Harvey's Christmas Ale | Harvey & Son Ltd.

Harvey's Christmas AleHarvey's Christmas Ale
BA SCORE
63.3%
Liked This Beer
3.8 w/ 199 ratings
Harvey's Christmas AleHarvey's Christmas Ale
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#15,704
Reviews:
165
Ratings:
199
Liked:
126
Avg:
3.8/5
pDev:
15.53%
Alströms:
4.47
 
 
Wants:
10
Gots:
5
Trade:
1
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 199 |  Reviews: 165
Photo of Archemedies
2.75/5  rDev -27.6%

Photo of metter98
3.82/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is very hazy brownish amber in color. It poured with a very thin head that quickly dissipated, leaving lacing on the surface and a thick ring of large bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are aromas of port wine in the nose, which become stronger as the beer warms up.
T: Like the smell, the taste has flavors of port wine along with notes of figs and a bit of sweetness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a bit thin on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is rather easy to drink compared to others in the style because the alcohol is well hidden from the taste. It almost seems to taste more like port wine instead of beer.

 676 characters

Photo of LJWalker
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of Suds
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer is flatter than normal...a still-ish amber liquid with a nearly non-existent head. A ring of white suds. The aroma is all fruit and malt. Cherry, grist-mill, apricot, grape-skin, and lightly toasted bread. The flavor is now what was expected...intense sweetness to begin with (nearly sugary), followed with a bit of booze and enough balance to even things out. Some gristy, malty characteristics. English hops. This is a traditional strong English ale all the way (over the top, really). Full body. To be enjoyed in sips, not a gulps. I enjoyed this beer more than expected.

 584 characters

Photo of warnerry
3.3/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not sure when this was bottled. Label says there is a best by date on the cap, but I don't see one.

A - Pours a clear amber/copper with almost zero head.

S - Lots of caramel malt, a bit of fruit, mostly apple, and a bit of candi sugar. Pretty nice.

T - Alcohol is quite noticeable, along with sweet caramel malt, some sugar and brown sugar, and some tart fruit. Has a very faint burnt flavor, and some spices leading to a dry finish.

M - Medium mouthfeel s initially quite syrupy, but finishes dry and with some bitterness.

O - A pretty good winter warmer, but not one I would go back to.

 593 characters

Photo of Kahlerbock
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of garymuchow
4.29/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Several year interest in this. Not sure why I pulled the trigger this time, but so I did.
2009.
Great deep fruity aroma with dark fruits like fig and dates, but malt. Also nice sweet candy like caramel, toffee and a little molasses. Really nice aroma.
No head to speak of, with a small rim of white carbonation. Darker amber with tints of red, yellow, orange and slightly cloudy.
Nice fruit flavors again - closer to cherry. They are a little sweeter and are tinged with the alcohol. Finish has a drying quality, but it's not a dry beer, in fact it's more rich than anything. Must be just enough hopping to balance it off.
Heavy feel, with richness, low carbonation, higher alcohol make this a slow sipper. However, the rather shorter finish limits it some.
I like this beer. It's not through the roof, but it is a good, and complex beer with some really enjoyable fruit flavors.

 880 characters

Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +31.6%

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

 374 characters

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.

 291 characters

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.

 626 characters

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!

 1,563 characters

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.

 386 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
3.48/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

9.3 oz. nip bottle, nice to see this back in the Southland after a 4 year absence, it's back like Goudenband, great label,

A: Pours a dark amber with a mild white head. Lighter than I expected it to be. Good head retention, no lace.

S: Very malt, has a booze presence. Caramel and molasses, with a hint of soy sauce.

T: Brown sugar and soy (though this goes away as it warms a bit) with a fair amount of hoppiness for this style. Really more an old ale or a barleywine than a winter warmer. Cracked grainy finish.

M: Full-bodied, smooth, solventy at times, very light, soft carbonation character.

D: It's a warming brew, it doesn't lie. The flavour is nice, not great, there are better English beers for the price.

