Harvey's Christmas Ale | Harvey & Son Ltd.

very good
199 Ratings
Harvey's Christmas AleHarvey's Christmas Ale

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

Style: English 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’.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-18-2001

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Ratings: 199 |  Reviews: 165
Photo of Korbynlehr
1.39/5  rDev -63.4%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.25 | overall: 1.25


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Photo of brez8791
1.5/5  rDev -60.5%

Photo of NJpadreFan
1.53/5  rDev -59.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

A friend and I swap beers from our six packs so it is cheaper to try different brews. Since I never heard of Harvey's x-mas ale and its the holidays I thought its worth a try.

Blahhh, man was I wrong.

It poured dark brown with no head.
the smell was wretched raisins, prunes, and something rotten I presume.
the taste was terrible- raisin juice plain and simple. I swear Harvey is an inmate of Sing-Sing prison who makes this Pruno hootch in his toilet.
After 3 sips it was poured down the drain! Sorry Harvey!!

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Photo of BGsWo22
2/5  rDev -47.4%

Photo of Knapp85
2.03/5  rDev -46.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

I feel bad but I really didn't like this brew at all. It was very flat and some of the flavors were not agreeing with my taste buds. Perhaps it was an old bottle and it lost some of it's kick over time. The beer has a nice appearance but that's about all I could see as a plus for this brew.

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Photo of Dogbrick
2.31/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Dark ruby brown with absolutely no head or lacing. Pungeant alcohol and caramel aroma. Thick and syrupy body with a strong plum and sherry flavor. Even sipping this one made it difficult to drink. Either this does not age well or I just don't like it. The finish is strong alcohol and is a little oily. Not impressed at all with this one.

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Photo of BraveUlysses
2.35/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Truly a let down. After seeing the high reviews on BA, I had very high expectations for this brew. It poured with little to no head (maybe due to a bad pour) and the color was fine, but nothing particularly appealing. I drank this out of a Perfect Pint glass, but didn't really experience much nose on the beer after pouring (related to my imperfect pour, perhaps?) But the taste was the biggest disappointment - I can only compare it to flat soda. Sweet, with little carbonation and just a mediocre sugary taste. Couldn't even finish it.

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Photo of claspada
2.39/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Aromas are initially sweet with dark fruitiness throughout; plums and dried figs. Dark maltiness lingers with cocoa and dark toffee notes. Alcohol is detectable, but it keeps getting pushed into the background as the fruits dominate my nostrils.
Extraordinarily sweet brown sugar maltiness. Cloyingly overpoweringly sweetness; please some hops anywhere; please.. uh no, can't find em. Mouthfeel is also miserably less than substantial. Dark fruity maple syrup is the only way to describe this. Wow avoid, miserable beer; tastes like sweet mead with added brown sugar. Thus is not beer; period, gross wow pass, not recommended.

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Photo of aasher
2.4/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This beer pours a burnt, dark brown with amber accents. It has virtually no head but some light foam does lace the glass. This beer smells exactly like spicy raisins. It's strange and is a total malt bomb. It tastes like melted brown sugar mixed with raisins and figs. It is syrupy sweet. It drinks smoothly but it's way too sweet. This beer is near undrinkable. Not quality whatsoever.

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Photo of jackndan
2.5/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Harvey’s Christmas Ale: Whoa. Virtually no head to speak of, and I poured the crap out of it. Very lightly carbonated. The beer is a medium brown, which is very hazy, opaque. The aroma is strong, alcoholic with dried fruits like prunes and raisins. Not much of a beer, but not that bad of a plum wine or some such thing. Alcohol is, to me, the dominant flavor of this brew. Tastes are raisins, a little rum, and some Holiday/pumpkin pie spices. Weird candy aftertaste for some odd reason. Not so nice, do not bother.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
2.71/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

From bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 2/11/11

*I'm performing a "Spring Cleaning" of sorts, and finishing off the holiday beer in and around my home - this being the last of them (Thank God!)

