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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: 514 | Ratings: 1,665
Photo of tavernjef
3.03/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

On-tap at Lowertown Bulldog: Served in a full pint glass as one solid looking rusty brown with only the slightest of dark orange casting from within. Small capping of off-white foam was present.

Aroma is sweet and Belgian yeasty-like with a bunch of biscuity breads smoothered in lemon frosting and some slight herbal spicing. Not all that Scotch like but was quite perfumey none-the-less.

Taste was one mixed up beer. Trying hard with some sweet brown sugary maltyness, some cookie spices, but getting convulated with a big Belgian bite of lemon spritz and yeastyness that never quite fits. Making for an uncomfortable experience in the mouth as it never quite decides which way it should go or where it needs to go. It needs to go the way of getting a complete revamp in my book. This wasn't just me, the entire table I was with that had it was very unimpressed and most never finished theirs and just moved on to something else.

Feel was tight and gritty with a wierd yeasty chalky-like texture that didn't make the taste any better. Maybe its biggest downfall was how strangely dry while trying to stay smooth and malty just never pulled thru and seemed very messy and undrinkable.

 1,188 characters

Photo of Frosty80
3.04/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color: pours clear, light golden brown. sits clear, slightly dull copper

Smell: low malt sweetness with low diacetyl and spicy hops

Taste: watered down. very balanced malt sweetness and hop flavor. very low diacetyl with next to no bitterness. finish is light with a hint of graininess

Mouthfeel: clean and crisp. low carbonation. medium-light body

Notes: where did the flavor go? im re-reviewing this and is nothing like my notes. sometimes i wonder who is tasting for consistency!

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Photo of sween100
3.04/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours amber with a light tan head. Grainy malt aroma with a hint of spice. Could slightly smell some caramel and toffee. Tried this beer back in the winter months and enjoyed it as a winter beer. Wouldn't suggest drinking it during the summer months.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
3.06/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

appearance: Handsome hazy copper with big foamy tan head.
smell: Not so much. Not bad, just not much happening. The malt is there but so watered down.
taste: As the nose predicts. Like a nice Christmas Scottish that was watered down.
I'm a little baffled. Not used to mediocrity from Bell's. No hint of a skunk. According to their site they're looking for a "sessionable" Christmas Ale. Guess they hit the mark and that's all.

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Photo of meatmallet
3.06/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a dark amber with a thick frothy tan head with lots of lace.

Smell: Bready and very lightly spiced. It is not what I was expecting.

Taste: Again not what I was expecting. Not bad though. All of the flavors seem muted a bit and nothing stands out in any way. I get a faded out hop flavor and some malt.

Mouthfeel/drinkability: Medium to medium-light body and medium carbonation. Rather dry.

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Photo of Drewcifer
3.07/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a murky, rusty red-gold, with a good inch of rocky white head.

Light malt and cherry aroma. I expected a heavier aroma out of a scotch ale.

Bready malts and a hint of cherry. Some spiciness at the back end, but overall, a bit bland.

Mouthfeel was quite light for the style. Scotch ales should be thicker, heavier, more coating.

The drinkability is pretty decent, but not something I would look to drink much of - it's just not that great of a beer.

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Photo of Maerzen
3.07/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm really torn on how to review this beer. First of all, it's very good and I've really enjoyed drinking it. However, it doesn't have any qualities that I would usually associate with a Christmas Ale. In fact, I'm noticing on the description at the top of this page that someone as listed it as a Scottish Ale. hmm. It reminds me a bit of a light Marzen.

A - It pours a nice copper color with good foam and some lacing.

S - Nice hints of malt. However, no spice at all.

T - A very nice scottish ale. Too bad it's supposed to be a Christmas Ale.

M - This is actually the best attribute of this beer. Nice creamy feel.

D - This beer is very drinkable. However, it would not be what I was expecting or wanted if I were ordering a Christmas Ale.

