Jolly Roger Christmas Ale
Maritime Pacific Brewing Company

Jolly Roger Christmas AleJolly Roger Christmas Ale
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
English Strong Ale
Ranked #17
Ranked #21,183
3.83 | pDev: 14.1%
Maritime Pacific Brewing Company
Washington, United States
Very Good
Jolly Roger Christmas AleJolly Roger Christmas Ale
Reviews: 94 | Ratings: 174
Photo of jkdrummer
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My first Maritime Christmas Ale. Poured nicely. But the head dies after a few sips, just a thin layer of lace. Smells good. Brown sugar, and a ton of malt aromas. The taste is powerful with alcohol and extra bitterness. A true Christmas ale IMHO. The spicy tang of the hops dominates the after taste. Sweet, but not too sweet. Really reminds me of a barley wine. The low price makes a good recommendation.


 409 characters

Photo of NoHipTee
3.04/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

bottle to glass.

Appearance was a perfect amber with little to no head. The thin head did completely dissipates within a few seconds. Leaves a dissapointing flat look. Very few bubbles.

Smell was also very promising. A hint of candy cane, brown sugar, raisins and toasted fruit cake.

Taste is a little overwhelming but does eventually settle down. The bitterness and alcohol slowly lets the complex flavors thru. The finish is a little dissapointing also. It has a lingering bitterness that will not let the smoothness complete the experience. I may have detected a hint of crushed blue spruce pine needles in the after taste at the back of my tongue.

Mouth feel is similar to appearance. It is a thin less than effervescent bite from the bitterness.

Drinkability is low on my scale due to the bitterness. I must admit to drinking several but I also like a good bitter ESB. I cut my teeth on the original Redhook ESB.

Overall worth a try but not high on my list of wonderful Christmas beers.

 998 characters

Photo of RedDiamond
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This muscular, super-hopped winter warmer has been keeping me happy for years. I look forward to it annually as the days grow shorter and the beers get bigger. Jolly Roger has a sugar frosted flavor with a fierce undercurrent of hop spice. It's built on rock-solid bittering with gleeful elements of cinnamon, spearmint, nutmeg, and black pepper that converge in skilled synchrony like a great jazz combo.

Jolly is a big-bodied ale with compelling drinkability. It is brandy colored with sketchy lace and a sugar-water aroma tinged with a few agreeable phenols.

I'm willing to concede that I have something of a personal attachment to this beer that may color my perceptions. After spending as many holiday seasons with JR as I have, I've grown to expect that it just wouldn't be winter without it. I've got an almost child-like emotional attachment to it that I can't separate from the experience of Christmas itself. You know, like "visions of sugarplums danced in their heads." That sort of thing. Only now that I'm all grown up, it ain't sugarplums. It's big winter ales like this one.

 1,095 characters

Photo of plaid75
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a murky dark copper hue with a half finger foamy white head. There was decent retention and lacing.

The smell featured a heavy cereal grain, some vanilla and alcohol.

The taste was upfront malty, with some vanilla and spice. There was a noticable alcohol warming. Some earthy yeast esters as well.

The mouthfeel was toward the fuller side and mildly chewy.

Overall a complex and unique winter warmer. A bit too sweet for my taste however.

 449 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber color with a bubbly head that retains and laces nicely

Smell: Burnt caramel, some "C" hops, cinnamon, vanilla and more burnt caramel

Taste: Opens with a rich toffee flavor that builds with vanilla and cinnamon elements while moving in a bitter hoppy direction, simultaneously, by mid-palate; after the swallow, all hell breaks loose on my palate, like a Winter Warmer meets West Coast IPA meets Barleywine; an odd cocoa powder element appears at the very end

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation; plenty of warmth after the swallow

Drinkability: All I can say is "wow" that is one bizarre beer; the brewers must have been shooting for a "pangea" of beer styles in a single bottle; a fascinating experiment and I'm glad I tried it but I don't think I could drink more than one of these

Thanks, mikeale, for the opportunity

 877 characters

Photo of tempest
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Matt K. for bringing this one back from Seattle. It's a hazy orange in my glass with little head or lacing. Basically it's a red ale with decent hops to it. I also get some very slight cocoa along with the smooth and roasted caramel flavors. Not a bad beer, but nothing new or inspiring.

 297 characters

Photo of froggyfrog
4.62/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer was a very pleasant surprise. 12 oz. bottle to snifter for serving.

