Special Holiday Ale
Nøgne Ø

Special Holiday AleSpecial Holiday Ale
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Style:
Winter Warmer
Ranked #13
ABV:
8.5%
Score:
88
Ranked #11,361
Avg:
3.96 | pDev: 9.85%
Reviews:
149
Ratings:
264
From:
Nøgne Ø
 
Norway
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  16
Gots
  27
SCORE
88
Very Good
Special Holiday AleSpecial Holiday Ale
Notes: Collaboration with Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales & Stone Brewing

Ingredients: Malted Barley, malted Rye, malted oats, hops, white sage, caraway, Juniper berries, chestnuts, yeast.

First brewed July 27. 2009. Batch #440. Brewed with Stone and Jolly Pumpkin, 2009. Brewed at Nøgne Ø. Also brewed at Stone, Escondido, California, USA, 2008 and Jolly Pumpkin, Dexter, Michigan, USA, 2009.
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Reviews: 149 | Ratings: 264 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of woodychandler
woodychandler from Pennsylvania

4.64/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I was really inspired to purchase Holiday beers today in anticipation of making my annual Christmas Crock Pot Roast. It is something that I came up with a few years back when I was unable to travel as I would have liked & hit upon what has become a Chez Woody tradition. In addition to the standard ingredients, I add a bottle (or two) of a Holiday Ale to the mix as added liquid. It might be an easy cop-out to simply use Anchor's Our Special Ale every year, but I am a better cook than that. I took through Gourmet Cooking in HomeEc (Foods) during high school & once aspired to being a cook. This shall be this beer's audition!

From the Bottle (gasp!):

I Pop!ped the cap & started a slow, gentle C-Line pour into the awaiting glass. I was a bit off put by its lack of head, but I kept going until the glass was nearly fully charged. No head, but a wee bit of skim & a ring of bubbles around its circumference. Color was Dark Brown to Very Dark Brown (SRM = > 27, < 34) with NE-quality clarity. Nose was at once both nutty & spicy, reminiscent of cookies that we made each year in HomeEc. My kitchen outshone others at baking & we churned out cookies for better than a week, experimenting with spices of all stripes thanks to our multicultural, multiracial composition. This had that wild spiciness on the nose of many cooks adding to the mix! It was not the standard Blah, blah, blah of cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger. Instead, this was more like cardamom, star anise & cloves. 8=O Plus, there was an unabating nuttiness that I could not wrap my olfactory senses around.

Roasted chestnuts for the season? No, more subtle than that. More towards water chestnuts & peanuts, neither actually nuts, but subtle enough to be possibilities. Ever cooked with chestnuts, walnuts, almonds, et al? They can become overwhelming in a dish very quickly, where this was extremely subtle. Hmm.

Mouthfeel was a big, thick gob in my mouth & on my tongue. It felt like pudding on the initial sip! I let it just kind of roll around on my tongue as I took in its variegated flavors. It was spicy, sure, but not as intense as on the nose. Likewise for its nuttiness.

I cannot say that, in sum, it reminded me of anything in my experience or exbeerience, but dang, it surely tasted good! Spiced nuts. 8=O But how to recreate it in a dish of my own? 8=( It defied quantification. Frankly, I would be more interested in the origin of its nuttiness than its spiciness as I can always experiment with the latter. Nuts are tougher to crack. ;=)

Finish was appropriately dry, as any beer that includes spices as an adjunct should be expected to be. That said, it was neither overwhelming nor gasping. It made a solid case for going into my Crock Pot in less than two weeks. YMMV.

Dec 14, 2020
Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
Eamonn-Cummings3 from New York

4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a high sided tulip glass.

Look is a dark hazy brown with a thin off-white head.

Aroma is winter spice mix with an intense toffee caramel malt.

Taste is less of the spices and more of the malt.

Good cold winter drinker.

Dec 29, 2019
Photo of avalon07
avalon07 from South Carolina

4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a dark, mahogany brown color and a thick, murky consistency. There was a half inch of off white, creamy, long-lasting head. Above average lacing.

S: A nice aroma of malt, spices, an herbal quality, a nutty quality, and hops.

T: Tasted of a moderate amount of the nutty quality (chestnuts, hazelnuts), some light hops, a bit of malt, lots of spices (cinnamon, sage), a bit of rye, and some dark fruit. A pretty solid, likable flavor. It's heavier on the spices than most winter warmers, but it works. Pretty tasty.

F: An average amount of carbonation with a warm, syrupy finish. Medium-bodied.

O: While this beer has its minor flaws it's still an easy to drink beer. Worth a look.

Apr 25, 2018
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craftbeersweden from Sweden

3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown beer with a thick, creamy, beige head.