A: Slight ruby in hue. A hard, forceful pour leads to zero head. None. Nada. I Bobby Brown'ed the hell out of it, yet nary an ounce of froth or even a smidgen of lacing appeared. Quite dissapointing.

S: Simply lovely - sugar sweet plums and dried figs. I also notice a trace of mild alcohol, but it keeps getting pushed into the background as the fruit flirts with my nostrils.

T: Wow, this one is really, really sweet - it feels like my teeth are rotting. Oddly though, the flavor is wonderful: there isn't any hop presense, but what's there is freshly baked fruit cake and juicy prunes.

M: Blech! It's flat. Literally flat like a tall glass of water. I don't know if this is to be expected or if it is strictly my bottle, but it's extremely unappealing.

O: As you'd assume from reading the above, the drinkability is limited. Leave a can of soda open on the kitchen counter all night, and have it with tomorrow night's dinner and you'll understand. There is too much residual sugar and fruit in this one not to find some semblance of balance in even mild carbonation.

The nose and flavor are there. Sadly though, there are signifigant pieces of this brew that seem to be missing, and therefore I cannot give it my recommendation.

Might I also add that I'm thrilled to be finished with my Holiday catch-up. Now on to one last pumpkin ale, then back to the IPA's!

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Photo of DogFood11
2.71/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a chalice aggressively it formed nothing. I had a pssst when I popped the cap but the head was non existent. There was some sparce lacing with each drink. Deep brown to black in color.

Smelled a burnt / spicey / and dark fruit mixture that leaned towards the burnt smell. tasted more of the fruit and spiceyness balance than anything else. a bit sour in the end taste. I may have tried this past its prime. I found the warming to be late in every drink but pleasant. Some nice features and one that I'd consider at another time.

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Photo of Archemedies
2.75/5  rDev -27.6%

Photo of NilocRellim
2.82/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured from the bottle.

The beer poured with very little carbonation.

It was hazy and auburn in colour.

The beer smelled strongly of figs and spices.

The taste was like drinking alcoholic raisin/prune juice with a few spices. It was also a bit slimy on the tongue.

Would I buy it again? No. I just do not care for those types of flavours.

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Photo of rastaman
2.9/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A lot better than the Elizabethan ale, quite a raisiny syrup flavour, which i think is associated with most Harveys brews, but this doesn't go too over the top and it least it has a bit of spice to it, which adds a bit to the dimention of the beer overall, but still a little to sweet in my eyes.

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Photo of dgallina
2.99/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

275ml thin brown bottle without freshness date. Was labeled a 2002 vintage on the shelf.

Pours clear red-brown without head or lace. Smells sweet and toasted; full of raisins, spiced cookie dough, and caramel laced with alcohol spice. The taste is unexpected to say the least. Starts rounded and toasty, but rapidly turns quite bitter and unpleasant. Mostly an herbal sourness that develops out-of-control diacetyl and phenols in the finish. Medium-sticky body with surprisingly lively carbonation for the age. Perhaps worthwhile when fresh, but hard to tell at this age.

 574 characters

Photo of LJWalker
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of matjack85
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of MaltyGoodness
3/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

9.3oz bottle

Pours a murky chestnut brown with a small tan head that vanishes. No lacing to speak of.

Sweet malty aroma with a slight nuttiness and a boozy smell.

Very sweet and malty upfront with a light nuttiness. Finishes sweet with a boozy aftertaste. A tad cloying.

Full body, low carbonation.

I had high expectations for this, as it was quite pricey for a small bottle. Well, it's a disappointment. Not awful, but unbalanced and sweet. I finished it - mostly on principle.

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Photo of Umbra
3/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle, as pictured, purchased a few months after XMas last year.
Brownish, cloudy home brew with limited head, lacing and retention.Dark molasses, caramel and bread pudding smells.

