Harvey's Christmas Ale | Harvey & Son Ltd.

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Harvey's Christmas AleHarvey's Christmas Ale
BA SCORE
3.81/5
Very Good
211 Ratings
Harvey's Christmas AleHarvey's Christmas Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Harvey & Son Ltd.
England, United Kingdom
harveys.org.uk

Style: British Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.10%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
A traditional barley wine. The biscuit malt and vinous fruit palate is balanced by a strong hop bitterness. It is warming and reflects the spirit of Christmas. Recipient of Finland’s Olutseura Olviretki award for ‘excellently’ fulfilling “The Christmas Beer Regulation” described in Aleksis Kivi’s novel ‘Seven Brothers’.

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#21,504
Reviews:
170
Ratings:
211
pDev:
14.7%
 
 
Wants:
11
Gots:
7
Trade:
1
HISTOGRAM
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 211 |  Reviews: 170
Photo of superspak
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

9.3 oz bottle into tulip glass, no bottle dating. Pours fairly crystal clear deep orange/amber/light copper color with a small dense cream colored head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of raisin, plum, cherry, fig, date, peach, pear, apricot, melon, red apple, honey, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, toasted biscuit, nuts, and brown bread; with lighter notes of sherry, roast, leather, tobacco, citrus peel, wood, herbal, floral, grass, pepper, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Touch of diacetyl in the aromas, but not overwhelming. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malts, fruity yeast, and light-moderate earthy hop notes; with solid strength. Taste of big raisin, plum, cherry, fig, date, peach, pear, apricot, melon, red apple, honey, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, toasted biscuit, nuts, and brown bread; with lighter notes of sherry, roast, leather, tobacco, citrus peel, wood, herbal, floral, grass, pepper, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Light herbal, floral, grassy, woody, peppery, roast bitterness on the finish. Lingering notes of dark fruit, cherry, peach, pear, apricot, melon, red apple, honey, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, toasted biscuit, nuts, brown bread, sherry, roast, leather, tobacco, citrus peel, wood, herbal, floral, grass, pepper, and yeast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malts, fruity yeast, and light-moderate earthy hop flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance, and no cloying/astringent flavors after the finish. Light-moderate increasing dryness from lingering bitterness. Light carbonation and medium-full body; with a very smooth, moderately creamy/silky/bready/grainy, fairly sticky/resinous, and lightly slick balanced mouthfeel that is nice. Minimal warming alcohol for 7.5%. Overall this is a very nice English barleywine. All around nice complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malts, fruity yeast, and light-moderate earthy hop flavors; very smooth and easy to drink with the modestly bitter/resinous/drying finish, not aggressive. Great balanced complexity of rich malts, fruity yeast, and earthy hops against sweetness. A very enjoyable offering, and spot on style example.

 2,322 characters

Photo of dcotom
3.63/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 11.2-ounce bottle into a holiday tumbler. Color is a deep reddish amber, with one finger of off-white head that left a bit of lacing as it settled. Big aromas and flavors of caramel, biscuit malt, prune, and raisin, with a touch of honey-like sweetness. Bitterness is understated. Good body, quite a bit of dried fruit and a little sourness lingering on the finish. Nice warming quality that befits a winter beer. Recommended for fans of the style.

 460 characters

Photo of Sludgeman
3.31/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Luscious_Malfoy
4.15/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of bret717
4.42/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look- pours a beautiful crystal clear deep golden brown; thin ring of head, no lacing

Smell- Leather, prunes, sweet tobacco

Taste- leather, sweet pipe tobacco, prunes, finishes slightly bitter with a mild boozy kick

Feel- medium body, coats the mouth

Overall- very nice sipper with a ton of flavor packed into it. Like chewing on leather belt (in a good way)

 362 characters

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

Photo of _nickg_
3.92/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of baklo
3.02/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of woodychandler
4.09/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Christmas 2017 is progressing nicely! I have a (crock) pot roast going, the Doctor Who marathon on the telly & now I am about to delve even more deeply into some English Christmas Ales. I should do this every year.

From the bottle: "The British Bottlers' Institute Awards [-] Gold Medal 2000[,] 2011[,] 2013[,] 2014"; "Recipient of Finland’s Olutseura Olviretki award for ‘excellently’ fulfilling 'The Christmas Beer Regulation' described in Aleksis Kivi’s novel ‘Seven Brothers’."; "Winner of Finland's 'Paivyri' and Sweden's Dagens Nyheter Christmas Beer Competitions"; "Sussex Brewers since 1790".

