Christmas Ale
Shepherd Neame Ltd

Christmas AleChristmas Ale
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Style:
Winter Warmer
Ranked #262
ABV:
7%
Score:
80
Ranked #43,922
Avg:
3.44 | pDev: 14.53%
Reviews:
33
Ratings:
71
From:
Shepherd Neame Ltd
 
England, United Kingdom
Avail:
Winter
Wants
  2
Gots
  9
SCORE
80
Good
Christmas AleChristmas Ale
Notes:
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Reviews: 33 | Ratings: 71
Photo of janubio
3.49/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Tasted at The Situation in a snifter glass. Pours an amber colour, medium head with short retention, tiny crying lace.
Aroma of anise, spices, tobacco, caramel.
Light body, creamy texture, good carbonation. Sweet finish.
Taste of anise, some hops, spices, caramel, tobacco.
Good.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.81/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

500ml bottle - let the festive season commence, as it is at least post-Hallowe'en, amirite?

This beer pours a clear, bright medium bronzed amber colour, with a teeming tower of puffy, loosely foamy, and bubbly off-white head, which leaves some stellar blotchy lace around the glass as it slowly seeps away.

It smells of bready and biscuity caramel malt, some muddled pome fruitiness, a hint of earthy spice, and some plain leafy, herbal, and floral noble hop bitters. The taste is grainy and doughy caramel malt, a lesser biscuity toffee sweetness, baked apples, faint generic citrus notes, and more earthy, spicy, and floral hoppiness.

The carbonation is average in its palate-satisfying frothiness, the body a so-so middleweight, and generally smooth, with a wee airy creaminess evolving as things warm up a tad around here. It finishes off-dry, the malt keepin' on keepin' on.

Overall - this is an approachable enough version of the style, simple in its bearing. Something to sip on while sitting in front of a fireplace, listening to distant relatives' stories, or the like. And the well-hidden extra 2 points of ABV may surely help one get through the latter.

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Photo of patre_tim
3.85/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Copper orange and filtered with lots of champagne carbonation, and topped with 4 fingers of light beige head.

Smells of treacle, toffee and caramel. Very malt forward.

The taste follows the nose, and is very sweet with hints of orange and treacle, malt beverage and a hint of hard water. Bitterness is only in the afterthought.

Medium, buoyant body, with little carbonation.

Got this at LCBO, and I'm drinking at the cottage tonight, Dec 14th, 2017. Better than expected based on other people's ratings. Enjoyable on a cold winters evening.

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Photo of Aidan11
4/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is an easy, drinkable beer that still had slot of flavor. It's sweet, bready, and toffeeish, while also being spicy. One can taste the alcohol a bit, but that just compliments the spiciness.

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Photo of josanguapo
4.52/5  rDev +31.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From Cerveceria Internacional. In Ikea's pint glass. Reading JHTP11 Ch 21. Deliciously sweet, with some zesty notes that Im not sure if they come from spices or hops, and really, really moreish.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.25/5  rDev -5.5%

Pours clear copper with a small foam ring for a head. Fruity, estery, malty christmas cake with an edge of lemon rind, woody hops. Too much booze present for the gravity.

Worth a try if you like the style, but drinkability takes a hit because of the medicinal alcohol flavor.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.02/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a bright copper color ale with a relatively large foamy head with good retention and some light lacing. Aroma of fruity ester with candy like notes with light caramelized malt notes. Taste is also dominated by some very nice candy like ester with some refreshing fruity notes and some medium caramel malt notes. Body is light with good carbonation. Nothing extreme in this beer but well balance with nice work around the ester.

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Photo of bylerteck
4.06/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes.

A - Poured dark gold and bright with a two finger fluffy off white head. Spotty lace and a half finger of retention.

S - Big toffee, bread, fruity esters, pudding, leather, hops. Good depth and malty complexity.

T - Much of the same pleasantness. Crystal malt, earthy hops, more toffee. Tasty.

M - Good carbonation, medium to full body, and a sweet finish.

O/D - I don't get the harsh reviews on this. It's a nice and strong complex English ale. Enjoyed it.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
3.04/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

A reddish brown clear body with a tidal wave of foamy white head that stops you pouring a 500ml bottle into a full pint glass that soon goes

Muted aromas of mince pies and gunpowder

Some crystallised fruit and some warmth but it feels more like boozy heartburn than Christmas spice and just then lies flat no depth, no

Just so thin for such a strength ale and too fizzy

not a good winter warmer

almost enough to convince Clarence it isn't a wonderful life

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Photo of DaveBar
1.82/5  rDev -47.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 1.5

Thought this one would be interesting... wasn't really.

