Christmas Ale | Sly Fox Brewing Company

very good
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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 pburland23
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Corked and caged 25 ounce bottle poured into a standard pint glass. Enjoyed while decorating my house for Christmas

Pours a dark garnet color with not much of a head. The beer's aroma was lacking in my opinion. I expected a fuller nose. What I got my a slight whiff of cinnamon, nutmeg and a few other Christmas spices.

The taste was very mild. It was spicy and full of cloves and some all spice. I also picked up a little bit of a yeasty, Belgian dubbel kind of fruitness which was enjoyable. This is a good tasting beer.

The mouthfeel was medium and smooth with an appropriate level of carbonation.

This was the first time I tried Sly Fox's Christmas Ale and I was impressed with the drinkability. The level of spicing was on the moderate side. This appeals to me. In my opinion, too many Christmas Ales have the kitchen sink of spices dumped in without any restraint resulting in muddled flavors. Sly Fox used a light touch with the spices and as a result they created a Christmas Ale I'l look forward to drinking again and again.

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Photo of mindlucent2007
4.16/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This early Christmas gift to myself poured a dark copper/red with incredible head and lacing that sticks to the side of my chalice. Smells of spices and I am definitely catching some pine needles also. The taste is crisp and clean with nutty and piney notes. The ingredients really compliment each other in this 1 year aged baby. This ale is not heavy at all and I cannot taste any alcohol. I will have no problem drinking this to the dome, but it's a great Christmas brew to share. Good job by Sly fox and I look forward to comparing it to this year's batch.

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Photo of mountsnow1010
3.47/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Nice brown color, mediocre head though.
S - Ginger snap cookies and molasses.
T - Spicy ginger taste with a lot of other spice flavors going on - a bit too busy for me. No truly defining flavor. Hops present but barely. Aftertaste is just ginger snap cookies, again. Very confusing. Also got a bit of a soapy taste which I didn't like.
M - Not bad, pleasantly carbonated.
D - Probably could have had another, but I'm not sure I woud have.

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

Poured from a 750mL Belgian bottle directly into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours golden out of the bottle. Hazy, mahogany brown with copper and red highlights in the glass. A thick off-white head quickly recedes to a heavy film. Decent retention and signs of carbonation; great lacing.

Smell & Taste: Generally sweet aroma; huge bouquet of warm winter spices. Nutmeg, ginger and clove dominate the nose with a fresh bready note in the background. Spices are also most present in the taste with nutmeg up front. A sweet malt backbone supports the spice with a faint toastiness. Dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and slick. The carbonation is just right for this Beglian-like brew.

Drinkability: Sip this one deeply. Super smooth. Grab a few bottles and share with friends on a long winter evening.

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Photo of claspada
3.99/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Aroma is of mulling spices; lots of cinnamon with some underlying ginger and allspice. There is also some sweet malt and yeast.

The taste starts off with nice sweet caramel and pale chocolate malts with a really nice balance of the mulling spices listed above. Finishes with some more sweetness as well; almost a caramelized brown sugar quality.

There is a boat ton of carbonation in this winter warmer with a medium body and a semi-dry finish.

Overall, I really enjoyed this beer. Just sampled Nogne Underlig Jul / Peculiar Yule which was over-spiced in my opinion so this amount of spicing was much more desirable/enjoyable. Really happy that I sampled this and will add this to my holiday line-up each year from now on.

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Photo of drtth
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a standard shaker pint glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As served the beer is a nice clear dark cherry wood color with some bright gold highlights where the light reflects off the inside of the glass. There is virtually no head to speak of and what foam there is forms a small ring around the glass and creates a thin irregular island on the surface of the liquid. Sipping leave no lacing behind as everything slides back down into the liquid.

Smell: The slightly spice laden aroma has traces of clove and cinnamon but they are not very strong and nothing much stands out in any way.

Taste: The flavors are light and subtle with a light malt sweetness supporting touches of spice. The spices include some cinnamon and clove, with the tang of the ginger riding on the top.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is on the light bodied side of medium and there is very light, persistent carbonation that leaves a soft prickly feeling. The finish is medium in length, begins in the spice mixture and ends in a touch of earthy dry bitterness.

Drinkability: This is the first one of these I've hand in a couple of years and I know now why. It's an OK Christmas beer with pleasant enough characteristics that I enjoy drinking it but I don't find it outstanding or worth going out of my way to find. But that said, I'd happily drink it again if the opportunity presents.

