I poured a 12oz bottle into a nonic pint glass. It had a best before date of 3/7/14 and cost $2.40 ($0.20 per ounce).
Appearance: Beautiful shade of copper/magenta. Clear with plenty of
carbonation visible. Pours to a medium-sized, white, frothy head which
laces and retains well.
Smell: Resiny/piney hops. A touch of coffee.
Taste: I haven’t had Abita Christmas Ale since 2009. The brewery makes a
point of saying the recipe for this beer changes every year, but they
don’t say if it’s the same base recipe with a few tweaks (a la Anchor
Christmas Ale), or if they brew to an entirely different style. Though
that goes to show the power of persuasion - some say this is an amber,
others say it’s a brown ale. Frankly, I could go either way, though I’ll
probably guess brown ale since that’s what it’s been before.
If this is a brown ale, then it’s quite hoppy for the style.
Surprisingly strong, dank, resiny hops persist throughout the palette,
but especially on the finish. There’s a general earthy quality to the
taste here - hints of rustic tree bark and pine needles. Not much in the
way of specific malty flavors, other than to say it has a solid malt
foundation. I would not describe it as sweet, though there is an
interesting flavor of coffee on the finish that seems to bridge the gap
between the hops and malts. While I wouldn’t describe the beer as being
particularly Christmas-y, since there’s no spices, it’s more interesting
than your usual brown ale.
Drinkability: While the taste to Abita Christmas Ale was surprisingly
nice, its delivery was equally impressive. The mouthfeel is medium all
around - flavorful yes, but nothing intense. On the thinner side with
noticeably crisp effervescence that finishes rather clean considering
how bitter the taste is. I’m not sure of the ABV, though most sources
seem to indicate it’s 5.5%, which seems applicable since it’s a
flavorful beer, but nowhere near a heavy one.