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: 503 | Ratings: 1,636
Photo of BMoney575
4.12/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 12-19-08
Batch 8802
Bottled on 10-24-08

Pours a cloudy orange/brown with a zillion tiny floaters and an awesome off-white head and craggy lacing.

Smell is sweet, with an earthy quality, a little cinnamon/nutmeg, and even a slightly lemony hops. Surprisingly complex.

Taste is alot like the smell, light and citrusy, but with the malt to back it up. The finish is a little bitter but very well balanced.

Mouthfeel is good, just the right thickness to accent the hops.

Drinkability is also good, just a tasty beer.

Overall, not a scotch ale. But a recommended winter warmer.

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Photo of kkosmoski
3.22/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Longneck served in a goblet after coming up in temp a bit out of the fridge. This beer was a nice find at a recent holiday beer swap at the local homebrew club's Christmas party. Very hazy and muddled dark orange after pouring some of the sediment in from the bottom of the bottle. Sparce white head that barely covers after a few moments. Smells of fruity yeast, caramel, and bready malt. A bready yeast flavor takes hold at the forefront and seagues into some light caramel and biscuity malt tones. A touch of piney hop balances in the finish. Sharp carbonation distracts from absorbing the full flavor of the beer. Fluffy foam erupts on the tongue as the CO2 dissipates. Drinkability based on the flavor of this beer is good due to its balance and mildness. Drinkability based on the feel of the beer in the mouth is not very good at all due to the quality of carbonation.

This beer was not at all what I was expecting. I was looking for a stronger ale with a darker color and more intense malt profile. For a wee heavy (if that is what it really is, because I'm not convinced) this is quite light. I don't mind cloudy beer from some loose sediment if the beer is naturally conditioned. Based on the sharp feel of the carbonation in this beer, I would have to guess that it was force carbonated, so the sediment is not really welcome. The carbonation really took away from the nice, delicate malt flavors of this beer and was very distracting. Not a bad beer, but I think it could be done much better, or maybe its just a bottle thing. I'd like to try it fresh on tap.

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Photo of LordofTime25
3.57/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours to a amber-orange color with a light tan colored head.

Smells of citrus, malts and a little bit of hops.

Has a slight sweetnes from the citrus which also adds a tanginess. The hops are very mild as wellas the malts.

A ligth bodied brew with a light finish.

Not a bad beer and pretty good.

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

Bottle from shigadeyo.

Pours a hazy brown color with an average frothy off-white head that mostly lasted with good lacing. Moderate toasted malt and spice aroma. Medium body with a thin texture and soft carbonation. Medium sweet flavor with a medium sweet finish of moderate duration.

Average drinkable beer.

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Photo of beer2day
3.24/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich amber color with a creamy head and excellent lacing. Nose is very, very faint - almost nonexistent to my unrefined sense of smell. Initial hit has a bit of hops, but quickly overcome by the creamy malt body. Very little bitter in the finish, almost as an afterthought.

If this is really a Scotch Ale, it is a different interpretation of that style than I am used to.

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Photo of ncstateplaya
2.96/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

In my initial taste, I caught unripened scuppernong grapes, wtf? Not sure where that came from so I will disregard in my scoring.

Appearance: A dark cloudy amber with a thick fluffy tan head. Once the head receeded it left great lacing on the glass. Islands of thick foam were floating in the glass.

Smell: Rich malts were easily the most detectible. Taking in deep breaths I could smell juniper and a bit of yeast. There was a hint of hops, although not a very big contributor to the aroma.

Taste: The creamy malts jump out, with just a touch of junipery bite. The is a slight bitter finish, and a toasted aftertaste. Nothing spectacular in this brew, just whatever.

Mouthfeel: I thought this beer was light to medium bodied and very smooth. It almost feels buttery in my mouth with very little carbonation. Pretty boring in the mouth.

Drinkability: A very smooth and easy drinking beer. This is a good beer if you want to sit down, relax by the fireplace, and drink a few. Not overly complex nor is it very filling. A nice session beer. It is what it is, and I was disappointed.

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Photo of eyncognito
3.23/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured 12oz. bottle into pint glass.

Amber color with red-orange highlights and white head with ok retention, no lacing. Must be on the lower end of the scotch ale, all i get is some light biscuit malt, some sweet white bread-no holiday spices and not a whiff of hops. i was hoping this would smell like stolen.

