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:
1,769
From:
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
 
Michigan, United States
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  55
Gots
  304
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: 1,769 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by FBarber:
Photo of FBarber
3.88/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a hazelnut brown color. Clear and crisp in appearance. Thin tan head dissipates steadily leaving no residual head or lacing.

Smell has notes of roasted malts, rustic wheat bread, nuts, and hint of caramel.

Taste follows the nose. Nice caramel and bready malts come through with some roast and nutty flavors. Hints of caramel, slightly sweet but not overly so. Touch of bitterness comes through on the aftertaste and linger. Its actually a nice flavor profile.

Feel is light and crisp, easy drinking. Medium carbonation.

Overall a really nice Scottish Ale. I think its a very good beer - so a bit better than what its rated here. I'd happily pick this one up again and enjoy it. To the people calling this "undrinkable" I'll just respcetfully strongly disagree. Its not the best scottish ale, but as an American take its a very good beer.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of DrQuantum
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.

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

Bell's Christmas Ale has a medium, ivory-colored head, a semi-clear, amber appearance, with lots of sediment chunks, some bubbles, and a bit of lacing left behind. Aroma is of mildly sweet brown bread crust, toast, and a touch of dried fruit. Mouthfeel is low-medium, and Bell's Christmas Ale finishes on the dry side.

RJT

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Photo of CNoj012
3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a hazy orange amber color with a one finger off white head that recedes to a microfilm layer fairly quickly and leaves behind patches of lacing.

Smell is sweet dark fruit, caramel, nuttiness and bready malts. Very sweet smelling overall.

Taste is the same, but less sweet than the smell suggests. Also less complex, almost boring.

Feel is medium bodied and smooth.

Overall a decent beer. Not something i'd pay for again, but I wouldn't turn one down either.

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Photo of oberon
4.32/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Man I love a little cheer from the north country,I didnt know they grew hops back in the home state,ya learn somethin new everyday.Poured into a standard pint glass a hazed lighter amber/copper with a nice frothy 1/2 finger white head that left broken lace as it never fully settled.Wow love the aromas,a mix of full sweet malt and spicey hop,with even a hint of winter-like spice to it wich I dont think it has.Toasty and warm up front with some brown sugar and caramel sweetness,and again I get a hint of Xmas spice,a big herbal racey hop finish ends nicely.Wow this beer is rated pretty low but hot damn I love it,another gem from K-zoo.

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Photo of azdback
3/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a Hemp Ale pint glass. A cloudy dark burnt orange color. The carbonation bubbles are few and far between and lead to a fairly disappointing smaller then one finger head. What head does show up for the party is white to khaki in color. Lace is very minimal... we'll see.

Smell is on the earthy malts and yeast side. Sweet, but not orange or pink grapefruit. More on the lines of sourdough bread soaked in banana milk.

Taste is very interesting. Very sweet and musty. My first sip tasted like bread soaked cranberry juice, but the initial pop fades quickly and isn't there as the brew is consumed. Later it tastes more like watered down banana juice. Tart and tongue abusive!

Mouth is sticky sweet. Body is a bit thin with medium carbonation. Finish is light/medium and a bit dry.

Overall I am really happy to tick another Bell's beer, but this one didn't meet my strict, no belgian/wheat beer request. This one is a bit on the Belgian banana and wheat grass side for me to love, let alone like it.

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Photo of cvstrickland
3.21/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 12-ounce bottle poured into my DFH pint glass yields a copper-amber body with a three-finger cap of grainy ivory foam. The head deflates very slowly, leaving a creamy cap that deposits soft patches of lacing on the glass.

The smell is pretty faint, but what there is of it is lightly spicy with a mellow whiff of toasted sugary caramel maltiness.

The taste is sweet and vaguely malt-fruity, with a splash of diluted dark caramel syrup and a mild finishing bitterness. No smoke, spice, hops, or alcohol make a mark in the bland, unexciting profile.

Bell's Christmas Ale is mild and light medium-bodied with plenty of carbonation and a feel that sloshes it's way toward "watery". Not in any way a bad beer, but in no way a good one either. Unremarkable.

