Christmas Ale
Goose Island Beer Co.

Christmas AleChristmas Ale
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American Brown Ale
3.82 | pDev: 12.04%
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Christmas AleChristmas Ale
Reviews: 573 | Ratings: 1,330 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of woodychandler
3.99/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I am wrapping up my Christmas in July 2017 celebration today with this beer! I had a buncha Chrismas beers set aside for Christmas Day in 2016, but I got blotto early on in the day & they fell into The Bottle Backlog Abyss. 8=( Last Tuesday (25 July 2017), The Friendly Greek Bottle Shop (FGBS) & its vaunted Drinking Team, held its own Christmas in July, inspiring me to get mine in before the end of the month.

Some background on this bottle: I was wildly into Goose Island at one point, having visited their Clybourn location & I also was keeping track of what Binney's was doing. When this came on sale at one point, I bought some & had it shipped to my aunt's house in DC. It was then transported to my parents' house & placed in the basement & forgotten until my move to Chez Woody in December 2008. I have no idea how it JUST surfaced, but here I am/we are.

From the bottle: "Craft Brewed & Bottle Conditioned". That last part gives me renewed hope!

I Pop!ped the cap only to reveal a screwed-up screw-top bottle. Grrr! I mustered my anger management training to begin a very slow, gentle pour into the awaiting glass. Once completed, I conducted an in-glass swirl to raise a finger of foamy, fizzy, light-tan head that quickly reverted to wisps. Color was Dark Brown to Very Dark Brown (SRM = > 27, < 34) with NE-quality clarity & mahogany highlights. Gorgeous! Nose had a chocolate and coconut cast, almost as though it had been aged in bourbon barrels, although nothing of the sort was mentioned on the bottle. I also got licorice/anise & dried dark fruits, which is more typical. Mouthfeel was medium. The taste had a slightly medicinal quality, like the time that I tasted my maternal grandparents' Geritol. Still, it also had a milk chocolatiness and a lot of fruitiness & reminded me of a Cadbury Fruit & Nut bar. Finish was dry, proving that the bottle conditioning had done its job over these past years. It was much more like an English Barleywine than the English Barleywine that I reviewed earlier! Jeez-O, man. It may be retired, but this is both an oldie & a goodie.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
4.71/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Deep murky brown; purple when held to the light.

Nice dark khaki head; strong lacing.

Bread & dark fruits in the nose; a belgian vibe; also, hints of caramel, rasberry & strawberry.

Thick mouthfeel.

Taste is of acorn, light spice, raisin & caramel. Definitely a winter beer; viscous & sweet, almost like an American Barleywine, but not cloying. Sweet, unique & worth a quaff.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.28/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Substantial brown runs deep, clarity sucks, sediment/floaties rampant. Aroma was more brown malt and a little bit of nutmeg.

Taste was enjoyable for a brown xmas style beer, toffee, some caramel, nutmeg still, brown sugar, lots of carbonation, a little bit of warmth, straddling between winter warmer and brown ale. Maybe more hopping than normal for a winter warmer. Mild clove.

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Photo of pat61
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I’ve had this on tap at the Bryant Lake Bowl and the Pig & Fiddle and from a bottle poured into a craft beer glass.
A: Brilliant chestnut, 1” off white foam collar, provides thin lines of lace.
S: Mild fruit cake in a glass with citrus, light fruit, spice.
T: The dark malts have a cakey bread character with dried fruit, orange, cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of clove. It starts sweet but there is some drying astringency from the spices on the finish.
F: Creamy, medium body and carbonation.
O: This is a good, rich Christmas ale. It is a little on the rich side to drink more than a bottle of this at a sitting.

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Photo of seedyone
4.09/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At Rattle n Hum, NYC. From bottle dated 10/30/09. Thin, wispy head & lacing. High aromatics on the nose, all the warmth one would expect from a winter warmer. Despite 5 years in the bottle this is a well made beer that stands the test of time. The 7.6% doesn't least not at this point.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2012 edition, 12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a pretty, cloudy, dark mahogany color with half of a finger of off-white head that quickly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that almost completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Very aromatic! Lots of malt and notes of freshly baked bread, mixing with some strong notes of dried stone fruit, such as prunes, figs, raisins and cherries. I also get some good spice notes of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar.

Taste: Slightly sour up front, like sour cherries (I’m not sure if this is intentional, or if it is a by-product of a year’s aging in the bottle), followed by some good malt and spice notes, such as clove, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, and some brown sugar-like sweetness. Reminds me a little of gingerbread topped with a sour cherry frosting.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied to slightly chewy with some pretty good carbonation. With an ABV of 7.5%, there is no presence of alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is another very good, very tasty beer from Goose Island! There’s a lot going on it its flavor from the slightly sour cherry notes to the gingerbread spices. I liked this very much!

