Christmas Ale
Saint Arnold Brewing Company

Christmas AleChristmas Ale
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English Old Ale
Ranked #137
Ranked #34,897
3.71 | pDev: 13.21%
Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Texas, United States
Christmas AleChristmas Ale
Notes: A rich, copper colored, hearty ale perfect for the holiday season with a malty sweetness and spicy hop character. The generous use of five different malts is responsible for the full flavor and high alcohol level of this beer.
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Reviews: 230 | Ratings: 644
Photo of MaltyMagic
4.3/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Toffee/caramel, buttery dough, sugar cookie, nuts, spices, douglas fir. Big, layered malt profile with a nice dash of evergreen hop to balance. Excellent Christmas ale, tastes like the holidays.

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Photo of JacobusFavier23
3.81/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

L- Pours a nice rocky headed one fingered ale with a nice amberish mahogany body. Light, frisky carbonation as well.
S- Nice sweet malt is there. Very grainy. Sugary with a hint of molasses, ginger and cinnamon. Not too bad in the nose
T- Malty sweet, nice evolving bitterness from the hop, some spice is there. Definitely get some cinnamon and ginger. Very well rounded flavor.
F- Thick and whole bodied. Crisp.
O- A good, not great English Old Ale/Christmas Ale. This beer is certainly rich, sweet and full bodied. A true sipper that I really enjoyed. It gets me in the mood for Christmas, and that's enough for me to get it again.

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Photo of KevinReddirt
3.55/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A recent purchase at the local grocer, I mostly like Christmas offerings. Poured into a shaker glass it delivers a brown-amber body and a light tan top. It smells of grain and malt. A taste gives a hit of maltiness, a bit of spiciness and a caramel sweetness. Not bad, not great, glad to try it.

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Photo of H-TownMcBuck
3.92/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Rich, clear, dark brown with hint of amber. Head was brownish with just a bit of lacing. Smell was light, little sweetnes like molasses. Taste was malty, smooth, with a bit of caramel finish along with all spice. This is a nice Christmas style ale.

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Photo of depechemode1983
3.52/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours out copper in color. Head is tan with minimal head. No lacing

Smell like Christmas spice and bread. Molasses and caramel come through with a nice grainy character.

Nutmeg and cinnamon upfront. Less sweet than the nose would lead you to believe. The caramel dominates the middle and the finish is semi sweet with a light lingering bitterness.

The Mouthfeel is medium bodied with somewhat high carbonation.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.4/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

$ 2.12 (Including tax)/12 oz bottle ($ 0.177/oz) at HEB # 26, Schertz, TX.
Undated bottle from shelf in store, stored in 41 degree reefer at house, served at 41 degrees in a hand washed and dried shaker. After finding this is supposed to be an “Old Ale”, the remainder was allowed to warm to 55 degrees and then evaluated.
Aroma – Very faint spice which quickly disappears. As it warms, malt comes through.
Head – Large (Maximum 7.5 cm, aggressive pour), tan, dense and creamy, average retention, diminishing to a three mm ring and complete layer.
Lacing – None.
Body – Red-orange, clear, slight effervescence.
Flavor (Cold) – Very muted and non-offensive. Allowing it to warm in the mouth produces some malt flavor and a bit of unpleasant sourness. The spice flavors are mulled enough to make individual spices indistinguishable. No hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl. Actually, a bit of diacetyl would have helped.
Flavor (55 degrees) – As cold, except the malt is more evident. Very faint estery spiciness, but this may be wishful thinking.
Palate – medium, watery, lively carbonation.
Impression: Label the bottle as to style! I thought this was to be a Winter Warmer and first rated it as such, lower than as an Old ale. This may even be last year’s, since St. Arnold doesn’t bother to date their bottles.
Appearance 3.25, Aroma 3.25, Flavor 3.5, Palate 3.25, Overall 3.5.

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Photo of HotDogBikeRide
4.5/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Copper colored medium bodied, medium carbonation ale. Smells of grains and a little bit of caramel malt. Faint but sweet. Taste is lighter than the color suggests, and a tiny bit of hoppiness to balance out the malt. I usually don't like dominatively malty beers but this one is a holiday Texas favorite.

I can't wait for St. Arnold's to send by "White Noise " to Beaumont, that is going to top all Texas beers this holiday season. Gonna have to travel up to Houston and grab that pint glass.

