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 Kendo
3.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured from a growler into a pint glass. Body is coppery-amber with an off-white/khaki-colored head. Good sheets of lacing left behind.

S: Some sort of spiciness over caramel malt. Ginger perhaps?

T: Modest cereal-grainy malt foundation, then some earthy spices: ginger and cinnamon come to mind. Reminds me of a gingerbread cookie, which I guess is appropriate for the style/theme.

M: Light-to-medium in heft with decent carbonation. Thinnish for the style.

O: OK. Nothing offensive about this one, but it doesn't blow me away either.

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

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

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Photo of Murphious
3.34/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From Bells website:
"In contrast to many other seasonals, Christmas Ale doesn't contain any spices: all of the dry, toasted notes & subtle toffee flavors come from the 100% Michigan-grown barley, custom malted by Briess Malting, while a blend of hops from Michigan & the Pacific Northwest lend earthy, herbal aromas."
I agree, There are NO aromas nor flavors of spices/fruits. Just a standard red ale it seems to me---maybe a bit more hop in the finish. Pours with a nice 1 inch offwhite foam that disappears in a few minutes. Medium carbonation and mouthfeel is slightly oily. Taste of malted barley with slight hop finish. Some slight metalic finish once or twice but as glass warmed that flavor disappeared.
All in all this is good but I don't know why it's called "Christmas Ale"...

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Photo of Brenden
3.74/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Whatever its designation (Scottish ale? Winter warmer?), this beer is inviting to look at. It's almost a straight medium-red, bright and clear with a darker brilliant flare to its body. The head is a small, creamy off-white cap. Retention is good, while lacing is moderately deposited in spotting that almost manages patching at times.
This is a nicely spiced beer that doesn't go overboard. Cinnamon impresses itself on the nostrils under bready, toasty sort of malts with something like orange peel in it. There's a bit more fruit down under as well, a bit of yeast and just a very light note of hops.
The hops assert themselves slightly more strongly on the tongue with a bit more citrus and something slightly greener, but the show is still the malts and the cinnamon with backing from the citrus peel note. It has a touch of earth, and the yeast adds something not quite musty.
The body is medium, carbonation is firm and consistent, not too spritzy but holding a strong crispness. It's not quite creamy, and a dryness coming out in the finish may be either spicing or hops, leaving it semi-dry overall.

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Photo of Bernoulli
3.38/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1/4" head with some lacing

Light hazy amber color.

Smell of winter-appropriate spices.

No taste of alcohol. Typical seasonal spices are ok. They either overwhelm the taste beneath them or there isn't much there.

Non-descript mouth feel.

Nothing offensive, but nothing makes it standout compared to the other seasonal's it's competing against. Maybe a good intro to the class for those who don't venture away from the standard American lagers and might be scared off otherwise.

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Photo of 57md
3.68/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear copper with two big fingers of off-white head that enjoyed some decent retention. The nose has mild malty notes. The malt flavor is richer than the nose might indicate. The finish is mildly dry and bitter. This offering is not heavy, but certainly not light-bodied either. Basically, this beer would pair well with practically any winter holiday meal.

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Photo of Billolick
3.78/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle-Packaged 11-4-13

Pours hazed medium amber, typical medium khaki head, lasting nicely. leaves a thicker film, some low sheeting and nice looking strands of fine lacing.

Warm malty nose.

Smooth and tasty, nicely malted up beer. Notes of maple, caramel, vanilla and malty goodness.

Nothing special going on here. Worth a try if ya like da malt. Not overly sweet, with some muted hops drying out the rear.

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Photo of Ryanm1
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bell's makes some quality beers, unfortunately this one does fall into that category. This was poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Transparent Copper color with little to no head/carbonation. Looks and taste is on par with a yuengling lager except more bitter. The ibu on this beer is on the high side exceptionally hoppy coming in at 80 as if it were an IPA. Slight Christmas spices, can't pick out a distinct one though. A Christmas session beer.

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Photo of SerBennett
3.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not sure why this is classified as a "Scottish Ale". It's more of a hoppy pale ale with a stronger malt presence and some occasional hints of chocolate and honey and burnt notes.

Appearance: As typical with all of Bell's beers, tons of yeast sediment. Murky dark orange color. Great one finger head that quickly dissipated to a thin layer of foam. I really love clarity in beers, and being that Bell's is the biggest Michigan brewery, I wish they would just go ahead and start to make a greater effort to make their beers more appealing to look at.