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Photo of beergod1
3.41/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at upick6 in Erie PA. Poured a nice Chestnut color, with thin persistent head. Aroma was spice,malt....something grainy? My first sip was all I needed to know something was off. Maybe because I killed the keg? The "Grainy" smell was in the taste too, The beer had potential, and by looking at the ratings maybe I'll have to find this in a bottle and let it sit for a yr. or 2. Not bad, but after drinking Great Lakes Christmas, 12 Dogs Christmas and Old Man Winter....It's a hard act to follow.

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Photo of CHADMC3
3.45/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A slow pour exudes an enormous, foamy tan head that erupts from the dark brown body containing bright copper hues and vigorous bubbles of carbonation.

The aroma consists of generous Christmas spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg just as advertised. In addition, there is some sweet malt and yeast.

The flavor offers pronounced spices such as those listed above, heavier on the ginger and nutmeg than the aroma led on. There is also more sweetness lying beneath the spices than I would have anticipated that quickly disappears as the beer warms. The finish is back to the spices, without much else coming forward.

There is abundant carbonation in this winter warmer with a medium body and a drying finish.

Not a bad brew overall, perhaps more focus on the spices than I typically like to see in my winter warmers, but certainly worth a try and a really good value at roughly $6 per bottle.

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Photo of stonelis
4.42/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark amber, tons of overflowed my glass. Didn't take long until I was able to pour more, settled to a nice lacy head.

Smell: Cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Nice.

Taste: Heavy spice was my first impression, it faded to a nice balance after the first swallow.

Mouthfeel: a touch too much carbonation for my likes but it didn't detract from the overall feel.

Drinkability: I only had one 750ml bottle. Purchased at Royersford brewery/Reataurant for $6. Wish I had more!

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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 NittanyBeerFan
4.22/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

In a nice little Christmas beer sampling in the middle of the spring, cracked this one open and poured it into my long-stemmed tulip glass.

The pour produces a garnet-hued body capped by a thick fluffy white head. There is no lacing to speak of, though after each sip, a few spotty bubbles linger on the walls of the glass and slowly slink back down into the beer.

Ginger, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg are all evident in the nose and balance nicely with the Munich malts that provide a nutty backbone. The taste tracks almost directly with my initial impression of the aroma, as the beautifully balanced spices really just serve to highlight the actual body of the beer itself. The only addition is a touch of caramel in the finish that lingers on the palate with cinnamon and clove.

Creamy, but light in consistency. Carbonated like a Belgian, but it doesn't overwhelm the palate and take away from the beer. This beer is very nicely done. The spice is clearly a focal point, but Sly Fox hit it right on the nose with the balance.

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Photo of billyshears
4.07/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

If u do happen to come across one make sure u got a glass ready; this gushes out in a hurry. Pillow-y light tan foam but quickly subsides. Dark auburn type color; a bit redder when held up to light. Smell of cloves and nutmeg, cinnamon, spice and all those things nice. Smells like some yummy type of spiced Christmas bread or cookie (as has been mentioned). A bit past medium mouthfeel that seems around where it should be; maybe the carbonation is a bit too much though. Spices are apparent in the taste but not too sweet to become cloying; I like the balance of this: not too over the top.
Hop bitterness on the backend. A sipper as any good Christmas ale should be. Overall, pretty solid.

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

- Consumed on Christmas day 2009.

A: Poured a deep brazilian cherry-cola with a beige head that occupied a greater majority of the glass volume upon the initial pour. The head was firm at first, and slowly eroding around the edges eventually leaving a towering center piece of foam standing in the middle. Retention was extraordinary, taking forever to fall while a medium dense showering of carbonation rains upward. The head never falls entirely while the lacing provided foamy, bubbly splotches that stuck fairly well.

S: The nose was sweet caramel and baked sugar cookies with a spicing of cinnamon and nutmeg coming through. Soft hints of ginger and cloves are also well noted here. The overall sense was one of light-medium strength but delivered enough so to give you a good appreciation and holiday feel without an overwhelming feeling of being tortured by a spice rack. A nice soft christmasy feeling of evergreens is also detected.

T: The flavor had a overwhelming sense of caramel and sugar cookie dough sweetness. Cinnamon and brown sugar notes come through at first along with all spice and cola notes. A fruitiness comes in compliments of the yeast in the way of apples and peaches. The finish rounds up with a blended sweetness of wort, holiday spices and fresh apple pie with crust.

M: The mouthful is creamy, medium bodied with a good deal of carbonation. Malty and sweet with a gentle holiday spicing and warming works well here.

