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 dahlen22
2.15/5  rDev -42.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance: Brownish-Amber with a good head

Aroma: Can get some of the spices listed on the bottle (cinn., cloves, ginger)

Taste: Too much going on here in the spice department. Spicy with a malty aftertaste followed by more spices in the finish.

Overall: I am surprised that this one got so man good reviews, but I am starting to wonder if people who work for the breweries are using this site to advertise their beer??

Anyhow, IMO, skip this one. I continue to find good American Belgian-style Christmas ales, but this one fell short. Way too spicy with not enough other flavors to balance off the spice. I struggled to finish the bottle off, but after fighting it down, all I was left with was indigestion. Cheers!!

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Photo of Goldorak
2.32/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

2005 Bottle

Appearance: Festive brownish red, with a head of compact bubbles.

Smell: DMS Buttered popcorn aroma, you'd think this was brewed by Orville Redenbacher, if he were also baking banana bread.

Taste: Gingerbread men, pumpkin pie, banana bread. Don't get me wrong, I love all of those things, but just maybe not all blended together in liquid form. The spices were way too harsh and I just couldn't get over the smell.

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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 OWSLEY069
2.81/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a clean orange-ish to copper color with an off white head. In the aroma, big, dry cinnamon spice. In the taste, big on cinnamon and a bit sweet. It kind of tastes like a gingerbread cookie. A smooth and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry, small cinnamon like spice in the aftertaste. Big spice, but average, I kind of feel like it is made for the main stream.

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Photo of goblue3509
2.83/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours an amber color with a slight hazy and a big pillow head that is four fingers in size and slightly off white. The head recedes to a tight skim with gobs of lace up and down the glass. The aroma is of dark fruits cinnomon nutmeg and a good amount of ginger. The taste has a caramel malt backbone with a big ginger taste. There are also slight hints of nutmeg and cinnomon. The mouthfeel is moderately carbonated. Overall it is an okay beer its not best in glass but drinkable.

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Photo of corby112
2.84/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served on-tap at Jose Pistola's in Philadelphia, PA.

Pours a light amber color with a thin yellowish head. Aroma is very weak with lots of cinnamon and not much else. Taste was very watered down with loads of cinnamon and cherry and a slight hoppy dry finish.

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Photo of yelterdow
2.89/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to EPseja for sharing this bottle the day after Christmas, 2006. Fully a year old in the bottle, I await the experience on the tastebuds.

Served in a Duvel tulip at just over fridge temperature.

Appearance- Pours a beautiful, light caramel brown with a similar colored head... four full fingers high. Small, soapy bubbles make up this incredibly well structured beer. Skyrocketing carbonation from the base of my glass.

Smell- Cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg... the spices are in the driver's seat. Nothing in the way of hop or malt notes.

Taste- Interesting... I get ginger easily, then a yeasty doughiness almost to the degree of a dunkelweissbier. Someone spilled the contents of the spice rack here... it's all over the place and out of balance. After the swallow, the eternal yeast bitterness overtakes any other attribute and throws it out of whack.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Outrageously explosive and gassy, the mouthfeel is way too active. As the beer comes closer to temperature, the texture improves slightly. Overall, an average at best winter offering.

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Photo of mentor
2.91/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

750 ml caged bottle provided by BeerBeing as part of BIF33. Thanks for the opportunity. Pours a 7 finger light brown head over a thin sliver of actual beer. Really should have seen the cork fly! Almost clear light brown liquid is quite inviting. Smells earthy herbal with honey. Nutmeg and bulk coriander (not the fresh stuff from my garden). Clean sugary with cinnamon. Malt is very low beneath the aromatic herbal and is accompanied by almonds. Doughy sugary gingerbread-cookies.

Tastes malty sweet with an interesting mix of spicing. The smell prepared me for a spice bomb that I wasn't looking forward to, but this is a balanced treat. Allspice laced gingerbread cookies. Not nearly as gingerbread cookie-ish as Cold Mountain (by Highland Brewing). Nice underlying malt sweet is sugary, but not overbearing. Quite in balance with the spicing. A touch of alcohol sting mixes with the aromatic portion of the spicing. A light acidic of lemons or oranges. Heartburn here I come.

As the beer warms, the spicing becomes more prominent. I sense that a brown ale is just dying to show itself, but is strangled by the spices.

Medium (yet dry) mouthfeel with strong carbonation. Honestly, a bit tough to choke this one down near the end, and I've still bot 1/3 of the bottle to go. I'll finish it tomorrow, pawning some off on my wife.

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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 haazer
2.94/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750ml bottle poured into a tulip.

A- Pours a dark cherry beer with apricot undertones. Kind of resembles maple syrup. Head is thick, bubbly, and khaki in color. Fairly well carbonated.

S- Very hard for me to pick out. Yeasty, little bit of cinnamon. Same caramel and other spices. Again, very weak aroma though.

T- Good spice profile. Cinnamon, some brown sugar, tastes a little like egg nog. Yeast flavor is bready. Decent aftertaste.

M- Light to medium bodied. Crisp on the tongue from the decent carbonation.

D- Meh, is what I say to this beer. I was expecting a better aroma & stronger flavors. The beer looked the part, but fell short afterwards. Not bad, but there are certainly better winter beers out there than this.

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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 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 ClockworkOrange
3.05/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A 750ml corked bottle split with brothercannon and poured into a pair of standard shaker glasses. The ale appears a hazed dark amber brown color with a huge three plus fingers of fluffy foam. Nose and flavor are of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, followed by a dose of sweet grains/caramel malt to cut the spiciness. A bit thin bodied and quite overcarbonated. The high carbonation level really hurts the drinkability here.

