Christmas Ale | Breckenridge Brewery

417 Reviews
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Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Brewed by:
Breckenridge Brewery
Colorado, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.10%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
The chill of a Colorado high-country winter calls for a beer with extra flavor and strength. Here it is. At over 7% alcohol, with a sturdy texture and rich flavors of caramel and chocolate, our holiday seasonal is the fermented equivalent of a good fire.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 04-28-2002

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Reviews: 417 | Ratings: 1,080
Photo of XenonX
1.6/5  rDev -54.3%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Appearance is very nice, caramel in color. Looks to be a nice heavy ale. Very citrus hoppy smell. Taste, Lemon pledge mixed with hairspray...almost synthetic . Mouthfeel is full however and actually a little pleasant! Overall however, I really tried to get through the entire bottle. Alas, I had to cast the last third to the polluted depths of the lake that caught on fire to be with its kind. I am not a fan.

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Photo of kbnooshay
2.07/5  rDev -40.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Saw a lot of breckenridge stuff at the beer store the other day. Newly distributed to the area. Heard nothing about them but risked it and picked up a six pack of this. MISTAKE!!! DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST BOY!

Poured a clear amber brown color with a 1 finger width beige colored head. Aroma is corny and grainy with some gross off taste. Pretty much a macro lager. Taste is slightly better as there are some hops to at least attempt to knock out the light barf flavor.

The only good thing about this beer (i suppose, if you wan to get drunk) would be the alcohol content at 7.4. Besides that yuck! Alcohol is warming to the belly. Feel is slick and slightly tingly from the moderate amount of carbonation.

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Photo of HardTarget
2.13/5  rDev -39.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Reviewed 12-17-03

Standard brown 12 oz bottle with a BARELY notched label indicating bottled on Month 10, Week 2. I’ve said it before, I don’t care for the Month/Week, give me Month/Year please.
Aroma 4: Slightly musty/stale malt nose with a hint of pine hops. Mild bouquet.
Appearance 2.5: A very rough pour produced a good finger of cream-colored head of large bubbles. Head topped a very clear deep amber/brown glass with blond edges. Head settled down to a light coat, but impressive lacing.
Flavor 2.5: That stale perception lasted into the beer. The taste is pretty mild (bland is too harsh) but well balanced. Starts a bit sweet, ends a bit bitter, with some mild spices in the middle. Has a bit of a bitter linger in the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel 2.5: Very flat light bodied beer.
Overall Impression 3: Take Anchor’s Christmas Ale, water it way down. The character is about right, just not enough body or volume (taste) to make me feel like Santa. Not a bad beer, just not making my Christmas wish list.

Re-reviewed 12-14-05

Bottle Inspection: Attractive label devoid of any useful information. No abv %, no ingredients, no serving or storage suggestions, nothing. Places for a month and week to be notched, but no notch. Why can’t they just tell me what year and month? I don’t need to know the week. Sigh.

Aroma 2.5: A porter like nose, some what I’m guessing are Fuggles hops, heavy alcohol note that seems a bit “boozy”, and mild plum malt notes. As it warmed, a little DMS comes out that isn’t fun at all.

Appearance 2.5: Clear ruby brown glass with a trace cover of a tan collar. Not enough head to get a good look at color, but some modest lacing.

Flavor 2: Alcohol isn’t very well hidden. The beer does come off as fairly well balanced with a tip toward the sweet malt. Some mild spices are noted as well. All in all, all the flavors are very mild, but given the alcohol kick, it all comes off a little perfumed.

Mouthfeel 2: Medium body, slightly oily in texture, slow drying finish.

Overall Impression 1: Bah humbug. Just didn’t lift my spirits. The flavor is too mild, the alcohol too pronounced, the spices too subtle. I’d recommend looking into what ever is causing the DMS, changing the hop schedule to add some more AA’s, maybe caramelizing the wort a bit to it some depth, heck, go wild, this one needs a real retool.

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Photo of BB1313
2.34/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2

I was not too impressed with this one although the bottle design is very festive. It pours a ruby brown color. The smell is very faint and not much going on in that department. The taste is unimpressive in the sense if I was blindfolded I might think I'm drinking a Bud. Uh-oh! At 7.4 the alcohol is well hidden. Overall I would pass on this one. There are too many limited Xmas beers to try over this one.

