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.

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Reviews: 572 | Ratings: 1,329
Photo of Pencible
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: This poured an opaque mahogany with a little tan head.
S: It smelled like roasted barley and earthy toffee, with a bit of vanilla and nutmeg.
T: It tasted like copper hops and roasted barley, with some earthy toffee and vanilla and nutmeg. It had a clean and bittersweet aftertaste.
M: It was watery with moderate carbonation. Light body.
D: This was reminiscent of Our Special Ale. Nice scent and taste, but nothing special. The body was only ok. The finish was smooth enough, so it was easy to drink. Seemed like it could really improve with age. Fresh wasn't bad, but fairly mundane.

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Photo of mick303
3.86/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 edition. Poured a nice fluffy tan head, pretty good retention. Colour itself is a deep mahogany brown. Leaves a really nice lacing.

Smell has a fair bit of caramel toffee and malt, slightly roasty. Stewed apples, roast coffee beans, and some citrus hop bitterness, cooked lemons. Quite nice and keeps getting better, balance is good.

Taste is has slightly sour bitterness, good body of bready malt, some tart caramel, a bit flat though. Some cherry fruitiness and raisins, hops come through with a bit of citrus and a nice earthy note. Alcohol pretty well-hidden, a slight astringency comes a bit spicy on the end. Finish is herbal bitter, dry, a nice drawn out spiciness.

Mouthfeel has a good deal of carbonation, moderate malty body. Decently refreshing, some alcohol spiciness on end. Spicy end is warming. A bit boozey, like brandy poured over fruity spicey christmas cake.

Tasty stuff, hard to put down for long. A pretty good example of a strong brown ale. Smell is first class. Taste could be more interesting though and more drawn together, a couple rough spots. Together it is pretty good, undecided whether the high abv works in its favour or not. I'll be interested to see how subsequent future years stack up.

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Photo of ujsplace
4.06/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a nonic glass.

Deep amber brown in color with a sticky antique white head.

Smells of sweet caramel malt, dark fruits and some earthy hops.

Tastes of nice big Burt caramel malt, figs, dark cherries, cinnamon and nutmeg wither a mildly bitter hop finish.

Medium thick mouthfeel. Dense. Leaves a coating behind.

One of the better Christmas ales I've had. Looking forward to next year's batch.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.26/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle was poured into a nonic pint glass. 2011 version bottled on 9/27/11. As all GI beers, matures in the bottle for 5 years. This should be good after 16 months.

Appearance: This beer poured a small head that reduced to a thin layer quickly. It is an amber brown hue with little clarity and bubbles coming up through the glass.

Smell: Smells good. Fruity malty, sweet, caramel, and orange marmalade.

Taste: This beer tastes like a fruit cake. Very interesting and a bit of spiciness and alcohol to the beer too. Oranges and nice bitterness in the end of the palate.

Mouthfeel: A bit on the light slide with a watery feel to it, smooth, medium carbonation, and slightly chewy.

Overall: Pretty solid ABA that has aged well and could be aged longer. Might have to go back to Granite Liquors in Weymouth to buy a few more.

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Photo of flyingpig
4.12/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

355ml Bottle from Good Spirits Co, Glasgow (£3.00):
Dark ruby to copper colour with a pinky sized, bubbly and tan brown head that has nice retention and leaves some nice lacing too.

Sweet with some good caramel malts and dried fruits. There is a nutty aroma too and a fair bit of spice too, this is backed up with some subtle hops.

Sweet with a few caramel malts and some dried, darker fruits, notably some cherries, figs and plum. There is also a touch of hops that comes across lighter than it did on the nose. Quite creamy and with a lot of spice, there is also some brown sugar.

Medium to full body with a creamy mouthfeel and a good balance between the sweet malts and the bitterness with the faintest of alcohol tastes right at the end, this is all rounded off with a nice touch of hops.

Definitely something different and not at all what I was expecting when I learnt that this one was a brown ale. It wasn't as malty as I was expecting and there was more hops too, that and it was sweeter than your usual brown ale in my opinion.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.01/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Single bottle from the 2012 edition, picked up at Premier Gourmet in Buffalo. Missed this one around the holidays, but I figure it is wintery enough for one of these.

