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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

627 Reviews
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 627
Hads: 1,871
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 9.09%
Wants: 157
Gots: 314 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 627 | Hads: 1,871
Photo of Adouble
1.69/5  rDev -59.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

750 cork and caged, Dec 2010 in a snifter.

loosened the cage and the cork became a projectile.

A- Deep burgandy approaching brown with a rocky off white head. opague with lots of lacing.

S- CO2, i know you cant smell co2, but the burn of co2. so i swirled it to release some of the cabonation. smells of alcohol, sweet fruits, rasin but weakly so. i really had to search to have something to say.

T- metallic, like sucking on a penny. it does not go away and is truly horrible and overwhelmes everything else. i can pick out some dark fruit, hint of licorice and some green apple in the finish. mouthfeel was watery with high prickly carbonation.

D- low. i suffered through but it was a chore.

overall not impressed (721 characters)

Photo of heine21
2.32/5  rDev -44.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Popped the cork on this bad boy and almost took out my bro's eye. Poured into snifters.

A - Agree w/ the cola likeness. Burgundy. Mild non-lacy head.

S - Probably the best part of this beer - licorice, dark fruit, raisin, booze, fig.

T - Sorry - not for me. Something is just off on this one. A slight copper funk is present. A little licoricey, dark fruit flava helps but not enough to rescue this trainwreck.

MF - Weak again. Disapears after swallowed. Evaporates after consumption which may be a positive in the case of this brew.

D - I don't pour anything down the drain (including that Sam Adams soy sauce crap in the blue bottle) but this was close. The best way I can describe this an "off" DFH Immort.

St. B, I love you but this one is not for me.

Cheers. (773 characters)

Photo of BarrelO
2.51/5  rDev -40%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

750ml bottle poured into a goblet.

A: Brown body with the typical giant Belgian head.

S: Dark fruits and spices.

T: Similar to the aroma. Not overly phenolic, but still cloying. I don't know, it just didn't click for me.

M: Reasonably light with good carbonation.

D: I like more plum and bready flavors in my quads, and they're totally absent in this one. Drain pour. (372 characters)

Photo of Underrower
2.72/5  rDev -34.9%
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. (1,089 characters)

Photo of Smurf2055
2.75/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into tulip at Uber in Seattle.

Appears dark hazel with very little head. Nice lacing.

Aroma seemed a bit weak. Slightly malty, and a small fruit aroma. Very subtle.

Taste was a bit bitter with a small alcohol burn. Somewhat complex, but nothing really stood out.

Palate was a bit grainy with little carbonation.

Not sure what was going on with this, but I wasn’t all that impressed... (403 characters)

Photo of ZAP
3.02/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A-Brugandy brown color...big tan pillowy head builds by the second as it sits in the glass...too much

S-Black licorice and ginger snaps are the first impression....also figs and raisins.

T-Feels pretty hot....boozy and alcoholic....the black licorice and ginger snaps again lead the way....prunes, raisins, figs...some mild bready yeastiness.

M-Too alcoholic...too charged up....

D-One of my least favorite of St. B lot...not horrible but certainly not in the same ballpark as some of my favorites of theirs. Too much air, heat, and a little heavy on the black licorice/ginger snap taste too... (598 characters)

Photo of amphion1065
3.11/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

750 mL bottle with a "13.08.16" date stamp, served in a Duvel tulip.

Quite a loud pop when I uncorked the bottle, though thankfully this wasn't a gusher. Pours a light, reddish copper brown. A huge, 2.5-finger light tan head with very tight bubbles last and lasts - the retention is excellent. Lacing is gorgeous.

Lots of citrus in the aroma. Right off the bat, orange peel and a heavy dose of coriander come into play. A very strong Belgian yeast character. Underneath, some toffee, prunes and vanilla. It's a sort of strange combination, like a Christmas pudding or fruitcake with an amped up citrus zest.

Predictably, there's plenty of orange in the taste. A peppery kick to the finish, which largely drowns out the dark fruit flavors at work. Man this is hot, far more so than Abt. 12, and the booze is pretty distracting. An odd, astringent bitterness in the back end.

Mouthfeel is solid, lively and just heavy enough. I expect nothing less from this brewery.

Judged against other BSDAs, this is pretty mediocre. As a Christmas ale, I feel just about the same. (1,070 characters)

Photo of crnipeter
3.12/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sybaritic monk with Santa's cap smiles from the label inviting you to join him so why not listen to his call? 750 ml into Rochefort chalice.

