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 nukem5
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a great reddish brown color with tan cap on top. Very little lace at all.

S: Dark fruits and spice, sweet malts.

T: Taste is of plums figs and cherries, some cinnamon and clove in there and a base of sweet malts.

M: Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a good mild carbonation.

): Overall a great winter warmer slightly boozey and sweet dark fruits good example.

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Photo of brewpig
3.37/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

this review is for the 2011 version.

picked up 750ml

brownish-orange w/very little light brown head.

almost has the consistancy of coca-cola. no lacing really, high carbonation.

this is almost like punch as opposed to beer. light mouthfeel, subtle hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and those sweetzle ginger snap cookies you see in the fall at the grocery store.

slight alcohol burn at the end.tasty.

i like this for the holidays and would buy again. 1 750ml is enough though. a little pricey @ 8.75.

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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 smcolw
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
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. 

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Photo of thedoubler55
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - A light Brown color with a bit of redish tint to it, almost no head at all and barely any lacing on the glass.

S - Ginger, honey, brown sugar and lots of cinnamon!

T - First taste is sweet honey and cinnamon, a bit of hops, some ginger notes as well, but taste just like christmas.

M - Medium bodied and just a bit of carbonation

D - Not bad for an aged brew, But I have had other winter warmers that are better than this one.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

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Photo of Jayli
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Acquired this from G311 via Nobody Wants to See a Beer Geek Naked 3 so a big THANK YOU goes out to him!
Poured in to a my Brooklyn snifter

A: This beer pours a murky reddish, brown with a ridiculous four finger of khaki colored head. Head recedes at a moderate pace leaving no lacing on the glass.

S: Nose is cinnamon, hearty malt, ginger, orange peel and clove.

T: Taste is very spicy and very winter warmer at the forefront. Holy cinnamon batman. As the beer warms the cinnamon gives way to a strong ginger presence. Caramel malt comes through with a decently present orange peel.

M: Medium body, moderate to high carbonation, crisp body with a bit of a light stick in the finish.

O: Goes down relatively easy (probably should have drank it in the winter months), somewhat tasty, not fililng, mild kick, decent representation of style. More and more, winter warmers aren't my thing, but this is done well for those who are in to the style.

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

Poured into a becker.

Brew pours a deep brown color with a huge foamy light tan colored head that leaves plenty of lacing on the edges of the glass. Suspended yeasts can be seen floating throughout.

Smells of bready yeasts, sweet malts and plenty of spices - ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and a hint of clove (as advertised)...

Tastes spicy - although not overdone. All of the spices really meld together nicely - and without stepping all over the place. Has a nice bready yeast flavor as well - like fresh baked bread.

Mouthfeel is medium with good carbonation.

As far as spicy winter ales go, this is definitely a winner. If I see another bottle of this I would consider aging it. Personally I really enjoy the stuff Sly Fox puts out there - the brewpub is awesome - even if I don't get there as often as I'd like.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.78/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for sharing this one, Bobby.

A: The beer pours amber in color with a very, very large tan head.

S: There is no mistaking the spices/flavorings in this beer. Tons of ginger right away followed by clove and nutmeg. The cinnamon and all spice there, but seemingly not as intense as some of the other additives. Underneath it all, there is a decent enough bread and toffee character.

T: Things are pretty much the same on the palate. Lots of ginger, with an almost gingerbread type of flavor. There is a pleasing sweetness that works well with the typical winter types of spices used in this beer.

M: The body is medium with a moderate to high level of carbonation.

D: For a spiced winter beer, this was very nicely done. While the ginger was the strongest of the flavors, none of them were overdone.

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Photo of Gobzilla
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: poured an amber brown in color with orange highlights and had a finger worth of head leaving plenty of frothy lacing sticking to the glass.

S: the ginger was very noticeable upfront on the nose but had nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and various grain notes.

T: the ginger character also dominated the taste alongside allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon accents and had a touch of underlying clove as well.

M: the brew was medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a sweet, spice, and grainy finish.

D: it drank good and was a decent christmas brew for the holidays.