Defied the bottle's suggestion for a nonic and went with a tulip on this one. Chestnut ruby in colour, amber when held to the light. Good half inch of head recedes into a thick ring and sturdy layer of foam. Icicles of lacing. Looks the part at any rate.

Nose is quite nice, especially when the brew is allowed to warm. Caramel, bread, a bit of chocolate, orange, cream and holiday spices, with a faint citrus hop lingering in the back. Very good stuff.

Equally tasty, and the slightly Belgian mouthfeel made this a pleasant drinking experience. Malty to start, nice crusty bread and faint chocolate, before finishing with cream, fruit (plum, fig, orange), hops and spices. I only got one and I regret it immediately. Great mouthfeel on this, creamy and with mild carbonation.

Great Christmas ale - I'll certainly hope for a few more of these before next Christmas!

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Photo of MaxFenig
4.68/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This was the best seasonal, in this case a special Christmas variety, I have ever had! It had a touch of Christmas spices and provided a very pleasurable taste on my pallate. I had it on tap and the glass came with a nice foamy head, was served quite cold and it required a second glass to confirm the experience.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.93/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a four-finger light tan head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Murky brown color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Brown sugar and malty nose and flavor is caramel and spicy malt. Bottled 8/31/2012, $2.80 for a 12oz bottle from Bert's Better Beers Hooksett, NH

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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 Perduret
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got a case 2012 for christmas and have a couple left. It is a rich deep brown. the Aroma has a sweet malts and a really nutty waft. There is another spices that try to come out, maybe nutmeg?

Taste starts with toasted malt and moves to licorice and fruit. Finish even has a descent hop kick to it for a brown. i really enjoyed the different flavors of this one.

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Photo of ColdWaffles
3.94/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Reviewed from notes of stuff I've had over the past month or so.

Poured into a Samuel Smith's tulip pint from a 12 oz bottle.

Appearance: Poured a nice deep red/brown color with a short, short-lived off-white head.

Smell: Sugar, sweet, dried fruit and caramel and roasted malts. All pretty evident. Scent is pretty inviting.

Taste: Initially a sweet, roasty malt flavor with a plum undertone. Led me to believe this was a little boring at first. However, a nice hop background comes to play off of the moderate to good carbonation to make an interesting two-phase taste. Not bad at all.

Mouthfeel: Sticky medium bodied ale with good carbonation levels.

Bottle looks really classy.

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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 BeerFMAndy
3.4/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic.
2012 Vintage 7.3% ABV, Bottled on: 08/31/12 printed on the back label.

A - Filled with fine particles, Goose Island's Christmas Ale is a hazed-through rusty brown colored beer that's topped by a crown of ivory foam. The bubbles sink slowly while gently leaving lace on the pint.

S - Nutty and earthy to the max, the dominant malty aroma conjures up wood splinters, cracked nuts, and buttered biscuits. A funky mustiness, almost like sandwich-sliced, bagged baby Swiss cheese comes through the back end just before a pinch of herbal hops finishes out.

T - Very nutty, very earthy, Christmas Ale is brown malt all the way; old fire wood, stale nuts, buttered wheat toast, and slivers of peanut brittle. A strange but somewhat welcome fruit undertone comes from the yeast and adds a subtle nod to both raisin and red grape.

M - Highly carbonated, this medium-bodied brown has a moderately dry finish leading into faint balanced bitterness with a subtle alcohol "thin" feel and growing warmth; the best quality this beer has.

O - I can't find much about this beer I really enjoy on a personal level. Alternatively, there isn't much I don't like from a quality perspective, save for the "cheese" on the nose. The undetones of fruit only seem welcome to me because they add some depth and uniqueness to an otherwise earthy, one-sided brown ale. Hops are fairly absent in Goose Island's Christmas Ale, which sure doesn't invoke the Christmas spirit within me.

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Photo of CraftBeerTastic
3.31/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Ba Review #251
Served On: 1/30/2013
Glassware: Duvel Glass
Labeled ABV: 7.3%
Date/ Code: 8/31/12

This 12oz bottle was from a 4-pack I found at Ye Old Spirit Shop in Frederick.