Anyway, head remains light and the taste has hints of floral chocolate if that makes any sense, maybe just a little dark licorice (and I mean a little), very quaffable. Kinda watered but in a way that allows you to down 3 of these in like 25 mins. Haha. Tad bit nutty in retrospect but like many other qualities to this beer it is very subdued. Warm, cheery beerski. Thanks St. Arnold.

By the way, the 2016 version has 7.5% alcohol, not 7%.

Edited my review: this at the brewery is really tasty. Cleaner, more refreshing, more consistent color and better carbonation. Better mix of hops and malt which makes for an interesting and pleasing burp. Haha.

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Photo of princessbay710
4.58/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is dark copper-brown. The taste is warm, spicy, and sweet, like Roasted/Candied nuts. I read on St. Arnold's website that this sweetness is because it's made with 5 different types of barley with no other grains. I've had this beer many times now, gonna miss it off-season.

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Photo of JohnDee
3.49/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep, transparent reddish amber with a thin off-white head. Robust and malty but a little hoppier than I might like with a rather bitter finish. Medium bodied, moderately carbonated.

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Photo of Myotus
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Poured hard at 43°F from a 12oz bottle (bottled on 02Oct15) into a pint glass. Beer was allowed to warm up to 45°F beer consuming. Consumed on 25Dec15.
LOOK: Pours with a fingers worth of khaki foam that dissipates into a line after 1 minute and 5 seconds. Amber in color. There is a subtle quanity of small and medium-sized rising bubbles. Lacing is thin and subtle.
SMELL: Mild aromas of toffee, tree nuts, black tea, caramel, sweet bread, and floral hops are backed my subtle spicy hop aromas.
TASTE: The initial taste is an onslaught of every flavor that was detected as an aroma but as mild flavors. What makes this beer interesting is how the flavors fade. Toffee and caramel are the first to fade away leaving behind a well-balanced taste. Sweet bread and tree nut flavors fade next resulting in a somewhat bitter, yet still balanced taste of black tea, floral hops, and spicy hops. Finally, black tea and floral hop flavor fade as spicy hop flavors grow weaker leaving a nice spice of an aftertaste.
FEEL: Medium-bodied and moderately carbonated. Goes down both somewhat smooth and creamy. Finishes with a subtle dryness.
NOTE: The aroma did not prepare me for the complexity of the taste that was to follow. I'm not too familiar with this style so I couldn't really provide any constructive criticism to make this better. But it was pretty good on its own, so why fix what ain't broke?

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Photo of AlfaMale
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Drew from tap with minimal head and minimal lacing. Dark Amber and clear in color. No essential smell noted. This beer is sweet, with floral notes and a hint of clove. Very Christmassy. Unremarkable feel. Overall, I'm non-plused, but then I tend to like IPAs and sharp lagers.

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Photo of HipCzech
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Serving: 12 oz bottle (10/28/15) poured into a 9 oz Libbey Embassy snifter.

Appearance: Clear, bright copper amber. A short lived cap of near white head recedes to a persistent ring with spotty lace.

Smell: Rich, malty aroma: cereal, caramel. Light fruity yeast, earthy hops and slight alcohol.

Taste: Warmly malty; caramel, vanilla, light fruit and spice. Earthy and herbal hops emerge towards a slightly drier finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium to fuller body, very light carbonation.

Overall: A nice winter warmer - richer, mellower than SA's Amber.

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Photo of SunglassesJoe
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Love this brew. Has the same taste and smell profile as Shiner Cheer. It's a bit darker/heavier but not by much.
Sweet aftertaste but not overwhelming by any stretch. I will be drinking a lot of the Christmas Ale this December. Feliz Navidad!

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Photo of ritwingr
2.52/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

One of the more nondescript "craft" beers I've had in some time. Pours root beer brown with virtually no head.

Smell is not much...but what there is smells distinctly like sour milk. Not milk that's weeks past its expiration date, but milk that is clearly on the way to going bad in a day or so.

That same sourness us there in the taste. It isn't vile. It isn't even overly offensive. But that's all I get from it beyond a little more carbonation than I expected.

What in Hell is Christmas about this thing is beyond me. Half a notch up from a Bud....but that's about it.

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Photo of puck1225
4.02/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pour a clear copper color into a pint. Thick off white head, decent lacing. Nice smell And taste. Sweet cinnamon and nice malt forward taste. Raisins. Not a bad Christmas ale!

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Photo of OSRAY
4.12/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Little to no carbonation. Cloudy copper in color. Delicious flavor, sweet fruit and hints of caramel on the finish. It's a long finish too. Malty and rich, almost bread like. No strong alcohol from smell or taste.

