UncleKorm (1163) - Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA - MAR 8, 2013
3.3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 13/20
Bomber poured a clear deep reddish brown w/ a frothy off-white mostly diminishing head and excellent lacing. Med to big aromas of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, caramel, and dried fruit. Initial flavor is a light sweet to a moderate bitter finish. Taste is a spicy mix of Christmas with toffee, cinnamon, ginger, clove, cardamom, star anise and toasted cereal. Medium bodied, dry texture, soft carbonation, and a lasting spice in the finish.
GarrettB (1312) - San Diego, California, USA - JAN 31, 2013
3.4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
UPDATED: OCT 21, 2015 December 17th, 2013 - I must have really liked Bristolís Christmas Ale, because by the time I had the wherewithal to take a picture of the beer for my records, there was a small centimeter or so left in my sampler glass, barely a flicker left in the candle, with a used, tired top (no head) and a chocolate labrador brown puddle, quivering near the bottom. But the tasting notes were taken when the beer was closer to mint condition, and there I caught heavy scents of pumpkin spices: cinnamon and brown sugar dominate, but thereís some vanilla notes too once I give it a swirl and a cautious shake. Also, and this comes with two-raised eyebrows worth of surprise, I smell some egg egg, the creaminess and the spice combined in a seasonally decadent drink, and evident here in a beer. The beerís taste is defined by the heavy palate, thick and bubbly. Once the carbonation lifts I detect almonds and hazelnuts. Closer study of the foretaste revealís the nose sweeter elements like the brown sugar. Leaning back, it seems that this beer is neither a Christmas Ale nor a pumpkin ale, but something that spans the Autumn and Winter culinary traditions, rounding up a chefís shelf worth of spices and tastefully seasoning a beer with them.
January 1st, 2012 (3.2) - A Christmas beer after Christmas is an instance of poor timing, but the style lasts long after the holiday season. As long as the ground is covered in Colorado snow and the Rocky Mountains are saluting with their snow capped peaks off to the West, these dark and malty beers still make for a great nightcap on a cold night. With its soft, pillow head and light brown color, Bristolís Christmas Ale looks ready for a a quiet winter night, with a fireplace providing the soundtrack. Christmas desserts unfurl from the top of the beer - cinnamon and clove, and a dry banana ester too, giving this a dry and raspy sweetness. The flavor is dry too, reminiscent of the neighboring Venetucci Pumpkin Ale. Itís dry and vegetal, like a gourd that was cut and then regrettably left out on the counter, forgotten for a day. Another strange flavor addition: shabu-shabu dipping sauce. Itís not quite soy sauce and itís not teriyaki sauce either, but itís packed full of umami side, and lends this Christmas ale some welcome depth of flavor. The aftertaste is spicy but short, and that odd shabu-shabu note simplifies down to a simple light soy sauce taste. Vegetal and deeply flavored, this is a brew that is curious for its lack of sugars and sweets. But I like this break from tradition. Indeed, thatís part of why Iím drinking a Christmas beer after the holiday period has expired. The taste isnít spectacular, but Bristolís Christmas Ale isnít typical either.
Beaver (1546) - Fort Collins, Colorado, USA - JAN 14, 2013
2.2 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 4/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 8/20
22 oz bottle. Pours dark ruby amber brown with a small head that quickly goes to a thin collar.
The aroma is sweet malts and floral, perfumey spices and cloves.
The flavor is sweet peaty malts with a little roast, and more soapy, perfumey spices. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with very low carbonation and pretty watery.
Overall, lots of floral perfumey spices...not really a fan.
arminjewell (9143) - East Lansing, Michigan, USA - JAN 14, 2013
3.2 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 12/20
Pour out of 22 oz bottle, dark brownish red with white head, aroma brought notes of ginger, cinnamon, slight cardamom, nice caramel, toffee, hints of dark fruits in there, slight molasses. Taste is a mix of sweet caramel, toffee, lots of spice with cinnamon, ginger, clove, some hints of cardamom, more spice notes that muddle a bit, finishing fairly spicy, bitter, slightly dry. Eh, much too over spiced but it is fairly easy to drink.
Ernest (7030) - Boulder, Colorado, USA - DEC 28, 2012
2.5 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 10/20
Head is initially average sized, frothy, brown, mostly diminishing.
Body is medium brown.
Aroma is lightly malty (cookie), with strong notes of clove, clove, clove, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, etc.
Flavor is moderately to heavily sweet, lightly acidic, lightly bitter.
Finish is lightly to moderately sweet, lightly acidic, moderately bitter, unclean.
Medium to full body, watery/syrupy texture, lively/soft carbonation, lightly to moderately alcoholic.
This is the definition of "spice bomb" (esp. cloves). While the spice odors are certainly not offensive, itís about as over-the-top and unbalanced as it gets...itís almost hard to tell thereís beer underneath it all. Do you like chewing a mouthful of cloves? Me neither.
onceblind (6378) - Denver, Colorado, USA - JUN 17, 2012
3.2 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
Deep mahogany with a clear reddish tint, non-lasting light beige head. Nice winter-y aroma of cinnamon and clove with some nutmeg with a nice sweet plum/raisin maltiness. Flavor was a little light but the taste was at least well thought out. Nice tones of cinnamon and ginger play on a earthy sweet, slightly fruity palate, with some nutmeg toward the finish with a somewhat earthy peat tone. Kinda tastes like a spiced Scotch Ale.
wchesser (1667) - Denver, Colorado, USA - JAN 8, 2012
3.4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
2011 bomber. Aroma is bold with nutmeg and cinnamon bark and some toasted malts. Very dark brown with some magenta on the edges. Good carbonation no head or lacing though. Taste is the same as nose, plus some oak. Okay, but didnít leave me wanting another one.
BritAlesRule (215) - Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA - JAN 8, 2012
3.7 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Pours a dark brown with a huge foamy/creamy head. Nose is nutmeg, cinnamon, molasses and spice cupboard with some wood involved. Oak I believe. Taste is Cinnamon, pumpkin, and spice, toffee and candy with a slightly sprucey green edge to it. Definitely one of the more unique and edgy Christmas beers Iíve encountered. Medium creamy in the mouth. Lingering sugar. Nice
talon1117 (1152) - Fort Collins, Colorado, USA - DEC 30, 2011
3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
The pour is a very deep garnet color with an average, beige, pillowy head which is mostly diminishing and leaves minimal lace. The nose is full of pumpkin pie spices; nutmeg, allspice, molasses, some brown sugar, faint rosemary, and maybe some pumpkin? The flavor is similar with light brown sugar and molasses, light roast, still pumpkin notes as well as nutmeg and light ginger, and the same rosemary note. The palate is lively, medium, and velvety. The beer finishes with molasses, pumpkin, and the rosemary note. Actually a pretty nice pumpkin beer. Not sure that is what it is supposed to be being that this is a Christmas beer. Nice malt base with complementary spicing and a decent palate. Odd for a holiday beer but pleasant.
notalush (5561) - Denver, Colorado, USA - DEC 14, 2011
3.5 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 13/20
Bomber - pours a clear amber - nose is full of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger/gingerbread - medium bodied, full carbonation - fairly dry and Biscuity, which is a relief, since the label says it is made with molasses - cardamom is showcased well up front - the tail end is spicy ginger and cinnamon - fairly crisp maltiness throughout - a solid Christmas brew.