Christmas Ale 2013 | Abita Brewing Co.

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Christmas Ale 2013Christmas Ale 2013

Brewed by:
Abita Brewing Co.
Louisiana, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by EgadBananas on 10-25-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 26 | Ratings: 157
Photo of FNBBear
4.14/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Not exactly a 'festive' beer. Very good though. I really like it. Carmel or burnt orange in color. Easy to drink if you like IPAs. Kind of a mix between an IPA and a traditional winter beer to be honest. I like it. Definitely a good beer to drink during Christmas here in Florida.

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Photo of schoolboy
3.93/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Although I've always felt they were competent brewers, I was never a huge Abita fan. I'm not sure why. But in this Christmas Ale, I think they have made a sensible drink. It is a lot less up-side-your-head in spice, alcohol, etc. than most "Christmas" drinks, and thus refreshing. In fact, it makes me like this style (brown ale) again.

It opens with nothing too notable - not really clear, pretty, overly fine head - just OK. The aroma is a pleasant malty affair, but subtle.

The taste is a great balance of malt and hops with the faintest yeast undertone. It may be a bit too understated for an American style, but it is refreshingly restrained, and after a holiday weekend of imbibing, it's nice to have an easy, flavorful drink. The aftertaste is full and sweet, but not too much so - the same restraint.

This is a nicely different brew that deserves your attention and a repeat drink from me.

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Photo of mjurney
3.93/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark copper color, looks clear. Lots of bubbles streaming. Thick rocky head.

Citrus-resin hops, some milk chocolate, caramel, a bit of brown sugar.

Roasted malts, caramel, nutty. Hop bitterness is moderate, leafy, tea-like, slight citrusy. Finish is mostly dry. Body is medium, smooth, semi-crisp.

It's a very good beer.

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Photo of tigg924
3.92/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1/3 inch head, clear, dark brownish-orange in color, moderate carbonation

Smell: piney hops, toffee, and chocolate

Taste: milk chocolate, cocoa, pine, and slight toffee

Mouthfeel: sweetish start with a bitter end, light bodied with moderate carbonation

Overall: A nice cocoa and toffee beer that is complemented nicely by the addition of hops. More complex than most Abita Christmas offerings and probably the best one of this series that I have had. I can drink a six of this.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.77/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appears deep murky amber brown hue in the body with a light khaki tan head forming tight bubbled head dwindles into some speckled sparse lacing. Aroma has a pleasant hop profile, spicy garlic/onion hints I'm thinking Summit hops right away, it also has a rolling breadiness in the malt department but the hops really jump out of the glass. It's got the same flavor with the spicy hop flavor a bit subdued but definitely offers up vegetal notes of garlic/onion tones with a simple biscuit bready malt profile makes for a nice hoppy session Christmas ale. It transitions with some cocoa notes and pine needles to make for an interesting earthy bready chocolate Xmas ale in my glass. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied ample even flowing carbonation nothing to complain about. Overall I'm glad I tried it unique hoppy Christmas ale is welcome in an ever growing market of honey spiced infused amber high alcohol beers this is a bit against the grain in a good way.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.74/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A nice auburn color with tinges of red, mostly clear, with a pretty good head and a little nice lace.

Aroma and taste are spicy and malty, some caramel malt and biscuit, with a touch of hoppiness.

Body is medium and carbonation is nicely crispy.

Overall I find this an enjoyable christmas ale. I'll have to try it again next year when it comes out again.

I'm a bit wondering why this is listed as a brown ale and not a spiced ale, which would probably be a more appropriate category.

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Photo of sraimondi
3.69/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I found this one quite enjoyable. A nice use of hops (including, probably lower Alpha acid West Coast and some English). One of the better offerings from this brewery, which turns out mostly good, affordable beers. Aside for the color, I'm doubtful that this one meets the BJCP guidelines for an American Brown Ale, closer to an IPA, IMO. Anyway, a good value at under $10.00 a sixer.

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Photo of superspak
3.68/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, best before 3/14/2014. Pours lightly hazy/cloudy brown copper color with a 2 finger dense light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of caramel, toast, biscuit, brown sugar, light chocolate, grapefruit, orange zest, floral, grass, light pine, light nuttiness, and floral/toasted earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and citrus hop notes; with solid strength. Taste of caramel, toast, biscuit, brown sugar, light chocolate, grapefruit, orange zest, citrus peel, floral, grass, light pine, light nuttiness, and floral/toasted earthiness. Fair amount of pine/grassy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, biscuit, brown sugar, light chocolate, grapefruit, orange zest, citrus peel, floral, grass, light pine, and floral/toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Nice robustness and complexity of dark/bready malt and citrus hop flavors; with a nice malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth, crisp, and moderately bready mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a nice hoppy brown ale. Good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and citrus hop flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A nicely enjoyable offering.

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.68/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz.

Pours caramel brown. Off-white film for a head.

Smells of caramel malts and light pine hops. Some biscuit and brown sugar too.

Brown sugar and woody malt with a tinge of dry hop bitterness.

Medium to full body with stinging carbonation on the tongue.

