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 Teleweizen2
3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - pours a crystal clear deep ruby red. The beer is practically christmas red. Two fingers worth of tightly packed off-white foam quickly dissolve. A touch of lacing left on the glass.

S - the nose is especially festive. The spices do dominate mostly cinnamon and clove. Toasty and bready malt character add a cake like element.

T - bready, toasty and caramel malts up front. Dusty cinnamon and spicy clove enter mid palate and only intensify as it warms on the tongue. Finish is quick dry and spicy.

M - medium bodied with a fairly smooth texture. High, bubbly carbonation.

O - a nice christmas ale. On the easy drinking side with plenty of spice character. Good stuff.

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Photo of atr2605
3.41/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A-pours a caramel amber color with an off white head with decent retention
S-cinnamon, clove, ginger, brown sugar. basically smells like a big gingerbread cookie
T-The medley of spices continue in the taste followed with some suppressed sweetness, finishing with hop bitterness and lingering spices
M-medium bodied
O-definitely a spice driven winter warmer, and I think a good one if you dig that in the style. Not overly unique but a pleasant beer to enjoy on a wintery day.

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Photo of ummswimmin
3.59/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I had this as part of a beer incentive program at my local bar.

The coloring on this one was a darker brown with a pretty healthy amount of foam on top. The lacing was minimal in my pilsner glass.

Aroma was kind of minimal off of this beer. You get some decent spicing from the beer. The flavor has more spice, but the flavor is lighter than you would expect.

Overall this makes for an easy-drinking winter warmer. Not bad as an introductory version to the style.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.91/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Winter warmers are not usually my favorite beer. This is my first one for this winter season and I have no plans on trying another. That being said this is a pretty decent beer. I would say the only problem is that the flavor profile is so thick it's almost too chewy and there are too many spices in the mix. Nose is really nice, but overall, a bit too heavy. Could be thinned out.

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Photo of tone77
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. can. Has a caramel color with a 1 inch head. Smell is full of spices, mainly cinnamon. Taste is also a lot of spice, some malt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Good job of capturing holiday flavors. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a solid beer.

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Photo of mvanaskie13
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a sam adams glass, color is amber, with very nice clarity and transparency; head is light tan/off white, presenting 1/2" thick then dissipating to a ring, but some nice lacing.

Smell is subdued at first, mild cinnamon, clove and other spices; some lighter toast and caramel malts.

Taste is a crisp and not cloying winter warmer mixture, not heavy on the malt sweetness which helps accentuate the spices, most cinnamon, solid ginger with lighter clove and allspice; flavors mix well and hint at the flavor of ginger snap.

Mouthfeel is very crisp, a little sharp with spices on the tongue but not overly sweet - a good balance for a winter warmer.

Overall, a very solid winter warmer, I like this take with less emphasis on the strength and more focus on light malt flavors to backup a heavy spice profile.

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Photo of SeamusDoyle
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown color from a cork finish 750ml bottle. Large sized white foamy head. Aroma is ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. A medium bodied ale. Malts are fruity and sweet. Lots of brown sugar and molasses flavors, as well as all spice. Malty and fairly sweet, but kind of balanced by the spices. Lively carbonation. Nice Christmas beer. Mouthfeel is full and the finish is clean and smooth with a slightly sweet aftertaste.

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Photo of micromaniac129
3.6/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had at Pizzaria unos last night and came out kinda of bland and flat. A clear copper color but a small head and no carbs.
Aroma was bold spices that was pretty assertive. Lots of cinimmon nutmeg ginger brown sugar and that sort of thing.
Taste is similar with a bold assertive spice over a malty rich base. To me it's abit over spiced.
Feels thin on the palette and a bit dry.
Good and easy drinking but all those spices would limit me to a few probably.

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Photo of metter98
3.9/5  rDev +4%
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 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 Darkmagus82
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a 10 oz chalice glass

Appearance – The beer is served a reddish brown color with a two finger off white head. The head has a good level of retention, eventually fading to leave a spotty amount of lacing.

Smell- The aroma is sweet and of Christmas cookies. It has smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Mixed with these are some lighter notes of vanilla and a moderately strong sugary smell.