 719 characters

Photo of rtepiak
4.02/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a english malt bomb with a subtle bitter kicker to its otherwise arrange of malts. pour is rich amber with a yellowish off white head. nose is caramel and toffee toasted malt. palate is that sort of sweetness with a hint of mild citrus note. toffee, toasted and burnt, a bit of a pineapple candied sweet, persimmon, and a assam tea bitter at the end that gives it a much drier note than expected. although i must say that the abv is evident. definitely made the bitter burnt quality more prevalent. but still quite nice.

 520 characters

Photo of avalon07
3.89/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a ruby color and a cloudy texture. There was a small amount of quickly dissipating, foamy head. Almost no lacing at all.

S: A nice aroma of malt, toffee, some spices, and a bit of alcohol.

T: Tasted of malt and toffee more than anything, with a slightly spicy finish. Alcohol wasn't quite as noticeable as I would have thought. A generally good flavor.

M: An average amount of carbonation with a slick finish. Medium-bodied.

D: On the whole, this is a solidly made, drinkable beer.

 530 characters

Photo of DmanGTR
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes on 12/25/09. How appropriate :)

A - Poured brilliant deep ruby red, perfectly clear, with a 3/4" light tan bubbly head. Small streams of bubbles continuously sustained the head for a bit, then it diminished to a nice ring around the glass. No lacing. 4.5

S - Strong notes of cream sherry, caramel, and raisins control the aroma. Mild oxidation and maybe a touch of prunes as well. The nose bouquet is wonderfully balanced and rich. 4.5

T - Deliciously sweet and fruity. Very malt forward, rich toffee and plum flavors. My tastebuds are attacked by lots of caramelized malt, black currants, and sweet plum. Again, the oxidation brings out some more cream sherry notes. Quite the complex beer and finishes forever, with lots of lingering sweetness. 4.0

M - Still well carbonated and very smooth. Mildly thick bodied, slight warmth of alcohol in the finish. For only 8.1%, the alcohol is a bit pronounced. 4.0

D - Pretty good, definitely a dipper. I'd rather have this one over many other Christmas ales. As a winter warmer, it definitely warms your throat. I would buy this again. 4.5

 1,105 characters

Photo of hoegaardenhero
3.97/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: very limited amount of white head quickly fades away leaving one splotch of white floating on top of a burgundy-brown body

s: it is very fragrant; coffee scent; toffee; sweet spices; some wine/whiskey; sweet plum;

t: warm abv; sweet malts; light raw wheat; a light tartness at the end of the sip; there is a lot here--thick with flavor; spice and brown sugar

m: smooth and velvety; a little cloying; thick bod very mild carb

d: an interesting beer that is definitely worth a try and begs to be enjoyed in front of a fireplace

 532 characters

Photo of jgasparine
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Note: This bottle has been sitting in the fridge for at least two years. Don't know the date of production, but I DO know that it wasn't temperature abused.

A- Poured from the bottle almost completely flat. No head, nor lacing, and only the faintest visible traces of carbonation where a collar would normally form on the beer. The body was an attractive opaque ruby-tinged brown, but the lack of any head was dissapointing.

S- A rich nose comprised of caramel, dark fruit, leather and madiera aromas. A little oxidization here, but not off-putting. The oxidization may be from the age on my bottle...

T- Starts off sweet on the palate with candy malt and the anticipated flavors of caramel and dark fruit. Some very subtle spiciness emerges in the middle. The finish exhibits a mild hop bitterness and fades quickly with faint traces of butterscotch and oxidation left behind.

M- A medium body. Not very viscous, but there is a little slickness to the brew as it coats the mouth. The carbonation is extremely soft and delecate.

D- Very tasty and very drinkable. The alcohol is undetectable on the nose and palate. I could make a night out of this quite easily... especially in the colder months.

 1,201 characters

Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a claer brown with ruby tints that gave a good head and lace on top of a sweet smell with some spiciness and minor hop bitterness. Really sweet and mellow, medium body, beer passes easily while giving off caramel, cinnamon, bread, minor hops and other sugary sweetness but all so subtle. ABV complements beer with warming sensation on backend and this one is real enjoyable to drink.

