Bison Gingerbread Ale Review

Bison Gingerbread Ale 4-pack

Bison Brewing is a small brewery, headquartered out of Berkeley, California that brews USDA certified organic beer and sells it to 12 states (as of writing). The history of the brewery was a little turbulent but the excellence of their product has prevailed as exemplified by beers such as Chocolate Stout, Honey Basil Ale, and, the beer we’re focusing on today, Gingerbread Ale.

Bison describes Gingerbread Ale on their website and on the bottle as follows:

Our Spiced holiday porter is brewed with ginger, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon, yielding the aroma of fresh backed gingerbread men! The chewy dark malt flavors are sure to smooth out that dinner with the in-laws.

Date Reviewed. December 13, 2009

Where I Found It. City Beer Store in San Francisco.

Serving Type. Bottle to pint glass.


Appearance. Bison Gingerbread Ale is deep dark brown, nearly black, and opaque. You can see a little light through the corners of the glass, which gives the beer a deep dark red-brown glow. The head is cola-fizz color. Poured about 0.75 inch of head which did not last long. However, a nice thin layer of foam remained throughout consumption.

Smell. This beer has wonderful holiday spice bouquet of ginger and cinnamon and maybe some nutmeg. It also has the perception of cloves, even though cloves are not listed an ingredient. The spices do not overwhelm and contribute to a good balance of beer and spice. It also has a hint of brown sugar and a nice roasty malt aroma. The roasted and black malts contribute the a hint of coffee aroma.

Taste. Gingerbread Ale is balanced and not excessively sweet. It has a toasty and roasty malt taste with a dark sugar flavor lacking the bitterness of molasses. The dry sugar flavor combines well with the ginger and cinnamon to have just enough spice without being overwhelming. The spice is more subtle in the taste than the smell, which is good thing. This beer tastes better at cellar temperatures than ice cold.

Mouthfeel. Medium-light bodied and nicely carbonated. Like many porters this one has a ever so slightly chalky mouthfeel that smooths out at a warmer temperature.

Drinkability. As a holiday beer this is very tasty and, despite being a spiced beer, I could drink two of these in one session. This beer is great to sip and savor slowly.

Rating. My ratings below are on a five point scale with five being the best score.

  • Appearance (20%): 4.0
  • Smell (20%): 4.5
  • Taste (40%): 4.0
  • Mouthfeel (10%): 3.5
  • Drinkability (10%): 4.0
  • Overall: 4.05



  • Style: herb spice beer
  • Brewery: Bison Brewery
  • Alcohol by volume: 6.0%
  • Original Gravity: 1.054
  • Final Gravity: 1.009 (calculated)
  • Bitterness: 21 IBU
  • Malts: (all organic) 2-row, caramel, chocolate, roast barley, black
  • Other ingredients: (all organic) ginger, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon
  • Beer Advocate rating: 3.6 (as of December 26, 2009).

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About David Jensen

David is a craft beer and photography enthusiast.
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4 Responses to Bison Gingerbread Ale Review

  1. Lucas says:

    The only beer from Bison that I have tried is their Pumpkin Ale and I did not love it. This review certainly makes me want to get another Bison brew much sooner than I probably would have.

  2. Timbo says:

    Hi David,

    I think Bison is now actually brewing out of Chico. Will confirm this with Adam over at Linden’s the next chance I get.


  3. David Jensen says:

    I talked to Dan about this several weeks ago. All of the beer is currently brewed on contract at Mendocino Brewing Company. Not sure where I got that the office or HQ is still Berkeley. It might say that on the box.

  4. Pingback: Warm Up With a Winter Beer - Menuism Dining Blog

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