D: good drinkability with the spices being nicely balanced with none really standing out more so then the other, but each with their own subtle contributions. The malting is usually sweet which may limit drinkability a bit where-as it is usually the spicing that holds a drink like this back. A good holiday beer to share and one that should put you in the mood.

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Photo of curlykate
4.42/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the first holiday beer i had this season that smacked me in the face with christmas. The ale is a beautiful red, with nice foamy head. It smells like my grandma's kitchen was poured into the glass with the beer, maybe i'm being a bit hyperbolic, but the aroma was just so warm and pleasant. The holiday spice i smelled (and tasted) most was nutmeg, although ginger is also prominent. Smooth and very drinkable this is my favorite beer from sly fox, the only thing disappointing about this beer was my inability to find it locally in bottles, i really wanted to bring this with me to holiday parties.

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Photo of bob3701
4.22/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass. Clear dark mahogany color with a tan head and minimal lacing. Heavy spicy aroma in a very pleasant way. The clove cinnamon and nutmeg really standout to me here. While the spices are strong here they are not that sickly type of strong. I enjoyed this beer, to me it was almost like drinking and not so sweet Christmas cookie.

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Photo of krisandajt
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A Christmas beer courtesy of my wife.

Appearance: Sharing with family, the first pour was incredibly foamy and flowed freely out of the glass. Oops, my bad. I slowed my pour down, and was greeted with a clear, deep dark amber colored brew with (still) an ample amount of off-white foamy head. There is also some generous lacing that doesn't quite stick to the side of my Sam Adams glass as it slides slowly down. Probably the best looking winter warmer beer I've ever had.

Smell: Ripe with spice, ginger stands out the most to me. There's a bit of allspice and some nutmeg mixed in. Overall it's a very sweet smelling beer. Interesting indeed.

Taste: Whoah, very heavy on the holiday spice. Like the smell, ginger is what stands out the most to me, with allspice taking a close second. Again, just as the smell indicated there's a bit of nutmeg throughout. Virtually no hop presence in this bad boy, it's sweet the whole way through.

Mouthfeel: Great carbonation, nice medium to full body, great texture on the palate. This is just an all round good beer.

Drinkability: I had doubts going into this one as holiday beers usually don't do much for me. This one was a very pleasant surprise in that it's actually very tasty. What makes it even better is that it's from a PA brewery...and it's always good to support your local brewery. This is my first sampling of Sly Fox's Christmas Ale, but this one will be a staple at my home every Christmas from now on. Well done.

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Photo of asabreed
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Corked and caged bottle into a Brooklyn tulip.

Appearance: Huge head on this one, almost like a Belgian. I wonder what yeast is involved. Massive rings and sticky lacing. And a nice amber body with good raucous carbonation surging to the top.

Smell: A lot of spice and pepper and what you'd expect. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Vanilla. Some coriander. A bit of citrus and possible maple syrup and cookie dough. But good citrus hops balance things out, making it not so Christmas-y as some can be, just like some over-spiced Pumpkin Ales.

Taste: Good initial mix of malt and spices. Some cinnamon and nutmeg. Some vanilla and caramel and pepper. But nothing's too crazy, and the malts seem just right too. Enough good fruit esters to balance things out, along with the hops at the end, just adding a bit of citrus nuance to the mix.

Mouthfeel: More spritzy and carbonated than I'd originally thought it was going to be, but it makes sense considering the head on the top of this thing with each poor. Still manages to be nicely medium bodied without the carbonation taking too much away from the body being coating.

Drinkability: I was very impressed with this overall. Subtle and nuanced, not too sweet or spiced, and priced very well at around $7 a bottle. I wonder how well it will age, but it's drinking great now as a fresh bottle.

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Photo of Minotaur
4.13/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A lovely light tan-chestnut colored ale that pours with a thick but not foamy off-white head. It leaves a thick lacing and remains a skim atop the brown ale.

Poured into a goblet.

The aroma has elements of slightly smokey malts and a vanilla sweetness.

On the palate there is a hint of chewy vanilla, a nutty bitterness, a bit of clove, cardamom and perhaps some dark fruit (prune/plumb/raisin). It is not cloyingly sweet. warming and refreshing at the same time. The vanilla is present and there is also a vague candy-cane mint.

The mouthfeel is nothing exceptional but it is also not bad. It is a bit fizzy but this doesn't offset the flavors. Neither does it particularly enhance this beer.

Slyfox 2008 is very drinkable. It goes down quite easy and leaves a clean sense on the tongue. Despite its dark richness it at no time becomes syrupy.

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Photo of prototypic
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Many thanks to guinnessdoc for this one.