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Photo of DerekP
3.58/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer reminds me of Great Divide's Hibernation Ale, which I bought a case of for the Christmas holiday. Compared to Hibernation Ale, it is a lot drier, with less sweet raisin flavor. Bell's Christmas is dry with a taste that is sort of thick, between a porter and a stout. Solid head retention, with a nice nougat-colored foam. A lot of roasted coffee notes. The smell and look of the beer are both pretty remarkable elements. I like it, but I don't know if I could have more than a few. I'm not sure what the ABV is (I'm going to check afterward), but considering how I felt after having one at McGrogan's (Canonsburg, PA), I'd say it's sitting at 6% or higher (maybe I'm off, they serve 20 oz glasses - practically two beers).

Definitely worth a try, but definitely a strong one to finish. A Christmas treat for sure, but I'm not exactly in love with it.

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Photo of Lingenbrau
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!

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Photo of MN_Beerticker
4/5  rDev +10.8%

Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
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.

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Photo of Nbdreher
3.6/5  rDev -0.3%

Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.26/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours into my New Glarus Uff-da Bock Nonic (one of my favorite pieces of glassware) a slightly murky cinnamon with a thick but shortlived beige head.

Aroma: More hoppy than I would have expected. Primarily citrus hops. Mellow maltiness of biscuits and caramel. Very little spice, if any...

Taste: Yep...no spice. Toasty beady malts and a little oatmeal. No peat to speak of. Finishes with a hint of orange and touches of leafy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Very light, too light...are they allowed to call a beer a Christmas ale if it is like this?

Drinkability: Very drinkable but not exciting or exceptional in any way. I guess I'm being unfair because I expect more from Bell's. There isn't anything wrong with this beer. It just isn't what I look for in a Christmas beer.

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Photo of schinebd
3.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of jheiss
3/5  rDev -16.9%

Photo of NateMac13
4/5  rDev +10.8%

Photo of ChrisL24481
3.82/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a murky amber color with a two inch head. Lacing lingers on the glass. The aroma and the taste of this brew combines of toasted bready malts, slight fruity hop flavors and some spice type flavor. Medium body with some carbonation. Goes down smooth too. A decent ale, but nothing spectacular though.

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Photo of moodyxc9
3.56/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Wjohare
1/5  rDev -72.3%

Photo of woodychandler
3.93/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From the bottle: "From our fields to your holiday. A malt driven ale, made with 100% Michigan grown two-row barley malt and a mix of Michigan and Northwest Pacific hops. A bit of cheer from the north country, sure to make any occasion festive."; "Batch # 11581, pkgd 10/30/12".

A nightcap following the Steelers' win over the Ravens a little while ago. I love an aggro pour as it really creates as much head as possible and opens up the beer's nose. I got two-plus fingers of dense tawny head with excellent retention from my nearly-inverted pour. Color was a deep copper with NE-quality clarity. Nose was rich with malt, giving rise to truth in advertising. Mouthfeel was medium, approaching fullness with respect to its near-creaminess. The interplay between the malt, which was prevalent on the nose, and the hops, which now seemed to take center stage on the tongue, was notable. As the head began to fall, loads of sticky lacing was left behind. I was having a hard time believing that this was a Scottish Ale, but at the same time, I was totally digging it! I just wish that the malt had been more smoky as opposed to outright sweet. Finish was semi-sweet with the hops reigning in what could have been too much.

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Photo of BeerCon5
4.03/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber color with about two fingers of fluffy off-white head with very good retention.

The scent is of sweet fruit, caramel and bready malt.

The taste is of sweet fruit, then there is a relatively bitter toasted bready malt taste.

Light body, there is some crispness to this beer, moderate carbonation.

This was a fairly good beer, the flavor was good but nothing really above average. This is a nice easy drinker that I wouldn't mind having again.

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Photo of orangesol
3.5/5  rDev -3%

Photo of syntheticwings
3.25/5  rDev -10%

Photo of Mojo
3.62/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle -> dimpled mug

This offering from Bell's Brewery pours up a kind of hazy copper with a big fluffy two finger head with great retention, and plenty of lacing. The smell is kind if grassy and pine. Taste is kind of dry and flat, not very strong at all. It isn't bad but it certainly wasn't as good as I expected it would be. Mouthfeel is okay, but has a mild lingering unpleasant aftertaste. I've had worse, but this was kind of a disappointment considering the brewery.

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

Christmas Ale (-2016) from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 1769 ratings