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: 531 | Ratings: 1,714
Photo of Gouxman
3.47/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was fairly unimpressed by the newest edition to the Bell's line-up. Usually all of their beers are stellar. When I heard that they were coming out with a Scottish Christmas Ale, I was eager to try one.

A mild Scotch Ale with an orangish amber color. A malt based ale with an sweet hop presence and a touch of holiday spice. Brown sugar and caramel malt give this winter warmer ale a full-bodied, crisp finish.

This holiday beer is still quite drinkable. The holiday spice does not overpower this ale like most do. Still a decent beer, but not one of Larry Bell's finest.

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Photo of djeucalyptus
3.25/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured a light amber with orange highlights and a fair bit of suspended particulate creating a light haze. A two finger head of a light cream color fades leaving behind some impressive lacing to the bottom of the glass.

malt-centric aroma, with sweet and toasty aromas dominating. hints of pine and a touch of fruit - dried apples and grapefruit? mild on the whole.

Taste is malty up front, giving way to a sweeter roasted malt with hints of chocolate and vanilla. Some fruity esters show up in the middle, with apples, citrus and plums. Candi sugar and a touch of hops finish, giving a fairly neutral lasting hop bitterness.

mouthfeel is smooth with ample carbonation. Very light and thin for a scotch/wee heavy though. I was expecting a bit thicker and fuller.

All in all, not a horrible brew, but not one I'd seek out again. Glad I tried it, but that's about it. It's labeled as a scotch, but between the lightness of body, lightness of aroma and flavors, and the odd fruit and spice flavors creeping in, it doesn't really fit the style all that well. All in all, a fairly disappointing brew that was far from satisfying.

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Photo of CHSLBrew
3.33/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A-Thick off-white head, attractive and with great retention, slowly going down to a strong reduced head. This dark amber beer is hazy with some floaties.

S-What was there was toffee and sweet malts; very appropriately malt-centric. Not as much aroma as I expected and/or desired.

T-Prominent toffee and nutty, scotchy malts. A very present bitterness helps to keep these malts from going hog wild on my palate. Finishes clean.

M-Medium-high carbonation. This is a nice, slippery but substantial, medium-bodied beer.

D-A brew appropriate for a cold night indoors (or outdoors, I suppose). As far as Scotch ales go, though, it seemed perhaps a bit too small on the flavor and aroma. Overall, enjoyable but lacking.

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Photo of stewart124
4.32/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Quite a bit a of light tan head atop this hazy copper colored beer. Decent lacing along the sides but I was expecting more after seeing three fingers of dense foam.

The smells coming from this scotch ale are malty, bready and a touch of citrus hops. Some earthy/floral aromas as well.

This has a very nice mouthfeel coupled with a smooth creamy body. Plenty of caramel malts add a nice sweetness with a biscuity/bready character. There is also a little bit of citrusy spice from the northwestern hops.

This is very drinkable and very tasty. Nice American version of a scotch ale.

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Photo of Atricapilla
2.5/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Of all the Bell's Beer I've tried, i probably liked this one least (by far). Poured a medium amber color with a thin head that went away quickly. Aroma consisted of light malt, not a whole lot there, especially for a Christmas Ale. Tasted like malt and candy sugar, a little cloying.

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Photo of lhaqq
3.97/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a light copper with a light tan head that dissipates somewhat quickly.
S: Smells of spices and alcohol. Also some sweetness of darker fruits.
T: The spiciness starts off the taste, but it shifts into the (light) sweetness of dark fruits and some maltiness.
M: Good; I think a beer where the mouthfeel would leave it enjoyable cold or at cellar temp.
D: When I ordered it, I assumed I was getting a winter warmer. But scotch ales are one of my favorite styles, so I didn't mind that it wasn't. Yet it didn't really taste like any other scotch ales I've had. Not sure what category I'd have put it in. Nevertheless, probably would get it again.

