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 DannyDan
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours into a brownish red amber color with a small white head that quickly disappears. It has decent carbonation, pretty good retention and decent lacing. The smell is a pleasant mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. When tasting it I get the cinnamon, and nutmeg with a little bit of honey followed by some cloves, and malts with a gingery after taste. It is a very well balanced beer, and can hardly taste the alcohol in it. It has a nice smooth feel to it that leaves a dry chalky feeling with some tart bitterness in the mouth, and it is quite drinkable for being on the dry side. I think that this may be the beginning of a new annual X-mas drink for me. Merry X-mas to all at Beer Advocate (even though I said it a day late).

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Photo of GreenGoblinCC
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great X-mas Ale! Slight notes of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove and Honey make this taste like Christmas is right around the corner! 8% doesn’t hurt either! I do not think it is as good as the 2009 batch, as for the 2010 batch there is no comparison this years batch is excellent! Tasted the B.A. 12 Dogs at Blues and Brews....Amazing!!! Hopefully the Akron area will see a couple of those kegs this winter!

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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.

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

An Ohoove special once again. This one appears ruby mahogany colored, clear but dark with a fair light tan head and great webs of lacing. The aroma suggests malty ginger and allspice/ nutmeg. The flavor brings a delightful ginger on malty allspice, almost a menthol or minty effect. It's mid/light bodied, very spritzy with lively bubblage and very drinkable. Really just a classic holiday flavor with oranges and malt blended into the traditional spices. Very smoothly blended, very much a holiday hit not to be missed.

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Photo of beerman207
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is my first christmas beer. Great beer to start out with!

A: Pours a copper color with decent head

S: nutmeg comes through dominant on this and also some cherry?

T: Spices are great and the balance is perfect with some hoppiness in the back.

M: Very smooth. Goes down easy.

D: Wow. The alcohol is very well masked. You will feel it but you won't taste it.

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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.

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Photo of sbw138
4.09/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a bottle from the POPE into a pint glass

Appearance - Dark amber/brown in color with a two finger light brown head.

Smell - Smells like Christmas. In truth though I smell spices like nutmeg, some cumin making it spicy and sweet at the same time.

Taste - Now its really living up to its name. While it has all the characteristics of an ale, the spices are really coming through especially nutmeg making it taste similar to a cookie. Vanilla is another strong taste blending well with malts.

Mouthfeel - Good body, with the right level of carbonation.

Drinkability - The beer itself reminds me in some ways to other seasonal beers especially the pumpkin ones. The spices are not too overpowering and really nice. However, as is the case with most seasonal beers I feel its a session beer. One is good, two at the most. Overall really nice beer though.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of Jesse13713
4.08/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I remember having this beer and really enjoying it last winter.

Appearance - A thick-looking cranberry colored brew. Laces to the glass in nice layers, but leaves no film or retention on the top of the beer. The appearance of this beer definitely reminds me of the sweetened holidays.

Smell - Faint malt in the background of lighter fruits. A bit of a zing from light cherry and cranberry. Nutmeg and spices are hiding in the background as well.

Taste - A solid holiday offering from Thirsty Dog. Quite a complex and smooth taste. I am first greeted with light zingy fruits, such as the previously described cranberry and light cherry. Warm toffee and caramel then fight their way into the taste. Light nutmeg, cinnamon, and various other holiday spices are present as well.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability - Medium-bodied. I remember complaining about a slightly metallic taste last year. Thankfully, that seems to be missing from this years tasting. A good amount of spice. A good brew from Thirsty Dog, but not my favorite holiday brew.

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Photo of MikeWard
4.08/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a half pint glass.

looks pretty good, amber brown body with a small off white head. the head persists, but leaves little lacing.

aroma is very nice indeed, all the christmas spices, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, dried fruit, etc.

taste is not as strong as the aroma, and that's probably a good thing. mouth is a tad below medium.

overall, an interesting beer, can imagine this would be pretty good on Christmas morning in front of a roaring fire.

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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.

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Photo of BB1313
4.07/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass. Pours a copper w/ bright white head and nice lacing. Smells like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and honey.. tastes the same. This is more on the sweet side, the hops are very fain. Finishes smooth and sweet. Drinkability isn't bad, alcohol is well masked, so it can become dangerously drinkable.. the sweetness holds it back a tad for me though.