A: Clear and bright with darker swirling hues and a solid small-bubble head.

S: Amazing. Fruity in a dark way with apricot, figs and sugar. Very complex: English marmalade toast, cinnamon, caramel and all other manner of sweet aromas blend together with mild spicy alcohol and earthy hops.

T: Perfectly follows the nose delivering a light sugary ride with notes of tree bark and caramel apples and nectar fruits. Alcohol is present yet subdued.

M: Smooth, smooth and smooth. This beer is like an incredibly drinkable barleywine. Great complexity, yet light on the tongue. Full of fruity sugary sweetness yet exquisitely balanced and (did I mention) smooth.

D: See above.

Overall: Like a mini-barley wine. Tons of flavor and great aroma paired with medium strength alcohol and a mouthfeel to die for. Great, great beer from a brewery I had never heard of until tonight. Thanks to Svejk for the hook up!

 985 characters

Photo of redelephantdane
3.45/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured into pint glass
a - hazy amber, one finger head that dies down quick, a few beads lace remain on the side of glass, almost red.

s - slightly floral with hop citrus. not particularly smelly.

t - malt sweetness at first, ripe juicy fruits that finishes with hops

m - slightly heavier than expected, not as smooth as the style usually is. crisp finish.

d - definitely not a session, one will do fine.

 409 characters

Photo of SeattleVike
4.75/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is the first beer I have reviewed on this site, most likely because it is the absolute best winter brew I have ever had. I will definitely be picking up another 6-pak of this. Also tried an Avalanche by Snoqualmie Brewery earlier this week....also good....but not THIS good.

 279 characters

Photo of kirok1999
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark gold with almost no head and just a little sticky lacing. Smell is kind of mild, some spice, sweet malt and some raisins.
Taste is very spicy; cinnamon, ginger, nice caramel malt backbone makes it very drinkable. Nice amount of hops to give it a bitter finish that blends well with the spices.
Nice heavy mouthfeel, thick and creamy and very nice on a chilly night.

 384 characters

Photo of franksnbeans
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky caramel color with a ruby hue. Couple fingers of cream colored head after an aggressive pour that died slow and leaves sticky sheets of lace. Smells of sherry, fig, plum, molassas, a little spice, very sweet. Big flavors. Sherry type alcohol is predominant with a backbone of caramel, cinnimon, fig and dried plum. Feels full in the mouth with a slightly hoppy finish. Resembles a barleywine. A sipper for sure. A nice treat but probably be even better on a snowy winter day (hence winter warmer)

 510 characters

Photo of jletts
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Late 2005 Jolly Roger served in a tulip at cellar temperature. I have been hanging on to this bottle for some time now…it was my first contribution to my beer cellar over a year ago now. Today I found out my wife passed the Washington State Bar Exam, so it was a perfect occasion to celebrate with an aged Jolly. We split the bottle and both contributed to this review.

Appeared copper-red with a thin, quickly fading dusty-white head that was easily revived with a quick swirl of the glass. Smelled of molasses and alcohol with apples and dried, dark sugary fruit. The flavors were well balanced, much more so than the fresh version. Tasted sweet up front, then slightly bitter with deep woody, earthy hop, a little metallic, finishing with dark brown molasses at the end. The mouthfeel is very smooth with medium viscosity, nice for the style.
It was just a pleasure to drink this beer…too bad I didn’t save a second bottle.

 933 characters

Photo of woemad
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle purchased at Jim's Homebrew in Spokane for $1.66. I've never had this in bottle, but I've had it twice on-tap.

Poured a hazy russet color with a modest, off-white head that dropped in about 2 minutes, though a foam collar did endure. Modest, spotty lace.

The smell is malty, with a mild spiciness. Seems a little underdone, though it certainly doesn't smell objectionable. It made me wish I could smell more of what I was smelling, if that makes any sense.

Mildly spicy, in a vaguely christmas-y way. Otherwise, very malty. The only sign of hops is in a slight dryness. This tastes good without being particulary interesting.

Mouthfeel could best be described as "medium", which is also how I would describe the body.

This tastes like a totally average beer. I know there are a lot of people who rave about it. I myself first had it on-tap at a sportsbar in Mt Vernon a couple of years ago and found it much like this. A couple of weeks later, I had it at The Elk in Spokane and it was awesome. I suppose this is a beer that varies according to the batch or when it is fresh on-tap. If I have another experience with this beer that is different, I will post another beer.

