Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale | Thirsty Dog Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
87
very good
186 Reviews
12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Thirsty Dog Brewing Company
Ohio, United States | website

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
186
Ratings:
709
Avg:
3.88
pDev:
26.55%
 
 
Wants:
43
Gots:
166
For Trade:
1
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 186 | Ratings: 709
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.

 298 characters

Photo of whiterabbit
3.47/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A - Nice deep dark amber bordering brown, light head that disappeared almost immediately. Looks ok, nothing to impress, but nothing wrong here either.

S - Wow. Blast of liquid gingerbread. Smells of molasses, ginger and clove. Very inviting, very holiday.

T - Follows right along with the smell, strong spice. In my opinion too over the top.

M - Not a lot here, relatively thin, just over bearing on the spice note. Good, but cannot drink more than one of these.

O - The thought is Christmas, and it achieves. Just a bit too overbearing for my tastes, good but a one and done for me. I would have another, just not in the same night. Cannot see this anytime but the holidays, would have a far different take in May.

Try one, but if you can pick up a single in doing so, I would recommend that.

 798 characters

Photo of CMUbrew
3.73/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Review from 12/18/13

A: Rich mahogany color in the glass. Whitish head forms nicely but disappears quickly

S: Spices obviously. Ginger and nutmeg are most prevalent.

T: Ginger and nutmeg mostly, but the spice presence is nice and not overpowering.

M: Maybe not quite as full bodied as I was hoping, but not bad.

O: A very enjoyable spiced beer, though I was hoping for more spices, especially the cinnamon, to stand out.

 428 characters

Photo of johng
2.47/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

First time I ever drank this, could not find any Corsendonk Xmas this year so tried something new. Overpowering taste of ginger with some heavy clove action. Liked the mouthfeel. No real scent to it but a bit of sourness. Better as it got warmer like most Xmas ales but wouldn't recommend it. Disappointing effort from Thirsty Dog in my opinion.

Read on another beer site that this was similar in formula to Great Lakes Xmas Ale. Not even close.

 446 characters

Photo of oberon
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a tawny brown with a tinge of amber,a thinner slight off white head atop.Aromas of nutmeg,mace,allspice,and some honey makes for a very spiced brew.I like the warming spiced notes on the palate,candied ginger and nutmeg notes stand out most along with a sweet honey-like finish.The sweetness is big but for me it never gets overly sticky.Solid.

 350 characters

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.

 592 characters

Photo of CloudStrife
4.07/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Pours a hazy brownish red with a slightly yellowed head on top. Leaves some nice lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: Loads of spices up front on this one. Nutmeg, cinnamon and clove all come to mind. Roasted malts add some sweetness.

T: As with the aroma there are a lot of spices in this beer. A well rounded sweet blend that doesnt overpower in any one direction.

M: Medium body with mild carbonation. Isnt too sticky on the tongue and has a fairly clean finish. Alcohol is well hidden.

Overall this is certainly a winter warmer that defines the style. Great spice profile and very smooth body. Has the oomph of a strong winter beer with great drinkability.

 705 characters

Photo of Axnjxn
4.15/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 release. 12oz bottle into a stemmed chalice.

Pours a dark red color with an appropriate inch this head. Great aroma of nutmeg, cinnamon and other similar winter spices. The taste has a big amount of spice but no single spice dominates the palate... i get cloves, cinnamon, honey, nutmeg, coriander, ginger.. lots of toasty malts. Heavier side of medium bodied with mild carbonation. Definitely a slow drinker that would go great by the fireplace on a cold night.

Overall an excellent winter warmer that you should seek out if youre a fan of the style. Liked it a lot.

 574 characters

Photo of philbe311
3.73/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A - Two and a half fingers worth of crisp tightly packed fizzy light khaki colored head with a slight rose colored tint... Excellent retention... The head turns denser and creamier as it the head begins to the settle... A rather unique color that is equal parts bronze and brown... A good bit of briskly paced carbonation with some bubbles clinging to the sides of the glass... A good bit of lacing clings to the sides of the glass...

S - A strong whiff of honey right off of the bat... Some light dark fruit notes... Bursting at the seems with toasted malts... Brown sugar... Some subtle spice notes in the form of cinnamon and ginger... Warming, pleasant and satisfying...

T - The spice component is kicked up a notch on the palette as it takes center stage... The ginger and nutmeg are prominent and the cinnamon is a bit subdued... Then it's the honey... Some dark fruits... A hint of dark sugar... Beings to round out very nicely as it warms a bit, but there's still something slightly off that doesn't quite work for me...

M - Medium bodied... Fairly dense, yet a bit thin... Brisk carbonation... Starts lush and quickly turns dry...

D - An interesting Winter Warmer... Lots of satisfying and redeeming qualities, but in the total this one is a bit less then the sum of its parts... Not a bad beer, but there's something subtle that doesn't quite compute with my palate... Perhaps it's a combination of a bit too much ginger and a mouthfeel that is slightly off... Again, not a bad beer, but far from my favorite winter warmer...