Nose of licorice, raisin, dark bread, cookies and caramel.
Taste: Dark bread, raisin, cherries, hazelnut, spices, roasted malt, cinnamon, a bit of dark chocolate, brown sugar and dark syrup.
Mouth: Thick, almost creamy mouthfeel. Medium to full body. Crisp carbonation with small bubbles.

This is a great winterwarmer!

Apr 07, 2018
Photo of Korbynlehr
Korbynlehr from Kentucky

4.27/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark and strangely a white head. Little to no hoppy aftertaste. Chocolate is thick to me, dark chocolate to be exact. Decent ‘Christmas ‘ ale would be great sipping next to a fire.

Dec 10, 2017
Photo of StonedTrippin
StonedTrippin from Colorado

3.87/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

this is a cool beer, different as winter stuff goes, but it tastes a little old to me from the keg, slightly oxidized, faded, and on its way to stale. given that i havent seen kegs from these guys in the colorado market for a long time, this could well be an old one. that said, its still got some cool layers, i like the chestnut with the malt, sweet and roasty and sort of protein rich and pithy all at once, a neat balance to the residual sugar thats here and a cool nuttiness. i like the sage here too, a dried herbal presence is like a thanksgiving note to the whole thing, festive and not overdone. lots of booze for its moderate strength, some wet cardboard and cedar too, i get the rye spice balancing the sweet crystal malt and then a cherry, cider, apple cider, and rye bread complexion, like spiced grog or punch, but somehow crystal clear in my glass, amber hued and deep looking. refined in appearance and probably better brand new than it is now, however old. a gin note and a rye whiskey element too, there is a lot going on here, raisin and dried fig, light metallics, and the sage again, rubbed and oily but also reserved and sort of timeless, endearing, and warming with these malts. this is fancy and cool, holiday-esque for sure, and awesome to find it on tap. i wish it was fresher, but it has a lot of likeable aspects, and these guys continue to hold my attention, i just wish i could find their beer a little more often...

Dec 01, 2017
Photo of The_Kriek_Freak
The_Kriek_Freak from Pennsylvania

4.19/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a viscous maroon brown with a tan head that sticks around. Aroma is of raisins, licorice and sage. Flavor is of raisins, caramel, dark fruit, chocolate, sage and juniper berries. Smooth and syrupy mouthfeel. A very enjoyable winter warmer.

Jan 02, 2017
Photo of beergoot
beergoot from Colorado

4.23/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Hazy, reddish-brown body with a decent, creamy, light brown head. Light aroma of dates and figs; cherries and brown sugar; hints of holiday spices. Toffee and nut flavors; mocha with cinnamon and nutmeg; licorice. Heavy, warm and velvety body; plenty of rich, residual sugars coating the palate.

The look and smell are okay but the taste and moutfeel are awesome. They deliver a hammer blow of depth and complexity, all nicely balanced in a warm and not-too sweet body. Outstanding overall...

Dec 14, 2016
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SABERG from Massachusetts

3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle not dated but brewed in Norway, into the modified tulip glass.
A - Dark amber color, wonderful clarity, gentle carbonation.
S - Dark fruit, toffee, chestnut, a bit of spice.
T - Follows the nose, wonderful winter flavors, nutty, spicy, malty.
M - A bit slick, linger is malty and delightful.
O - A fine seasonal offering from this brewer, worth seeking out.

Dec 01, 2016
Photo of stevoj
stevoj from Idaho

3.97/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle share. Strong ale characteristics, some spice. Mild pour, huge aroma, spicy taste. Cinnamon, nutmeg, normal holiday flavors. Medium, slightly sticky body.

Jan 19, 2016
Photo of Sabtos
Sabtos from Ohio

3.24/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nope. Smell is a little medicinal and weird, and while taste improves drastically over that, it's still a bit of an oddball for me. It's a bit spicy and grainy, a little darker in malt and fruit, with some booze and fruit cake.

Dec 23, 2015
Photo of Ciocanelu
Ciocanelu from Romania

4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark chestnut color with light brown head. Aroma has sweet malts, pumpkin pie spices and some dark fruits. Taste starts a bit sweet and spicy with dark fruits like figs and dates, caramel and nuts. Overall it's very balanced for a spiced ale. Body is quite heavy with low carbonation. Overall I think this is one of the better Christmas beers I tried this year.