Taste – The taste starts out with a somewhat bready and doughy sweet taste. There is a strong brown sugar and caramel presence up front that are mixed with some flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg. These flavors are soon joined by more spice flavors of ginger and clove with the sweetness seeming to increase ever so slightly. In the end a pastry like spiced cookie flavor are left to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the brew is slightly light in creaminess and chewiness with the carbonation level being just a bit above average. Something a bit more chewy may have been appropriate for the taste profile, but overall it wasn't too bad.

Overall- A good easy drinking brew with a nice flavor. It is worth a try if you have the chance to give it a go.

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Photo of FickleBeast
3.62/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz can poured into a nonic.

Pours a clear ruby brown color with a finger of foam that laces nicely. Aroma is redolent of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, clove. Reminds me of a gingersnap cookie.

First sip is a rush of holiday spice flavor. The spices really overpower any other flavors. Ginger and clove are the most dominant, and not much else really comes through. Dry finish.

Another overspiced winter warmer. Not bad, but not something I'd drink again after I finish this 6 pack.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.04/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A CAN into a plain pint glass. Scooped this up as a single.

Blood orange with some light brown tints woven in, Sly Fox Christmas comes off with an inch of off tan colored foam that fades and leaves no stick. A ring around the glass is all that remains on the way down. Smell is big on cinnamon and ginger. Smells like it will come off sweet. There is a whole lot of spice that blends with some caramel from the malt. Not really picking up any hops in here. Smells like a big winter warmer. Taste wise spice rules, I get a lot of ginger and cinnamon, a small hint of cocco, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I am not a fan of ginger in beer, but the other ingredients mutes it a bit. Body is dead on medium with a light hit of carb on the tounge. The aftertaste is spice filled but does not stick on the tounge long, which makes this easier to take as the malt brings a sweetness towards the end. An enjoyable Winter Warmer, full of spice, full of flavor, not hard to drink at all.

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Photo of One_Man_Gang
3.45/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

really good seasonal Christmas beer.

color was a dark, clear amber.

head was decent, good fit for the style. not abundant at all.

smell was very good. lots of spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, all of it is upfront and smells great.

taste follows the smell. not one spice is overpowering, all seem to blend very well. no real hop profile.

texture was thin and carbonated well.

overall a very enjoyable seasonal beer. smell and taste were lively. i really enjoyed it, and i am not a fan of this style.

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Photo of AdamBear
3.69/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-dark amber with a nice tan head

S-vanilla extract and gingerbread. Almost syrupy. Sour cream? Not digging the smell.

T-comes in with a decent taste of vanilla cream on gingerbread, along with some nutty grains. It's a decent taste. No off or adjunct flavors. The after-taste has more of the buttercream along with welcomed dark Belgian sugars. I like it. It's a novelty brew, but it comes together.

M-medium creamy carbonation with a dry finish

O-I wouldn't say this qualifies as a winter warmer. Due to so many novelty flavors, I'd just say its a herbed/spiced ale. It's fun though. Women are sure to like it. Something that'll pass well on the local taps. It's worth a try.

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Photo of Stunner97
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 edition seems they change every year

Appearance- amber red with thick tan foamy head,

Smell- really getting alot of all those holiday spices, cinnamon ginger and nutmeg, certainly smells like xmas

Taste- this beer is very true to what it claims to be which is a christmas ale, you just taste all those afformentioned spices so much, tons and tons of cinnamin and ginger all day, one could argue maybe its slightly overspiced but i think for the style its where it should be your not blindly searching for the flavors,

Mouthfeel- medium bodied yet very smooth and creamy, nice feel with low carbonation

Drinkability/overall- this beer is not really one i probably would say is extremely drinkable only in that the spice is so strong but i would say its very enjoyable and I did like it, its one i think I would visit again ocassionally

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Photo of justintcoons
3.55/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a shaker pint.

Deep reddish amber with 1-2 fingers of tan head. Good retention and low carbonation.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar cookies and caramelized brown sugar.

Oh yeah, this tastes like sugar cookies. Besides that there’s notes of caramelized brown sugar and buttery breads. Nutmeg and cinnamon are the most prominent spices as well as touches of allspice.

Medium-full bodied, creamy and crisp.

