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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Christmas AleChristmas Ale

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

1,385 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1385
Reviews: 574
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%


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)
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Ratings: 1,385 | Reviews: 574 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of tmoneyba
tmoneyba

Ohio

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

Bottle from Kingdom Liquor, FL.

Poured hazy brown color with a large fizzy brown head that was mostly lasting with excellent lacing. Aroma was as complex heavy spicy nutmeg and yeast. Medium body with a creamy texture and soft carbonation. Heavy spice bittersweet flavor with a heavy bittersweet finish with medium alcohol bite.

Good brew.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2009 23:26:48 | More by tmoneyba
Photo of Oxymoron
Oxymoron

Colorado

4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Merry Ho ho ho this fat man! Pours a merky brown color with some lighter tan hues throughout. A off white colored head left good retention but limited lacing. Both did not last through the tasting.

The nose has a lot going on. Some lighter malt notes with a light chocolate aroma and a touch of caramel. Some complexity but limiting in a way. A noticeable spice aroma. Some baking spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and a light ginger aroma. Some other spice notes, white pepper and a light pear note on the backend. Yeast is noticeable, and distinct with St Berny beers.

The taste is a bit more one sided to the spices, relative to the nose. The same spices mix in with more of a hint of cloves and cinnamon. The ginger backs off but there is a rose peddle flavor on the back end. The yeast also comes out with more of a light fruity taste. Almost like a fruitcake like taste. The malt is present but is limited with more of a malty taste and hints of coco. Some minor heat and a touch of fusels as well.

The body is closer to moderate but a bit much for a Belgium holiday beer. Some heat from the alcohol. Overall good but very muddled together. Would have liked to see the spice back off and more Belgian characteristics come out.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2009 23:32:59 | More by Oxymoron
Photo of beer2day
beer2day

North Carolina

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

Aged 1 year in the cellar.

Pours a deep caramel with a building head. Nose speaks of caramel malt, candy sugar, with a hint of spice (nutmeg, but not sure).

Hits the tongue and the caramelized candy sugar nose transfers. Appropriately thick and malty. Finishes sweet with a slight nod to the abv.

Would have marked the smell score higher, but it did not quite live up to the taste.

Not my favorite St B, but good on a cold night with the fire going.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2009 01:21:13 | More by beer2day
Photo of barleywinefiend
barleywinefiend

Washington

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

Poured a cloudy dark amber color with a dirty white head and good carbonation. Nose is malt, yeast, driedf fruits, spiciness and candy. Taste was of malt, caramel and candy with the added spice. Finish was nice, not as boozy as the 10% ABV leads you to believe. Good brew overall.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2009 19:41:39 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of BradLikesBrew
BradLikesBrew

Missouri

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

Caramel/copper body with a frothy head. Sweet raisins, spiced stone fruits, and a little funk. The palate is sweet caramelized sugars, raisins, figs, spice, earthy yeast, alcohol, and a bitter finish. The body is medium and finish dry. Good brew from one of the top Belgian brewers. Like ABT 12, but maybe a touch more sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

05-27-2009 16:02:57 | More by BradLikesBrew
Photo of brystmar
brystmar

Texas

4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from its bottle into my Tremens snifter. The beer pours a nice darkish brown color with lots (2-3 fingers worth) of foamy head. Good retention of the head with plenty of lacing remaining on my glass. Smells strongly of various spices -- none of which I can pinpoint -- with a hint of mint in the background.

Given the spicy smell, I was expecting similar results in the taste department, but that wasn't the case at all. The flavors of malt and spice balance each other out well and led to a very pleasant drink.

Carbonation is just about perfect for this full-bodied brew; it has a pleasant mouthfeel overall. Much more smooth of a drink than I expected from its sharp smell. Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2009 06:25:10 | More by brystmar
Photo of bobsy
bobsy

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This brewery is one of my favourites, so when I saw the Christmas Ale in Buffalo it was a no brainer.

Pours a rich dark brown with a creamy tan head that slowly dropped to a collar, but left some good lace going down. Sweet malt aroma, with some cinamon and chocolate mixed in.

Sone good yeastiness in the flavour, which gives off some mild bread notes, and a good shot of spice. Fruity sweet malts give a juicy raisin and date character, while some brown sugar adds to the sweetness. Decent so far, all the way up to the body, which is askew. Slightly too light for the style, and slightly too carbonated... a couple years should fix one of those.

I'm slowly going off these Belgian Strong Darks, as the sweetness doesn't appeal to me as much as it used to. That said I do think this is a nice example of the style, and would be a definite reccomendation for lovers of good Belgian beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2009 20:07:26 | More by bobsy
Photo of Mora2000
Mora2000

Texas

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2010 18:01:50 | More by Mora2000
Photo of lhaqq
lhaqq

California

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

A: Ruby-brown semi-opaque body with a thin tan head.
S: Malts, cream, belgian sugars, molasses
T: Butter and molasses initially with some malt and barley. A little bit spicy toward the end but finishes smooth.
M: Heavy and rich, definitely a sipping beer.
D: Overall a great representation of the style.