A- Pretty good! Nice dark amber colour. Ok head

S- Not much there at all. Was hoping for a lot more

T- Not so good. Cross between a scotch ale and a chocolate malt. Horrible aftertaste. Thin, thin, thin. No aging at all it seems. Alcohol is right forward but the whole beer is unbalanced. Just a hodge podge of characters strewn together and branded a Christmas Ale

M- Silky smooth

O- Not so good. Would not buy again.

Wow this thing just gets worse as time goes by. Pouring it down the drain it's that bad.

Food Pairing

LOL no way would I pair this with anything but the sink..

Thx for reading

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Photo of beerluvr
3.68/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012/13 edition

A - Off white head, clear light amber

S - Sweet malt, brown sugar, fruit

T - Biscuity malt, slighty tannic, mild spicy hop bitterness & yeast fruitiness

M - Smooth gentle carbonation, medium bodied with a spectacularly balanced finish

O - An excellent example of an English Xmas ale, very flavorful and balanced, with both hop and malt in check without either overpowering. Very well made.

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Photo of taxandbeerguy
3.55/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle purchased for $3.50 CDN from the LCBO. Served cold into a pint glass.

Appearance - 1 finger of frothy white head rests on top of a bubbly copper red beer that is transparent. Head subsides a bit then lingers for the remainder of the beer. Very festive looking.

Smell - Beer and bready smell with a few spices thrown in and a butterscotch note that is a reminder of Christmas. I'm also picking of something that reminds me a bit of a rum soaked fruitcake. Very pleasant smells, but they are not terribly strong. Smells do come out a bit more as beer warms.

Taste - Boozy and sweet which transitions into a bit of a bitter flavor with slightly metallic elements. Also a bit of the aforementioned fruitcake flavor doused in alcohol. I enjoyed this this but I can see that the very upfront alcohol (especially given that its 7% we're not talking a 12% Christmas Ale here) could be a distraction to some.

Mouthfeel - Well carbonated and fairly smooth, but even a bit thin despite high ABV. Also a bit on the gassy side.

Overall - Nice winter warmer that i enjoyed more than the Wychwood offering, but still not super enamored with the style. However a beer that will certainly warm you up especially after a short walk on a cold November's night in Canada.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.39/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

500 mL bottle picked up at the LCBO, served slightly chilled. One of several English winter warmers I picked up during my last trip, which I have either not seen or neglected to try until now. I generally enjoy UK takes on this style, at least in comparison to domestic examples which I find tend to have the living shit spiced out of them.

Pours a bright, clear orange-amber colour, generating two fingers of frothy, resilient off-white head that gradually seeps away. Gobs of lacing are left sticking to the glass as it recedes into a thin, creamy cap and collar. The aroma is a little too sweet for my liking - lots of dark fruit and caramel, toffee, baker's chocolate, with a hint of spice and fig newton. It's not really off-putting, but it smells more like a confection than a beer.

After my first sip I really want to like this, but I just can't find any compelling reasons to. There's lots of bready malts, with toffee and fruitcake as well, and it doesn't get any less saccharine from there. Toasted nuts and earthy, spicy hop notes remain hidden until the finish, with the ethanol providing some warmth - I appreciate it on a cold night like this, but truthfully it doesn't blend well with the flavour profile, and the resulting syrupy mouthfeel does not help matters much. Medium-bodied, leaving a slick, unappealing sensation behind on the palate after each sip. Not that difficult to drink quickly, and otherwise I can really only say 'meh'.

Final Grade: 3.39, a B-. Shepherd Neame's Christmas Ale is serviceable, but compared to some of my favourite English examples of this style it just seems dull and forgettable. It's not bad - it's just plain, with too much alcohol for such a sparse, unvaried flavour. Worth a try I suppose, at least if you're a fan of stronger English ales, but the next time I want a warmer I'll probably stick with Samuel Smith's or St. Peter's.

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Photo of biegaman
3.35/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Shepherd Neame Christmas Ale sounds like an ideal holiday offering, but it doesn't quite look the part. The orange-brown colour is actually more fall-toned (like a pumpkin ale) and its clear complexion looks far too light to chase a cold winter chill. Not to mention there's no garland of white lace atop!