I Pop!ped the cap & began a slow, gentle pour into my awaiting glass. I had not left a lot of room for a swirl or any resulting head, but I gave it a try all the same. This produced a brief finger of soapy, foamy, light-tan head with modest retention. Color was Dark Brown to Very Dark Brown (SRM = > 27, < 34) with NE-quality & garnet highlights. Gorgeous! Nose smelled like "Ho ho ho!" in a glass. Dark, dried fruits ruled the day, ranging from raisins & prunes to cherries, raspberries & blueberries as well as a light woodiness & a wrap of caramel. 8=O I think that I may buy another bottle (or two) for aging! Mouthfeel was a little thin for the style. Oh, well. Can't have it all. The initial taste was like a dark fruit riot, but a bit sweet, kind of sugary overall. I repeat, this may be a great candidate for aging. There was a woody flavor, to boot, like it had been barrel aged, but don't take my word for that. The yeast had clearly done its job as it tended towards fairly dry on the finish, but without diminishing the persistent fruit flavors. I totally agree with calling it "vinous" & while it was not especially bitter, it definitely had a pronounced fruitiness leaning towards tart. I would be VERY interested to see how it ages. Back to The Friendly Greek Bottle Shop!

 1,903 characters

Photo of cjgiant
4.17/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap:
This seems a nice cross of an English and American barleywine, though the bitterness has a slight oxidized note to it.

Clear amber-brown, with a sustaining rusty head and moderate early lacing.

Nose is caramel sweet malts with a dose of pine and grass hoppiness. Light booze, toffee, spiced bread is countered by an earthy hoppiness.

Flavor shows the booze with a candied date, dark cherry, and sherry-like taste. Sweetness peaks early, then let’s the balance of hops play with it. A little berry-like tartness teases the back before a sweet coating plays against a hop dryness.

Interesting and enjoyable, not too malty, not too bitter. This beer seems to balance some it’s internal leanings to extremes quite well.

 735 characters

Photo of Beer-A-Lot
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of mltobin
3.72/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Silke_Neryn
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.73/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

(11.2 oz bottle, poured into a teku)

L: clear, garnet-colored liquid - striking, brilliant; very little foam on pour, and what built up is a shore of fisheyes... only a thin, and broken collar clings; no lace

S: lightly-burnt sugar, hard candy, spice, subtle plum, soft hint of tobacco and its smoke... no overt hoppy notes, any fruity aromas seem to be dominantly yeast/alcohol-derived... sort of smells more akin to a Belgian Scotch ale (or something like Kwak)... halfway through, and some pleasant vinous booze emerges, nicely balanced against the other aromas

T: berry-flavored bourbon, backed by a burly, moderately dry, mildly roasty malt... dark caramel awash in port... wide, perhaps acrid, vaguely black pepper and green tea flavors and lingering, bitingly tannic bitterness at the back of the palate, almost, in combo, seeming partially as if coming from mild infection, or just aggravated by phenols... some cereal character in the malt arrives late

F: light-bodied and taut, with a delicate syrupy viscosity; lifting, medicinal parch at the back of the tongue; mellow, rosy warmth at the top of the throat... lovely interplay of oils and heat, whiskey-like

O: tasty and full-flavored, for sure, but not as uniquely nuanced and dirty as I'd hoped... but it does beg for sipping and could pair well with some nutty, nougat-y sweets, and/or some dried, dark fruits or earthy cheese

 1,396 characters

Photo of Cascade24
4.07/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of Wer34truh
3.73/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of rfgetz
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of CwrwAmByth
4.3/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Photo of bigred89
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of ClavisAurea
4.28/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

No bottle date to be found. It's old though. Looks pretty clear and ruddy. Low to no carbonation. Tobacco, figs, port, sherry, raisins, dates, malty sweet. A nice winter warmer for a cold Christmas Day.

 202 characters

Photo of jmg480
3.29/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of ajdemma
4.68/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Beginner2
4.04/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

I might make myself unpopular, but I really prefer the English rendition of the Barleywine than the American. And the reason is simple: I prefer malt over hops.
Harvey's is malty, even sweet and, by American standards, flat.... just the way I like.
So if I like their barleywines so well, why don't I move there? (After the last election, I think I will.)
Christmas Ale is highly-hopped by English standards. Not surprisingly, this goes great with Christmas cookies.

Reviewed in the "1001 Beers To Drink Before You Die," it deserves to be on the list.
Reviewed in MJ's "Guide" gave it 3 of 4 stars and called it "cakey." An apt description.

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Photo of shigg85
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

A Xmas gift from a friend who went to Lewis for work. 275ml bottle. Pours a dark reddish colour with a very small beige head. Aromas of sweet malt, toffee & caramel. Taste is much as aroma along with biscuit, and mild alcohol. The finish has a sweet caramel bitterness. Overall a very good winter ale.

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Harvey's Christmas Ale from Harvey & Son Ltd.
Beer rating: 3.81 out of 5 with 211 ratings