Tagged: christmas

Frankenmuth Christmas Town

CHRISTMAS TOWN: 82 Points

Easy Drinking

Easy Drinking

This Christmas Beer is released seasonally in late Autumn in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Sweet toasted dark malts and American hops are brewed with just the right amount of holiday flavors to create a medium-bodied brown ale whose taste and aroma is unmistakably Christmas.”

My Description: This ale won’t exactly warm you up but it does provide the usual Winter spices. It begins with a weak, light beige colored head that fades quick leaving behind no lacing. The aroma is interesting with sweet notes taking center stage along with notes of caramel, allspice, citrus hops, light fruits, and other spices. Christmas Town is light/medium bodied with a lower carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile follows the nose with notes of citrus, toasted malt, caramel, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The aftertaste is minimally bitter allowing the sweet notes to linger. The flavor profile blends cleanly but the beer feels off, there should be maybe more carbonation or a dryer finish. Either way it makes for a good spiced ale that you could drink 2 or 3 of. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with baked duck, honey baked ham, or pumpkin pie.

ABV: 6% Color: Amber/Red Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 2/10

Deschutes Jubelale

JUBELALE: 97 Points

Most Welcoming

Most Welcoming

This Christmas Ale is released seasonally in Autumn in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Chicory, dried fruit, and toffee notes. A robust ale with a warming spice.”

My Description: This is a most welcoming beer for the season. The flavors feel perfect for the occasion and the spices do not over power the rest of the beer, instead they blend cleanly with the rest of this beauty. It begins with a decent sized, beige colored head that fades to a thin film leaving behind some spotty lacing. The aroma is pleasing with notes of chocolate, dates, chicory, toffee, and a hint of spice. I love the aroma it is very inviting. Jubelale is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Thick and smooth, the flavor profile satisfies. Notes of dark breads, toasted malt, dark fruits, and faint pine notes delight the senses while a hint of spice provides complexity. The aftertaste is moderately low in bitterness with slightly warming alcohol notes. Overall, this is wonderfully executed Christmas Ale that is highly memorable. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with baked ham, stuffing, or a pumpkin pie.

ABV: 6.7% Color: Mahogany/Garnet Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 4/10

Fat Head’s Holly Jolly

HOLLY JOLLY: 85 Points

Ho Ho Fat Man

Ho Ho Fat Man

This Christmas Ale is released seasonally in late Autumn in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Once upon a frozen evening way up north, a sweet local honey named Holly inspired our Jolly Fat Man (as only Holly can) to create this festive spiced holiday ale. We think you will enjoy his holiday creation with it’s aromas and flavors of Christmas day. Sweet malt, ginger, honey and cinnamon spice. Sip this by the fire with your significant other. Who knows, maybe it will lead to a little inspiration of your own. From our Jolly Fat Man to yours, Happy Holidays.

My Description: This is a clean and tasty Christmas Ale that hides the alcohol well and makes for a good choice during dinner. It begins with a decent, light beige colored head that fades quick to a film leaving behind hardly any lacing. The aroma is welcoming with notes of ginger, cinnamon, crackers, and a noticeable amount of honey. Holly Jolly is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is not as potent as the aroma would indicate, which was kind of a let down because this beer tastes good. There is nothing wrong with a more mild flavored Christmas Ale but the aroma makes you think this would not be so. Never-the-less, this beer boasts a deep malt backbone with notes of honey, cherries, and ginger. The aftertaste is minimally bitter with some spices lingering. Overall, nothing too complex here making for a great everyday Christmas Ale. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with apple pie, baked ham, or dark fruit desserts.

ABV: 7.4% Color: Reddish/Brown Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10

Wychwood Bah Humbug

BAH HUMBUG: 82 Points

I dislike Christmas too!

I dislike Christmas too!

This Christmas Ale is released seasonally in December in 500 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “At least you can take refuge from the Christmas shopping with this rich, fruity spiced ale guaranteed to make even the most seasoned party pooper smile.”

My Description: Most Christmas Ales are winter warmers and strong stouts, which make for good sippers. Wychwood’s version is a lot lighter, which won’t necessarily warm you up but makes for a good Christmas session beer. It pours a good sized, light beige colored head with a slightly weak retention level and it leaves behind little lacing. The aroma is pleasant but not too exciting with notes of toffee and bread along with a deep malt presence. Bah Humbug is medium bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile begins with a noticeable malt backbone along with notes of toffee, cinnamon, and hints of dark fruits and bananas. The aftertaste is minimally bitter and rather bland. The flavor notes in this beer feel thin and fade too quickly. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with roasted duck, baked ham, or pumpkin pie.

