Bell's Christmas Ale - Bell's Brewery, Kalamazoo
It may be March but the snow is still falling I decided to open up a bottle of Bell's Christmas Ale and pretend we were still in the holiday season. I picked up this bottle as part of a "build your own six pack" mixer just after I wrapped up my annual Jingle Beers review of Christmas seasonals. After drinking two dozen Christmas themed beers during the month of December I was a little burnt out and decided to hang on to this bottle for next year, or at least throw a miniature Christmas in July party for myself. This weekend's snowstorm changed my plans and I decided to make the most of staying indoors by opening up an early (late) Christmas present.
The first thing I noticed about this beer was that it was all sorts of red... When I poured the Bell's Christmas Ale into my glass it was nearly glowing like Rudolph's nose... Ok, that might be a bit cheesy but seriously, this beer has a crystal clear copper colored body that refracts light like crazy. The head on this beer is a medium sized tan colored foamy layer of fizzy little bubbles. The head started off quite strong but settles down quickly once I started drinking the beer.
Bell's Christmas Ale smells like a loaf of bread that's been sealed up for a while after it has started to mold. It's a little funky but mostly what you smell is an abundance of grains. The grainy aroma was so strong I swore I'd poured a Rye beer at first. The flavor tastes a bit like a Rye as well, just not quite as dry. Actually, this beer is really well balanced... meaning it's equal parts good and boring. You get all that barley malt flavor up front but it never tastes like a one trick beer, there's some sweetness in the malt that mellows things out a bit but the biggest grain buster is the spice. There's a lot of cinnamon flavor in this beer and that livens up the finish quite a bit. A hint of vanilla keeps your tastebuds from confusing this beer with a whiskey barrel aged brew.
I enjoyed this smooth Scottish style for it's balance but I'm not sure I'll got out of my way to pick up any more bottles. In the end this beer left me feeling underwhelmed and a bit bored. If you're looking for a well balanced and perfectly OK Christmas ale, you'll be just fine drinking this beer.