Ok maltyness, just enough for a scotch ale, but nothing impressive. Same as smell.

Light, somewhat thin mouthfeel for the style. Weak carbonation which I normally like in the style, but could stand a little bit more given the thinness.

One of Bell's few misses. That said this is a completely drinkable beer...I'm a little miffed that it is not a very good example of a christmas beer or scotch ale. I know Bell's can do better.

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Photo of dukedevil0
3.55/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had out of a bottle at Beer School at Whole Foods in Lakeview in Chicago, IL on 12/16/08.

A: Amber-orange color with a light tan colored head.

S: Smells of citrus, malts and a little bit of hops.

T: Mild sweetness, very slight bitter - again citrus, malts and slight hops flavors - the taste felt very "mild" with not a whole lot of flavor coming through

M: Felt somewhat thin, but had a clean finish

D: High drinkability because it seemed very easy to drink, but takes a hit because the flavors are muted and mild and nothing sticks out as "real tasty"

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Photo of lessthanhadley
2.65/5  rDev -26%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Really unimpressed by this beer. I bought it even after seeing a few negative reviews just because Bells is a brewery who I tend to give everything that they put out a try. Generally one of my favorite breweries just didn't get it right here at all. Its a mix of christmas spice, citrusy zest and belgian yeast that just never identifies with anything and really just is not enjoyable. While not a drain pour definitely not something I'd ever go back to.

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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.

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Photo of wedge
2.66/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hazed orange-amber with a tall, fluffy head. Spotty lace. Smells...not like any Scotch ale I've ever had. Sweet fruit, hops, light bread, lemons. Herbal hops, delicate sweetness, spices, and peppery phenolics. No rich maltiness, no smokiness...why call this a Wee Heavy? It's not a bad beer, but they'd be better off leaving "Scotch ale" off the bottle. Medium bodied and fairly easy to drink, though it's strength is lower than what it should be. Meh...

"Malt driven Scotch ale" does not describe this beer at all.

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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 Metalmonk
3.78/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The head on this sucker is abundant, even with a hardly-aggressive pour. It retains well and leaves swaths of lace as it lessens. Hop-hazed rust-orange color with red shades, quite the looker.

Various pie/dessert spices come to the nose--mostly cinnamon, but some nutmeg, allspice, even a little ginger and a dusting of powdered brown sugar. Hops take on an interesting perfume-like vibe amidst these dominant spicy characters.

Flavor favors cinnamon, but is generally spicy all the way through. A big, tangy fruitiness enters the fray, and we've officially got a very Christmas-y tasting ale here. While I would've liked a firmer, rounder maltiness, or maybe just a lot more hops, it eventually won me over with its milky sweetness middle to end and the creamy undertow that peeks through and even shoves aside the fairly aggressive carbonation. My first bottle yesterday went from underwhelming to pretty good by the bottom of the glass. It's doing the same this time.

Although Larry Bell himself defines this is a "malt-driven Scotch Ale" on the label, I'm not sure I get that out of it. Seems more like a Winter Warmer to me...or maybe somewhere between the two. But hey--styles, shmyles...this is a worthy beer, regardless of how it's categorized.

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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 drxandy
4.2/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz to footed ale glass, pours a deep amber reddish golden orange, cream colored head fades to lacing, looks deep

smells of sweet piney hops, spice, heavy malt

taste is of sweet pine, bitter, great flavor, spicy barley, dry, crisp, yeastly, good balance and easy to drink

mouthfeel is bitter and spicy, sweet, malty, creaminess, lingering flavors and highly sessionable

a nice addition to bell's portfolio, mmm

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Photo of bruachan
3.28/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

i guess the aroma isn't too far from a wee heavy, except for the hop and its overall lack of heaviness

it looks pretty good. the head didn't last too long though it did leave some evidence on glass. the color is a nice garnet with sunburst highlights

i get a good base of grain-based aromas but it's not all that complex. fruitiness is appropriately subdued but the kind of bready, caramel notes i might look for are absent. granted, it's not a heavy beer, but i would be interested in more depth. the hop is distinct but not overpowering: wood cuttings, thyme

the hop contributes a blackcurrant and very spicy character. the malt here falls short of interesting. some caramel malts, but...meh

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Photo of rustan
2.73/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a pale ambers with thin white head.

