Christmas Ale (-2016)
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

Christmas Ale (-2016)Christmas Ale (-2016)
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Style:
Scottish Ale
ABV:
5.5%
Score:
82
Avg:
3.61 | pDev: 12.74%
Reviews:
544
Ratings:
1,768
From:
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
 
Michigan, United States
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  55
Gots
  305
SCORE
82
Good
Christmas Ale (-2016)Christmas Ale (-2016)
Notes: The basic inspiration for Bell's Christmas Ale was to create a sessionable holiday beer, using locally grown malt, which would stand apart from the array of spiced winter warmers that are typically introduced this time of year. In contrast to many other seasonals, Christmas Ale doesn't contain any spices: all of the dry, toasted notes & subtle toffee flavors come from the Michigan-grown barley, custom malted by Briess Malting, while a blend of hops from Michigan & the Pacific Northwest lend earthy, herbal aromas
Reviews: 544 | Ratings: 1,768 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of jmc65267
jmc65267 from Georgia

3.96/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Got it in a variety pack and I was pleased with the experience. The smell and taste are definitely it’s strong points. Given the opportunity I would definitely buy again.

Jan 14, 2020
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SB2017 from Iowa

3.84/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A good old ale with some spice twists. While the beer itself contains no spice, the herbal notes of the roast come through nicely. A little hard to drink for its complexity, though this is welcome when following or proceeding heavy holiday meals. Pretty to look at and an all around solid old ale.

Dec 19, 2018
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JStorz13 from Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

I truly like this beer because it doesn't have the traditional holiday beer items in it (cinnamon, etc.) I look forward to having one or two during the long holiday season family time. Hits the spot each time. It is also still being brewed. I bought it yesterday.

Nov 30, 2018
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haines710 from Delaware

3.74/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Had to try this over the holidays. A nice looking beer but not strong smelling. Taste is a little malty and I sense th toffee or caramel. Overall not my favorite but good for the season. Nice night time drink that got better as it warmed.

Dec 27, 2017
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ajm5108 from Pennsylvania

4.06/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Amber / toffee brown color, medium fluffy cap. Aroma isn't exactly robust but fine, has the expected caramel malt, a little raisin, warm bread you get in wee heavys. Taste is traditional, checks all the boxes, not adventurous or fixing the wheel but good - scotch malt, darker fruit (fig, date, etc), rum cask, whisper of hops on the finish.

Dec 24, 2017
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Mjohemi from Illinois

3.79/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This beer gets better the more I have it. Smokey, malty, hints of oak, syrupy. The flavors get better the warmer it is. Proper tasting for this beer is like a good stout, just above room temperature. Another nice offering from Bell's.

Dec 17, 2017
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Riff from Virginia

3.58/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, reddish brown color with an off-white head about a finger thick, leaves a little lacing and some clinging to the glass. Smell is minimal, toasted malts, cinnamon, and caramel. Taste is a little muddled. Toasted malts, toffee, pine, burnt sugar, and a little hop bitterness throughout. Medium-heavy body, creamy, dry. Bitterness lingers. Overall, eh, it's not bad, but it's not great either. The flavors were muddled, none truly stood out at any point in time.

Dec 10, 2017
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BenHoppy from Michigan

3.99/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby red color with some cinnamon, nutmeg flavoring scotch ale. A slow sipper that should be shared over A fire with snow falling during the holidays. This 7.5 version better than 5.5% abv

Dec 02, 2017
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1000lbgrizzly from Illinois

2.3/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.25

Nice cloudy copper body, looks pretty thick, with auburn head that fades to a ring. The nose has a horrible, nasty, intolerable herbal note similar to crushed cilantro, absolute turn-off, I hate this. There is some warm malt behind it, but that initial herbal chalky note is too bad for me to investigate more. The taste has even more of this unfortunate element, but this time it even overshadows anything else. Another review calling it Scotch Tape flavor is also an appropriate description. Just awful. The body is fine, I guess; again, too much nasty flavor going on to tell.
I hope this is some flaw of my palate and Bell's isn't subjecting everyone to this thing. This is just like Flying Monkey's Chocolate Manifesto beer; that herbal, chalky, cilantro, nasty flavor might not be the strongest thing here, but just like a tack in your heel steals all of your attention even if you're in a room full of Victoria's Secret models, this stole my attention in a bad, bad way.