This beer gets compared to GL Christmas Ale alot, alot of similarites. Thirsty Dog's is more of a dessert beer if you will. Christmas in a bottle. Perfect for the holidays.. recommened!

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Photo of bushbeer75
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz brown bottle - no dating noticed

Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale filled my pint glass with a dark amber body producing a 1-1/2 finger bubbly off-white head with good retention. Off-white lacing clung to the pint glass as I consumed the ale. The nose was hit with a blend of spices with cinnamon and nutmeg the most recognizable. The taste was right from the holiday season. First up was toasted and caramel malts followed by and dominating were the nice spices of cinnamon and nutmeg. A light touch of honey and ginger played a secondary role. Mouth feel was almost creamy with laid back carbonation and a pleasant warming finish.

12 Dogs of Christmas is just what the holidays ordered or for that matter anytime. I will have another!

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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.

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

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours a deep amber color with medium white head. Aroma is of cinnamon, nutmeg, a hint of clove and raisins. Flavors from generous amounts of toasted and caramel malts, mixed with equally generous amounts of honey, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Medium sticky mouthfeel. Very nice winter warmer!

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

A- A clear, very deep orange liquid with some ruby red highlights throughout. The off-white head is very thin and splotchy, but has some staying power.

S- Mint, cola, toffee, orange peel, and chamomile tea. Very intriguing and unique.

T- Exactly the same as the aroma, but with the addition of some coconut. A little rich, but I give it credit for the uniqueness.

M- A nice, full-bodied liquid with a creamy carbonation.

D- A unique beer that may rival any of the Anchor Christmas ales I have tried. The alcohol is well hidden. Worth trying.

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Photo of ksimons
4.04/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-pours a clear ruby amber with a fingers worth of white head that leaves some lacing around the top

S-smell is nice, high in the spices which is a good thing. Rich malts, sweet caramel and honey, and lots of spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg)

T-the taste is a bit disappointing compared to the smell. Still get the rich malt backbone but the body could be a bit fuller. That said this beer doesn't lack for spices. I am tasting cinnamon and ginger and light honey.

M-medium body, medium carbonation. I wish the body was kicked up just a little.

Overall I think this is a good winter warmer, it has a lot to offer in terms of spices but I am not sure I would want another. The malt is heavy enough and the spices might become too much after a while.

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Photo of BeerBuckeye
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into tulip at recommended 49 degrees serving temperature

A - Pours a darker amber with a tinge of mahogany. Small .5 finger head that dissipates slowly.

S - Good amounts of cinnamon, honey, a tinge of ginger, almost a good amount of caramel malt and a touch of dark fruit.

T - Actually a lot of clove and nutmeg in the taste, good amount of cinnamon in the middle, before fading into sweet honey and caramel malt. Pretty good.

M - Moderate carbonation, smooth, a little bit drying from the cinnamon.

Overall - I liked it a lot. This beer and GL Christmas Ale are often compared to one another. If you desire a sweeter Christmas Ale, go GL, if you want a little bit more malty and bitter one, then this one is for you. Both a fine in their own right. Solid winter warmer here.

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Photo of ONUMello
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Pours a rich mahogany with a one-finger light tan head that lingers.
S: Smells like a spice cabinet with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and molasses.
T: More spice along with toffee & malt.
M: Rich, crisp, a bit boozy at the end.
O: Tasty, nice to sit by the fire and sip.

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Photo of malty
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage.

Poured into my thick, dimpled-wall stemmed old school Busch Bavarian Beer chalice a vividly clear ruby/amber color with a dense & creamy settled 2" beige head. Larger sized carbonation visibly uprising at a less than moderate rate. Very handsome broken walls of stringy lace all the way down.

This baby is full of fresh Christmas spices for sure. Cinnamon & ginger provide a bright and edgy gateway for the earthy nutmeg to lounge itself through the door. Anise is apparent in the background, while some toffee notes echo in the flanks. This promises to be a great tasting winter warmer. So let's see...

The ground cinnamon commands the first stare, just like in the nose. The ginger doesn't taste as bright and fresh as it smelled, but it's there nonetheless - but doesn't tastes ultra-fresh as I was hoping. The nutmeg is in check. Honey is there, but in the background. Everything is clicking along nicely. The malts are soft and sweet, but there is a nice dryness at the end. Definitely starts and ends with cinnamon.

