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: 530 | Ratings: 1,713
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 kylehay2004
3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this back to back with Goose Island's Christmas Ale. Reviewed from notes.

A: two finger head on a hazy amber body.

S: lots of caramel malt, some hops which provide an earthy note.

T: caramel malts and honey. The hops add more of an earthy and herbal flavor.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: A nice beer but not quite to the usual Bell's standards.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.56/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Packaged 10/6/15. 5.5% ABV per the label.

Pours a murky copper with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Thin rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Tiny particles of sediment are seen suspended in the beer after the pour. Smell is of toasted malt, grape juice, grape jelly, and slight caramel aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, grape jelly, caramel, nut, and earth flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of toast and earth bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and dry mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with distinct grape characteristics that I wasn't expecting from this one.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.95/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

unique take on a christmas beer. pours a heavy amber color with an off white head 2 inches high. smells very different, like wine grapes and other acidic fruits. malty and rich. flavors of the grapes are really bold, very unfamiliar territory on my beer palate, but i like it. theres fruit without sweet, which i like a lot. also a very smooth bready malt flavor which balances everything out. mouthfeel is a little heavy for me on this one, especially as it warms. it filled me up, which most beers usually do not. overall though an excellent beer which is apparently quite hard to come by. really different flavor, worth a try for sure.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.68/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After trying Bells' Winter White Ale I stumbled upon this brew. Figure maybe it would be a more logical choice for a winter brew than a White Ale. This beer poured out as a deep amberish red color with a tan fizzy head on top. So far it looks morel like a winter ale. The smell of the beer has some faint spices on the nose along with hops and malts. The taste seems to have a good amount of caramel sweetness upfront that fades into a spicy sweetness. The mouthfeel could probably be a little thicker or heavier. Overall it's not that much of a winter brew either in my opinion. I can't say that I'd have to buy it again or not.

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Photo of metter98
3.63/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is hazy dark amber in color and has a slight amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high dense beige head that died down, leaving a large patch of bubbles on the surface, a collar around the edge, and some lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of Grape-Nuts are present in the nose along with hints of toasted malts and bits of earthy hops.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has additional hints of smoke and spices.
M: It feels medium-bodied, a little smooth, and slightly dry on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is easy to drink and has an interesting blend of aromas and flavors, nothing of which is overpowering.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.87/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Now after 5 of these beers into my 6-pack, I am still wrestling with it. The beer takes on the rich, malty flavors, aromas, and textures that a Scottish Ale should, but it seems too well attenuated and carries very little weight on the tongue. The flavors are very firm through the malt flavor with the caramelized toffee, light pungent earthy character. But the malts never give the phenolic rich, heavy toffee, light smoke character that make Scottish Ales worth it. Still, I cannot detract the creamy, well-attenuated malts and relatively clean flavors and aromas. The beer is lightly hopped, but picks up a lot of bitterness and light astringency from the spice additions. The finish is a bit cola-like, but otherwise both sweet and dry with an evaporative quality. A nice beer, but it's nuances are not kicking it for me.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.68/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with appealing label art and branded pry-off pressure cap acquired at Zipp's Liquor in Minneapolis, MN for $1.79 and served into a stem-tulip. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery. 5.5% ABV according the label. Packaged 10/09/13. There's no indication on the label that it's a Scottish ale, so I'm reviewing it as an open-ended Christmas ale.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a one finger wide had of white-light khaki colour. Nice creaminess and thickness. Retention is above average - about 3 minutes. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Body colour is a translucent nontransparent orange-amber. Robust. Fine floating yeast particles are visible. Average vibrance.

Overall, it's a festive looking brew that isn't unique or special. There are no egregious flaws. I'm looking forward to trying it, but nothing stands out as exemplary.

Sm: Caramalts, candi sugar, bready malts. Fruity hop character is the only noticeable hop note I find. On the sweeter side.

Not much yeast character is detectable. There's no overt alcohol presence here. Not finding any spices. No off-notes.

I was expecting some festive spices given that it's a Christmas ale, but overall it's pretty pleasant. A clean aroma of average strength.

