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Christmas Ale | Breckenridge Brewery

401 Reviews
Read the review
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: 1,032
Photo of Dizzy
2.85/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours brown with red highlight and a off white creamy head. Smells like malts (maybe some roasted malts) and a little bit of fruitiness. I'm tasting cloves, less malt then I expected and a little hop bitterness. There is some alcohol burn as well. I was expecting the spice flavors to be more prominant as well. The mouthfeel is thinner than I would expect for a winter warmer. This isn't bad, and is probably worth trying, but I am a little disappointed with this one. You'd be better off picking up Breckenridge's Oatmeal Stout.

 530 characters

Photo of xav33
3.14/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Breckenridge Christmas Ale
12 oz bottle
Bottled 11/05, imbibed 07/06
Medium pour in a tulip glass

Poured burnt umber with 1/2" foamy thin head that dissipated into a ring.

Smelt of spices and sweet maltiness.

Slowly starts off with nice soft hop instantly balanced by spices, pleasantly decending into a balanced blend with a sweet raisin maltiness that intertwine nicely, although sweetness lingers a bit too long. Caresses the palace too softly. Mouthfeel is soft but light, with slightly overdone effervescence.

Overall, an intruguing yet alluring color, and a very pleasantly balanced albeit subtle taste.

 624 characters

Photo of cameraman
3.27/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass a light brown color with a small head forming, then quickly fading away. The aroma of malty sweetness, folowed by a tough of spices and some floral hops. The taste starts with the strong malt flavor, then a combination of spices hit the palate, and then a hop flavor shows itself at the end. A watery feel in the mouth is there at the start. Then it gains weight to become more medium bodied towards the end. Fairly drinkable for a cold weather beer. It is faily refreshing, though spices could be a bit of a turn off.

 543 characters

Photo of Crosling
2.92/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served with a reddish brown color and a dense white head. Nice lacing and head retention throughout the session. Caramel, chocolate, rich malts and some off-scents in the aroma. Pretty poor flavor. Some off flavors on-tap compared to the bottled version. Nonetheless, there is some chocolate and caramel on the palate. Pretty full bodied with a nice bitter finish. But the off flavors were too much to bare.

 407 characters

Photo of Erdinger2003
2.97/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance isn't great, the head dissapears after 15 minutes and has a tiny lacing.

Smell is nice, spicy with cloves and a slight coffee flavor and a little scent of some dark fruit, like grapes.

Taste is very clovey with a bitter coffee undertone.

Mouthfeel is ok, but very watery.

 294 characters

Photo of mentor
4.18/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 large flip-top bottle of limited release (mine is #807). Pours a two finger tan/light brown head over a crystal clear brown-amber liquid. Nice frithy head...this is a sharp looking beer. Smells citrusy lemon hops and grassy co-ho. Hint of ginger, caramle, and chocolate. Dry grass. Tastes caramel, chocolate, toasted malts, and some alcohol burn. Flat grassy hop co-ho. Dry beer altogether. Smooth toffee and vanilla. Tettnanger hops, perhaps, as they come across in a dry woody and somewhat dirty manner. Md body and medium carbonation. This was yummy. A touch dry, but really quite drinkable.

 599 characters

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

Appearence is good! Dark dark orange amber seems a notch darker than most and not as dark as other winter warmers. Good head on the pour and good lace in the end. Perfumey scent. Odd, yet sweet, almost like the samples at a dept. store. Really sparked my interest. The ale like bittneress and foaming feeling was good, and swallowed with a thinner taste with an aftertaste that was of malt and alcohol. Tasting this and putting it in a winter warmer category, it did not seem right. There are so many beers out of Colorado, and if you're not Coors, you're making good stuff. Taste was, well, malts, lots of them with a sweet flavor vaguely like licorace with hops that took backstage but made this a well balanced beer. For being so powerful, I would easily be lured into having a few, and being hammered for it.

 812 characters

Photo of plaztikjezuz
3.83/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours a deep copper color with a light head that slowly fell into nothing.
the aroma was malty, figgy, spicy, nutmeg, cininum, fruity.
the flavor was malty, minerially, spicy, nutneg, ginger, carmelized malt.
mouthfeel is pretty good.
this is my favoite breckenridge i have had. its thicker then most of there beers and has some flavor.