Mouthfeel is very soft and creamy. It's a solid medium body with fine carbonation that you can feel initially, but glides away rather quickly. Has a nice 'cask' mouthfeel, if you can imagine that. The finish is cinnamon and chalky dry.

Drinkability is very good. I'm practically done with my 12 oz. sample, and I'm very surprised because it didn't feel like I drank that much (yet).

Overall a very nice Christmas beer that has all the key/featured spices of the season present and accounted for. I personally would have liked to have tasted a bit more honey and smidge less cinnamon, but that's splitting hairs. Reminds me of a darker, rounder and creamier version of Great Lakes Christmas Ale, which is saying ALOT in my book!

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Photo of CFHMagnet
4.02/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I started out with a normal pour and quickly found that I needed to give it a little more "oomph." I still only got half a finger of weak looking head that disappeared in less than a minute. The body is a deep copper color, almost into the brown spectrum.

Has a nice fresh smell to it, and the malts are nice and aromatic but not overpowering. Christmas spices definitely abound on the back end.

Has a nice bready malt backbone. A hint of fruit and caramel before the bread takes over again and brings in its friends nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon.

Medium to full bodied, its a little thicker than expected. This was a surprise, but a pleasant one. The carbonation isn't really there, but thats not a problem.

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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.

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.02/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

My favorite new (to me) Xmas beer of the season.

A- Body is a nearly completely transparent reddish brown color. Pours with 1-2 finger foamy white head that fades to a thin collar and leaves behind no lacing in the glass.

S- Quite spicy. Lots of cinnamon and nutmeg, a hint of caramel malt as well.

T- Quite similar to the smell. This is a spicier Christmas ale. Lots of nutmeg and cinnamon upfront. A hint of maltiness behind.. the finish is a tad dry and very spicy.

M- Medium to high carbonation and a light to medium weight body.

O- Overall this is a very good Christmas Ale. Very likeable and drinkable. A bit spicier than most-but thats how I like it.

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

12oz bottle, scooped a sixer at city-wide in downtown south bend. 4 of these were consumed from the cooler pre-ND/BC

appearance: served in an unmarked chalice, deep dark crimson body, light beige ring with minimal retention...plus a neat little label

smell: a heavily spiced ale - fresh grated ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, honey. there is also a fair amount of pine and some nice caramel

taste: not sure i'm on board with all the poor ratings of this one - this a very nicely spiced winter warmer. Loads of pine, excessive ginger, a bunch of cinnamon, allspice & nutmeg. the alcohol is really nowhere to be found other than the nice warming provided after consumption

mouthfeel: active spicing keeps the palate lively, medium body with hidden abv

drinkability: very nice - even worked as a tailgater!

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Photo of Frosty80
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color: pours light brown. sits deep copper with a ruby hue

Smell: sweet spices and obvious honey soul. nutmeg and cinnamon clearly dominate the malty sweetnes.

Taste: taste translates well from aroma. very low hop presence. alcohol is well hidden. slight toasty presence. finish is clean and lightly sweet

Mouthfeel: medium body. smooth with low carbonation

Notes: very tasty brew reflecting the spirit of the season. light, sweet and spicy.

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

a: snifter serving, deep pecan brown in color and topped with a coat of carbonation that's replenished with each tilt of the glass

s: ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon over a mellow nutty brown malt body, spice dominant but in generally good harmony with the malt, reminiscent of a spiced holiday bread, after warming I can pull out some buttery honey - one of those "if you know it's there" deals, the beer guy recommended this as "the old GLBC Christmas recipe", and there's an obvious parallel between the two

m: carbonation around medium, only a touch fizzy, and a light-medium consistency

t: huge spice character - equal parts ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon over a dry brown malt body that shows glimpses of honeyed complexity but quickly moves to more nutty, dry malt flavors in the finish, hop flavor is low but a moderate bitterness closes things up as the spices linger on

d: no evidence of the abv, a little spicy for heavy drinking, but a comforting sipper on a cool Ohio night - one that I'd initially shied away from given the B rating but was thankfully given a push by the beer staff

six-pack from Heinen's in Chagrin Falls

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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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