Bison Organic Gingerbread Ale | Bison Brewing

145 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Bison Organic Gingerbread AleBison Organic Gingerbread Ale

Brewed by:
Bison Brewing
California, United States

Style: Herbed / Spiced Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
20 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-03-2001

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 145 | Ratings: 286
Photo of DrDemento456
3.35/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Looks like a good porter maybe a touch thin with a clear amber hue. Head is a nice opaque color.

S - Not much roast or coffee but a nice balance of hops, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

T - Kind of lackluster very little porter flavors maybe some roast and cinnamon and nutmeg seems timid enough. Worst part is a chalky hard water flavor, boo!

M - Light to medium, thin not very chewy. Poor example of a porter.

Overall not worth getting and very disappointed since this has been on my tick list for a while. Not very gingerbread tasting at all, just a spiced weak porter.

 570 characters

Photo of seand
3.48/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark translucent brown with a fair amount of light tan head. The foam dissipates to a thin but solid layer, and leaves reasonably good lacing.

S: Sweet roasted malt with light spices.

T: Lightly sweet and roasted. Somewhat surprisingly thin, and the spices are quite subtle. Aftertaste is light and pleasant with a touch of the spices.

M: Light to medium body, medium carbonation.

Overall, decent, but nothing to rave about. I doubt I'll buy it again, but I wouldn't turn one down if it were offered.

 515 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
3.48/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a clear dark brown in color with significant garnet red highlights and very light amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a two finger tall tan head that very slowly reduces to a thick film covering the entire surface of the beer and a slightly thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Huge amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of gingerbread with some lighter malty notes and some very light hints of molasses.

T: Moderately malty with some notes of brown sugar sweetness along with some stronger notes of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Some lighter notes of allspice and molasses. Light bitterness in the finish.

M: Just heavier than medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation.

O: I found this to be a very enjoyable holiday beer and really thought it was probably the best beer I have had from this brewery. I like the addition of the gingerbread spices and think it really hits on that flavor profile. Fairly easy to drink.

 984 characters

Photo of bulldog91
3.21/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A dark, thick looking pour with minimal head
Roast, malty aroma
Taste of roast, malt but not some of the other flavors I anticipated.
Mouthfeel is flat - and not as thick as expected.
A good beer - not finding the gingerbread in here, but other flavors bopping around in there .

 279 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.55/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Thin rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and some mild spice aromas. Taste is much the same with the spices coming through as more earthy than sweet. There is a mild roasty and spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is tasty but more earthy than I was expecting.

 538 characters

Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.45/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Organic beer? OH YEAH, I HIT THE JACKPOT! I’m pretty sure most craft beer could be considered organic, but hey, whatever helps sell (hopefully) good beer.

A: Syrupy pour; this definitely looks like more than 6%. The body looks like maple syrup, a rich toffee brown with just a touch of fizzy offwhite head on top. Retention is just a slight discoloring over the body, with very little lacing.

S: Not really gingerbread; more like cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla on toasty chocolate malt. There is ginger, but it’s mild. In reality, it’s more of a dark, roasty amber, showing off smooth coffee, rye bread, and toasted coconut notes. Pleasant, but not what I was expecting.

T: More residual sugars, and look at that – more ginger! This actually has a decent gingerbread profile to it, though it plays mainly on the sugar aspect than the spice. Dark malt exhibits light coffee, toasted pecan, and a chocolaty, pastry-like breadiness before leveling out with vanilla syrup, leaving this fairly creamy. It has a big cola element to it, too; it’s like the sugars are there, but the malts are there more for spice than support (i.e., too thin to back it up). Slight bite of herbal hops and cinnamon/ginger, then it quickly finishes – roasty, thankfully, but mild overall.

M: Very thin beer; it’s like it’s begging you to drink it out of the bottle. I’m afraid to let it warm up too much…

O: It’s not like I didn’t enjoy this one…I guess I can’t complain too much, then. It’s no gingerbread beer, but it sure satisfied my roast-loving taste buds.