EDIT: Another bottle purchased the same time as the last, but consumed about a month later, was awesome. It seems like every other serving I have of this beer is great. Very weird.

 1,372 characters

Photo of Brewfan
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my Ommegang chalice.

Decent tan head with good retention. Eventually faded into a layer of lace that, after 30 minutes is still heavily present. Nice. Clear copper color.
Malty, spicy nose. Some hops comes through. Caramelly afternotes. Definite alcohol on the nose as well.
Nice big flavor. Hoppy but not overly. Alcohol makes itself known early. Malty and moderately spiced.
Medium mouthfeel boardering on med/large. Get a bit chewy as the beer warms up. Mild carbonation. Very drinkable.

 512 characters

Photo of erikjon
4.37/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wow... had this with dinner at a steakhouse in downtown Seattle. This could have been a meal in and of itself. After two (before dinner came), I was feeling it. I hadn't eaten anything all day, but I was still a little surprised at how it hit me... it wasn't until I got home and looked it up and found that the alcohol content was 9% that it all made sense. Anyway, on to the beer... great color and smell... I couldn't wait to jump right in. Lots of malt and hops with a great full bodied caramel flavor. The first one went down so easily, I hardly remembered the transition into the second! At 9%, its definitely not for the weak hearted, and being a winter brew, this will keep you warm on the cold, damp nights in the Pacific Northwest. I would highly recommend this one.

 776 characters

Photo of leedorham
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a fairly clear orange-copper color with a thin off-white head that dissipates quickly.

The aroma is not strong. Slightly sweet with a bit of hop character. A bit spicy also.

The first thing that strikes me at first sip is the viscosity. It has a very syrupy texture. Strong bitter and caramel character with a slight toasted backround the finish is again a bit spicy with slight fruit character.

The alcohol is very much at the forefront and the drink has a rummy character to it. I can definitely feel a burn with every swallow. It is a medium-high abv that drinks like a very high abv and for that reason I can't score it too high on drinkability. Good offering nonetheless.

 692 characters

Photo of RJLarse
3.21/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

This one was on tap at the Elk Public House in Spokane, WA. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a dark copper color and is clear. A white head forms and is some what resilient. Nice lacing.

The smell is faint, but piney, evergreen. Like an IPA

Taste is a sweet malt caramel backbone up front with a hop finish. There is a bitter aftertaste that lingers.

Mouth Feel is smooth maybe a little flat. It has a sticky feel.

This one is not real sessionable. It would be worth having a couple but that's all. It's kind of strong tasting, and the ABV is a little high. Not the most drinkable brew.

 599 characters

Photo of loren01
4.23/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a cloudy reddish color with good sized sticky white head. Good lace down the glass.
S: Smells malty, slightly metallic scent
T: Good maltiness up front, bitter hoppiness toward the back end. More bitter and dry than I expected
M: Full bodied beer, could only do one or two at a time, no more probably
D: Perfect brew for a rainy chilly Seattle evening, good winter warmer.

 386 characters

Photo of GimmeAles
4.59/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one is surprisingly hard to find even locally – whether because of demand or supply (or both), I’m not sure, but I’ve upped the ‘demand’ part of the equation after finding some.

Pours a cloudy, iridescent russet with ruby and garnet highlights that twinkle through. Head forms to 2-fingers in the tulip glass, but quickly dissipates to a ring and bedraggled wisps.

When cold, notes of metallic, green hops are first, but oh when it warms up; one of the nicest crème-caramel and rich, butterscotch aromas I can remember. Really a lovely nose when served at the right temp.

Flavor goes deeper in every direction; leafy-green hop bitterness is there, but grows substantially subdued through the bottle. Butterscotch candy, dark rum and maraschino cherries all make for a beautiful foundation to the fading, yet still present hops. The hops and good ole’ alcohol burn keep things spicy, though I’m not sure if any spices are specifically used.

Mouthfeel is moderate-to-full with light carbonation- just right for a winter warmer. Thick without being cloying, but begging another hit of the creamy-caramel goodness.

Overall an awesome beer and I’m struggling to remember a better example of the style. I’ll bee seeking out more to drink now and some to put-down for a bit, I’ll bet this ages into something fiercely delicious.