Coppery brown with light tan head that quickly dissipates. Not impressed.
I'd expected a quad enhanced with spices but I was wrong. This beer should be labeled x-mas Grottenbier as the aroma profile strongly resembles that of a grotten: Unascertainable spices blended with sweet cocoa and alcohol, lots of alcohol. Flavors correspond to the aromas with addition of slightly hoppy finish. Alcohol is overpowering. I could swear this is merely an alcoholic build-up of a Grottenbier. Prickly on the palate with more body and not as dry as its less potent brother. I've been deluded by the smiling monk.
Sint Bernardus is one of my favorite breweries for its Pater (6), Prior (8) and Abott (12) line. However, those beers are legacy of tight cooperation between the brewery and local monastery and could be classified as descendants of Westvleteren. Unfortunately the rest of Bernardus offerings does not meet the high standards set by the pious brothers 6,8 and 12. (1,106 characters)

Photo of mntlover
3.13/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a nice deep brown murky color, with some red note showing thru, nice rich Belgian look to it. Head is rich nice fluffy tan that last and lasts finally falls to ringed scum that laces all the way down.

Aroma is rich malty sugary molasses with dark fruits mingled through out. Some light spice and nice alcohol notes that blend into the mix.

Taste is wow carbonation is noticed right away a downer for me anyway. Malty in taste, molasses brown sugars mingled with fruits plums raisins. Finish has hints of liquorice left from the malt, also finishes with spice cloves, pepper and hops.

Mouthfeel is the down fall of this brew, the burst of carbonation up front just turned me off. I am sure the flavors would have been much better if the tingling in my mouth wasn't masking the flavors in this beer.

Drinkability is not good for me wouldn't want to try this one again. Find this a problem with Belgians sometimes, just too much CO2 for my tastes. Looked great smelled great first sip ruined it for me, as I finished the bottle CO2 did mellow some what but still too much for me, wanted to like it but. (1,109 characters)

Photo of bobhits
3.13/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I've been through half a bottle of this and I still can't get a handle on what to say about it. No hate no love...just beer.

Pours an amber near black body rather common with yeast filled quads. A nice head but thinner bubbles than perhaps I expected. I know 10% but others have done it. lacing is minimal but there.

Fruity somewhat citrus, think apples and pears with a lot of spice and belgian yeast. I don't think "christmas" but a dry and I mean dry belgian quad. Notice I made no mention of sugar or malt or candy. This is dry.

The beer really is dominated by a somewhat sharp acidic apple bear flavor. I get a lot of perhaps rye bitterness with actually more malt and sugar than expected given the smell. That said the sugars are lost quickly thanks to I really think there could be a brett or similar sour element here way in the back. Spices are all over the place but again not christmas spice.

There's a lot of bite but I'm thinking more of the rye bitterness than alcohol and to be honest it goes down easy, clean, and isn't overly thick. It's about as good as a quad can be if your goal is to chug. For those more sane with 10% beers it sips well too but expect a bite of rye and sour and maybe alcohol is part of this.

I'm not thrilled with this. I'm sure my score says 'bad" to mean, but honestly this is a nice beer. It isn't worth the 11-12 bucks but you get a drinkable beer with some nice flavors and it isn't boring or something you start naming clones of instantly. That said no, it's not new or unique but hey what is, right? (1,556 characters)

Photo of mdunman
3.18/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Opaque brown color that pours a very thick light tan head that stays around til the very end.

S: Wine like aroma, smell of red grapes and alcohol.

T: Starts with a fairly sweet grape flavor then progresses to a mild wine like taste, grapes and alcohol, with spices around the edges and finishes with a merlot like dryness.

M: Feels like a champagne, loaded with carbonation and gives a bit of sizzle across the whole of the mouth.

Not a typical Christmas Ale by any means. Very original sensation from start to finish, but this wasn't my kind of beer. And at $11 for a 750mL bottle, I don't think I'll be picking one up next year. (637 characters)

Photo of david18
3.18/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I had a twelve ounce draft of this at the Amsterdam Ale House on Manhattan's Upper West Side. This was an ok beer but not great. I usually don't like Winter Ales but it was really more of a typical belgian dark than what one might typically think of a winter beer as.

Appearance was typical of the style. A dark mahogany but not a lot of head. Belgian lacing was still there, however.

Aroma was a little thin. Dark fruit and esthery yeast, as expected, but a little underwhelming.

Flavor as well was not as interesting as I had hoped and the alcohol heat was a little bit much.

Overall an OK beer but not too great. Their quad is much better. (647 characters)

Photo of Pahn
3.18/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Burp Castle, NYC. Poured into Chimay chalice.

