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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User Reviews
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Reviews: 572 | Ratings: 1,329
Photo of Quaffer
4.15/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: This was a very nice looking, deep brownish red beer. A nice cream colored head rose up three fingers high and sunk at an average rate. A thin layer persisted for the entire drink and deposited a light amount of lace on the glass.

Smell: There were sweet and roasted malt smells wafting out of my pint, reminding me of saltine crackers at times. As the beer warmed up, a caramel aroma became very prevalent. Hidden within the depths of these smells was a hint of spiciness and graham crackers.

Mouthfeel: A medium bodied brew that was pretty smooth. There was a light tingle of carbonation on the tongue.

Taste: Upfront, there were sweet and roasted malt flavors, almost cracker-like at times. That quickly gave way to a hoppy bite. The finish was all hops, a sweetness in the back of the mouth, and certain sharp spiciness that hung over everything. I am not sure if that spiciness came from the hops or something else.

This was pretty good stuff. Not earth shattering, but highly quaffable.

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

-ABV: 5.4
-ABW: 4.4
-IBU’s: 35
-Malts: Specialty Belgian
-Hops: Crystal
-Color: 30 SRM

Goose Island’s Christmas Ale pours a deep, clear copper, with brownish hints” like a transparent penny. 1 finger of foam becomes ¼ finger after a minute, but laces well after. The strong aromatic qualities of the Belgian malt scream through on the nose, giving the beer a warm cookie aroma—beautiful and mouthwatering. I also feel like I can pick up a hint of dryish chocolate (or chocolate malt), though the hops are subdued. The strength and mouthfeel belie the nose—this beer is neither as strong nor as viscous as it smells. I knew that GI Christmas was only 5.4%, so I wasn’t as surprised by the lack of mouthfeel (which is quite creamy) as I was by the intensity of the aroma. The house yeast really comes through on the inhale and follow—reminding me of the forgotten taste of Hex Nut Brown Ale from a pervious trip to Chicago. The “dirty” character of the Belgian malts comes through a little more after the beer warms, giving a nice complexity to the sweetness and to the nose. Not dirty as in unclean, dirty like farming: like dirt. This is an aroma/flavor that I’ve found in several beers (all the Saint Arnold beers, thanks to their Belgian malts, Taddy Porter, and Abita Turbodog to name a few) and it’s really grown on me over the years. I’ve found myself craving it a few times…

Anyway, Christmas has a lightly chocolaty, fruity flavor that feels cool in the mouth and finishes quite long. Not very bitter, though the hops contribute to a juiciness in the finish that’s reminiscent, though not anywhere near as intense as the juiciness in SN Celebration. Very well balanced, actually... The dryness of the aromatic malts provides an interesting juxtaposition against the sweet, lingering finish creating a memorable beer all around. Another excellent offering from Goose Island…

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Photo of BeerBuilder
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Medium brown in color with a thick tan head that leaves good lacing. The aroma is of roast caramel malts, with hints of chocolate. The flavor is spicy, bready, with bits of chocolate. It is medium bodied, and has an alcoholic finish. It is a relatively easy drinking brew even though it is up there in the alcohol content. It was an enjoyable brew, I would drink it again.

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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 BeerAngel
4.23/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazed copper/brown color with a nice 2-finger light tan head. The smell of fresh baked bread, light hops, and alcohol are present. The taste reveals light spicing and more fresh baked bread/biscuit flavor with roasted malts being dominant. The well-balanced hops and light alcohol warming make for a perfect blend for this holiday brew. It is light to medium bodied brew and finishes with a dry hop and spice. Very nice brew! Thanks to budgood1 for sending this brew! Cheers!

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

Dark, clear red-amber brew with a solid, bready-looking head (like the surface of very grainy breads, during baking). Head is pretty persistent. Not much carbonation apparent in the body. Smell is sweet and malty, with light spicy/herbal hop notes, and a rather nice biscuity undertone. Very malty flavor, but not sweet. Spicy hops and bready yeast notes balance the malt throughout. Finish is very hoppy and herbal. Smooth mouthfeel, but could be a bit richer. A fine offering for winter.

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

Clear copper-dark amber color, has a nice thick off white head that leaves sheets of lace in my glass. Light caremel and flowery aroma. Sweet caremel flavor balanced with a healthy dose of citrusy, piney hop flavors. Medium body and mouthfeel, a decent winter brew.

Had this a couple years ago and it had a smokey flavor was not that good. This years brew is a lot better.

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Photo of zerk
4.37/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly cloudy amber with a thin white head that leaves some lace on the glass. Aroma is sweet... carmel and biscuity malts with pine and herbal aromas. Flavor begins with some carmel sweetness, but is by no means cloying. Becomes somewhat grassy... then finishes with a healthy dose of pine. (I was actually burping pine for a couple of hours after this one.) All flavors are kept very well in balance. Body is slightly thin for the style and carbonation is medium. This is a very drinkable winter warmer, and is one of the more impressive beers in Goose Island's lineup. Very well done!

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Photo of jackndan
4.18/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Goose Island Christmas Ale: A hazy, tan beer. My pour had little head, but what there was stayed, and left very nice lacing. The aroma is very pleasant, with hints of cinnamon. I really am enjoying this beer, it has a spicy, sweetness, with hints of several traditional Christmas spices. Very nice malts, with an understated raison bread quality. Very crisp mouthfeel, with an extremely long lasting/warm aftertaste. Very pleasant. I’ll look for this on tap, and so should you.

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Photo of Winter
3.77/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2002 Christmas Ale. Poured a muddy brown with a light tan head that never completely goes away. Aroma consists of chocolate malt, sweet cinnamon and spicy hops. Midtones favor a roasted maltiness and mild sweetness that builds up to a layered finish. The finish at first has a nice chocolate malt taste with hints of nut that transcend into an almost ghost-like smokiness that lingers for a bit before fading. A pretty good holiday ale that's not too sweet or spicy.