This one was very sweet with super sweet raisins, molasses, brown sugar, and dark malts. Pretty one sided and a bit weak. Nice smooth, mouthfeel, though. The heavy sweetness doesn't get cloying and the alcohol is well masked.
Mouthfeel was very lacking, which detracted from everything else. Needed a bit more body to it.
Overall: Not bad, but there are cheaper and better winter warmers on this side of the pond.

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Photo of Quaffer
3.12/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: The beer poured from a bottle with a cheap orange label that looked like something a homebrewer with poor Photoshop skills would slap on his/her bottles. Hardly any head developed on top of this amber-red beer, even with a rough-as-hell pour. A thin skin of extremely tiny bubbles did remain for quite awhile, along with a patch of large, coarse bubbles in the middle of the glass.

Smell: Somebody get me a spoon! This beer smelled like a great dessert, along the lines of bread pudding. It was thick with raisins, dates, warm spices, and yeasty dough. Some sharp, candied fruits and light alcohol added a slight edge to an overall warm and round aroma. Very nice.

Mouthfeel: Medium- to full-bodied and extremely smooth and mouthfilling. There was no trace of carbonation in the mouth at all.

Taste: The first couple of drinks of this beer were extremely metallic tasting. I've had that happen with other beers in the past, but none were ever this bad. After a few drinks this unpleasantness subsided and let some of the true flavors of this warmer came through, but it never completely went away. The flavor was heavy with thick, sweet malt, raisins, dates, and molassas. I think there was a light bitterness on the finish, but as the flavors subsided, that tinny metallic flavor once again became dominant.

I think that this beer has potential and the beer-like flavors that came through could have been enjoyable. However, I couldn't get past the fact that it tasted like I was sucking on a quarter.

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Photo of DaveHS
3.15/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A couple years on this one. No bottle date.

A-Pours clear dark amber with a thin, milky coffee colored head. No lacing.

S-Candied fruit, figs, leather, toffee.

T/M-Flavor profile is in line with what I expect from a vintage English strong ale for the most part, but it's just kind of flat. Cloyingly sweet. Fruity/musty flavors all muddled together.

O-Don't care for it

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Photo of coldmeat23
3.2/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees

I have no idea how old this is, as there is no indication on the packaging. I'm guessing it's at least a year old, if not longer.

Pours a dark, murky, amber color. A minimal head of foam, slightly more than a topfilm forms, then quickly reduces to a nice topfilm. Lacing is odd. It's not so much 'lace' like. It's a bunch of 'bumps', or 'spots', but they are pretty sticky. Slightly impressive, even if it's different.

I am attacked by a big booziness. Very sherry-like. Very strong woody/oaky presence. Thick malty notes.
From the nose, there's no denying that this would be a great winter warmer.

Very similar to a cask-aged sherry. High presence of booziness (which is, indeed, very warming). Very woody presence, oaky and butterey. Strong presence of over-ripened dark fruits. This is all backed by a strong maltiness.

Here's where this one falls flat. Just barely qualifies as medium-bodied. Way too thin, for the style. The minimal carbonation level is fine, and well-suited. I just think that this one would be worlds better with a nice bit of thickness behind it.

Because of the (lack of) body, this one scores low on drinkability. It has decent flavor, but the thin nature of it makes it so much less enjoyable than it could be.

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Photo of goz
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours clear ruby, with a minimal head and non-existant lace. Very small amount of carbonation present. Strong, vinous aroma - fruits like raisin, plum, caramel malts, and alcohol all tickle the nostrils. Flavor is quite sweet, sugary, caramel, and underlying alcohol, along with a mild bitterness in the back that was very subtle. Mouthfeel was buttery and thick. Alcohol is warming towards the end of the small bottle.

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Photo of Mattias
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

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Harvey's Christmas Ale from Harvey & Son Ltd.
3.8 out of 5 based on 199 ratings.
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