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:
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Reviews: 572 | Ratings: 1,329
Photo of Sammy
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Spice beer without noticeable spice in taste. Malty including a degree of chocolate malt and chocolate syrup. Nice brown appearance with lace. good carbonation. Nothing too special and par for this brewery. Thanks Woolfs at Doug Shoemaker super tasting.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.47/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 Bottling. Pours a clear dark bright copper with a light white head.

Nose is light milked coffee, roasted grain character.

Mouthfeel is medium bold with a little creamy character.

Flavors are bitter espresso/grapefruit skin and same in the finish.

Roasted grain character all around, flavors and finish and with a final bitter espresso character.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.58/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Tieman for sharing this one at his tasting.

2009 vintage. Bottled 10/9/09.

Pours a hazy dark orange with a foamy orange-tan head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, citrus zest, and a slightly funky aroma. Taste is much the same with a mild hop bitterness with each sip, but there is no funk that comes across in the flavor. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but it seems to be show some age at this point.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this back to back with Bell's Christmas Ale. Reviewed from notes.

A: 1.5 finger head on a murky brown body.

S: burnt toast, nuts, breads and some grains.

T: Fairly dynamic for a brown ale if that is what this is. Nuts and caramel up front with herbal and slightly musty hops with a dark fruit note.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: These seasonals are always interesting. Will pick one up again next year.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.15/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought a vintage bottle from 2008 while at the brewpub in Chicago. The beer poured out as a nice muddy brown color with a pretty good looking head on top. Some retention with a touch of lacing also. The smell of the beer reminded me more of a barley wine... I never would had said this was a brown ale. The smell is sweet, lots of caramel, maple and very malty. No hops aroma just very soft and malty. The taste of the beer is almost fruity with some spice and brown sugar. This tastes nothing like a brown ale to me. The mouthfeel is soft, creamy, warming and mellow. Overall very impressive beer. Really glad I grabbed a bottle of this. Very good beer all around.

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Photo of metter98
3.82/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is cloudy reddish brown in color and poured with a finger high beige head that slowly died down but has good retention properties. A light amount of carbonation is visible.
S: An interesting mix of spicy aromas dominates the nose--cinnamon and nutmeg seem to stand out in particular--and there are notes of fruit cake and hints of pine resin hops.
T: Like the smell, the taste is rather complex and has a mix of holiday spices and fruit cake flavors along with a mild amount of bitterness and some malty sweetness.
M: The beer feels medium-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation.
D: The beer wasn't overly difficult to drink considering all of the spices and the sweetness, but there's no way that I could have more than one of these in a single sitting.

Note: 2009 vintage

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.23/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Aroma: Intriguing, smells of sweet malt, roasted malt, cherry tartness and mild ethinol.
Appearance: nice dark ruby red with a brown hue. Nice 3/4" head that would linger if you drank from a cleaner glass than I am. Off white head with tight bubbles.
Taste: Sweet with mildly noticable hop flavor. Flavor quicky thins leaving a roasted and noticable grainy charactor. Flavors remain consistent through the finish.
Aftertaste: mildly bitter, sweet, hints of roast. Leaves the mouth thick and tacky.
Impression: I think the beer wants to be a porter when it grows up. But, still prefer it to most brown ales that I have tried. Not Goose Islands best.

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

2009 bottle consumed 3/3/2011. I dunno what style this is supposed to be, I guess brown ale fits. Sorta. Winter warmer is probably more appropriate.

Really nice molasses and brown sugar aroma. Little bit o' licorice, and some nice oxidation in the form of old port. Maybe this isn't the best style of beer to age, but actually it smells quite good. Smells kind of like a gingersnap cookie.

Tastes pretty damn good, too. Brown sugar, or even just straight-up sugar cookie is most immediately noticeable. Oxidation gives the beer a mix of soy sauce and port flavors, right in the middle and frankly quite nice. There are some berry/jam-like flavors, which may just be an extension of oxidation. Who knows. The finish is fruity, grainy, fairly mild. It's an easy drinking beer, though very rich and sweet for the modest ABV.

Really nice stuff overall, appropriately Christmas-y but a damn good brew regardless of season.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.45/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a clear deep brown color ale with a big foamy head with some average retention and some small lacing notes. Aroma of spices with a big caramel malt profile. Taste is also dominated by a big caramel malt presence with some sweet notes and a strange mixture of spices. Body could have been fuller. Interesting but lacking something to be truly great.

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Photo of zeff80
4.17/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a dark brown with a small, short-lived head. Leaves good lace.

S - It smelled of malt, hops and nuts.

T - Tasted strongly of roasted malt. Also, quite nutty and had a subtle hop bite.

M - It was crisp and medium-bodied.

D - Very good winter warmer. Different than most...tasted a little like a nut brown ale.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.53/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at Binny's - South Loop. Bottled on October 30, 2009. Thanks to Amyliz4 for her insatiable need for Christmas beers.