2007 Christmas Ale pours a dark amber or copper color. It's mostly clear. Backlighting reveals a nice red tint. A foamy light tan head caps it off and stands over two fingers tall. It's quick to dissipate and leaves very little lacing behind. Not bad.

The nose is just a tad weak, but isn't bad. Holiday spices hit first and resonate throughout. Ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg are present in equal parts. To a lesser extent, clove is noted. Caramel malt seems to hold things together nicely. It smells sweet overall. Perhaps a little sugary. A light yeast scent is present. Alcohol is never a factor. I suspect it's not too strong. Pretty good overall. More strength would only help.

The flavor is on par with the nose. This is pretty good stuff. The immense holiday spice flavor is very tasty and doesn't overwhelm in any way. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove are all noted. Caramel malt does a nice job of adding some sweetness. It blends nicely with the spices. It definitely falls on the sweet side, but not by much. There's a bit of a yeasty flavor, but it's nice and really adds something to the overall flavor. I like that. I suspect the abv isn't very high. I'm not getting any alcohol. This is a pleasant surprise. I like this quite a bit more than I anticipated.

The body is light and a bit too thin. Carbonation is just a tad high and buzzy. Nonetheless, it still goes down easy and doesn't have an overtly bad feel. Drinkability is good. I like the flavor and would happily drink quite a bit of this stuff, particularly during this time of year.

Sly Fox did a nice job with the 2007 Christmas release. It's not perfect, but is a nice seasonal release that satisfies overall. The nose could use a little more strength and more body wouldn't hurt. But, other than that, it's solid beer. Thanks for the opportunity, Josh.

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

Saw this sitting in my local beer haunt for $6 and thought I'd give it a go.
The pour is on the pretty side of the spectrum. Attractive, deep red color with a pillowy tan head that I can draw shapes into with my finger.
Scents are probably the most appealing part of this, pretty as it is. Very fragrant with nutmeg, allspice and clove. A hint of banana bread/pumpkin bread going on.
Flavors are very top-note sweet. Some of those spices do linger on the palate but overall the profile is dominated by a sweet tea type of effect. References to eggnog. The only real bitterness to be found is from the spices.
Mouthfeel seems a little on the fence to me. I think it could stand to be either be lighter or denser. At the moment it feels a little bit undecided to me.
This would probably pair very well with a holiday themed meal. With fruitcake, squash soup, perhaps even something in a curry, the resonance would be nice. Worth a try.

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Photo of TheFightfan1
3.71/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear ruby color with a heavy large bubbled light brown heading. A little lacing is left after a few sips.Does leave a thick bubbley heading throughout the tasting.

Smell is all malt.Very subtle allspice, ginger , and maybe some clove. A bit of a metallic detected. Some slight chocolate as well.

Taste now flexes it's muscle. Heavy ginger at first invades the mouth as well as some cinnamon. A nice spicey finish.

Mouth is medium bodied with some lively carbonation maybe a bit overcarbonated. Ginger sticks on the palate for a nice lingering finish.

Drinkability is good. Easy going and heavily bubbled. A nice Christmas drink that I looked forward to every year now.

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

Someone picked this bomber up for me, not sure what to expect. This was the hardest corked beer to open I've encountered yet.

A - Deep amber bordering on brown in some places. The body is clear, huge head is dirty white and leaves stick lacing as it falls.

S - Spices dominate an otherwise malty brew. Smells like a gingerbread cookie.

T - Mostly spice up front, followed by a bocky malt character. Not real sweet, somewhat starchy vegetable flavor.

M/D - Somewhat thin mouthfeel, I expected it to be a bit bigger and sweeter(sticky). Easy to drink for the style @this ABV but gets boring. Wouldn't pick one up myself but I'm not a huge fan of the style.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 bottle. Pours a cloudy brown with a small light tan head. Aroma is quite spicy--allspice, pepper, clove, ginger, gingerbread, Flavor is less potent in terms of spices with a light malty, allspice finish. Not as frightening as I thought it was going to be (considering the age!), actually somewhat decent.

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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 dborginis
4.11/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I am a fan of Harpoon's Winter Warmer because I'm big on cinnamon, so seeing that cinnamon was on the label got me pretty excited. Pretty brown-red color...burnt sienna? Smell is OK, some cinnamon in there. Much more balanced taste than the Harpoon. By that, I mean there is a hop flavor, and it is not just a sweet cinnamon bomb. Hearty mouthfeel, but not oily. Carbonation was good, but didn't help me out when I was opening the bottle (took a full 5 minutes or so). A pleasant beer to drink, but could go down a little easier.

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