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Photo of dude
2.35/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a chestnut brown, clear without suspension. There's yeast in there though I can smell 'em, along with roasted coffee beans and a metallic quality also. Aluminum foil? Taste is not of aluminum but of black coffee, unsweetened chocolate and some caramel sweetness. There's also a peppery hop presence, but overall this one is bitter much like a porter. Wait is this a porter? Mouthfeel is on the watery side, so I'm guessing the body is thinned out with some adjuncts. Not a bad thing necessarily, and I can't taste them anyway unless they burned them first. I mean roasted them, yes it has a strong roasted malt character through and through. Finish is bitter, dry and bitter. I won't seek this one out in the future, but I will purchase said beer again on the $1.99 discount rack if the situation arises. It is warming me this winter with 7.4% abv after all.

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Photo of tavernjef
2.39/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Dark coppery color thats clear and bold with a finger high cap of softly lumped dark ivory. Resides to keep a bubbly collaring and the lace is stretched-thinner-then-thin in a sheeting effect along with some tiny dotting.

Aroma is of a dry wood, slight ginger, and rosemary-like musk and a bit of cooked vegetables; seemingly quite light and takes a good wiff in to get it.

Flavors insist on following the smell; why oh why? Its light and pale, bordering a boring and very understated taste. Quickly sweet, wiped away by a strange woodish mint thing and the continued vegetable musk. It does remind me alot of deep-fried mushroom appetizers, and that is not something I want to find in a seasonal winter ale.

Feel is close to medium approaching thin, definately empty and nearly depleted of anything that would perhaps help this concoction. No sir, I didn't like it.

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Photo of bamadog
2.42/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Review is from notes taken on 11/17/2009. Pour is from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a fairly deep coppery color with faint hints of ruby; starts with a one finger white head that fades quickly to a thin and uneven skim that has some thicker spots here and there; body is clear; oily residue and spotty lacing is left on the sides.

Smell: Pretty weak overall... Hints of warm cinammon, but I really can't pull much out of this one.

Taste: Kind of bland, actually. Metallic/bitter presence throughout; slight hints of warm cinammon; overall, kind of a letdown.

Mouthfeel: Body is fine, not too watery; manages to leave the palate feeling a little slick; moderate carbonation keeps it fairly lively.

Drinkability: Meh. You can drink it, but I certainly won't be seeking this one out. It seems another reviewer nailed it when writing: "played it safe" as there's really nothing that jumps out of this one. It seems that if you're only going to release something like this on a limited run each year, make it more worthwhile. Just my $.02.

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Photo of Fugazme
2.43/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very light copper... smallish head with decent lacing.

Aroma is not so good... malt and grain... smells like a cheap american lager. Winter Warmer?

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy... Taste isn't as bad as the smell.

Somewhat spicy and hoppy but mostly grain up front, grain on the backend.

I'll pass on the rest of this sixer.

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Photo of gordavidson
2.44/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- A very dark amber liquid. Very clear with a thin, white head.

S- Malty and earthy.. thats about it.

T- Sweet, malty, minty. A little leathery. This is just not doing it for me.

M- Decent, not objectionable in any way.

D- Not exactly what I was expecting out of a Christmas ale. I don't really see myself getting this again.

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Photo of LXIXME
2.49/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from an inch or so above the glass gives you a pretty decent off white to light brown head resting atop a clear caramel red colored ale.

The aroma is a weak nutmeg and or other Christmas type spices mixed in with some caramel malt.

The taste was pretty weak also, more of the nutmeg and other Christmas type spices with a weak hops and some caramel malt.

A medium bodied beer with a light dry malty aftertaste.

I'll pass on a 2nd one of these.

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Photo of bunnyhustle
2.51/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle, local shop had these on clearance and well within the "best buy" date so I thought why not? I should have thought not. Poured into pint glass and pours deep, dark red, very dark looking with thin head with poor retention and some lacing. Smell is weak, the only really detectable thing I can find is yeast and bread. It almost smells Belgian-ish. Taste is of some malt, some caramel but with a somewhat sharp alcohol bite towards the end. Moutfeel was very light and watery, it just seemed off. Overall this beer was just very bland in all aspects (smell, taste, moutfeel, ect). It wasnt terrible but I will not revisit this and by far the worst Winter Warmer I've yet to sample.

