12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale | Thirsty Dog Brewing Company

very good
191 Reviews
12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale

Brewed by:
Thirsty Dog Brewing Company
Ohio, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.30%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
This beer's name sums up the idea of bringing the best together to celebrate. It is filled with seasonal flavors from generous amounts of toasted and caramel malts, mixed with equally generous amounts of honey, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. We feel it is the perfect libation, filled with flavors of the season.

Added by imaguitargod on 11-18-2008

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Reviews: 191 | Ratings: 739
Photo of purdueracer
4.89/5  rDev +26%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Most people don't know this, but this recipe was brought by a brewer from Great Lakes Brewing Company. This is an incredible brew. This is hands down my favorite christmas ale. It is full of flavor, but it's not overly filling like most christmas ales.

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Photo of VncentLIFE
4.87/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Too bad its the last bottle of my stash....

Pours a light brown with a thick half inch head that clings to the snifter. Head is off white.

SMells of spices, and lots of them! Nutmeg is everywhere, hints of allspice, ginger, and cinnamon. I like that ginger is the forefront, and ginger like the serve with sushi. mmm....

Well, all those spices in the smell are definitely there in the taste. And I like it! Ginger is in the forefront, with nutmeg, cinnamon , and allspice somewhere in the background but not forgotten. Grains are somewhere in the mix, but they fight a losing battle with the abundance of spices (and its a bit dry). A semi sweetness is there from the grain and possibly some candied sugar, but only in moderation.

Body is light, and the alcohol is lost in the spices. Just like Christmas Ale, it catches up to you at 8.3%. Ohio knows its spiced winter beers!

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Photo of dwaters59
4.79/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

My fav winter warmer. Would like to try their wee heavy (Wulver). This beer has a great look, nose, mouth feel and taste. Very well balanced without any dominating flavor. The finish is smooth. Everything a winter beer should be.

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Photo of KnucklesMcFisty
4.74/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is everything a Christmas winter warmer should be...it's naughty (spicy) and nice (sweet) ...you can smell the spices but they really come alive in the taste...nutmeg, clove, cinnamon & gingerbread...she's got a bite! But the malt and honey sweetness balance it all out. This is my new all time fave winter warmer...better than GL Christmas Ale...yup, I said it

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Photo of McNealc31
4.65/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep amber and filled with warm spices in the nose. The first sip is full of cinnamon, clove, ginger, and is delightfully warm. There's even a late sweetness. Graham cracker flavors make an appearance, too. If you like spicy winter warmers, this is for you. I've even seen it served with a ring of cinnamon on the glass, just like salt with a margarita.

The great debate here in Ohio is Great Lakes Christmas Ale or Thirsty Dog 12 Days of Christmas. I don't really want to decide. Both are outstanding and make anyone look forward to Christmas. You can't go wrong with either.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.6/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Uh oh. This may become one of those days when I CAN actually cop to drinking all day. You have to start in the morning to be able to pull it off, but given the weather and my attitude (I am listening to CDR Cody's "Seeds and Stems Blues" and Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Comin' Down", if that gives you any indication). When did my life become a C & W song? Man, I miss my Old Lady.

From the bottle: "This beer's name sums up the idea of bringing the best together to celebrate. It is filled with seasonal flavors from generous amounts of toasted and caramel malts, mixed with equally generous amounts of honey, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. We feel it is the perfect libation, filled with flavors of the season."

I had a finger of light-brown head when I initially poured this sumbich but when I looked away it disappeared like a thief in the night. Color was an orangish-amber with a clarity that made me want to weep for all of the things that have been lost just in my lifetime. Nose had a potpourri-like zest to it that just evoked Christmas and the holidays in my addled mind. Onto a taste. Ho, did somebody say "Ginger"? Jeez, there was Rodgers; the chick from Giggling's Atoll; that doll in Long Beach lo those many years ago who I used to hook up with after shows at Fender's International Ballroom ... Yes, ginger was the first and foremost taste on my tongue. Okay, regrouping, I could also get the cinnamon and nutmeg, but they were lesser players. There was this beautiful stripper who went by Cinnamon when I was down in Roosey Roads, PR and she and her colleague, China, were both from western PA. Oh, the memories ... But I digress again. The beer danced across my tongue on the lightest of feet, almost creamy in its presence. The finish was equally spicy and evocative of a meal in Thailand, on an evening of liberty in 1987. 'Twere the ginger, lads.

