Christmas Ale | Breckenridge Brewery

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Christmas AleChristmas Ale
1,123 Ratings
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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Ratings: 1,123 |  Reviews: 428
Photo of granger10
4/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this at just above room temp. I think it was meant to be tried this way. Warmed up to room temp after a few sips.

Here's the review.

This winter seasonal from Breckenridge pours a deep mohagany color with brown around the sides. A smaller but tight light tan head sits atop. Moderate lacing.

Aroma of chestnuts and figs at first. There's also a strong earthy character in there.

Taste is dominant on caramel. The caramel is nice and warming. Some slight roasted malts underneath. A little bit of butteryness along with some earthiness the further I go. Some spicy hops come towards the finish along with pine and resin notes.

Mouthfeel is medium. Not the thickest winter warmer but not weak either. Carbonation is a little low but not flat. I actually like that the spice is weak. Nice changeup to get spicy flavors from the hops in a winter warmer rather than a pile of ginger and nutmeg and cinnamon just thrown in there.

This is a nice, rather easy to drink high abv beer. Nothing spectacular but I'd definitely get it again.

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2.85/5  rDev -19%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - 1/4" off-white head that is gone quick. Light brown caramel color. No lace. Looks timid.

S - Sweet, fruity malt. Clean hop aroma in the rear.

T - Some earthiness. Caramel as it warms up. Some bitterness at the end. Some fruit.

M - Thin mouthfeel. Short finish. Decent carbonation.

D - Just OK. Not much there overall.

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Photo of WTexas
3.24/5  rDev -8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The 2005 version of this Winter Warmer poured a dark orange color into my glass. Left a creamy, slight head that didn’t stay around very long. I was encouraged by the sweet hoppy, almost peppery, scent that I detected. Tasted a blending of hops and malt flavors which unfortunately nearly cancelled each other out. Had a pleasant, light carbonation but a disappointingly thin mouthfeel. An enjoyable beer, but not one that I’ll reach for again given the plethora of quality holiday beers that are now available.

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Photo of kosmoraios
3.47/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep caramel brown into my pint glass, with a finger or so of off-white head that quickly dissipates. Aroma is of caramelly malt, spices, and some nutty yeast flavor. Taste is decent, caramel with spices - I taste some anise (which I don't particularly care for) and maybe cardamom. There is a piney hop flavor up front, followed by the nutty maltiness. Not so drinkable. Alcohol is evident as it warms. It's a good Christmas ale, but not an exceptional example of the style. I'd pick something else if available.

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Photo of beveragecaptain
2.79/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle. Breckenridge Christmas Ale pours out a dark amber color with a medium sized head. The aroma is bready malt, almonds, pine, and cooked vegetables. Toasted malt flavor is nice up front, but it's quickly ruined by a cooked vegetable taste. The finish is metallic. Medium mouthfeel. This beer has some nice malty flavors, but there are also some nasty off-flavors. The result is a mediocre Winter Warmer.

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Photo of benito
2.81/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From the bottle, this poured a cola brown with medium head and lots of carbonation. The lacing and legs were good, hanging on throughout my sampling. The bouquet was uninteresting: soapy and an unpleasant hint of vomit. After agitation, I got a nice whiff of chocolate and carmel, also a hint of cinnamon.

The taste is a nice balance of malts and spice. The carmel dominates the body, and I noticed a bouquet of spices in the finish: cinnamon, vanilla, and cloves. There's little aftertaste.

Overall, I thought this was a nicely bodied and refreshing Winter Warmer that was spiced just right, but which was, otherwise rather non-descript. Worth trying if you come across it, though I won't buy a sixer this Holiday season.

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Photo of kmpitz2
3.33/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep amber color with a small white head taht falls to a patchy coat over top. Nose is slightly piney, definate corainder spice character, with a sweet caramel base. Flavor is a little weak. I get a pine and big caramel character, but it doesn' grab and stay like I expect it to. Just okay. Feel is moderate to thick with a light to moderate carbonation. Just an okay winter warmer. I'd like a more complex brew. The sweetness just seems to be the focus, and there is a lot more that can come in a winter brew.

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Photo of Fugazme
2.43/5  rDev -31%
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 dungaree
3.64/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served from bottle to pilsner glass. Appears dark and thin, can see light through it. Very thin head and little carbonation.

Smells of spice, like Christmas. But on first taste-- tasted like a stout with some extra thrown in?? Yes, I believe it is. It's Breckenridge's stout with a few extra ingredients to make it look like a Christmas ale. Mouthfeel is thin and consistency is almost like water. That's good and bad. One would desire a thicker mouthfeel but on the other hand, the thinness makes one think of Colorado mountain water. Hopefully that's what they use. At least it's easy to drink.