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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 wcudwight
3.11/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Kramer17801 and BA Fantasy Football for the brew.
Pours a nice clear ruby color with a large 3 finger bubbly head from a conservative pour. Head has decent retention and leaves a sticky spiderweb lacing. Nice looking beer.
There's a plethora of spices in the smell but they are mixed together as such that I can't tell them apart. There's a funkey herbal aroma.
Very interesting flavor for a winter warmer. It's very spicey but still hard to destinguish one spice from another. I would prefere a bigger malt profile to go along with the spiciness. Sharp bitter aftertaste. The alcohol is more noticable than I would expect out of a 6.5% beer.
The mouthfeel is highly carbonated and bubbles and fizzes in the mouth.
Overall this is not a bad beer. It's interesting, unique, and complex. With that said the spiciness, bitterness, and carbonation hinder the drinkability a bit.

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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 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 xnicknj
3.21/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

on tap at the fox and hound in KOP - served in pint

Pours a mostly clear chestnut color with bright reddish hues. Fluffy beige head slowly fades away into a coating of film, leaving some patchy lacing on the glass.

Roasted malts with burnt sugar and dark fruit. Hints of raisin and cherry with cinnamon and a mild spiciness. Fits the genre, but thankfully doesn't go overboard on the potpourri of Christmasy spices.

Soft snap of wintery spice up front with cinnamon and brown sugar. Lightly sweet, mixed with apple and cherry with a dash of raisin. Malted backbone with caramel and bread crust. Finishes a little spicy and sweet with little warmth.

Lighter medium body, decent carbonation, a little chewy and crisp on the tongue. Slyfox is definitely hit or miss for me, but this was a pretty solid winter warmer.

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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 ShanePB
3.24/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served on Christmas Day at lunch, part of my tradition to open a 2-year old vintage of Sly Fox Christmas Ale. Poured the 750 ml corked and caged bottle into a pint glass.

A: Holy gusher. Instantly foamed out the bottle, all over the floor until I poured some in a glass to create enough space in the bottle. I vaguely remember this happening last year with the 2008, so I'm not sure if it's a prolonged aging repercussion or what (the newer vintages do not have this issue fresh). Dark brown with a huge foamy, bubbly and fizzy off-white head. Nice retention and lace, but damn did the foam over hurt things.

S: The spices are still going strong - cinnamon, clove, ginger and slight faint caramel malts towards the end. The nutmeg I think is overwhelming in fresh bottles seems to have disappeared, it's still spicy and definitely has a slight booziness towards the back.

T: Nice and mellow - lots of cinnamon, caramel and dark malts with some very ripe dark fruits. Some fig, prune and more clove towards the back end. The finish certainly has an alcohol twinge present but it doesn't detract from anything.

M: Way too carbonated as evidenced from the opening and pour. Really too much, overly fizzy and a bit too scrubbing. The bottle conditioning just drove this one crazy over the past two years - simply over the top.

Still nice at the two year mark as the spices have mellowed and blended nicely. Some may have fallen off but it's still flavorful enough to be enjoyable. Watch for the gushing!

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Photo of mikereaser
3.28/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 750ml bottle on 12/24/09.
Might have been a bad idea to lose this one to the back of the shelf for so long. The cork refused to come out in one piece, the bottle mouth chipped & the cork screw got bent.

A - pours a murky chestnut brown with a big fluffy, tan foam that slowly disappeared

S - sweet malt, some ginger, spices, nothing too strong

T - malts mainly, some peppery spice and ginger

M - good carbonation, decent mouthfeel

D - 2 years old, will try an 08 & 09 soon to compare

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Photo of jeffmart22
3.28/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Holy Head!!! Pours a clear dark ruby color with a big ol' head.
Poured slowly and produces at least a four finger head that is very frothy and lingers for awhile. Descent lacing on the glass.

A - Big on the holiday spices. Clove is the most dominant in my opinion. No hop profile whatsoever. Sweet caramel and toffee malt backbone.

T - Sweet to start than the spices immediately take over. Spices are upfront but not overpowering. Flavors blend nicely. No bitterness.

M- Medium in body. Nicely carbonated. Flavor duration is medium/long.

O - Nice beer for those of who seek out Christmas ales but not one that I will go after again.

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Photo of Gavage
3.29/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: hazy copper in color with a big fluffy 3"+ head that lasts quite a while. Some moderate lacing developed.

Smell: caramel and spices are a bit softer than expected.

Taste: caramel, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, red grapes, black plums, and a hearty bitterness make up a nicely spicy winter time ale.

Mouthfeel: a bit too crisp for my liking for the style. Medium bodied. Spicy aftertaste is short-lived.

Drinkability: the bubbly / crisp mouthfeel was a bit of a turnoff for me as I wanted a more smoother mouthfeel with a hearty malt profile. Not a bad beer flavorwise, but one bottle was more than enough in a session.

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Photo of russwbeck
3.3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: This beer exploded out of the bottles. Head foaming out all over the counter. Clearer brown pour, hints of red and a big white head.

S: The winter warmer spices have remained and seems to have mellowed nicely. Cinnamon and booze are most noted. A bit medicinal.

T: I was worried this had turned for the worse, but I don't think it has now that I try it. Cinnamon, booze, caramel malts. Not as over the top as most winter warmers I've had, much more mellow and developed.

MF: The carbonation is honestly a bit high, which surprised me. The alcohol is surprisingly noticed for it only being 6.5%. Not terribly drinkable.

O: I'm glad I got to try this. It was very interesting, on to the 2010 version next!.

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