Okay, quick recap - very nice, especially for a Winter Warmer. Lots of spices, very warming with a fairly full mouthfeel. Worth seeking out, especially at this time of year.

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Photo of Kleez
4.6/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Good Xmas Ale. A quick up and comer in my experience. Great look and smell. very sweet and cinnimiiny smell. warms you up quick. gives your lips a bit of a tingle. goes great with sweets including xmas cookies or something more on the saltier side. Every year I find I am having more of a craving for 12 Dogs than Great Lakes

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Photo of sk8man121
4.59/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into Allagash chalice.

A: Pours a mostly opaque reddish-brown with faint orange highlights. 1-finger head quickly dies down to a mere cap, leaving no lacing on the glass.

S: Strong ginger in the nose, along with honey, orange peel and cardamom. Very festive; not unlike offerings from Yankee Candle (yup).

T: Wow. Ginger dominates, in an extremely clean and tasteful way. This beer is all honey and spice bouquet; impossible to pick apart, really, but oh so well-balanced and smooth. As far as I'm concerned, the alcohol doesn't exist. Incredible.

M: Medium carbonation, perhaps on the high side. This causes the beer to cream up nicely, although I can see this being quite thin when it flattens.

O: I found a stray bottle of this sitting on the shelves with no idea what to expect, and I can't get over how happy I am to have come upon it. This has got to be the best example of a Winter Warmer that I've ever had, and it more than hits the spot, even on a 67 degree spring evening. I'm looking forward to December, if only so I can grab a case of this.

A benchmark Winter Warmer.

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Photo of BeerVikingSailor
4.57/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this one recently, bottle from a 6'er....great to support my local Akron area brewers!!

Appearance is good, nice amber with decent head and lacing on the glass

Smell is great, decent spice mix, cinnamon and ginger upfront, some nice background spice notes of allspice and nutmeg in there, nice holiday smells

Taste is yummy, I like this one a lot, it is definitely a Christmas beer, you will have no doubt on that! If a well balanced and nicely spiced brew, with high and hidden abv does it for you, you will love this beer!

Mouthfeel is good also, lots of carbonation and easy on the palate, not overwhelming at all.

Drinkability is also very good, on a cold Ohio night with snow coming down, if you are lucky enough to have one of the 12 Dogs of Christmas, your night will be improved markedly! Highly recommended, as good or better than GLBC Christmas Ale IMO, priced about the same in NE OH...go for this one if you have the chance!

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Photo of m_hall
4.57/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a nonic pint. A slightly hazy tea-colored ale, topped by a two-fingers tan head. Light, spotty lacing.

The noise on this beer is spectacular... sweet malts, molasses, heavily ornamented with spices. Ginger and nutmeg especially stand out. If you had a pine tree around this would be Christmas in your nose.

Those spices on the nose continue on into the taste... molasses and a biscuit-like malt character serve
to support the very up-front spice (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg), leading into toasted nutty notes and dried stone fruits in the mid-palate. The finish is slightly sweet and spicy but dries quickly (possibly from the addition of honey.) Hops are almost imperceptible, mostly masked by the spices...Alcohol warmth is subtle and pleasant.

Mouth-feel is smooth and silky, with light carbonation. This is a pretty big beer, but also a gentle one, very drinkable. I could certainly see the 8.3% alcohol sneaking up on someone.

This was provided to me by a friend, who told me it was the best Christmas ale he'd ever tried, and I'm fully prepared to second that feeling. It's definitely a seasonal-specific sort of taste, but with the spices and the toasted nutty malts, it really is like bottled Christmas. When Santa stops by next year I'd much appreciate him leaving a few of these under the tree.

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Photo of kdlz
4.55/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - deep amber.. Heads up nicely but falls too quick

S - nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger

T - same as smell.. Follows the feel of literally drinking Christmas

M - a bit bity IMO, very very spiced

O - much better than most winter warms I've had. But reader beware if you don't want lots of spice, avoid.

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Photo of Ryanm1
4.53/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The name says it all in this one...Christmas. I had a 4 oz. pour for this in a tasting glass from a bottle at a very cold temperatrure. It was Amber in color. An overwhelming taste of nutmeg and cinnamon accompany this beer and that is exactly what the bottle reads. I also tasted a hint of cheery. Light and fluffy on the palate like you could make a session beer out of it. Also has a taste of malt to it.

The bottle also labels it as honey which I could not get out of it. High ABV but didnt taste like it. Gotta love those "winter warmers."

