Bell's Christmas Ale | Bell's Brewery, Inc.

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Bell's Christmas AleBell's Christmas Ale

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States

Style: Scottish Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.40%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BierFan on 11-06-2008

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Reviews: 531 | Ratings: 1,714
Photo of BeerCon5
4.03/5  rDev +12.6%
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 kels
4.03/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really, really enjoy this beer. It isn't the typical Scotch Ale though, which I think probably contributes to it only having a B rating. Definitely try it if you get the chance.

Beer pours into the pint glass a really nice warm coppery red. The creamy off-white colored head starts at about 2 fingers and fades to a well-retained finger or so depth. A considerable amount of sticky cream foam coating the sides of the glass. The beer is fairly opaque, but the carbonation bubbles rising throughout are still quite visible.

Aroma is faint, but I do pick up a toasted, nutty malt scent, along with a very earthy, dry grain - much like rye. I'm only getting hints of peat, but it isn't nearly as smoky as I get out of most of this style.

The taste is definitely the best part of this beer, followed very closely by the feel. It's not particularly complex, but I really enjoy the straightforward fullness of the flavors. There is a definite malt-heaviness that is very toasty and warm. It is coupled with a breadiness that reminds me a lot of rye bread or pumpernickel. Instead of caramel sweetness that I find in most Scotches, I get a nuttier, only slightly sweet flavor that is very enjoyable. The taste can really be described as "dry," more toasted than roasted/smoky, and the peat doesn't really present as could usually be expected. The finish is very clean with only the slightest hint at the appley hops within. I really appreciate the way the feel complements the flavors of the beer. It is very well carbonated, and the creamy feel starts with the texture of the foam and continues throughout the drink. Overall feel is moderate, heavy enough to coat the palate and hang around awhile, while still being light enough to be highly drinkable and smooth. Finishes clean and dry.

This is a great beer for the season. I would probably drink it year-round if available. I hope no one passes it up based on the okay overall rating. If I wasn't rating within style, I think my score would be higher - more like a rye beer to me than a Scotch. Cheers!

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Photo of becktone
4.03/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From notes 11-20-08

Eye: Great on the eyes! Slightly hazy orangish copper body. Head has excellent formation and retention. Sitting at about two fingers its texture is midway between foamy and creamy, its color is off white, white with hints of tan/light amber. Lacing could use some work, its pretty thin. This is one really great looking beer. Bell's never seems to disappiont in this aspect.

Nose: Nice big malt sweetness in this brew supported by some grainy malt notes. This beer supports more of a candy sweetness as opposed to a caramelly malt sweetness. Some fruity aromas in the nose as well. Hops are present in the aroma, light citrusy notes-grapefruit-and light floral notes. Overall the aroma is faint and pretty weak, I'm having trouble getting much out of this brew. One thing is for sure, if they were going for a scotch ale they missed out on the peat malt. Pretty much grainy notes and sweetness, keep looking for more but nothing to be found.

Tongue: This beer seems to me to be comprised of three to four flavors. Malt sweetness, a grainy type of flavor, a soft fruitiness and a soft herbal or floral hop flavor. I won't lie, at first I was really let down by this beer, the flavor seemed to be so bland. Where this beer shines is in its complex delicacy. Its much like a Kolsch in that way, each flavor is very delicate and comes out as such, lots of balance and lots of flavors that compliment each other nicely. This is number 5 of the the sixer, it took me five beers to really understand this beer. This isn't your typical Christmas Ale, much, much different. This is a very nice delicate and well balanced beer. It took me quite a few of these to figure it out. I'm all for this beer, but if you want a classic scotch style ale I wouldn't look here. I like the beer and appreciate the complexity of the balance of these delicate flavors that don't just jump right out at you. This is just a good beer. I think what really makes me like this brew is the fact that it takes alot of thinking and critical tasting to really understand, and to taste, what's going on. This is a beer where you need to actively search for what is going on, that and be sure to drink it much warmer than fridge temp.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability: Feel is medium-heavy on this brew. Carbonation is low as not to interfere with complexities in flavor. The beer itself is slick on the palate and goes down easy with a real nice finish. This is one that I'll gladly be picking up again. Before I took a critical look at this beer I had absolutely no intention of drinking it again, I felt as though this was a big let down from Bell's. This is not so, just take a minute to really dive into this beer, there's more there than you sure to drink it at the correct serving temp, as drinking it too cool will kill its delicacy. Another great offering from Bell's.