Dec 21, 2015
Photo of Stinkypuss
Stinkypuss from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev +1%

Pours a dark brown color with a white head. The aroma has a lot of malts, unfermented sugars, fruit and alcohol. The taste starts off with a bit of dark fruits, turning nutty, wheaty and a bit strong. The beer is damn smooth, more than likely from the oat additions in brewing. Brewed with rye, sage, caraway, juniper and chestnuts, they meld together to form a unique flavor but everything is so balanced it is almost non-distinct. The beer is full bodied but very smooth on the palate. Soft, prickly carbonation makes for a smooth drink (the beer poured from the tap just a bit heady). Overall, this would certainly be considered a success, and apparently this was a collaboration between Nøgne Ø, Stone and Jolly Pumpkin. Its not a sour, thats for sure, sorry Jolly Pumpkin fans. It is, however, a very good beer!

Dec 09, 2014
Photo of Beerswag
Beerswag from California

3.84/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22 oz beer aged approx 6 months, poured into tulip hardly any head.lots of big bubbles stuck to the bottom.no lacing. Dark brown root beer colored. Smell of candied ginger, mint, cola, berries. Complex, taste, starts of slightly salty n sweet, menthol laced with a light bodied mouthfeel for a holiday ale, with a chewy/rich taste profile. This beer seems to be a winter aspertif. Herbal and tons of spice notes, cinamon, cardimom, jasmine tea. Starts out rootbeerish, with some gingerbread throught the palate. Mouth is numb with all the menthol or somn. Not my favorite holiday ale, but a unique approach to a holiday style. Cheese paring: pistachio crusted goat cheese, food: lamb stew, pumpkin pie, smoked fish(salmon/trout). Smoked oysters, Cigars too!

May 01, 2014
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GONZALOYANNA from Spain

3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. Bourgogne Wine glass. Very dark brown color. Small bubbled foam, yellowish beige in color, forms a close, wide & sticky head & leaves wide lacings on sides. Aroma profile displays : Intense caramel malt & candies, herbal – cumin & anise-, forest, blackberries & dried nuts. Toasted flavors, smoky hues, herbal infusion & dark fruits, underneath molasses & brown sugar. Full body. Moderate but slight sparkling carbonation. Velvet palate & dense texture. Well integrated ABV appears as a kind warming sensation. Fudge chocolate & fruit notes in the middle as well as dried nut zest, subtle spiced & spicy hints. Memories of coffee liquor & sugar –but no cloying- into a sweet toasted malt finish. Dark fruity aftertaste. Complex & flavorful as a Winter Ale should be!!

Mar 09, 2014
Photo of peacebone116
peacebone116 from California

3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 500mL bottle into chalice on 2/21/14.

A: dark brown, almost black. Khaki head that recedes but leaves nice ring at leg. Looks like espresso.

N: chocolate & over-ripe cherries...not too complex, but rich. A little touch of peppermint, actually, in the background.

T/MF: creamy body w/ prickly carbonation. Mocha & a touch of hazelnut. There is a pleasant tartness (ripe sour cherries) to back up this sweetness. This beer finishes dry...maybe there is some Brett in here?..and fast. There is a spicy ness, almost like cracked pepper, in the finish.

Overall, very interesting. I never tried this fresh, but I like it now.

Feb 22, 2014
Photo of pkalix
pkalix from California

2.99/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

syrup-y, sickeningly sweet. smells like allspice in it (although they don't mention it in the ingredients) and that stuff don't belong in ANY beer. the Stone 12-12-12 killed me on allspice for the rest of my life- that one was DROWNED in allspice to the point of gagging!
this one isn't that strong with it but itdefinitely tastes like it has a bit (coincidentally, it IS a collaboration with Stone). overall... just 'eh'. regrettable, but I didn't dump it, so that's saying something. cant wait for the next one....

Nov 28, 2013
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facundoCNB from New Jersey

3.26/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

a brown/black pour with 2 fingers of tan head. the scent is of zesty orange peels, caramel, almost a liquer like scent, molasses, brown sugar. yeesh, this is not a great tasting beer up front.. lots of alcohol falvor, orange peel, ginger, cinnamon, a slight spicyness towards the finish.medium body with low carbonation. i could see how this would've been great during winter months, but honestly, not so much right now, and not so much with some age on it. really not digging this one all that much.

May 16, 2013
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beerdrifter from Germany

4.52/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up at La Capsule Cave à Bière in Nancy, France. Deep mahogany pour with a creamy one finger off white head with decent retention and nice lacing. The nose is spicy, complex and absolutely amazing. Hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, coffee, dark fruit, molasses, maple, sage, and rye. The taste is just as amazing and just as complex. Strong malty and spicy base with hints of toffee, cinnamon, nutmeg, pine, maple syrup, black cherries, sage, rye, and chestnuts. I had a beer this past summer in the South of France made with chestnuts and I'm really liking what they add in flavor. Hopefully it catches on. I'm also getting some subtle dark chocolate emerging as it warms. The mouthfeel is thick and syrupy with a subtle tanginess on the finish. Overall, this is a home run Winter Warmer! It's amazingly complex but totally drinkable. A top notch beer from three awesome breweries!

