Father Christmas Highland Ale | The Olde Burnside Brewing Company

Father Christmas Highland AleFather Christmas Highland Ale
Liked This Beer
3.88 w/ 57 ratings
Father Christmas Highland AleFather Christmas Highland Ale

Brewed by:
The Olde Burnside Brewing Company
Connecticut, United States

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.20%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Legend has it that Father Christmas wandered through Scottish villages gathering a merry following and distributing sweets to children and "wee heavy," a cheery libation, to adults. Like its predecessors, Father Christmas is heavy and potent, tremendously and uniquely satisfying and flavorful. The aroma of toasted grain and mocha are mouth-watering. Father Christmas Ale is ruddy and ruby-brown, topped by a thick, loose, tan head. Sweet, roasted malt and mild smoky tastes merge into a phenomenal finish. The tall, cobalt-blue bottle, brightly labeled, makes for a wonderful presentation and host's gift. Delightful in every respect, Father Christmas Highland Ale is a Yuletide staple and Santa's favorite. He enjoys a pint at my house annually and never spares a drop.

Added by sulldaddy on 01-27-2004

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Ratings: 57 |  Reviews: 30
Photo of ejane
4.75/5  rDev +22.4%

Photo of bgjohnston
4.52/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

It's back for Fall 2009... and it is so nice to see it in my glass again.

I couldn't resist reviewing it this time around, even though I have lost a few reviews on this site lately, as it is not only back, but as good as ever.

Pours a dark caramel color with a big, foamy brown head. The head dies down quickly, but at least a little of it stays around for most of the pour. Smell is sweet, mildly spicy, and a bit of fruitiness.

Taste is an intense delivery on the promise. Sweet, with a roasted flavor, a caramel flavor that goes on forever, and the quick little bite of a hoppy bitter finish. There is no hint of alcohol whatsover, and the finish is dry enough to leave you ready for the next sip, whether it is the 2nd or the last.

Very easy to drink a lot of this. A really wonderful seasonal beer.

 807 characters

Photo of yeti123
4.5/5  rDev +16%

Photo of tigg924
4.4/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: high carbonation, 1/4 inch head, clear, brown in color

Smell: peat, caramel, and berries

Taste: big time caramel and cherries, light chocolate and bread

Mouthfeel: very sweet, medium body, moderate carbonation

Overall: I loved this beer and is now one of my favorites coming out of Connecticut. This is a malty dessert beer and not an everyday drinker. The caramel works perfectly with the cherry for a holiday treat. I will be getting this again.

 463 characters

Photo of kennyo
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer comes in cool looking cobalt blue, 33.8oz, swing type, grolsh, bottle. This is the 2003 xmas ale from the Olde Burnside Brewing company out of East Hartford. This is a wee heavy Scottish Ale, abv unknown.

The beer is an opaque brown with a nice tan head that sticks around for a little while. The aroma is all malt, a little like homebrew, with a little chocolate and alcohol to it. The beer has a very malty flavor to it with a very minor hop taste to it. This beer is very drinkable. I saw that it was 33.8oz and figured that it would take a while to drink but no way. It flowed very easily. I wish that they stated the alcohol content. Went to website and there is nothing on any of their beers except the ten penny ale. As previous reviewers stated, I wish I bought more than one bottle.

 799 characters

Photo of Hibernator
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked this beer up last weekend while in Connecticut. It comes in a cool looking 1 quart, 1.82 fl oz blue bottle with a swing top. There was a $1.50 deposit on the bottle. I poured the beer into an imperial pint glass.

Dark brown, almost black in appearance with a great 1.5 inch head on top. There are some nice sticky lacings clinging all over the glass.

Aroma of roasted malts, toffee, oak and a tad of hops.

Very smooth chocolate and roasted malts flavors. Just the right blend of caramel sweetness coats the mouthfeel. There is a hint of chocolate flavors coming through, maybe from the roasted malts. The finish provides a slight hop snap, but ends mostly with an oaky dry flavor. Very drinkable with a surprising 9.0% ABV.

I really dig this beer. Great offering from Olde Burnside. An awesome, heavy malted brew to warm you up on a cold January night such as this evening.

 896 characters

Photo of BWMKappaSig
4.28/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1 liter blue swing-top bottle.

Appearance: Very deep brown with a light tan head that pours thick and goes down to a thin ring.

Smell: Butter, sugar, and a slight roasted note dominate the nose.

Taste: Immensely smooth malt flavor that speaks nothing of its 10%+ alcohol content. Not quite as peaty as most scotch ales, the earthiness is pleasant but subtle. A little bit of a dark chocolate note and roasted taste come in as the beer opens up.

Mouthfeel: Smoother than a glass of chocolate milk.

Drinkability: If it weren't for the warm cheeks, I'd have no indication this was a 10% beer. Tastes far smoother than it smells, and is a thoroughly enjoyable beer.

 667 characters

Photo of JTomczak
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of RickyRecord-oh
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of CTaleMan
4.24/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of MarkD
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Really cool,cobalt bottle, almost don't want to return it for the deposit. Pours an opaque rusty brown, with a small bubbly head that leaves a bubbly ring that lasts to the end, and given the size of this bottle and the ABV, thats a long time. The aroma was incredible, a wonderful smell of toffee or peat, maybe burnt coffee or roasted malt.and it didn't quit, it lasted from start to finish. It has a slick mouthfeel with a slight sweetness, and a pleasant malty flavor profile, with just a hint of hops.The same roasted malt/coffee flavor is presant also. The alcohol is very subtle, almost unnoticeable. One of the best scotch ales I've ever had.