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Photo of gearbike
4.03/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A perfect dark golden color. Thin white as can be lacing clings to the glass. Nice fruit like sweetness smell. I immediately questioned if I was drinking a Scotch Ale but I will leave that up to the beer technocrats. Has a solid malty backbone with a soft sweetness. What make this beer great is that something extra that seems to come from the hops and slight carbonation. This no alcohol laced Christmas warmer. A very versatile drink for either a session beer or just for the great flavor.

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Photo of NCBeernut
4.03/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pillowy head on top of a burnt orange body with a dust of sediment - looks similar to celebration but with a little less lacing and "glow." Earthy aromas with hints of smoke and hops. Lots of pleasant buttery toffee flavors infused with caramel. Taste is definitely malt-forward with a twist of belgian yeast. A touch of ester fruitiness, but just in the background. More smoke in the taste, but very subtle. A little bitterness near the finish helps to balance. I like the Scotch Ale classification on BA, but a bit more light and drinkable than the heavy Wee Heavy ales that I have had. Very solid Christmas ale. Really gives off good holiday vibes. Further solidifies my feeling of Bell's brewing superiority.

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Photo of waltonc
4.01/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Hazy burnt orange coppery appearance. Thick head that settles down to a still significant amount of lacing after an hour.

S: Malty, floral and sweet.

T: In addition to the smell notes, the hops lurk quietly and subtly. I'm not picking up a whole lot of spice.

M: Slick, medium bodied, slight creaminess with ample carbonation.

D: High marks here. Although only 5.4% ABV, this feels pretty full. Highly sessionable brew. Would be great to drink all night while playing euchre.

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Photo of BradtheGreat7
4.01/5  rDev +12%

12 oz brown bottle with excellent Bell's style label art. A Christmas tree sitting in the middle of a Michigan field. Nice brief description on the back and overall a very Christmas looking bottling. Poured into a Bell's standard pint glass.

A - reddish amber in color with a hint of orange in the light. Cloudy body with tiny bits of sediment floating about. Head pours fairly nice, but looks a bit thin due to the size of this ale. Off white in color forming a thin ring of lace that surprisingly leaves some stick. I enjoyed the look of this brew.

S - sweet sugary malt, faint barley, and Christmas like sugar cookies. A touch of dark fruits with the smallest hint of hop spice. This is exactly the way I want a Scottish style Christmas ale to smell. Brilliant.

T - soft sweet Bell's Amber style malt up front. Some toasty malt follows quickly after. Notes of dark fruit and bread like flavors balance one another nicely. A touch of citrus hops toward back with a malty and smooth finish. Yeast is a highlight of this one.

M - lighter medium bodied with the usual Bell's texture and thickness. It's an easy drinker and very session like all while keeping the thickness I want and expect. I had no problem knocking back 4 of these. Something anyone could enjoy on this Black Friday lunchtime.

O - A different take on a Christmas ale, but well done in my book. It's a bit of a change of pace from your typical Winter Warmer/Spiced up ales the Christmas season brings us, but there is still a place for Bell's Christmas. It's of the same mold as their Year Round Amber ale, but still different enough to create its own fan base. This is something I could drink any cold evening. Again, a different take, but still very very good.

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Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1 inch head, high carbonation, orange-brown in color, hazy

Smell: cherry, bread, dark fruit, and holiday spice

Taste: earthy pale malt malt, cherry, bread, dark fruit, and holiday spice

Mouthfeel: medium body, sweet with slight earthy bitterness especially at the end, high carbonation

Overall: A bit more pale than I would have expected and I got more winter warmer here than Scottish ale. That said I like the spice combination. A good not great beer that I would get a six pack of each holiday if it were available here.

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Photo of deebo
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Bulldog-uptown
Served in a pint with a thin finger of white head that laces the glass. Looks like Christmas-copper/amber and clear. Smells of warm spices and breast caramel toasted malt. Slight aroma of pine tree hops. Taste is smooth. Malt forward with a nice finish of NW US hops. A full bodied brew with a hint of astringency/hop resin in the finish. Overall a very nice winter beer. Aromatic, malty with some nice complexity.

