Christmas Ale | Breckenridge Brewery

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Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Brewed by:
Breckenridge Brewery
Colorado, United States | website

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: 401 | Ratings: 1,033
Photo of Gavage
3.56/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a dark amber color with some orange highlights. The head is about 2" high but falls quickly to a thick surface foam.

Smell: aroma is somewhat lacking here as some malt sweetness and a bit of earthiness come through to the nose.

Taste: bready carmel, grapefruits, earthiness, some soft nut tones, a hint of spiciness, and a moderate bitterness make up the main flavor components.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Lightly crisp throughout with some dryness late.

Drinkability: decent winter ale worth giving a try. If you want more of a malt focused beer for the holidays this will work.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to mikereaser for this brew.

Pours a nice brown color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy tan head, with some nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, spicy, with some caramel. The taste is malty, spicy, slightly bitter. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a pretty tasty WW, recommend.

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Photo of BARFLYB
3.41/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Out of a bottle, into a pint glass.

Breckenridge Christmas looks very chestnut brown in color with a cinnamon tan foam about an inch in height with pretty good legs but no lacing. Smell is all caramel malt and some nutty appeal, spices are really not in the picture. Taste is malty and caramel and nuts and a bit of spice but not much. There is a taste of alcohol towards the end, the 7.4 is not muted well. Don't get any hops and this is not reminding me of christmas. It's pretty much a very malty brown ale IMO. Feel is a big medium, malty, not bitter, smooth and fairly carbed. I drank it.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.55/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Breckenridge Christmas ale, poured into a pint glass from a 12 oz bottle. Brown in color with a decent off-white head and some lace.

Aroma of light malts and some spices lurking.

Caramel malt in the flavor profile. Good amount of holiday spice, clove, anise, and cinnamon. Leafy hop adds a little bitterness. Long spicy finish.

Low level of carbonation on a medium-full bodied brew.

Drinks pretty easily, one I'm sure I'll have again. A solid offering but a pretty standard one at that.

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Photo of biegaman
3.65/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

There's enough thick, cottony head to probably prevent a quarter from sinking to the bottom if it were dropped in. Now that's what you like to see in a beer! The body too is a nice sight: a deep tone but one that is clear and ripe with highlighting. Suitably, Christmas Ale is the colour of chestnuts... that were roasted on an open fire.

The aroma is underlined by a toasted and nutty-sweet maltiness and, just perhaps, the odd fruity ester. There's also a subtle and surprising citrus character that whistles notes of Moroccan tangerines. It is a wonderful compliment to the slight chocolaty character of the brown malt. Just a sliver of the 7.4% alcohol shows.

A winter warmer should be as malty as a filet mignon steak should be juicy. Breckenridge's offering contains enough toasty, nutty-sweet grain to be considered a tenderloin cut, but I'm not sure that I'd call it a true filet mignon. It's too thin and dry a cut; still good, but simply lacking the benefit of bacon-wrapped goodness.

For a malt-forward and relatively high alcohol beer, something keeps Christmas Ale considerably approachable and refreshing. Each sip concludes with a zestful, bright splash of orange-y citrus and an earthy, almost savory note of spicy, leafy hops. There's also little not to like about the beer's smooth caramel sweetness.

Breckenridge's Christmas Ale brought me plenty of good Christmas cheer. It is an ideal holiday ale as it has plenty of delicious malt and hop flavour yet is balanced and moderate enough so as to appeal to more mild drinkers as well. In other words, it's an excellent option for family or work get togethers; a real crowd (and beer geek) pleaser.

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Photo of Zorro
4.1/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled due to the kindness of gbontrag.

Out of the bottle and in to the glass this is a clear coke brown colored ale without much head.

Smell is sweet and spicy with a scent of orange and lemon with vanilla, ginger and cinnamon.

Taste is sweet and woody with a cinnamon flavor and a little ginger burn at the beginning. Light fruity flavors from a British yeast strain gives this the British Ale flavor that I like. Mild fuggles bitterness in the after taste there is a trace of tobacco and leather taste here.

Mouthfeel is good.

A tasty and very well mannered winter warmer of a beer here. It shines by having no rough edges and a willing to please demeanor. A recommendable beer.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.05/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a reddish brown with a thin head that settles to a thin ring. Smells slightly malty and spicy but with a little sour graininess as well. Taste is similar, including the sour graininess. Quite light in overall flavor, slightly sweet and a slightly nutty finish. Smooth mouthfeel. I drank a sixpack of this and a week later someone brought me another. I was pretty bored with this before I finished the first sixpack, let alone the second.Eh.