Easy drinking Winter Warmer. Not cloying. This really does taste like sugar cookies! :)

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle. Split between two people. Shared back in Dec. 2011. Reviewed from video notes. DFH Signature glasses.

A: Pours out a reddish, chestnut color. Tons of big frothy off white head on this one. It actually almost jumped out of the glass. Bottle conditioned much? The head left some sticky lacing bits.

S: Get all the spices: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, etc. The cookie spices. It smells sweet. I don't get any hops or bitterness from the nose. Maybe some yeasty notes.

T: Taste follows the nose. It tastes like Xmas. Lots of those spices, cookie notes. Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and I guess the all spice is there. Clove sticks with you for a while.

M: Probably light to medium bodied. More medium. Lots of carbonation from the bottle carbo.

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Photo of PatDreadful
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into my Sam Adams Snowflake Pint.

Appearance: A very nice copper color with an ENORMOUS head that rises up to almost four fingers. Very nice job.

Smell: Strong yeast aroma with overwhelming spice notes. Ginger, plums, nutmeg and cloves dominate the nose as one is instantly transported to a Christmas kitchen filled with cookies and and fig pudding. Very welcoming!

Taste: Follows the nose with the addition some black licorice notes lingering in the background. There is a very strong maltiness that serves as a wonderful canvas for all of these flavors. The spice is a tad bit harsh and would benefit from some age.

Mouthfeel: This is where the this beer really shines. A milky body that is very enjoyable. Perfect for sipping by the tree.

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Photo of liamt07
3.72/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Steve, 750ml into a tulip. Best before date of November 11, 2013.

Poured a dark reddish brown, with big bubbles forming a tan head. Nose is malty and spicy, lots of clove and allspice prominent (so they should be, they're on the label!). A bit of brown sugar too. Taste is lightly nutty and malty, caramel and toasty grains/biscuit. Spices are about the same as the nose, a bit of cinnamon there too. Medium light body but a bit too watery for my full liking. Pleasant and simple, I could certainly revisit this - I found this somewhat akin to GI's Christmas Ale which was nice.

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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 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 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 philbe311
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Three plus fingers of airy big chunky cola brown colored head... Decent retention gives way to a thick chunky lacing and thicker collar... The color is a light to medium tranlucent caramel brown... Mostly still with just a couple of stray carbonation bubbles...

S - Fairly complex nose... Cinnamon... Ginger... Some mild dark fruits... A bit of candy cane... Light piney spruce scents... Some faint syrup notes... Some light caramel and toffee notes... Each whiff produces a new wrinkle or dimension...

T - Loaded with an assertive holiday spiciness... Cinnamon... Ginger bread... Just a touch of clove... Some rather assertive spruce notes... Notes of dark fruit are rather subdued... Light plum... Some raisins... Just a subtle kiss of caramel... A faint metallic presence as well...

M - Medium bodied... Bristling carbonation... Dry and slight astringent throughout...

D - An interesting and surprisingly assertive Winter Warmer... Wonderful to sip on while just staring and enjoying the Christmas Tree and aromas of holiday baking... A little rough around the edges, but still a very nice offering...

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Photo of magine
4.13/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours into a becker.

Pours a dark brown with some reddish amber highlights. Has a thick light tan head. Lots of sediment and floaters in the pour, this has bottle conditioned goodness in here. Great thick fluffy head settles to a thick chunky island and leaves great lacing around the edges. Lacing and head retention here are top notch; chunks left along the edges of the glass and a finger width the whole drink. Very good looking brew.

Brew smells of lots of spice; cloves, nutmeg , cinnamon, ginger - pretty much as described on the bottle. Some subtle roasted nuttiness as well. Good festive smelling brew.

Brew is very tasty; some peppery spice up front with good carbonation. Cinnamon, all spice, clove and ginger are tasted. Nice balance in the middle, good malty characteristics. Slightly roasted notes here. Good balance here. Brew finishes slightly dry and smooth but the spice coats the tongue and keeps you craving the next sip. Very good winter warmer here.

Wow, great job Sly Fox. A very complex tasty drinkable winter warmer, that looks great as well. One of the better winter brews I have had in the last few years.

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