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Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the Bryant Lake Bowl - Pours brilliant light brown crowned by a 2" cream to light tan foam collar. Spicy, almost fruit cake, very soft carbonation, very pleasant and festive.

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Photo of MattyG85
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. Bottled 10-19-11.

Appearance: Pours a deep and slightly hazy copper orange with lots of rising bubbles. Big six finger off white head with good retention. Lots of lacing sticking around the glass.

Smell: Lots of lightly toasted barley malts with good hints of caramel and toffee. Along with the malts is a subtle but noticeable hop presence with some citrus orange and earthy pine resin. Aroma reminds me of an English Bitter.

Taste: Very bready and fruity. Lots of toasted caramel and toffee malts up front giving a strong biscuit flavor. Notes of citrus orange and lemon follow along with some subtle herbal pine resin. Malt forward but the fruity hops make their presence known well.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Crisp, creamy, and lightly prickles the tongue. Finishes somewhat dry.

Overall: A pretty solid Christmas brew. Nice use of malts and hops. It did pretty well without the spices as the Brewery website states.

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Photo of prototypic
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: This one pours a very hazy and attractive light reddish brown color. It's topped off with two fingers worth of suds that are off-white in color. Retention was very good and a very sticky coat of lace clung to the glass.

Smell: The nose is slightly sweet and malty up front. Smells like caramel malts mostly. It has a touch of a biscuity smell to it. Surprisingly, it has a nice mix of spices coming through. Smells like cinnamon and some other unidentifiable characters. The yeast smell lingers throughout. There's some hops (mostly floral). Smells a little earthy on the tail. All in all, pretty nice.

Taste: The flavor profile mimics the nose pretty well. Caramel malts are sweet and give it a nice base. It's very yeasty and biscuity. There is a little spiciness in there, but it's not very pronounced. Cinnamon is there, but I have no clue what the others might be. Hops provide a little bit of a bit which gives it some character. Tastes mostly floral in that respect, but it's not a strong hop flavor. It is a little earthy and grainy. Very interesting for a Christmas beer. I like it.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's light bodied and is relatively smooth. Carbonation feels very active and limits it to a degree. Nonetheless, it goes down easy. Drinkability is good. I could handle a few of these in a sitting.

Bell's has an interesting and pretty impressive Christmas release here. I prefer this to the Winter White release. It is a step overall, especially in terms of style in my opinion. Certainly recommended.

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Photo of Brent
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bell's does a nice job with this style interpretation. I didn't get much of the traditional peat note, but there was a nice caramel malt aspect which seemed to carry the barest whiff of smoke. Overall the beer was lively and consistent from front to back. There seemed a faint echo of a spice at the finish. Overall, a reserved seasonal offering, but hearty.

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Photo of AngusOg
4/5  rDev +11.7%

Not sure what a Scottish ale has to do with Christmas, but nevertheless a tasty and very easy drinking ale. Three of the six pack gone in the blink of an eye, could have easily killed the other three if it had been one of those type of nights. Shlante!

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy orange-ish/ amber color with a light tan head. In the aroma, sweet caramel maltiness. In the taste, sweet malt, nice presence of caramel and a nice bitter all the way through. A bitter and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a semi dry, piney hop in the aftertaste. Nice hop presence and nice maltiness.

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Photo of jopezu
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a hazy caramel with a medium head that poofs. riddled with tiny, spongy sediment. nose; candied fig, raisin, hops, & light booze. taste; caramel, citrus hops, lemon, bitter walnut & grape. very light on malt, leaving the taste a bit vinous/wine-like and anemic, which isn't bad per se, but there's not a ton going on in the mix. medium carbonation & slightly light mouthfeel. interesting ale for a christmas seasonal, and very unlike most (if not all) of them. one of the few beers where the nose outpaces the taste by a lot. more substantive caramel malts would have made this one better for me. as is, just decent.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a cloudy burnt amber color. The head is an inch and a half in height, rocky, and recedes very slowly into thick, chunky lacing. The aroma is caramel, with a solid fill of herbal hops. The taste is very balanced for a Scottish Ale. There is surely a tone of malt, but there is also a significant amount soft herbal hops. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a velvety texture, and mild carbonation. Overall, this beer is too hoppy for the style, but tasty nonetheless. I would love to see Bell's adding this to the yearly offerings.