Appearance: Murky, chocolate-brown like coffee. No head and some speckled lacing.

Smell: Weak scent of Belgian yeast and grape.

Taste: There's some notes of grape, caramel, and brown sugar, but the dominant taste is cola. There's a bright Belgian yeast flavor at the end that's reminiscent of the finish of Saint Bernardus's quad, which is this beer's high point. The alcohol is hot and dominant. There's some noticeable hops. The flavor is a bit wine-like and dark. It's sweet and tart, almost sour. The flavor was very uneven; each sip was different, and, more often than not, unpleasant. At times, dangerously close to cough syrup.

Mouthfeel: Watery and syrupy, with way over the top carbonation.

Drinkability: Decent, considering the ABV.

---

This beer tasted unfortunately close to cola. The horribly overdone carbonation doesn't help matters. Very disappointing offering from such an outstanding brewery. (975 characters)

Photo of bluejacket74
3.2/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

750 ml bottle. Served in a chalice, the beer pours dark brown with an inch and a half frothy tan head. Head retention and lacing are both pretty good. Aroma is nice, it smells like dark fruit, cinnamon, bread, yeast, pepper, cloves, and caramel. Taste is similar to the aroma, but there's also a good bit of alcohol/booze and also a slight metallic taste noticable. Mouthfeel/body is medium with high carbonation. Way too much carbonation for my taste. This hurts the drinkability for me. The high carbonation makes this brew hard to drink, it feels like I'm drinking bubbles and not liquid. Overall it's a decent brew, but would be much better if the carbonation was cut down some. It looks good and tastes good, but it's not easy to drink at all. (748 characters)

Photo of mrfrancis
3.21/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours what initially appears to be a nearly opaque black, but when held up to the light, the ale is actually a clear, dark, brownish amber. This ale pours with a tremendous, rocky beige head that laces deep into the glass. It's really a good looking beer.

S: The smell is a bit of a disappointment really, as soft, gentle aromas of banana, cream, milk chocolate, figs, and dates fill the nose. I was expecting something a bit spicier and more assertive. At least there is nothing in the way of an alcohol aroma.

T: Opens sweet and rich with notes of caramel, dark bread, pear drop candy, banana, chocolate, heavy cream, figs, raisins, and dates. Unfortunately, there is an overwhelming alcohol flavor and presence that singes the tongue and obliterates any chance of other flavors developing. The finish is hot and intoxicating with pear drop, banana, cream, and chocolate notes lost in a swirl of fiery alcohol.

M: Full bodied and filling with active carbonation. This ale is initially smooth, creamy, malty, and rich, but once the alcohol kicks in, it dries out completely. Very difficult to drink. I cannot figure out why this beer is so off-kilter.

O: I've always been a fan of both St. Bernardus and this style, so I really wanted to like this beer. Unfortunately, I just couldn't. The overwhelming alcohol presence and heavy mouthfeel ruined this one for me. I doubt I'll be purchasing this beer again. (1,415 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
3.26/5  rDev -22%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured on tap giving off a very nice opaque dark brown nut quality body. Good looking tan cream head almost as well.

Smell is a one trick pony. This is an all out banana syrup bomb, not even starch smelling just like faint Dairy Queen banana topping. I am not a fan of bananas so this makes for a not enjoyable smell and review for me (keep that in mind). Taffy notes as well, and with brown sugar notes and mild butter.

Taste is actually solid with a nice simple carbonation and sour chew quality. Banana syrup but not too thick body leaving a good finish.
Strangely enough, I am not a fan of this flavor but this is a well put together brew. I wouldn't want this again, but I can see the reasons why people would have this beer again no problem. (749 characters)

Photo of BeRanger
3.27/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours kind of a murky brown with about 2-3 fingers of white head that stayed for quite some time.

S - The smell was nice, plentiful spices and yeast. Seemed rich of cinnamon, plum and other sweet smells.

T - Taste the cinnamon, plums and other spices/sweet flavors. Unfortunately for me the taste was ruined by the extremely high carbonation. It was too much to handle.

M - Medium body with extremely high carbonation.

O - I was pretty disappointed with this bottle as I felt the carbonation was extremely high compared to what it should be. I have one more bottle in my cellar that I hope to enjoy sometime in the near future. If it's less carbonated, I intend to possibly change the review. I liked the flavors that were coming through however. (755 characters)

Photo of Brabander
3.3/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had bought this bottle at the brewerie when i visited it together with the guys from the Sierra Nevada brewerie. I had high hopes of this beer because i love the beers Bernardus makes. This beer however disapointed me. That was funny in a certain way because we drank the beer in a tasting session with some BA's at my place and the rest was enthousiastic about it.