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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 sliverX
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured a nice rich brown with a nice white head bubbles streaming pretty steadily
Smell is malts and spices not much else
Taste is big malt yeast kind of like a Belgian, nice
Mouthfeel is medium but way over carbed
If it was less carbed it would be much nicer

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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 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 mattgreger
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This Christmas brew poured a burgandy, with a few specks of red and orange when you hold it to the light. It was a bit lighter then the 2010 version of the brew. This brew too had nice heavy head and lacing that lasted throughout the glass.

This brew had a nice aroma to it. I can tell there is a big difference from the 2010 and the 2009 ales. This version of the brew has some nice spice aroma, like its 2008 and 2010 versions, but its missing something. They spices still blend real well, it still has a nice caramel malt presense, but the spices just don't seem as strong as they have been in the other versions of this brew.

I would still have to say this one of the better winter warmers of the season. It was a smooth drink and was super crisp. The nutmeg and spices, do blend together, to make a great holiday brew. There is a touch of citris in there as well, not quite sure what it was though.

The mouthful is slightly less carbonanted on this version on the brew. Might have been the aging of the brew, but it was still good. It was very smooth and went down very well.

This 2009 Christmas Brew was good. This brew was nice and warming, but still didn't keep up once I had the 2010. It was a great drink and I would surely do with another bottle to see if it was any different. A great brew none the less by Sly Fox.

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Photo of Chas58
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: After removing the cage and popping the cork I readied a tulip glass for the long awaited Christmas Ale. The first pour which was gentle, yet yielded a glass with more than half foam, patience was going to be needed before getting at the pleasant brownish red beer. The thick mocha colored head dissipated slowly.

Smell: The beer has a rich, pleasant smell with a clear holiday smell of cinnamon, and Ginger with a hint of citrus. The smell is pleasant and not overpowering. You know you have treat awaiting you.

Taste: The taste of this ale is magnificent it is not subtle but well balanced and pleasing. What you smelled is what you get with a tight and pleasant amount of carbonation. The hint of citrus as well as the cinnamon and ginger come through the maltiness of the ale. The alcohol does not come on too strong but you recognize it exists. 

Mouthfeel: The upfront carbonation is moderate and appropriate and allows the taste to shine through

Drinkability: This is an enjoyable and drinkable beer. I am surprised when the 750ml bottle is empty. The true test is your reaction when empty and I clearly am looking forward to the next cool evening for the  Sly Fox Christmas Ale to find it's way into my glass again. 

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Photo of Nezzy
4.6/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Enjoying this one to keep me warm on a snowy day.

Appearance: An almost burgundy red mixed with red and the slightest tint of orange. Poured with minimal head and has some mild lacing, not a lot.

Smell: The smell is very well evened with everything blending together but it makes it slightly hard to point out some aromas. However nutmeg and spice cloves are the strongest.

Taste: Just what I would expect in a winter warmer. You can really taste the all spice and cinnamon, with an after taste of ginger. It very well blended and I can definitely taste malts.

Mouthfeel: Strong upfront carbonation but ends with little to none. Goes down easy and doesn't really stick around.

Drinkability: I've been struggling to find really decent winter warmers this season but this one succeeds. The taste and feel of the beer feels almost like you are eating a cookie and definitely is warming me up. I would want to see how it stands out more paired with food, but even on its own its a great beer that is easily drinkable.

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Photo of gford217
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Alex for this bottle, 2010 vintage.

Pours a murky reddish brown that shows through a hazy amber when held up to light. There's lots of carbonation and a big fluffy beige head that shows decent retention and lacing.

Aroma is spicy with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. There is a sweet caramel malt and cocoa presence as well.

The taste starts with an initial cinnamon and nutmeg tingling on the tongue with a big yeasty bread backbone before the ginger and other spices leave a spicy burn on the palate in the finish.

The mouthfeel is very lively with strong carbonation - light to medium bodied for the style.

This is definitely a spice-heavy winter warmer but nothing is overpowering and the body keeps it very drinkable.

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

A - Poured a nice dark amber color from a 750ml bottle. My bottle may not have been chilled enough but it was extra foamy.

S - Faint smell of the spices used in the brew... cinnamon and ginger hit me the most. Not overpowering.

T - A nice mellow malty flavor with a combination of the all spice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove made for a delicious beverage. No spice overpowered the other, it was a perfect blend.

M - Medium body.