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Photo of PossumMunsen31
3.08/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

As a big fan of this brewery was excited to give it a try. Must say, I was a little disappointed. Has a bit of a fruit scent to it and also kind of a sour note like sour prunes. Mediocre at best, fun to try but won't be enjoying it on Christmas this year.

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Photo of AltBock
3.08/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle with a fabricated photo of a Christmas tree with white and gold bulbs standing in the middle of a wheat field on a bright sunny day. The back label has all the mandatory US information, a brief description of the beer, and a batch number of 8803. That means it was bottled on October 27th, 2008

I had no other choice then to pour this beer into my Bell's pint glass. I didn't know what to expect when it came to this beer, I know I wasn't expecting a murky Christmas Ale. There are a lot of particles floating around this beer. As for the color, it was a dark cranberry orange in the center and amber orange along the sides. The head of foam was an off white color and was a tiny less than 1/4 of an inch in height. It had OK retention that only left behind a miniature string of rings.

The back label said it was going to be malty, but I swear that I smelled malted wheat in this beer. Behind what that smelled like wheat was a hint of dried cranberries, a drop of toasted nuts, and a small spattering of spices at the end. I'm not sure what spices were in the aroma. My nose had hard identifying the spices.

This Bell's beer tasted like a cross between a wheat and a malty beer. It almost taste like it couldn't make up it's mind what it wanted to be. Following the malt/wheat taste were some dried cranberries, a few toasted nuts, and then it suddenly finishes up with a dry bitterness. I don't know where that came from because I couldn't taste any hops in this beer.

This was a medium bodied beer with the right amount of carbonation and a slight malt/wheat aftertaste of dried cranberries and toasted nuts.

I honestly don't know what to think about this beer. It's really not a Christmas Ale and it didn't taste like a Scotch Ale to me either. I don't know what it was. I probably should have had this beer during the Christmas holiday instead of early May, but I fully doubt I would have liked then. Bell's makes some great beers, but I would pass up this Bell's beer.

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Photo of Birchgrove77
3.08/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Bright amber color with minimal carbonation. Nice off-white head that quickly dissipates to nothing. A bit fizzy in appearance.

S- A very adjunct lager-like aroma with a hint of plum.

T-Better than the smell hinted at, but not as malty as the label describes. Plum, maybe a touch of dried apricot, but a light sour character does exist. A nice light holiday spice character, very nicely done, but the spices don't seem fresh.

M/D- A bit sticky on the lips, but not sweet. Reminds me a bit of wassail, but not something I would seek out an entire six pack. Could be a great beer to use during the holidays to convert noncraft dinners though.

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Photo of KYGunner
3.1/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This ale poured a cloudy, sediment filled and bubbly appearance with a nice creamy one finger head and no lacing. The scent was so subtle that I got nothing but a bit of ginger. The taste is sweet and typical of a Scottish Ale but unremarkable. I'd write more but this Ale is not particularly interesting and needs little else.

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Photo of VaTechHopHead
3.11/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a very rich deep red with hues of dark orange and light brown. Thin off-white head which leaves little lacing. Very clean/transparent with some upward cascading bubbles.

S - This one was a little bit sub-par on the aroma for me. For a scotch ale it didn't have as big a malt smell as I would have hoped. There were still hints of caramel in the nose but very faint.

T - Again, a little bland for my liking. It does have a good malt balanced flavor with the specialty malts shining through. Not much flavor derived from the yeast though. The finish has a hint of earthy hop bitterness which is somewhat nice.

M/D - It has a medium body with a little too much carbonation in my opinion for this style. Overall easy to drink but definitely not a sipper like most Christmas time beers.

To me, just an average scotch ale that offers little distinction within the category to separate itself from the others. Not one of Bells better beers

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Photo of Martin2D
3.11/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Amber with barely any head at all

S - Smells not much of anything, a bit of alcohol and indistinguishable flavors.

T - Not much going on here. Some flavors, that like the scent are indistinguishable.

M - Medium carbonation and medium in body.

D - Somewhat drinkable. Took me a while to polish this one off because I didn't want to drink it that much. Not enough flavor.

