Bison Organic Gingerbread Ale | Bison Brewing

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Bison Organic Gingerbread AleBison Organic Gingerbread Ale
288 Ratings
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

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Ratings: 288 |  Reviews: 145
Photo of superdedooperboy
3.75/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle into a stemmed pilsner flute.

Pours a murky dark brown, showing some slight traces of mahogany or cherrywood when held to the light. Issues a one-fingered head of light tan foam that recedes slowly and settles into a thick crown of foam, sticking easily to the walls of the glass and leaving behind a patchwork of lacy rings.

The aroma certainly shows off this beer's intent, with a wonderful interplay of ginger, toffee, and dark brown sugar. Certainly brings to mind some nice, warm Lebkuchen.

A smooth, medium body is enhanced by a light-to-moderate level of carbonation. The first notes that seem to show themselves on the palate are a bit of mildly burnt roast and toffee. Further developments follow, bringing along some faint toasty melanoidins, burnished brown sugar, and spicy ginger. The finish is somewhat long and dry, with ginger and toffee in the lead followed by a lingering roastiness that is slow-fading.

This porter is easily drinkable and a nice variation on the style, keeping up a nice balancing act while managing to become a perfect beer for the holiday season.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.96/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beer and food pairing #2 for tonight: French vanilla ice cream with gingerbread ale. It sounds like a winner, and I know the ice cream will be good. What about the beer? On to the beer:

I didn't know if I'd get something pale or something dark. I end up getting a very dark brown color with a semi-creamy head on top, which is thick and holding up well. The does kind of smell of gingerbread. The ginger and nutmeg are most obvious to the nose. Very light in the dark malt department.

This has a nice flavor. It does remind me of gingerbread. The ginger is well placed, some cinnamon emerges, and there's enough dark malt (reminiscent of doughy bread and toffee) to make a decent enough beer without the spices. The body is very smooth and kind of creamy. Easy to drink as well, unlike some of the other spiced beers.

It's possible the ice cream pairing enhanced my experience with Bison's Gingerbread Ale. I wasn't sure how this would pan out, but it has turned out for the better. This is a Bison product I would surely do again.

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Photo of illidurit
2.56/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a pint glass. Clear dark brown with a nice tan head. Overspiced aroma with, in order of intensity, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. There's also this slight off-note that I can't really put my finger on. Rotten pumpkin? Melting plastic? It's very minor but it's there. Flavor is watery porter with the expected gingerbread character dominating. Doesn't taste artificial but it's just too much for me. It's like on Christmas if someone makes gingerbread cookies and you eat like 12 of them and then you never want to taste gingerbread again. That's how I feel three quarters of the way through this beer. Mouthfeel is dry and bitter with roastiness but there's a significant astringency also. Cloyingness detracts from drinkability.

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Photo of rtratzlaff
3.52/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a black body with brown hues around the rim of the glass. A rather soft pour produces a thin off white head that sticks around for a bit. The aroma is roasted barley bread along with ginger and some cinnamon. The first sip imparts a roasted coffee like bitterness from the malt bill along with plenty of ginger spice. The experience is almost like taking a bit of a gingerbread cookie then having a sip of a cold dark coffee. The carbonation is ample and the mouthfeel is quite full bodied. I would not want to have too many of these, but it is a nice little nod to gingerbread. Of all the "Christmas/Holiday/Winter" spiced beers, this one probably accomplishes what it sets out to do much better than most.

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Photo of towersfall
3.78/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Dark brown pour with a pretty cream colored head that lingers.

Smell: Cinnamon and nutmeg come first quickly followed by some caramel malts maybe? Its a great smell (I wouldn't say gingerbread) that reflects strongly on winter time.

Taste: Wow! A delicious gingerbread taste (created by the cinnamon and nutmeg) really greets the taste buds.

Mouthfeel: A medium body with a good aftertaste.

Drinkability: I liked it, but I don't know how much of the cinnamon/nutmeg taste I could stand. It is quite delicious though for 1 or 2.

