Christmas Ale | Sly Fox Brewing Company

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Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Brewed by:
Sly Fox Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
This malty, full-bodied red ale is made with traditional mulling spices: Ginger, Clove, All Spice, Cinnamon & Nutmeg. If this one doesn't get you into the Christmas spirit, you truly are a Scrooge.

Bottled: 16.0 OG | 16 IBUs | 6.5% ABV

Canned: 14.0 OG | 16 IBUs | 5.5% ABV

Added by NeroFiddled on 11-24-2002

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Reviews: 181 | Ratings: 418
Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the older can, it pours a clear reddish amber with a nice frothy head. The head lasts a bit and leaves lacing as you enjoy it. Christmas spices in the nose. The mouth follows, with a spiced malt flavor.

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Photo of The_Beer_Guru
3.94/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color with a very thin head. Smells of allspice, cloves, cinnamon, malt, and nutmeg. This taste like a straight up gingerbread cookie. Very good beer and I taste everything that I smelled. Pretty smooth and surprisingly not that malty. Perfect balance of a mild sweetness and a mild carmel malt. Very good winter beer and would definitely buy again!

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Photo of thebeers
3.21/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Straight up amber color with a thin finger of tan tinted head that isn't that lasting and leaves only modest lacing.

Big Christmas spice aroma -- nutmeg, mace, cloves, ginger.

The taste is pretty thin up front. Not too much of an aftertaste either, dry and slightly bitter, with a muddy mix of the spices from the nose omnipresent in the background throughout the drinking experience. There's a touch of honey sweetness in there. Reminds me of carrot cake more than anything.

Watery, thin bodied mouthfeel. Not my thing.

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Photo of dacrza1
3.34/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3.25

DATE TASTED: January 29, 2016... GLASSWARE: Mad Elf snifter... OCCASION: celebrating another Friday night with Shan and the Tank... APPEARANCE: dense, burnt sienna body that releases little effervescence...the thin white line forms the head, with a smear of an island in the middle... AROMA: the can's claims are tangible in the aroma--cinnamon and ginger are the most dominant scents; nutmeg and clove are present...the addition of maple syrup to the olfactory is surprising, as are the wet, toasty malts... PALATE: fizzy early and flat at the finish, with a warming, syrupy draw--not the flourish that I hoped for in a Christmas beer, nor is it as full-bodied as it could be... TASTE: nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon definitely evoke the Christmas spirit--even a month after its exit... the syrupy kickback detracts from the overall flavor--it runs akin to cough medicine, with some malt return to add balance--possibly a brown ale base is in here... OVERALL: This beer gets a bit of a boost from the nostalgia spawned from last week's Lamb of God/Anthrax concert in Philly...however, the beer on its own does its job but does not demand a second purchase--a reasonable holiday drink that doesn't distinguish 5.5%, a favorable drink to combo...

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Photo of farrago
3.19/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Two fingers of frothy foam, really whipped up with full mix of bubble sizes and a cratered surface, minimla stick to the lacing. The liquid is red cherry wood color, crystal clear and shiny, the bubbles are very tiny but spread out wall to wall. The nose comes off as on the thin side, all the spices listed are accurate plus cola, orange peel, golden raisin and fig notes, disappears just as you are starting to get into it. Light-bodied, basically a replica of the experience in the nose, starts with a mix of baking spice while here you get a light breadiness and molasses, toffee to cola. The carbonation is not strong but seems so given relative lack of richness to the liquid. Fewer notes of dried fruit and no fresher fruit nor citrus to act as supplement, maybe apple or cherry. Not bitter, not too dry, the mouth feel is innocuous. It’s just the lack of flavor which is troublesome. You have to assume that the brewmaster intended this as some kind of counter-position to “overdone” versions of the category. Just too boring to want to revisit ever. (2015 version)

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Photo of Gmann
3.34/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours a light Amber color with a short wispy beige head that settles into a light ring.

The aroma is of light spice; cinnamon, nutmeg, clove.

The taste is similar to the nose. Big spice flavor; cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, allspice. Some tea like flavors from the malt. Hard to distinguish this from a pumpkin spice brew.

The feel is light to moderate with fizzy carbonation. Starts sweet on the palate but finishes with an earthy bitterness and quite dry.

An average spiced brew nothing I would search out.

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Photo of utopiajane
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

nose is fruity with a big burst of cinnamon that thankfully wanes to a sweetened soft dark bread with dark fruit like raisin and fig. Ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon all on the nose nicely and not too loudly either. Nutmeg is forward. Ginger is soft and not taking over. Taste is soft breaddy malts with a little breaddy sweetness. a sticky kind of sweetness. Dark fruits are the backdrop and the hops are subtle and not very bitter. This beer reminds me of all the pumpkin ales I have had so far this year. I am not finding much a difference in the flavors. The beer does have a very good balance though as far as the flavors being kind to each other. Nothing is in excess. Finishes a bit sweet and plenty malty.

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Photo of q33jeff
3.01/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3

Can to snifter. Deep dark reddish brown, clear. Brazilian cherry. Aroma is cherry, honey cranberry, brandy, wine, cloves. Taste is honey, ash, ginger?. A lot of aromatics do not show up in the taste. Feel is watery, medium carb, but little body. Good, not great.