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Photo of babydoc
3.41/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This year's new Christmas Ale has an old-school label. My bottle notched "bottled on 10th month, 2nd week." Served at forty-five degrees, this one was dark, clear copper, with a stiff wheat-colored three-finger head that almost escaped the glass. Head slooowly faded to a thin layer that stuck around until the beer was gone. Bits of lace were left here and there. A couple streamers spiraled up, not a lot of carbonation. Nice looking beer.

Nose was more subdued, with sweet malts and some herbal hops. Sweet malts were the first thing hitting the tongue, with some fruits and caramels swirling in there. There were some dark fruit suggestions in the middle, just a bit of tartness, before the sweet finish left some hops on the tongue. Mouthfeel moderate to thin. Not much in the way of any carbonation.

Alcohol was well concealed- was this year's still 7.4%?. Very drinkable.

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Photo of Gagnonsux
3.51/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The color is a clear, chestnut brown with a creamy, light-brown head of average height. The aroma is weak, but not unpleasent. An herbal hop smell is most notable atop a sweet, toasted malt body. The taste of this beer screams American brown ale, not winter warmer. The malt body is toasted with dark caramel flavors everywhere. The overall flavor is more sweet than rich. A mild herbal hop flavor bounds about throughout a sip. Breckenridge Christmas works well as a brown ale, nothing spectacular, and despite a high ABV, this isn't a winter warmer.

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Photo of malty
3.18/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My bottle has the new 'Old World' style graphics - pretty cool.

Pours a very clear rust-garnet color with a fluffy, loose 1" head that lasts. Visible medium-paced carbonation.

Scents of sweet and faintly roasted malts with an herbal hop presence. The hops are prevalent and very fresh.

The flavors are very loose and disconnected. A spicy warmth hits the tongue followed by a fleeting toasted maltiness that escapes very quickly. There’s a prickly hop component that begs to be accounted for - the texture is there, but no flavor profile detected (ghostly?). Some alcohol warmth in the somewhat dry finish.

Mouthfeel is a bit watery which is surprising due to the fact of the visible carbonation. Light bodied.

Drinkability is good. The alcohol is pretty well disguised along with features that are very 'middle-of-the-road'.

Overall a beer that looks spectacular but falls off soon after it hits your mouth. Cool looking bottle but the contents didn't excite me. A good beer to have in the fridge for the holidays to serve to not-so-close friends/company. Glad I only bought one bottle for $1.50.

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Photo of Brent
3.03/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Great label on this bottle, like an old Christmas card from your grandparents' attic. Poured a dark chestnut, with so little carbonation evident on the pour that I was afraid for a moment that I'd gotten a flat bottle. After a second, though, a thin sheen of lace appeared. Characteristic of a winter warmer with substantial malt and reserved caramel and roasted flavors. There was some indescript spice flavor in the background, but seemed to be yeast-produced rather than a spice adjunct. Not bad, but a bit too timid to satisfy my expectation for the style.

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Photo of GreenWBush
3.37/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This brewery has some of the greatest graphic design around. This must be a recent development as the bottle I reviewed from was different than the picture and the beer inside seemed quite different from other reviews too.

Liquid cranberry in color. Miniscule head, but decent lace. All beers i've tried from this brewery have had some carbonation issues.

Very hop-forward on the nose which I noted was 'hop-trickery' in my original notes. Spiciness heightens this hop character, I think. Almost fuely. Tree sap. Pine needles. Fern. Nutty. Peppermint. Or is that a subliminal suggestion because of the inherent X-mas theme of this one?

The first taste that springs to mind is 'homebrew'. Very fresh and hoppy, cranberry, pine. Vaguely similar in hop flavor to some years of OSA, obviously subtracting the tree-like nature of that brew. Malt character gets a bit annoying towards the finish - grainy.

Mouthfeel is thin, back to the homebrew comparison. Tasty, if unremarkable and a tad forgettable.

I think this falls somewhere in between SNCA and OSA, with characteristics of each. Unfortunately this one just doesn't quite do it for me like those other superior brews.

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Photo of mattcrill
3.66/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Label states that it was bottled on the 3rd week of September. Nicely done! I dig breweries that give me that kind of information.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy amber brown with a thin, bubbly ivory head. Doesn't last very long and fades into islands of carbonation.

Smell: Carmel, malts, some red grapes, brown sugar notes. No hop presence to speak of but none anticipated either.

Taste: Carmel, cloves, cinnamon, maybe a hint of coriander, pecans, with a touch of a bittering hop finish. Pretty interesting taste here.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied to thin. Some crispness on the tongue due to the carbonation.

Drinkability: A highly drinkable beer. Light and complex.

