Christmas Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

very good
572 Reviews
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.30%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-21-2001

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 572 | Ratings: 1,328
Photo of wac9
1.88/5  rDev -50.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 1.5

what can i say about this beer i dont like it its leave a nasty after taste in my mouth doesnt given look good in a glass yes everybody loves it but i dont ,i dont go with the flow looks light a light brown ale not dark and it goes down bitter and it doesnt do anything for me

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Photo of yelterdow
2.44/5  rDev -36%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Served in an oversize brandy snifter at cellar temperature. Bottled on 11/10/05... this is a young'n. Thanks to Ego for the bottle.

Appearance- Pours a very deep raisiny cognac with a light beige head that grows a half-inch and settles quickly to a moderately foamy rim. Patches of island-like lacing left behind.

Smell- An initial sour aroma that opens up gradually to a malty, yet tannic and aggressive aroma. As the beer opens up, subtle notes of vanilla and allspice come through.

Taste- Diacetyl... it's got that oversteeped tea and metal taste to it... any spice buried beneath this beer is certainly not coming through at all.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Really good mouthfeel, but the taste kills the drinkability points. I won't be revisiting this again.

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Photo of Frozensoul327
2.5/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I did not dig this beer at all. Poured out to a ruby red / brown color with a 1/2 inch head of foam. Medium low level of carbonation. Aromas were light, but hints of roasted malts were present. That's about all I got out of it. Taste was not up to par with what i've previously had from Goose Island; tasted like sweet teas were mixed with alcohol and some grain and malt notes. Mouthfeel was watery and uninspiring. I don't think i'll go for this again.

THE BLOODHOUND FACTOR: Neither hound seemed interested. Same feeling as their master.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
2.51/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

One of the beers in a Christmas mix-six that my buddy Mike gave me at a recent tasting. Less of a gift than it was a "get this out of my cellar, please" gesture, per his own words. A bottle of the 2011 version, poured into a tulip.

The beer is a deep and rich brown in color; there is a nice little fluffy and sticky-looking head that forms on top. As I begin to drink, there are some delicate laced patterns that develop, but they stop forming about 1/4 of the way down the glass.

The aroma and flavor are shockingly disappointing. The aroma is less-so, as it brings out some caramel and toffee notes along with a touch of brown sugar sweetness. The flavor just isn't up to par. An odd vegetal flavor completely overtakes the sweet malty base of the beer, making it really difficult to drink.

While the consistency and carbonation are ok, the fact that my tongue recoils when I take a sip is the leading component of the "feel" of GI Christmas Ale. Just not a good beer overall. There are plenty of other seasonal offerings that blow this out of the water, so I won't lose sleep never giving this a second look again.

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Photo of mactrail
2.62/5  rDev -31.2%
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 garuda
2.69/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Hazed, brilliant mahogany with an off white head that has cent retention and lacing down the glass.

S/T - Underwhelming. One dimensional on the sweetness, with bready, dark fruits and brown sugar, and only the slightest hint of hops and bitterness. Unbalanced, with loads of lingering sweetness on the palate.

M - Medium body, nice medium carbonation, but finishes with a bunch of residual sugar left behind.

O - My 1st Goose beer was pretty much a let down. If you like your brown ales on the sweet side, I would suggest it, but I really like them more roasty.

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Photo of enfield249
2.73/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Cloudy amber-red, with a thin off-white head.

S - Eh...not much. What is there is kind of a general bread pudding sort of smell.

T - Kinda falls flat. There is some flavor there, but it's very subtle. General brown sugar, and slight date flavor.

M - Medium full.

O - Meh. Kind of a disapointment. Maybe the brewer was shooting to high, but it didn't get there.

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Photo of AdamBear
2.77/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A-dark hazy brown with a pretty apparent reddish tint. nice foamy tan head

S-matly and somewhat spoiled a pale ale that was let sit for way too long. does not smell good.

T-tastes a lot like a pale ale that sat for too long, though there's a large presence of grains. very grainy really. tastes like post boil wort. there is a slight bitterness here toward the end. matching after-taste. some spice reminiscent of a wheat beer

M-medium creamy carbonation with a dry finish

O-i do not enjoy this beer. Its like a weirdly aged, spoiled APA. i'm not sure what it was set out to be, but i'm guessing it failed. there's really nothing else to say. the only reason i'd ever suggest this to someone is to see if i got a spoiled bottle or something.