 1,571 characters

Photo of Phelps
3.47/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bison’s spiced holiday porter, this is brewed with ginger, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. Enjoyed in a shaker pint at Boulders on Broadway.

Deep black with clearer crimson highlights at the very edges. Almost nonexistent, light-tan head.

Spicy porter aroma. Dark chocolate, licorice, lots and lots of ginger.

Tons of ginger in the flavor, too. Spicy and dry, with a hint of burnt roast in the finish along with flash of tanginess. Clean finish.

Medium-light body, very thin and airy. Soft, massaging carbonation with a good amount of fizz.

The ginger in this one edges very close to becoming overbearing. I could use more roast to back it up. Good idea, but something was missed in the execution.

 705 characters

Photo of bbb099
4/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark, blackish amber with white wispy head that dissipated quickly.

S - Caramel with some gingerbread, honey, and cinnamon.

T - Sweet honey and caramel accompanied by mild spices and hints of ginger.

M - Medium carbonation, medium bodied.

O - Smooth and drinkable spiced beer. If only it is slightly cheaper.

 316 characters

Photo of maxwellboh
3.29/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Flipping through the pages of the local brew pub and the synopsis of this Bison Gingerbread Ale caught my eye. Now it being after Valentine's Day I was still ready to pucker up to this spicy note driven brew. Wow, the smell was incredible. My partner drinking with me had three separate sips from the glass we were sharing before I was ready to relieve my nose from the empty bottle. Then I had my first sip...initially the mouthfeel was Christmas time all over again, but within seconds I had snapped out of my flashback. My scores reflect my excitement as I watched the ale being poured and then handed the bottle. My overall score is my confusion of how fast that taste was gone. Luckily ever sip it comes back, but at $5.50 a 12 oz. bottle...I am just glad I tried it.

 772 characters

Photo of UDbeernut
3.79/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

bottle courtesy of coldbrewky and friends, poured into a cheater pint glass. No Freshness info.

Deep dark amber with tan on the edges capped by an almost nonexsitant head that reduces to a small cap.

Nose is full of ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Inviting!

Taste is much of the same as the nose with a tad of caramel.

Medium bodied, this beer would have served well on Xmas Eve waiting for Santa to come down the chimney... that is if he got by the blazing stove.

 466 characters

Photo of HardTarget
3.93/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark amber body shows some clarity with back light. Tiny bubbled tight knit head drops to a full cover and spray paints the side of the glass with sticky lace.

Smell: What it says on the tin... mostly. The Gingerbread smell is there, doughy with some ginger spice, but like most spice beers, the line between strong full aroma and dusty overload is a pretty thin line. Mild artificial element to the smell, hard to describe.

Taste: Mild, almost watery. Thin malt profile with some roasted grain but not much. Spices are pretty well in line letting the beer come through. Balance seems between the spice and malt, hops don't show up.

Mouthfeel: A tad fizzy, light bodied, dry chew in the finish.

Overall: A nice beer. The Organic label scares me more than attracts me, but this comes off with just a hint of rain water and unwashed tin.

 851 characters

Photo of barczar
3.03/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear deep brown with ruddy highlights. A half inch beige head dissipates into a coating of light foam, leaving hints of lace.

Aroma is sweet caramel and toasted brown sugar, very sweet, with significant ginger and cinnamon present. An acrid roast character is apparent. As it warms, I realize there's a very prominent cola smell.

Ginger dominates the flavor profile, with subdued toasted malt carrying through to the cinnamon, brown sugar, slightly bitter finish. It's almost peppery. There's an acrid slightly sour flavor that is unwelcome. Chocolate comes out in subsequent sips.

Body is medium light, with moderately high carbonation. The finish is a bit astringent.

Overall, not a bad beer for what it is, but the acrid malt flavor is offputting. I'm not a ginger fan, so not my fave, but...

 808 characters

Photo of Scotchboy
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes, sampled 12/29.

12oz bottle poured into a Sam Smith nonic.

A: Pours much darker than I expected, a nearly opaque brown that turns to full mahogany in the light...small off-white head recedes quickly.

