Christmas Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

very good
1,329 Ratings
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: 1,329
Photo of barnzy78
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I haven't had this one since 2008, and found it as a single bottle/mix 6 at my local grocery store.
2012, bottled on 9/17/2012
Pours reddish brown, tons of yeast particles, and a foamy, beige head that fades to a foam atop the ale leaving a little lacing on the glass. Aromas are spicy, cherry, fruity, and sweet. Tastes have a nice balance of spice, cherry, brown malt, brown sugar, nice tartness, different than I remember from my previous experience, which actually prompted me to take notes and review it. Medium bodied, modest carbonation. Overall, definitely different than i remember, and actually quite pleasant. I'm surprised that in others' reviews cherry is not mentioned in taste or aroma. At 7.3%, it's warming, and with the spice makes a nice winter warmer.

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Photo of stephenjmoore
3.82/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Cloudy brown body with tons of floaters. A nice frothy tan head that leaves a lot of lacing.

S- A lot of caramel malt and toasted malt aromas. Almost smells reminiscent of a hoppy scotch ale. A little bit of pine at the end to show that there are hops.

T- Hops show up more in the flavor and leave a lasting impression. Almost reminds me of nights talker in the fact that the hops are not in th nose, but hit you in the taste. Caramel malt, toasted malt, a hint of smoke, even a slight cocoa flavor.

M- Medium bodied, medium carbonation, some lingering stickiness with each sip.

O- The look at the smell left more to be desired, but taste matters and this one steps up.

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

A- Very murky, but a nice reddish brown color. A nice two finger head formed that dissipated rather quickly.
S- Smells very sweet with caramel malts coming through. Some spiciness as well.
T- Sweet malt is at the forefront. Caramel and brown sugar flavors are prominent. I don't taste very much spice. A little bit of alcohol bite that I didn't expect.
M- A little bit thick, but a good amount of carbonation helps it out.
O- I was expecting something more like a brown ale, but this tastes more like a winter warmer or a Scottish ale. It's okay, but not something that I'll really seek out next year.

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Photo of Arithmeticus
3.78/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured chilled in ale glass

A: dark burgundy; creamy, decent 1-finger head; very well carbonated
S: spicy, sweet, much like a pumpkin ale or a winter warmer
T: dark roast malt, about the level of a porter; very dark spicing; malty and not very hoppy; brown sugar flavor, with allspice and cranberries, toward a winter warmer
M: mealy; a bit thicker than average

Great beer for once a year

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Photo of Etan
3.87/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, 2012 release.

A: Pours brown with an orange hue, and a nice off-white head.

S: Mild spice, brown cake, orange peel, a little yeasty.

T: Brown sugar, sweet caramel and dark grain, a bit of spice.

M: Medium-bodied with light carbonation.

O: This is pretty nice.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy deep amber color with an off white head. In the aroma, big cinnamon and a mix bag of spices. In the taste, spicy cinnamon, and nutmeg, and it almost feels creamy. A spice like bite and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry cinnamon spice in the aftertaste. Big spice, and somewhat like eggnog, pleasant and enjoyable.

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Photo of Jade
3.82/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a bottle of 2012 vintage into brandy snifter.

A - Dark amber brown ale. Decent head sticking around. Fairly clear.

S - Awesome- Candy, caramel malts. Not noticing the typical Christmas spice scents.

T - Almost like a cross between one of my favorite scotch ales and old ales, but not quite as good as either. Noticing some subtle spices now, clove or ginger. A bit piney.

M - Similar to a normal brown ale. Dries on the palate.

O - A decent beer, but not getting the brown ale or the Christmas part too much. In a way, they 'mistakenly' made it better. Worth a try- but not blown away.

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Photo of negroobserver
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a small 0,25L Heineken glass

pours a medium brown color. hazy. soft pour produces a short cream colored head which lingers for a few seconds and recedes to the edge of the glass.

the aroma is sweet. malty. alcohol.

tastes malty. moderate/medium bitterness.

beer has decent body. tastes very much like a brown ale. beyond that it doesn't shine the same as other Goose Island brews.

