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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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 514 | Ratings: 1,665
Photo of mobyfann
3.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Paid $8.99 for a growler at The Party Source...

The beer pours an amber-colored base with a medium white head, good retention, and minimal lacing effects. The aroma is spicy, malty with a touch of caramel.

The taste is fresh, sweet malts and floral hops with an extremely clean finish... smooth in the mouth with low carbonation and at 5.4% abv, not a bad session beer!

Final Thought: Tastes very good in growler form, may suffer in bottle form (low scores)?

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Photo of budgood1
3.41/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

pours out a turbid rust red/orange colour with a quarter inch frothy head that sticks for awhile. chunky lace as i drink. looks festive enough. light, airy nose...producing a definite spicy aroma, probably hop driven, with a subdued malt aroma to balance. light on the tongue also...with a fruity hop flavour accentuated by some slightly smoky, spicy, herbal, and grassy notes. there is a solid malt backbone, but it does little to jazz up the overall flavour profile. this is a delicate beer...nuanced, subtle and a touch boring. the body is medium at best....with a somewhat smooth, albeit scratchy mouthfeel no doubt due to the different hops used. it finishes quite dry with a lingering bitterness. drinkability is high, due to the overall sessionability and easy drinking nature.

overall impressions of this christmas ale are quite disappointing...it doesn't really fit any "scottish, scotch, or wee heavy" categories...and as a christmas or winter type of beer it falls tremendously short.

on the other hand, i find that this is a tasty, uniquely hopped (the star of this ale), red leaning ale. but for the price and expectations, it falls short.

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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 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 Shumista
3.26/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.

A- Bell's Christmas Ale pours a hazy golden reddish orange, with a medium off white that recedes fairly quickly.
S- Sweet biscuity malts are the only major smell I notice.
T- Light sweet caramel and biscuity malts and some light hoppy bitterness at the end. A pretty mild flavor overall.
M- Light to medium bodied.
D- I can rate this beer pretty highly here because I think it would make a pretty good session beer.

Overall this certainly isn't a bad beer, it actually tastes alright, I just have a few problems with it. First, its not a Scotch Ale in my opinion which is one of my favorite styles. I was very excited when I saw that Bell's calls this a Scotch Ale and was let down because it was not what I expected. Second, nothing about it says Christmas or winter to me, the only thing "Christmassy" about it to me is the time of its release. And finally, while its an alright beer it is certainly not memorable.

I don't see myself buying this again, there are just too many other winter seasonals that I enjoy more.

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Photo of khiasmus
3.89/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a copper color that's cloudy and does not boast much head, perhaps a finger. The head drops quickly, leaving wisps behind with the ring-around-the-glass... No lace clings to the sides, lending this one a "just plain beer" sort of look.

Aroma is biscuity, with very faint peat and a bit of bacon. The brunt of the work is done by the malt, however, dashing its way towards the nose in a melba-toast-barley-field sort of way. There are a couple of hops tagging along, cutting off strips of pine bark as they try to keep up... the light resin aroma clings to the air.

The first flavor to leap out is that of a biscuit, perhaps with sprinkles of bacon, or perhaps just cooked in a bacon-smoky oven... the meat and peat is a very subdued affair, giving all the prominence to the biscuit and the melba toast... and there are those pesky hops again, must have snuck in the back door... "control your children, won't you please?"

As the whole party dances on the tongue, it seems almost a bit spicy for the carbonation... body is not slender by any means... healthy, though, not particularly big-boned. As the grand finale plays, the back of the throat feels an almost silky drift of liquid that leaves a distinct emptiness... "Yet another, will you?"

"Quite a festive affair it was, what with the smoking outside and the dances all night... the biscuits and bacon went really well, did you notice some honey dripped on mine? The taste was interestingly delicious. I heard of better parties that selfsame eve, though... I heard there was one at the "old chubby pub," and another down where those dirty bastards always hang out... still, I'd go again. A good time was had by all, and I'd certainly bring you along with me if you like a wee bit of a scottish evening."

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Photo of nrbw23
3.51/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a cloudy orangish brown color with a light orange colored head. Retention is decent and the lacing is excellent.

S- Smells malty, touch of smoke, citrus hops and some dark fruits.

T- Overall, pretty malty with some bready and fruity notes. Touch of hops gives it a nice dry finish.

M- Low carbonation and light to medium in body.

D- Easy drinker for sure. Different compared to most brews of the season.

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

Pours a slightly murky bright orangish gold with a medium persistant white head. Aroma is hoppy- citrusy, and sweet with a bit of bready yeastiness. Taste has a nice clean malty character. Moderate sweetness with some light fruit notes. A bit of citrus hop flavor and low bitterness. Medium bodied. A very drinkable and pleasant beer.

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Photo of HopDerek
3.63/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber with bright red highlights and some floaties. Two fingers of frothy cream colored head has good retention and nice lacing. Smells of sweet malt, caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon, citrus, and dry grassy hops. Tastes of caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon, lemon, fruits, biscuit, a touch of cocoa powder, light scotch notes, and a subtle dry grassy pine finish. Medium in body and full in carbonation. Smooth and sweet with a good balance and lots of flavor. A little odd at first for a "Christmas Ale" but it doesn't take long to get used to it, and the Christmas spices put a nice spin on the style.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.3/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this brew from SirSketch, Thanks Zach!

12oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

L - cloudy orange/amber color with a beige head that left good lacing.

S - toasted malty sweetness with a bit of earthiness in the background.

T - starts out with malty sweetness and then a nice touch of bitterness sneaks in before a light, dry finish.

F - medium bodied with a smooth feel.

D - Merry Christmas!

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.94/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle at Cloverleaf in Royal Oak, not wanting to commit to a 6-pack until I tried one first. The beer sort of light colored for a scotch ale, darkish yellow with a 2-finger head. The smell is malty with a little, very little, hops fruitiness. The taste is toasted and malty, with a really nice fruit after-taste. I could drink quite a few more of these just for the after-taste, so good. I'm getting a 6-pack before Christmas, and recommend the same to everyone else.

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