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2010 19:08:56 | More by lhaqq
Photo of BeerNemesis
BeerNemesis

New York

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

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. 750ml. Dec. 2009 vintage

Appearance:
Rich reddish-brown color with a 1 finger tan head. Cloudy body with some sediment. Mild carbonation, mediocre lacing.

Aroma:
Raisins and figs were prominent. Brown sugar, spices and a malty backbone were also there.

Taste:
Deep malty flavor, with raisins being prominent. Other fruity flavors (figs and pears maybe) were present. There was some alcohol burn, but altogether I didn't find it disturbing in the least. Semi-sweet finish.

Mouthfeel & Drinkability:
Smooth, dry, well carbonated and a medium body. Great drinkability. When served at around 55 degrees, you get a lot of complexity that isn't present at colder temperatures. As it warmed, I really started to enjoy and appreciate it more. The raisin flavor really opens up as the temperature rises.

Notes: I noticed many comments saying that there is not much flavor to the Christmas Ale. I disagree. It is very flavorful, if a little one-sided (in the raisin and fruity aspects). Perhaps they didn't let it warm...

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2010 04:02:36 | More by BeerNemesis
Photo of kbnooshay
kbnooshay

New York

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

Popped the cork and this exploded with foam. Had to wait 15 minutes before i could pour it. Not sure what happened. Off white head is thick and creamy. Body is clear and deep brown. Aroma is of belgian yeast with some spice and dark dried fruit. Alcohol is barely noticeable in taste. Sweet, fruity and malty. Feel is moderate and has the slightest tingle from carbonation. Very drinkable, but share it with a friend as the alcohol will seriously sneak up on you.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2010 04:27:36 | More by kbnooshay
Photo of teromous
teromous

Virginia

4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: First of all the head on this beer is simply amazing. The head does not even want to recede! The beer itself pours a rich brown color and billions of tiny bubbles rise to the top. As expected from a head this powerful, it laces the glass and doesn't go away.

S: There isn't a spice smell at all. I guess I expected some from a Christmas beer. The room instantly fills up with a unique Belgian beer scent. There is a yeasty smell to the beer but not overpowering.

T: A sip of this gives off a very thick, rich, full mouth of...well, Belgian beer! It has a slight hint of alcohol but is very smooth. There is no spice to this beer, as it seems the beer is more of a winter warmer than a spiced holiday beer. It has a very earthy flavor, bordering on a light oak. It is a rich beer but not very complex.

M: It has a very lush mouthful and warms without burning. It seems to be lacking something in the aftertaste.

D: This is very drinkable. It would probably go well with a gamy meat without spoiling the palate.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2010 00:36:47 | More by teromous
Photo of D23
D23

New York

4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A) Pours a mahogany color with a fluffy off white head. Good lacing throught the glass.

S)Subtle hints of spice. Very faint No scent jumps to the front or overpowers. Also a hint of bananna.

T) Dark fruits and sweet malt. Alcohol taste is present but not overpowering.

M) Medium body ever so slight stickey finish.

D) Easy drinker given the ABV. As the beer warms the flavors come thru. Very enjoyable Christmas brew.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2010 05:02:25 | More by D23
Photo of GDBEERMAN
GDBEERMAN

Colorado

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

750ml bottle into Waton Tulip.
A: A very foamy head, pours a three finger height and holds throughout. The body is a deep brown hue and has a thick haze and a steady stream of carbonation. The lacing is a thick coat of sticky lace.
S: The aroma is a bit on the lighter side for the style. The note of a Belgian yeasty clove. The note of a tripel on the front and a low level of complexity is found.
T/M: The front shows a note of dark fruits and a bit of a domination of fig. A bold taste that is on the higher end of a medium bodied intensity. The mouthfeel is a clean and crisp taste that is a classic Belgian taste. The finish is a bit on the sweet side, that shows a hint at the abv in this brew.
D: This is a great winter brew that shows classic style notes and a sweet winter warmer. While I would only visit this brew once a season, I would still highly recommend it.

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2010 04:26:10 | More by GDBEERMAN
Photo of Long813
Long813

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage: 2010

A: Dark borwn, almost black body boasting a huge four fingers of off white foamy head. Retention is great through the entire drink leaves amazing lacing.

S: Strongest aroma is the spice. Clove, bernardus yeast. Nice sweet notes of toffee and molasses. Might be crazy but I get some bubble gum in there too.

T: Little weaker than the aromas, all the same characteristics, spice up front mixed with yeast. Sweet candy and sugar notes.

M: Medium bodied with high carbonation. Sweet sticky feeling left in the mouth with some hints of alcohol.

