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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,850 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,850
Reviews: 641
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 150
Gots: 303 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: seaoflament on 10-23-2007

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (12) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,850 | Reviews: 641
Reviews by cbarrett4:
Photo of cbarrett4
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from tap at Henry's 12th street. Medium head settling to a nice lace. Dark brown hue. Packed with dark malty goodness, and holiday spices, nutmeg, molasses, brown sugar. Yum. Rich flavors of dark malts and said molasses, spices. Medium weight, almost smells and tastes like it needs more body. Smooth, low tannins, very easy on the finish. Good brew, but expect more from this brewery and at this price.

More User Reviews:
Photo of chinchill
4.21/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Large 75cl bottle (2012?) served in a large Piraat tulip.

A: Dark but clear red-brown body. Large, durable, off-white foamy head,with exceptional lacing. Patchy sticky lace decorates the glass well after tipping.

Aroma: Dark fruits and dark bread crust. Faint spices. yeast and an unfortunate touch of must comes with the yeastiness.

Flavor: Sweet, but not overly so, with hints of toffee and brown sugar. Hints of spices including nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. A suggestion of rum. Dark fruit in abundance. No mustiness, thankfully. Complex and layered. Faint, ripe banana. Loads of depth here, and other flavor components come and go, adding to the enjoyment of this great ale.

Feel: medium body. Medium-heavy but soft carbonation makes for a light and lively feel.. Smooth, sticky and gently warming.

O: More like an ABT 12 than St. Bernardus Prior 8. Better than the Prior 8 and, if not for the aroma, it would be better than the ABT 12 too. Despite the Xmas theme, quite enjoyable in the summer. Highly recommended.

Photo of RoyalT
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – This ale is a dark, dingy brown in color with a modest but stubborn head.

Smell – There's a lot of yeast in this nose and it has a hint of sourness to it. The malts are a light, doughy brown. The spicing is very winterish, full of dark accents. It is very balanced and somehow manages to pull off a light balance.

Taste – The yeast comes through strongly at the taste, and the malt is again like the nose; very light and doughy. I'm getting a bit of baker's chocolate as well. The spices pulled back some from the nose but are still present and well-balanced.

Mouthfeel – This is not quite full-bodied but it is big. The carbonation is strong and fluffy, tickling the inside cheeks like a good BSDA should.

Drinkability – This is a terrific addition to the St Bernie inventory. It's a wonderful wintertime specialty ale.

Photo of tectactoe
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown, ruby red color; murky and opaque with a thick, fluffy, creamy, and long-lasting beige head. Sweet and malty aromas jump from the glass immediately upon pouring; wine-like in aroma, with grapes and phenolic smells meshing together. Apple skins, berries, prunes, and a subtle hint of clove from the signature Belgian yeast. In the taste, there are many more spices coming out than were in the aroma. Nutmeg, anise, ginger, tiny bits of cinnamon, maybe even a touch of white pepper. Some light cocoa notes all around, bready and thick in flavor, clove and some spicy bitterness hits fast on the tail end. Earthy, dirty, and again full of boozy fruits - plums, figs, apples, soaked in booze. Bread and a touch of rye in the aftertaste. Thick body, heavy, lots of fine carbonation.

A solid Christmastime BSDA that acts as a wonderful winter warmer. One of the things I like about most BSDA's are their complex flavor profiles, and this one is no different. Lots of things going on, but they work together well.

Photo of metter98
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is very dark amber in color and poured with a two finger high creamy beige head that slowly died down but left a thin layer of bubbles consistently covering the surface.
S: The nose has aromas of malty sweetness and notes of dark fruits.
T: Like the smell, the taste is rather malty but has a mild amount of sweetness with notes of dark fruits and hints of yeast. The sweetness becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
M: It feels medium-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a high amount of carbonation.
D: The beer is very easy to drink considering its strength because the alcohol is well hidden.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.37/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this with Christmas dinner in 2009. Thanks to my parents for spontaneously picking this up and surprising my wife and I with it for the meal.

Pours a dark caramel with a nice tan head and some good lacing. Nose is quite nice, dominated by plums, figs, dates, nutmeg, allspice, a touch of cinnamon, and some doughy malt. Lovely yeast character. Taste is just as complex and uber integrated. Like a nice holiday dessert without being at all overly sweet. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy; super smooth. Drinkability is quite nice. Will have to make this a tradition.