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Photo of weeare138
3.75/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appears a dark amber with a fluffy white cap that slowly fades out into a mild cap. Scattered bits of lacing.
Smell is of cinnamon, grain, nutmeg, cloves, mild ginger, and brown sugar.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a gentle bitterness of hops.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, bitey, gently spiced, and drinkable like a spiced wafer.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.16/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From the 2011 batch. Sampled on December 1, 2011. The pour is a handsome dark amber with a silky, tan head that lingers momentarily. I will give it a higher mark for the way it looks. However the aroma is pretty routine with mellow dark malts, a slight hop note, and little in the way of winter spicing. The body is in the medium range so it makes a slight comeback with that. The taste is an above average combination of barley malts and a moderately bitter quality that leaves a tingle at the end.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.54/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a three-finger khaki head that fades quickly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Chrystal clear amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Very light caramel and malty nose and flavor is toasted malt, light spices. Slight drying finish. The 12oz bottle was a gift.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.85/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle a clear dark brown with a smallish head of foam that dissipates quickly leaving very little on the surface and very little lacing.

The smell is dominated by sweet caramel malt and a bit of dark fruit.

The taste follows up on the nose; nice notes of caramel and roasted malt, molasses, dark fruit, and fig. Very little spicing, imo, and that works well for me as the flavours that are there are hitting my palate in a positive way. Oh, I can feel a bit of warming as it goes down but that's certainly not a negative aspect for this time of year. The finish fades pretty quickly; I would have preferred a more lingering aftertaste.

Bottom line: A tasty Winter Warmer that is a solid example of the style. Try it.

Edit: A big 33oz swing top bottle 2007 given to me as a freebie by Mike at Poplar Wine & Spirits

It pours a deep amber brown with about an inch of foam.

The smell is of caramel malt with a light chocolate note. Not much going on here.

The taste has a good chocolate flavour up front with some nice sweetness from the caramel and a light dark chocolate like bitterness that comes through in the finish. It also has some roasted malt notes but I can't say I tasty any of the dark fruit or fig that I mentioned in my earlier review. Victims of aging? Oh well, it's pretty nice and pretty easy to drink. Alcohol is well hidden and the head retention is good with some nice ring after ring of lacing. My overall score for would this sample wouldn't be much different from what I've laready rated it.

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Photo of Haybeerman
3.33/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear dark redish brown color. Poured a 1 finger tan to brown head that dissipated to a broken skim. Lacing washed down the side of the glass.

S: Bread malt and roasted nutes. Floral hops. Chocolate and caramel too.

T: Sweet caramel malts and herbal flavoring hops. Roasted nuts and citrus.

M: Light body. Medium carbonation. Fizzy and crips on the tongue ahead of mild bitter finish.

D: Very flavorful and balanced.

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Photo of pat61
4.08/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Breckenridge Christmas Ale pours brilliant garnet tinged chestnut under a thin, off-white foam cap that marks each drink with a thin line. Dried fruit on the nose accompanies dark sugar and cake aromas. Dark, rich cakey bread leads the palate with spice, figs and a suspicion of cherry sweetened with light molasses with an earthy hop presence in the background.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.11/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Nice amber color slight tint with a bit of head that forums a moderate light lace.

S - Ugh. Grains! I didn't expect such a strong hit of grains but looking beyond that I smell moderate spices and cinnamon.

T - Slight malt and bitter hops next to a pretty aggressive grain profile maybe a moderate caramel backbone with barley if any cinnamon and Christmas spices. Disappointment.

M - Pretty light to medium but wish it had more flavor.

D - Well I couldn't seeing buying this again but as one of my ticks on my list I really was disappointed. Need more of a smoother malt profile to balance the grain and what crappy ales like this needs More SPICE! Average...

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Photo of Immortale25
3.48/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Dogfish Head tapered pint. No freshness date.

A- Pours a reddish brown color with a 1/2 inch white head that has very lengthy retention. Some fluffy lacing and spread out bubbles as it slowly settles to an 1/8 inch of head.

S- Has a clean, malty nose with some toffee, brown sugar and a faint bit of nutmeg.

T- Flash of booze upfront that hesitantly mellows out and leads to roasted nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. Can't get over the sharp astringency that's present after every sip. Even with a 7.4% ABV, this beer shouldn't taste that strong. After multiple sips, a mild sweetness comes through but isn't enough for the flavor profile to recover.

M- Ultimately, the mouthfeel is the biggest bummer of this beer. Just way too bright and prickly. I attest that to the medium-high carbonation, as winter warmers are usually more subdued in that department. It wouldn't be that big of a deal if the rest of the beer's characteristics weren't so flawed.

O- It's always disappointing when someone recommends a beer and you spend money on it but end up disliking it. C'est la vie.

 1,094 characters

Photo of Brad007
3.16/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bring on the winter warmers. Oddly enough, I haven't reviewed too many examples in quite a while.

Burgundy with a frothy white head that fades along the sides of the glass. Nothing interesting to note here.

Sweet with some caramel notes. Very little if any spice. I'm not sure what it's supposed to be?
Solid otherwise.

Lingering sweetness and caramel make up the mouthfeel.

A simple, unpretentious example of the style. At least it's not overloaded with spice.