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Photo of whiterabbit
2.51/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Dark, almost mahogany in color. Looks good. Poured a very faint foam, some definite lacing. Head quickly disappeared

Very little aroma. Surprised as I expected more.

Flavor to me raisin, coffee, some malt and hop. Light Spice. Definite alcohol aftertaste Very noticeable and somewhat bitter. A bit of a turn off

Not great on the tongue. Too sharp, not enough depth and bitter alcohol.

Did not do it for me. Went in with decent expectations, came away disappointed. Cut against Goose island and Great Lakes in same night, and a very distant third. Much better seasonal Ales out there. I will not be back, and rest in fridge is going to move slow.

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Photo of natelocc787
2.55/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Clear golden body with an off white foamy cap. Subtle spice in the aroma with a mild hop character and graininess. The taste reminds me of Saint Arnold christmas ale, light body, every bit if booze evident, a corn syrup flavor and some vanilla, caramel spice to build up the finish which offers a piney profile. Mouthfeel is medium heavy, borderline syrupy and under carbonated. Decent but not too impressed.

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Photo of es42289
2.56/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

too much hop biterness. Did not seem to be as spicy as other christmas ales. first sip seems harsh and makes you aprehensive about the next sip. not enough malt coming through to efficiently mask the high hop bitterness and higher alcohol.
Gets better as you get closer to the end of the 6pack expected :)

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Photo of BeerAngel
2.56/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This beer pours pale brown that has no hazing and lies beneath a nice pillowy tan head. The aroma consists of an overwhelming amount of alcohol smell with not much else poking through. The taste consists of roasted malts with more of the alcohol that nearly make it taste medicinal. It also has a seltzer type taste characteristic to the finish of each swallow. This is a light bodied beer that just doesn't have a lot going for it. It's okay, but other than a warming beer, not my choice for the holidays. Cheers!

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Photo of sevopie
2.57/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Dark brown with very little light shining through. Tan-light brown head that laces sporadically.

Smell - Slightly corny smell, as well as some strange sour notes and a couple indistinguishable spices.

Taste - A sweet corn flavor greets you with touches of spices (I think possibly cinnamon) and not a whole lot else. Warmer this is not.

Mouthfeel - Moderately thick/oily with a solid amount of carbonation.

Drinkability - Its not very harsh so easily sippable, but its not really a winter warmer in my book. After a few sips, the flavor starts to grate on your taste buds. I'll pass next year, and I'm starting to get this general impression of most of Breck's brews.

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Photo of GreatStoutman
2.59/5  rDev -26%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

Decent winter beer and I can appreciate them toning down the spices on this one, but I found it very bland. Thin body, light on smell and not much else going on. The alcohol is nicely hidden, but not a whole lot good to say about this.

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Photo of AustinBeerLvr
2.63/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured a 12 ounce bottle into a shaker pint style glass.

A: Poured with little head for the style. Body looks a bit thin for a winter ale but does have a fairly nice deep mahagony color.

S: Nose is a hint of molasses but mostly minty spice notes dominate. Kind of weak.

T & M: Starts off with a bit of caramel sweetness and a touch of molasses flavor that seems weak and then transitions to mostly "Christmas" like spices (your typical mint, ginger, a touch of cinnamon). The malt character fades but is a bit noticeable even as as the wintery spice notes make their way through. The finish is very weak for the style, and besides the mouthfeel, is the real killer for this brew. Additionally, the aftertaste is nothing more than a watery odd metallic off-flavor that does not leave you wanting another sip. The mouthfeel is thin for the style, and the lack of body definitely does not seem like a "winter warmer".

D & Notes: Overall this is at best a half-way decent drinkable beer, but not worth bothering with if you are looking for a truly good "winter warmer". This brew is nothing more than a thin malt body with some holiday spices. The body is much too thin, the maltiness is weak, the finish is very weak, and this overall, in my opinion, a not so great winter brew.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
2.64/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I thought this was OK, but far from the best holiday/winter/Christmas beer I’ve yet had this season. A coppery taste combined with a fruitiness/witbier blend did not really work for me.