Served in a tulip. Pours a moderately-dark brown, tending toward a dark caramel color. Single-finger white head to begin, quickly falling into a thin white collar and a few bubbles around the edges. The nose brings a bit of caramel sweetness and a mild dark-fruit presence. Somewhat dry and not too spicy; not sure if it ever was. The taste is nice and moderately-sweet with a pronounced caramel presence. No real spice, but there is a mild, understated hop character there. Medium body and a fairly-dry finish. Drinks pretty well overall; glad we got to try this now that I know it's not being bottled any longer.

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Photo of mothman
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber 2009

Pours about 1/4 finger of beige head. Fades to a thin layer and leaves a decent amount of lace. Color is a clear copper bronze.

Aroma: Big nut brown malty aroma. Caramel and nuts. Bready malts and maybe some toffee. I also get some dried fruit notes.

Taste: Very malty. The hops are grassy in the background, but overall malts. Lots of nuts and caramel with some toffee hints. I also get some spices here. Again, I get some dried fruit notes, but not a lot.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and bubbly with a tad hop bite. Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Ends malty and dry.

Overall, I wasn't overly impressed with this beer. I think it is a nice winter beer, but nothing I would go crazy for. The price is rather high for the bomber as well. Drinkable, but nothing amazing.

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Photo of jlindros
4.05/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a huge fluffy head that reaches almost 2 fingers and fades very slowly with nice lacing, over hazy yeast chunked dark reddish maroon brown tannish color.

nose has lots of caramel malts, toffee, molasses, sweet smelling malts and sugars but not boozy, bit nutty as well with a hint of christmas spices, and maybe some earthy hops.

Taste starts rich with brown malts, tons of brown sugar and molasses, caramel and toffee, semi sweet, evidence of a darker roasted malt like a dark crystal as there are hints of a salty charred flavor. The malts turn slightly nutty as christmas spices come through lightly cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom?, and creamy. It turns a bit bitter as well as some earthy spicy hops kick in, and the bitterness grows. Finishes fairly bitter, dry but sticky, more creamy caramel, toffee, and molasses.

Mouth is med to full bodied, rich and creamy, good carb.

Overall nice brown ale, hints of spices, nice brown malts, caramel, toffee molasses, brown sugar, and even a nice hop kick. The only issue is the hint of tannic flavor from the hint of darker roast and slight astringent hop.

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Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, bottled on 11/11/11. Pours very cloudy reddish brown color with a nice 2 finger fairly dense khaki head with nice retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Slight spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas of caramel, toffee, biscuit, nuttiness, pepper, toast, pine, and herbal. Very nice and well balanced aromas with good strength. Taste of caramel, toast, biscuit, pepper, clove, toffee, nuttiness, pine, and herbal spiciness. Lingering notes of caramel, toffee, biscuit, nuttiness, pine, and herbal spiciness on the finish for a bit. Nice balance of flavors with good complexity. No cloying flavors at all after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a fairly creamy and slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with almost zero warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very nice holiday brown ale. Well balanced and fairly robust; and very smooth to drink. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a clear dark amber with 1-2 finger widths of off-white head that becomes a great, lasting, creamy retention that left thick lacing down the sides of the glass. The aroma is heavy malts, caramel sweetness, toasty nuttiness, and spices.

The taste is chewy with bready malts, caramel sweetness, spices, and some dark fruit tartness. Finishes with some pleasant feeling light hop bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a slick feel and crisp pop.

This wasn't bad. At times it feels like a beefy Brown Ale but the chewy malts and holidays spices definitley give off the warming feel of a Winter Warmer. The drinkibility is good, so you could definitely throw a couple of these back on a cold winter's night.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy, deep mahogany body with a creamy light tan head that holds well and leaves some nice lace throughout the glass. The aroma is cocoa-ish and mildly fruity with a soft background spiciness (piney hops?). The body is medium and creamy in the mouth from a very fine and natural carbonation. The flavor takes an interesting turn with a sweet fruitiness and some citrusy and piney hops atop a lightly syrupy maltiness. A distinct caramel note is revealed as it warms in the mouth, and some chocolatey character remains but it also picks up a roasted edge that combines with a firm bitterness in a dry and lingering, mildly roasty finish. Very nicely done with a good amount of complexity. Interesting and enjoyable. Best enjoyed slightly warmed. Well worth trying.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.58/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 release bottled on date of 10/9/09, acquired from pochman, courtesy of BA Secret Santa 2009 so a big "Thank You" goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a light brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, lemons, some hops and some spices.

T: The taste starts out with a hearty malt character and sweetness from flavors of lemon, caramel and maple. There are some spices in the background as well. The hops presence is mild but complementary. It's a bit of an odd combination of flavors but could work for you if you want something a little bit different. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, it's good beer that is worth drinking for a while but not the first Xmas seasonal that I would choose.

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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 Rifugium
3.53/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at Miller's, Chicago, IL

Dark amber with ruby tints, clear, with a finger or so of white head that receded to a medium-sized ringlet, leaving a bit of lacing on the glass. Aroma of caramel malts, leafy hops, lesser notes of spice and dried fruits. More of the same in the taste, sweet malts, fairly nutty, some drying hop bitterness, and very light notes of spice, almost not worth mentioning. Medium body, nothing amazing going on, but a decent drinker overall.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.97/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Christmas Ale is the color of strong raspberry iced tea (lightly hazy brownish ruby) and looks festive. The head is tan in hue, firmly creamy, falls a bit too quickly, and leaves a small amount of lace.