Look: Poured a dark cloudy red color with some lighter brown tinges around the edges. The head was a tan layer of tight bubbles. Carbonation level was medium. Lacing was a consistant coating on the glass.

Smell: Aroma seemed reminiscent of an Abby Double or even a Double Bock with a bready quality mixed with dark winter fruits. There were also some faint hits of ginger or cinnamon spice.

Taste: First of were sweet fruity notes of plum and cherry. Then a biscuit kicked in with some caramelized brown sugar. The finish was fairly clean with some residual fruity sweetness remaining.

This was an interesting take on a winter seasonal. The Belgian qualities were undeniable, however I’m not sure if they were intentional.

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Photo of GiantMidget
3.2/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

From Bryn Mawr beverage.

Poured into a nonic as the label suggested.
Slight 1 finger head from a rapid pour. Immediate notes of raisin and other fruits, with a dark brown and lacing remaining while drinking.

I'm getting toffee, fruit, caramel and a slight metallic note in the first few sips. Bitter on the back of the tongue that is not disappearing throughout. It seems as if a lot of effort was placed on the other areas that the taste is somewhat lacking.
I typically like Goose Island a great deal, but this is a slightly above average effort at best.
While continuing to breathe it in about 20 minutes after pouring, I'm still getting that metallic scent that wasn't immediate at pouring.

It has the characteristics of a Christmas ale but maybe a bit too much tinkering with extra spices that didn't combine greatly.

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Photo of LeRose
3.44/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz 2012 version, bottled on 8/31/12. Poured into large tulip.

Poured hazy mahogany red with a finger of reddish tan head. Excellent lacing.

Aroma was dark fruit, cherry and prune. A bit bready and toasty. Brown sugar syrupy. Reminiscent of fruit cake.

Taste is sweet. Sweet cherry and dried plum, caramel or toffee more than brown sugar. Faint apple or pear fruit. Mellow coffee undertones. Some breadiness.

Smooth, medium body. Some lingering syrupy sweetness that is very much in the dark fruit category, like sweet dried figs. Just a touch of bitterness, but sweet dominates. Alcohol shows up as it warms.

Glad this is not an overly spiced holiday beer. This us a nice after dinner sipper.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: Hazy, reddish amber color with a three-finger head of creamy, light brown foam which retained well and left a soapy, clingy lace on the glass.

S: Dried cherries, chestnuts and light toffee aroma with a hint of burnt sugar, hop resins and a whiff of alcohol.

T: Full-bodied, sweet caramel malt flavor with a fruity complex of warm apple, pear, dried cranberries and orange peel mashed together with a mild, sweet hazelnut coffee taste. Mellow, herbal hops creep across the palate before washing back with some cloying sweetness and a slight rush of alcohol burn.

M: Rich, full-bodied and a tad sticky sweet mouthfeel with just enough in the way of bittering hops and drying alcohol to keep it from being too syrupy.

D: It is a bit sweet and boozy at 7.3% ABV to make a night of it, but as an after-dinner brew or even one to pair with a cigar, it's pretty complex & versatile. I'd reccomend sipping on it a bit closer to room temp rather than treat it like a winter quaffing strong brown ale.

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Photo of mntlover
4.27/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a a beautiful hazy rich deep brown color the swirls of sediment just makes it look so much better the head is big and fluffy two fingers of brown goodness. One of the best looking browns i remember seeing.

Aroma is nice sweet malts good nutty notes dark fruit hints and some spice zing going on.

Taste is nice rich malt sweetness nice and toasted seems thick to start then moves to lighter nutty and fruit with hints of licorice and plums. Finish even has a descent hop kick to it for a brown. Not sure if I am just in the mood for a brown ale or what but enjoying this one.

Mouthfeel is nice rich heavier medium on the front where the sweetness is but seems to lighten in the finish, Carbonation is perfectly balanced.

Overall bought this while back to try I just hope they still have some of this one in so I can buy more.

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Photo of HabiMendes
4.09/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I had a 2012 Christmas Ale. Regarding the aroma, the hops had a dominant expression over the malt (expected). The same happened in the taste, although the hop expression is even more pronounced. I noticed a caramelized background in the taste, but little of the nutty character I would expect. Overall, this is a good Brown Ale, and I would be pleasured to reencounter it.