Nov 29, 2017
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bbtkd from South Dakota

3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bell's Christmas Ale, 7.5% ABV. Pours dark brown with one finger off-white head. Nose is...not much, some vague sweetness. Taste is roast malt, some tartness, some sweetness, and a moderate bitter close. Excellent mouthfeel, overall excellent.

Nov 23, 2017
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JuicesFlowing from Kansas

4.21/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a balloon glass.

The beer is opaque dark cinnamon amber color with a thick soapy cream colored head that doesn’t recede and leaves thick bands of sudsy lacing. The aroma is of toasted grains, buttery malts, toffee, caramel, and light dried cherry notes. The taste is a combination of toffee/caramel and bitter/tart cherry fruitiness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and dry.

Overall, this is excellent and exactly how I like my Christmas ales.

Nov 23, 2017
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cmentpond112 from Michigan

1.29/5  rDev -64.3%
look: 5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.25

Well, I love the holidays, so I gave this a 5 for looks. Smell, taste, feel?! Hello?! How is this a Christmas Ale if it does not smell, taste, nor feel like scotch tape?! It would most definitely be an improvement. Perhaps Bell's should consult 3M the next time they want to brew a batch of this stuff. If I don't feel the same kind of elation I feel when I am tearing the wrapping paper of a new Lionel train or Castle Grayskull while I drink a beer, then that beer has no business being called a Christmas Ale! Oh well, Bell's will probably just change the name of this to Holiday Ale anyway.

Nov 13, 2017
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bret717 from Pennsylvania

4.08/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look- Dark, dark brown; fluffy 2 finger tan head; leaves some spotty lacing

Aroma- fairly weak nose on this, but i do get a little dark bread and toffee. As it warms I'm getting a little nuttiness as well

Taste- really explodes with vanilla, toffee, rich breadiness, brown sugar and just a hint of bitterness at the end

Feel- medium bodied and creamy texture

Overall- Great Scotch Ale with a weak aroma being it's only shortcoming. However, the flavor more than makes up for it making this an excellent sipper perfect for colder weather.

Side note- This beer is listed as 5.4% alcohol, but my bottle says 7.5%.

Nov 06, 2017
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rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.25/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Kind of a dark copper presentation with 1/3" off white head. Aroma of malt, brown, red up in here.

Taste, malty. Not quite winter warmer, not quite scotch ale, but somewhere in between. Mild bitterness, no real hop flavor though. Earthy. Tobacco. A little bit of holiday spice. Low carbonation but not a problem. Sticky caramel. A lot of brown and crystal malt, this one I can't figure out who I would recommend it to. Its middling ya know?

Feb 07, 2017
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GreatHammerhead from Pennsylvania

3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle packaged 10/24/16 poured into a pint glass.

Look: Hazy copper coloration with some suspended sediment and an off-white two finger head. Decent head retention.

Smell: Not much going on here, mostly just malts.

Taste: Malts, grapefruit rind and some light hop bitterness.

Feel: Medium body with light to moderate carbonation.

Overall: Not bad, just kind of bland.

Feb 07, 2017
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FriedSlug from North Carolina

3.92/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

An amber colored beer with a lot of particles in suspension. The light tan head fades and leaves no lacing. The aroma is spiced apple cider with some caramel. The taste is sweet and yeasty with apples and spices that finish with some bitterness which doesn't linger. There is a decent amount of carbonation and the beer is medium to light in body. Quite a tasty beer that definitely stirs up feelings of Christmas with the cider and spice flavors.

Jan 25, 2017
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GuyFawkes from Illinois

3.84/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 10/7/15; drank 12/31/15 @ the Yarchives.

Poured from the bottle into a glass.

Semi-opaque red/orange appearance.

A rough pour yielded a HUGE eggshell head; frothy, tree-rung lace.

Allspice, orange citrus & candle wax notes in the nose.

Medium mouthfeel.

Dry clove, mild orange citrus & candle wax flavors; ester dryness on the finish. Interesting, but this was a misfire for my palate.

