1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,439 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,439
Reviews: 576
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 104
Gots: 148 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: seaoflament on 10-23-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Christmas Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,439 | Reviews: 576 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of IronLover
IronLover

Pennsylvania

4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Deep walnut brown in color and murky. Poured with a billowy off-white foam with awesome retention that left huge sheets of lacings on the glass. Spicy aromas hit the nose first with sweet estery and dark malts in the background. Medium bodied with aggressive yet smooth delicate carbonation. Dark fruit and banana flavors from start to finish with spices overtop. Herbal hops come and go through the middle. The flavors are consistent and coexist nicely as not one flavor overwhelms the others. Finishes semi-dry with a light yeasty and spicy aftertaste.

02-19-2012 18:00:38 | More by IronLover
Photo of TheEremite
TheEremite

California

4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

I was pleasantly surprised with this beer. I bought it in 07 and it stuck around in the closet until I decided it was time to clear out some beers.

Smells fantastic, like a strong dark Belgian should. There may have been some spices once but they're all but gone now... or maybe it's just the yeast. I can't tell

I taste a lot of dark fruit flavors and high lov crystal malts. The raisin malty sweetness tastes fantastic. I don't really know what I expected but it was really a treat. I'll grab another one if I find it again.

09-13-2009 04:41:40 | More by TheEremite
Photo of AmericanGothic
AmericanGothic

Iowa

4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Poured from a corked and caged 750 ml bottle into a Unibroue tulip.

A: Pours a cloudy, medium brown color with two fingers of billowy, pale tan head. Exceptional retention and lace, vigorous carbonation.

S: Sweet, stewed figs and cherries, cinnamon and cardamom.

T: Much like the smell, except more intense. Spicy figs and cherries, also a little banana and prune. Sweetness is fairly low but not absent. Peppery spice floats over the other flavors and gives them something to play off of. As the beer warms, cinnamon and brown sugar joins the flavor profile. Still later, some dark berry notes. Very complex.

M: Full bodied, but the carbonation keeps it afloat. Faintly astringent.

O: This is a very tasty beer. The most interesting thing is the way the fruity and peppery esters separate from each other, makes for a very pleasant beer. I will need to have this again before the holidays are through, probably more than once.

12-20-2011 01:52:59 | More by AmericanGothic
Photo of AdamBear
AdamBear

Pennsylvania

4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

A-dark chestnut. reddish tint, with a thick dark cream colored head. looks purdy.

S-strong scent of dark belgian spices and sugars. a hint of salted caramel and sweetness.

T-comes in with a really decent taste dark belgian grains and spices...with a nice emphasis on the spice and a certain belgian rawness. its a flavor that really sticks tongue. a good amount of peppercorn here. matching after-taste. high quality in and out. this beer hugs the mouth.

M-really heavy on the carbonation with a fairly dry finish

O-i'm actually surprised at how drinkable this beer is. it goes down very easily for the high ABV. as i drink it more, the flavors in the after-taste seem to come out more. its not my favorite christmas brew, but it isn't bad. i'll get this again some time, but next i'd like to share the 750mL possibly. this is great beer though...a must try.

12-08-2011 00:53:05 | More by AdamBear
Photo of beertunes
beertunes

Washington

4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Served in tulip. Poured a very dark, slightly reddish, brown with almost 2 inches of dark khaki colored head that had very good retention and moderate lacing.

The aroma is a pleasantly stimulating mixture of malt and spice. The flavors follow along with a nice yeast taste added to the mix. I can't put my finger on which spices I'm tasting, but they are yummy.

The body is very good, full, well rounded and smooth, without being heavy, sticky or lingering. Drinkability is very good, just watch out for that 10% ABV.

Overall, a wonderful brew. Worth seeking out, a must try.

11-08-2009 00:20:41 | More by beertunes
Photo of alexgash
alexgash

Connecticut

4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

750 ml bottle, corked and caged.

Dark ruby-tinged maple syrup. Finger of creamy, light khaki head, with okay lacing. Big, rich, rummy fruits on the nose. Pears, fruit cocktail, scorched sugar, raisins, cola, Concord grapes, and perhaps some yeasty sweetbread. Nice, complex, and inviting.

Flash of toasted malt up front. Estery fruit follows and is quickly joined by a huge swell of sweet, fruity, caramely malts. Sweet Concord grapes blend with sugar-coated raisins, perfectly ripe Bartlett pears, brown sugar, and caramel. Sweet cake batter, toasted nuts, and even a little cocoa lead into the finish. Lingering rummy fruits swell once again in the finish. There's also some yeastiness and a cocoa nib and herbal hop bitterness. Warming. Full-bodied with a thick, gently carbonated feel. Very nice, especially on this 10 degree F night!