S - Faintly of honey, but not getting much more than that

T - Grapefruit, yeast, finish with subdued bitterness

M - medium body, foams, dry

D - One was enough

Overall this was not what i was expecting. It was more pale and less spiced than your typical holiday seasonal. I can see how such a departure could be of interest, but this attempt fell short. Wouldn't have called this a scotch ale in a blind taste test either. Overall I was not impressed and happy that I only bought a single of this batch.

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Photo of IBUnit63
3.93/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch 8803 into Duvel tulip...

Excellent, translucent copper/bourbon body topped with buttery, bready sourdough head - full finger or so dissipating to 1/2 finger with solid lacing and chunky seam. Sparse visible carbonation.

Nose yields mild fall fruits (apples), a little soapy herbalness and a bit of grassy hop nose. A bit clammy at first...could use warmth. Slight buttery earth.

Almost a bourbonish almond feel at first...(grat...peach pits and arsenic!). Carbonation provides light floral tingle with hop bite. Husky malt profile - not quite carmelized - a little drier. Meshes well across the board.

Starts slow but gets to be more even. Actually has a little spicy Marzen/Fest-ish quality to it. Finishes evenly and consistently - not heavy...nice Germanic kick with clean hop and malt profile. Not a lot of noticeable alcohol here.

This goes quciker than expected - a little hefty but more sessionable than expected. Not as bountiful of a flavor profile as other Bell's products sampled to date but decent nonetheless.

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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 Darkale
3.84/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

What an odd little beer this is. I was expecting something deep, malty, and boozy; instead, I got something light, slightly sweet, and eminently sessionable. Not a bad way to spend a Christmas, I don't think, and I'm warming to this beer, I really am -- it's just not like any other Christmas ale I've ever had.

Appearance is attractive, with good lacing, a cloudy and very sediment-filled body, and a tan head that fades to a lingering skim. Now, I just got this beer home from the store, perhaps it is too cold, but I don't get any aroma at all. My sense of smell wins no awards, but usually that's because I don't know how to describe the smell, and not because I get no aroma at all. Perhaps as it warms up something will arrive.

The taste is light, with a little caramel, a good burning dose of hops, and brisk carbonation. Very pleasant, and the mouthfeel is about as creamy as 5.4% ABV is going to get you.

I could drink quite a few of these. Though light, it is interesting, with good body and a nice mellow sweetness.

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Photo of bamadog
2.94/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is the third Bell's brew that I've reviewed, and I was definitely disappointed. The other two were great, but this one just didn't do a thing for me. Oh well, you can't win them all...

Appearance: Cloudy, dark-burnt orange in color (almost like the University of Texas school color?) with a 1 and 1/2 finger head that disappeared quickly. What's visible in terms of the carbonation just seemed frozen where it was in the glass that I poured it into, so it was interesting to look at.

Smell: Not much at all - and my nose went as far as being dipped in the little head that was left at this point. I do think I picked up a little bit of a vinegar-esque smell to it though. Definitely disappointed with that.

Taste: Almost bland. Nothing much in hops or bitterness or spices or really anything. There was a slight (and when I say slight, I mean very slight) reminder of the cinammon/spice of the Great Lakes Christmas ale, but nothing really close to what I was hoping for after trying a couple of other Christmas Ales this year.

Mouthfeel: Nothing special to the palate. Doesn't stick to anything or dry me or anything. No real reaction. Definitely disappointed.

Drinkability: Can't see much reason in drinking mroe than the one I tried. No offense to Bell's because I still think they're an awesome brewery and I will always be a fan of the Two-Hearted, but this just fell really short for me.

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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 jkrich
3.65/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle with no freshness date; number 8803 stamped on back label.

The pour revealed a murky, amber color (quite similar to Bell's amber)with some slight brownish red highlights. The head was off-white and short-lived with light lacing.

The sweetness of the malt is prevalent in the aroma along with a spicy aroma of hops.

The ale is surprisingly light given the aroma. The malty sweetness attacks the palate and leaves a slight candy aftertaste (though not cloying) with a slight metallic twang. Tastes more like an amber style ale than a scotch ale.

This one is moderately carbonated with a good malty sweetness on the tongue and also refreshing mouthfeel for this style.

Not a hugely complex ale like most holiday season products, but its flavors keep it interesting and with a 5.4 % ABV you could drink several at one time. Bell's always offer something interesting and unexpected (think about their winter white ale - a wit style ale usually ubiquitous in the summer).

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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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Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.58 out of 5 based on 1,636 ratings.
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