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Photo of avalon07
3.67/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a dark brown color and a cloudy texture. There was a small amount of foamy head that quickly dissipated. OK lacing.

S: Once you open the bottle you get a big whiff of the ginger element of the beer. Also smells of sweet malt and a little hops.

T: Tasted of ginger, cinnamon, malt, a little hops and some other spices. A very tart and sharp.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a dry, smooth finish. Light-bodied.

D: A drinkable beer, but not something I'd readily drink again.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.65/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a thick black hue with good head on top of a sharp ginger smell with hints of cinnamon, caramel and bready sweet malts with no real hop presence. The body is medium-to-full and a little sticky but maintain a bready, ginger spice feel although isn't completely natural and not as smooth as I would've hoped. Not as chewey as slushy and finishes with a dry backbite that reminded me of faint bitter chocolate or toffee. A good beer but just seemed like it could've been better.

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Photo of atsprings
4.17/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a DFH Signature glass a dark brown with ruby highlights and a decent khaki head that diminishes to a ring and leaves slight lacing on the glass. Aroma is ginger and sweet caramel malts with slight cinnamon and brown sugar. The taste is a nice blend of sweet malts, ginger, cinnamon and brown sugar with a nice sweet finish, very reminiscent of a gingerbread cookie. The beer is on the light side of medium with well hidden alcohol. This one was very enjoyable, one of the best beers from Bison I've had yet.

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Photo of Sechavar
3.24/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I love gingerbread. Love it. Like cherries, I can have it in almost any form. Bread. Cookie. Candy. Ice cream. Pretzel. The list goes on. So when I saw the beer I was like, "Yeah, I'm gonna drink that. Awesome." We poured it cold and as it warmed up the gingerbread aroma started to come out. And it had this great, deep, red color. Very vibrant, actually. Thin head, but ehn, whatev-s. But I ended up being disappointed. The aroma was, say, from 1 to 10, a 1 when we opened the bottle because it was cold. And then it warmed up to about a 3, maybe a 4, but then it just stopped. Bitch is near room temperature and you have to swirl her and put half your face in the glass to get the scent. Boo. More hop than gingerbread, basically. If you like IPAs and gingerbread, but like IPA more by several degrees, then it's for you. If you think it's going to be like gingerbread in the form of beer. No. No. You are wrong.

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Photo of Magpie14
3.94/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: poured much like a thin porter with a ruby crusted brown being the dominant hue. Closer inspection displays dark oranges and murky burnt brown shades. Lacing is subpar and a foamy top ceased to exist after a rigorous pour

S: delicately sweet gingerbread smells with some toasted caramel malts. As my whiffs continue, I find this brew relies on a hearty dose of spices mostly cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of cloves. It is by far the best gingerbread smell I have partaken in without actually having a piece in front of me

T: the flavor profile has much of the spiced whiffs already mentioned. Cinnamon, brown sugar, and ginger play gingerly on the tongue. In addition to this, the maltiness is taking on a molasses sugar cookie with toasted crystal malts flavor. Along with this is a light chocolate bitterness floating about. I am digging this brew for its unique flavors and style. It finishes just a touch dry and grainy

M: if any improvements could be made it would be here. I think the feel, considering the flavors, is kinda thin and would gain strength with a heavier body. I classify the body pretty mild that is just shy of being creamy. Still, it moves pretty slick down the hatch and overall it has a decent feel

D: tasty flavor experience and a nice compliment for the season. I give props to Bison for the adventurous style of melding gingerbread and beer together. I think it works!

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Photo of flexabull
3.15/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a really dark amber/brown color with a faint white head.

Aromas are of brown sugars, almost a little burnt, with some ginger as well.

Taste is a little odd. Not bad, but not really good to me. Some light spicy flavors, funky ginger, some roasted nuts, and not much sweetness which kind of surprises me. Finish is kind of tart and dry.

Mouthfeel is on the thin side, a little prickly from the carbonation too.

Drinkablity is so so at best. In my opinion this one is a miss, just doesn't hit the dark, ginger, and sweet flavors I was expecting. Not a bad beer, but not a real good one either. Pass...

