Christmas Ale | Sly Fox Brewing Company

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Christmas AleChristmas Ale
424 Ratings
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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 424 |  Reviews: 183
Photo of Sammy
3.65/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Mostly foamy head on orange body. Medium mouthfeel,lots of spice, not too crazy on the ginger, then there is nutmeg, orange, cinammon, clove. Hops back there, and not bitter. Kind of thrown all together, a spicy flavour beer.Not my best Sly Fox, but quaffable.

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Photo of acurtis
3.42/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Knapp85
2.5/5  rDev -32.1%

Photo of djrn2
3.5/5  rDev -4.9%

Photo of nmann08
3.25/5  rDev -11.7%

Photo of metter98
3.9/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is relatively clear amber in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger and a half high dense light beige colored head that gradually died down but left a large pillow of bubbles in the center of the glass, a collar around the edge, and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: The smell has a mixture of Christmas spice aromas in the nose—nutmeg and gingerbread seem to stand out in particular.
T: Like the smell, the taste is rather spicy but has a gingerbread-like sweetness and is almost like having a liquid gingerbread man.
M: It feels medium-bodied and somewhat smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I found this to be a nice Christmas winter warmer that had a good balance between the malty sweetness and spices—neither of which really stood out in particular. It is a nice choice for the holiday season.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.5/5  rDev -4.9%

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +15.5%

Photo of oline73
3.5/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Boone757
3.5/5  rDev -4.9%

Photo of paulish
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.06/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Update: I've adjusted my numbers based on this year's version, but my original review follows. I didn't find the finesse in the spice and malt that I found before. In fact, I thought that the spicing was a little heavy handed, yet dull. Hopefully next year's batch will be better.

- I haven't had a beer that's really turned my head in a while, but this is one of them. The body is a clear auburn topped by a thin, creamy ivory head that holds quite well and leaves some lace throughout the glass. The aroma entices you with a combination of lightly sweet biscuity malt & gentle spices (cinnamon & ginger) that's reminiscent of gingerbread. The body is medium with a very fine & moderate carbonation that leaves it smooth & creamy in the mouth. The flavor is very similar to the aroma, starting with a soft biscuity malt that reveals some sweeter caramel/toffee and light chocolatey notes as it warms and the mild spices start to appear. But the true spice character appears just as you swallow, with a vast array of flavors bursting forth including cinnamon, ginger, all-spice, nutmeg and clove. This is where the beer offers some complexity - certain spices will appear more clearly to you with each further sip. The spices continue to swirl about the mouth in a gently lingering aftertaste that generally dries with some clove character. Hop bitterness is well-heeled to allow the spice to do its job. Amazingly well-done for such a difficult style. The spice is fresh and vibrant, yet delicate. Restrained balance is obvious, and the way that the spice flavors play-off of the malt character is exquisite. An exceptional holiday treat. I may have to find myself some holiday shopping to do in Phoenixville so that I can get another growler before it's all gone! Absolutely worth seeking out.

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Photo of smithj4
3.84/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Photo of PhineasMcClintock
3.52/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of jgunther71
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another great offering from Sly Fox pours a deep red with some copper tints with a real nice fluffy head that leaves some nice lacing on its way down,aroma is of allspice and cinnamon with some light metallic hints.A real fine tasting brew cinnamon is the dominant taste I get with some light allspice notes a nice malty/bready backbone to makes it very appetizing.Gotta growler of it and now enjoying at home.

 410 characters

Photo of Rifugium
4.12/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: bottle from Pinocchio's beer garden, Media, PA

Loved this. Poured a hazy copper color with a nice thick head of delicate eggshell bubbles. Spicy aroma! Lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a sweet toffee base. Similar to the aroma, big cinnamon up front in the taste, all spice and nutmeg underneath the cinnamon, rich toffee, caramel malts, and ginger snaps. Complex and spicy. Medium-bodied and very smooth, and super drinkable.

 435 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.65/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 Christmas Ale version

Impressive four finger head.  Settles rockily.  Appears clear.  The color is light brown. Despite holding the head exceptionally well, there's very little lace. 

Smells a little earthy, light yeast bite. 

The spice really shows up in the flavor (I didn't notice it in the smell). There's some earthiness and darker malt flavors. I can't detect any hop, but that's okay given the style. 