ABV: 5%  Color: Light Garnet  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 2/10

Gouden Carolus Noel

NOËL: 96 Points

A licorice Christmas

A licorice Christmas

This Belgian Strong Dark is released seasonally during the Christmas season in 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “For the Christmas and New Year festivities the Gouden Carolus range is now extended to include this seriously heavy strong brown ale. Het Anker are thus rekindling a long lost tradition from the days of yore when they marketed Cardinal Christmas and Anker Christmas.”

My Description: This is a Christmas gift all on its own. It pours a large and dense, beige colored head with an amazing retention level and it leaves behind an abundant amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasing and inviting with notes of raisins, plums, licorice, malt, and a hint of bread. Noël is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is complex and delicious with each flavor working cleanly together and not overpowering another. Malt undertones give way to a plethora of dark fruit notes like raisins, plums, and cherries. Toasted bread and a great blend of spices stand out with a hint of toasted bread and a lingering licorice aftertaste. A minimal amount of bitterness helps bring balance and the alcohol is beautifully hidden. This beer is smooth and addicting. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with strong cheeses, baked ham, or chocolate desserts.

ABV: 10%  Color: Deep Garnet  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 2/10

Sam Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock

CHERRY CHOCOLATE BOCK: 89 Points

The cherry blends cleanly

The cherry blends cleanly

This Fruit Bock is randomly released in the Winter variety pack in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “This special release is brewed just for the holidays. For a new approach to a classic favorite, we added cherries to our traditional Chocolate Bock for a sweet, slightly tart note. Aged on a bed of dark cocoa nibs, the malty, chocolaty, and dark fruit flavors create a rich, complex beer perfect for winter. Cheers.”

My Description: The cherry addition to this seasonal bock adds a pleasant and tasty flavor that blends cleanly with the rest of beer. It begins with a decent, beige colored head that fades to a film and holds for a while leaving behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is malty with a pronounced cherry aroma and hidden chocolate notes that smell great. Cherry Chocolate Bock is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is somewhat rich with malty undertones and dark chocolate with cherries that taste real, not artificial, and don’t overpower the other flavors. The aftertaste is minimally bitter and smooth. This makes for a nice Christmas beer that is memorable. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with chocolate desserts, blue cheese, or grilled lamb.

ABV: 5.8%  Color: Dark Brown  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 2/10

Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza

NOEL DE CALABAZA: 99 Points

Hints of Sour

Hints of Sour

This Belgian Strong Ale is released seasonally in November for the holiday season in 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Deep Mahogany and malty, layered hops, figs, raisins, sugar plums, cashews betwixt rum laden truffles.”

My Description: This is a delicious Christmas treat and a great Belgian Strong in which the flavors work beautifully together without one flavor taking over another. I love this beer. It pours a large, light beige colored head with an amazing retention level and it leaves behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is warming and faint with light sour notes along with hints of cherries and spices. Noel is medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and a very dry finish. The texture is crisp and smooth. The flavor profile is delicious and complex. There is a clean malt backbone with a noticeable yet subtle sour note that delights. Fruit notes like apples and plums appear as the beer warms. Delicate spice notes linger throughout and the alcohol is nicely hidden. The aftertaste is minimally bitter with pleasant hop notes. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled sausage, fried apples, or grilled whitefish.

ABV: 9%  Color: Mahogany  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 2/10

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

CHRISTMAS ALE: 95 Points

It's a Belgian Christmas

It’s a Belgian Christmas

This Belgian Style Quadruple is released seasonally in 330 ml. bottles and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “St.Bernardus Christmas Ale is a dark seasonal brewed in the classic ‘Quadrupel’ style of Belgium’s best Abbey Ales. (10,0 % ABV) Similar to all the beers from our brewery, it greets the drinker with the signature aroma of the St.Bernardus house yeast strain (in use since 1946!) Rivaling the complexity of the St.Bernardus Abt 12, St.Bernardus Christmas Ale offers a spicy, mint-like flavor profile exuding the tastes of warming alcohol, fermented molasses, apricots, licorice and marzipan that are highlighted by the perfect balance of brewing sugars.”

My Description: Though it is not as great as ABT 12, this beer is an excellent alternative when looking for a different Quadruple option.  It pours a very large, light beige colored head that seriously lasts forever and leaves behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma has notes of yeast spices and dark fruits along with hints of turbonado sugar. The beers aroma is pleasant and welcoming. Christmas Ale is roughly full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is complex and warming. There are notes of biscuit malt and toffee, cinnamon and other spices, bananas and apricots, and a touch of alcohol. The aftertaste is minimally bitter with lingering dark fruit notes like raisins and cherries along with a hint of licorice. This beer is smooth and flavorful and a great treat for the holidays. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with baked ham, spicy sausage, or pungent cheeses.