 1,353 characters

Photo of xoqx
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a good beer from a good brewery. It's somewhat peculiar to me it's only been reviewed 30 times as of the writing of this as it's a perennial local favorite. Jolly Roger is a red-brown brew with light-to-average retention of its off-white head. The retention is impressive considering the higher alcohol content. There is a spicy hop aroma and the taste is complex with caramel, herbal, and slightly medicinal tastes as well as some raisiny, toasty flavor with a toffee note. There is a medium-long finish. The mouthfeel is crisp and sharpy carbonated. The 8% alcohol content is detectable as warmth. A good drinkable winter warmer.

 639 characters

Photo of IntriqKen
4.65/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Another amazing brew received from skyhand. Thank you.
Medium crystal clear amber with a half finger head that takes a verylong time to finally settle into a top coating lace of sticky foam.
Aromas are simply sweet malt...I can't notice anything else there. Malts are definately toasted in aroma, however.
Flavor, however is very complex and very, very wonderful. Sweet toasted amber malts, caramel, definate pine resin hops and alcohol. Honestly there is much more to the complex flavor but I can't identify it individually because it is very well balanced and blended,
I can feel the 8% ABV advertised and it is pleasant.
Aftertaste is also very pleasant...nothing cloying although the brew was sweet enough...nothing bitter, although it was amply hopped. Just dry and pleasant.
Good...perhaps great, winter warmer. 8% helps...a winter warmer should be stronger.
Thanks again to skyhand...especially thanks for two bottles...I will love the second even more than the first since I will do so merely for pleasure and not to review.

 1,040 characters

Photo of ElGordo
4.02/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A longtime customer brought this in to the store for me to try the other day. Thanks Jack for the gift...
Pours a nice-looking orange-amber hue, topped by a small, short-lived flourish of creamy white head. Head diminishes to thin, wispy coating in under a minute. Aroma of piney hops along with some roasted caramel malt. Notes of spruce and a light smokiness are detectable through the generous whiff of alcohol.
Palate is a complex blend of piney hops that are somewhat subdued by the lightly sweet, sticky malt. The bitterness comes through on the finish, with a good bit of spruce emerging on the aftertaste. Body is smooth and more than a little creamy, an unexpected pleasure in a winter warmer. The ample alcohol makes this one you'll probably want to drink in moderation, but overall a very tasty brew. I'll have to explore more of this brewery's offerings next time I'm in Seattle.

 896 characters

Photo of ppoitras
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle obtained via trade with CRJMellor. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/4" tan head over the almost clear orangey amber brew. Head is quickly down to a swirly layer of itty bitty bubbles, and lacing is average. Aroma is a bit syrupy, with piney hop notes. Taste is intense upfront, with everything coming at once. The sweetness and hops are both right there, and the rest of the experience is the tsunami roiling and the receding. Mouthfeel is nice once things settle down, and drinkability is quite good for the style and the abv. A winter warmer I wouldn't mind wintering with.

 635 characters

Photo of waldowin
4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours a golden amber, with a *massive* head that fades down to a ring. Almost crystal clear. Good lacing, nothing too lasting though.

The first thing that let me know I was on to something was the smell when the bottle was poured. Rum, raisins, plums, cinnamon, and dough.

And the taste is similar. Raisins, cherries, plums, and a hit of a cinnamon roll somewhere, make this very good, and near to some belgian darks I've had in taste.

Mouthfeel is average. Medium body, decent carbonation. No real aftertaste.

Very smooth and clean, with litte/no aftertaste, I could drink this all night.

This is the first sixpack of a beer I've bought in *months*. Usually I buy one bottle of several types of beer, returning to one rarely if I know it's good. Bought a six-pack of this the other day after trying one bottle a week ago. It saddens me to learn of this beer so soon to the end of its run. Definitely gives me something to look forward to next winter.

 967 characters

Photo of nathanho
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, 2 finger head, amber color with a small bucket o' blood thrown in for drama. I drank 3 cases over the holidays, so no need to comment much on drinkability.

Smells like alcohol and candy; burnt sugar; nuttiness.

Tastes of brandy, alcohol, spice, caramel, roasted nuts.. Feels viscous with the perfect amount of carbonation.

Of the many seasonal beers I've sampled this year, this is the one that overwhelmingly commended shelf space in my reefer. I hunted it down with zealous fervor.

This stuff is brewed under the Ballard Bridge and literally flies off the shelves each year in the Emerald City and surrounding environs...for good reason.

 666 characters

Jolly Roger Christmas Ale from Maritime Pacific Brewing Company
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 174 ratings