12/10/17: BELL'S BREWERY, INC.'S CHRISTMAS ALE

4:54 PM

Okay, so for today's post I'm revisiting a beer. Nearly two years ago I made a post for Bell's' Christmas Ale. It was good. No spice. A 9/10. Since then, something happened.


See, when it hit the market this year, Bell's announced that it had changed up the recipe: Christmas Ale is now a traditional, boozy Scotch ale. When I saw a single bottle of it at my local beer store, long after I'd heard the news about the recipe switch-up, I had to pick it up. How does it compare to the old stuff?

I'll answer that hanging question in a bit. But first: net neutrality. Click that link. Do some research. Write the FCC and your congressional representatives. Net neutrality is very good thing and, unless we act now, we could lose it. Seriously. The FCC is voting to kill it in four days. We need to act now.

Anyway, Bell's Brewery is based in, you guessed it, Michigan. Their Our Story page tells that Larry Bell originally opened a homebrew store in Kalamazoo in 1983. By 1985 he was selling his own beer. The brewery relocated to Comstock, MI in 2003, to better facilitate the production demanded from it. Since then, Bell's' Comstock brewery has gone through several renovations as the brewery continues to expand its distribution range.

As stated above, the new Christmas Ale is a Scotch ale. Bell's' page for the ale states it has rich malty and caramelly notes. With its 7.5% ABV, this also promises to be a warming ale.

Christmas Ale has a crisp, somehow cold, aroma. You know when you go outside and inhale after snow's fallen? That's perfectly captured here. There's also a caramelly sweetness and only the lightest hint of booziness. I really like it, but Purrl, poor Purrl. She hates it. Wouldn't even give my bottle one whiff.


The beer's flavor is incredibly well-balanced. It's roasty, lightly hopped, sweet, and sharp. There's a lot of warm caramel in the finish, which is definitely a standout quality. It's just the kind of brew you'd reach for on a cold winter night.

One thing from the old Christmas Ale recipe that carries into the new is the mouthfeel. It's still chewy as it was two years ago.

A few years ago I took a beer out onto our apartment's balcony in the midst of a snowstorm. I sat in a chair and watched the snow blanket the world around me. It was freezing, so I was bundled up from head to toe. NIght was rapidly falling. I'm sure a ton of people would call that an unpleasant experience.

Not me, though. I had a blast. The beer was kept cold by the air alone. The stinging cold from the snow on my face accentuated the near-frozen quality of the beer. For once, my entire neighborhood was silent. It was wonderful, and, thanks to the beer at my side right now, I find my mind drifting back to that snowy evening.

So, to answer the question posed near the beginning of this post, the new Christmas Ale from Bell's Brewery holds up well when compared to the old recipe. In fact, I'd say it's on-par with the old stuff. I'm giving it a 9.0/10. Scotch ale isn't a style I've associated with Christmas before now, but, thanks to Bell's, I'll never be able to drink this kind of brew without getting some kind of Christmasy feeling.

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