Christmas Ale | Breckenridge Brewery

416 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: 416 | Ratings: 1,078
Photo of GbVDave
3.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into two small red wine glasses. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

A: Pours a clear dark-brown with some dark, dark orange highlights. Not much head to speak of and not much lace either.

S: Mild aromas of caramel, cherry, toasted malt, and chocolate.

T: Toasted malt, chocolate, cherry, and caramel. Pretty much doesn't differ much from how it smells.

M: Bitter and kinda watery. Not bad.

D: Not too shabby. Easy to drink but not especially challenging...

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Photo of becktone
3.29/5  rDev -6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Eye: Not much to look at in the glass. Color is clear dark brown, and thats all fine, but the head just sucks. I really expected a lot more from this one. What "head" there is is tan in color, almost light brown. Though there isn't much of a head there is some lacing, spotty , it doesn't nearly make up for lack of head; but at least there is lacing.

Nose: Dark roasted/almost burnt and chocolate aromas coming from the glass here. I also pick up some earthy/piney and citrus aromas. Alcohol is there, burnt the nose just a bit..ha.

Tongue: Great spicy and earthy flavor in this brew. Chocolate notes and other dark grains come through as well as alcohol. Alcohol is also evident in the aftertaste. Great malt backbone in this beer.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability: In the mouth this brew has a medium body, with carbonation that almost cleanses the palate while/after the brew is swallowed. Finish is on the drier side. Slight warming sensation in the stomach, after the brew has been swallowed. This isn't a hard brew to drink, though I much prefer GLBC Christmas Ale over this one as well Cristian Moerlein Christkindl as well.

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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 BradLikesBrew
3.02/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on the 3rd week of November according to the label.

12 oz brown bottle

a: Brown body with red hues when held to the light.
The head quickly dies to just a few token bubbles around the edges.
No lacing.

s: Caramel malt, a faint piney hop aroma, overall a pretty subtle (weak) nose.

t: The taste is toffee, caramel malt and little else, hop presence is average and a tad spicy.

m: Carbonation is low, seems a little watered down.

d: Its drinkable, the alcohol isn't too noticeable.
This seems like an average winter warmer at best, pretty plain.
Hops are ok, malt is nothing special.
There is nothing wrong with this beer really, but nothing too impressive either.

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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 turbine2475
3.95/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A:dark caramel color that slowly disipates into heavy lace
S: scents of pine, caramel, and bitters
T: spicy fruit with a caramel malt blend
M: smooth at first then an explosion of flavors as it hits each part of the tounge while remaining lighter then most winter warmers
D: thought I had establised a list of staple holiday brews but like the bcs one underdogs victory throws the whole ranking system into chaos...loved the brew would definately buy agian

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.36/5  rDev -4%
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 genog
3.61/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle.

Pours a medium brown color with a reddish tint. Head is a creamy and thick 2" light brown head. Smell is a doughy, sweet malty scent with some spices, cinnamon, gingerbread. Taste is mostly on the spice, with a little bit watered down. Decent beer for a winter warmer!

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Photo of
3.58/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle.

Poured a clear, dark amber. Covered with a medium sized, creamy, sand colored head.

Aroma included caramel, pine/spruce, and an unidentifiable spice.

Taste was much sweeter than expected, kinda like toffee. Spicy hops, some pepper - quite a bit, actually! Pine. Minty finish/aftertaste.

Medium to full body. Medium carbonation. Quite dry.

A nice, well hopped, spicy winter warmer. I probably wouldn't want too many at one time, but a couple certainly hit the spot.

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Photo of hwwty4
3.83/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 oz bottle into a Chimay Chalice. Poured a mahogany and when the light hit it, it showed a lot of ruby colors. Very little head and carbonation. Smells of hops and malty sweetness. Also spices, and citrus, I’m guessing from the hops. Taste is more simple then the smell. Its mostly sweet with a little roasted malts and hops coming out in the end of this beer. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with little carbonation. Drinkability is good. I don’t know if I could drink a sixer in a night but I could definitely go for another.

