 7 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
John Martin's (John Martin SA) visit their website

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  8.80% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: bark on 12-07-2004

Formerly Gordon Xmas
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Ratings: 54 | Reviews: 31
Reviews by Zimbo:
Photo of Zimbo
3.72/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Drunk from my Traquair tankard on Christmas in Scotland, this has a pleasant smoky spicy smell in the bottle . Forms a light foamy off white big bubbly head which really thins over the course of the drink but does leave some relatively complex lacing around the medium transparent red brown body. Deep sugar y bitter tang. Fairly chewy on the palate with a degree of perfectly restarined light Christmas spice. A buttery caramel quality makes a very late but very welcome addition as the end and the various fields together build a beer which is actually greater than the sum of it parts.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a deep clear brown color ale with a huge foamy head with a light brown head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of sweet malt with some dry fruits notes. Taste is also dominated by some sweet malt with noticeable trace of candi sugar and some dry fruits notes such as figs and plums. Body is slightly thin for the style with great carbonation and some light alcoholic phenols. Not the best Christmas Belgian style ale I have tasted but pretty good nonetheless.

Photo of Paddez
3.84/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown brew with a small head that dissapears rather quickly, leaving behind a messy layer of foam.
Aroma: spicy with fruityoghurt and hints of alchohol, hops and port. No hints of coffee or caramel in this one.
The taste is spicy with wine-like flavours going around.
Ends with a dry, lemony, yoghurty finish. Not bad.

The mouthfeel is good, the beer is creamy and goes down smoothly. The alcohol warms the throat somewhat.

A nice winter brew, but not one of my favourites. It's pretty different from most other beers I've had in the style so far though, so it's without a doubt worth a try if you're in for something else than your average Belgian dark winter seasonal ale

Photo of BlackHaddock
3.86/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap in 2011, still a good Xmas special!

Poured from a 33cl brown bottle with a huge life left (20th Sept 2008) I may kep one for a while, as I got a four-pack. Anyway, it was poured into the correct Gordons Thistle Glass, one of two I bought some years ago.

It looked a picture, the dark body in the base of the glass and the slightly off-white head filling the neck of the glass.

The aroma is one of dark complexed secrets, mostly winter spices, such as cinnamon and cloves, sat on burnt brown breaded toast.

The taste explodes in your mouth, a sweet caramel effect, almost burnt, but not really burnt, lighty toasted is a better way of saying it.

The taste does linger, getting more malty and drier as the throat adjusts.

I very easy to drink 8.8% Christmas beer, highly recommended by me.

Photo of ThaCreep
2.97/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Alcohol and malt nose. As always in this range of beer would be tempted to say. It feels as fruits (plums, cassis) macerated and a hint of liqueur fruits. Alcoholic mouth with hints bitter and spicy with a little bit of dried fruit. Finish hot with alcohol. The latter is still too present in the mouth and spoils the flavor.

Photo of stjarnflikka
3.67/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an all clear red and brown beer with a fingerthick foam and a strong carbonation. Head disspiates quite quickly and leaves some lacing behind.

Smell is at first alcohol and yeast. There are a lot of fruits in there such as dried figs, raisins and also some citrus. Theres also a small spicy and wine-like smell.

Taste is also alcohol at first together with sweet dried fruits and wine. There is a sweet and bready undertone together with a sour finish.
The beer tastes less alcohol after standing in room temperature for half an hour or so, still sour though.

This beer certainly reminds me of samichlaus bier. Not even close in complexity and taste though. Finishes far too sour for me, that really does a lot to that this beer doesn't taste that good. Worth a try anyhow.

Photo of Absumaster
2.9/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A brown, amber beer with a fine-bubbled head.

Smell is very caramel malty with a spicy and herbal smell. The roastiness and dark malts give the beer a coffee and smokiness, together with a slight metallic smell. The alcohol smells kind of boozy.

Taste of raisins and big caramel malt, it also has some soy sauce. The spices in here give the beer a strange taste, which I find hard to get used to and can't recall, is it the spices, smoke or tartness? The alcohol is warming and higher alcohols make the beer 'burn' it's way down. Herbs give some flowery, rose bud notes, something I smelled before in a Scotch ale. Mouthfeel is sweet and sticky. For sure this is a very complex beer, too complex for me and with smells and tastes I can't place in a beer.

Photo of mdagnew
4.42/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle bought online from Belgianshop.com.. aged for about 2 years...

Poured a deep mahogany red / brown colour with some coppery hints. Light mocha head poured fairly thick and foamy with a pocked marked topping and thick edging then faded to thin covering... good lines of lacing...

Aroma - Deep rich spicy dark fruits (raisins, prunes, some strawberries), toasted bready malts, toasted fruit cake, brown lemonade hints, brown sugar sweetness, light medicinal / herbal notes, some leatheriness, slight sour vinegar notes, no real hops..