The aroma smells superficially like cheap fruitcake and... cue the crickets... not much else. While I appreciate the nuances of toffee, cinnamon, and dried fruit, I'd have preferred a homemade-quality Christmas cake (as oppose to Tesco-brand). It's actually rather pleasant but leaves way too much to be desired.

The taste registers as being heavily-pasteurized; it lacks both depth and detail as if they were each filtered out intentionally. Some toffee notes are appreciated from the malt, but I imagine this flavour is something like what you'd get trying to steep fruitcake like a tea: watery with vague notes of dried fruit and stale spice.

The extra couple notches of alcohol may make visiting the in-laws less painful, but it does the opposite for the mouthfeel; it's not tasted outright but the beer's lack of maltiness really becomes apparent, especially as the esters take over entirely on the finish. A bit of crystallized ginger is the texture's only saving grace.

Shepherd Neame Christmas Ale is the equivalent of running down the stairs only to find that Santa brought you socks. It's disappointing enough to make Hanukkah seem the more appealing holiday. This brewery had the right idea (spicy fruitcake) but the wrong execution - next year they should ask for an improved recipe.

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Photo of liamt07
3.58/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle from the LCBO, into a tulip.

Translucent dark red, thin off white head with mild retention and some spots of lace. Nose is sweet, some bubble gum, some gentle spicing, and some bready character. Not the most complex nose, but not bad. Taste has some grainy bread character, obscure fruit notes and some peripheral spicing. Bitterness in the finish. Medium feel, medium low carb. Ok, nothing exciting.

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Photo of mintjellie
2.35/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Medium amber colour, brilliant clarity. Small, poorly retained off-white head. Almost no lace. Weak aroma, primarily floral with lighter notes of toasted cereal and diacetyl. Malt-forward flavour up-front with a nutty toasted malt note, followed by light butterscotch and an earthy/spicy hop note. Light-bodied with low carbonation and a thin, greasy mouthfeel. It doesn't taste bad, just overly plain and boring. Lacking in depth and complexity of flavour. Unpleasant mouthfeel. A disappointment.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.5/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Single 500ml bottle from the LCBO, part of the 2012 holiday release. The bottle is quite nice, big Christmas wreath with hops.

Poured into a nonic. Light copper-amber, clear, decent head of foam that survives as a sturdy ring.

Nose is English pale with a little extra spice and earthy hops. Some citrus as well.

Decent pale ale taste with earthy hops, a bit of fruit (orange peel), tea, caramel. Standard stuff, but balanced and not bad.

Light bodied, easy to drink, mild carbonation.

Not bad, actually - classic case of the reviews setting me up for disappointment, but being pleasantly surprised, though this might just be this years' edition doing the talking. Might be a good stocking stuffer, but I'll stick with my usual holiday fare this year.

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Photo of Sammy
3.6/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Slightly spicy light orange tinged bodied beer. Decently drinkable. Understated, medium bodied. Drinkable with supper, somewhat more fruity and spicy (mild cinammon heat)than your average English beer. OK, but nothing outstanding or worth seeking out twice.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.53/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml Bottle from the Ottawa LCBO for 3.50$

Appearance - Reddish copper colour with an average size fizzy and frothy beige head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some fairly good lacing. The head lasted for 4-5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, dark fruits, butterscotch

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts and some butterscotch. There is also some raisin/cherry flavour and a bit of a fruit cake like taste. There is also a light amount of all-spice and the beer ends with a malty sweet aftertaste.

Overall - It's better than the previous reviews lead me to believe. The alcohol seems well hidden and while it isn't the most exciting winter warmer I've had this year, it has a nice well balanced flavour. Not something I'd buy another bottle of this year, but something I'd buy again next holiday season.

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Photo of beerdrifter
3.53/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bottle of this at the Mondial Bier Fest in Strasbourg, France. Clear light copper-amber pour with two finger head, good retention, and great lacing. The nose was a bit skunky at first, but quickly faded and gave way to banana bread, tea, caramel, and toffee with just a touch of dark fruit. The taste pretty much follows suit with hints of fruity tea, caramel, herbal hops, banana bread, and a bit of butter and metal as well. The balance is good and the 7% ABV warms slightly and makes for a pretty drinkable beer. Fairly dry mouthfeel with a nice bitter finish. Not really what I think of as a Christmas beer, but still pretty solid.