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Photo of Amalak
3.7/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A. It pours a sludge-like dark brown, completely opaque, with a huge tan, foamy head that leaves some lacing behind.

S. Metallic scent with a mild hint of spice.

T/M. There's a spicy malt taste to start. A bit metallic. A bit of a dark fruit taste, on the level of grape. A hint of lemon tart. Medium bitter. Quite carbonated and tingly on the tongue. Full bodied. A medium-to slightly strong alcohol presence.

O. Listed as a brown ale but marketed as a Christmas ale, I'd prefer a bit more of a spicy flavor. It's a complex flavor, but a bit all over the place.

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Photo of nimrod979
3.59/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on 8/31/12. Poured into a Goose Island pint glass.

Appearance: Appears light in color for a brown ale but typical of what I'd view as a winter warmer. Murky, hazelnut brown with sediment floating around. One and a half finger thick light tan head with pretty decent retention. And awesome lacing.

Aroma: Huge malty and nutty with spices prevalent throughout. Caramel and toasted biscuit.

Taste: Big caramel malt up front laced with toffee sweetness, a nice spiciness, some ginger and notes of some hops adds a little balance here and there. Actually lots of little nuances going on here. Pretty complex actually. Even picking up some leather, dark fruits. all kinds a shit. Festive.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, Carbonation leans a little high, but a nice spicey and warming mouthfeel.

Fun and festive one of my favorite christmas beers so far!

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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 farrago
3.53/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

You get a solid finger’s worth of tan foam, mostly miniscule bubbles with an island of larger ones at the pour spot, dissipates a bit quicker than preferred, the lacing is a broad thin sheet which, in turn, clings very nicely. The base liquid is clear, however, there is a huge amount of sediment floating about creating an overall opaque appearance, red brick to orange clay in color, can’t see any bubbles with all that muck. The nose is rum cake to fruit cake, baking spices, sweet vanilla and caramel, surprisingly boozy and alcoholic, has more subtly present orange citrus, bread crust and burning caramelized brown sugar notes, the fruit muted. Full-bodied, on the heavy side even if generally creamy in texture, just feels like it’s running with ankle weights on. More dry than sweet, the grittiness of the sediment an obvious factor in impeding flow. The carbonation is mild but sufficient. Piles on the chocolate, caramel, butterscotch and ginger, clove spice with pine sap and orange citrus, here the hops get more assertive. Not that yeasty nor bready, the fruit is kind of cherry to mixed berry, the sort of thing you’d find in a chocolate and fruit dessert. Not as boozy as the nose but you do perceive some heat and imbalance. Despite the above it’s really a pretty good brew – three previous bottles consumed before this write-up were better suggesting earlier consumption for optimal pleasure (sediment too a concern).

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Photo of atr2605
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-pours a hazy amber with a tan head with good retention
S-biscuits, plums, no hop presence
T-toasted, bready biscuit flavor with plum flavor coming in the finish
M-medium bodied, soft and creamy
O-well balanced, creamy beer with a nice varied flavor profile. One of the better christmas seasonals that Ive had. A change from some of the over spiced beers that come around during the holidays

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Photo of Damian
4.16/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Drank on-tap at Eli Cannon's Tap Room, Middletown, CT
Served in a pint glass

The beer poured a slightly hazed, crimson-mahogany color and was topped by a tight, creamy, one-finger crown of khaki colored froth. Quite attractive. The head slowly faded to a clingy film of lace.

Not much happening with the aroma. I picked up hints of caramel and toasted malts. Subtle spice notes. Slightly fruity.

The flavor profile was much more complex and intense than the nose. A stiff, caramel malt backbone anchored the beer. Lots of brown sugar-like sweetness and toffee on the front end. Strong Christmas spice notes in the center. Ginger and allspice were noticeable. Some dark fruits as well. Candied orange peel appeared on the finish. At 7.3% ABV, the alcohol was nowhere to be found.

The mouthfeel was amazingly plush, frothy and robust. Super smooth and creamy with a pillowy, tongue-blanketing effervescence.

Goose Island's Christmas Ale really hit the spot on this cold December evening. While it seems that this beer should be classified as a winter warmer (or perhaps an American red ale) rather than a brown ale, it is nevertheless an impressive offering.

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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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