12-11-2009 01:24:46 | More by alexgash
Photo of taigor
taigor

New York

4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Poured into chalice glass.

A - Poured dark mahogany non-transparent color with huge head that slowly dissipated leaving significant lacing around the glass.

S - Mostly dark fruits and spices with bready yeast and malts.

T - Dark fruits predominate, figs, raisins, cherries with banana, bready yeast and lots of spices.

M - Medium bodied with high carbonation.

O - Great Christmas Ale with ABV very well hidden. I highly recommend it.

10-20-2011 19:58:22 | More by taigor
Photo of LeRose
LeRose

Massachusetts

4.36/5  rDev +3.1%

This bottle was a gift in December 2012. Poured into a tulip.

Appearance - murky brown/reddish color. Nice fluffy white foam on top that persisted.

Smell - immediate hit of alcohol which shouldn't be a surprise. Dark fruit - fig and data aromas. Lightly spice notes on the nose - clove, cinnamon. Very toasty. The aroma set the expectation that this was going to be very sweet. Bready and malty.

Taste - yeasty, bready, and malty. The alcohol was not as noticeable on the taste. Heavy on the fruit notes - plum/fig/date maybe a hint of sweet cherry. Not nearly as sweet as I expected. I thought the spice components were very laid back and complimented the beer rather than dominating it - wonder if this is age related? Thought the balance was great - not a cloying, overly-spiced holiday brew.

On the tongue, kind of a medium body, pretty smooth. Where did the 10% ABV go? Carbonation was high, but not overly fizzy.

Overall I think this is an excellent beer and if memory serves, it is somewhat of a bargain in terms of price. Obviously a year in waiting did not hurt it any. I would not hesitate to pick up leftover bottles and let them stay with me until next Christmas. Good stuff.

12-27-2013 01:04:06 | More by LeRose
Photo of don1481
don1481

Wisconsin

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

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.

02-16-2014 03:41:50 | More by don1481
Photo of GilGarp
GilGarp

Colorado

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

We're celebrating Christmas tonight and what better way to do it than with a special Belgian Christmas beer?

Pops with a soft bang and pours into a globe glass. It's a dark redish copper color with lots of fine light brown head. The head settles to an eighth inch layer leaving some lacing behind.

Aroma is difficult to appreciate given that I just filled the house with smoke trying to have a fire in the fireplace. What I can get from it is the classic Belgian dark fruit esters and spice.

Flavor is excellent, as I've come to expect from St. Bernardus. Great depth of character from fruity to spicy, sweet to dry, it has something for everyone to enjoy.

Mouthfeel is typical Belgian with full body and lots of carbonation. Drinkability is good for the style.

It's very similar to the 12 and I would love to try them back to back if I ever get the chance.
Overall a great beer.

12-20-2008 00:43:10 | More by GilGarp
Photo of jimmy82063
jimmy82063

Connecticut

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

750ml Bottle Best Before 8/24/14....Poured into a SB Chalice...

Have had this in the cellar dating to 2009....need to restock.

A) Nice frothy head that quickly fades,minimal lacing, lite brown colour.

S) Lighly spicey, banana, clove, all spice.

T) This has been in the cellar and has been properly aged for 2 years. I can still get some spiciness that distinguishes this from the 12. Wished I had more of this vintage.

M) Lightly carbonated.

O) Great beer...not much more to say...

12-29-2011 00:32:14 | More by jimmy82063
Photo of KickbacksSteve
KickbacksSteve

Florida

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. Small, off-white head sinks into a murky amber body. Aroma is mainly of sweet dark fruits, dates, figs and raisins. Taste is sweet, slightly warming, and includes all of the aforementioned fruits and some peppery spice. ABV is wonderfully hidden behind the loads of flavors in this beer. A truly special and delicious treat. Paired well with Thanksgiving deviled eggs, sweet potatoes and cornbread.

11-26-2009 19:45:58 | More by KickbacksSteve
Photo of JayS2629
JayS2629

Alabama

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

Honest opinion. I enjoy the original Abt 12 imensely and think whatever spices are added to this one are a detraction. I still enjoy this one emensely as well and appreciate the spirit it was intended for. It is a great holiday, seasonal treat and deeply complex and sophisticated. Monk magic!

It pours a murky brown that is almost black. Cola like with a huge rocky off-white head three fingers thick and with steady staying power. Frothy rings of thick lace linger.

The aroma is spicy and full of belgian yeast esters. Dark fruit and spices. Over ripe plum, dates, and fig with cherry notes and caramel undertones. Thick toffee melts into musky, funky yeast phenols.

The taste gets really spicy. Holiday spices shine against yeasty spice notes. Nutmeg and cinnamon tones surf on the wave of funky belgian yeast tones of dark fruit,candy sugar, and dark rum notes. Musky notes and metallic, medicinal tones intrude slightly. Some may enjoy these licorice like flavors.

Mouthfeel is creamy and medium bodied.

easy sipper. Complex, interesting, and enjoyable. Slightly under the original Abt. 12 but still amazing.

12-27-2011 01:18:53 | More by JayS2629
Photo of wnh
wnh

Missouri

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

750 mL bottle poured into a Chimay goblet.
Best by 07/08/2012. 2007 vintage?

Pours a deep orange-tinted chestnut brown, murky and flecked with sediment, even after a gentle pour. Topped by a large and growing foamy ecru head, also flecked with sediment. Multiple rings of lacing left behind.

Rich and spicy nose, bit on yeasty fruit. Aromas of green apples, nutmeg, unripe pears, green bananas, faintly, a touch of candied nuts, and just a whiff of alcohol. Rich and dense and packed, but somehow remains subtle-ish.

On the palate this beer proves to be a continuation of the nose broadly, though some of the specifics differ. Apple note takes on the characteristics of a spiced, aged cider, but still shows some green apple tartness. There's a touch of bright citrus right up front that's gone almost as soon as it appears. More nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon, which seems to bring with it a powdery texture (a phenomenon I've found often with beers that taste like cinnamon). Quite big and strong and just a little rough around the edges. Fades smoothly and quite quickly into mild toasted malt and a lingering spicy nuttiness.

Lots of small bubbles of carbonation that turn out prickly and somewhat unpleasant. Medium-full bodied, somewhat firm. Very tasty, but unfortunately not a beer style that I seem to like.

12-27-2009 19:57:32 | More by wnh
Photo of Spineypanda
Spineypanda

Texas

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

Pours a dark thick liquid with a nice dark and thin head.
Smells of spices and some ginger as well as the smells you get from the Abt 12.
Tastes really nice, like gingerbread and has a good strong abbey ale taste to it that blends nicely.
It is a shame this was the last one in my store, otherwise I would buy another :).

12-20-2009 21:07:33 | More by Spineypanda
Photo of sprucetip
sprucetip

Alaska

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

Bottle into goblet.

Hazy medium brown, modest head fades fast and leaves film, spotty lacing. Red highlights.

Peach raisin and generally fruity esters. Spicy, anise perhaps. Heat, sweet and malty.

Candy sugar and malty sweetness, dark fruit, hint of hops, some booze. Very smooth and complex. Mostly balanced but a bit on the sweet side.

Medium carbonation, rich full texture, warming, very clean and smooth finish.

A bit too sweet to drink a whole lot of, but very rich and complex. Definitely a solid and genuine Belgian strong.

02-16-2009 04:09:33 | More by sprucetip
Photo of tbeck
tbeck

Washington

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

Pours a dark brown in color with no clarity. Head is an off white/brown and thick. Aroma is some malts, fruit and slight hops. Very sweet. Sweet taste with some malts and hops. Lots of spice and very fruity. Excellent texture and body but not heavy. An excellent session beer especially around the holidays.

12-27-2008 05:18:29 | More by tbeck
Photo of adamparker05
adamparker05

California

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

Pours a nut brown color with a rich mahogany core and a dark honeyed amber rim. Very light head but tremendous lacing!

Christmasy nose of prunes, sweet malts, root beer, touch of some cinnamon.

Flavors of chocolate covered raisins, rich holiday fruit, sweet christmas breads, with a great frothy root beery sweetness on the finish that just won't quit.

SUPER light carbonation (no "hiss" on opening!), very nice mouthfeel and with super finish.

Very drinkable! Not as heavy as most holiday beers!

11-30-2008 23:58:23 | More by adamparker05
Photo of thierrynantes
thierrynantes

France

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

Beer bottle (75 cl.) purchased from La Cervoiserie, and tasted in 2012.

