Santa's Secret | Carolina Brewery

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Very Good
35 Ratings

Brewed by:
Carolina Brewery
North Carolina, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.90%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-23-2003

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 35 |  Reviews: 12
Reviews by AmitC:
Photo of AmitC
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.71/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I have been to Chapel Hill to the brewpub a few times,here in Greensboro Roger over at Bestway has some growlers of their stuff,I havent had a good winter warmer yet this year so I picked this up today.Poured a lighter amber shade with a billowing two finger white head atop that stuck like glue to my standard pint glass.The clear growler let in some light and the slight skunk showed thru in the nose,it didnt overpower the aroma but it did stand out,some cinnamon did show thru but obviously it is probably better fresh.Flavors dont have the skunk intruding on it,nutmeg,cinnamon, candied orange,and toasty malt flavors mainly,a toasted sweetsh cereal flavor lingers nicely.I would like to try this straight from the tap,the skunkiness does hinder wich is a pretty good beer for the style.

 792 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.46/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16 oz can at the 2017 AJF.
Pours with a hazy brown body and a decent head.
Aroma is that expected in a lightly spiced American brown ale.
More spiced and less hops in the flavor.
Medium body and carbonation.
Overall: disappointing.

 234 characters

Photo of Jordanbryan10
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of tdm168
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Wine 101 in Wake Forest

A - orange with a soft, off white head that has great retention

S - cinnamon, nutmeg, pie spice

T - cinnamon, nutmeg, pie spice, pie crust

M - medium bodied, smooth, perfectly carbonated

This is a fantastic beer. This was like drinking pie. It has a crust-like malt presence and a spice character that would compliment any apple or pumpkin pie. This is one of the better winter warmers I have had. This is definitely worth a try.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.12/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Photo of woodchip
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of ewright
3.46/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

I picked up a growler at their Pittsboro location this past weekend. They released this beer on 11/13, so it couldn't have been very old!

A: A fairly standard ruddy amber color, but absolutely no head. Not sure what happened, but there was practically no carbonation.

S: Large amounts of spices were evident. The bartender said they use cinnamon, allspice, coriander and orange peel. I definitely noticed the cinnamon and orange.

T: The taste was pretty decent, given the lack of carbonation. The spices showed up without overpowering the maltiness.

M: Low due to virtually no carbonation. I was really disappointed, as I thought it had a chance to be a superb Christmas ale.

D: Again, the carbonation problem dropped this score a bit. My wife and I still drained the growler over the course of the day, so it wasn't a total waste.

This is the first time I've had problems with a fresh, flat growler. Hopefully it will be the last!

 937 characters

Photo of Keith_R
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of nick_perry
4.02/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pleasant holiday spice and gingerbread notes artfully assembled on the malt structure. Smooth mouthfeel. Lingering, slightly sweet finish.

138 characters

Photo of blackie
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: Medium amber beer with a one finger khaki head receding to a slight layer on top.

smell and taste: Apparently spiced with coriander, orange, allspice, and cinnamon. Almost immediately, this beer reminds me of Great Lakes Christmas Ale. The spices are tastefully blended, with nothing really overpowering. Plenty of sweet malt character to support the spice, tending towards the pale and caramel side of things. Possibly a touch of vanilla.

mouthfeel: Low carbonation with a smooth body bordering on full.

drinkability: A pleasant winter sipper

on-tap at the brewpub last night

 592 characters

Photo of Scott_McCool
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of dave317
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of abernethyj
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%

Photo of Keith27614
3.71/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Amedlin18
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of fscottkey
4.01/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: [4.50] Nice copper color. Beer is very transparent with no bubbles forming on the glass. There is a small amount of head that provides a full white cap for the beer. The can lists the ABV at 5.9% and the best by date 3/24/15.

S: [4.00] Caramel, bread and bananas. I am getting hints of all 3. And I am getting nutmeg of cinnamon. The nose is a little like a batch of warm Xmas cookies.

T: [4.00] Tastes a little like a Snickerdoodle in a glass. The malt backbone is great and really brings forward the sweetness. The spices are playful and nice. I am getting very little hop bittering. The flavor is similar to the nose. Sweet Christmas cookies. Nutmeg, brown sugar, caramel and toffee.

M: [3.75] The body is really smooth with a low carbonation level. The finish is sweet and there is no dryness.

O: [4.00] I got this as a birthday present. It is a one off beer. I couldn't drink more than one in a sitting but it is really nice. Carolina went out on a limb to make something that is very unique. It is sweet and delicious. The can says "Christmas in a glass" - I kind of agree. I love snickerdoodle cookies and this spice blend reminds me of that very much. The smells of spices became more prominent as the beer warmed up. I would love to get more of these next year to share!

 1,307 characters

Photo of gpblackgt
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of UltimateLivewire
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of ncstateplaya
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of brentk56
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Arrives at bar with a clear amber color and a modest head that dots the pint glass

Smell: Spicy aroma of orange peel, coriander, cinnamon and allspice

Taste: Opens with a fruity/biscuity element with is followed by a burst of holiday spices that are dominated by the orange peel; after the swallow, there is a bit of spice confusion with just too much orange peel in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Plenty of flavor but I can't say that I really liked it very much

 523 characters

Photo of SylviaFaye
4.21/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Going by appearances alone, this beer looks like an amber lager with a quickly dissipating one-finger head.

The smell is markedly fruity with hints of peaches, apples, and bananas. Nutmeg and cinnamon linger at the base.

The taste follows the nose with warm banana esters and rich spices. The overall effect is a cross between banana bread and spice cake.

While not thin in any respect, the mouthfeel could be improved upon. The drink fails to maintain its illusion of rich, holiday desserts by lacking substance that one can sink one's teeth into. One expects a chewy consistency, and the drink does not deliver this.

However, considering that this is the only fault that I found with the brew, I am quite confident in recommending it.

 742 characters

Photo of BigGingDrinker
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of DmanGTR
4.21/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The 5th beer sampled at the brewpub. No, I'm not drinking full pints of the other ones (except the oatmeal porter), so I'm not bombed by 7:30pm haha.

Poured a clover honey shade of amber, quite clear, with a scant and unhappy head that died shortly after conception. Slick trails of bubbles sit atop the beer. It's not a glassware issue. I saw it being poured multiple times and they all looked the same. *sigh* One must not judge a book by its cover...

But the nose, my dear Watson! It's the nose! Holy crap on a stick yo! This is a burst of Christmastime happiness! Huge cinnamon, clove, allspice, candied orange peels! And talk about flavor. This beer seems like it stole all the other beers' aromas and flavors. Caramel and honey start the experience, followed by a touch of biscuit. Then come a parade of spices mentioned above on my palate. The slight citrusy flavor adds a whole different level of "interestingness" to it, but in a way that works very nicely. Sweet finish with the tiniest bit of esters. I feel like a 4.5 isn't quite sufficient, but it's not a 5. Maybe a 4.65 in the flavor department.

Anyway, the body is lighter than expected for such a flavorful beer. I feel like it needs a bit more to support all that it's carrying. Crisp carbonation that needs to be dialed down just a tad. But, it is so delicious. I think if the aforementioned changes are implemented, this will easily earn a higher grade in my book. And maybe do something about the lack of head too. Perhaps some carapils?

With that said, a very well made, interesting, and intriguing beer.

 1,580 characters

Photo of EasyReader
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

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Santa's Secret from Carolina Brewery
Beer rating: 3.8 out of 5 with 35 ratings