S: Nose is a balanced spice attack; nutmeg, clove, hints of cinnamon, allspice, and ginger of course...toasted sweet bread underneath that.

T: the spices are king here as well...almost leans Belgian for a second...not peppery, but spicy for sure. Nutmeg and ginger dominate, dark fruits, currants, cinnamon raisin bread, toasted rye.

MF: Pretty thin, with the flavors washing quickly away leaving only some spicy dryness.

O: Its ok and above average, but not as gingerbread/ginger snap forward as I would like, plus the finish is disjointed and a little unpleasant...watery bitterness washes away all of the good aspects of the beer.

 850 characters

Photo of Pencible
3.41/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured a nearly clear black cherry with moderate light tan head.
S: It smelled like ginger and coffee, with a little clove and dark chocolate and a bit of cinnamon.
T: It tasted like dark chocolate and coffee, with some ginger and a little clove and cinnamon. It had a mostly clean bittersweet aftertaste.
M: It was watery with moderate carbonation. Fairly light body.
D: This was not that great of a beer, with the ginger character not mixing well with the porter base. The body was pretty weak too. It wasn't difficult to drink, but it wasn't very enjoyable either. Not recommended.

 592 characters

Photo of hosehead83
3.57/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.
Dark brown with ruby highlights, rather short head of tan foam.
Aroma-Gingerbread and nutmeg
Taste-Soft flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and gingerbread. Rather thin-bodied and seems to go flat in a hurry. More of "everything" would greatly help things out here. Decent at best. Maybe for washing down some real gingerbread cookies.

 383 characters

Photo of Minkybut
3.94/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this interesting beer into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The beer was nearly black and poured a really nice tan colored head. The smell was spicy and so was the taste. Definitely could taste the ginger and other holiday spices in this one but it was not so strong that is blowed you away. I would buy again.

 312 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
3.58/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Single finger head with nice lacing on a a dark body with reddish hues. The aroma is of light ginger bread and I was hoping for more. The tasting left much to be desired. This Ed a very watered down beer with malt and mild gingerbread notes. Kind of disappointing. Some bitterness to the finish. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Overall I expected a lot more out of this beer BUT it is organic so taking that into cOnsideration I must rate it as such.

 456 characters

Photo of buschbeer
3.23/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle
Served in a pint glass

A - It pours copper colored with an inch of tan head.

S - I smell ginger right off the bat. I get some faint toast as well.

T - I taste the ginger. I also get plenty of spiciness, clove.

M - Medium with plenty of carbonation.

O - I was hoping for a pleasant experience only to be disappointed. This beer is overspiced for my liking. I keep trying to imagine gingerbread, but I can't make that stretch.

 442 characters

Photo of Zraly
3.71/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown-black with chestnut highlights. Head is off-white and fairly thin. Smells is definitely spice heavy; heady notes of cinnamon and ginger permeate the nose upfront.

I was a bit surprised as much of the spicy smell did not translate to the beer. This could be a good thing -- too much spice can be a disaster. Molasses and roasted malts come through with gentle notes of ginger and cinnamon playing a role in the dry-down and finish. A hint of chocolate lingers about and the aftertaste has a nuttiness and earthiness to it. There is a bit of chew to its medium body.

Mainly a decent porter with a ton of spice smell and a touch of spice once it hits your mouth. Not a bad choice to pair with the hedonistic inhaling of freshly baked holiday cookies.

 770 characters

Photo of AdamBear
3.77/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-dark brown, translucent edges, thin light tan head

S-smells like a gingerbread cookie with dark roasted malts and autumn spices. smells good!

T-comes in with a malty taste of dark grains and ends with an okay taste of autumn spices and ginger bread. some off-taste to it. not extremely well balanced.

M-medium dry carbonation with a dry finish

O-interesting. more of a novelty beer than anything. fun to drink but i'm not about to buy any more.