 377 characters

Photo of puck1225
3.12/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pour a clear medium brown with a nice light brown head and decent lacing. A clean malty taste and smell. Not a remarkable beer but not unpleasant. Other more interesting Christmas season beers.

 193 characters

Photo of Suds
3.13/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a hazy copper color with a tall white head. It has a notable amount of carbonation...more than necessary, really. The aroma is initially faint, although a distant herbal hop smell presents itself after the brew warms. The taste is mostly dry, with a resiny and slightly astringent character. It has a pale malt flavor, along with some wood and hops. It's not as malty as it could be, and the exceeding dryness could use something to balance it. Hops come forth more and more through the experience. It's okay, but a bit of a let down.

 550 characters

Photo of slvrmon82
3.13/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a nice looking golden amber. Lace stays on the sides. Pours a little head with not much carbonation staying.

Smell is very winter. Sweet spices (nutmeg, allspice) followed by some pine and then a sweet roasted malt at the end.

Taste is sweet and then really malty. Nice dark roasted malt give it a deep roasted taste with lots of sweet and spice at the end.

Mouthfeel was a little lacking. Very creamy at first but fades almost instantly. Could have been better.

Drinkability is so-so. If it was christmas eve then maybe but not an all day beer.

 555 characters

Photo of cokes
3.15/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Smoky cinnamon brown with a low beige cap.
Toasted dark bready nose, along the lines of pumpernickel. Some of that mushy, oatmeal and cement Bell's yeastiness. It's stronger here than anything I've had in the recent past. Hops add some dry leafiness, more autumnal than holiday.
Bready and doughy throughout the mouth. Toasty and rubbery too. It's hard to really define flavors here. It's not sweet, but it's not dry either. It's just sort of mush. Wet toast is probably the best example I've got, and lots of oatmeal and basement yeastiness, possibly touched with clove. Hops add a lightly spicy autumn leaf bitterness, with a vague notion of pine.
The mushiness carries over into the texture. It's flatish and blah...once again. It's not truly hard to drink, it's just hard to stay interested.

 795 characters

Photo of Anthony1
3.15/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

dark amber in color with a nice layer of off-white carbonation. biscuity pale malts and a generous dose of caramel, red apple, some grainy sugars balanced by an earthy hop aroma, more sweet grain complexity develops as it warms to room temp. carbonation delicate, around moderate level, medium bodied. pale malt base with heavy strokes of caramelized toffee, on the sugary side but balanced with a mostly benign English varietal hop flavor that gives a moderate bitterness, a touch of butter lingers

 499 characters

Photo of Star80
3.15/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep copper, sort of reddish color. Good head, about an inch thick, some degree of carbonation. Smells of some toffee like malts, some mild hop aromas, and a slight soapiness? Smells is not quite as aromatic as I'd hoped. Hmm, taste is kinda weird, almost reminded me of a fruity grape, flavor at first? It is not what I'd expected, not bad, but not necessarily malty. Let me try this again, some roastyness in there, caramel malts, a clean palate cleansing hoppiness. I can see where people are saying this isn't like a scotch ale, not anything like I am expecting from the style. The mouthfeel is kinda thin too. Hmm, not a bad brew, but off in some way. Not smokey, or peat-like in any Scotch Ale sort of way, not spiced like some Christmas beers, and not even necessarily that malty or that hoppy!? WTF? Glad I bought this in a single, and not a six pack. An interesting experiment of a beer, but not a something that great or worth repeating. Bell's is a great brewer and brave enough to try things on the fringe, but for something as seemingly simple as a Christmas beer I would say this is sort of a mess.

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3.16/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I easily achieve three fingers of light tan caverness bubbles that turn rocky as they slowly fade. Scattered blobs of lace are left. Body has sharp tones of ruby and brown. Nose has an invigorating phelonic spice profile up front. Followed by carmel malt and a splash of vanilla. Enters the mouth with a toasty feel and a soft peppery dusting. Now the richness of the malts never truly develop as I would expect for the style. There is a bit of a earthy, woodsy hop feel that peeks through on the end of the palate. The mouthfeel is left with a hint of the pale spices and slight bitter. This beer is very easy to drink but overall falls short for me.

