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 DrQuantum
1.53/5  rDev -57.3%
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 Mitchster
2.01/5  rDev -43.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

$1.99 for a single at Jack's. "A malt driven scotch ale, made with 100% Michigan grown barley and a blend of Pacific Northwest and Michigan hops".

Pours to a hazy deep chestnut with red highlights. Forms a modest creamy off yellow head with good retention and lacing. Carbonation is kinda mild. The aroma is of dark fruity malts, a touch of floral soap, and when swirled, a faint perfume of jasmine and saffron on a base of souring milk. Mouthfeel is smooth at first, then takes on a stinging fruity quality. Begins with a touch of dark fruit like rotting apples and cherries, then is overloaded with this funky soap/floral character. This is followed by a moderately strong hop bitterness, burning PVC, toast and a hop extract finish. Despite it's quoted 5.4% ABV, there are alot of higher alcohols which give it a harsh, aggressive quality.

Don't care for this one. It is not very enjoyable, and doesn't resemble a Scotch ale in the slightest. I will have a hard time finishing this 12oz bottle.

Addendum: The more I drink this beer, the more I am convinced it is poison. It has this terrible acrid/chemical burn in the back of the throat long after you've drank it...something I have not experienced with even the worst swill.

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Photo of Marraybay
2.09/5  rDev -41.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Look: Amber; +1 fingers of head

Smell: Non-descript

Taste: Desparately looking for some malt, but too me it's more tart upfront, followed by
moderate citrus bitterness. Nothing at all in the way of spice or sweetness.

Feel: See smell.

Overall: Inadvertantly bought an extra bottle of this unfortunately; Pretty disappointing
as a holiday beer or anything else for that matter. Not really getting this one in terms
of what Bell was trying-hoping to deliver. The extra bottle I have will be used for simmering
sausages or dogs. Not drinkable.

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Photo of Frothboss
2.1/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Pours a light brown color with light brown head about two fingers high

S - Very light hop and malt, not much smell to it.

T - Tastes kind of neutral, nothing really jumping out at me, light hop on the back of tongue. very light malt taste but didnt notice at first sip.

M - this one coasts all the way down. Light, kind of thick but it might just be to cold. It would probably loosen up a bit if it warmed up.

D - Good one to serve to my family or friends who is not into craft beers. Almost reminds of Budweiser select. Wont be buying it again....might even be in my fridge till next christmas! LOL!!

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Photo of Joemark
2.12/5  rDev -40.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Very disappointed in this beer.
Pours a nice lookin amber. All downhill from that point on. Scent is dull, and taste is light and unimpressive. I'm a big fan of winter/christmas beers for their robust scents, and complex flavors. This beer falls short in all aspects, as far as what I look for in a winter seasonal ale. Oh well, off to the next

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Photo of hops4me
2.18/5  rDev -39.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a cloudy amber. I expected a little darker for a Scotch Ale. The smell was very faint. Sweet bready aroma and some yeast in there as well. The taste was nothing like I expected. Not the usual raisins and figs you expect. Actually, it wasn't much of anything. The mouthfeel was far too light for the style. Not a good beer and I will not be buying again. Big dissapointment.

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Photo of Crosling
2.25/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Amber colored brew. Balanced but unpleasant nose, with hints of biscuit from the malt as well as some grapefruit and lemon from the hops. Flavor is very light, lacking complexity and depth. Nothing even close to a wee heavy. How is this beer not an amber ale?

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Photo of brutusmuktuk
2.27/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A murky amber color with a white head. There’s a hint of some hoppy bitterness, but otherwise there’s not much there in terms of flavor or aroma. Has a smooth watery feel. It's odd that this should be a scotch ale, as it lacks the character of scotch ales that I have had. Also odd to call it a Christmas ale, as it lacks the fruits and/or spices associated with such a holiday brew. Disappointing.

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Photo of DrJay
2.27/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Hazed copper colour with a fluffy, light beige cap that really lasted. Dense head of fine bubbles, streaky lacing. Musty aroma up front, then a bit of lemon and herbal hops. Malt was hiding in the background, a bit biscuity. Dry yeast smell. Moderate bitterness that lingered into the finish. Yeasty, bready flavour followed by herbal hops and a spiciness that was just short of acrid. Sort of fruity too. Herbal character lingered, along with a bit of lemon. Medium bodied with creamy carbonation, but had a weird dryness in the finish. Drinkability wasn't great, but I was able to finish it without too much trouble. This one was all over the place and didn't come together at all. I'm a big fan of Bell's and enjoy many a Christmas beer at this time of year, but this didn't work for me.