Smell: First thing I got was a BIG hop presence. Very reminiscent of Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale. Did not get any spices, cinnamon, honey, or things of that nature. Picked up a little malt, but as the beer warmed I could eventually pull more malty scents from the beer, which is to be expected. Very pleasantly surprised by the aroma. I wasn't overwhelmed with spices like so many other Christmas ales tend to do. They were just barely there to be noticeable and enjoyable. Very yeasty smell as well.

Taste: Follows the scent with the big hop presence. First sip I could mostly only get hops out of the taste with a bitter bite at the end. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, but it definitely was NOT a typical Christmas Ale, and is certainly not what I'd classify as "Scottish Ale"... Great malt tastes come through as the beer gets a tad warmer. Very nice chocolate, honey, and bready qualities. Hops hang around to create a fantastic mix!

Mouthfeel: Nice tingling mouthfeel. Medium bodied. Pleasant on the palate.

Overall: Definitely one of my favorite Bell's beers. Love how it's not overly spicy and it's very very much like a more malty Celebration Ale.

Can we please change this beer from a Scottish Ale, though?

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Photo of ONUMello
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle dated 10/22/13 poured into a pint glass
A: Burnt orange with a 1/2-finger head and lots of yeast sediment
S: Caramel, cinnamon, malt
T: Toffee, candied orange and cinnamon
M: Medium-bodied, a touch spicy
O: Worth a try, not as much winter spice as many other Christmas ales

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Photo of vette2006c5r
3.89/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Christmas ale pours a hazy brownish color with a long lasting and lacing head. There is a sweet smell, sugary and hints of cinnamon. The taste has strong sweetness, with a strong sharp malt notes; all spice cinnamon, with hints of nutmeg. Good flavors and body, but very flat on the palette. Overall its a nice full flavor Christmas beer, the sharpness does take away from this beer a bit.

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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 BradtheGreat7
4.01/5  rDev +12%

12 oz brown bottle with excellent Bell's style label art. A Christmas tree sitting in the middle of a Michigan field. Nice brief description on the back and overall a very Christmas looking bottling. Poured into a Bell's standard pint glass.

A - reddish amber in color with a hint of orange in the light. Cloudy body with tiny bits of sediment floating about. Head pours fairly nice, but looks a bit thin due to the size of this ale. Off white in color forming a thin ring of lace that surprisingly leaves some stick. I enjoyed the look of this brew.

S - sweet sugary malt, faint barley, and Christmas like sugar cookies. A touch of dark fruits with the smallest hint of hop spice. This is exactly the way I want a Scottish style Christmas ale to smell. Brilliant.

T - soft sweet Bell's Amber style malt up front. Some toasty malt follows quickly after. Notes of dark fruit and bread like flavors balance one another nicely. A touch of citrus hops toward back with a malty and smooth finish. Yeast is a highlight of this one.

M - lighter medium bodied with the usual Bell's texture and thickness. It's an easy drinker and very session like all while keeping the thickness I want and expect. I had no problem knocking back 4 of these. Something anyone could enjoy on this Black Friday lunchtime.

O - A different take on a Christmas ale, but well done in my book. It's a bit of a change of pace from your typical Winter Warmer/Spiced up ales the Christmas season brings us, but there is still a place for Bell's Christmas. It's of the same mold as their Year Round Amber ale, but still different enough to create its own fan base. This is something I could drink any cold evening. Again, a different take, but still very very good.