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Photo of PatrickJR
3.16/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into nonic pint glass.

A - Murky orange/amber with about 3 fingers of off white head. Retention is decent, some minimal lacing.

S - I have a hard time believing this is a wee heavy. Some caramel and brown sugar but very faint. A spicy/hoppy note is most prevalent in the nose, with some pine and grass. Weak and unfocused nose in general.

T - Again, not exactly a wee heavy. Moderate sweetness accompanied by mild fruit and brown sugar flavors. The hops are quite apparent with grassy and hay like notes from the nose with an oniony flavor reminiscent of body odor. Small bitterness wraps things up with some graininess in the aftertaste.

M - Light to medium bodied, certainly too thin to showcase the malt or to call itself a wee heavy. Carbonation is moderate and while initially it feels overdone, it would probably be less noticable with a fuller body.

D - Bell's Christmas Ale is an above average beer, but I'm having a hard time thinking of this as a wee heavy; this might be closer to an American brown. Quite drinkable, but the thinness, hop forwardness, and lack of malt presence render this very different from a wee heavy.

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Photo of hwwty4
3.16/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 12oz bottle into my Boulevard Smokestack goblet. This beer pours a burnt ruby with a good 3 inch, creamy white head. As the beer recedes from my glass, sticky lacing is left all over the goblet. Bell's really knows how to do some head. The aroma is weak, especially for a Bell's beer. Hints of sweet malts, caramel, toffee, and some orange zest. Like others have pointed out in reviews, this really just doesn't set for a Scottish Ale. The flavor is unfortunately very similar to the nose. Caramel, toffee and orange rind. There is also a flavor there that distinctly reminds me of tea Man, I had really high expectations on this one. Really thought it would be big and bold, full of mouth watering toffee, caramel, chocolate, with a good, peaty aroma. Not really any of that. The mouthfeel might be medium bodied, but it seems pretty light for that. Nice carbonation. This beer probably just kicked Sparkling Ale off its pedestal of "Most Disappointing" Bell's beer. I love you Bell's, keep bringing the big beers.

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Photo of Vancer
3.16/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

For a starter Xmas beer, I'm cracking the Bells version. Poured into my holiday Corsendonk tulip, she be clear amber with a frothy tan head.

Subtle hints of cinnamon and nutmeg in the aroma, a hearty quaff adds malt with a raspy wood finish. Nothing Scottish about this brew, nor does it pack enough punch for a Xmas ale. And when you add in the over $10 a sixer price, this will not make it back to my DBF anytime soon (or later).

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Photo of gford217
3.17/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottles courtesy of johnd513 and masonjer poured into a pint glass.

Pours a hazy reddish amber with a creamy one-finger head that hangs on for a while and leaves decent lacing.

The aroma is very much bready with some barley whiffs, not the sweetness of caramel malts I was expecting. There are also earthy hops in the nose as well.

The taste is also more grainy than sweet with a biscuity character that dominates throughout. The grassy hops are in the background and taste, like the smell, is less sweet than any scotch ale I've ever tasted.

The mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, maybe a little thin for me, with moderate carbonation.

I don't say this about a Bells beer, but I was not too impressed with this one. As a scotch ale, it's subpar, but it's still generally a decent beer.

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Photo of champ103
3.18/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a clear amber/red color. A two finger white head forms at first, but recedes in a second. A watery film of lace is left behind.
S: Dank hops, sweet malt, and a metallic aroma.
T: Some watery and thin hops. Sweet caramel malt. Not bad, but nothing out of the ordinary.
M/D: A medium body and carbonation. A little bit in the thin side, but fairly smooth. Easy enough to drink. I will put a few away this holiday season.

Overall, pretty bland, but not bad. Just kind of neutral, but simple enough to be a good one to share at a holiday get together. Though far from a Scottish or Christmas Ale in any sense.

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Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.58 out of 5 based on 1,665 ratings.
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