 1,543 characters

Photo of Maltenbach
3.6/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a bottle. Pours reddish brown with a foamy 4-inch head that dissipates rather quickly, but has good lacing. Aromas of cinamon, raisin, ginger, pumpkin spice, caramel malt. Creamy mouthfeel with flavors of brown sugar, caramel, cinnamon, vanilla and ginger. Candy-like finish of spiced milk chocolate and a whisper of honey with a slight hop bite. This is better than many Christmas ales out there. Nicely done.

 415 characters

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.

 252 characters

Photo of DmanGTR
3.54/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured deep brown/mahogany. Slight beige head that didn't last long. A rich gingerbread aroma, some cinnamon in the nose too. Had to let the beer warm up to get that though. The flavor is bready with lots of darker malts, perhaps chocolate, but mostly crystal. The cinnamon pops up for a second but is quickly diminished. Very smooth. Not shabby. I would like to age a couple of these to see how it evolves over a couple years.

 427 characters

Photo of DeFaz
4.02/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I found this is at Jungle Jim's near Cincinnati, and I'm assuming the bottle is old but I can't find a date. This is an enjoyable winter warmer that is heavy on spices but isn't overly sweet as some winter warmers tend to be. Specifically, ginger, nutmeg, brown sugar, and cinnamon, in that order, stand out. The smell is even better than the taste. The alcohol is concealed better in the taste than maybe any beer I've ever tried, and that makes this one dangerous, especially considering how easy it goes down. The mouthfeel is on the thinner side and the carbonation is fairly low. For as much as there is going on, it finishes clean. Overall, this is a very good winter warmer that I would probably enjoy even more during the right season. I can't help but compare this to Great Lakes' Christmas Ale, which is much sweeter and a bit better, but both are recommended.

 870 characters

Photo of Broman
3.34/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance- Pours a deep red color, when held to the light tiny bubbles can be seen plentifully rising. A moderate head floats atop that dissipates rather quickly. As the head disappears the bubbles follow at the same rate. Overall an exciting beer to look at initially.

Smell- Not an overly powerful smell. Somewhat disappointing from how the beer looks. Slight hints of malt, cinnamon, and sweetness are what is most prevalent.

Taste- The smell is backed up with the taste. Most abundant is the malty characteristics. Slight cinnamon flavor is masked in under the heavy malt. Virtually no aftertaste lingers. Overall easy beer to drink, enjoyable taste, but not overly excitable.

Mouthfeel- A slight sting on the tongue disappears quickly. Medium body feel in the mouth. No initial flavors seem to break through.

Overall- Better than most christmas beers out there. It does not try and overpower you with sweet and cinnamon flavors. It has a nice offering of malt taste and seems to have good body. Overall this is an enjoyable beer and would recommend to anyone who is an avid christmas ale drinker.

 1,106 characters

Photo of buschbeer
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle
Served in a perfect pint

A - It is burnt orange in color with amber and golden highlights. My pour yielded me an inch of beige head. There are tons of tiny bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass.

S - It smells like ginger bread. I also get cinnamon, and it almost has a brown sugar smell.

T - I get the typical spices one would expect, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.

M - Medium

O - It is a solid Christmas ale. It has all the characteristics one would associate with Christmas. A little past the season but it is still good.

 557 characters

Photo of secondtooth
3.11/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a deep ruby with a minimal head. Lace is thick and dense, but not so detailed.

Nose is fruity, spicy, and reminds me of a fruitcake. I don't consider that good nor bad, per se.

Taste is thick, malty, and syrupy. The sweet cinnamon and spice essence is most prominent with this heavy-bodied, rich, and fairly complex holiday ale. Seems a bit too heavy-handed for my taste, though, and this is not one I'd pursue again.

 425 characters

Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, Winter 2012 bottling. Pours lightly hazy red-orange amber color with a nice 1-2 finger dense off white head with nice retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty foamy lacing clings to the glass. Aromas of big honey, caramel, ginger, raisin, nutmeg, cinnamon, toast, light clove, and light herbal. Damn nice aromas with good strength and balance. Taste of caramel, toast, ginger, honey, raisin, apple, cinnamon, nuttiness, and light herbal. Lingering notes of caramel, toast, honey, ginger, cinnamon, raisin, apple, and nuttiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and robustness of malt/spice flavors; with zero cloying flavors present after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a creamy and slightly slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with almost zero warming present on the finish. Overall this is an excellent winter warmer. Nicely balanced and robust flavors with good complexity; and extremely smooth to drink. A very enjoyable offering as expected; this is definitely the better offering vs the GL version.

 1,108 characters

Photo of WoodBrew
4.09/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Merry Christmas!!! Trying the 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale...the beer poured a clear deep rich amber...almost brown....with a thin slightly off-white head that is not leaving much lace. The scents are quite nice...honey, cinnamon, giner and nutmeg....just like the bottle says. The taste starts with honey for sure, then the hops and alcohol begin to add a bitterness that makes the taste turn to pine needles. The mouthfeel is full bodied with subtle carbonation. Overall it is a decent beer and winter warmer is a good description...probably would not do more than one a night....just alot going on and the ABV is butt-kicking.