T: Candi sugar lends it a questionable sweetness. I'm shocked by how shallow the depth of flavour is; each note is barely evocative and comes off feeling a bit empty. Bready malts, bread crust, toffee, caramel, malty sweetness. Has a vague hint of unrefined sugar - maybe brown sugar or even piloncillo. Lightly syrupy. Balanced enough, but ultimately unimpressive. Cohesive, but not gestalt.

Average duration of flavour. Subpar intensity of flavour.

Lacks discernable complexity, subtlety, intricacy, and nuance. Very one-dimensional stuff. I'm not a big fan, but it's enjoyable enough.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through. There's no spicing.

Mf: Smooth, wet, fairly syrupy. Thick and medium-bodied. Overcarbonated. Okay presence on the palate. Unrefreshing.

Doesn't suit the flavour profile all that well.

Not oily, astringent, harsh, gushed, hot, or boozy.

Dr: Not for the discerning drinker. It's downable but forgettable stuff, and is disappointing coming from Bell's. Not sure what they were after with this one, but it's a pretty mundane Christmas Ale. I wouldn't trifle with it again or recommend it to friends. Really shallow.


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Photo of emerge077
3.46/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip, the foamy head rose above the lip and hovered there, defying gravity momentarily. A murky auburn orange body, a skim of foam with nice drippy lacing around the edges. Coarse malt aroma, hay and tobacco leaf.

Bitter dry hops and toasted malt dominates the flavor, with a tobacco and tea leaf finish. Very mild phenols present, lending a little clove or pepper also. One was enough for me in this case. It didn't really have the peat or richness I like in a Scotch Ale. This is a lighter rendition, but also fairly bitter. Worth a try, I was glad to find a single of this new Bells beer at Vrai Amour in Chicago.

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Photo of zeff80
3.85/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured a clear, rusty copper color with a two-finger, khaki-colored head of foam. It left thin rings of lace.

S - It smelled of caramel, toffee and toasty malt. It had a subtle earthy quality.

T - It tasted of toasty malt and sweet caramel. There was a light toffee flavor and an earthy hop presence.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a smooth finish. It was light to medium-bodied.

D - This is a nice Christmas ale. I always like it when a Christmas ale isn't just a winter warmer.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Before starting off this review, I have to say that I absolutely love the bottle artwork. (I've had this from the bottle as well.)

A: Red-amber color with a pretty creamy head. Good lacing.

S: Caramel and malt with a decent amount of hops.

T: Good taste; very interesting. Big fan of the modifications to the style.

M: Good balance and a nice body to it. Good amount of carbonation.

D: Quite drinkable. Much better on tap than in the bottle. I'm looking forward to having this one again next year.

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Photo of nickfl
3.28/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - One finger of off white head with nice retention and good lace. The body is orange-brown with decent clarity.

S - Some malt and a bit of nondescript spice, otherwise there is surprisingly little going on.

T - Malty with some toasted notes and more of the nondescript spice from the aroma. Some cinnamon and maybe nutmeg. Slightly fruity yeast and mild hop bitterness in the finish.

M - Medium body, medium carbonation, and a slightly dry finish.

D - Mild and drinkable, but I really expected more from Bell's. Kind of bland and a bit disappointing.

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Photo of mothman
3.95/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoying this beer while listening to the Kaiser Chiefs: Ruby

Poured into Sam Adams Sensory Glass.

Pours a 1 and 1/2 finger head, slightly tan. Great retention. Leaves some big lace walls. A lot of yeast sediment. Color is ruby when held to sunlight, but that is not the proper way, so it is actually a hazy burnt copper color.

Aroma: Comes of with a burnt carmel smell. Has some sweet hops as well. Very sweet malts. I am diggin' the smell.

Taste is a lot of hops which surprised me. Sweet malts. Kind or a burnt taste to it. Carmel. Pretty decent.

Mouthfeel is more refreshing than anything. A little creamy. Goes down easy and ends clean, but a little chewy. Good carbonation.

Overall, I really enjoyed this beer. It is April and not December, so that may have an influence in my ratings. That or I just enjoyed the beer. I highly recommend, but at the regular price, it is spendy. I got this on clearance which was great.