Feb 26, 2013
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ThePorterSorter from Oregon

4.23/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Tried this beer a month ago and remember enjoying it immensely...

The beer pours a deep black-brown with an inch of creamy tan head that laces - slightly reminiscent of Guinness. Honestly, it looks like it could have poured from a nitro tap. The nose is potently herbal with notes of white sage cutting through the surface. It reminds me of the holidays poured into a glass with an initial rye bread sweetness perfectly blended with chestnuts and piney sage. The beer was more aromatic and flavorful when I had it a month ago, but it still packs a distinct punch of flavor. The taste carries a lot of bready sweetness which transitions into a slightly bitter, herbal finish. The mouthfeel is incredibly smooth and modestly sweet with a fresh herbal finish. There is definitely a touch of roasted chestnuts/malt which compliments the beer's herbal aftertaste. This beer is very well done and definitely worth trying. It encapsulates everything I want in a winter warmer with a unique twist on the traditional winter warmer spice profile. It's an excellent collaboration beer with easy availability, wide distribution, and reasonable price point.

Jan 29, 2013
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clayrock81 from Florida

3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured a dark brownish hue with good head and lace. A peppery, hoppy spiced beer is my first aroma, but I pick up some good sweet malts like caramel or figs as well. Beer is well-balanced as both minor citric hops and sweetness (I seem to pick up figs and toffee which is odd) are both evident, and the beer passes easy and fullish as there is a breadiness to the beer that makes it an easy passing, dessert sipper. A quality brew that is easy to drink and enjoyable which is all one can ask for a winter style beer.

Jan 22, 2013
Photo of BEERMILER12
BEERMILER12 from Maine

4.44/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2nd Release (2012) from 0.5L bottle

A: Pours a lightly hazy deep ruby color with 1/2 a fingers worth of head that doesn't last for long

S: Malts, light rye spiciness, spices (caraway, sage), juniper berries, nuttiness, and dark fruits all fill the nose with great complexity. Very aromatic and awesome

T: Follows the nose with immense complexity. Get all the above mentioned, starting with the malts and spices and moving its way into the nuttiness and dark fruits. Finishes with a touch of alcohol sweetness and light leafy hop bitterness

M: Medium-full bodied with low-moderate carbonation. Very smooth and slightly chewy (attributed by the oats)

O: This is far and away the best winter warmer I've ever had the pleasure of drinking. Very complex and so easy to drink. I'm extremely glad that Nøgne decided to put out another release of this (maybe Stone and JP did as well, but I'm not sure), as this would be a regular winter beer in my fridge, even at the price of $9 for the 0.5L bottle. This gets the highest of recommendations from me for the style

Dec 05, 2012
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RollBounce from New York

3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark in color almost brown ale likeness, with nose of chocolate roasted nuts and a similarity to Chinato( a desert red wine that is more like vermouth). Flavor is chocolaty to with roasted malt notes and a kick similar to cayenne which must be the sage.

Overall; It was an enjoyable beer and look forward to seeing how this beer does over time.

Dec 02, 2012
Photo of rand
rand from California

3.48/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 650 mL bottle to a Mikasa pint glass

Aged one year from this review

The brew pours with a viscous complexion, slow and syrupy like a thick imperial stout. A marshmallow-y head forms, which quickly dissipates and leaves little lacing

The nose is crisp, unripe berries with a sharp vinous quality. Sweet malts counter. There are lots of phenols bouncing around with a touch of booze, giving the bouquet a medicinal edge.

The flavors are a lot more malt-forward than expected, which really forms the base of the flavor profile. The medicinal aspects hit mid-sip and kinda take over. Hints of unripe berries, holiday spice round the flavors, but they kinda get trounced by the phenols.

The brew is medium-bodied, which was really unexpected from the pour. Though this would permanently coat the palate from the looks of things.

Well, it's not bad, but as I'm finishing the bottle I feel it's on the dull side. Could use a little hop twang or some funk to liven things up. Doesn't quaff all that hard, but I doubt I'll go chasing this one down either.

Nov 01, 2012
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LiquidAmber from Washington

4.57/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from 12/2010 notes. Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a dark red amber. Nice medium head and lacing. Looks viscous and nicely made. Malty, spicy aroma. Mmm. Mellow malts, light and dark fruit, spices. Peppery hop finish. Nice presence of sage and juniper berry. One year old bottle. Wish I had saved more. Did not review this fresh, but this is superb. I will buy again if at all possible.

Jul 04, 2012
Special Holiday Ale from Nøgne Ø
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 264 ratings