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Photo of CowsandBeer
3.57/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Goose Island tulip glass. Bottled on 10/13/07.
Ap: Pours about half a finger of bone colored head with some still bubbles. Body is a murky brown/chestnut color.
Ar: Vinous nose of tart cherries, cardboard, brown sugar, raisins and fruit cake.
T: Oxidized malts, brown sugar, chocolate, and some holiday spices.
Mf: Very thin and slick.
Overall: Needless to say this is over the hill but it does taste better than expected for being 7 years old. There’s still a nice bite of holiday spice and some nutty maltiness but the thinned out body and stale carbonation really take it down a notch.

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Photo of FreshHawk
3.96/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Very murky mahogany color. Minimal, thin, whispy, off-white color. Little retention with only a slight ring around the edge. Minimal carbonation.

S - Sweet dark bready aroma. Molasses and brown sugar are very present but don't provide a cloying aroma. Big raisin and some fig aroma. Sweet, bread pudding like aroma. Nose is very appropriate for the season.

T - Similar to the nose but not as bready or sugar-like. Raisin flavor is quite prominent. Some brown sugar is present. Toffee and caramel is also present. Less bread pudding and more hybrid between a Dubbel and an American Brown. Very strong on the dark fruit.

M - Low carbonation. Light, soft, and pillowy feel. A touch thin.

D - Sweet but not cloying. Drinks well for the season and provides a nice mix of winter flavors. Alcohol is well hidden. A little too one-noted with the raisin/dark fruit.

Notes: Bottled 10/12/11. Aged for three years. Decent holiday beer that doesn't rely on spices to seem festive. I enjoyed the beer, but it's a little too one-noted. The body is slightly on the thin side. It didn't wow me, but it was enjoyable for what it was.

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Photo of KSHunt
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Bottle is 2009, aged 5 years. Deep caramel brown color with an apricot nose. Solid taste with a bread like aftertaste. Great beer to start the winter!

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Photo of gibgink
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%

I recommend this beer, if you like a sweeter beer. No real hoppy bitterness to speak of, with a nice warming aftertaste. Spot on Christmas ale! Will pickup more.

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Photo of BeerWithMike
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%

Sampling right now on 9/27/14 while watching some college football. Bottled on: 09/12/12 BUT no expiration date. Bottle a single bottle at Spirit World in Omaha a good month ago for $3.19. From the Goose Island Beer Company in Chicago, Illinois (NOW brewed in Baldwinsville, NY). Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a "GOOSE ISLAND BEER CO." pint glass.

Pours a dark brown in color with a 3mm beige head that settles down to just along the edges of the glass. Some spotty lacing is seen. Sediment is seen at the bottom of the bottle. The aroma is like a good seasonal Christmas/ Winter brew with holiday spices, brown sugar, caramel, dark fruits and dark bread. The taste is close to that with lots of tasty flavors mixed in for a good balance. Good mix of spices as you can taste some cinnamon, nutmeg and others spices as well as some toffee. Very nice and no bitter or harsh finish. Medium to Medium+ bodied with perfect carbonation. Just makes you wish for cooler weather since it has been in the low 80's for most of September. Overall a great brew.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, vintage 2012, with bottled on date 09/19/2012 printed on the back label, so this beer is approaching it's second birthday. Acquired a single bottle of this from the local beer store for $2.99.

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass.

A - It pours a thick murky caramel colored body with about one finger of tan foam head. Leaves some nice thin lacing behind. Looks very nice.

S - The smell comes across like how I expected - warming holiday spice rack notes - nutmeg, thyme, other unidentifiable herbals, caramel, brown bread, brown sugar, and candied dark fruits. An average yet pleasant aroma for the style.

T - Taste follows the nose - creamy caramel / toffee / taffy apples, cinnamon sticks, brown sugar, and some mild spice rack notes in the vain of nutmeg and thyme and such. Very delicious.

M - The feel is smooth and creamy, lightly sticky / syrupy on the finish. Medium full bodied; semi-thick, but it is to be expected. Very easy drinking for the semi-high abv.

Overall, a delicious Christmas ale that has held up well. Absolutely delicious caramel and taffy forward at this point; I would love to put a few more bottles of this away to see how it fares. I look forward to future vintages of this.

Goose Island Christmas Ale 2012 ---4/5.

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Photo of 57md
4.28/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I enjoyed this gem while watching the Philadelphia Mummers’ Parade on New Year’s Day. I liked this baby so much that I decided to make it my 500th written review.