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Photo of oberon
4.32/5  rDev +20.7%
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 superspak
3.68/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into signature pint glass, bottled on 10/22/2014. Pours lightly hazy/cloudy deep orange/amber color with a 2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of lemon, orange zest, pear, apple, plum, caramel, toasted bread, light honey/nuttines, floral, grass, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance of bready malt, earthy hops, and fruity yeast ester notes; with solid strength. Taste of lemon, orange zest, pear, apple, plum, caramel, toasted bread, light honey/nuttiness, floral, grass, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Light herbal/spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of lemon, orange zest, pear, apple, plum, caramel, toasted bread, light honey/nuttiness, floral, grass, and herbal/yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Nice balance and robustness of bready malt, earthy hops, and fruity yeast ester flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance, and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light dryness from bitterness as well. Medium carbonation and body; with smooth, fairly creamy/grainy/bready, and lightly crisp/sticky balanced mouthfeel that is nice. Zero warming alcohol as expected of 5.5%. Overall this is a nice and pleasant Scottish ale style. All around good robustness and balance of bready malt, earthy hops, and fruity yeast ester flavors; and very smooth and fairly crisp to drink. A nicely enjoyable offering.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.25/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bell's Christmas ale pours a very hazy reddish amber body beneath a creamy head of off-white froth. The head retention is good, and it leaves some very nice lacing as it goes.

The nose is malty with a gently caramelish and biscuity note, a hint of fruitiness, and some minor hops (perhaps some citrusy hops?).

In the mouth it's dextrinous and decidedly medium bodied (not quite medium-full) and creamy smooth.

The flavor is as the nose suggests, with a rich but only lightly caramelish malt that's bready, a touch nutty, and perhaps even subtly toasty - smeared with leafy, herbal, spicy, and citrusy (lemon zest) hop flavors, and accented by underlying yeasty fruitiness (berries, apple) and yeastiness.

Quite enjoyable, and readily drinkable, it's a bit of a mini malt monster that's well balanced by hop bitterness, and well-accentuated by a wide range of mild yeasy and hoppy flavors. Nicely done!!!

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Photo of chinchill
3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz undated bottle poured into a pint glass.

Pours a nice clear medium amber with less than 1 finger of bone head. Head has good retention and lacing.

Somewhat sweet aroma featuring caramel (?) malts.. More toasted malt than hops, but hops are detectable.

Taste is good but quite mild, although the finish is a little bolder and more toasted than anticipated.

M - smooth with good carbonation level.

O - rather blase offering, particularly for something called a "Christmas Ale", but should appeal to many people, especially fans of amber ales.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.45/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

First had: ?

A: Reddish brown, and slightly hazy, with a nice moderate head.

S: Slightly malty, slightly citrusy, slightly spicy.

T: Well balance of smooth malts, citrusy hops, and subtle spice. Not as flavorful as some holiday ales I've tried, but nice and subtle and well-blended. Slight alcohol tinge.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation.

D: Drinkable and pleasant.

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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 dbrauneis
3.51/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very hazy (almost cloudy) dark copper in color with some orange and ruby red highlights, moderate amounts of visible carbonation, and moderate amounts of small visible yeast particles in suspension. The beer has a two finger tall creamy beige head that slowly reduces to an even thin film covering the entire surface of the beer with a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Overall, there is a rather light aroma to this beer with some light notes of toasted bready malts, spices, dark fruits, and yeast.

T: There is a moderate amount of maltiness to this beer - some caramel, some toasted, and just a hint of peat smoked malts.There are some lighter hints of spices and dark fruits in there as well, giving it a touch of sweetness upfront. There is a light to moderate amount of citrus/orange peel hops that contribute some light bitterness that lingers. Just a touch of yeastiness to the overall flavor as well.

M: Light to medium bodied with slightly more than moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: Not really what I expected, a little light in smell and taste for what I expect in the style - I expected something a little less generic from Bell's. Overall the flavor is pretty well balanced and enjoyable. Easy to drink because it is ind of generic.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.71/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Classic ochre with a blizzard of swirling yeast that stays in suspended animation. I love the look of unfiltered beer! The head is a thick chunk of firmly creamy, pastel orange foam that has character to burn. It's also very good at laying down loads of delicate lace. What's not to love?

