25 Beers of Christmas : Day One – Bell’s Christmas Ale

Have you had your first official snow yet? Did you stand outside with your face flat up against the sky and try to catch the snowflakes falling? Have you ever thought about if someone looked down upon earth in the winter, there would be thousands of people who just look like they’re screaming up at the heavens?

Anyways, I totally did, and I’m always surprised that I am actually able to succeed at catching some of the snowflakes. I also couldn’t believe that the weather waited until December for real snow, and my breath is always taken away at how stunning & muffled the world is when it coats the ground and trees. It’s strange how you can forget something so profound within a year, isn’t it?

But even if you haven’t been able to stand around like a kid waiting for snow to fall all over your face, that’s about to happen in the form of a beer. True, you may need to spend twenty minutes cleaning your car off to go get one, but I think it’s worth it. Well, maybe ten minutes. This is worth ten minutes of cleaning off your car.

All in all…This ale tastes extremely pure and surprising, just like those small snowflakes when they finally hit your tongue. I really didn’t know what I should expect from a Christmas Ale (evergreen? mulled spices? chestnuts? cookies?), but if I have my say, Bell’s is on the right track. To me this tasted like a standard American Ale with a little more “!” and more clean lines added for the holidays. When is more “!” ever really a bad thing?

This pours a downright sexy amber/carmel color (even though my iPhone doesn’t capture it), and has a soft head that is maintained throughout the beer’s life in the glass. However, this Christmas Ale didn’t linger in the glass for very long for it was too yummy for me to exercise much patience. I honestly did not get any toffee or toasted flavors in this, but I did think that I sensed the tiniest pinch of spice at the end of a taste, but when I read about this on the Bell’s Brand Page they described that there were no spices in the beer. My bad.

[My apologies for just saying “my bad.” That is genuinely the first time I’ve done that…shhh…no one has to know. What would the Christmas season be without blurting out embarrassing things? Back on track here…]

Recommend to a friend? So far the only other Christmas ale I have had is the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, and though it makes me grin like an idiot, I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who doesn’t have a fondness for hoppy beers. It is also 6.8% ABV, so I would recommend the Bell’s Christmas Ale as a holiday “drink more than one so we can be merry & friends” beer.

How much snow are you willing to scrape off your car for this?

We’re going to use a system of

1. Stay inside and rummage through the cabinet for scotch

2. Five minutes

3. Ten minutes

4. Twenty minutes what!

5. Dig through a Minnesota blizzard

I hope it’s clear that is a “Christmas-themed” 1-5 system here. And as I mentioned above, I would clean my car off for ten minutes for this beer. I would much prefer tromping through the snow to a nearby beer/liquor store, but alas, there are none nearby.

Safe for lightweights? 5.5% ABV. Si!

Plus one? Maybe later. First I would like to try another Christmas beer that has more spices, and more ooh la la.

And finally, from Bell’s itself: “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. In contrast to many other seasonals, Christmas Ale doesn’t contain any spices: all of the dry, toasted notes & subtle toffee flavors come from the 100% Michigan-grown barley, custom malted by Briess Malting, while a blend of hops from Michigan & the Pacific Northwest lend earthy, herbal aromas. At 5.5% ABV, it stands as a smooth, highly drinkable beer intended to complement holiday menus, not overshadow them.”


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