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Photo of budgood1
4.5/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours out a chilled, hazy ruby color. big foamy head diminishes to a bit of fine lace. huge citrus and pine hop aroma is followed by whiffs of malt and spice and everything nice. tastes of sweet belgian type malts, gingerbread, and lots of juicyfruit hops with hints of caramel and cocoa. no alcohol is detected in the flavor profile. full mouthfeel is as smooth as can be, making it extremely easy drinking. mega citrusy hops are mostly for flavor rather than bitterness, leaving a somewhat fruity aftertaste. for a relatively spicy, high alcohol brew, it has a uniquely refreshing and highly dangerous drinkable quality to it. i really like this brew. after a few of these it would be extremely easy to find yourself singing "tis the season to be jolly...."

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Photo of marc77
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Garnet hue with brilliant clarity, topped by a slowly receding creamy light tan bumpy head. Wake of loose lace. Dark caramel, sweet citrusy fruit, piney hops, spruce essence and hints of roasted barley sharpness in aroma. Not unlike spiced wort aromawise. Trace, pleasant diacetyl butterscotch as well. Wave of smooth malt sweetness upfront yields to a combination of moderate hop and perhaps citrus rind bitterness. Mellow roasted barley bitterness persists as an undertone. A bit light in body, but this allows for excellent drinkability. Citrusy hop flavor and dryish biscuit malt nudge in mid palate. Finishes smooth, clean and lightly sweet. A soft, well balanced and highly drinkable strong ale. With greater body this would be top notch.

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Photo of johnrobe
4.13/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2002 edition. It pours a deep amber in the glass with an off-white head that maintained 1/2 inch throughout consumption. The smell reminds me very much of candied fruit with a touch of citrus. Taste is fruity (and just a tad bit tart) with some caramel sweetness. Malt is slightly dominant. It's a little bit thin for a holiday brew but otherwise very good. A good session holiday beer.

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

Beautiful, dark ruby color, cream-colored head, thick and sturdy. Aromatic, soft and spicy, floral notes,nuts, sweet fruits. Full body, sits thick in the mouth. Warm, but not too strong. Tilted to malty side, but hops play their part. Great winter ale, but not as dark and stormy as I prefer.

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Photo of ADR
4.04/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Holiday time, 2002...

Slightly hazed (bottle-conditioned) darker amber, head is 1/8 of an inch and has three primary bubble sizes. Slightly hoppy aroma. Nicely "American" profile to the flavor, peppery and cinnamon malty flavors with a citrusy hop that kicks in mid-mouth and helps close the impression. Nice beer, good balance, interesting flavor, and refreshing incorporation of big hops. Maybe slightly thin in body. Another of six or so Winter beers that will give me plenty of variety for my moods this holiday season.

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

Pours a nearly clear amber with some tones of red (for the season, we'll call them cranberry). Head is minimal but laces nicely. Crisp, warm scent that hints of pie spices. Those tones are less strong in the taste than one might expect, but Goose Island gets it right again with a well-integrated brew. Smooth, sweet start with a hoppy middle and warm finish. Mouthfeel and drinkability are good as well.

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Photo of proc
4.09/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very nice Christmas offering. Pours out to a dark ruby in the glass with a decent head. The aroma had a slight yeast smell to it with light fruit. Taste is very malty with a slight plum taste. A good beer to enjoy on a cold evening.

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Photo of chilidog
3.71/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 Christmas...A nice deep cranberry-red body color topped with a light sandy tan head that is alittle short-lived before it sets into a slight film. Lace is alittle low. The aroma greets every taste first. Its strong hoppy ( I agree, an IPA like compair by other reviews ) aroma & taste of alcohol adds to a very smooth warming drink. Mouthfeel is left dry but the strength of the brew coats well and leaves you wanting more. Santa would find this very drinkable!!

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

Lightly hazed cranberry body. Sandy tan head recedes within a minute to an edging.
Big aromatics of citric hops, toasted carmel malt and alcohol.
Seems overhopped initially, with the raw, citric hops beating everything else into submission. Once this sat, (and perhaps I acclimated myself to it), the toasty carmel body shown through. Dirty, earthy hints as well. Subtle smokiness. Hops finish this off orange-rind style, mingling with some faint alcohol.
Medium-to-full body. Generally smooth with ample tiny breaking carbonation.
Nice enough winter brew.

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

Auburn, Bright Red towards any light source. Had a nice light brown head and nice lace. Great hoppy aroma (a bit sprucey hop character) and nice hoppy character (citrusy and sprucey, esp. when fresh)... reminded me of a lighter "SN Celebration". Med/Full bodied and smooth with a nutty(?) character and a nice bitter finish.

Easy to drink more than one of these !!

Label states "Bottle Conditioned"

1. 2001 bottle tasted 10/02:
2. Best Before: 05/19/03 Tasted: 1/17/03

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Photo of garymuchow
4.26/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Nice aroma marked by malt qualities, with notable hop aroma. Foamy and persistent head, that thins eventually, but remains somewhat lacey. Brown and clear with garnet hues present. The alcohol is present in the taste. Malty flavor overall, with a little sweetness, but not too much. As with the aroma, the taste carries the hop qualities, mostly in the middle. Finishes with some dryness, especially as the beer warms. Mouthfeel may be a little thin for style. This is a nice seasonal beer.

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Photo of Brent
3.66/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I think I've been spoiled by some of this brewery's other fine products to expect too much. This was good, but I was expecting more pizzaz. Moderate body, with a restrained dose of Goose Island's signature hops. Fairly light for what I expect of a winter seasonal, but smooth and easy to drink.

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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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