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Photo of OrestesMethuon
3.49/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a good beer. To wit: in the post-Christmas swoon, when some stores rush to unload their holiday-premised ales, I was able to score several six packs of this beer for $4.99, over the course of a few weeks, and then eventually for $3.99; considering it's a cold-temperatures beer that's pleasant and sessionable, despite its slightly boosted abv, that's a damn good deal. Moreover, I really like that this doesn't follow the usual trajectory of holiday brews: it isn't spiced, nor is it too heavy, like some blown-out barleywines or winter-warmers. It shows a lot of restraint, in fact—it just hits a few simple but effective targets: it's a surprisingly fat-bubbled, burnished-brown, damn smooth, malty-mouthed session-sipper—and I think, like the several Saint Arnold's offerings I've tried, it executes without concerning itself with flash or formulated innovation.

It's a good beer; it's also not a great beer. In a very real way, it's hemmed in by some of its strengths. It's effervescent and largely light, but—while that's makes it very drinkable—it doesn't finish especially cleanly, and likewise there are almost no discernible hop notes, necessitating either more sips or salty-snack intervention to break the malt-sugar monotony. It's pretty wonderfully brown-colored, but the brownness of flavor is not especially rich, and indeed—while quite smooth—there's just not a lot there beyond this flatness of sweet brown-malt flavor. Finally, while I called it a "session-sipper," it isn't quite an effective hybrid, nor does it sit comfortable in either category; depending on mood, it's an imperfect resident in one, with elements of the other.

But, as I stated at the outset, it's a good beer—and a welcome break from much of the holiday fare one sometimes encounters. However, at the same time, had it been sold consistently at $8+ per six-pack, I probably would not have swooped in for seconds, much less more.

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Photo of TX-Badger
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear darker copper color with off-white head. Some spice, cereal and bread, and citrus on the nose; follows onto the palate. Finishes with more malt character.

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Photo of Tuck_leepulin
4.07/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz Bottle with twist-off cap and bottled on 10/08/14. Poured into a shaker pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a clear copper with 1 finger of head that quickly dissipates

Smell: Malt and baked bread

Taste: Malt forward with a lot of biscuit, toffee, and bread notes with floral hop bitterness on the end

Mouthfeel: Medium

Overall: I enjoy this beer for what it is, a hearty malt-forward ale. There is no "spices" added which is what many people associate holiday beers with. I personally consider it a celebratory, beefed-up version of their amber ale.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.15/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. Pours clear red amber with a small creamy white head that goes to a thin film that leaves some lacing.

The aroma is sweet figgy malts with a little spice.

The flavor is sweet biscuity malts with some dark fruit and light spice. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with prickly carbonation.

Overall, an OK kind of bland Christmas beer.

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Photo of Mikecap
3.56/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a medium clear reddish amber with a thin off-white head, not much noticeable lacing.

Smell: Spice, caramel malt and a bit of pine. A nice balance of spices and what I'd expect from a Christmas ale.

Taste: Some cinnamon and spice, but more malty with some piney hop character. Not too spicy which I like, a decent balance with the malt.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation and bitterness. Creamy feel and goes down easily.

Overall: A pretty solid beer here from Saint Arnold. Not the best, but definitely worth a try.

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Photo of bigdavid77433
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First thing I noticed was the carbonation. Almost like drinking a soda, minus the sugar.

A - Nice medium dark color

S- Almost none

T- Some spice although not overwhelming as read in other reviews. Malt over hops

O- I look forward to this release in July (brief) and late Oct/Nov each year. This is a good (well priced) everyday brew, when I am looking to knock a few back without tapping into the reserve/rare/hard to find/expensive bottles on shelves in the fridge.

Just as I remember it from past bottlings. Great go to all round beer when available

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Photo of kojevergas
3.02/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard Saint Arnold label art (mainly green in colour) and a red branded twist-off pressure cap acquired at me local HEB grocery as part of a mixed 6er and served into an Avery stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average given the brewery. 2013 vintage. No ABV is listed on the bottle, but Saint Arnold's website confirms it as 7.0%. ABW is 5.6%. Reviewed as an old ale because Saint Arnold's website identifies this beer explicitly as an old ale, and it's won medals in the old ale category.

Served cold - straight from me 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 I pour.

Pours a half finger wide head of off-white colour, which recedes so fast - inside of 15 seconds - that there's no time to note its thickness or creaminess. Hopefully needless to say, I'm unimpressed with the head. 7% ABV is a bit high, but I've seen many an old ale that holds up for at least 2 minutes.