 390 characters

Photo of ShareANevada
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Christmas beer for Christmas night. Shared with Tonybrew,
Happy Santas birthday everybody!

Into a stemmed tulip, the beer is dark brown and rich, you can almost see the sweetness. Decent head forms, thin layer stays.
Dar fruit like plums, figs, dates breathe richly from this one.

On the tongue, it actually seems fairly thin. There is some sweetness here, but I think this beer has mellowed out with a little age, with a year on it in my hands.

A nice sipper, not too rich, and respectively, not too sweet. Pretty good beer.

 530 characters

Photo of likethetaste
3.37/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a medium brown with little head. Smells of christmas spices. taste like prunes with some nutmegs spicing. High alcohol content gives this a warm but sharp after taste that some may not like. I usually do not like high alcohol beer but this one was ok. Not bad, just not great. Definately a winter warmer because you feel the alcohol warm you.

 349 characters

Photo of indiapaleale
3.63/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pour - dark, murky brown. Low carbonation levels, almost like a cask pour. The head is reminiscent of an oil slick. Bubbly froth clings to the inside walls of the glass while islands of oily looking foam cover the top of the beer.

Aroma - wow. I can smell this a good 2-3 feet away. Strong dark, dried fruit smells and oxidization emanate from the glass. It also provides some medicinal aromas along with strong alcohol.

Taste - plums, figs, prunes and raisins galore. Tons of dried dark fruit flavors. Sweet concentrated flavors. There is also brown bread, toffee and an essence of brandy. This is sweet but not cloying, thankfully. The oxidization I smell did not translate into this beer being bad either.

Overall - Warm and smooth with a good deal of flavor. This is one to sip by the fire and/or enjoy with a nice dessert. Great for a cold winter night and definitely a good candidate for sharing.

Would I buy more of it? - yeah maybe, not totally sure. There are way too many other beers out there that I'd love to try before I go back to this one. It would make a nice gift for any beer lover on your Christmas list!

 1,134 characters

Photo of Oxymoron
3.36/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Tis the season. Pours a mostly cloudy darker brown color with more of a mahogany color. A softer amber hue through out as well. Some white fizzy head that does last for a bit but not through the full tasting.

The nose is rich with malt. A mostly caramel and bready aroma with toffee and a hint of pumpernickel bread. Some melanoidin like notes with a kettle aroma. Noticeable esters with plumes and sugar raisins. Some noticeable fusel notes as well but not over the top.

The taste is similar to the aroma. The malt is not as dominant than what the nose would indicate. But I think that is more of the yeast and esters coming out versus the malt backing off. More of a toffee notes almost candi like in the finish. Some bready notes but more of a kettle flavor than anything. Noticeable plums that could rival Belgian beers. Some yeasty notes but mostly clean. Big fusel notes though that is a bit of a deterrent.

The body is between moderate and full but a very light carbonation that could benefit from a bit more carbonic bite. A bit too sweet as well, would like to see a bit smoother. Noticeable alcohol that is bit off. Overall a good beer but would benefit with age for sure.

 1,185 characters

Photo of RedBrewer83
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into goblet...

A: Ruby brown with hints of orange hue and pours with no head, just a few bubbles rising to the surface. Reminds me of their le coq, which I am sad to say I did not like at all...a little scared...

S: Not a huge aroma, definitely get some raisiny dark fruit, brown sugar, a nice earthy aroma kind of like wet moss in the background and you can smell a hint of booziness as well. Reminds me more of a barleywine at this point.

T: Definitely get the dark fruit mixed with brown sugar and a hint of molasses upfront, mid palate has a nice boozy note but its well balanced and the finish is pretty smooth, leaving you with some caramel malt.

M: Almost no carbonation and surprisingly it works for this beer. Heavy mouthfeel but very smooth despite a little booziness.

D: Again, very smooth and drinkable, if it was a little boozier I might knock it down a notch, but this is pretty well balanced. Overall a very nice offering as a winter warmer, but I would almost call this a barleywine. Still pretty delicious.

 1,035 characters

Harvey's Christmas Ale from Harvey & Son Ltd.
Beer rating: 63.3% out of 100 with 199 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.