D - A wonderful winter warmer from Sly Fox. Two non-craft beer drinkers shared this with me at dinner and they seemed to enjoy it and not complain!

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Even though these have been released every year since 2006 this is the first year I saw the brew! Paid 7.50 for it so hope its good!

A - Dark amber hue with impressive inch of head. Looks like it will reduce to a nice ring of lace!

S - On first whiff from the bottle mostly ginger but second smells brings cinnamon and yeast to the nose. Smells wonderful!

T - Ow man hope its good! Wow it's pretty bready with the yeast but not overbearing, then you get some ginger and sweetness from a cinnamon. Finishes spicy and floral with mild hops and clove. Really complex!

M - Kind of medium/heavy. Yeast really brings it up making it a sipper.

D - Well I pretty much bought it on a whim to get a beer with a cork top and this one was pretty good. I didn't like it enough to buy it again but would pick up next years batch to compare. Good beer.

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

On tap at Sly Fox during the 15th Anniversary Brunch on 12/10/10.

A - Pretty reddish/burgundy copper-toned liquid with half an inch of frothy beige head that reduced to a slim film and thin strands of lace.

S - Spicy nose with apparent ginger, cinnamon and clove notes as well as some autumn pumpkin spices like nutmeg and allspice. Malt character is very bready and remniniscent of a fresh baked loaf pulled right from the oven.

T - Spicy and bready with a tasty cookie dough malt character akin to gingerbread. Like a Christmas cookie! This ale is also more bitter than I remember, with the hops imparting herbal and tea-like notes. Malty and spicy, bready and sweet.

M - Medium bodied with a light syrupy texture and moderate carbonation resulting in some prickle on the tastebuds. Sweet and spicy on the palate with just a bit of residual hop bitterness.

D - I enjoyed this much more than when I had this way back in 2006. This is a very tasty Winter Warmer that artfully blends spices and malt to create a pleasant liquid cookie-like treat for the holidays.

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Photo of BigMike
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours the color of raspberry iced tea. Dark brown and ruby red. A huge off white colored head. Topped out at about 4 fingers.

S: I definitely get the cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice ANd clove. A lot of Ginger and gingerbread notes. There's an herbal character as well. Kind of like thyme.

T: This beer uses spices in the right way. They're strong on the nose but extremely well balanced on the pallet. It's not dominated by any one spice but rather they all blend together nicely. Taste reminds me of a sugar cookie/gingerbread cookie. Not bad at all.

M: Medium bodied but very full in the mouth due to a huge amount of carbonation. If the carbonation was throttled back a bit this would get a higher score.

Overall: From the nose I wasn't sure if I was going to like this. It reminded me of Great Lakes Christmas ale which I wasn't a huge fan of. The spices got to be too much and became cloying and unenjoyable. This however is mellowed out and easy to drink. Flavors don't dominate. A worth while Christmas beer.

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Photo of njmoons
3.35/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

In a 'nutshell' the spices were not quite in balance for me. The ginger was too assertive in the overall taste of the ale.

A: dark copper, look good

S: nice mix of spices over a malty base. smelled good.

T: a well made beer, but the ginger tended to dominate the beer. Initially up front where the othe spices and beer flavor were lost, and at the finish where the ginger tended to linger. Not terrible, just to much ginger for my liking.

M: as expected for the style

D: didn't have any problem finishing the bottle.

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Photo of rfgetz
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Porting review from December 2009 originally posted to wrong Sly Fox location...

Pours a crisp, clean and clear lager like brown. Decent frothy head, minimal lacing. Smell is of medium carmel malts with a wonderful bouquet of mulling spices ( strong presence of ginger with allspice, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, anise and dried orange peel). Taste follows the scent exactly. Medium bodied, slighly oily feel. Wonderful winter warmer if your all about the spices, could use a better malt background though.

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Photo of tempest
3.78/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had a $4 pint at Liberty St Tavern. Overall, I though it was a nice American-leaning take on the style. The flavors are cleaner than your typical British WW, and the beer seemed to finish with juicy citrus hops. Up from there's a mix of cinnamon and all-spice-like spices (I won't claim to know exactly which) with a very mellow cocoa bread malt backbone. The body was smooth with a medium weight and a mild hop bite at the end.

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