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Photo of Auraan
3.71/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured a cloudy amber orange with a thin ring of white head and a lot of chunks of yeast floating around. Not exactly the best looking beer, kind of homebrew-esque. Scents of sweet malt, grape juice, sugar cookies and some faint floral hops and perfume in the background. This seems like a lot of aromas, but its actually a very subdued scent, and its pleasant in its own way. Flavor begins with dry, cracker-like malt flavors and some toasty malt with a moderate level of hop bitterness, mostly floral, but with some slight bitter citrus zest in the background. Toasty malt becomes more apparent in the middle of the sip, with some yeasty flavors, pine resin and faint apricot towards the end. The finish is semi-dry, with a slight bit of sweet malt. The aftertaste is dry, with floral hops dominating. Its a pretty good flavor profile, though more dry and bitter than the aroma hinted. There is also a bit more toasted malt than sweet malt, which the aroma certainly didn't let on to. Its good though. Mouthfeel is medium-light bodied, a little chunky from the yeast, but also slightly watery with moderate carbonation and a drying mouthfeel. Its an odd, almost paradoxical combination of feelings, but it works, and the mouthfeel certainly doesn't make it hard to drink. Overall this is a decent beer. Its doesn't have the most complex aroma or flavor out there, but what it does it does pretty well. Its got a nice bitter, dry and toasted flavor which is good for Winter and it doesn't load up on sweetness and spice like a lot of Christmas beers. I enjoyed it for what it is, a good, modestly hoppy and toasty beer.

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Photo of ISmith87
3.33/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A - 3.5 - The beer itself is a hazy orange amber color with a quarter finger of white head that leaves a nice lacing on the glass.
S - 3.5 - Very yeasty smell, bready, banana, none of the caramel/vanilla/peat/bourbon i'd expect from a scotch ale.
T - 3.25 - Same problem as the smell, yeasty, bready, banana. No caramel/vanilla/peat/bourbon. Lame.
M - 3.25 - This beer has a medium body. Some alcohol taste. Aftertaste is general yeasty-ness.
O - 3.25 - Dissapointment. I wanted more from a Bell's beer. It seems like Bell's either nails beers or sucks. This one sucks.

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Photo of JimKal
3.61/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass.

A: A clear dark amber with a nice white head. The head dissipates fairly quickly but doesn't seem to go away. As it sinks it leaves some very nice lacing on the side of the glass. there is a lot of carbonation in this beer that lasts the whole beer. It also appears yo have some floaters that sort of dance around with the carbonation. For me, it added to my enjoyment of the appearance.

S: A light bread/malt aroma.

T: While you can taste the hops they are not a major feature here. The malt presence is definitely there and dominant but not as malty as a good Octoberfest.

M: While this doesn't grab you with the mouthfeel, it is one of the better features of this beer.

O: This is a nice, pleasant beer that will pair well with a lot of foods. I think I'll enjoy the six pack but I haven't decided if I'll revisit this in the future. I will say that it is nice to have a "Christmas" ale that hasn't been tricked up with a lot of spices.

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Photo of tillmac62
3.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 10/15/13. Pours amber with a full off white head that lasts coupled with excellent lacing. Nose is hops, pine and citrus, against a spicy background. Light medium body. Well carbonated. Taste is well balanced with the focus being on spice - nutmeg and ginger - which become more pronounced as the beer warms. Hops are present, but in the background and compliment the spices. Finishes cleanly with a slight hop bitterness that lingers along with the spices - ginger being most prevalent. Addition of dark malt would make this beer outstanding.

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Photo of smptenor
4.79/5  rDev +33.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is a beautiful brown to red color with a finger length head. Smell- I can smell beautiful types of fruit, some honey, some wheat. Just a beautiful smell I really love the smell of this beer. Taste- So I have to be honest. I am from Cleveland Ohio and I am going to college in Michigan and very upset because Great Lakes Brewing Company's Christmas ale just came out in Cleveland and I can't get it in Michigan so I saw this at the store and said I'd give it a try not expecting much. I'm shocked. It's great! It starts with a hoppy like honey taste and finishes with a beautifully smooth yet strong cinnamon taste. I think it competes hard with Great Lakes Christmas Ale the only thing I don't like as much about it as it is only 5.5 abv and Great lakes is 7.5% abv. Other than that I'm loving this beer. This is my second beer by Bell's and I'm loving this brewer. Mouth feel- the moth feel is exactly what it should be for this type of beer. I is easy to drink and smooth but has a perfect amount of carbonation. This beer is great and makes being away from my hometown of Cleveland and away from my Great Lakes Christmas Ale a little bit easier. Just a Great Beer. A Must Try! Just to say though I think my rating might be a bit higher because it totally surpassed my expectations.