Notes: Winter warmers really aren't my thing. Still, this is a finely crafted beer that is perfect for a yucky Ohio late winter day. I'd recommend trying it at least once.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.18/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aroma shows a mildly rich malt character that's not particularly complex and shows a slight spiciness.
Pours with virtually no head. Clear. Dark amber of brown and red.
Dry malty taste. Again mildly rich malty but not necessarily intense. Very mild hop bitterness.
Adequately soft. Fair carbonation. Somewhat filling.
This is okay. Nothing special.

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Photo of allengarvin
3.01/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance is dark brown, with a good lasting head of off-white froth. Smells of sharp, grainy malt, not very pleasant. Flavor is roasted malt, whose bitterness combines with the hops for a harsh, unbalanced flavor. Mouthfeel is creamy, moderate carbonation.

Something about this beer just rubbed me the wrong way. I had a hard time finishing a single glass. Better in bottled form.

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Photo of maxpower
3.1/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark orange-copper color, huge foamy off white head, leaves a nice lacing in the glass, malty caramel aroma, fruity caramel flavor, medium bodied with a full and soft mouthfeel, finishes a bit sweet, not bad, a decent and drinkable winter ale.

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Photo of alexgash
3.23/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Amber body with dark copper edges and a small, off-khaki head. Sugar cookie dough aromas with eggnog sweetness, caramel maltiness, and spicy vague hops. Taste is sweet, caramelly malt and cookie dough up front. Juicy, piney hops soon follow. Not too big or flavorful, but slightly astringent. Can't do much in the way of balancing the sweet cookie malt. Finish is sweetish and tart-fruity. Not bad. Medium-bodied, although a touch on the watery side. Don't put this on your xmas list.

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Photo of beerceller99
4.2/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle pours a clear garnet hue with a nice white head. Smell is nutty sweet malts and alcohol. Medium bodied with a velvety smooth mouthfeel. Taste is a very nice nutty malt sweetness with a decent hop alcohol tang to finish.
A nice brew to warm up with on a cold winters night.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.38/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear caramel-y brown is the color, the head is a small thing, soon gone, best unremarked upon.
Aroma, cola-ish, coffee tones and nuts, a smidgen of spice? No, not really.
Taste: a bit dull, brown ale-ish, just a touch of toffee, but all in all, dull. Light in body, with nary a finish to be found. Unremarkable all the way.
Warm? Not much. Wintry? by a long stretch, maybe...nothing very Christmas-y about it..."malty and warming in character, with a semi-sweet, full-bodied flavor," says the's a slight stretch of the imagination, but true in many respects. Very run-of-the -mill, just malty and wintry enough...actually gets better as we get further in, but I'm no more impressed.
Yeah, I can drink it, but it's nothing to shout about.

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Photo of TastyTaste
2.83/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Pours out to a nutty brown clear color, with a nice off-white head. Smelled lightly of alcohol light spiced scents. Alcohol was very present in the flavor, along with some thin cinammon and gingerbread flavors. Pretty sweet, but not one of the better winter warmers that I have had, kind of dissapointing. There are many better beers than this one trick pony.

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Photo of rowew
3.53/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz long neck bottle. Date information on label, but as is often the case it isn't actually marked.

Appearance: Poured a nice dark red/brown clear color with a good sized off white head. Head disappated to a thin lacing when I started drinking.

Smell: Hoppy and fruity - maybe a hint of smokiness.

Taste: Very well balanced flavor - nice maltiness with a hint of hops. Mild spiciness mixes well with a solid beer flavor. Became slightly sour later in the beer. Mouthfeel was slightly watery for the flavors in the beer.

Overall impression: Decent winter beer with some nice spice flavors, but drinkable enough that you can drink more than one.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.47/5  rDev +27%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A clear, ruby-chestnut body rests gently beneath a short, creamy head of light tan that drops slowly to a thin surface covering; leaving tiny spots and splashes of lace about the glass. It's quite smooth and even somewhat creamy across the palate with a medium, dextrinous body and fine-bubbled, moderate carbonation that's quite British in character. The nose is inviting, and quite interesting, with interwoven notes of caramel-drizzled and biscuity/bready malt, dark dried fruits (prunes and raisins), and pine. The flavor follows suit, and it's a fairly rich and somewhat complex brew with a beautiful, biscuity and toffee-ish malt component that's accented by yeasty fruitiness and a dollop of rounding buttery diacetyl. It's reminiscent of the Fuller's yeast character; and it's very English indeed! As it warms, the hops become more apparent... leafy, grassy, and slightly mineral-like; leaving it to finish with some lingering buttery toffee and drying, leafy and resinous hops. An excellent beer that delivers exactly what I'd expect of an English brewed winter warmer. Definitely worth trying!

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Photo of tavernjef
2.39/5  rDev -32.1%
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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Christmas Ale from Breckenridge Brewery
Beer rating: 3.52 out of 5 with 1,123 ratings