A very Christmasy Ale.

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Photo of Glanzman
4.5/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle served in a pint glass.

Pours a nearly clear, deep caramel color with a 1 finger head and medium lacing.

Smells of dark roasted malts and Christmas spices.

Taste like dark roasted malts... caramel... holiday spices.

A great winter warmer and worthy of a six pack or 2.

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Photo of Caveworm
4.49/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale | Thirsty Dog Brewing Company. Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, the head on this beer is one finger thick and eggshell brown, with lateral lacing, and a nearly opaque dark brown body.

Smells like toasted malts with honey, ginger, and cinnamon.

I taste a rich, yet smooth version of the scent. The spices are just enough, and not fake-tasting.

The mouthfeel is medium with mild carbonation.

Overall, I'll give 12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale | Thirsty Dog Brewing Company a rating of a 4.5. A staple seasonal in Northeastern Ohio, pick it up if you already haven't. Yet another beer I've had time and again and, for whatever reason, haven't reviewed yet.

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Photo of Trystero
4.45/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Christmas in July? I think so. Found this whilst going through my cellar and figured there's no time like the present. Behind GLBC Christmas Ale, this would be my second choice, with Southern Tier Old Man Winter rounding on the top three. Poured into a Bell's snifter.

A - Ruby red and radiant. Pours with a thick snowy head that melts away.

S - Phenominal. All at once, one is invited to spice; ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, followed pleasantly by honey. Almost no malt can be detected but after the decadent array of florals and spices in the nose, one does not even care.

T - The taste perfectly follows the nose. Amazingly complex and ritch yet at the same time refreshing. Comfort; the feeling of arriving home after a long journey through snow and dark. Ginger and honey linger on the finish with slight warming from the 8.3% alcohol. The warmth is quite welcome.

M - After approx. 6 months there is slightly less carbonation but it's still there. Thin though refreshing. It really hits the spot.

O - While I am indeed looking forward to fall seasonals, Pumking and the like, I can't but help to gaze slightly further in the coming seasons and await these winter warmers with surmounting anticipation.

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Photo of chinning
4.42/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've been trying really hard to find a Christmas ale that I really like. Most are usually over spiced, and IMO, undrinkable. 12 Dogs is one of my favorite so far!
A: dark amber color. initially lots of head which reduced to a slight froth with a little lacing on the glass.
S: Nutmeg, malty sweetness!
T: as my wife would say: Christmas in your mouth! subtle spices, and a little sweetness
M: I really want to finish this 6-pack, but I know I'm going to feel it tomorrow!
O: I really enjoyed this beer. The spices are there, but not overwhelming. Very tasty!

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Photo of goldennectar
4.37/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into Sam Adams tulip glass.

Appearance: Dark mahogany & clear. Pours thin head about that recedes quickly lacing

Smell: Spices, lots of spices and malted caramel- Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice? There is a lot going on here

Taste: All of the above mentioned spices and a nice lager/ale underneath holding it all up. The high abv does not
make its presence known

Mouthfeel: Light/medium and not overly carbonated - Easy to drink

Overall: Hell yea! This is a dangerously easy drinker. Since GL Christmas Ale sells out so quickly and I can never seem to get to the store while they still have some I tried this, and I like it equally as well, at a lower price to boot!
It's heavy on the spice so if thats not your thing you may not like it, but a great drink on a cold winter night.

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Photo of Ohiovania
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tried it on tap and boy was it delicious. The smell was very inviting and so the moment I got my nose right down in there, I knew this one was going to be good. Although I think some of the spices could of been toned down a bit it didn't bother me much and i enjoyed the flavor all the way through. I have heard rumors that the 12 dogs recipe is the old great lakes Christmas Ale recipe before they made some alterations. Not sure if it's true but this one is definitely worth trying.

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Photo of stewart124
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Copper to amber in color with a fine slightly tan head. Appears that there will be some beautiful lacing along the way.

Ginger, honey, cinnamon and nutmeg push through in the nose. Some caramel but that's an afterthought.

Good balance between sweetness and spices. Some background bitterness but this is fairly restrained. Sweet and smooth with a bit of warming as this hits. Very easy to drink and I dare say that I am rather enjoying the spices.

Again, easy drinking throughout. Medium to full mouthfeel with some ginger left on the palate to compliment the residual caramel. As expected there is some pretty lacing. Sneaky alcohol though. It would be very easy to put a few of these away. This is easily my favorite offering from Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.