Pours a dark, clear, sparkling red color with a centimeter and a half of head which quickly faded to a scummy coating, but left nice lacing. Aroma is nice hoppiness and some vaguely unpleasant natural earthiness. Flavor is hoppy at first, an odd bit of fruitiness (like fruitcake or candied fruit) in the middle of my mouth, and a bit of coppery maltiness at the finish. After a few more sips, the fruitiness in the middle seems more like a witbier...perhaps citrus and coriander. Mouthfeel’s a bit thin. I’m not a huge fan of this.

I wouldn’t really recommend this beer, although it does taste a bit like the holidays. I bought this bottle at 3 Cellars Liquor in Franklin, WI.

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Photo of classixIII
2.67/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Cleaning out whats left of the Christmas swaps.
There are some of really good winter warmers out there, this isn't one of them.
Completely lacking in aroma and complexity of tastes I've come to expect in the finer examples of this style.
On the bright side, just made room for some spring and summer brews!

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Photo of aaronh
2.68/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Deep reddish-amber topped by a loose off-white head. Aroma has a slight hint of cherry and honey - not much else. Flavor is also dominated by honey notes followed by a mixture of burnt sugar and alcohol. Not really all that complex. Mouthfeel is smooth but a bit watery. Carbonation is great. Drinkability is OK, but it's really a rather boring beer.

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Photo of Quaffer
2.69/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: This beer was dark brown with some deep ruby highlights that showed through when held up to the light. The almost white head rose up to a finger and settled back down rather quickly. A thin layer lingered for a lot of the drink. What foam did remain was sticky and left a few patches of lace on the side of the glass.

Smell: Right after the pour, this beer smelled "wrong." It had a sharp, somewhat acidic, almost bile-like aroma to it. Thank God this went away after a few minutes. It was replaced by the smells of sweet malt, brown sugar, cracker, roasted malt, and hints of alcohol. Overall, the aroma was very light.

After the beer sat for a while longer, the aroma turned bad again. The earlier, bile-like smell came back, but it had more of a sour quality to it. The only thing that kept this beer from getting a VERY low "smell" rating is the fact that I caught a whiff of its potential between the two nasty periods.

Mouthfeel: Light- to medium-bodied and fairly smooth. There was a slight numbing effect on the tongue from the alcohol.

Taste: This beer was a little sour on the tip of the tongue, but gained a sharp hops bitterness as it lingered in the mouth. Maybe the aroma was affecting me, but I thought that the hops had a sour quality to it as well. That was about all there was until the finish, when a little bit of sweetness and an alcohol flavor arose.

Not impressed by this one. Hopefully next years will be better.

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Photo of russwbeck
2.73/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Deep red pour with little to no head.

S: The smell is kind of strange, I can't quite place it. Caramel malts and some sweetness.

T: Boozy taste, malty finish.

MF: Medium bodied without a noticeable carbonation.

D: Not very high, probably my least favorite winter warmer.

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Photo of mdcrouser
2.74/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Admitedly, this came from the sampler pack from World Market - a gift from my sister-in-law this Christmas.

Dark brown, but with glints of red and orange peeking through, hanging in the beer like ornaments on the tree.

The nose is somewhat faint, with light spices, a bit of grapefruit, and some alcohol. The taste brings that bitter grapefruit to the fore, pushing it out to the edges of your tongue - it's just hoppy enough to let you know that it's there, but is otherwise underwhelming. The caramelly malts are also light - maybe roasted over an open fire? decent carbonation, coolly prickly on the tongue.

While this isn't a bad beer, it's nothing exceptional, and I can't see myself seeking this out to enjoy more than just this one.

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Photo of jp32
2.75/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

Pours a solid brown color with not much head. Aroma is sweet and syrupy with faint hints of caramel malts and a bready undertone. Roasted malts arise in the forefront of this beer's flavor. Sweet throughout. It has a funky afterfinish flavor that I cant quite figure out. Some kind of syrupy candy with a slight hop twist.

This is average at best.

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Christmas Ale from Breckenridge Brewery
3.5 out of 5 based on 1,080 ratings.
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