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Photo of Fatehunter
2.87/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a Brugse Zot glass. Deep amber, almost cherry colored with a finger of head.
Faint smelling: cinnamon... not much of anything.
Kind of malty at first, gives way to harsh bitter (IPAish).
Fairly carbonated but has a soft texture and is medium bodied.
It looked nice, but not really a typical brown ale color. I was not picking up anything on the nose. The taste was not bad, just not really anything. It says it can cellar for five years (interesting at ABV 6.2%) so three more are waiting in the cellar for the next few years. Hopefully it gets better.

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Photo of AC-Mivsek
2.89/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

2012 Goose Island Christmas Ale poured into a pint glass

A- Dark amber with a nice 1 finger tannish head

S- Smells pretty sour, did not expect that.

T- Also very sour. I am not picking up any Christmas ale staples like nutmeg or cinnamon at all. It has an earthy/grassy finish.

M- Med body/ Med carbonation. This is nice, but I still can't get past the taste.

O- This was unlike any other Christmas ale I've had. It is definitely the worst as it holds no flavors or characteristics I've come to expect out of a Christmas ale. It was quite sour and skunky. I would not recommend or buy again.

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Photo of FrognutUnl
2.91/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Clear ruby in color, with a single finger off-white head.

S - Sweet malts coupled with a noticeable, but not very distinct hop aroma. Spices are nearly absent from the aroma, but not entirely.

T - Sweet with a hint of bitterness and notes of cinnamon and allspice in the finish.

M - Medium to light body with a enough carbonation to compensate without being overly carbonated.

D - While finding this beer relatively enjoyable, I am a little disappointed in the lack of spices that I think generally defines the winter warmer style. The bottle says to age up to 5 years and perhaps it will be better then. In short I am glad I have tried it, but really isn't anything to write home about.

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Photo of StevieW
2.91/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. 2003 Edition.
The same reddish-brown color my friend JohnnyP describes so perfectly. Dull beig head. Bubbles and fades quickly with a slight hint of ruby along the edges. The aromas is a hodge-podge of spices, nutmeg, hints of cinnamon, and musty earthyness to it. Tastes are along the same lines, but muddled. Dusty shoe leather treated with cinnamon and nutmeg. Flavors are muddled, and earthy, they don't seem very crisp and none really stand out. Medium bodied, and easy to drink. I think they just tried to do too much with the flavors on this one.

 569 characters

Photo of Magog
2.93/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

First review ever!

Fairly rigorous pour from bottle into pint glass.

A: About an inch of pale-yellow head, quickly subsiding. Little to no lacing. A deep rosewood hue, high opacity. Particulates visible at bottom of the glass.

S: Strong bread, of the rich, dark, nut- and seed-laden German variety. Notes of spice, particularly dill.

T: Lots of spices at work, namely Saffron. Also coriander and perhaps paprika. A bit of a strange mix for my taste. Blunt on the tongue. Again, bitter seed-heavy bread. The finish resides in the pharyngeal region, a bit of a spicy kick.

M: The liquid moves through a bit on the thin side for a brown. Lends a slight burning sensation to the throat, moving through the tongue, faintly like a chili powder, or the crusts of the afore-mentioned breads.

O: Overall, not as warming or filling as I'd want a winter ale to be. Not as brown either. But a spicy and fun ale. Forgettable.

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Photo of fourstringer
2.97/5  rDev -22%
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 KTCamm
3/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I'm normally a big fan of Goose Island - its impossible to find in the East Coast, but my in laws drive out from Chicago and always offer to pick up some from Sam's on the way out. I was exicted to try the x-mas ale for the first time.

Things started well - color was a nice wintry dark reddish/brown with high foam and lacing. The smell was interesting too - I picked up a variety of winter spices - maybe cinammon, nutmeg, and others amidst the malt and hops.

The taste, quite honestly, was not great. The spices didn't balance as well as I would have liked and I had a hard time getting through the pint. Almost started to feel like cough medicine at the end - the alcohol was very apparent.

Good as a taster to contrast the other great GI beers, but otherwise, not very drinkable (to me).

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Photo of dustylong
3/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark reddish brown with a small head, and little retention or lacing (poured from a bottle into a pint glass). Has a malty smell to it, with a hint of coffee. The taste matches the smell, very malty, has a coffee taste to it. Toasty, and not too bitter. You can definately taste the spices, but they aren't overpowering. Has a heavier feel in the mouth, and not a whole lot of carbonation. Overall, a pretty good beer, but nothing too special. My favorite of the style would have to be the Great Lakes Christmas Ale, which I think nothing compares to.

 559 characters

Photo of winomark
3/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a deep copper, almost brown with a nice tan head.