Body colour is a semitransparent rich copper/auburn. It's on the lighter side for the style. It's glowing, but I'm reticent to call it vibrant per se. Translucent. No yeast particles are visible.

Overall, it's not unique or special, and falls within style conventions. There are no egregious flaws. I'm looking forward to trying it.

Sm: Caramel/caramalts. Hints of toffee. Plenty of Christmasy spices - nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. Brown sugar. Cidery notes/apple fruit. Green grapeskin. Hints of spruce wood and nectar. Hop character is floral and fruity, but none of the notes therein are particularly evocative or distinct and are hard to identify as a result. Almonds. Slightly bready. The spices seem to play well with the dominant caramel sweetness. It evokes a Christmas ale character, primarily because of the spicing.

No yeast character or alcohol is detectable.

A pleasant aroma of average strength. I'm looking forward to trying it. It's quite approachable, but I wouldn't say it's real welcoming or inviting.

T: The body is comprised of toffee and caramel/caramalts, with some pale malt and amber malt in there too. A spruce note emerges at the end of the first act and stays through the latter two acts, lending the flavour profile a guiding cohesion. Complementary spices are present but insubstantial: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg. I get a fairly medicinal note I can't quite place, but it accompanies the caramel-induced sweetness. The brown sugar from the aroma never makes an appearance in the flavour profile. The hop profile mostly matches the aroma: there are plenty of fruity and floral hop notes, but also some unexpected herbal notes.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through. Yeast attenuation ought to be higher given the style. It could use a higher ABV and less of a hop presence.

Generally cohesive, but the build isn't a gestalt one. There's some mild complexity here, but nothing too impressive. Subtlety is wanting as well. It has a loose balance to it. Below average depth and duration of flavour. Average intensity of flavour.

I'd like to see some darker malts used in the grain bill. It strays a bit too far from the style for my tastes.

Mf: Sticky, smooth, wet. Medium bodied. Somewhat nectary. Slightly syrupy. Thick to style. Decent presence on the palate. I wouldn't quite call it chewy.

Not astringent, hot, gushed, boozy, harsh, rough, oily, or creamy.

Dr: Drinks pretty decently for the somewhat high ABV. I love that it doesn't feel like a poor man's barleywine like many (subpar) Old Ales, but it does go too far in the Amber direction - it's overly hopped for the style, there's not enough complexity/subtlety, and it's just all around unremarkable. You could do worse than to end up with a 6er of this in your fridge, but having tried this as a single I wouldn't buy it again or recommend it to friends. It could do with the warmth and added flavour of a higher malt, higher ABV build.

Devotees of traditional old ales will likely be disappointed, but the price point here makes this worth trying. Saint Arnold has put forward an inoffensive brew with Christmasy spices and above average alcohol. At the end of the day, this beer will get you drunk. Without effort, I was able to to kill the bottle inside of 15 minutes.

On the high side of average. Not worth aging. Serve cold.

High C

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Photo of Premo88
3.16/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into tulip
(365-366/FX100713 printed on bottle on top line; 17:52 printed on bottom line)

L: red, clear ... very interesting look, and standard Saint Arnold clarity -- it's as if all of Saint Arnold's brews are made following the German purity laws, pretty impressive. very soapy head, tannish on top of the brown/amber brew (red) that doesn't last long, doesn't stick, doesn't lace

S: that old ale pumpkin, cantaloupe kind of smell ... it's sweet but that muted sweetness. an obvious malt takeover and a unique mix -- not bready, not sweet biscuits, not prunes, not raisins ... it's not a lot of things you expect from malt, but there's no doubt it's malty. reminds me a lot of the pumpkin ales out these days.

T: follows the nose with a little less sweetness ... again, pumpkin, cantaloupe. it has a bit of a nutmeg taste to it, too, but this brew is all beer -- no additives to the holy quartet of water, barley, yeast, hops.

F: not bad considering how weak the head appeared ... enough carbonation and weight to feel good enough

O: it's definitely got a bit of a christmas feel with the pumpkin and nutmeg notes

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Photo of jngrizzaffi
4.04/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours dark amber color with thick foamy head that quickly dissipates, although head retention is decent. Mild lacing. Has a mildly spicy apple aroma. Bready taste up front with a mild nutty hoppy spiciness. Mildly bitter, apple like aftertaste. Good beer for holiday season.

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Christmas Ale from Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 644 ratings