 450 characters

Photo of bamadog
3.45/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love gingerbread. I love beer. How can I go wrong? Review is from notes taken on 12/5/2011 and poured from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pour is a deep and dark cola brown; starts with a solid 1 and 1/2 finger beige head with decent retention; head becomes scarred and pockmarked as it slowly dwindles; body is solid clarity, and while dark, I can still see solid carbonation bubbling up throughout; head fades to a pretty full, but uneven cap and leaves a couple of washes and spots of dry lacing behind.

Smell: Yep. Gingerbread. Lots of it, but not in an overwhelming sense -- it seems pretty fitting, actually. Slight, dry, bready maltiness. Not a ton going on, but the gingerbread is dominant like it should be and.

Taste: Not too bad, but the flavors are a little thin and watery -- the gingerbread is there, but it drinks more like a gingerbread flavored Coke as opposed to a beer.

Mouthfeel: Lighter body than I would have liked, and overall, I would really prefer a beer with the warm spiciness going on to be a tad chewier, but it's still not too bad; carbonation is prickly and thorough and it leaves the mouth tingly; a thin, dry stickiness is left on the palate.

Overall: Not bad, but I think that 4 Calling Birds, as far as being a beer brewed with gingerbread, is (obviously?) the superior offering. I like the creativity, though, and I can get behind Bison's intentions of being all organic, so I am not opposed to drinking it again. Not something I would go out of my way for, but if it's available, and the price is still right, it will make its way to my fridge again.

 1,604 characters

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.73/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - burgundy hue with a touch of browm. A light mocha head fluffs up to a thin finger before settling in at a thin but kind of sticky cover. Some decent legs of lace maintain as the beer level drops.

Aroma - light molasses sniff, the malts giving support, maybe giving a cola-esque smell. Some nice roastiness with warmth.

Taste - malty and molasses, as billed. The balancing bitterness is there, I'm not sure it's needed though. The brew isn't especially sweet, but the hops do their job to provide some offset to the sugars. Nice roasty element on the swallow, even some coffee notes in there. More roasty grain than molasses on the finish, especially as this warms up.

Mouthfeel - crisp, moderately weighted, decent body.

Drinkability - my first bottle of this I didn't care much for. Tonight, after baking up several dozen gingerbread cookies, I took another crack at it and liked it much better. Could use more breadiness - it doesn't hit me as a full on gingerbread beer, but it's got enought to merit some holiday props. Nice job, Bison.

 1,057 characters

Photo of Bierguy5
3.25/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, 6% abv. Pours deep brown, with some slight ruby edges. Tan head fades to a ring rather quickly.

Roasty malt aroma, with a healthy amount of ginger. A bit of a bread-like feel in the nose. Maybe some nutmeg or other spices as well, but ginger is the theme.

Malt character is roasty, and very dry. Some ginger, and an earthy, herbal feel. Not much really going on here.

Light body, a good amount of carbonation. Alcohol is hidden well. Overall, not as interesting as it sounds. Disappointing.

 510 characters

Photo of tony223366
3.32/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A: Looks like soda. Really fizzy head. Dark brown with red highlights. Looks a lot like a glass of coke!

S: Big time ginger. I mean a lot. Some clean piney hops come through too. Some rich malts too. I think for a "gingerbread beer" they hit it on the nose.

T: I really thought there'd be a lot more POW to this beer. The malts come through in a lightly chocolaty, roasted way. Hops also come through in a nice piney way. The ginger is there, but not dominant. Just... nothing exciting about this.

M: Worst part by far. Way too light of a body and poor carbonation. It feels watery. Disappointment.

O: This beer is disappointing because it could be a great winter beer. Bison should really take a step back and rework it. Maybe try an imperial version?

 756 characters

Photo of JayS2629
3.19/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

It pours a dark black with a one finger tan head that fades fast and leaves soapy lacing.

The aroma is great. Smells of chocolate and freshly baked gingerbread men. Ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and vanilla.

Front end taste like roasted malt and cocoa with faint hints of ginger. Little too much grassy hops going on.

Too thin for a porter.

Overall, drinkable but not as interesting as the concept.

 401 characters

Bison Organic Gingerbread Ale from Bison Brewing
3.47 out of 5 based on 286 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.