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.03/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours copper with a large thick tan head. Dissipation leaves nice lacings.

S: Buttery creamy notes up front. Then sweet caramell malt and dark dried fruits together with citric notes.

T: Frutiy, English style. Citric notes together with green apples. But also dark dried fruits, figs and raisins. Sweet, a bit roasted, caramell malt. Buttery notes. A little bit spicy.

M: Long warming bitter-sweet afteratste. Body is full and carbonation only moderate (a good thing).

D: A highly drinkable beer. The 7% ABV isn't noticable at all.

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Photo of charlatan
2.93/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2009 edition is 7.0% abv.

The beer is a dark amber colour with decent white head. My nose isn't working well at present but I note a nutty whiff and a hint of banana here.

A less strong flavour than I was expecting with a lack of the spice that characterises American Christmas ales. Malt, hops, slight alcohol warmth: it's as if they have set out to make as bland a 7 per cent Christmas ale as they can. Drinkable but that isn't the point....

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Photo of wl0307
3.53/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

* Review Date: 17/01/2008
2007 Vintage, 7%abv. Coming in a 500ml long-neck clear bottle, BB March 2009, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.
A: bright dark amber hue with moderate carbonation, topped with a well-lasting fluffy off-white head.
S: as it pours, the dancing aroma gives strong hints of the same brewery's Premium Bitter "Bishop's Finger", with the trademark fruity hop elements - orangey, berry-fruity and lightly apple-ish on the nose, added with caramely malts, creamy toffee, and a light hint of coconut-shaving. Pretty intense and sweet in aroma, but not overpowering.
T: caramelised-fruits (very mixed, but cherries & oranges are there), syrupy+toffee-ish malts and an alcoholic feel all approach at once upfront... gradually settling, while a mildly burned flavour of malts and a spicy kick of bitterness and floral hops develop in the aftertaste, pairing with a syrupy fruity and interesting, rum-like, dryish undertone.
M&D: the fizz level comes a bit too high for me (though fortunately it softens slowly), but I suppose this is necessary to neutralise the alcoholic mouthfeel. Overall, I think this vintage drinks better than the previous ones that were all lighter in alcohol and lacking a balance. Instead, this vintage shows a decent level of bitterness to go with the fruits, while a slightly higher alc. strength makes it more like a warming ale for winter. By no means fantastic, but this is not bad at all!

* Review Date: 22/02/2007
2006 Vintage, 5.5%abv., coming in a 500ml clear bottle. BB SEP 07, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.
3 A: bright reddish amber, faint foam on top of fine fizziness with occasional ejections of large bubbles from the glass bottom.
3 S: densely sweet dried plums, Goldings and floral notes come on top of a touch of coconut and burned-sugary malts--slightly too intrusive and not balanced.
3 T: tangy and sour-sweet citrus fruits, caramel malts, mixed with a mildly dryish and yet rusty aftertaste of dried leafy hops--pretty tangy-zesty in the end. Little structure is shown on the palate, hence quite simplistic and boring, lacking a clear theme in the flavour profile.
2.5 M&2.5 D: thin-bodied and overly fizzy, in line with the poor bottling performace of most Shepherd Neame's bottled beers. I guess pasteurisation has killed off most flavours in this beer. Not recommended, but it's not horrible, either.

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Photo of travolta
2.77/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance:
Gold/apricot and scotch in color with a sticky, bubbly and light khaki head. Nice retention with spotted lacing.

Nose:
Fig, malt, light caramel, candied fruits, sweet.

Taste:
Clean light carbonation, easy caramel, yeasty aftertaste, crisp on the finish, smooth on the palate.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
3/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Christmas Ale 2006. Clear 500ml bottle, 5.5%.

Best before end of September 2007, drank early November 2007, so just out of date.

Poured into my bateman's straight half pint sleeve glass, twice.

Light amber in colour, with an off white head, plenty of bubbles rising through the beer. Head shrinks too fast.

The label claims it has an aroma of tropical fruits, it did smell fairly sweet, but I thought caramel (I often do) and flowery perfume.

For a special Christmas brew it falls well short of a top winter warmer in my eyes, this is a good solid ale but it doesn't carry enough taste, power or umph to make it stand out. I detected oak within the aftertaste and I enjoyed the beer, but not enough to buy another if I see one.

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Christmas Ale from Shepherd Neame Ltd
Beer rating: 80 out of 100 with 71 ratings