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Photo of tone77
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a pretty mahogany color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is malts, spice, some hops. Taste is yummy, malts, caramel ,a good hop presence, some spice, alcohol is well hidden. Feels full bodied in the mouth and overall is a high quality beer worth seeking out.

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

2012 version, bottled in September, poured into a glass

Pours a dark amber/brown, with a beautiful off-white head

Smells richly of caramel and spices, with some nice toasty notes

Taste is rich and malty, with great hits of spice; there's a little bit of hop interaction, but it's not a powerful influence. Dark fruits top off the list.

Mouthfeel is medium, with decent carbonation.

Overall this beer surprised me with its complexity - I really enjoyed it and will certainly be on the lookout in years to come.

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Photo of C20Percent
4.08/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a burnt copper with an nice head of tan bubbly foam on top. Looks closely and see lots of sediment floating around. Head holding strong. Nice complexity in the color of this brew. Really nice appearance.

S: First thing I smell is some spices; nutmeg and cinnamon. Mixed in with some sweet malty aromas. Slightly hoppy. A little nutty. And, a little bit of honey, I believe. Good smelling brew.

T: You can taste the spicey flavor. The hops also come through leaving a slightly bitter finish. Malts taste sweet. Solid taste -- there's quality there, but not quite as good as something like Mad Elf.

M: Smooth and creamy. Medium body. Excellence carbonation. Velvety. Actually, really good feel.

O: Solid brew. Goose Island -- best parts of this beer are probably the least important factors. Taste is good -- better than a lot of Christmas Ales, but this isn't the best. That said, very good beer.

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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 Chiefy770
4.45/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: A rich, hazy red/brown look. Not much of a head. Great lacing.

Smell: Hints of toasted nut. A sweet malty scent dominates the overall scent of this beer.

Taste: Smooth, very smooth taste. Subtle hints of fruit and herbs are layered in this great brown ale.

Mouthfeel: Medium-rich body. Lacks a little bit of carbonation. Semi-dry finish.

Overall: Great brew. There are plenty of winter seasonals to get your hands on but this one is a "go-to" for me. This is a bit overpriced for a four-pack in my area but it is well worth the extra cash for a seasonal treat like this.

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Photo of Jimmys
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into chalice. bottled on 09/19/12.

A: hazed dark maroon body. pretty hue. slightly off-white/reddish head. frothy. retention is good as is the lacing. thick.

S: a little bit of sulfur. very fruity. christmas fruits, figs, sugarplums. nutty as well, chestnuts.

T: mild cinnamon, mild allspice. lots of caramel malt flavor. dark fruit flavors too, similar to the nose.

M: mild, finely bubbled carb. medium body.

D: definitely gets better as it warms. i took it out of the fridge and let it sit for 20 mins, wish i had waited longer. some holiday spice, but nothing overwhelming on any front. listed as an american brown, im surprised this wasnt fermented with a belgian yeast strand from all the dark fruity/sweet flavors and aromas i am detecting.

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Photo of TubaManJack
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- A pint glass pours into a deep brown with twinges of a deep amber red highlights. Its pretty cloudy from a bottle with the yeast. There is a bit of lacing and no real head.

Smell - Mmm brown ale malts (biscuit, chocolate, roasted) and yeast esters. There is a bit of spice and sweetness.

Taste - Just like the nose. There are the big malts that I'd expect with mild herbal hops. There is some sweetness almost like dark honey or dark dried cherries. In the bottles there is a larger yeast component which also adds a bitterness - Its really good and a nice holiday change up.

Mouthfeel- A nice medium body punctuated by a bit of carbonation. There is a bit of heat from the abv almost as a flavor, a nice smooth brew.

This is a great holiday seasonal and worth picking up a 4 pack.

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

This beer is a reddish, cloudy brew. It sports an enormous off-white head, with lots of fine lace. The aroma is of yeast and malt. There is a hint of alcohol, but its not distracting. Some spice and wood in the smell, but they're distant and faint. The taste is flavorful and strong. Warming comes out here, along with some great malt toast and bread flavors. The beer is full and flavorful. Great body and lingering malt finish. Nice brew.