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Photo of Bighuge
3.78/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Clear mahogany. Thin beige head with little retention. Lacing is spotty and sparse. Some faint sweet malt aromas and a bit of a spicy hop presence if you sniff hard enough. Body is almost medium and the mouthfeel is just kind of there. The flavors are nice enough. Sweet malts and dark fruits blend nicely. Raisin and plum come to mind. A little piney character. And there's a slight lingering bitter dryness after the swallow. Pretty good.

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Photo of jrallen34
3/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I drank this from a 12oz bottle into a chalice.

The beer pours a very dark brown with a light tan watery head that rises a finger but is gone quickly.

The aroma is pretty light, a little spice mixed with some malts, like a spicy marzen.

The taste is very light, can't really taste a whole lot, a tiny bit of spice that's about it. The feel is very watery without much of a finish.

This is a pretty boring xmas ale.

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Photo of claspada
3.54/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Aromas are surprisingly sweet, you can pick up on malts but nothing really stands out; maybe some slight cocoa and caramel if I had to stretch.
The taste is of bready caramels, earthiness, some soft nutty tones, a hint of spiciness, and a moderate bitterness make up the main flavor components. Pretty complex despite the lack of a complex grain bill. Light spice notes add some depth, but overall it feels a bit thin and watered down. Finish is on the sweeter side with a malty flavor and light alcohol lingering.
Overall not bad; I get a sort of brown ale/winter warmer cross, which is interesting and seems to work well together. The bad part is the watery nature of the mouthfeel. This brew has a real weird but enjoyable malty quality I wish I could convey and/or explain to you, but overall this is a good beer but probably more worthy of a draft selection than a whole 6-pack investment. Average at best...

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Photo of glid02
3.33/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this on-tap at Taco Mac in Decatur.

Pours a slightly hazy brown color with a half-finger off-white head. The head dissipates into a patchy layer of bubbles on top and a thin ring around the glass.

Smells of light spices and sweet malt with a bit of an off aroma that I can only describe as metallic.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Sweet malt followed by mild amounts of nutmeg and brown sugar - then the off-smell turns into an off-taste. This seems to be the problem with a lot of Breckenridge beers.

Mouthfeel is good. It's a bit on the thin side but the carbonation is good.

Drinkability is alright. It's really pretty good until that off-flavor hits.

Overall I'm disappointed once again by this brewery. They sucked me in with the 471 Small Batch and it's been downhill from there. This isn't a terrible beer by any stretch, but there are plenty of other better ones of the style out there.

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Photo of champ103
3.39/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark amber red color. A small white head forms, and recedes to nothing. Light lace.
S: Malty that is chocolaty with a touch of coffee. Some sweet toffee and caramel. Some spice aromas and dark fruit.
T: Compared to the aroma this is a disappointment. Caramel malt is up front. A large citrus and pine hop flavor as well. It just does not mesh well with the aroma though. It needs more malt, dark fruits, and spice.
M/D: A medium body with a crisp carbonation. Fairly smooth and easy to drink for the high ABV.

This is just another mediocre and bland Winter Warmer that has to many hops for the style IMO.

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Photo of ZAP
3.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Creamy and smooth texture in the mouth...medium bodied...not super heavy, but not thin like some of their other offerings...pours a light chestnut color....big fluffy tan head...lace rims the glass nicely...definitely some alcohol on the nose along with an earthy spiciness ...some alcohol emerges on the buds but it is very lends a spicy hit to a pretty sweet beer...reminds me of Sam Adams Winter a little...(although this isn't a weizen bock it kind of tastes like one)...their web-site says I should get chocolate and caramel on the flavor and I don't get any of that...maybe more a breadiness, but not real heavy...just sweet malt wit ha spicy character...

This is a decent winter beer..worth getting a six-pack's probably the best beer I've had from this brewery too....but when stacked up against the best strong ales it is only slightly above average ...I like though....

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.36/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was mixing up a sixer and figured why not give this a chance? Nice, dark, malty beer with a noticeable alcohol kick. This was actually at the bottom of my winter warmer list. This beer was just average. I will still give Breckenridge the benefit of the doubt in the future.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.2/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass - thanks to therobot

Pours a clear dark amber with a thinner head. Fades pretty quickly and leaves little lacing without retention.

Toasted malt with caramel in the nose, notes of brown sugar, holiday spice and a bit of alcohol.

Begins slightly sweet with some pine hop bitterness. Plenty of malt backbone coupled with assorted spices, which can be aggressive at times. Faint notes of raisin and plum are present. Towards the end though, the alcohol rises up unexpectedly with some unpleasant warmth.

A little thinner body, higher carbonation, some dryness as well. Drinks okay, but the alcohol wasn't masked well, and the flavors had some metallic notes at times. Not really something I'd seek out again.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.08/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a translucent dark mahogany with a fine-bubbled beige head. Aroma is spicy - mainly cinnamon - and somewhat malty. Mouth-filling flavor is spicy, mostly cinnamon and cloves, with a fruity undertone and a hint of spicy hard candy. Texture is rough, lively and tingly.

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Christmas Ale from Breckenridge Brewery
3.49 out of 5 based on 1,033 ratings.
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