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Photo of xcduke
3.28/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A: Pours a deep bronze

S: Not much aroma a little malt

T: You can taste a little Malt although tough to find the spice

F: Medium to Light body very drinkable

O: Solid Ale and very drinkable although probably won't make the regular rotation for the fall

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.89/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

10/13/11 Bottle Date; Sampled February 2012
A steady pour into my Lost Abbey Teku glass produces a two-finger thick, pale amber tinged, tan colored head that leaves some nice lacing on the sides of my glass. The beer is a dark amber color that shows a brilliantly clear, bright amber color when held up to the light. The aroma has a fruitiness to it up front that speaks of hop character; berry notes along with a bright citrus character that reminds me of tangerine zest, big-floral concentrated orange flower nectar, sweet floral peach, and, a touch more tropical in character, big notes of lychee. The bright hop character is backed by some earthy, toasted whole grain , touches of sweet tea, caramelized crystal malt character, but these play a clearly supporting role to the dominant, brightly fruity hop character. The nose of this beer is quite promising, I was not expecting much from this beer, but based on the nose I can’t wait to take a sip.

A light medium body up front is coupled with a biting, though not overly aggressive bitterness; as the beer moves across the palate it picks up a really distinct fruitiness, it is not purely citrus, not really tropical, but almost musky in its fruity brightness. The hop fruit character is made up of super ripe tangelo zest, definite lychee, some musky tropical fruit notes, and just a really floral, concentrated fruit character of some sort. The bitter hop bite in the finish couples with a hint of pine notes and some herbal, spicy hop character that lingers a bit on the palate; this last is brought out by the prickly carbonic character that is contributed by the carbonation. A caramelized malt character accentuates the fruit character and there is a touch of biscuit and cracker like malt character towards the finish, but this is really a hop dominated beer. The body has enough texture to carry the hops, but this is still eminently quaffable, I could easily drink a couple bottles of this in an evening and be quite happy.

This is a really nice beer, it is sort of like a malty, definitely hoppy Pale Ale; really though the hop character is quite dominant; it makes me think of a smaller version of Sierra Nevada Celebration. The distinctive hop fruitiness is also really interesting here as well. The reviews on this beer are quite interesting, I am not sure why people think this is a Scotch / Scottish ale; this is definitely a hoppy Pale ale of some sort & it is really interesting how many people missed the dominant hop character b/c someone mistakenly labeled this as Scottish (whatever that means).

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Photo of soju6
3.42/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark bronze color with a decent off-white head that fades to some lacing.

S: Aroma of roasted malt, and some caramel.

T: Taste of roasted malt , some caramel sweetness and bit of spice. Mild bitterness and a fairly clean finish.

F: Medium body, smooth and quite creamy texture.

O: Nice seasonal beer but nothing to get excited about.

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Photo of BMMillsy
2.95/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Crap. Amateur pour on my part, sediment everywhere. Pours ruby orange with a half finger white head that lingers a bit. Smells like a basic lager, and don’t get much spice or scotch ale here. Flavor is sweet malt, and not much else. Light mouthfeel and dirty finish. Not a very good effort here by Bells. Not terrible, but I would not get it again.

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Photo of GossageBrewery
3.31/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured this Scottish Ale from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Poured a hazy amber color, produced a thick creamy off white head, nice retention and it left nice amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma consisted of toasted malt, caramel, apple and a slight hint of citrus. Medium bodied, a foundation of malted grain, fresh baked bread and sweet toffee. The flavor profile rounds out with a hint of orange citrus- slightly bitter- Overall it's merely average- a little thin and watery for a "Christmas Ale". Easy to drink- I suppose it's a decent beginner craft beer. Not something I would seek out again.

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Photo of tdm168
3.67/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - dark amber with a quarter of an inch of thick, soft, white, pillowy head that has great retention

S - caramel, a bit grainy, bread, baked apples

T - baked apples, faint caramel, a bit bitter in the finish; the flavor here is dominated by fruity esters

M - crisp, medium bodied

This is a rather "run of the mill" beer. There isn't much to it. It's all esters and caramel malt. This isn't bad, but I certainly won't buy it again.

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Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1 inch head, high carbonation, orange-brown in color, hazy

Smell: cherry, bread, dark fruit, and holiday spice

Taste: earthy pale malt malt, cherry, bread, dark fruit, and holiday spice

Mouthfeel: medium body, sweet with slight earthy bitterness especially at the end, high carbonation

Overall: A bit more pale than I would have expected and I got more winter warmer here than Scottish ale. That said I like the spice combination. A good not great beer that I would get a six pack of each holiday if it were available here.

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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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