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Photo of rajendra82
4.27/5  rDev +22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The bottle label was different that what is shown on the picture here, and I found it better looking. The beer itself looked mahogany in color, clear, and topped with a one finger head. The smell made do a double take, because the strong hop presence was not expected at all. The citric smell was backed with some toffee and chocolate. The taste was quite outstanding due to the amount of things going on. The hops were noticeably bright and floral, while the malt was toasty and sweet. There was a rich smoky backbone, and a lingering buttery aftertaste. Even with all of this flavor density, this was not a big beer, but an easily approached one. A little tinny in texture perhaps, but not much given up there either. Fantastic pick from Windward Beverage Mart in Alpharetta at the recommendation of Paz.

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Photo of timbro81
3.19/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

First time to have this one. Appears a dark red/brown in a standard pint glass. Absolutely no head at all with no visible carbonation in the glass unless provocated. Nose was pleasing, piney hops balanced with rich malts. Taste is similar with some roastedness/nuttiness tucked away in there. Rather light mouthfeel to it. I can't really decide where it wants to go or what it wants me to think, confusing. Aftertaste is short lived and lacking. Not the best winter warmer but worth a try.

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Photo of drumrboy22
3.28/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a New Belgium chalice.

Bottled 11/06.

Poured with a small, off-white head that left nice lacing around the glass edges. Beer was dark, dark brown.

Aroma was heavy malt, brown sugar, raisins and molasses.

Flavor was a little heavy in alcohol, that seemed to cover up some of the more subtle flavors present. After 9 months, I think this could still use a little more time to mellow out.

I'm kind of disappointed by this one. I love Christmas beers, but I'm really not that impressed by this one.

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Photo of uwmgdman
4.1/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This ale pours a very clear, deep ruby red into my mug with a thin white head. The head diminished to a thin skim that lasted through the beer. The aroma is dominated by moderate-low roasted character, a moderate malty sweetness-caramel like with a bit of spicyness. There is also a low flora hop aroma. A nice nose to this beer. The taste initially malty, moderate caramel, slightly nutty, a little toasted, and moderately sweet. Toward the swallow a moderate hop flavor emerges, very nice. The bitterness is medium-low, but that combined with medium-low roasty flavor, there is enough to provide a nice balance. The carbonation is moderate and body/mouthfeel is medium with a good drinkability. Overall this is a well done Christmas style ale. A nice looking beer, the nose and flavor are both solid, with some complexity, and the subtle, but noticeable hop flavor is well done. Drinkability is very good too, especially at the 7.4 ABV, it could sneak up on me. I recommend this beer.

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Photo of BadRockBeer
3.68/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Serving Type Sampled: 12oz. Brown crown-top bottle. Label includes “Bottled on Date.” Label reads “Hand Crafted for the Holidays.”

Appearance: Pours mahogany, nice 1 finger fluffy head faded quickly leaving tight lace.

Smell: Caramel Malts and piney hops.

Taste: Chocolate and caramel malts, Piney, bitter hops. Nutty aftertaste that lingers a while. Slightly warm from the apparent alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Medium body lightly carbonated. Slightly bitter/sweet.

Drinkability: Good. This is one of my Colorado native favorites in the winter warmer category. But at 7.4% ABV you find yourself drinking less than you planned.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.85/5  rDev +10%
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 Dubblebock
4/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Straight across 4's for this year's version of the Breckenridge Christmas Ale. I picked up a bottle on my last trip through Grapevine Market in Austin, as I was putting together a holiday sampler.

The beer poured with a deep brown tone with a slight touch of red highlights. Good fluffy head and a decent, malty nose.

The taste was rich and bready, with a good hop presence. There was an almond presence backed up by a crackery backbone. I was through with the mug before I knew it.

Bold mouthfeel, very drinkable. A strong winter warmer, though, so be careful if downing more than one. A nicely rounded beer.

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Photo of Zorro
4.1/5  rDev +17.1%
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 biergeniesser
3.39/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This 12 oz bottle of Breckenridge Christmas Ale poured a crystal clear deep garnet. It had a thin fluffy off white head which diminished into a thin veil that persisted as it laced itself nicely on the glass.

Aroma is of earthy malt with a slight sulfur character and hints of spicy hops.

The flavor is pretty well balanced between the malt and hops. Malt-wise, dominant characters are earthy, toasty and sweet. Spicy, yet some what tea-like flavors are contributed by the hops, which also lend a mild to moderate bitterness. A substantial warming alcohol character is also evident.

A medium to full bodied ale with a smooth mouthfeel and a slight carbon dioxide bite.