The nose for one thing. To be fair, I don't *not* like it, I'm just not thrilled with it. It's too weak and doesn't seem like it belongs to a beer of this (supposed) style. Each sniff brings toasted malt, almost no earthiness and a hint of citrus fruit. Simple and subtle.

Christmas ale is too light to be a wee heavy or a Christmas ale. It's definitely well-brewed, but there aren't enough malty guts and there isn't a very distinctive personality. No spices either, which is fine by me (and wouldn't have fit the style anyway). I guess if Larry had wanted to brew a bigger beer, then he would have brewed a bigger beer.

This is as basic a Scottish ale as you're likely to run across. If peat-smoked malt was used, you couldn't tell it by me. The flavor profile consists of toasted bread-like malt (probably some combination of Vienna and Munich) and what tastes like German hops with added orange peel. The flavor intensity knob needs a good firm twist.

The body/mouthfeel is typical for this brewery. In other words, it's at least medium for the ABV (not the style!) and is supremely smooth and soft. Just like Great Lakes, Bell's always gets mouthfeel right.

Christmas Ale should be renamed Summer Scottish Ale. That way, Mr. Bell can give us the *real* Christmas Ale next year. You know, the 8.0% beast that is packed with smoke and caramel malt that melts in the mouth like warm toffee. Now that would be a beer worth drooling over.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.44/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to THECPJ for this bottle.

A: Pours a hazy orange/red with a one finger head that dissipates quickly down to a very small layer of foam on top. Nice sheets of lacing.

S: Nice malt aromas, some caramel, ginger, and a nutty smell. There is also a sweetness and a slight oxidized aroma.

T: Nice bready malts with some candy sweetness. There is a caramel and orange flavor combination.

M: Medium bodied with decent carbonation.

O: Its pretty good, if I hadn't read it, I would not have pegged it for a Scottish, I just assumed it was a winter warmer.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.76/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

another mixed sixer that led me to this after dinner wonder from bells. could not belive i had not had it before, but it works. served cold and into a pint glass.

aroma is light spices, hints of hops and a light grain note but nothing really standing out to me to be crazy. definite loading of hops in the flavor with up front pine and cinnamon an hints of nutmeg and a touch of light earthiness that really sets it apart. not expecting soo much in the way of hops but i really am starting to dig it. starting to fade now with a light dry finish and a medium feel that works very well for me.

overall a very solid offering a nice change up for a winter beer. not sure about the scottish ale side of it, but damn nice.

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Photo of russpowell
3.78/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes, had this about 2 months ago
from Batch 10023

Pours an effervescent amber with 2+ fingers of cream colored head. Good head retention and lacing

S: Leafy & herbal hops, figs

T: Follows the nose, plus a touch of lemons & pine, plus a kiss of toffee & orange rind up front. Breadyness & herbal hops fight it out as this warms,along with leafy hops, tangerine & figs. Finishes with herbal hop bitterness, dryness, caramel. figgy notes & woody hops. .5 deduction for drifting off style

MF: Chewy enough, low carbonation, good balance & a nice warming sensation

Drinks easy enough, a nice one to relax by the fire with. This one did not age well, had a couple bottles a month after purchase & it was going down hill fast

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Photo of Slatetank
3.55/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I picked this bottle up at Brass Rail in Campbelltown.
Poured chilled into my cervoise.

A - A dark amber w/ sunburst gold at the base w/ particles throughout (yeast or hops?). The head is 3 fingers and rocky w/ tight beads and light cream color. The lace clings to the glass well.

S - Smell is like christmas w/ pine hop scents and roasted nuts w/ a smell of dried fruit from the yeast.

M - Medium full carbonation w/ dry malt textures and subtle yeast spice

T - The taste of malt is both dry nutty, grainy and biscuit-like The caramel malt finishes and the PNW hops give a nice spice to balance the scotch ale w/ a pine essence and the yeast gives it crisp and clean scotch flavors which is both spicy and bready w/ nutty+ toasted notes

D - This is a tasty and drinkable scotch ale w/ plenty of flavor in respect to the moderate abv. The hops are pretty tasty but slightly more upfront in the flavor. Overall I find the drinkability of this to good and this is a pleasant Christmas offering

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Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.58 out of 5 based on 1,713 ratings.
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