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Photo of samie85
2.34/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Batch 10729.

Bottle gushed a bit upon opening.

Pours a clear copper color with a finger of white head.

Some hints of bubblegum and with some malty and earthy notes.

Bubblegum and clove come through in the taste. This has to be an infection.

The body is a little thin with quite a bit of carbonation.

I really think this was infected. What I took away from this didn't match any of the other reviews.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.37/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce bottle - $2.09 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Batch: 11572, PKGD 10/22/12.

Appearance: Pours a medium amber-hued body chock full of suspended particles hidden beneath a thin, off-white head for not a hazed, but dingy appearance.

Smell: Weak bready-scented malts, slight citrus, slight additional fruitiness, with slight dirty, dead yeastiness given one last sip of half-sweetened iced tea.

Taste: Very lightly bready malts with a thin sweetness. Holds just shy of delivering a taste of toast, a taste of toffee. Curious fruitiness in addition to some orangy citrus qualities. Slight spicy pine hint as well with sufficient bitterness. Hmm, it just doesn't mesh well or come together for me.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium-plus carbonation.

Overall: This is one of the regular seasonal Bells offering that I seem to always miss every year like clockwork, which I did regret from time to time, and, now that I've had it, well, I wouldn't have it again.

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Photo of JISurfer
2.38/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Eh, this was a bit of a let down. I really like Bell's beer, but this one wasn't up to par. For me, it was more of a Scotch Ale light, or if one of the Macros tried to make a Scotch Ale, this is what I would think of. There was no pronounced presence of malt at all. It was just lightly placed with the light hops. Nothing more, nothing less. I would pass on it again.

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Photo of CortexBomb
2.4/5  rDev -33%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Strange beer. First of all, the entire idea: a Christmas themed beer that purports to be a Scotch Ale? Call me confused. I know that this had to be shoehorned into some category, but do not go and have a pint of this expecting full bodied Scotch goodness, because you'll be disappointed.

Amber pour with a generous head. Nose is gentle, malty. The flavour of this beer is...odd. It has a bit of an herbal hop bite that is vaguely clove-like and somewhat astringent, and then it segues into an inoffensive, but also unimpressive malt section. That's it.

The bottom line for me is that Bell's needs to either run with this ball or just forget even coming to the field. MI is full of breweries that are putting out top tier Scotch Ale style product (Founders and Arcadia both come to mind) and this doesn't hold a candle to either of those.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.44/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Batch 9431. According to the website, this beer was packaged on October 28, 2009. Sounds pretty fresh to me! Pours from the bottle into a pint glass. Beer emerges clear but with some hazy proteins floating about. Topped with a massive, rocky and very frothy head.

BA says this is a scottish ale but the aroma would not lend that assertion. Aroma is amber ale like with a bit of hop spice. A little sour smelling as well.

Flavor was a big let down. The bottle says "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". I disagree. This one has more hop bitterness than malt flavor and doesnt have any special aromas or flavors to indicate this is a Christmas-type beer.

A bit thin on the body, especially for a scottich ale. Finishes quite dry and with a puckering bitterness.

I didnt like this one at all. Definitely not a scottish ale. Its kind of like a winter warmer, which I really dont like. I would pass on this one. Holiday cheer my ass!

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Photo of flaskman
2.45/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I purchased a six pack and took it to the cabin this weekend. I figured Thanksgiving was over and time for my first Christmas Seasonal. I made my choice based on my past experience with Bells and the nice graphics on the bottles. It looks good in the glass and had a decent head. The feel was good as was the carbonation. It looked and tasted fresh. The smell was malty sweet and it had a decent head. It tasted like a mixture of flavors that left you with an overly sweet and bitter taste that I honestly can't pin down. I can only think of watered down mangos to describe what I was tasting. The combination of hops and malt did not work - at all. At least for me. As I was drinking it all I could think about was how did this get into production. Did they try a test batch first? And then where does the "Christmas" come into this brew. I was very disappointed and would had expected much more from Bell's. Especially in a seasonal.

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Photo of Atricapilla
2.5/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Of all the Bell's Beer I've tried, i probably liked this one least (by far). Poured a medium amber color with a thin head that went away quickly. Aroma consisted of light malt, not a whole lot there, especially for a Christmas Ale. Tasted like malt and candy sugar, a little cloying.

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Photo of plfahey
2.52/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance-Medium amber color. Clear. Generous beige head with pretty good retention and nice lacing.