Photo of UrbanCaveman
3.57/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle, poured into a snifter at room temperature.

A: Pours a rich, deep bronze-brown, and forms a fantastically thick head with good retention. Fairly clear, enough to see the bubbles rising from the bottom. Lacing is rather remarkable - this amount of froth and lacing should not even be possible for a 10% ABV beer!

S: Sweet malt and yeast, wreathed through with plum, fig, and cherry notes. The candi sweetness is of course present, along with just a tinge of funk.

T: So, that's what a quad with cinnamon in it tastes like. There's significant heat in this, from a combination of cinnamon spice with noticeable alcohol. Sweet malt, candi sugar, and dark fruits, particularly cherry, are all present, but beneath the spiceahol mix. The finish leaves a lingering burn.

M: Rather thin and sharply carbonated for a quad, actually. I was expecting something stickier, given the head and lacing.

O: I am rather underwhelmed by this beer, especially from St. Bernardus. The Abt 12 is spectacular, but this does not disguise the alcohol content half as well - instead, it disguises the underlying yeast flavors with alcohol and spice. I wouldn't say it is a bad beer, but I would not go out of my way to have it again. Perhaps if I were to encounter it on tap somewhere for a decent price per pour.

Photo of rden4654
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%

Decent Beer I would not go out of my way to buy it though.

Photo of don1481
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a 4 pack of 11.2oz bottles on clearance at Woodman's. Let's see how this stacks up to Abt 12.

11.2 oz bottle poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a very very dark reddish brown. Big, frothy head that takes quite some time to die down, leaving a sticky lacing along the side of the glass.

Smell: From the moment I poured this, I got hit by the same sort of sweetness that Abt 12 has in it. The brown sugar, dates, raisin notes come shining on through. I don't smell any real booziness to it. Maybe a trace of banana here, with some nutmeg and holiday type spices.

Taste: That's... different. This hits you in a different way than Abt 12. More of the holiday spices, but the date/raisin notes still are definitely here. A complex taste to it, pretty crisp, but not boozy at all.

Mouthfeel: Bubbly and crisp. Lingers a bit longer in the aftertaste, in a warming manner from the alcohol. Not a burning sensation, thankfully. Definitely a lighter body to it.

Overall: Dangerously sessionable for a 10% ABV. Very enjoyable. I'd love to age a couple of these in the basement.

Photo of brownbeer
4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I think this is a 2007 vintage, as the cork has a best before date of 2012. I assume it's a five year date. Although, that contradicts the suggestion on the bottle to age it up to 15 years. I digress.

Dark brown with a nice, light brown head, retention, the whole nine. Looks great.

The first thing I notice in the aroma is licorice. Then fig, Christmas plum pudding. Too many great notes for me to understand. Christmas in a bottle.

Spicy yeast flavors, a hint of apple fruitiness, fruitcake, nutmeg, caramel, raisin. Full, creamy body with a nice, warming finish. Could possibly benefit from a softer carbonation.

I'm not sure if the two years of age helped this out, but this beer is in that small group that defines Belgian greatness. Classy stuff.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #47 (Dec 2010):

Sizable head drops down to a latte-like foam; this ale is nearly black in color as well. Candied fruit, plum pudding, hint of broth, burnt sugar and mulling spices scream X-mas to the nose. Carbonation smoothes the palate, silky with a delicate but thick medium body. Malt character is on the dry side for the most part; a smattering of caramel is in the middle. A bit hoppy with a side of phenols, all of which go herbal. Alcohol is pretty tame for 10 percent--it warms but does not rake the taste buds too much. Fruity, spicy and yeasty with hints of dark sugar and some earthy yeast in the drying finish. Super complex, yet still a sipper. This ale is waiting to be thrown at a rich holiday meal.

Photo of txbrewer
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - dark brown (slight red with the light showing through it) with a healthy head that holds for a few minutes and then fades to plenty of stuck lacing in the glass.

S - a little yeasty, a little toffee/chocolate bittersweet, just a touch of alcohol. When I first popped the bottle (champagne corked 750 mil) it had a bit more of the sweetness to it, once poured though, it diminished.

T - mild hops with the toffee/chocolate bittersweet coming through but not overpowering.

M - easy going, all the smells and flavors blend well enough to keep this going down quite easy.