ABV: 10%  Color: Mahogany  Sweetness: 3.5/10  Bitterness: 2/10

Anchor Christmas Ale (2013)

CHRISTMAS ALE (2013): 91 Points

A.K.A. "Our Special Ale"

A.K.A. “Our Special Ale”

This Christmas Ale is released every year between November and January in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Each year our Christmas Ale gets a unique label and a unique recipe. Although our recipes must remain a secret, many save a few bottles from year to year. Properly refrigerated, the beer remains intriguing and drinkable for years. Different nuances emerge as the flavor mellows slightly, much like the memories of great holiday seasons past. Celebrate the holidays with Anchor Christmas Ale, an Anchor tradition since 1975.”

My Description: 2013’s recipe is tasty and an easy choice for the holiday season. It begins with a good sized, beige colored head with a good retention level and it leaves behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is dark fruit forward with notes of cherries and prunes; there is also a touch of spice that intrigues the senses. Christmas Ale is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and dry finish. The flavor profile is satisfying and slightly complex with an interesting array of spices such as ginger and allspice. Light pine, dark fruits, and caramel malt are also present adding flavor and character. The aftertaste is slightly bitter and clean. This beer is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with baked ham, ribs, grilled salmon.

ABV: 5.5%  Color: Deep Brown  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 2.5/10

MERRY MISCHIEF: 92 Points

It will make you Merry

With 300 Calories and an IBU of 25, this Sweet Stout is released in limited quantities in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “This rich dark gingerbread stout entices with the aromas of the holidays, hinting at the merriment and spices within.  The flavor of gingerbread comes alive beginning with the smooth sweetness and heartiness of dark roasted malts and a touch of wheat.  But it’s the intensity and spices of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, & ginger that add a wicked kick for a jolly playful brew full of merry mischief.”

My Description: This beer is what comes to mind when I think about Christmas Ales, it’s warming, it has a great combination of Christmas spices, and the overall delivery of the beer makes it enjoyable to drink. It has a huge and dense, dark beige colored head with a great amount of lacing and the retention lasts forever. The aroma starts with a nice and sweet roasted malt note accompanied by the fragrances of gingerbread, alcohol, and a touch of spice. It is full bodied with a lower carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The beer is smooth and sweet with notes of roasted malt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a hint of ginger. The alcohol is  noticeable but not intrusive. The aftertaste is slightly bitter and warming. This creamy stout is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with fried oysters, baked ham, or grilled steak.

ABV: 9%  Color: Black  Sweetness: 3.5/10  Bitterness: 2.5/10

WHITE CHRISTMAS: 82 Points

A hint of Christmas Spice

This Christmas Ale is released seasonally in November in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “As crisp as the first snowfall of the year, this unfiltered white ale is blended with holiday spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange peel. The familiar citrus and wheat characters of the ale are complemented by the warmth of the spices for a festive brew that’s perfect for the season.”

My Description: This is a Christmas beer that won’t necessarily warm you up like others, but it does give you some of that Christmas spice that you wouldn’t necessarily see in a witbier. It has a good sized, white colored head with a good retention level and it leaves behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is mainly dominated by wheat notes accompanied by a touch of spice and hint of orange peel. It is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. Just like the aroma, wheat malt dominates the palate but spice notes like cinnamon and nutmeg are apparent. The aftertaste has a slight hint of orange zest but the bitterness is hidden along with the alcohol. It is a worth-while beer during the holidays when you’re not in the mood for the norm. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with light salads, cheesecake, or grilled salmon.

ABV: 5.8% Color: Hazy Yellow Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10

OLD FEZZIWIG ALE: 90 Points

Fezziwig: “A Christmas Carol”

This Christmas Ale has 213 Calories per 12 oz. bottle and an IBU of 25. It is available seasonally between November and January in the Winter Classics Variety Pack.

Brewer’s Description: “The rich taste hits the palate with a depth of malt character ranging from sweet toffee and caramel notes to dark, roasty chocolate notes. Then the spices come in full force. Cinnamon, ginger and orange peel dance on the tongue bringing with them the celebratory spirit of the season.”