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Photo of HoosBrews
3.84/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A much darker appearance than I had anticipated. A very slight amount of ginger in the nose, but not much at all. More malt than ginger in the nose. Taste is malty and spicy, with very subtle ginger. The carbonation really promotes a very complex mouthfeel which is particularly tasty. Overall, a very impressive and unique seasonal!

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Photo of July2Nov
3.91/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured a big 'ol three-finger,cream colored head on this ale, that soon deflated to a respectable one-finger size. The foam lasted and lasted on this one. Very dark for an ale...has a dark brown hue that shows no light coming through it.

Smell: Dry-roasted nut smell that has a tinge of barley and a bunch of sweetness coming out. Slightly "earthy".

Taste & Mouthfeel: Once you get through the foam, your instantly greeted with the gingerbread taste...spicy and nutmeg hit you first, then a fullness engulfs the mouth during the middle and the spice eases up a bit during the finish. Leaves the taste buds with slight tingle that mellows the mouth. Slightly carbonated, but doesn't take away from the life of the beer very much. For some odd reason i'm reminded by a milk taste while drinking this one. Really good spiced, winter ale.

Drinkability: Perfect accompaniment to any winter, Christmastime activity. Unique as it really does taste like gingerbread...even after the "novelty" factor wears off, it still comes through as a very solid beer. Try if you get the it's organic! If that means anything to you in the slightest :)

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Photo of hopdog
3.87/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle.

Poured a dark brown color with a small sized off white head. Aromas of gingerbread with some chocolate and spices. Tastes of gingerbread, spices, and chocolate. The gingerbread was definitely there. I was a little surprised (pleasantly) by this one.

Notes from 12/16/07

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Photo of Reidrover
3.78/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Lovelly looking dark brown ale with a very handsome beige head, thick and creamy. Nice aromas, of ginger cake, spices,coffee,chocolate and sherry .Like it. Taste ginger snaps,esspresso,faint rum cake,chocolaty, slightly toasted malts. No hops. Ok on the palate maybe a bit on the thin side to carry so much different flavours. Overall..I kinda enjoyed this one, unusual and good, though not an everyday drinker..even in the Festive Season.

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Photo of magictrokini
3.13/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Surprisingly dark pour with a solid tan head. Gingerbread aroma with some malt. Taste was unexpectedly good, given Bison's track record. The porter quality really comes out; malty, roasty, and chocolatey. Nice hop bitterness works really well with the gingerbread in the end.

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Photo of oberon
3.75/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is truley a winter warmer,why I bought it in hot June is beyond me but its pretty darn good.Poured into a standard pint glass a deep mahogany brown with a tight fluffy beige head that kept form well for quite some time.Ginger is the main element in the nose wich is expected along with some earth and brown sugar,a little thin and sharp in the mouth but it mellows after a bit.A good mix of spice and earth on the palate,the ginger doesnt overpower but is the main attraction,ther is a solid dry earthiness in the finish.Bison makes some decent organic beers and this is no different.

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Photo of Talisker
3.86/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The first beer labeled "organic" that I've enjoyed. And the "gingerbread" take is unusual, interesting, and ultimately successful.

Poured from a 22oz bottle in late Feb-08 - no freshness date, but probably brewed around around Oct-07. Some dark ruby character to the transluscent deep brown - no head to speak of, just some big bubbles around the edge.

Aroma is the king here - bitter chocolate, some roast, and definitely the right hint of that gingerbread spice (without being an overspiced potpourri). The taste delivers nicely on the promise of the aroma.

Unfortunately the texture is a little thin. A touch more body would really help here, lacking some silkiness. That hurts the drinkability for me.

But this is a very good beer, wiith the spices done at just the right level. Worth seeking out, and enough to show me that "organic" doesn't always mean "subpar".

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Photo of marcpal
4.02/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into large goblet. Brought this one back from trip in Cali, good.

A: Dark espresso color, much darker than I had expected. Pretty nice attractive tan head with very light lacing.