OK, ever made that root beer float and had the head that just took a few to go away...that is how this poured. I am currently at the end of the bottle and there is still some lacing sticking around the pint glass. For me, this has just enough of the hops and toffee/chocolate to keep me coming back for another (and I am wanting a second bottle at the moment). I will be back for another of these and will be looking for other St Bernardus bottles in the local markets.

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.06/5  rDev -4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 750ml bottle poured into a goblet. Medium brown color with red highlights. A very thick tan head, almost the appearance of whipped cream. Nice aroma of dark fruit and some sugar. Similar taste, but there was also a pronounced spiciness that lingered really well. A great after dinner sipping beer.

Photo of 3HovsepiansBrews
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark brown/red with a tan head.
S - Plums, raisins, dried apricots, alcohol, cherries.
T - Alcohol, cherries, dried fruits, and toffee. There is also a slight dark chocolate at the end of the sip that lingers.
M - Medium body with mild carbonation.
O - Refreshing and drinkable considering the abv. Nice alcohol warmth with a good flavor and aroma

Photo of merlin48
4.63/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Corked and caged bottle found at Pappy's Beer Store out in the middle of nowhere a couple miles north of Cumberland Gap. Served slightly chilled into a St Bernardus goblet. Pours a clear, but dark, chestnut body that has an exceptional ruby glow when held to light. Beige head retains very well and leaves some classical sheet lacing.

Aroma hints at the bountiful Belgian flavors to follow. Lots of dark fruits, bubblegum, Belgian yeasties,and a plethora of malty attributes that include caramel and milk chocolate. A hint of tart cherries underneath.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, satiny and full bodied with a moderate carbonation.

Taste seems to be dominated by dark fruits. Lots of dates, figs, and raisins. Plenty of caramel notes. Bubblegum and Belgian yeast notes. Damn! What an expressive malt base-teasing with nuttiness and a touch of molasses. Hints of earthy and floral hops add somewhat of a bitter balance. Dark rum notes in the middle and into the finish remind you that this is 10% abv. Finsihes with an earthiness and maltiness that lets you know this is a genuine Trappist experience.

It's been way too long since I've savored one of these special brews from these smiling monks. Absolutely exceptional brew here.

Photo of Billolick
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber, caged and corked, best before date etched on the bottom of the bottle (sometime in 2012) Pours dark dark brown, initially under a huge head, that slowly recedes , leaving gobs of heavy lace all over the glass. Cola and raisin nose, prickly carbonation, lots of character and cola, dark fruits, yeasty goodness and alcohol all swimming around. Let it warm up, let the flavors open up and savor this flavorful Belgian beauty

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours brown with a beige head. Lots of extremely small, fine bubbles. The aroma is Belgian yeast as well as dark fruits and candi sugar. The taste pretty much follows the aroma, with lots of caramel malt. The overall flavor is pretty sweet and the alcohol is present and warming. Medium mouthfeel and highly carbonated.

Photo of SemperIPA
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Teku Beer glass from a 75cl bottle on Christmas Day 2014.

APPEARANCE – Completely opaque auburn brown in color w/ a thick tan head that dissipates into a nice foam lid.

SMELL – Spicy sweet aroma.

TASTE – Spicy maltiness with light sweetness and a nice gentle alcohol burn.

MOUTHFEEL – Medium body with big carbonation.

OVERALL – Very nice Christmas Beer! With two bottles of this tonight, at 10% ABV it most certainly is "...the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"

Photo of wattoclone
5/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the perfect Belgian Ale. The 10% ABV creeps up slowly. It is so perfectly balanced with intense caramel and spiced sweet apple, dark fruits, vanilla and notes of banana esters with a lingering tartness similar to a freshly baked apple pie. My concept of perfection, sweet fruitiness, caramelized burnt sugar, and cinnamon spice with no hoppy bitterness to spoil the experience. On my death bed I want a bottle of St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. Then at my wake I want everyone to drink St Bernardus Christmas Ale until they pass out to remember me by. Beer Advocate is a great place to learn about beer, but they should allow pictures of beer poured into a glass which is way more important than the appearance of the bottle.

Photo of Underrower
2.72/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

750ml bottle served in a small goblet

Looked good but maybe a little lighter in color than the ABT12. Not much foam when poured at first but later glasses had more foam. That slightly rosey transparancy in a strong dark belgian ale concerns me. Usually, the dark ales with no red color turn out to taste the best unless we are talking about Gulden Draak.