My Description: This is a fantastic Christmas Ale that I really enjoyed drinking while watching the snow fall. It has a bright white head that resembles snow flakes, however it does fade a little too quickly for my liking. Not a great head retention but it does give you some minor lacing. The ale has a mild sweet aroma that is accompanied by hints of chocolate malt, ginger, cinnamon, and other spices. The aroma is engaging and feels just right for the season. This is a medium-full bodied beer that is carbonated at a great level. In the front of your mouth you will taste the malty sweetness that leads into an aftertaste that is slightly bitter and dry. The aftertaste is savory with notes of ginger. The chocolate malt taste makes its appearance after the beer warms up a bit as well as a very minor cinnamon note. The beer is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with stuffing, pumpkin pie, or honey baked ham.

ABV: 5.9% Color: Brownish/Mahogany Sweetness: 5.5/10 Bitter: 3.5/10

CHRISTMAS ALE: 92 Points

It’s a ginger Christmas

This Holiday Ale is released between November and December in 12 oz. bottles. It has a shelf life of 126 days.

Brewer’s Description: “A holiday ale brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon.”

My Description: Christmas is a great time for beer drinkers because of all the spices and warmth added to the beverage. Not all are worth drinking, but this one is definitely worth popping open on that cold night. It has a good sized, off-white colored head that lasts for a few minutes but then fades away leaving a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is sweet and intriguing with notes of ginger, toasted malts, honey, and a touch of alcohol. It is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level, and a semi-dry finish. The flavors in this beer include a complex array of spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and maybe nutmeg among others. It is slightly sweet upfront with a delicious toasted malt flavor accompanied by a hint of alcohol. The aftertaste is slightly bitter bringing balance to taste. I didn’t pick up on much honey like I did in the aroma but it still contributed to the sweetness. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with baked ham, roasted turkey, or grilled lamb chops.

ABV: 7.5%  Color: Copper  Sweetness: 3.5/10  Bitterness: 2.5/10

CHRISTMAS ALE (2012): 93 Points

Christmas time is a good time

This holiday ale is released seasonally in November and December in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Every year to celebrate the holiday season, we brew up our Christmas Ale, and with each year we change the recipe slightly so that you have something special to look forward to.”

My Description: This year’s release tastes similar to the last but has a higher alcohol content, yet you would never know if you did not read the label; the alcohol in here is beautifully hidden. It has a big and fluffy, beige colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind some nice lacing. The aroma is sweet and yet not overpowering with notes of caramel, toasted malt, some raisins and a hint of Christmas spice. It is medium/full bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. Upfront, there are flavors of sweet malt, woodsy hops, some cinnamon, and dark fruits like raisins and plums. The aftertaste balances this beer somewhat with a slightly lower bitterness. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with baked ham, baked squash, or gourmet cheeses.

ABV: 7.3% Color: Dark Brown/Red Hues Sweetness: 4.5/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10

CHRISTMAS ALE (2011): 91 Points

It’s a sweet Christmas

This holiday ale is released seasonally in November and December in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Every year to celebrate the holiday season, we brew up our Christmas Ale, and with each year we change the recipe slightly so that you have something special to look forward to.”

My Description: This edition of Goose Island’s Christmas Ale is on the sweeter side and it delivers many flavors that compliment the season. It has a good sized, beige colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is complex and warming with notes of sweet toasty bread, dark fruits like raisins, a hint of cinnamon, and caramel. The beer is medium/full bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The taste is nicely balanced with a sweet malt note upfront accompanied by dark fruits, raisins, cinnamon, and some toastiness. This transitions into an aftertaste that is slightly bitter with a hint of caramel. The flavors in the beer develop nicely and become more apparent as the beer warms. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with potent cheeses, baked ham, or baked acorn squash.

ABV: 6.2% Color: Reddish/Brown Sweetness: 4/10 Bitterness: 3/10

CHRISTMAS ALE: 78 Points

Christmas Sucks!!

This Christmas Ale is released in the winter months in 12 oz. bottles with a six month shelf life.

Brewer’s Description: “The basic inspiration for Bell’s Christmas Ale was to create a sessionable holiday beer, using locally grown malt, which would stand apart from the array of spiced winter warmers that are typically introduced this time of year.”

My Description: I have no problem with wanting your beer to stand out among the rest, but this beer stands out in a negative light. It doesn’t taste like anything Christmas related, the flavors are bland and faint, and this beer is definitely not one to warm you up on those cold Christmas nights. It has a nice and fluffy, light beige colored head with a good retention level and a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is on the sweet side with faint notes of bread and caramel. It is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The beer has too faint of flavors. There is some toffee notes and a touch of pine hops, but not much else; this leads into an aftertaste is slightly bitter. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with baked ham, grilled pork chops, or glazed turkey.

ABV: 5.5% Color: Hazy Orange/Amber Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10