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Photo of Billquirk
2.95/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not the type of Christmas Ale I was hoping for. The mouthfeel was extremely thin, and the taste was overpowering in the nutmeggy-ginger side, but not at all in a good way.

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Photo of tigg924
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a brown color with one inch head. Cinnamon, clove, nut and ginger dominate. Good light bodied ale with moderate carbonation. A good holiday beer.

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Photo of kilo_005
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 Version - Poured from a can into a pint glass.
A: Reddish copper color - the color is nice. Small head, some lacing.
S: Obviously a lot going on here given the style. It's just various spices you would use in Christmas baking - cinnamon, ginger, etc. I think the strongest smell is ginger.
T: The key to this beer that makes it good is that even though there's tons of, well, adventurous winter flavors, the beer itself is not overwhelmingly sweet. You get hit with the flavors initially, but the after taste is just like a slightly bitter ale. I think this is good, because I don't want a really sweet beer like some are of this style.
M: Good - light carbonation and good slightly bitter aftertaste.
O: If you want a beer in this style that isn't too cloyingly sweet, this is the way to go. Plus the cans are certainly festive !

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Photo of Hired_Goon
2.92/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

I really liked the 2013 version of this beer. I picked up a six pack of cans of the 2014 version. I'm hoping that maybe I just got unlucky as it was not very good. Kind of tasted like Budweiser with a hint of cinnamon.

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Photo of DMXLOX22
4.5/5  rDev +20%

Picked up the 2014 version of this brew at my local establishment, Civera's in Drexel Hill. Let's see how this brew goes on Thanksgiving eve.

Appearance: Pours a copper brown, deep red. Leaves behind a quite impressive head that is about an inch thick after pouring and dissipates kind of slowly as the brew goes down and leaves a decent lacing on the way down.

Smell: Upon first sniff, the aroma gives off cinnamon, some light allspice and some light biscut-like aroma. Further inspection of the aroma, I get more cinnamon and very light nutmeg-like and other gentle spices. Very little gingerbread aroma. Not too bad. Nice and somewhat balanced.

Taste: Upon first sips, I can detect some light allspice, also some light biscut-like flavors. Second and third sips, I can detect the nutmeg and cinnamon which isn't too bad and smooth and come creamy flavors. Sweeter caramel and some toffee flavors also comes through as the brew goes down.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation with a medium body. Goes well down the slower you go. Not too bad aftertaste, not very dry at all.

Overall: Coming into this brew, I was glad I grabbed it since I missed last year's version. Not too bad upon first pour and inspection. Smell and taste matches up pretty consistent and go well and well-balanced. I was quite satisfied with this brew, but the flavor was a bit overpowering. I would maybe try again maybe on a colder night. I would recommend to a friend. Cheers!

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Photo of Billolick
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce can, Best By 03/24/14 printed on the bottom of the can.

Pours darker amber, minor khaki head, leaving a smattering of fine bits of scattered lacing.

Cinnamon dominates the nose as well as the palate. Hints of ginger but mostly cinnamon and more cinnamon. Too much cinnamon. Meh, not my favorite winter warmer, over spiced and under malted.

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.76/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75


Pours clear reddish brown with a yellowish head. Retains as a film.

Smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, and biscuit malt.

Biscuit malt with brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves.

Medium to thin body with tingly carbonation on the tongue.

Pretty tasty winter ale with good spice flavor and aroma, worth a try but could stand to have a fuller body.

 343 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decanted into a 22oz glass. Pours a clear amber color with a soapy white head. Aroma of cinnamon and spice. In the taste, doughy malts, cinnamon, ginger and clove. Has a semi sweet caramel malty ness and a dry spice. Medium bodied with a dry finish. Overall, a really nice cellar treat. Delicious.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.87/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Sampling a cellar temp can poured into a tulip glass. The can is a gift from my brother for CHristmas.
The beer pours a deep mahogany color with ruby highlights. There is a dense creamy eggshell head of 2 cm foaming up and it fades to a thick edge layer and wispy islands in the center.
Aroma is sweet and spicy, I get rich nutmeg and cinnamon mixing with a sort of apple cider sweetness. Some brown sugar and bready notes as well just like a apple crumb.
First sip reveals an average body and smooth silky texture. Fine tingly carbonation that tickles on the palate after each sip.
The flavor is sweet and spicy just like the nose with caramel and brown sugar, sweet nutmeg and cinnamon that lingers on my palate.
A very nice beer that is sweet and may be too much if you dont like that, but I enjoy it and find it easy to drink.

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Photo of 57md
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2013 version: Appearance is a reddish copper with a half finger of head that dissipated quickly. Seasonal spices abound in the nose. I also swear that I smelled a hint of evergreen tree. The flavor profile is a nice balance between malt and seasonal spices, especially gingerbread. The finish is quite dry and titillatingly hoppy.

2015 version: The finish seemed more heavy on the spice this year than in 2013. That made this offering somewhat less dirnkable.