Taste - Pretty strong toasted bready malts, deep treacle sweetness, toasted nuttiness, spicy dark fruits (raisins, figs and dates), malt loaf / fruit cake, the faintest of smokiness, light peppery notes, some woodiness...

Feel - Quite smooth and creamy with a little sharpness underneath... medium bodied... very quaffable for an 8.8% brew...

Overall - An excellent Christmas beer although more like a doppelbock than a Belgian strong dark - a real malt bomb... definitely recommended...

Photo of patra7
3.56/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer has been renamed "Gordon Fest Beer". Same abv. and similar bottle / label design, (now by Anthony Martin instead of John Martin)

Photo of beerenjoyer1
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gordon's Xmas is a overall good dark strong beer. The appearance is dark, of course, with a small tan foam on top. The smell is a malty smell with a hint of caramel. The taste is good with full flavor on each taste and a nice freshness throughout. The mouthfeel is full if I can say that because it is good, and the drinkability is remarkable so that I want to savor it alittle longer. i think this beer should be drank after the temperature achieves a range of 50-60F because the full floaovr really comes out.

Photo of weissbierdrinker
4.35/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep ruby red almost red wine color, with a tan head that leaves spotted patches of lacing around the glass.

Smell is of raisins, caramel, maybe some vanilla.

Taste is dry and spicy up front with some dark chocolate notes, tobacco, plums, dried fruit, and a coffee finish that is dry and peppery.

Great Christmas beer.

Photo of kojevergas
3.4/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

2008 Gordon Christmas served on-draught into a Gordon Xmas goblet at Kulminator in Antwerp. 8.8% confirmed. Cost was 3.50 euro. Reviewed from notes taken in early July 2011.

A: Pours a two finger tinted white head of wonderful fluffy froth, great cream, brilliant thickness, and excellent retention for the ABV. Body colour is a dark red-ruby.

Sm: Dark fruit, floral hops, caramelized malt, and light cream. A delightful mild strength aroma.

T: Too much cream and vanilla. Tame restrained dark fruit. Generic floral hops. Rather muted and bland overall. I wish the flavours weren't so restrained. Complex enough, and balanced well, but built problematically.

Mf: Too wet. Very smooth, which suits the muted flavour profile.

Dr: High ABV is well hidden; it's very drinkable. Of pretty good quality. I like it, but the muted feel bothers me.


Photo of CH3CH2OH
3.58/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for the trade that provided this, Bierschenker.

Pours a medium brown (much lighter than other dark strongs), clear, with a high, tan head. Strong malt, some alcohol, no hop to speak of in the nose. Very nice sweet malt, with hints of brown sugar and caramel and just enough hop bitterness to keep it from being overly cloying. Medium mouthfeel with medium-high carbonation that prickles the tounge.

Described as a "Strong Brown Ale" on the bottle, it is definitely a different animal than a typical Belgian Dark Strong (or Strong Dark on BA). This is not a Rochefort 8, it is much simpler without the fruity esters and malty depths. Comparing it to a strong scotch ale, it is very good.

Photo of seanyfo
4.74/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

33cl bottle poured into a delirium tremens chalice

BB 20/10/08

A- 2 finger tan head sits atop an extremely dark ruby body. Clarity is excellent with excellent lacing and moderate retention considering the ABV

S- Toffee caramel rich maltiness, some dark rich fruit cake.

T- Sweet munich malt richness dominates, a hint of alcohol is underneath, almost like a sweet sherry in a rich fruit cake.

M- Full bodied,slightly creamy, luxuriously smooth, medium carbonation. Maybe lacks carbonation for the style, but i previous this is such a rich beer.

D- A very rich smooth luxurious beer.
A beautiful fireside sipper. Dangerously addictive!

*Note* Not had this fresh but i would say a 3 year old bottle of this would beat a fresh Delirium Nocturnum in the taste/richness department. Would be interested to see what 3 years would do to a Nocturnum.

Photo of janubio
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

75 cl. bottle. Pours a black reddish colour with a big creamy slightly brown head.
Smell of cinnamon, some toasted notes, fruits and brandy and a bit of chocolate.
Mouths is of liquor soaked cherries, cinnamon, caramel, liquorice with a touch of some hot spicy. Cake too. Thick mouthfeel, and, atfter all the sweetness, some warm bitter afterstate. A nice one, not the most complex.

Photo of bark
3.8/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The colour is clear, dark wine red with a tint of brown. The large foam is light and beige.

The smell is dry and quite heavy. There are notes of aromatic hops, iodine, dried fruits and raisins, dark bread and brandy. In other words: Quite complex.

The carbonation is a bit sharp, but it weakens fast.

The taste is loaded with alcohol and a dry burned bitterness. I noticed flavours of some strong wine, some white bread, marzipan, and dried dates. The body passes surprisingly fast. The aftertaste is sourish with a potent bitterness and a light touch of matured cheese.

An good Christmas session ale, but there might be a little too much alcohol for my taste.

Photo of jeranbrews
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - low frothy whispy head.  Islands of lacing deep ruby brown body.  clairity is high.