The body is as expected. 

Overall a classically, highly spiced winter ale. 

 502 characters

Photo of woodychandler
3.83/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It is Christmas evening/night 2014 and I just realized that I have never reviewed this beer from a CAN. It seems like an appropriate moment to further The CANQuest (tm)!

From the CAN: "Season's Greetings!"; "Ale with Ginger, Cinnamon, Allspice, Nutmeg & Cloves"; "It's a real gift that we are able to gather round with family and friends to enjoy a most special brew accented by mulling spices and aromas which recall near-forgotten holiday memories."; "Enjoy Anywhere. Recycle Everywhere."

Following the Crack!, I celebrated Christmas with an inverted Glug, resulting in two-plus fingers of foamy, rocky, tawny head with moderate retention. Color was Deep Amber/Light Copper to Copper (SRM = > 13, < 17) with NE-quality clarity. Nose was quite spicy, but it was impossible for me to discern one from another, although the cinnamon really cut through everything else. Mouthfeel was medium. The taste was an interesting mélange of spices, but the prevalent flavors were of ginger, cinnamon and cloves, at least in the mouth. Why do I mention it like that? Because I felt like I got the allspice and nutmeg on the finish. The finish was dry, as you might expect from such a highly spiced beer. It was an interesting beer and a nice way to celebrate Christmas, but one was enough.

My original bottle review, dtd 11 July 2005, follows:

Another Xmas in July Beer, courtesy of Scoats.

This had a huge, foamy tan head above a deep caramel brown color. It had an odd nose of malt, but underlain with a vinegar sharpness. It had a light to medium mouthfeel. It ws very malty in the mouth, but with a spicy bite like cinnamon and nutmeg, and perhaps allspice. As the beer warmed, the spices became more prevalent, both in the mouth and on the finish. This was very reminiscent of a pumpkin ale, with all of the spices going on.

 1,825 characters

Photo of Kegatron
3.53/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -4.9%

Photo of mendvicdog
3.25/5  rDev -11.7%

Photo of SadMachine
3.5/5  rDev -4.9%

Photo of rab53
4/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.53/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Massively carbonated red-orange-copper with tangerine edges; a festive looking beer (what I can see of it that is). The orange-accented, light caramel-colored cap is frothysoft and is still filling more than half the glass after several minutes time. Another pour contributes to the immense rockiness of the head and I'm beginning to be reminded of a few Belgian ales that I've poured recently. All in all, a very nice look for a holiday beer.

I love Christmas spices and once I found out which 'mulling spices' were used, I was sure that I'd love the aroma. Not so fast. It isn't a bad nose, but it doesn't do the ingredients justice in my mind. There's no way that I could pick them all out, so I'll just list them: ginger, clove, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg. The beer smells like a toasted, sweetly malty red ale with a nutmeg and ginger infusion.

The flavor is more to my liking than is the nose, but I'll require a lot more beer to come to a decision between pretty good and unquestionably good. Good thing that it's a 750 ml bottle. My first thought is that the beer lacks subtlety. It's full of flavor (many different flavors in fact), but it tastes muddled and run together rather than having that multi-faceted, separate-yet-works-well-together complexity that all good, boldly flavored beer has.

The malt base is solid and reminds me of toasted brown bread soaked in melted caramels. It isn't as sweet as that sounds however. The bitterness of the hops and the rampant spice load have seen to that. As in the nose, nutmeg seems to have been added with the heaviest hand. My suggestion to Sly Fox would be to either cut back on the number of spices (three well-chosen ones should do) or to cut back on the total amount. A sledgehammer isn't needed where a ballpeen hammer will do.

The body matches the ABV more than the flavor. This really is a light-medium beer, not a full, syrupy sipper. Come to think of it, it might be better at 8% with a generous mouthfeel and a seriously restricted amount of carbonation. More to consider Sly Fox; I'm only trying to help.

2005 Christmas Ale looks good--both the bottle itself and the beer that exits the bottle--but doesn't quite measure up to my expectations. I hope that the brewery changes thing up each holiday season, because with a few tweaks this one could be a contender.

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Christmas Ale from Sly Fox Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.68 out of 5 with 424 ratings