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Photo of hops4me
2.18/5  rDev -39.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a cloudy amber. I expected a little darker for a Scotch Ale. The smell was very faint. Sweet bready aroma and some yeast in there as well. The taste was nothing like I expected. Not the usual raisins and figs you expect. Actually, it wasn't much of anything. The mouthfeel was far too light for the style. Not a good beer and I will not be buying again. Big dissapointment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of BellsGuy
4.82/5  rDev +34.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ok, I'm a big fan of Bell's so I came in assuming I would already love it. For a Scotch, it's a little weaker than I would prefer, but regardless I really enjoyed this brew and went back for more.

My favorite beer appearance is a reddish/golden look and this matches up perfectly. Nice froth on the poor, not too much lace left behind, and an excellent ale aroma. A nice beer that tastes like a beer, something I'm always looking for.

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Photo of tempest
3.47/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Three Squares. Appeared a very hazy amber with no head. The aroma and flavor are heavy on phenols and a I get whiff of medicine at first. Later more fruit, like cherries, comes out, but the medicinal phenols rule. Frankly I had no idea this was a scotch ale, I took it for an odd Belgian. It was drinkable to the point where it wasn't hard to finish, but I wouldn't order another. I think this beer needs a little more work.

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Photo of MTNboy
3.37/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The aroma is hay like with some earthiness. The taste is also very earth like and sweet. It has fruity bitterness to it with a little bit of spice. The aftertaste has some citrus tones. The body's color is cloudy with a copper color. The head is thin but there is a lot of lace to make up for that. Both the head and lace are tan in color. I sloshed this beer as I poured it and there was still only a minimum head. Overall I would have to go with decent.

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Photo of Nipitato
3.38/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Purchased a bottle Rozi's Wine House in Lakewood, OH.

A: Two finger plus buff head - thick with good stand. Nice dark amber hue with good clarity.

S: Peaty malt aroma. Metallic, sweet, some hop character.

T: A clean if not boring taste. Subtle. Malty sweet with a whisp of bitterness on the back end. I'm not really digging this at all.

MF: Medium body - lightly carbonated.

D, notes: A boring beer. If you're going to call a scotch ale a Christmas Ale you need to come with some robust flavor - this doesn't.

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

Appearance: Dark orange (almost red) body, nonexistent head, heavy amounts of carbonation suspended in the glass. Even aside from the bubbles, this is a very hazy beer -- I can't see through it to the other side except vague lights.

Smell: Clean dry malts, very bready. Other than the strong aroma of grains, not much else to the aroma. No hops present. It's good, just not complex.

Taste: Sweet caramel malty start, slightly dry in the finish. A touch of astringency to the aftertaste. A nice flavor, not very complex -- little I can really say about it in detail.

Mouthfeel: Moderate. Coats the tongue well but not quite as thick as you'd expect from a good Scotch Ale.

Drinkability: This is a good beer that is perhaps a tad mislabeled. I'd consider this closer to a bock than a Scotch Ale -- it's not high enough in alcohol or thick enough to justify the label its given. Not a lot of complexity, but a great flavor that makes it worth picking up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Photo of gabe23
4.14/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Opaque, with a deep amber color and light tan head. Good retention and lacing.

S - Smells of sweet baked goods with a touch of frutiness.

T - A surprising bit of hops hits you at first, but malt sweetness quickly takes over. The finish is slightly smoky and bitter. No hint of any spices or other flavors associated with a Christmas Ale.

M - Light body and carbonation. Nothing exceptional here.

D - I find this to be a very easy drinking beer. It doesn't have a lot of complexity, but it's nice for relaxing on a winter's night. I also believe this should be categorized as a Scottish Ale, not a Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy. It's too light for a Scotch Ale, but as long as you know what you're getting, it's a very good beer.

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Photo of WakeandBake
3.84/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours kind a rusty/copper color,with a one finger offwhite head. Aroma is complex as it warms,pretty much all malt,caramel,cereal, hints of roasted nuts,and tiny hints at some smoke.Flavor is all over the place,but in a good way,an earthy balance between sweet and dry,caramel, cinnamon,vanilla,honey,cereal, nutmeg,many aromas and flavors going on here but nothong that dominates. Thinner on the mouthfeel than I had expected but very drinkable. I'll buy this again next year.

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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 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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Bell's Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.58 out of 5 based on 1,714 ratings.
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