S: Gingerbread right in your face. Nutmeg spices as well, reminding a bit of pie.

T: Spiciness is what hits you up front, not a ton of ginger. Cloves and chocolate are more prominent but it has the taste of a nice mushy cookie. I like this one.

M: Somewhat syrupy but thin at the same time. Little carbonation

D: First I have had from Bison, and would recommend it. Similar to anchor xmas style but not as crisp as theirs. Still worth a try.

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Photo of Stoneman78
3.82/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is clear dark brown with ruby highlights, craggy off-white head erodes to half its original thickness, moderate lacing on the glass

Smell is amazingly fresh gingerbread cookies, some coffee and chocolate tones linger in the back, cinnamon and spices

Taste is fairly light bread and roast malts, surprising sweet chocolate presence, hints of smoke, cinnamon, gingerbread, and sugar tones, some very subtle bitter hops near the end

Mouthfeel is light-to-medium bodied, thin yet creamy texture, mild carbonation

Drinkability is fair, this is a unique winter beer with great spice profile, there is a bit of a disconnect between the aroma and taste (gingerbread lower than expected, chocolate higher than expected), the alcohol is well-masked but the spices make it hard to finish even the whole 22oz bottle, good recommendation from the guys on Craft Beer Radio podcast but I doubt I'll be craving this any time soon

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.98/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark brown, with a rather fizzy, white/tan head, with poor retention and no lace, though I do like the colour.

S: Full smell of freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, dark bread, and coffee.

T: This definitely tastes like a spiced porter. Ginger is there in the background but it is light, the main flavour is a heavily spiced roasted malt. I taste nutmeg, definitely cinnamon, and maybe a bit of mace. Dark malts are abundant lending a burnt, and chocolate taste to the brew. All and all, a tasty Winter Warmer/Spiced Beer.

M: Medium-bodied, though it does thin out at times, smooth, and a little syrupy.

D: An interesting beer, one of the more heavily spiced Winter beers out there on the market, would go great with pumpkin pie or a holiday meal, a tasty beer from Bison.

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Photo of brentk56
3.57/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy chestnut color with a massive head (just too much) that does stick around and provide good lacing

Smell: It does smell a bit like a gingerbread cookie, with ginger, cinnamon and vanilla aromatics

Taste: Starts out with a nice biscuity, gingerbread flavor which, after the swallow fades in intensity; my bottle has oxidized somewhat so the flavor profile may not be an accurate reflection of where it was

Mouthfeel: Medium body, but a bit overcarbonated

Drinkability: 2005 bottling; has held up reasonably well despite the oxidation; with a bigger malt profile, this could be really interesting

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Photo of Vancer
3.98/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Blackie sent this for my BA annv – again, many thanks!

‘cause an enticing Bison brown, almost black pour greeted me, nice ivory head on this critter. Spotted sheet lacing.

And, wow, the woody and spicy aroma is strong in this one. Very nice taste, too. Kinda like a porter on a spice crack kick. Malty and quaffable, still fairly dry in the finish. I’m not noticing <gingerbread> in this, not surprising as I’m not into it.

This brew seems to have some root beer nestled down deep. Nice.

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.32/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to cmaruschak for sharing. Pours reddish-brown with a medium thin off-white head with good retention. Thin patches of lacing throughout. The aroma is spiced gingerbread and earthy malt. Medium-bodied with a spicy character. Gingerbread flavor is not too strong, and there are some hops and caramel flavors as well. The finish is short and spicy with vanilla and malt aftertaste. Slightly above average overall.

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Photo of thaichile
4.12/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an espresso brown with a perfect lattesque head. Nose is completely gingerbread with a cup of Joe on the side. Flavor is really nice. I am not a porter person but this was real nice. Continued gingerbread notes with light coffee and maybe a sprinkling of some dark cocoa powder. Added sweetness reduces almost all of the bitterness and makes for an incredibly smooth experience. Recommended. Thanks to nathan15 for the bottle.

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Bison Organic Gingerbread Ale from Bison Brewing
Beer rating: 3.4 out of 5 with 288 ratings