 340 characters

Photo of Xadoor
3.88/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper colour. Decent head that disappears quickly, but leaves a thin layer. Light lacing. Mild aroma, slight malt and spice. Flavour starts a little sweet, some caramel and toffee. Finishes slightly dry with a little tartness. Good mouthfeel. Very drinkable.

 272 characters

Photo of BeerAngel
2.56/5  rDev -26.6%
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!

 514 characters

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.22/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - a nice dark reddish amber. Some light head formation is gone quickly, leaving some thin lace behind and a partial covering.

Aroma - the essential grain profile here, nothing distinctive at all.

Taste - the malt has some moderate caramel and roastiness to it, further enhanced by some spices that are hard to pin down. Anise, some vague baking spices I think. They are checked too soon by the hops, I can't figure 'em out. Some alcohol presence as it warms. Finishes dry with a reprise of mild hop bitterness. Not bad at all, it just doesn't identify with the style to the degree I expected.

Mouthfeel - average carbonation. It's smooth with just enough creaminess to feel good on a cold evening.

Drinkability - not a show stopper, but a fairly interesting brew that your mainstreamers would probably tolerate.

 834 characters

Photo of brewandbbq
3.8/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 1996
One liter swingtop bottle #3320, cellared on its side.

Poured clear chestnut, whitish, bashfull head of medium density.
Humble lacework lasted for the first 1/3 of the pint.
Dry cocoa and vineous nods in the aromatics.
Layered roast and dried fruit, along with a wince of swingtop gasket.
Thinnish body, a bit creamy, and dryish.
Light choco-roast on the pallet, minimal bitterness, and barely warming.
Nutty and mild caramel notes.
Finishes quick, dry, and non offensive.
Kind of an over-the-hill large mild.

 534 characters

Photo of SupaCelt
2.77/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

This creature of winter sports a rich amber colour that leans into the red. Head formation consists of a beige hued topper that quickly drops into spitty gobs. Bubbly on the real. Positive for lace. Inspiring. Then: BOOM HEADSHOT! the nose weilds a sharp solvent dagger that reminds me of urinal cakes. Pissy scents too. Strangely candy fruity and Jons to Go-ish. The flavour is ground up sugar plum bushes, fruitcake trees and solvent. Feels like artificial flavours. Little bit of Frankinsense, psych. Let her sit a bit...The nose never gets better. The taste, however, is quite an improvement. Dark fruits. Sugar. Pepper and anise. The finish is somewhat flowery like that of a heather beer. Bizarre in that unpredicatable winter warmer way. The mouthfeel is medium or there abouts. Somewhat slick and syrupy. Drinkability is troubling. You could probably buy one bottle and pour everyone in the family a thimble full at "Christmas Time" and it would most likely be enough or more than enough in some instances. This one was a bit of a challenge. For some reason, I'll try it again next holiday season.

 1,105 characters

Photo of granger10
4/5  rDev +14.6%
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.

 1,058 characters

2.85/5  rDev -18.3%
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.

 333 characters

Photo of WTexas
3.24/5  rDev -7.2%
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.

 513 characters

Photo of kosmoraios
3.47/5  rDev -0.6%
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.

 521 characters

Photo of beveragecaptain
2.79/5  rDev -20.1%
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.

 417 characters

Photo of benito
2.81/5  rDev -19.5%
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.

 728 characters

Photo of kmpitz2
3.33/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

 518 characters

Photo of Fugazme
2.43/5  rDev -30.4%
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.

 345 characters

Photo of dungaree
3.64/5  rDev +4.3%
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.

 599 characters

Photo of babydoc
3.41/5  rDev -2.3%
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.

 885 characters

Photo of Gagnonsux
3.51/5  rDev +0.6%
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.

 551 characters

Photo of malty
3.18/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

 1,117 characters

Christmas Ale from Breckenridge Brewery
80 out of 100 based on 401 ratings.
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