 625 characters

Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

What’s a Christmas ale? Something with spice and lots of dark malt? Sure, we’ll go with that. And from what I hear, this is one of the quintessential examples of this pseudo-style – plus, it’s my first from Thirsty Dog, so I’m happy to tick them away.

Still have three months before this bottle reaches its best-by date; considering the season, I have a feeling this beer was brewed recently.

A: Body is a dark, crystalline amber with reddish tones; a finger-high head of creamy tan froth emerges slowly, falling to a sizeable pillow of retention. Lots of intricate lacing, thick and sticky.

S: Smells sweet and intricate: scents of honey, fudge, black licorice, and fruitcake abound, a nose full of holiday cheer. It has the character of a sweet holiday cookie, the malts like pastry and sweet pie crust; notes of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg also help give it a dead-on cookie character.

T: Lovingly sweet in holiday fashion, this palate is full of sugar cookie, cinnamon-sugar, toffee, honey, and even some mild peanut butter. A smooth ginger and pine hoppiness tightens up the profile, delivering a needed astringency to the heavy sugars while still keeping it within style. Floral flavors of chamomile and lemon zest appear over a little nutmeg toward the back end, giving this a finish of herbs and sweet honey.

M: Velvety thickness, but with a slight fizzy texture to it. A meaty drink, fitting nicely for this style.

O: Still not exactly sure how to describe a Christmas ale, but this is the best one I’ve had yet. I don’t know what it is, but this is a beer for the season – and one that will certainly put a smile on your face.

 1,659 characters

Photo of andrewjraab
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A. Dark brownish red with a silky cream colored head. Each drink leaves a speckled streak of foam on the glass.

S. Big spice characteristics: predominantly nutmeg which trumps the cinnamon. Malts, vanilla, chocolate.

T. Smooth and malty followed by a huge taste of nutmeg and cleans up with a warming touch of alcohol.

O. Great for the style. I was a little put off by the overpowering nutmeg flavor, but overall this is solid.

 433 characters

Photo of MacQ32
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - pours a slightly copper, mostly amber/brown with half of a finger of off white head that dissipates a little too quickly. Thin layer remains about 10 minutes later, decent but loose lacing.

S - toasty caramel, honey, spice unless cinnamon/nutmeg maybe. A nice non-overwhelming balance of sweetness and spice.

T - mostly sweet up front, caramel/honey/biscuits. A more mild cinnamon kick. As the beer warms the spices are less obvious. Really nice sweet aftertaste

M - lighter bodied, somewhat crisp. Good drinkability

O - pretty light looking/feel. Nice aroma but a bit faint, very tasty/sweet. Overall everything is good just a little faint. Then again at 8.3% that's really impressive, 4 for that

 705 characters

Photo of ChrisH1024
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this Dog on tap poured into a Sniffer. It looks hazy brown with good head retention. It smells of nutmeg, cinnamon and a nice refreshing almost pine smell. It tastes fantastic with notes of all spice, cinnamon and nutmeg throughout. Each flavor is distinct, but work so well together. The mouthfeel is great, creamy yet carbonated and goes down smooth. Overall its a great beer, one of the best Christmas beers around! All I want for Christmas is 12 beers a pouring.

 470 characters

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.

 760 characters

Photo of DougT
3.94/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a pilsner glass at 47 degrees. Label says 43 to 49 so I'm in the zone.

A: Dark copper/amber with a 1 finger tan head with little lace but clinging nicely to the glass. Head retains a small full layer on top while drinking.

S: Smells of gingerbread, nutmeg, just a hint of honey, a little malt.

T: Pretty tasty, you need to be in the mood for a spiced beer. It's nicely spicy with the flavor following the label, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Alcohol is barely there, very nicely masked. Some roast flavors and hops bitters with cinnamon bite offset the sweetness f the honey. Remarkably well balanced, but definitely a spiced beer.

M: Medium body. Smooth. Effervescent, but not overly. Honey creaminess and carbonation counter to make a nice smooth feel.

O: I like it. It does remind me of the holidays. High alcohol is nicely warming. You need to be in the mood for something this spicy, but when you are this one is delicious. Probably best to share, I don't think you would want too many.

 1,007 characters

Photo of Hopdaemon39
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a crystal goblet- pours a clear, amber/mahogany color with minimal head, modest retention for what little there was, a few spots of lacing.

Definitely do get some honey in the nose- also nutmeg and cinnamon, but a good dose of like amber honey.

Taste is consistent with the smell- some nutmeg up front, followed by a biscuity malt taste, then a big dose of honey sweetness, which is then spiced up by the cinnamon and maybe some allspice.

Mouthfeel is nice- medium body, smooth feel, light to moderate soft carbonation. I like this one and I would recommend it to those looking for a nice accompaniment to desert or just a nice beer for a cold winter day (do we even get those anymore?).

 722 characters

12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 186 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe