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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

628 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 628
Hads: 1,877
Avg: 4.19
pDev: 16.23%
Wants: 157
Gots: 321 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website

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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 628 | Hads: 1,877
Photo of DmanGTR
4.85/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at Monk's Cafe in Philly

A - Poured from tap dark brown/red with a creamy 0.5" off white head that clung nicely to the authentic 25th anniversary St. Bernardus goblet. Excellent lacing prevailed throughout.

S - Malty, dark fruits, figs and currants. subtle notes of hops and sour apple. slight yeastiness and light hints of holiday spice. Quite different from the usual holiday ales.

T - Initial caramel malty sweetness, candi sugar. fresh hops and spices mingle in a wondrous balance. Lingering aftertaste adds to ongoing pleasure. Swirls of fruit, malt, hops, and spice hides the alcohol quite well.

M - Full bodied and mild carbonation. Very smooth.

D - Extremely drinkable. I could do a few of them in an evening

Overall - I was highly impressed with this offering from St. Bernardus. Quite different than what I expected from a holiday beer, almost like a Chimay Blue but less fruity. Candi sugar and caramel malts prevail and make for a sweet ride throughout the experience, yet it is well balanced with slight hop notes. For $8.50/12 oz, it was definitely worth every drop. I would like a few bottles to cellar and see how it turns out next year. An excellent accompaniment for a fireside chat after a nice holiday dinner. Highly recommended.

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Photo of anakar
4.85/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Now that we've made things clear let me break this down.

App: Apart from the very lovely and festive looking bottle it comes in, this beer pours a very dark caramel, almost black, with a thick a medium lasting head of fluff.

Smell: Taking a whiff makes you think of several things, the first being - this is a strong one (10% alc ain't no joke), once you got past that, you can sense some very heavy caramel and barleyish smells, just makes you think of stooping lower and lower into an old armchair.

Taste: This is where "Spectacular" comes in. Mind you, this is no light brew and should be takes very seriously. It's flavor is rich and full of alcoholic fumes, anybody who ever had a triple or a quad should know what they taste like, this one is classic but a bit more (to the better).

Feel: is also superb, going all over your mouth it slushes away easily, it has very little carb-bite to it, but it isn't creamy (like a guinness). Watch out! the 10% hits pretty quickly and made me a bit woozy after a pint.

Overall: I've said it before and I'll say it again "SPECTACULAR" - keep it for special occasions.

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Photo of icetrauma
4.84/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured this 2010 vintage into my Chimay Chalice. Poured your usual belgian brown color with 1 finger of off white lacey head that disappeared over time.

Smell was that of deep dark fruits and a even bready malt.

Taste was superb as to be expected from St. Bernardus brews. Touch of bready malt up front with berries and dark fruits such as fig and black cherries lingered on the palate as the brew made its way down.

Mouthfeel was nice and smooth. Medium feel. Not to thick and not thin by any means.

Drinkability on this is a must have for any belgian beer fan. I will procure another bottle and cellar it. I can only imagine how much smoother and silkier this brew will get with time.

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Photo of phishgator
4.84/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

From a 750ml into a chalice. Nice hazy, brown carbonated with a decent head for ten perecent. lacing is slight. The aroma is fruity like sweet sugary candy. The taste is just like the smell, but with bread pudding taking over. Rasins and molasses also come through in the flavor. There is a lot going on with this brew. The body is full, but that doesn't stop you from craving more.

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Photo of noslenwerd
4.83/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Hazy brown with a burnt orange tint.

S: Smells spicy and fruity

T: The taste to me was amazing and everything I expect from a dark belgian ale. A bit more carbonated than your average belgian dark, but I thought of it as a good thing. Very complex flavor but no one flavor hit me, but was mildly fruity.

Summary: Extremely drinkable beer and thus far my favorite "Winter Warmer" to . Will for sure be drinking this one again...

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Photo of TwelveOunces
4.83/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750ml poured into a St. Bernardus Goblet

A- Pours a monster beige head with tight bubbles and beautiful lacing. The beer itself is deep dark brown with reddish orange hues.
S- Big dark fruits that I expected. Rum soaked raisins. Burnt caramel, maybe even some honey? Grapefruit, a little alcohol, figs, pretty good stuff. maybe some figs and cinnamon as well.
T- A full variety of crazy flavors, different with every sip. Creamy caramel mixed with dark fruits, Some cinnamon and ginger make this thing come alive. Sugary sweet fruit aftertaste with brown sugar. Started to taste the alcohol after it warmed up a bit.
M- Boatloads of carbonation, its a truly living beer. Definitely a warming in the stomach because its 10%. This thing pours with a lot of foamy head so be cautious on the pour as the head goes nowhere.
O- Awesome beer. It is in my opinion, a little better then the 12. Its just like the twelve but with a slight Christmas kick.

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Photo of JLeege
4.82/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage.
750 corked 'n caged, poured into a snifter.

Appearance- Pours a cola like color with a bubbly 2 finger just off white head. Great head retention, leaves good lacing.

Smell- Dark fruits right off the bat, aromas of grape/raisons, cherry, plum. Some light spicing. Lots of Belgian yeast on the nose. Smells terrific!

Taste- Again fruity, up front, dark fruits mostly with pronounced grapey notes. Very yeasty as well. Chocolate and cherry notes in middle of the drink. Some brown sugar flavors as well as some light maple syrup. Some banana bread and clove at the finish. Nice layering of flavors in this brew. Similar flavor profile to a nice spiced rum actually. Some slight alcohol is noticed on the finish, but deffinitly not fusel or anything. Quad-esq in the overall flavor.

Mouthfeel- High carbonation but still has a full and creamy feel to it. A slight warming is noticed, which I am liking, and looking for in Belgian of this strength on a winter night.

Overall- Glad I finally got around to trying this one. One of the best "Christmas" ales I have ever had. The flavors of this are perfect for the holiday season and it is not overspiced, for my taste, as some X-mas brews seem to be. Great beer overall and at a very fair price, this is one of the cheapest Belgian imports in my area (bumps up the drinkability a bit). Very impressed, will hopefully be revisiting this again soon and often over the winter!

Edit: Just checked and this is my highest rated beer to date (out of what I have reviewed). When I think about it, this makes perfect sense, this beer is exceptional!

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Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.82/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

75cL bottle from The Lighthouse in Manchester, Maine. Pours a hazy but still translucent dark copper with a half inch of light tan head. Smells intensely fruity and spicy, with banana, nut, and chocolate notes. Tastes fruity, chocolatey, and spicy, with an underlying toastiness. Banana, nut, cherry, dates, and cloves all play nearly equal roles. On the heavier side of medium-bodied with ample carbonation. More of a sipper, though one sip most definitely invites another and this beer was gone long before I wanted it to be. Wow. Quite possibly the best beer this brewery makes, a phenomenal Christmas beer, and one of the most flavorful and complex beers I've had all year. Amazing!

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Photo of bmcmahon1024
4.81/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Drank for the first time this past Christmas season and I now babe a new favorite Christmas beer. Perfectly balanced and with a high abv I would have never guessed it to be so smooth. The Abby ales are rising to the top of my favorites list.

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Photo of Gehrig
4.8/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed on tap at the classic Crane Alley in Urbana, IL after finishing the Christmas shopping this afternoon.

One and one-half fingers of caramel-colored froth top a cloudy ruby-amber body; ample lacing on the St. Bernardus glass (yes, they have a few at Crane Alley), good duration, and lovely color give this a terrific appearance. Wonderful, fruity smells, vinous with some orange peel, some spice (cinnamon and ginger), and a bit of chocolate. Very sweet nose, very good.

Magnificent, smooth taste, heavy on the sweet fruit--maraschino cherries, grape, orange--but, from cranberry and dried fruit such as date and raisin emerging in the second half, with a distinctly sour finish that adroitly balances Christmas Ale and forestalls any cloying. Some semi-sweet chocolate peeks through the dense layers of fruit. Creamy smooth mouthfeel, making this all too easy on the palate. So impressive is how well the high ABV (10.0%) is masked. It was only in the second glass, which I immediately ordered after dousing the first, that I felt it and, by then, it was remarkably easy to accept.

Outstanding BSDA and winter beer, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale filled me with Christmas cheer all day long. What a tremendous find, and kudos to Crane Alley for finding a place for it in their typically stellar lineup of wares.

First rate.

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Photo of kensuthe
4.78/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark brown 750ml bottle with the St. Bernardus monk in a Christmas hat with snow in the background over a green shield. Poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. Topped with an inch thick, fluffy tan head that stuck around and clung to the sides of the glass on the way down. Rich, dark brown beer with small carbonation trailing up the sides of the glass.

Smell: Belgian yeast, figs, raisins, other fruits, cinnamon, nutmeg, other spices, slight alcohol tinge, and bread are all in the aroma. A very appealing smell to compliment a very pleasing head.

Taste & Mouthfeel: The taste of Belgian yeast, a combination of tartness and sweetness from the various fruit components, and a slight holiday spiciness all blend together to produce a cheerful, satisfying taste. The aftertaste has a slight alcohol flavoring, with a mellow blended sugar, spice, and fruit tone. The carbonation makes the beer feel like silk in your mouth, and it is pleasant and light when swallowed.

Drinkability: You might think that a moderate alcohol content mixed with a slightly high amount of carbonation would make this beer less drinkable, but the flavors and smells combine with these factors to make a highly, highly drinkable beer. Sit back on a cold night and relax with this beer, and let it warm you up from within and make you think about happy times.

The only thing bad I have to say about this beer is that I didn't buy enough, so now my wife and I will have to wait until next year for more.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
4.73/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At last I’ve had an on-tap Christmas Ale that I could review (the other times I’ve drank it I didn’t really have reviewing opportunities). This time however was different: the lovely Red Rose bar in Brugge being the venue. 33cl for Euro 4.00, worth every cent.

Poured into a St Bernardus goblet it looked the business in every way: Jet black with a deep beige crown of tight bubbles sat on top. The head stayed and gave waves of lacing as I wolfed the brew down.

The smell was of dark, rich, candied fruits with a good measure of caramel and malts thrown in.

The taste always blows me away, creamy, rich and hearty in every way, yet it’s so mellow the 10%ABV does not show at all; this is a dangerous brew and so, so easy on the palate it just slides down the throat at an alarming rate. A brew to savour, but very difficult not to quaff at pace and order another, and another, and another. Whatever spices they use just enhance the flavours from the mash tun and helps to turn the brew from excellent to superb.

A true classic and a beer I’ll never tire of drinking (if I’ve got the next day off).

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Photo of Mahlik
4.72/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750 ml bottle poured into tulip glass

A - Pours a dark brown with reddish hues. Pours with a big pillowy cream-colored head. Head retention is really solid. Head dissipates to a thick crown, leaving behind great streaks of lacing.

S - Such an amazing aroma on this beer. Dark fruits such as raisins and figs hit the nose first. Plenty of Belgian yeast characteristics. A great spice profile including cloves and cinnamon. Pleasant aroma of brown sugar pushes through. Some banana notes as well.

T - Dark fruits and bready malts make the base of the flavor. A nice blend of caramel, cloves, brown sugar and cinnamon enter along with some fruity esters from the yeast. Sweet but not overbearing. I know it's been said by many others but I think rum-soaked fruitcake is a good description.

M - Medium-full bodied with slightly more than medium carbonation. Big, rich and sweet. Alcohol presence is above average but this is not quite a sipper. The alcohol seems to fade away before the aftertaste. A nice dry finish.

O - Fantastic. I've made this beer a part of my Christmas morning traditions. A perfect beer for the holidays. I enjoy just sitting by the tree and indulging on the rich, sweet taste of this beer. The dark fruit, bread and spice elements all blend to create an amazing Christmas experience.

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Photo of JamisonM
4.72/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 bottle 750 ml bottle corked and caged served in a snifter

A: 3 fingers of head, tan head with the body being a nice mahogany pretty dark, hazy as well.

S: Dark Cherry with some of that spicy Belgian Yeast sweet notes but also some more vinus notes smells great!

T: Oh my my that is good! Tons of dark fruits Cherry Plum Fig and dates notes come all flying at you at once. nice complex flavors and very flavorful! Alcohol is masked well.

M: Mouth is med and carbonation is high

D: super drinkable and enjoyable

Overall: A great beer I wish I would have bought more and now its all sold out! I am getting at least 2 bottles next year! This is one of the very best Christmas/winter seasonal's I have had! I highly recommend this one!

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Photo of DAllspaw
4.7/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle conditioned poured into tulip..

I have never seen a beer produce so much carbonation out of the bottle. A gentle pour produced 3.5 head of cloud like mocha foam which dispersed with webbing down the glass. Unreal.

Smell is initially raisins and some baking spice and figs. Definitely a hint of sweetness.

Taste is exceptional. Nice toffee like taste at first, then cherries and spiced cake. Ends a little hot, would be interesting to see how it ages.

Can't imagine a better winter warmer.

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Photo of Lexluthor33
4.7/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours cherry brown with a foamy head and an amazing lace.
The aroma of malts then spices and finally the hops,fruits and yeast flow out. The alcohol can be picked up ,but only lightly.

I let this one sit for a few minutes and warm up. I then sipped on it and the first thing that hit my tongue was the sweet,dark fruits and some alcohol. Along the way the malts,spices such as cloves and even cinnamon could be tasted.
The feel was smooth and creamy with a full body and medium carbonation.

Notes: This is what Christmas is really about.(just kidding)
This beer really does make me feel the holiday season. There is something so rich and satisfying after a snifter glass of this brew that leaves one wanting more.
I believe there are two types of session beers. Summer/all season and winter session brews such as this one.
Expect to get a little warm and twisted off winter sessions due to higher ABV,but I had four glasses in a four hour span and certainly could have had more.

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Photo of dbell23
4.7/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass. Two finger head that settles to a thin beige head that lingers throughout the drinking. Great lacing. Super dark brown color.

Smell is spicy dark Belgian. Cloves, Christmas spices dominate with malty Belgian ale fragrances. All dark Belgian aromas.

Taste is so complex. Belgian yeast, Christmas spices, smooth malts, toffee, caramel, with a hoppy/phenol finish that has a brown sugar lingering flavor. Alcohol is totally hidden. Great, sitting in front of the fire after a hike in the snow.

Mouthfeel is perfect for this type. Smooth medium/heavy. Just what I look for in this type beer.

Overall a great Belgian winter beer. Can't wait to drink this one again.

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Photo of ryanonline
4.7/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep dark brown with some burgundy highlights and an enormous off white head that sits around for quite a while leaving some very thick gob like lacing.

smells very sweet with some strong hints of cherries and dark fruits with some fairly light spice notes to it. there is some cinnamon and even a touch of clove but many of the other notes are not so noticeable.

the taste is the same but with some more balanced characteristics. the cinnamon is more prevalent but not so strong that it overtakes the other flavors. a very light floral hop flavor lingers in the background.

the mouthfeel is exceptionally creamy and full bodied, the carbonation is soft and foamy. very sweet finish.

may not be super drinkable because it is pretty complex and full bodied. still very good though.

awesome beer, basically like a spiced abt 12.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.7/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In my humble opinion, St. Bernardus does nothing but make great beers. Every style they make is superb. I'm hoping their Christmas beer meets the same standards.

Murky brown in the glass with just a hint of a wispy brown head. Licorice and dark fruit aromas and mulling spices.

Rich dark fruit and bready dark malt. Some warming alcohol and anise. Very thick and malty, lots of black currant and ripe plum, More licorice in the finish and aftertaste. Yummy!

Great stuff. I need to get some more.

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Photo of elricorico
4.68/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Very dark brown, opaque in the goblet, with a more than adequate beige head that sticks around for ages. Lacing forms designs all around the glass.

Sweet and malty aroma. Dark fruits, raisins, and a sweet root beer impression. A touch of musty yeast notable on every other whiff.

Taste can be described in one word as decadent. Sweet and complex through the front half of the mouth. Dryer and just a bit vinuous through the finish. Spices are there but subtley blended throughout. Fantastic.

Full bodied with lowish carbonation. Creamy and chewy even. Just a nice feel for a sipper.

It really doesn't get much better than this. I'd been looking forward to the bottle for a long time, and it does not dissapoint.

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Photo of jpro
4.68/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brought this one out to close out Christmas day. 750mL bottle poured into a Duvel tulip... (from notes)

A: Dark, ruby-brown; three-finger, beige head is nice and chunky, and leaves some serious gobs of lace; tiny bubbles keep a creamy head of retention going strong.

S: Toasted caramel malt; spice; light banana; clove; figs; very rich aroma.

T: Belgian yeast spiciness... especially clove, which peeks through more than on the nose; molasses; candi sugar; bubble gum; banana bread; very complex and satisfying.

M: Near full mouthfeel; high, extra zingy carbonation; alcohol shows up a little more with warmth.

O: A great winter sipper; complex and delicious; another superb ale from St. Bernardus! Mmmm....

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Photo of bronco94
4.67/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 bottle poured into a snifter

A - dark brown with a slight hint of red when held to the light, thick tan head that receded slightly and remained through the duration of the beer. Great lacing

S - like Christmas in a bottle...Belgian 'yeastiness', spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), candied dark fruits (raisins/figs)

T - follows the smell nicely. Like the smell, but slightly sweeter. Mild alcohol presence can be tasted which works well with the sweetness. The Belgian yeast flavor is very present

M - Nice medium bodied mouthfeel, moderately carbonated...just enough to make it flow silkily through your mouth.

D - easy to sip on and finish a 750ml in an evening. The alcohol is there, but hidden fairly well. I could easily drink one of these each week throughout the holiday season..it is a great beer

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Photo of david131
4.67/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- A deep, dark leathery brown liquid with a bit of murkiness to it. When held to a light, there are some ruby highlights at the edges. The creamy light brown head is thick and has excellent retention.

S- Brown sugar, vanilla, plums, gingerbread, and bubblegum. Very aromatic, unique, and inviting.

T- Same as the aroma. Sweet and malty with a nice fruity finish.

M- Exceedingly creamy and smooth with a good amount of carbonation to keep things lively.

D- Very drinkable considering the alcohol content. Very well made. World class.

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Photo of rangerred
4.67/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip out of a 750ml bottle.

Pours a hazy dark brown with some reddish hues. Billowy tan head with incredible head retention and huge chunks of lacing hanging onto the sides of the glass.

Instant Belgian character on the aroma with clove and banana from the yeast. Brown sugar and some molasses are present along with some toast. Licorice along with a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg, and dark fruits.

Lots of dark fruit in the flavor along with more banana and clove. More brown sugar with strong caramel notes. A very slight bit of tartness on the tip of the tongue. Moderate sweetness that perfectly compliments the other flavors. The finish is moderately dry leaving just the smallest hint of residual sweetness. Alcohol is completely hidden save for a slight bit of warming making this a pleasure to drink.

Overall, this is really one of the best beers I have ever had. Just so much going on and all the flavors and characteristics are perfectly balanced. Dangerously drinkable and one to really savor during the holidays.

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Photo of brownbeer
4.65/5  rDev +11%
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.

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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
93 out of 100 based on 628 ratings.