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 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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Photo of GrillMeister
4.42/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I bought a 6 pack of this and the guys at the liquor store told me not to put the whole 6 pack int the fridge or you will drink it all.

They were right. It's a very tasty beer. It has a pleasant aroma, a great taste with a hint of cherry, i think. Very nice beer. I could drink this stuff past Christmas.

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Photo of ColoradoBobs
3.65/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The 2006 brew of this seasonal has some really nice new artwork on the bottles and six-pack. Classic-looking retro three-tone print. Pretty.

Moderate pour into a nonic yields a thick two-finger light tan head over a dark brown body with red-amber edges. Pretty beer.

Smell is roasty toasty caramel malts with an interesting sourdough bread note. Not much hops aroma, though there's a *slight* hint of citrus-pine.

Taste mostly follows the aroma, though the sourdough bread flavor is a bit more pronounced on the palate than in the nose. Not a lot of complexity. This is fairly one-dimensional.

Decently round mouthfeel, which covers the alcohol very nicely.

Drinkability is okay. However, this is a bit too one-dimensional for me to want very many.

Overall, not a bad winter warmer. Worth a try.

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Photo of whynot44
3.73/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice clear dark mahogany red color with a moderate off-white head that retains fairly well and leaves some decent lacing.

The aroma toasty, bready malts with a bit of caramel and citrus.

The taste starts out sweet toasty caramel malts, then subtle hints of spice with a drier piney, grassy finish and a touch of alcohol warmth.

Medium bodied, drinkable but not really a session beer. A decent warmer after doing some fall or winter chores. Worth a try.

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Photo of PBRstreetgang
3.94/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep shade of ruby-amber, with excellent clarity and orange highlights. Thin, one-finger off-white head shows passing retention and light spotty lacing. Clover honey and molasses nose, with some background dark crystal malt, english hop aromas and faint ginger/cinnamon notes. Roasted and caramel flavors upfront, followed by a touch of honey and a rich blackstrap taste. Aftertaste is dry and full of fuggle hop flavor with a solid piney hop bitterness. More hoppy than the aroma suggests, but retains a good balance. Sweet, medium to full body deposits plenty of residual sugar, but the fine carbonation and abundant hop charcter keeps the mouthfeel more dry and airy than cloying. Hint of ginger/cinnamon near the end, and finishes with a mild slickness that fades quickly due to assertive hops and drying spices. Reminicent of Anchor's OSA, this drinks easy and makes a terrific holiday treat.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.68/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A good Warmer. Big on malts, bold on hops, and spiced just right. Too often, the Winter Warmers try to over-do the spices, making it harsh or astringent. This beer starts with a strong malt base that takes on caramel, toffee, bready, toasty flavors and a nearly-syrup body. Hopped for nice balance, while contributing a bit of citrus, earty, and pine flavors. Spices decorate the nose and flavors really subtally, but never contribute harshness in the feel. Seems well aged and matured, with only a hint of hotter alcohols or abrasion. Still has nice head retention and lacing with the last sip. Not one of Breckenridge's finest brews.

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Photo of Dizzy
2.85/5  rDev -18.6%
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.

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Photo of xav33
3.14/5  rDev -10.3%
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.

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Photo of cameraman
3.27/5  rDev -6.6%
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.

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Photo of Crosling
2.92/5  rDev -16.6%
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.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
2.97/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

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Photo of mentor
4.18/5  rDev +19.4%
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.

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Photo of Ricochet
3.78/5  rDev +8%
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.

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Photo of plaztikjezuz
3.83/5  rDev +9.4%
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.

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Photo of Xadoor
3.88/5  rDev +10.9%
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.

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