Appearance : reddish brown color with a huge tan foamy head.
Smell : dried fruits and spicy aromas.
Taste & mouthfeel : sweet and malty flavors, leading to a dry alcohol finish.
Drinkability : a very good beer in the style Belgian Strong Ale. To drink at cellar temperature.

12-15-2012 14:15:54 | More by thierrynantes
Photo of ABOWMan
ABOWMan

Ohio

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

The beer easily pours a four finger head of frothy amber colored foam that lingers throughout the entire tasting. t's residual, leaves a network of lacing on the glass marking each resting point along the journey. The color of this brew is a copper orange and is slightly cloudy which hints at the flavor that is in store.

The aroma is of spice, roasted malt, citrus, fruit and alcohol.

The flavor delivers along the same line. Roasted caramel, orange, yeast fruitiness typical of most Belgium beers, and hints of corriander and clove, which are not overbearing. I was please to see the spiciness take a back seat in this Christmas ale, allowing the typically strong belgium influences to take center stage.

The mouthfeel was full bodied and think which one would expect from a beer this this backbone and ABV. No disappointment here.

This Ale was worth the price and is worthy of being opened any time of year despite it's name.

02-05-2009 20:12:21 | More by ABOWMan
Photo of Haybeerman
Haybeerman

Colorado

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

A: Slightly cloudy deep brown/amber color with caramel highlights. Poured a 3 finger tan-colored billowy head with good retention; eventually like a dollop of merangue on top. Gobs of lacing (not quite rings).

S: Lots of complex dark fruits. Spices and hot alcohol.

T: Complex rich dark fruits like prunes, figs,raisins and more. Tastes deepened and changes as it warmed. Warming alcohol.

M: Full body. Nicely balance carbonation. Flavors engulf the mouth and tongue. (yeah, I like it a lot)

D: Full drinks make the most of this one, but 10% abv dictates some time in between.

01-08-2009 01:48:24 | More by Haybeerman
Photo of woosterbill
woosterbill

Kentucky

4.34/5  rDev +2.6%

750ml bottle into a St. Bernardus chalice.

A: Clear deep brown body under two fingers of dense tan head. Tremendous retention and thick lace. Gorgeous.

S: Dark fruit dominates, with huge fig, raisin, and date. Some sweet/tart cherry as well, with rich toasted breadiness underneath. Decadent and yet delicate. Terrific.

T: Bready up front, with dark fruits close behind. Some nice fig gives way to a strongly boozy finish, though, marring things a bit after such a lovely start. The aftertaste balances the alcohol warmth with some spicy yeastiness, though, making the overall package pretty enjoyable. Definitely a bit of a letdown after the phenomenal aroma, but an excellent BSDA all the same.

M: Thick, soft, and as creamy as can be. Perfect.

O: It's been too long since i had ABT 12, but this reminded me more of Rochefort 10 than anything else. The aroma in particular took me back to a rainy afternoon in Belgium, sipping a Rochefort in its eponymous home town. I'm curious to see whether a year might tone down the booziness just a bit and make this a truly world-class beer.

Cheers!

12-25-2013 04:46:23 | More by woosterbill
Photo of 3HovsepiansBrews
3HovsepiansBrews

California

4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

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

01-14-2012 01:31:13 | More by 3HovsepiansBrews
Photo of dahlen22
dahlen22

New Jersey

4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

After having a Bernadus 12 on tap at the Eulogy Bar in Philadelphia, I figured I would give this a go. The beer is a reddish-brown color with a nice 1/2 inch of head. The aroma is nice, but taste is what matters.

This beer has plenty of legs and tastes good. It starts off velvety with a slight bit of spice and caramel. It then goes into raisons, toffee, and some winter spices. Being 10%, I would not sit down and drink more than one or two, but this is a beer for the winter months. As far as Christmas beers goes, this is not quite as good as a Corsendonk Christmas, but it does rank high within this category of beers. Merry Christmas!!

12-10-2009 23:17:19 | More by dahlen22
Photo of likestoswallow
likestoswallow

California

4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

From a 750 ml bottle.

A: Pours a murky brown color with a fair sized beige head that lasts only a short while and leaves plenty of sticky lacing.

S: Loaded with Belgian yeasts, sweet malts, dark fruits and spices.

T: Very complex with more sweet malts, cola, molasses, nutmeg, cloves, figs, dates and walnuts.

M: Full, smooth and malty with subdued carbonation.

D: Wow, for a strong Belgian ale it just does not get any more drinkable than this. Very good with the alcohol well hidden.

01-01-2009 20:16:06 | More by likestoswallow
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,439 ratings.