Aroma-Aroma overall is rather low. Some caramel malt and light citrus hops-not much else. Certainly not what I would expect from a Scotch Ale.

Flavor-Flavor falls flat. Up front bready, grainy, and caramel malt flavors appear first, followed quickly by soft citrus and herbal hop flavors, with moderate hop bitterness. Also has somewhat of a carbonic bite to it from the moderately high carbonation. Not terrible per se, but it bears almost no resemblance to a scotch ale or a christmas ale.

Mouthfeel-Moderately low body is augmented slightly by the moderately high carbonation. No alcohol warmth.

Could I drink a lot of this? Sure. Would I want to? No, not really. This beer certainly doesn't fit it's description, and that withstanding, is still not a great beer by any stretch of the imagination.

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Photo of GRG1313
2.52/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark orange amber with a thick and full white head.

Nose is very light, even at room temperature. There was an initial "flash" or light orange marmalade and then, literally, nothing! No nose, despiste room temperature and some swirling in a nice tulip glass.

Mouthfeel is clean and simple with nice balance and light creamy character. "Feels" well made.

Flavors are simple toast and lightly roasted grain. A modest beer that tastes like a decent brown ale. No spice character, nothing to indicate a Christmas or holiday brew.

Finish is simple light bitter coffee.

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Photo of Seahorse
2.53/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A big disappointment,especially for a beer brewed by Bell's. Absolutely no taste or hint of spices or the flavors associated with Christmas Ales. Weak attempt at a Scotch Ale. Only thing I liked about this beer was the design of the label. Would not buy this one again.

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Photo of jsh420
2.58/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

batch 9422

pours amber orange with a 1+ finger head that faded fast and left no lacng

smell of sweet malts and nothing else

taste is much of the same - just sweet malts??

mouthfeel is a medium body beer very smooth and creamy

drinkability is ok - not much flavor to this beer
glad i bought a single

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Photo of AgentZero
2.58/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Batch 10093. Nice looking bottle.

A - Poured an amber-red color with a two finger head that had nice retention. Faded to an uneven cap.

S - Honestly, there is not a whole lot to talk about here. Smells like a lot of caramel, with some english hops. Not particularly good, but not offensive.

T - Tastes like a caramelly amber beer with some sort of english hops added just to try something. I don't really like this at all, pretty much is a bad mix, like a watered down scottish or failed attempt at a holiday beer.

M - Smooth, low carbonation, medium bodied. Needed a bit more kick on it.

D - This is a very easy to drink beer, which should be expected. It is not good though.

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Photo of bluehende
2.6/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Had on tap at a tasting. A hoppy brown that has a sour tinge. Not very good at all. Too much going on that does not actually mel with each other. I am not sure what bell's was going for here.

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Photo of mindspin315
2.61/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a nutty brown color with orange/amber hues coming through. Good amount of head and the head retention is solid. Mild lacing on the side of the glass.

Aroma is very sweet. Sugar coated plums, cherry juice, cereal grains, and a mild nuttiness. Also a sort of grape candy/juice sweetness hits the nose.

I'm getting that grape candy sweetness right away. A hint of grape medicine flavor as well. Toasted bread with jelly. Mouthfeel is rather thin. Not as much flavor compared to what I got on the nose.

Expected a little bit more flavor from this one. Also the overall style and feel of this beer seems disconjointed. On one hand you have a scottish ale...that would make sense to be on the heavier side for a winter (Christmas) beer, but is actually on the lighter side. Which also lacks a solid and strong flavor. Not that the beer has to be heavy but is missing some elements. Adding some spices or maybe a darker malt, would bring this together a little but more. I like Bell's but don't like this one.


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Photo of theviper
2.62/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I'm generally a fan of Bell's beers. The look and pour fit the bill of my past experiences--rich in amber color, nice head. The smell was a faint spice that this reviewer could not place. The beer was smooth going down, but its flavor was rather bland and nondescript (a touch of toasted malt and sweetness). It's easy to drink, but why bother?

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Photo of BlueCat1
2.63/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Christmas holiday beers are always something to look forward to. Frankincense and myrrh make for some pretty funky additives! Over the years many crafts have offered interpretations of an undefined style, so there's not really any right or wrong.
Bell's Xmas Ale, at least for 2010, is tame and uninteresting. It has a reasonably nice amber color. But beyond that there's nothing that strikes a notable chord. Not much hop taste exhibited, and the malt aspect is weak and almost watery.
There are many excellent holiday offerings out there. If you're looking for something to excite you don't look here. If you're looking for something that your Lite drinking sister-in-law might consent to drink you might try this.

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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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