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Photo of Billet
4/5  rDev +11.7%

I like this one a lot. I was expecting some spicy flavors, but there was little to none. Instead I had a very smooth malty brew with a medium-light body. It reminded me of a malty Pale Ale or maybe an ESB, both of which I like very much. Nicely done.

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Photo of CampusCrew
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bell's Xmas- disappointing, Not a scottish ale or christmas ale, mislabeled. but a decent, balanced amber ale. but hey it was a good beer.

We did a large christmas and winter beer tasting panel and this was one of the many that we tried. Most of the beers we tried we solid including this one that the panel liked.

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Photo of hackmann
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A: Nice looking winter ale
S: Nothing bold, but nice aroma
T: Light toffee and earthy hops, bitter orange peel with some nice pine notes. Balance flavor between the malts and hops. Nice bite to the hops.
M: Smooth on the palate. No lingering taste.
D: Yes. Due to the mouthfeel.

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Photo of Gatch
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Taste of Tops in Tempe, AZ.

A - deep amber in color with a thin, white head. Not much head formation, but it could have been due to the bartender's pour.

S - Malt, slightly roasted. Caramelized sugar.

T - Sweet, sugary malt & caramelized sugar. Raisins. A little smokiness. Slight alcohol that warms in the throat & stomach.

M - very slight carbonation, smooth, sweet, drinkable. Good representation of the style.

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Photo of theHoff77
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pokal glass.

A - Hazy dark orange/amber color, like an apple cider color. Thick foamy white head. Just off first glance I got the impression this was going to have a fruity taste to it.

S - Fruity in smell. I get an apple vibe from it.

T - Tastes a lot like Dead Guy Ale, which I happen to really like. But I don't make the connection as to how this is a scotch ale. Once again I get a predominate apple flavor, which is good but it's not complex.

M - Has a dryness about it like a cider. Crisp and clean though.

O - Maybe I'm totally off with the apple theory but that's what I'm getting; Bell's Christmas Apple Ale. I thought this was pretty good beer though, enjoyed the flavor and it was easy to drink.

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Photo of Seanibus
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a pleasant surprise. Christmas ales tend to be packed with extra flavor, a heavy, soggy fruitcake of a beer to greet the holiday. But this one was light, subtle, and delicious - like an unexpectedly delicious fruitcake.

Pours a clear rubyish with a decent head and rich lacing. Aroma is like a cherrywood tobacco. Flavor is strong and tobacco-like, like my grandfathers pipe. Cherry and fruitcake, with a solid malt backbone and a woody bitterness. A little phenolic clove develops as the beer warms in the glass, but it is delightfully subtle. Mouthfeel is creamy, emphasizing the sour cherry bitterness. Good.

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Photo of InebriatedJoker
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into beer glass -best by date 10019 ?

Poured a cloudy amber with one finger head good lacing with lots of carbonation .

Smell of malts, light hops, mild citrus .

Taste was light barley hints with light hops ,very little spice notes (Surprising for a beer called Christmas), I wasn't expecting this to be as smooth as it was.

Drinkabilty actually got better as it warmed a bit, you can taste the malts and light hops not very spicy at all, I found it to be rather easy to drink ,I savored it slowly.

Overall - I would buy again and wouldn't mind sharing with some friends during the Holidays.

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Photo of mick303
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a large snifter which yielded a healthy creamy head with good retention and lacing. Colour is an amber brown-copper, nice carbonation.

Smell has a very fragrant nutty, clove spicey malt. A light roastiness, and remains overall light and slightly fruity, apple and a bit of grapefruit, a subtle citrus tartness, some brown sugar.

Taste is initially a nice roasty malt with plenty of plumy fruit character. A touch of brown sugar caramel sweetness but also a bit of hops to counter this. Some candied orange and all-round good flavour that seems quite festive, none of it gets in the way of the beer though. Some vanilla oakiness towards the end, finish is dry.

Mouthfeel has a high carbonation and it really refreshing and sessionable, moderate body, and highlights the beer and hard to ask for much more. Leaves a dry fruity aftertaste.

Really enjoyed this, it incorporated a good range of flavour, decent complexity into a pretty well balanced ale, and avoided being overly sweet. A nice treat, could be more interesting but this is a nice easy-drinking xmas beer and worth a try.

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Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.58 out of 5 based on 1,714 ratings.
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