There we go! Poured in a tasting glass the beer looks ok. Nice head but a little bit too much carbonation for a dark beer. You could say it is an overcarbonated 12.

I will try this one on tap when i am at the Christmasbeerfestival in Essen this weekend.

Edit:

We had this beer at the end of 2011 at my cousin Peters place. Great beers and great fun.

This beer was poured in my Essen Christmasbeerfestivalglass (what a word for wordfeud!) The beer was disappointing again... (848 characters)

Photo of ArrogantB
3.3/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Christmas Eve seemed an appropriate time top open this beer. It was very dark brown with a white head and the bubbles seemed really compacted together. It smelled like slight herbal mints, whiff of chocolate (barely detectable), and raisins. The flavor was raisin and plum-like. Decent stuff but the 10.5 ABV knocked me down. (325 characters)

Photo of jwc215
3.4/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750 ml cage-corked bottle, poured into glass chalice provided by Wasatch:

Pours hazed dark brown with a thin tan head that becomes a large island. Some lacing sticks.

The smell is of dark bread, light spiciness, in an herbal way. There's a hint of prune and anise.

The taste is of spicy pumpernickel. Not spiced, but spicy. Yeasty with some anise and earthy notes. Sharp, yet creamy. Potency might add more body than is actually there.

This was less than expected for the brewery. I tend to prefer the non-spiced winter beers, but this one - well...doesn't really do it for me. Nice, but expected better from this brewery. (626 characters)

Photo of MacDomer
3.43/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this on Christmas Eve and am now just getting to reviewing. I am a huge fan of Bernardus Tripel and Abt 12, but this was a letdown from an otherwise great brewer.

Split a corked & caged 750 mL bottle with the family. Poured into a Westy chalise and two Chimay chalises.

A - Medium brown to dark in color, with a decent microfoam head (typical Belgian). Some yeast floaties as well - berk. Visible carbonation.

S - Some nice yeast and fruit notes in the nose, along with alcohol (not much). However, this was the first Belgian that I'd consider medicinal smelling. A bit of a turnoff.

T - Dark fruits, such as raisin and plum, a bit of bitterness, but again there's the medicinal quality. Odd. Not a fan. Some spices that start off fairly well, but they fade and take backstage to some strange herbal medicinal quality.

M - As you would expect from the style, but a bit over carbonated.

D - Won't buy this one again, but was fun to try nonetheless. If friends have it, I'd give it another go, but I was underwhelmed this time. (1,036 characters)

Photo of tburkhart
3.43/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Shared with BA raznug on the 1st anniversary of our homebrewing.

Pours a very nice caramel color. Typical think Belgian head. Very think carbonation. The big bubbles turn to more of a creamy head as the it settles.

Typical Belgian spices in the nose.

Typical Belgian spices in the taste.

An OK beer. I've had better Belgians. (329 characters)

Photo of fartingdog
3.43/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2007 bottle (fresh), opened 12/10/07. Bottle opens with a loud 'pop'.

A- Dark brown with ruby hilights, big rocky head.

S- Spicy esters.

T- Mildly tart, malty, earthy, light hints of fruit.

M- Med body, loads of carbonation.

D- Not bad, carbonation is a little too much *burp*.

Not a bad beer, but i think I expected a little better from St. B. Not the hilight of the season. (381 characters)

Photo of VTR
3.45/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bomber for a Christmas Celebration. Poured a dark ruby red with a small white fluffy head. I picked up what I thought to be malts in the nose along with spices, dark fruits, and floral notes. Taste was off for me at first. I did not detect the spice(s) in the taste as I did in the nose. I definitely tasted what I thought to be fruits and some sort of for lack of a better work floral taste(s). I am glad I was sharing a bomber because I would not have been able to drink this by myself. The alcohol was well hidden. I am new to quads but I would purchase again. (584 characters)

Photo of morebeergood
3.45/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Kinsale as part of their Xmas in July weekend. Served in a tulip style glass. Dark orange & reddish color. No real head and doesn't look very carbonated. Smelled a lot like cinnamon and orange peel. Has a definite dubbel taste to it. Lots of ripe fruit and jam. The only thing that surprised me was the mouthfeel. I found this beer very thin and watery. I expected a bit more from such a well know Belgian brewer. It was a nice beer on a cool evening, but not one of my favorite Christmas beers I've ever had. Not hearty enough for a winter themed beer. (563 characters)

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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
93 out of 100 based on 627 ratings.