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Photo of creepinjeeper
4.54/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic pint. Bottled in August of 2012, last two bottles enjoyed on 12/12/15.

It's listed here as a brown ale. Maybe it was back when I first drank it over the 2012 holidays, but I'm not getting that impression now. It poured out of the bottle like a belgian. Almost thick. Only difference, was a very thin head. There was carbonation, but it was in suspension as opposed to rising freely. Hints of caramel, stone fruit, raisins. It was so good, I hated to see the bottom of the glass. Can aging change the attributes of a beer that much? Would the new Festivity Ale compare? I might have to try it.

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Photo of RoamingGnome
3.92/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Goose Island 2012 Christmas ale

12 ounce bottle poured into a CBS snifter served slightly chilled

A) This beer is a foggy brown bit of a ruby tone there was about finger of khaki colored head that quickly dissipated to a collar. No lacing noted.

S) The aroma is similar to GI's brown ale with caramel and roasted malt, but you pick up a little bit of cranberry and certainly some festive spices.

T) The taste is very similar to the nose other than you pick up some orange peel and cinnamon stick shavings. This finishes semi dry and it is a bit earthy and grassy.

M) Medium body with moderate carbonation. This is pretty smooth overall, and has a decent aftertaste.

O) Enjoyed this Christmas offering quite a bit, and I'd say it's right up there with Great Lakes Christmas ale. On a side note, I got to say that doing beer reviews with this iPhone is so much more efficient. Kind of kicking myself for holding out on this purchase. Oh well, Glad to recommend this beer. Merry Christmas everyone...

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.38/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Cherry-orange exit from the bottle shows up a dark ruby in the glass with a thin khaki covering. Some lacing with a little bit of help. Christmassy coloring a plus.

S: Spruce mixing with some caramel grains first arrives on the nose. Cherry-cranberry fruitiness, though the aromatic strength was light and would of benefited by some more show. A hint of scotch laced caramel alcohol on the trail.

T: The flavor is fruity, scotch appleskin, caramel with a cherry fruitiness. Alcohol is pretty prevalent. Caramel coated apple and warm toastedness. Scotchy alcohol mention.

M: The mouthful is malty, syrupy, with a cough medicine like alcohol warming along with caramel grain.

O: Overall pretty good, fruity with a christmas cheer of alcohol and fruitiness. Found this to be more bock like then a brown.

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Photo of stakem
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a tulip shaped pint glass. The brew appears a hazed color of amber to brown with a finger of frothy tan cap. The head fades leaving patches of lace sticking to the glassware. Around the edges, it has more of a copper to orange coloration.

The aroma is fruity with a combination of what seems like orange zest, hops and alcohol. Not bad, just atypical of what I was expecting for a "Christmas Ale". A bit of maltiness shines through with a scent of burnt sugar, molasses, caramel and toffee. As it warms up, it gets a bit more fruity with some focus on hops.

The taste has a nice balance of the previously described malt character that is toasty with bread, toffee, caramel and a hint of molasses. Some fruity hop flavors of orange zest are contrasted by pitty to rindy bitterness that is mildly herbal and earthy. The aftertaste goes back to a bit of bready malt character with a lingering oily bittenress.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. Overall it is a decent brew but if you took off the christmas label, it is just a brown ale with a bit more focus on some bitterness and orange-like zest. Not bad, but not something I would go out of my way to try again either.

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

This is the review for the bottle dated - 10/21/2011. So this one has over 14 months on it.

On bottle it was mentioned that this one ages really well for about five years.

So here it goes.

Mahogany or ruby-brown colored. One finger thick off white colored head, that disappears slowly leaving behind a ring. An excellent lacing that is very sticky. Total haze. Lot of suspensions. Probably live yeast.

Aroma: Nose fills with toasted malts, bread and biscuit like nose. Sweet maltiness is abundant. Yeast is not apparent. Very minor hops, if any, come through.

Taste: All of nose components are transferred to the tongue without much adieu. Toasted, biscuit malts. Yeast and hops are better felt here than in the nose. A well balanced finish. Dry.