 650 characters

Photo of KelsoSaaz
4.19/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter

A: Pours a deep mahogany brown that shines amber when held to light. Thin, quickly dissipating, khaki head.

S: Woody, peaty and rich cherry aromas up front. Caramel and other sweet malt tones are apparent as well. Earthy and boozy notes too.

T: Sweet and rich malts up front dominate flavors. Not as much cherry flavor as I would have expected. Very soft, medicine and cherry flavors are what you taste here. Earth and slightly tart dark fruit flavors lurk in the background.

M: Very slightly viscous body. Moderate to mild carbonation.

O: A nice winter treat. Malty and sweet with deeper cherry flavors than other similar beers this beer sets itself apart from the pack in a good way. Not your typical scotch ale; this beer is great for philosophical evenings in the dead of winter.

 808 characters

Photo of Ryanpro
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of Arenbeer
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big Purple Bottle into a Snifter Glass

A- Pours a extremely dark reddish brown with a super thin tan head that doesn't bother leaving any lacing as it leaves the glass.

S- Real sweet toffee, figs, and a nice vanilla, wood and malt base.

T- Woah! Almost has a sour flavor to it. Maybe from the age!?! Real sweet fruits with a nice dark crystal malt body and a slight burnt flavor in there. Pretty decent, held up nice for being summer!

M- medium body with low carbonation and a nice bitter dry finish.

 504 characters

Photo of BrewMasterG
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Deep brown, with garnet hues. Crystal clear when lit with bright light.

Smell: Sweet figs and dates bathed in a wonderfully malty abyss.

Taste: See above. The only thing that detracts from the great flavor is the sticky-sweet viscosity. Mounds of dark crystal malt with very little roasty astringency. Alcohol is very sneaky as I can taste none of the 9+ ABV. Be careful!

Mouthfeel: Thick and sweet. This is most definately a full-flavored sipper. Some dryness would be greatly appreciated. Then again, we can't all be Belgians.

Serving type: 22oz swing-top bottle purchased refrigerated on 01/07/2010

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.09/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opened up my 1 liter bottle with some friends nite before the cask fest.
I pour a sample into mypint glass,the brew pours dark brown with ruby tints. A bubbly beige head foams up easily and dissipates to a thin layer across the surface. THe aroma is mostly sweet caramel malts with some roastiness as well. I also detect very mild floral hops underneath the other scents.
First sip, this is a fairly thick brew, almost chewy. The flavor is roasty caramel and is very rich like good toffee.
I get a mild hop bite in the middle but the finish returns to the caramel dominance. Wish I had bought more bottles of this one.

 622 characters

Photo of rorjets
4.02/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of far333
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Necktag number 3996. Served in an imperial pint glass.

Flipping up the swingtop cap resulted in a loud and energetic pop, calming any fears of a flat bottle. Pours a deep brown with ruby highlights, not totally opaque. A thick and frothy light brown head rises up an inch and slowly falls back down, but leaves a thick ring around the inside of the glass. Aroma of grassy hops with an underlying roasted malt backbone.

Flavor is also initially grassy hops, but morphs quickly to dark malts, a little roasty, some hints of talc, and fine charred bark. There are hints of cocoa and molasses, but they never totally come to the top. An espresso bite lingers. Hop burps punctuate. If the ABV is for real, it is undetectable, both on the tongue and seemingly on the brain (just drank a liter of nearly 12% ABV and I could operate a crane right now). Mouthfeel is just a bit thin, medium-bodied, but fine carbonation tingles the tongue. Pretty drinkable, it’s a good sipper.

This is a fine effort from a local brewer, but it’s unfortunate that they can’t provide a consistent product/experience for the home state supporters that are sincerely routing for them to do well.

 1,178 characters

Photo of HopsHopenstein
4/5  rDev +3.1%

Photo of raythealeman
4/5  rDev +3.1%

Photo of Thads324
4/5  rDev +3.1%

Photo of davey101
4/5  rDev +3.1%

Photo of sgregory
4/5  rDev +3.1%

Photo of goodbyeohio
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

big 1L swingtop, bottle #3730 purchased at southington wine and spirit depot or whatever its called.

pours a dark dark brown with ruby highlights, rather clear overall. big soapy head dissolves halfway leaving craterous caverns and thick, dominant lacing on the glass. aged hop aroma mingles with a big brown sugar blast. sweet, bready and lots of honey roasted malt wafts. musty forest scent lingers in the wake of the big-nosed maltbomb. medium-bodied and lacking much carbonation, this beer leads off with heavy almond flavor and mild chocolate. hops pepper the taste nicely, and create a mild, attention-grabbing bitterness. finish contains lip-smacking vanilla and overripe banana muffin flavors. unlike previous reviewers, i can detect the larger alcohol presence although i still disagree with the 11.8% listed.. more like 8% IMHO. very drinkable and satisfying with no off flavors to speak of. i am also distressed by the fact that the maltiness and sweetness of this beer fails to produce the stickylip syndrome that one would expect from such a monster.

i think i ended up with a good, fresh, healthy bottle from a different batch than those rec'd by my homies pbrian and mikeys01. very much on-par and similar to the kilt tilter (lifter?) wee heavy from bru rm. for $5, this is a must-try connecticut seasonal and pleasantly warming for a cool winter's eve.

 1,374 characters

Photo of layapandora
4/5  rDev +3.1%

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Father Christmas Highland Ale from The Olde Burnside Brewing Company
Beer rating: 70.2% out of 100 with 57 ratings
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