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Photo of candcholt
3.08/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tastes like gingerbread.

Feels a little heavy. Typical heavily spiced winter warmer. Fun to drink and hand out at the holidays, but nothing stupendous.

I have a lot of respect for Sly Fox, and tend to really enjoy the vast majority of their brews, but so far, haven't been impressed by their Christmas Ales.

The can itself is really fun, with an embroidered look, and a place to write To: and From: if you're giving as a little gift.

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Photo of ccrida
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2013 version of the 750 ml corked and caged bottle, poured into my new Steelers shaker pint for xmas. Appearance is caramel brown with a light tan head leaving light sticky lace.

Smell is sweet malt and mulling spices, exactly as advertised.

Taste is pretty good, surprisingly! I find spiced beers tend to be heavy handed, especially with the strong nose, but the integration and balance are pretty good. Somewhat lithe in fact.

Mouthfeel is light and very dry.

Drinkability is pretty good, a solid Xmas beer with just enough spice to bring the cheer without the pain! Still, one 750 is enough for me, for the year.

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Photo of rudzud
2.56/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Received as an extra in a trade and poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a crystal clear light almost garnet hue with a thin half finger tan head that faded quickly to leave a thin, thin halo and light wisps. Pretty underwhelming.

S - Aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, sweet malts. Gingerbread...almost smells like a fake pumpkin beer. Yippie...

T - Taste is all spice notes. Ugh. It's like a drinking pumpkin pie spice. Just waaay too heavy handed on the spices here. It overpowers the malts...which actually is impressive when you think about it.

M - Mouthfeel is sharp, lightly spicy, rather watery though.

O - Overall, I've had my fair share of winter warmers, and this was basically just winter spices in a wine cooler. Quite unpleasant.

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Photo of BWED
3.37/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Can poured into a craft pint

A- Semi-hazed reddish brown. Yellowish head shows with a little retention.

S- Molasses and gingerbread. A pretty nice aroma. The molasses really sticks out.

T- Spices mostly, with a little sweet malt.

M- Spice lingers in the feel. A little too much.

O- The aroma of this beer was promising, but it came down to too much spice for me.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.46/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Can o'Sly Fox Christmas 2013. Poured into a pint glass.

Red copper color with a half an inch of tan foam. The head retention is average to meager. Actually, it's fizzing out a little fast.

Spice-o-rama, which I know it's what it's intended to be, but... jeez. Glogg-like, with obvious cinnamon, allspice, clove, and nutmeg. Has hints of candied ginger and cardamom. Birch-y maltiness offers roast, but not strength. Smells good, like a cherished Christmas memory.

Malts show up with an English twist, as there're some spoiled fruits in the parlor. But, the triumph belongs to the spices, which overtake the beer. Cinnamon and allspice, so big, it's dusty. Clove has a potency about it that doesn't irritate me because the cinnamon is so huge. If it weren't for the other mulling spices, I'd call this cinnamon spice beer. It tastes like Christmas Eve baking aromas, but the malt/hop combo of beer is getting lost. Ginger is still taking a back seat, and a spicier heat would take the edge off of the sweet dustiness and cocoa nuances. Needless to say, it's not very warming for a Winter Warmer, but the flavors imply something you'd want to cozy up to. I don't know, it seems overdone. It's definitely over-spiced or under-malted. No recognizable hop flavor, only latent bitterness. Roastiness is mild, in actuality, and needs some focus. Aside from some figgy tones, the malt base is rather muted.

Drinks with a happy glug-glug. Carbonation is middle-of-the-road... standard fare. No real warming alcohol, but I can taste it mildly.

I think I've liked this one more in past years. Or, my expectancy is heightening. Hard to say. It's another average craft warmer, at an oxymoronic, near-sessionable ABV.

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Photo of Glennlawless
3.16/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a Tulip glass.

A - Deep amber with an inch light brownish velvet textured head.

S - Cinnamon stick, cloves, allspice. pretty much smells like your typical pumpkin ale haha.

T - Very mild notes of everything in the nose, some earthy hop bitterness at the end.

M - medium carbonation, super smooth.

O - This beer really didnt have much to it, but the flavors were nice ( what i was able to get from it ) just a super mild almost session like beer. average.

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Photo of CloudStrife
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 ml split and poured into a snifter. Expired 10/22/12 per bottle. Talk about hard to open.

A: Pours a very opaque dark orangish ruby with a full three finger lightly tanned head. Doesnt leave any lacing. Some visible chunks floating in the body.

S: A good deal of spice. Clove, cinnamon, allspice still very well rounded. Lots of graham cracker crust characteristics. Brown sugar in there as well.

T: Not an overload of spice, a well done and nice blend. Hints of sweetness round it out nicely. This is a balanced beer, perfect for a winter warmer.

M: Fairly light body with medium carbonation. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel but really none too heavy. Isnt too sticky from the sweetness but finishes rather clean.

Overall for a light ABV beer this one has held up pretty well. Any of the rough edges that may have been present earlier have melded together leaving a balanced brew.

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Christmas Ale from Sly Fox Brewing Company
3.75 out of 5 based on 418 ratings.
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