Aroma: Lots of roasted malt with some muted hop tones. Quite mild with some coffee notes.

Taste: Smoked and raosted malt dominate. Slightly sweet on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Flavorful and smoky, but on the light side. Coffee and tea tannins lend to a dry finish.

Drinkabilty: This beer has gotten smokier over the years. I remember it being a lot more sweet maltiness and very little smokiness. Not one of my favorite holiday beers anymore, but still worth a try if you can.

 552 characters

Photo of mentor
3.01/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Fresh bottle of 2009 vintage. Pours a two finger light tan head over a clear rubied copper liquid. Smells american hoppy with orange and allspice. Has an aromatic in it that is similar the sweet-smelling component of fresh asphalt. Aroma changes dramatically upon swirling.

Tastes wet malt on the draw, but dries out in the mouth. Malt is toasted grains and nut with chocolate undertones. Smooth hop flavor accompanied by mild grassy bitter that increases in the finish. Spicing is flat and dry. Allspice mostly, with some nutmeg and cinnamon. Spice comes on late when the beer is drying out. I'm not fond of the finish. Mild heartburn in my belly is also unpleasant. Clean alcohol in the mouth, md-heavy carbonation, and md body. Time will likely be a friend to this beer. I find it disjointed right now.

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Photo of Murchmac
3.03/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Red brown, one finger khaki head. Light Rudolphs nose if it were drunk red, not glowing red.

Hoppy sweet, smells like an imperial red almost, watered down. Not too much on the nares.

Tastes like a good homebrew, caramel, hoppy, brown ale, dark malt, but some heat. Like the part of Heat that Deniro falls in love with the girl, not the shoutout in the streets Heat.

Alright, age it instead of drinking it now.

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Photo of themind
3.03/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Goose Island has many legendary beers but this is not one of them. The beer is decent but I will not be purchasing another four pack. This beer to me seems rushed, lacking unique characteristics to put this variation on the top of any heap....well maybe the trash heap.

Bottom Line: At Christmas time there are some great brews out there, but this isn't one of them.

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Photo of mendonjoebeer
3.06/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2009 vintage bomber- glad some of the money is going to a good cause.

Poured into tulip style glass. The best part of this beer for me was the appearance. After that, it was just plain boring. OK smell,ok taste,ok mouthfeel,just ok- was hoping for better from goose island. Should just call Goose Island American Boring Brown Ale. Maybe it is because my wife is enjoying a Three Philosophers with our roasted chestnuts.

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Photo of cswhitehorse
3.06/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I picked up the Goose Island at a local market and this was my second beer from the brewery. I had the bourbon stout last year and thought it was average but I thought I would give this one another shot.

It poured a good looking dark brown with a 2-3 finger foam head with a little bit of lacing. The smell was biscuity malt and faint hops in the background. Taste was okay not much too it. I didn't find much that was extraordinary from it. It was refreshing but overall I wouldn't buy it again. To me, not worth the $6 for the bomber. Pretty much a middle of the road brown.

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Photo of steveh
3.08/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

First sample of the reincarnated holiday favorite.

12 ounce bottle, bottled on 10/21/1. Poured into an Imperial pint glass - a little at a time.

A -- Hazy, reddish copper with a firm tan head.

S -- Mild dark fruit esters and a clay earthiness. Some mild caramel back.

T -- Roasted malts up front blending into a toffee character and finishing with a neat balance of bitter hops and roasted malt character. Some lightly citric hops in the finish and that earthiness in the aftertaste.

M -- Mouthfeel is smooth with a crisp finish and medium body.

O -- Overall? Just a little lackluster for a $14 dollar 4 pack.

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Photo of rmcnealy
3.13/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle dated 10/12/2011. Served chilled in a traditional Goose Island pint glass.

Poured a darker amber that has a copperish twinge to it. Small cream colored head that dispersed to a slight layer of froath around the glass. The smells are not very robust with hints of caramel, roast, nuts and malt. The taste mirrors the smell with very little in the way of complexity. The taste is high maltiness. Any taste fleets quickly leaving not much aftertaste. Perhaps this one can use a year or two cellared to develop its flavors. New packaging and a higher ABV (6.2) are some changes from past releases.

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Photo of Jammies
3.14/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- pours a medium reddish brown with a thin wispy layer of foam that swirls to the center of the glass.

S- sweet and malty. Not a whole lot of depth

T- very light and not a whole lot of malts

M- light and smooth

O- not too bad. Somewhat thin for a brown ale, and decent flavor.

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Christmas Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
3.81 out of 5 based on 1,328 ratings.
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