Well done- a nice American winter warmer.

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Photo of Winter
4.05/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark copper with a creamy khaki head. Aroma consists of sweet caramel malt with hints of citrus and piney hops. There's a hint of brown sugar also. Smooth medium-bodied mouthfeel. Flavors of caramel and chocolate malt are apparent upfront. Piney hop bitterness arrives midway and carries into the finish. Obviously, the 7.4% abv supports why it's listed as an American Style Strong Ale on Breckenridge's website, but the taste reminds me of a hearty amber in my opinion. I think some of that can be contributed to the addition of the black patent malt that's utilized also. It definitely adds a nice depth of flavor to the finish. I was pleasantly surprised by this one. A very nice Christmas Ale that's produced without the use of traditional holiday spices.

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Photo of MDekker
3.67/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours out a rich, dark red with very little off-white head. Smells of roasted malts, spices, and bread. It tastes mostly of the same stuff, without any real serious character or flavor. Very little aftertaste, and not much of a hint of hops or bitterness. Nothing was offensive, but nothing was great, either. A little watery with below average carbonation, but easy to consume. The bottle will look good with my other Christmas season brews.

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Photo of joe1510
3.33/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. Bottle
Bottled 5th week of September

Poured a warm looking clear mahogany into my pint glass. A one finger beige head sits up top but fades to a solid cap after a couple minutes. Leaves billowy lacing when you tip the glass but it falls back into the body after a few seconds. Looks good.

The smell is a tough thing for me to pick apart for whatever reason. Theres a unique freshness to this that smells faintly like fresh hops. Unfortuanately after that there's not much else that impresses. Maybe some toasted grains and light pine. As it warms I pick up a mild nutiness. Still hard to pick apart.

The taste is on the weak side. All flavors are muted including the alcohol which is surprising at 7.4%. I'm picking up the same flavors as in the nose.Toasted grains start things off. Mid-palate a small but noticable dose of hops wash across the tongue and ends with a mild alcohol spicyness. If the flavors came through more this beer would be a lot better. It's just average right now though.

The mouthfeel is strange. When I first take a mouthful it feels medium bodied and creamy. The closer it gets to the throat the more watered down it gets. Theres some alchol fumes rising after the swallow that are minimal but there.

Drinkability is average. Nothing special but goes down pretty smooth.

This beer was worth trying for the fact it's a seasonal. I'll pass on it next time I see it so I can either try some new winter seasonals or old favorites. That being said It didnt get the highest ratings from me but in no way was I disappointed.


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Photo of chadspivey
3.69/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006... poured into a pint glass

A: dark brown, with red. Much like OAK. one finger offwhite head dissipates after about 1 minute

S:not much going on here. smells slight hints of vanilla and not anything else. pretty dull smell.

T: can taste some kind of wood. vanilla is there, but not very strong. can slightly tatse grapes. very matly, not a lot of hop action (for a christmas beer). Nice taste, just needs to be stronger. almost like a light christmas beer. chocolate comes way later while breathing out through the nose in the after-aftertatse.

M: thick mouthfeel, like velvet. This is the best part of this beer, in my opinion.

D: I could drink a lot of these.

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Photo of russpowell
3.13/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2006 version, couldn't tell when it was bottled.

Pours deep caramel/brown with a fluffy 2 fingers deep sand colored head. Above average lacing & good head retention

S: Slight hint of malt & breadyness, plus some brown sugar

T: Nuttyness up front with dryness. A little bit of chocolate & grainy astringency follows. The astringency/cardboard taste detracts from the taste. Finishes with warming & chocolate notes

MF Slick with low cabonation, medium bodied

Didn't drink so well. Whatever it was I liked about lasy years, ain't here, either my tastes changed or the recipe did, not reccomended, but had potential

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Photo of TexIndy
3.2/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle with brewed one date area on label that wasn't notched into a pint glass. Was a brown/mahagony color with just a very small brownish head. The smell was bready malts well balanced with a spicy hop. The taste was pretty good for a winter warm but since not one of my favorite styles this is about as good as it can get rated. Overall one of the better examples of the style that I've had so far. Recommend trying especially if you enjoy Warmers. (3, RB, T,O)

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Christmas Ale from Breckenridge Brewery
3.5 out of 5 based on 1,078 ratings.
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