The nose is as expected for a holiday brew: plenty of sweetish malt and spices. There's a bit of hoppiness in there as well, although guesses aren't possible.

This is delicious beer. The flavor delivers a dark, roasted maltiness with some background chocolate notes. CA is almost porter-like in some respects. The spices aren't as prominent on the palate and there's isn't much hoppiness either. The mouthfeel is smooth, soft and enjoyable.

Christmas Ale is another solid offering from Goose Island, but I've had better wintertime brews. I'll have no trouble at all waiting until next holdiay season to drink it again.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.48/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this one as an extra in a trade a while back, do not remember from whom unfortunately but it had been sitting in my fridge for a while and I grabbed it out last night for no apparent reason other then to try it.

Appearance - This one poured a very dark reddish tinted amber with a sparkling clarity to it. Lots of carbonation was visible rising up to the surface throughout the session. There was a good three inches of white pillow like foam on the top at first, but this more or less faded down to a thin crown that stayed on the top for the rest of the session. Some nice residual side glass lace apparent as well.

Smell - The aroma was rather nice, with your typical winter warmer like aroma. Lots of spices are evident on the first pass through and this is more or less to be expected. Nice notes of cinnamon, spiced apple and pear, and a touch of nutmeg. There was a good amount of sweetness mixed in with caramel and a roasted nice like smell coming off it as it warmed. Deep underling grain and malt base was apparent as well.

Taste - The flavor was a bit average for me. Nothing really coming across as being overly special or different compared to others I have had in the past and that's really a shame. Very sweet and entirely malt driven, this was not terrible, just underwhelming. Good bit of spice added in and a nice bitter hop driven finish.

Mouthfeel - Pretty spot on for the feel, with a light body that was more then adequately carbonated. Excellent smooth sensation going down and it never really felt like it was too thin or watery.

Drinkability - This one was pretty drinkable as I was easily able to throw it down and start glancing around the room for something else to drink. It was nice and sweet and nothing being too obnoxious or overly spicy.

Overall not bad at all. The winter warmer style in general can be hit or miss, and I would say that this one was more hit then miss for sure, but still it was ok. If you are a fan, this one will do good by you.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.76/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I had this on tap at Holy Hound, served chilled in a pint.

The color is deep bronze with reddish hue w/ little head and no lace cling, the smell is good with some spicy notes and fruity yeast aroma with a light hoppiness apparent in the nose with some malt esters augmenting. The feel is very nice with some mildly bitter and hints of malt texture with dry body and medium carbonation overall adding to the apparent levity.

The flavor is very good with some mildly bitter hops up front with hint of malt and pine-like element with slight alcohol with malt toastiness rounding out the simple ale. This was a very nice Christmas ale in the traditional sense-it seems like an American Brown with a nice amount of hops -very tasty no matter how you slice it

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Photo of russpowell
3.59/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up in Wichita (goebbels)

Pours an orange/chestnut with 2 fingers of tan head into my Chimnay goblet. Insane lacing & super head retention

S: Cinnamon, brown sugar & leafy hops

T: Bready malt, herbal hops, cinnamon, orange slices, & leafy hops up front. Leafy hops, brown sugar, candi sugar & orangey hops as this warms. Finishes sweet ( orange slices & toffee ) with underlying herbal hops

MF: Medium bodied with low carbonation & good balance

Drank pretty easy, a pretty simple winter warmer that makes me want to try this fresher & see what the difference is, still very solid

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.67/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2012 bottle.

A: A: Pours a brownish color with a very nice tan head on top with great retention. Not much lacing though.

S: Nice aroma of dark stone fruits, some plum, cherries, and raisins mixed with caramel and some light citrus.

T: More dark fruits and brown sugar with a slight nutty flavor on the finish.

M: Medium bodied with light to medium carbonation.

O: A nice beer, would like to give it another go in the future.

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Photo of billab914
3.73/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage poured from a 22oz bottle into my Southern Tier tulip glass. Pours clear with a copper hue to it. It had a very nice thick white fluffy white head on it after poured. The head settled a little but it left thick foamy lacing on the sides of the glass. Can't really complain at all on the appearance, loved the head retention and lacing.

Aroma is big and malty with a little spiciness. Caramel and toffee are both present in the maltiness but the spiciness is a little tougher to put my finger on. it has a woodsy crisp pine/spruce aroma to it.

The first thing I notice about the taste is that it isn't another cinnamon based Christmas beer which I am thankful for. The taste has less spices in it then the nose suggests. I'm getting a lot more of the caramel and toffee bready malts then anything else. it has a little sweetness to it but is pretty balanced overall.

I found this more drinkable then I expected, I opened this thinking it was going to be another spice bomb but it turned out to be a really enjoyable balanced malty beer. One of the better Christmas beers I have had.

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Christmas Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
3.81 out of 5 based on 1,329 ratings.
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