A pretty decent ale, good aroma and nice body, goes down easy enough. The taste is a little bland, but other than that nothing to complain about. Worth trying.

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Photo of hosehead83
3.68/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a "stubby" 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.
Murky brown in color, with a big cloud-deck of tan foam.
Aroma-Faint spices, dark malt.
Taste-Toasted malt, cashews, earthy spiciness, nice hop note in the finish.
Pleasant and sessionable, a nice change-of-pace from some of the bigger, more complex holiday browns out there.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.58/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Nice translucency. Dark coppery brown with a great big fluffy head of two inches. Soppy topper laces nicely in beige-colored etches.

Patent brown ale maltiness with a softness about it. Lightly spiced, perhaps, with hints of cinnamon and brown sugar. A tad peppery. Soft in roast, also. Faint dark fruitiness to note.

A little more rugged now, with a sturdy roast grain presence, flavors of whole grain cereals, brown sugar, cinnamon toast, and milk chocolate. Almost robust with some pleasant bitterness from kilning. Some roasted apple and oversteeped black tea bag in the finish. Enjoyable.

Drinks with a lightness from the carbonation, as in, slurpy. The body is medium, with some tenderness. Rather smooth.

A decent brown ale and a good representation of a Christmas ale. I regret not having this every year. In fact, I cannot recall when I've last had it.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.56/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light khaki, five-finger head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Crystal clear amber color. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. Burnt wood nose, flavor is slightly hoppy spicy and malty. $1.95 for a 12oz bottle from Bert's Better Beers Hooksett, NH.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
3.5/5  rDev +1.4%

12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a pretty, cloudy, dark, mahogany color with a quarter of a finger of white head that quickly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Toasty, roasty, malty and bready. Notes of freshly baked dark bread, black pepper, clover and hops. Some notes of caramel and toffee too. Very nice.

Taste: Hoppier than the aroma lets on, considering how malt forward the aromas are. Very floral hops up front, flowed by some black pepper, caramel-like sweetness and some toasted malt, but the predominate flavor is hops, which isn’t my cup of tea. Or glass of beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with some pretty good carbonation. With an ABV of 5.5%, there is no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is a pretty good beer, but maybe a touch too hoppy for my taste. Hop heads should like this though. Regardless, I look forward to the 2014 batch, as according to Abita, each year’s batch of Christmas Ale is different as the recipe changes. Maybe next year’s brew will be more to my liking.

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Photo of mountdew1
3.5/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a goblet. Color was a darker amber brown, with a light brown 1 finger head. Aroma was a molasses brown sugar sweet, very small hint of cola flavor in the background. Flavor was sweet up front, but then shifted to a bit of sour flavoring. Very tail end of the flavor was a bit of sweet brown bread. Coated well with a nice bit of carbonation. Overall, not a terrible beer, but the sour notes were off-putting.

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Photo of mothmanscott
3.47/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes taken in January 2014: Pours a deep amber producing 2+ fingers of frothy, tan, somewhat lasting head that leaves soap bubble rings & washes of lace. Aroma is dark malts, toast, faint brown sugar, lightly spiced with hints of cinnamon. Taste is toast, yeast, brown sugar, cinnamon, faint hints of chocolate, cooked apples & floral hops. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with light-medium carbonation, slick, a little bit peppery but smooth. Overall a weak example of what is normally a robust, flavorful style.

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Photo of patre_tim
3.46/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark wood stain brown, very, very, very highly carbonated, 3 fingers of beige foamy head, leaving an avalanche of a lacing.

S: Citrus hops surprise me at first as I wasn’t expecting them, chocolate, molasses, orange peel. Christmas in a glass!

T: Cocoa, chocolate, orange, caramel, some Christmas spices. Nutmeg.

M: Medium thick foamy body. Smooth with a burnt bitter finish.

O: Seems like a spiced up brown ale to me. Got it in Frankenmuth, MI this summer, drank in Kunming, China on Boxing Day, 2014.

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Photo of metter98
3.39/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A: The beer is slightly hazy dark amber in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high off white head that died down, leaving some patches on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light aromas of spices are present in the nose along with hints of nutty malts.
T: The beer starts out tasting like a nutty brown ale and has of spices towards the finish—ginger seems to stand out in particular.
M: It feels just about medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is pretty subdued for being a Christmas Ale, but presents some interesting spice variations to a style that you don't normally see used as the basis for holiday beers.

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Photo of beertraveler08
3.39/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aged for about 3 years.

Look-Pours a bronze orange color with about a 1 inch head.
Smell-The smell is full of spices including coffee,cinnamon,chocolate,hazelnut,maybe some ginger?
Taste-The taste is a little chocolatety and various spices.
Feel-The feel is thick but not overpowering and full of carbonation.
Overall- I am glad to inherit this beer from a friend who left it in his fridge for years.He said it wasn't good anymore and i beg to differ.I enjoyed every sip and loved the various spices used to create such an amazing beer.I will make it a point to try all abita's christmas ales from now on.

