“A full-bodied amber ale to spice up the holidays. ‘Tis the season to enjoy this rich and flavorful ale made with orange peel, cloves and spicy hops.”
Schlafly Christmas Ale
Spiced Beer, 8% ABV
Ryan: About four or five years ago I decided I was going to be a Christmas beer tasting with some of my friends. Back then I knew absolutely nothing about craft beer or beer styles or breweries. So I went to my local beer store and looked for anything that had Santa, a Christmas-esque scene or a Christmas tree on the label. What I came home with was Rogue’s Santa’s Private Reserve, Sierra Nevada Celebration and the Schlafly Christmas Ale. To my virgin palate, taking a swig of the Santa’s Private Reserve or Celebration was like biting in to a grapefruit.*
My mouth puckered and I am pretty sure I uttered something akin to “BLECH” while trying to scrape the hops off my tongue. After those two beers I was hesitant to even open the Schlafly Christmas Ale. But, to my surprise, it was very refreshing and not nearly as abrasive or “BLECH” inducing as the other two beers. And so began my yearly tradition of picking up a six pack of Schlafly’s Christmas Ale to celebrate the holidays.
Bottled less than two weeks prior to pouring it in my tasting glass, the Schlafly Christmas Ale is a vibrant amber in color and nearly translucent. It passed the pen test. Which may sound complicated, but we just put a pen behind the beer glass and see if we can see it on the other side. The nose is chalked full of cinnamon potpourri and orange peel. Take a sip and you get warming cinnamon, all spice, cloves and a refreshingly citrus finish.
While not technically a winter warmer, this beer is comforting on those cold December nights. And packs a sneaky punch at 8% ABV.
*Oh, five years ago me, if only you knew how good you had it with those hopped-up wonders of the holidays.
Karl: Our 2nd beer of the evening was a marked improvement over the Boulevard, full of nice bright flavors and a general “zip” that I liked. It doesn’t sound very appealing, but the closest thing I thought of when having this beer was that it kinda reminded me of potpourri. A big mishmash of flavors with nothing coming into the forefront – a lot of clove and cinnamon and caramel and probably other things that start with “c.”
The Schlafly is slightly syrup-y, with just enough “there” there to let you know that there’s a body to this beer, then it kinda gets out of the way. This beer is pure – pristine, even – you could see right through and the flavors are pretty clean and crisp. It goes down smooth, like butter, and if you squint the right way you could even taste a bit of it. The only off flavor for me was a touch of menthol or camphor of sorts, giving it just a whiff of medicinal-ness, if that makes sense. It might make it too much to do more than a couple in one evening, but for a one-off, I liked it plenty.
Andrew: The Christmas Ale is one of the few beers we had in our 12 Beers of Christmas tasting that I would easily polish off a 6-pack in one sitting – it’s just that good and that smooth.
Most of the time when I come across a beer I consider to be very well balanced and smooth, the beer sitting around a 5 or 6% ABV, which is nothing too special. When we dug into the Schalfly Christmas Ale that was my exact reaction – “What’s the ABV on this, it can’t be more than 5 or 6%, right?” I was shocked to see that it came in at 8%…a very well hidden 8%.
The beer poured a crystal-clear copper color with no head. Get your nose in the glass and you’ll get lots of Christmas spices and citrus
The flavor held true to the nose – cloves and oranges with a nice amount of spice-y hops…truly a well balanced beer that didn’t finish dry or bitter.