The bottle that I sampled was 2012 and had about 1.5 years of age on it.

Pours a cloudy brownish copper with two big fingers of beige head. Some of the head lingers and leaves nice lacing in its wake. The nose is an exquisite combination of malt and brandy notes. This offering is rich and malty with a semi-dry finish. The hints of brandy linger throughout the flavor profile.

Even though the ABV was not exceptionally high, this offering appeared to age very well.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.66/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled on 11/11/11, enjoyed during the winter holidays of 2013.

I have no recollection purchasing this but found it tucked away in the basement of my parents’ house. Thought it would be fun to enjoy it.

This pours a ruddy raisin-color with thin foaming. It’s murky in appearance, like a poorly filtered French press cup of coffee.

The bottle calls this a American Brown Ale but honestly it pours more like a Belgian spiced dubble. There’s a light, low aroma of dried stone fruits, raisin and dates, with a sweet and sweetly-spiced flavor of cloves and allspice blended with the raisin and dates. I found it a delicious and welcome surprise.

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
3.72/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Double side-by-side review of the 2011 and 2012. I will note differences between the two in addition to describing their shared qualities.

A- Both pour a deep, hazy brown. The 2011 has a much smaller head, at about 1 finger, while the 2012 pours a giant head. Retention and lacing on both are great. *The 2012 had a fair amount of foam form in the bottle while opening, so there might be a carbonation level difference here.

S- Both have big, deep caramel malt scents. The 2011 has a dose of dark fruit that gives of the smell of a little bit of plums as well as some biscuity malts. Brown sugar sweetness is also evident in the 2011. *The 2012 has a very chemical/oxidation scent; I'm worried about this one.

T- Just like the scent for the 2011. Starts with your basic caramel malts and deepens with some of the brown sugar sweetness. A little bit off the biscuity malts are in there too, but just a tiny touch of the dark fruits. *The 2012 displays flavors similar to the scent and also has a very oxidized taste.

M- Fairly smooth, higher in carbonation, and easy to drink. The heavy flavors slow the drinking down a bit, but it is still a sessionable brew.

Overall, I have concluded that the 2012 bottle had gone bad. There was a tiny bit of rust under the cap, and the beer displayed some very off flavors and scents, both fairly consistent with oxidation. As for the 2011, it is still a pretty good beer. I'm not sure this will "develop in the bottle for up to 5 years." Still, this is a fairly complex brown ale, which is saying something for most brown ales. (ratings are for the 2011)

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Photo of MarkQ617
3.32/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had the 2011 edition pured out of the bottle into a pint glass. Not sure how I feel about the whole aging in the bottle thing when it comes to beer and what the science is behind that, I guess to see the effects you'd essentially by a four pack, and drink one each year, or by the same year's 4 pack every year for 5 years or so. Seems like a lot of work. Anyway, not the best brown ale I've had. It had a nice nutty flavor to it, but there was an overpowering sour/sweetness to it that I didn't love. Hazy brown color that wasn't super appetizing. I prefer their Sixth Day around the holidays I think.

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Photo of fourstringer
2.97/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Becker pint glass. Moderate hand. Bottled on 08/31/2012. I held onto this one from last year's purchase to see how it did with a year in the cellar.

A: Cloudy brown with 3 fingers of off-white head. Good retention, but resulted in clumpy, unappealing floes on the surface. Significant lacing, which is nice.

S: Yeast hits first and strongly. Underlying roasted malt and dried fruit. Honestly, not terribly inviting.

T: Round malt with indistinct spice quickly transitions to a hop bitterness. Light, muddled chocolate notes and a dry finish. Alcohol is present, but not bothersome. Standard fare.

M: Surprisingly low carbonation in the mouth given the amount of head that blasted out of the bottle. Moderate body. Some stickiness, but overall pretty good.

O: Not sure why I though I should age this. Didn't blow me away last year. Wishful thinking it might improve significantly in a year, I suppose. Save your cellar space and just drink this fresh.

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Photo of fx20736
4.63/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

2011 edition reviewed on 11/24/13
Appearance: 4.5 Aroma: 4.5 Mouthfeel: 4.25 Taste: 4.75 overall 4.75

I am now reviewing the 2011 edition 2 years after it was brewed as I scored a whole case for $ 20.

Served in a pint glass, served at cellar temp.

appearance: beautiful burgundian reddish brown with a sticky thick creme brulee head.

aroma: aroma: sweet dark fruit yummy

mouthfeel; good, soft and sinuous

taste: toe curling raisiny goodness with some brown sugar sweetness and some oak tannin like bitterness.

notes; a Grand Slam of a beer. Unbelievable


2012 edition. 4.43 reviewed on 3/10/13

Appearance: 4.75 Aroma: 4.5 Mouthfeel: 4.75 Taste: 4.25 overall 4.50

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass, served at cellar temp.