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Photo of HerculesRM
3.38/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Reddish brown, clear with a thin head. Smells clean, a bit of sweet lemon cookies. Thin mouthfeel. Taste is not overwhelming and includes winter spices (nutmeg, ginger). Hop character is light, with equal parts piney and citrus flavours. Faint strawberry on the back of the tongue. Not as thick and spiced as other winter beers, and therefore more refreshing.
Overall I'd say it's a nice beer, I'd have it again.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
3.34/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Abita Christmas Ale 2013 has a fairly thick, cream-colored crown of foam, a very clear, bubbly, standard brown appearance, and a small amount of lacing left behind. The aroma is of of piney hops, grapefruit, and brown bread. Taste is also of those things, with a rather hearty bitterness coming in. Mouthfeel is light and watery, and Abita Christmas Ale 2013 finishes semi-dry, refreshing, and easy going. I don't know why they made this year's edition so IPA oriented. It is strange and doesn't seem to fit. It's still pretty good, though.


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

Appearance: Dark brown, murky, holds a solid tight bubbled cover of foam that clings to the sides of my glass.

Smell: Earthy, malty bready base holds a light spice note, clove? cardamon? So far in the background it's hard to tell, almost a gingerbread. There's also a catty overnote, hop driven I think, could be Summit as noted in other reviews.

Taste: Very mild, malt driven, almost like a Fat Tire now that I think about it. Same earthy toffee leathery something. Spice note remains far over the horizon, which is a nice place. So many beers stub their toe on spices. So, the package is drinkable, probably pretty popular but not exactly festive.

Mouthfeel: Sharp carbonation, medium heavy body, slick texture.

Overall: An easy session beer, good to bring ro a party as it won't offend, but it won't wow anyone either. A nice seasonal.

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Photo of GMB
3.2/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A standard pour of Abita's 2013 Christmas Ale yields a sepia body and mild amount of ecru foam. The head falls too quickly, but does leave a large island of oily, viscous foam. Carbonation is mild. I'm expecting good things.

Pine sap and rum dominate the nose. Grapefruit rind, toasted bread crust, and browned butter are also appreciable.

The beer feels thinner and sharper on the palate that it should do. Bitterness is high, with pine sap, grapefruit rind, ground grapefruit seeds dominating. Walnut shell and toasted bread lurk somewhere in the background. The taste of alcohol really lets this beer down. The ABV isn't terribly high, but there just isn't enough malt presence to balance those acidic esters. More toasted (and perhaps a bit of roasted, chocolate-style) malt would yield some rum-like flavors. As it stands, however, I just taste alcohol and pine. Meh.

Abita's 2013 Christmas Ale isn't even close to the best Christmas Ale, Winter Warmer, Hoppy/Spiced Brown Ale I've had this season. It wasn't bad, but I probably won't revisit this annually changing offering next year.

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Photo of kaufmaal
3.15/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This one pours a lovely deep-amber color, with a toasted marshmallow head that's decent in height; nice lacing here and there, especially early on. Malty scent, brown sugar, some vanilla, a hint of pine and coriander. The taste is very flat: woody, burnt cinnamon stick; bitter vanilla extract; minerals. So all of the good, Christmas goodness that was there in the smell was absent from the taste. Light-bodied, nice amount of carbonation, but there's absolutely no sweetness to the taste, which is an unfortunate surprise.

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Photo of Cavanaghty
3.08/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Thank you shan8454 for this one in trade!

Appearance: Brown with an off white thin head. No lacing on the glass.

Smell: Malts and nutty.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Smooth medium bodied. Taste of malts and nuts, some hops as well.

Overall: Nothing special, typical brown ale, but it was good.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.03/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a brown- deep amber color with a two finger off white head composed of a rather thick foam. The head has fantastic retention, slowly fading over time, leaving a fantastic level of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma has lots of sweeter and hop smells associated with it. The sweet is mostly of a caramel aroma but has some lighter notes of brown sugar and a bit of darker fruits. The hop is almost entirely of a pine nature, but does also have a little bit of an herbal smell as well. Rounding out the aroma are some spices of nutmeg and allspice, overall when mixed with the rest, producing a very festive aroma.

Taste – The taste begins and maintains a rather dry flavor, much different then what the nose would have suggested. It begins with a dry roasted malt taste with just a hint of caramel sweetness. Flavors of some spice and a bit of a toast taste comes to the tongue soon after the initial flavors. Along with these flavors so too comes some pine hop and a bit of a more earthy taste. At the finish, the taste is now quite dry as all the sweeter flavors have largely disappeared, with a little bit of a burnt charred flavor also coming to the tongue. These transitions with the advent of the other changes in the taste, ends up leaving a slightly off, dry, slightly thin, spiced and roasted malt pine flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the thinner side with a carbonation level that is on the average side. Overall it was an alright feel for the drier, burnt, and pine flavors of the brew, but lacked any support of the sweeter flavors, which overall, was what would have likely made the brew much easier drinking.

Overall – For a Christmas brew, this one was a bit to burnt and dry with too thin a body for me. While it had caramel, pine, spice, and roast; the right flavors overall, it lacked the right proportions of the flavors. Worth a try, but not really one I would likely recommend.

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Christmas Ale 2013 from Abita Brewing Co.
3.45 out of 5 based on 157 ratings.
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