Dec 30, 2016
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Lingenbrau from Oregon

3.49/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Overall, this beer is overly sweet, but not in the traditional kettle cooked caramel malt Scottish kind of way, but rather an artificial sweetener like resemblance, Sorry, not my cup of tea. Cheers!

Dec 29, 2016
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Tripel_Threat from Michigan

3.73/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A Christmastime tradition. Had this one served every which way. Spiced and malty/bready aroma leads to a flavor of dark fruits, plum, raisin, bread, and warm spice. Some sips are reminiscent of mulled wine. Very fitting as a Christmas ale, my second favorite Christmas ale behind Great Lakes.

Dec 28, 2016
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Roguer from Georgia

3.55/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

Murky and active; nut brown; off white head with good retention.

Surprising amount of hops on the nose: fair bit of pine, and touches of citrus and herbal notes. Deeper, one finds the prunes and caramel expected from a Scotch ale. Notes of maple and honey round it out.

Flavor is unsurprising given the aroma: dry and grainy, with noticeable hop character. Caramel malt backbone, but this overall comes across more as a hoppy New World Oktoberfest than any Scotch ale.

Dry up front, but a sticky wet finish. Smooth and clean.

This is actually a very nice, enjoyable brew ... if you're not expecting a Scotch ale.

Dec 27, 2016
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Squire from Mississippi

3.9/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance is like dark amber honey with whitish cap and good lacing.

Aroma is toffee malt, some spice (hops I believe) and something vinous. Not a table wine sort of thing, more sherry like and reminiscent of the homemade muscadine wine of my youth.

Taste is rich toffee malt with spicy hints. Again the vinous quality is there but not intrusive. Rather like a buttress holding up the malt wall. Hops are lightly present and noticed more in the finish and lingering aftertaste. Not a complex flavor but a good one that seems to keep things neatly in balance. A Winter Warmer deriving it's spice from hops as it were. There is also a bit of nuttiness in the aftertaste which I presume is malt driven.

Texture is silky rich in a medium way, not heavy but certainly not a light weight.

Similar to Bell's Brown but this Christmas Ale is more balanced and nuanced. I like what I can only describe as the vinous touch because it adds a dimension which isn't a competing or overriding flavor. This is a well thought out brew without the gobsmacking wallop of heavy flavors or head whacking of high ABV. I must say my first impression was not a Scottish Ale, at least as I understand them, but a more refined version of something like Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale.

Dec 25, 2016
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Casey3236 from Pennsylvania

3.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Beer Store Malvern. I'm generally not a fan of spiced beers: don't really do the Christmas or pumpkin beers, so keep that in mind with my review. A kind of week Scottish ale with some winter spice, I expect more from Bells than just a Christmas beer for the sake of offering one but that was the impression I had of this.

Dec 24, 2016
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MargotDarko from Michigan

3.69/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

I was a bit disappointed by this one. It looked and smelled quite nice but a little boring. It was easy to drink and inoffensive. It just had nothing interesting going on. Like others have said, it also did not really seem like a Scottish ale.

Dec 23, 2016
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DrQuantum from Iowa

1.53/5  rDev -57.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

I was shocked actually, having picked up this six pack as something one of our local grocery stores had added to their lineup. Never before have I had a Bell's product that I wish I could return. How they think they can call this a "Scottish Ale" is beyond my ability to comprehend. Don't buy it thinking you'll get the rich, full bodied, malty ale you expect when you see that label attached to a beer. At best this is a brown ale, but I'm not inclined to be so kind as even to give it that label. The mouth feel is exceptionally thin, and the flavor is what I can only describe as "meh". Awful. Really very disappointed that I shelled out $10 for something no better than a mass-marketed brown ale.

Dec 23, 2016
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Griffin2 from Virginia

3.44/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.
L - Pours a hazy dark brown with a slight tanish white head.
S - Smells of malt and toffee.
T - Tastes like the smell, of toffee.
F - Medium feel with medium carbonation.
O - Pretty nice drinking beer. Not overpowering with spices like a lot of holiday beers.

Dec 21, 2016
Christmas Ale (-2016) from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 1768 ratings