S - wheat bread. Very wheaty whole wheat bread. Wheat plus wheat plus more wheat.

T - Taste has a few surprising flavors. Contrast the nose nicely.  A kind of subtle, complex, sweetness.  Not like sugar or malt or fruits much more dense and sneaky.  Middle flavors are deep spicy and ester-like. Aftertaste is mildly hoppy/oaky

M - a nice smooth syrupy sipping texture. Initially watery after warming the beer thickened up and got a little thicker.

D - smooth yummy sipping beer. However I can't find anything about this beer that makes it a seasonal beer or Xmas worthy

Photo of brdc
3.51/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Small capped bottle, poured into a goblet. Best before date 11/09.

This does not feel like a strong dark ale. As a matter of fact, the bottle states it is a brown ale.

Brown it is, with multiple good looking mahogany highlights, and creamy, fluffy light tan head that shows average retention and a very good lacing.

Aroma is sweet, malty caramel, some undisguised alcohol, herbs and spices, although it is hard to pinpoint the specific spice. The aroma is also a bit too "delicate", it takes one "nose all the way down into the glass" to feel it.

A notch below full bodied, it is still creamy on the mouth. Taste is actually a bit odd; the same caramel, malty sweetness one would expect from the aroma, along with some warming alcohol, more than one would expect from the ABV, and then an excessive, unbalanced spiciness, mostly peppery, but there are some others I cannot accurately place. It gets bit too dry, the spices start "burning", and it gives a feeling this one got a bit overhopped, which does not fit well with the other tastes.

Difficult to finish, this is below the average for a belgian "Christmas" ale.

Photo of Travlr
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep maroon color with a thick light tan head that lingers. Nice lacing.
S: Aroma of toffee, dates and vanilla.
T: Flavor is fairly complex, starts sweetish with butterscotch and progresses to malts and light spice.
M: Reasonable body.
D: Very nice Christmas beer.

Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark brown with scarlet edges in the light. A thin tan head receded to a wispy centre that remained, partial ring, marginal lacing, carbonation not all that active. The smell after some airing was of a spiced rum christmas cake. Taste was bold with a hops and malt assault initially, then some settling down with pleasant dark cherry, sour fruit affect that made it very interesting. At times, a liquer-like mouthfeel but the alcohol presence was not that bad considering the high ABV. There was something about this brew that was hard to define, a kind of dark cherries, fermented dark fruit warmness with substantial flavour as well as mouthfeel that appealed, a bit of a syrupy presence detracted. Thanks, biegaman, for yet another fine souvenir of your trip to Belgium and many more to you in '08.

Photo of rvdoorn
4.32/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2001 vintage consumed in the vlaamse reus in Wageningen
Look: the beer pours an dark amber-ruby color, with a nice fluffy brown head.
Smell: Sweet malts, caramel, dark fruits and some light spices.
Taste: Quite sweet malts, caramel and dark fruits again. Aging mellowed the bitterness and spices in this brew. Raisins, Madeira and dark sugars are overpowering the hoppy spicy bitterness in the aftertaste of the fresh vintage.
Mouthfeel: Medium-carbonation, sticky mouthfeel and medium bodied.
Overall: Nice brew, aged much better than the fresh

Photo of thierrynantes
3.53/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer bottle (33cl), tasted in 2007.

Appearance: beautiful ruby color, with tan foam head.
Smell: roasted aromas
Taste and mouthfeel: very sweetness taste of malt, with a dry toast finish.
Drinkability: a good beer in the Scottish style strong ale.

Review translated from french 5-14-2008.

Photo of PartyBear
2.71/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Very dark in colour, almost stout black. Large head, with decent lacing.

S - Not particularly strong aromas but hints of spice and maltiness. The alcohol cuts through quite noticeably.

T - The taste is carried by the malts, with some biscuity flavours. Sugar and molasses. Like with the smell, the alcohol comes through strongly. Dry finish.

M - Oily and flat. Warming quality.

D - The Gordon beers really don't seem to suit my palete. They always receive very favorable reviews but I don't seem to quite see it. The flavours don't mesh for me, and I get the feeling that there may be something missing in this beer, that really binds the flavours.

Photo of Daredevil
4.23/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

strong foamy head, dark transparent color

the nose gives some hints of marsh and moss on malty notes

the palate is rich, with notes of liquorice, dark chocolate and dates, some bitternes in the finish

a beefy seasonal brew - a good heart-warmer on a cold winter night ....

Photo of drpimento
3.98/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pretty good beer. Had it served in a thistle glass with large, foamy, frothy, light tan head that lasted and lots of lace. Color was a clear, dark cherry wood with deep red tones. Aroma was roasty, toffee, caramel malt. Flavor was similar to nose. Great phenols. Body was a tad thin and had high carbonation. Finish was similar to taste, long, and boozy.

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Gordon Fest Beer from John Martin's (John Martin SA)
84 out of 100 based on 54 ratings.