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Photo of tillmac62
4.34/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear medium amber with a dark ruby hue. Nice head and lacing that retains well. Brilliant nose of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg spice, over a light dark malt sweetness with just a hint of honey. Creamy almost medium body with average carbonation that imparts a bit of effervescence in the finish. The taste is like the nose - spice against a dark malt sweetness base. An exceptionally well balanced brew that covers the 8.3% alcohol very well. Finishes slowly with a nice spice flourish, just a touch of alcohol bite and a nice burst of honey sweetness. An outstanding winter offering.

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Photo of dorianmarley
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is a rich brown with a thick, tan head and superior lacing.

Nose is a not-overpowering assortment of spices and malt; notably nutmeg and cinnamon.

The taste is a deliciously mellow blend of honey and spices. The malts are toasty and the hops give it a nice balance. This is a very drinkable spiced beer.

Mouthfeel is very smooth and somewhat creamy. Carbonation is medium-mild. The spices give off a nice warmth.

Overall, this is exactly what I would want when I think of a Winter Warmer.

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Photo of Boitnott
4.32/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It pours dark amber brown color with a small creamy head that quickly dissipates. The lacing is moderate at best, and does not last throughout. The smell is of rich spices, that are very dominate. Ginger cinnamon and nutmeg take over and mask everything else. Can smell a faint bit of malts but mostly is covered up by the spices.

The nose tastes of cinnamon and caramel malts, which makes for a really pleasant combination. As it lingers on the tongue the taste still remains as does not disappear like some beers. The finish intensifies the spices of the nose but also adds ginger, which makes it more interesting than I would have thought. The malts become more pronounced just as it goes down. With little to no ho presence the malts and spices are the focus of this beer.

The almost light body and medium carbonation accentuate the spices of the beer and really bring it together. Honestly, I am disappointed that I did not get this when Christmas time was around. It would have gone great during Christmas Eve, and I definitely could have finished a six pack of this impressive beer. Probably my favorite winter warmer of the season, granted the recency effect does play a role...

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Photo of Amesjeep
4.32/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving from a 12oz. bottle into a Duval chalice

Dark golden in color with a very light head even when pouring into the middle of the glass. The smell is wonderful fresh ginger and nutmeg. A great balance of what a Christmas Ale should taste like. First taste in malts and cinamon, then comes the ginger. Finishing with just enough kick and some nutmeg on the end. This one hits you on all sides of the mouth. Overall and great beer for this time of year and earlier. For those who live in Cleveland this has become the new Great Lakes Christmas all that we remember from 2008.

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Photo of GordonQuid
4.32/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a English dimpled pub mug.

Clear copper with a redish hue and one inch sustaining dense head; thick lace.

Smells like hard belgian christmas candy, cinnamon cloves and fresh cookie dough.

Taste is a full bodied complex blend of Marris Otter malts, cinnamon, belgian candy, and mulling spices. Not too overpowering in the blend of spices makes this drinkable and satisfying.
This is not a holiday brew for the meek but rather a BIG offering of holiday flavors. I have to mention that this brew is close to a GL Christmas Ale but a bit over-the-top with the mulkling spice. This is not for everyone but I find it very pleasant and appetizing.

Get one and sip by a nice winter fire or chug it whilst shoveling the driveway. It's all good!


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Photo of Clydesdale
4.29/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a mostly clear burnt orange/reddish color. The medium-sized head has a burnt orange tint and a fairly dense, frothy texture. Retention is solid, and a couple decent rings of lacing stick to the glass as the initial head recedes.

S: Quite the holiday nose: ginger and cinnamon are most prominent, but some lighter notes of nutmeg and dried fruit contribute well. There's also a nice underlying caramel sweetness, along with lightly toasted breadiness.

T: Fairly toasty maltiness up front, with a healthy dose of caramel flavor and sweetness. A sweet beer, overall. A light kiss of herbal hop bitterness adds some focus. The holiday spices (especially cinnamon and ginger) are well done without becoming overbearing.

M: Medium bodied. This drinks smoothly and easily for 8.3% abv. Alcohol isn't really detectable at all, minus a very faint warming nip into the finish.

D: This drinks very much like Ohio's more famous winter warmer, Great Lakes Christmas Ale. This drinks a little maltier, and has a more diverse cast of spices (whereas GLCA is quite gingery). A thoroughly enjoyable winter seasonal.

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12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company
3.88 out of 5 based on 739 ratings.
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