Gorgeous tawny port reddish brown with a thick, sticky creme brulee head that leaves nice lacing.

aroma: ripe dark fruit with some cocoa

mouthfeel: silky, soft and smooth

taste: plums, richly toasted malt, cocoa, maybe some diacetyl, with some woodiness, walnut and herbal bitterness.

notes: quite impressive. this is like a ramped up version of their brown ale with much higher hops and some dark fruits. It is complex with multiple layers of flavor. Yet another great beer from Goose Island.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.89/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served in a pint, vintage 2012 bottle poured 09/24/2013.

Appearance: Dark cloudy copper brown with sediments in the body (morse than likely due to the age of the beer). Head is a slightly orange tinted white head that rose to maybe 1/4" at best.

Smell: caramel scent comes off light.

Taste: Sweet pecan type of feel with a light spiciness to it. Has caramel feel that is not had at all. Light yeast and malts, complex.

Mouth: Medium to heavy a bit on the body. Very sticky if you ask me which comes to a surprise consider most brown ales.

Overall: First time I'm having this and Goose Island comes once again delivers nothing but gems. It's a tad sweet for some, I think it's just right. When I catch the next batch I will be sure to grab them fresh. Salud!

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Photo of Mavigo
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got a 2012 bottle of this from Tom's in East Lansing. It's only September but oh well, I can't wait. Served in a nonic as recommended by the brewer.

A: Pours an interesting cloudy, bubbly amber-copper color with a short beige-tan head that lasts for a few minutes before fading down to a thin ring on the edges of the glasses, leaving minimal amounts of lacing.

S: Faint aroma, smells of wheat, barley, malts, woods, brown sugars, spices, herbs

T: Excellent mellow flavors, tastes of wheat, malts, barley, as I would expect from a brown ale, but the spices used adds warmth to it, can tastes hints of vanilla, herbs, brown sugars

M: Medium bodied beer with subtle amounts of carbonation, quite balanced, nicely robust, very fulfilling

O: Overall this was great, it was an impulse buy without me knowing too much about the beer before I got it, though I am a big fan of Goose island, toured their breweries and have had many beers from them and as such, this is ale is just another number on their great beers list. Recommended hands down.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.77/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75


Got this beer as part of a 6 for 4.99 deal at a grocery store that wouldn't be my first stop for anything craft.

I think we're past the fresh stage, but still early on the aged stage on this one. Heavy malts going on. Mild spice. Seems very well made, but not quite the best time to approach this one. Nice enough to drink, I guess, but I will approach this one fresh or heavily aged next time.

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Photo of cyclonece09
3.28/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a 14 oz "pint" glass. Pours a cloudy brown with very little head. Smells of chocolate primarily, with slight hoppy notes. Tastes of slight coffee and chocolate, with some piney hops. Beer goes down smooth, with its light body, good carbonation. Overall, a slightly above average beer.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.21/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From the 12. fl. oz. bottle marked bottled on 08/31/12-0936. So this is 10 months old and of course well past Christmas. But I found it on clearance real cheap.

The color is a slightly murky amber-brown with a frothy tan head that lingers.

The aroma is subtle and sweet with esters of toffee, butterscotch, caramel malts, and nutmeg or brown sugar. The hops are even more subtle.

The body is smooth and medium.

The taste is surprisingly bitter considering the aroma is more sweet with creamy caramel and toffee merging with a moderate bitter bite that lingers and ends slightly dry. Still tasty all these months later.

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Photo of mactrail
2.62/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.5

2012 edition. From the 12 oz bottle out of the cooler at Whole Foods in DC. Tastes more like an Old Ale, I can't conceive of this as a Brown. A little hazy, and I'd call it cherry-amber in color. Very thin but fine-grained foam.

This is just a peculiar taste. Buttery and roasted grainy flavor. Maybe the musty smell is the tip-off that not all is well. Distinct cola flavor with some earthy hops. The carbonation is quite nice, however. Sweet and slightly bitter. Well, this is sort of drinkable, it doesn't seem to be spoiled, but the rest of the bottle is going down the sink.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.69/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on 8/31/2012, been in my fridge since around Christmas time.

Pours a deep copper color with a decent sized light tan head, leaves a cap on top and some nice patchy lacing on the glass.

Smell is mostly roasted malt with a touch of toffee.

Taste is not overwhelming, fairly straight forward roasted malt aspect although the toffee flavors do add a touch of complexity, very soft carbonation but plenty of it, nice and creamy.

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Christmas Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 1330 ratings