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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

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

1,450 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,450
Reviews: 578
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 107
Gots: 154 | FT: 7
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
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Ratings: 1,450 | Reviews: 578 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Adouble
1.63/5  rDev -61.5%
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

Adouble, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of EdelweissDad
2/5  rDev -52.7%

EdelweissDad, Jan 08, 2014
Photo of Beer_Belly
2/5  rDev -52.7%

Beer_Belly, Jan 24, 2013
Photo of heine21
2.25/5  rDev -46.8%
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.

heine21, Dec 24, 2010
Photo of BarrelO
2.45/5  rDev -42.1%
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.

BarrelO, Nov 26, 2009
Photo of Underrower
2.65/5  rDev -37.4%
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.

Underrower, Oct 26, 2013
Photo of Smurf2055
2.78/5  rDev -34.3%
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...

Smurf2055, Apr 01, 2013
Photo of Dawkins
3/5  rDev -29.1%

Dawkins, Sep 23, 2013
Photo of Lanstrum
3/5  rDev -29.1%

Lanstrum, Nov 10, 2013
Photo of WKole81
3/5  rDev -29.1%

WKole81, May 25, 2013
Photo of jkd03c
3/5  rDev -29.1%

jkd03c, Dec 09, 2013
Photo of Stoutsman
3/5  rDev -29.1%

Stoutsman, Jan 14, 2012
Photo of Rollzroyce21
3/5  rDev -29.1%

Rollzroyce21, Dec 07, 2011
Photo of vfedetz
3/5  rDev -29.1%

vfedetz, Jan 07, 2014
Photo of ZAP
3/5  rDev -29.1%
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...

ZAP, Jan 31, 2008
Photo of Nichols33
3/5  rDev -29.1%

Nichols33, Aug 24, 2014
Photo of TimH
3/5  rDev -29.1%

TimH, May 19, 2012
Photo of amphion1065
3.05/5  rDev -27.9%
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.

amphion1065, Dec 03, 2011
Photo of mntlover
3.08/5  rDev -27.2%
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.

mntlover, Dec 25, 2007
Photo of crnipeter
3.1/5  rDev -26.7%
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.

crnipeter, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of mdunman
3.13/5  rDev -26%
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.

mdunman, Jan 09, 2011
Photo of bobhits
3.13/5  rDev -26%
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?

bobhits, Nov 03, 2013
Photo of bluejacket74
3.18/5  rDev -24.8%
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.

bluejacket74, Mar 15, 2008
Photo of mrfrancis
3.18/5  rDev -24.8%
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.

mrfrancis, Dec 06, 2011
Photo of Pahn
3.18/5  rDev -24.8%
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.

Pahn, Dec 26, 2009
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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,450 ratings.