Mouth feel: Medium bodied Moderate carbonation. Easy silky feel. Smooth.

A delicious ale with nothing very exciting about it.

Style Rate: 4
Personal Rate: 3.75

Will be reviewing the 2012 counterpart soon. Have it in the fridge.


So here is the review for 2012 version. Bottle dated, 09/17/2012. Some obvious differences. The label does not say anything about developing in the bottle for 5 years or so as the label of 2011 says. Also, this one is a 7.3% brew compared to 6.2 of 2011 release.

Mahogany colored to almost copper brown color. Tan colored head of about one finger thickness that stays as thin layer. Ruby hues in light. Some bubbles are seen rising up. Hazy with some suspensions that are finer than in the 2011. Almost opaque. Sticky lacing.

Fruity esters, dry fruit, some yeast, caramel, toasted malts, some spices. A little of hop presence. Quite malt and ester forward aroma. Good use of yeast here i would say. Some Belgian ale like aroma. Very likable.

Taste: Malts upfront and very very small amount of hops to just counter the malts. Yeast is felt a lot. Finish is dry with some little residual sweetness. Feels somewhat spicy while on the palette, but no aftertaste.

Mouth feel: Smooth drinking, moderate carbonation. No astringency. Medium to slightly full feel. This one drinks very well.

Style Rate: The 2012 release more close to being an American brown ale than the 2011 one in my opinion. 4.25

Personal Rate: 4

I prefer this over 2011. Everything, the taste, the nose, the strength, quaffability and the finish, has been notched up a bit.

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Photo of Schmidts
4.85/5  rDev +27.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours from the Bottle chestnut brown with a two fingers beigh head. Lots of lacing all the way down.

Smells of Pine fruit, and toasty malts and coffee.
Tastes of Pine,earth,malts and fruits and toffee. Also a nice hit of pure Allcohol.
Finishs smooth and dry and very refreshing in your mouth.
I give it an overall of 5.0.
This is an exceptional Christmas Ale, give this one a try it will be my Christmas Ale of choice from now on! I am very impressed.

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Photo of emyers
3.86/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear chestnut color with a nice and thick off-white head. Leaves lacing down the glass.

Smell: Mostly toffee and pine/earthy hops with some grass.and yeast.

Taste: Same as the smell - dominated by toffee and piney/earthy hops with some very mild frutiness from the yeast. Sweetness from the malt and bittering hops are very balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium-to-high carbonation.

Overall: I like the change of pace from the typical overly spiced Christmas ales out there, and the piney hops still give it a nice winter/holiday feel. It certainly won't blow you away, but it's a solid beer.

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Photo of KajII
3.36/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

[Suggested Glassware: Nonic Pint]

The pour was a clear mahogany brown with an average (1-2 finger) beige creamy head that receded slowly, down to a thin scattered film and large collar with fair spotty lacing.

The aroma was of a strong pine hop, toasted grain malts and an earthy yeast with notes of toffee, allspice, dark fruit (plums), a mild nuttiness and a slight alcohol tinge.

The taste was lightly sweet and malty with a mild fruitiness and a slight toffee sweetness early on, and then became exceptionally bitter with a bold hop presence and a moderate spicy alcohol finish. The flavor lasted a good long while following the swallow, with a bitter hop taste along with a spicy alcohol warming left behind to linger a tad longer.

Mouthfeel was a step of two below medium in body and had a dry texture with a medium carbonation.

Overall this was a decent enough brew with a nice bold hoppiness not normally found in a Winter Warmer, although it does work rather well with this style...

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Photo of ckollias
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this 12oz bottle out of a porter glass.

A: Pours a solid amber hue with a 2-finger tan head that slowly dissipates down the side of the glass leaving a great trail and ending in a solid persistent lace.

S: Spicy malt aroma with a caramel background.

T: Similar to the smell there is a spicy sweet malt taste with caramel background flavor. Finished on the dry side of sweet.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: Excellent Christmas ale. Great aromas and flavor.

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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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