Smelled good. Had some fruit and bread on the nose.

When cold it was pretty good and I had high hopes as it warmed and opened but by the end of the bottle the hopes were dashed. What opened up was sickening sweetness then bitter and lots of alcohol taste.

Creamy mouth feel and nice carbonation. Warmed up it did pour a nice head of foam.

Overall, I should have kept cold. I will not be buying this again. I like sweet beers but this kind of sweetness is something else entirely. I have tried most of the St Bernardus offerings and I have to rate Abt 12 number one followed by the Tripel then the Pater 6 and Watou Tripel. This Christmas Ale I will lump in with the Prior 8 and the Wit as beers I will probably never have again.

Photo of MattyG85
4.87/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep and dark brownish amber red with lots of bubbles. Huge six finger bubbly off white head that slowly fades into a thin patchy layer. Leaves some good lacing on the glass.

Smell: Huge aroma of dark fruits leaps out of the glass. Raisins, prunes, figs, dates, and dark cherries. Lots of Belgian yeast with some hints of clove spice. Some hints of cinnamon and nutmeg spices. Also a hint of banana and brown sugar. Great mix of dark fruits and spices.

Taste: Just as great as the smell. Spicy Belgian yeast with cloves and banana. Huge taste of dark fruit with notes of raisins, figs, prunes, dates, and dark cherries. Also a noticeable presence of winter spices including cinnamon and nutmeg. Some caramel malts in the background provide some breadyness. Very fruity but not overly sweet. Spices add a lot.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a carbonation on the higher side. fruity and somewhat sticky. Spicy and finishes dry. No alcohol heat noticeable.

Overall: A very good Belgian Dark Ale and one of the best Christmas beers in the world. Great use of dark fruits and spices.

Photo of far333
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Christmas gift from my wife. Served at cellar temp in a crystal snifter.

Murky orangey brown colored with a light brown head that settles out quickly leaving no lace. Yeast chunklets are suspended and moving around.

Aroma of sweet raspberry and honey, some heather and yeastiness.

Rich flavor of sweet caramel and toffee, raspberry and pomegranate, lots of other sweet fruits, hints of vanilla and leather. Honey notes, a bit floral. Subtle phenols. Very smooth for its strength.

Moderate carbonation, silky but bordering on syrupy. Tingly on the tongue. Finishes crisp.

Tasty beer, very rich. Good after dinner sipper.

Photo of TKEbeerman
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured into my St. Bernardus chalice, this BSDA pours a medium brown with a ruby hue. The head is 1 finger thick and very bubbly.

S: The aroma is very sweet and is heavy in notes of dark fruit, raisins and figs, coupled with slight notes of the typical Belgium yeasty spice/clove.

T: The flavor is great. Everything present in the nose shines on the pallet. Dark figs and raisins. Maybe some bruised apples. Belgium spice is kept at the minimum, but adds complexity on the back of the pallet.

MF: Mouthfeel is a little light for a Belgium, but not bad.

D: Drink is good too, but not outstanding.

Photo of whoneeds8
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a murky brown into a Westmalle Chalace. Very good lacing all the way down the glass. Smell was very typical of a Bernardus Dark Ale. Taste was very complex, however I didn't like the initial mouthfeel of high carbonation. It was ticking my taste buds too much. It mellowed after sitting for a little while.

I might go buy another bottle to let age in the cellar to find out how well this ages for next year.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Super carbonated, Belgian ale just in time for this holiday season, pours a slightly clouded mahogany brown burgundy color with a light khaki tan head forming thick and fully bubbled. Aroma is full of Christmas spices meaning hints of cinnamon, ginger, and other famous pie spices. Full on flavor of ripened fruits and sweet bursting dessert like bready pie crust. Fruit filled with spices galore this is some big festive drinking Christmas ale. Full on honey tinged ripened fruit with hints of papaya, pineapple tartness with bittering hoiday spices balancing out the pure sweetness of this big Belgian ale. Alcoholic slight medicinal burn in each sip with high carbonation this really tickles the nares but the effervescent carbonation carries things well, and it finishes with bitter dry holiday spices. Wonderful amazing freak of nature Belgian Christmas bier that we all look forward to each year.

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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,850 ratings.