D: Not bad, not bad. I don't think it's amazing, but it is a pleasing brew and I'd probably get it again to age.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2010 02:00:04 | More by Long813
Photo of CuriousMonk
CuriousMonk

Virginia

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

Poured from 750ml bottle into a heavy chalice glass. A- Murky caramel/orange hue, huge amounts of off-white frothy head that is effervescent and mostly sustaining, splatters of lacing S- Nose is dark fruits, sweet belgian candy, alcohol, green apples, and spices T- Initial taste is dark fruits followed by spritzy spices, peppermint, and bananas, finishes with sweetness and alcohol warming M- Full-bodied, thick chewy texture, amped-up carbonation D- Smooth and balanced strong ale, milder spice flavors and lively carbonation contribute to a unique taste profile, very easy. One of my top winter brews.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2011 21:04:57 | More by CuriousMonk
Photo of BeerAdvocate
BeerAdvocate

Massachusetts

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.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2011 23:22:23 | More by BeerAdvocate
Photo of jmvecchio1
jmvecchio1

Missouri

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

The beer pours out a dark brown color and has a creamy head that gives way to lacing that lingers for the entirety of the beer.

The smell is a strong, fruity aroma that packs a powerful punch of pears and apples with a slight hint of citrus.

At first sip you get a dominant pear punch that gives way to a malty apple juice finish.

Looking at this beer you don’t notice any carbonation, but this beer does have a carbonated mouthfeel.

Serving type: on-tap

07-16-2011 19:55:58 | More by jmvecchio1
Photo of beerdrifter
beerdrifter

Germany

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

Got this beauty from my nephew Kevin. Dark mahogany-ruby pour with huge three finger head with great retention and lacing. Big herbal, complex nose with hints of black cherries, metal, brown sugar, dark fruits, and tobacco. The taste is complex as well. Lots of black cherries, plums and bananas with a nice herbal backbone with hints of cinnamon, cloves and vanilla and just a touch of chocolate and orange peel. The finish is crisp and dry. The mouthfeel is carbonated, but slightly syrupy. The alcohol is extremely well hidden. It's not as "christmasy" as I had hoped, but still a classic beer from a great brewery. Thanks Kevin!

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2011 17:10:18 | More by beerdrifter
Photo of Jwale73
Jwale73

Rhode Island

4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've been waiting to try this beer for a while but got totally shut out last year. 750ml corked and caged bottle served in my St. Bernardus chalice. Be careful opening this one - once I removed the cage the cork fired like a shotgun blast and ricocheted off the ceiling. Pours a deep plum color with a slightly hazy clarity. Head starts off as a fluffy, two inch, cream-colored cloud of foam. As the head recedes into a quarter inch cap, delicate, textured spots and strands of lacing are revealed and exhibit excellent adhesion. This beer looks exquisite in its proper glassware. Nose expresses dark fruits with a slightly vinous character, Belgian yeast and some nutty notes (perhaps hazelnut). Taste follows nose - flavor profile is pretty standard for the style in my opinion; however, there's a trace of ethanol that overshadows things a bit, making it difficult to tease out the subtleties. I also get a little wet cardboard towards the finish, but it dissipates quickly. Mouthfeel is light-medium with a slightly prickly carbonation, as well as a bit of gassiness. Overall, a very solid Belgian Strong Dark; however, perhaps a little young. I would probably sit on this vintage for a couple more years.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2011 01:14:55 | More by Jwale73
Photo of Tucquan
Tucquan

Pennsylvania

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

Had this on 2011-12-16 in Columbia, PA

A - Pretty clear, dark mahogany with a 2-finger head that quickly fades to 1/2-finger leaving mild lacing.

S - Sweet and earthy spices, dark yeasty bread, dark fruit, citrus and alcohol.

T - Dark dried cherries, toasted fruit cake (is there such a thing?), apple cider, a little funk, mild hop bitterness, alcohol. Dries reasonably well and leaves a sweet-sour-bready aftertaste.

M - Medium body and medium-high carbonation. Viscous and champagne-bubbly.

O - Seems like an effervescent Imperial Saison with some holiday spices. Quite pleasant. A nice holiday diversion.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2011 11:37:27 | More by Tucquan
Photo of russwbeck
russwbeck

Virginia

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

On-tap at Rustico for their Festivus Event.

A: Muddy brown pour with hints of orange. A finger or so of off-white head 4

S: Tons of Belgian yeast and candied sugar, mixed with Christmas ale spices 4

T: I'm impressed by how much this tastes like a Belgian instead of a Christmas ale. Very tasty with the spices stepped up a notch. Sweet and appropriately seasonal. 4

MF: Light to medium body with good carb. 4

O: I liked this, but it didn't overwhelm me. 4

Serving type: on-tap

12-21-2011 04:06:00 | More by russwbeck
Photo of lovindahops
lovindahops

New York

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

A- pours a firm cola color with ruby hues on the edges where light hits the glass. The foam literally becomes a batch of cake like frosting all over the glass. And it does not go away

S- dark raisins, candied sugar, and Belgian yeast all over. Some cinnamon and nutmeg too

T- good flavor with the dark fruit in the focus. Delicious Belgian components make this a treat.

M- great creamy and smooth flavors. Literally coates the palate with flavor

O- pretty good Belgium brew that has some good flavors. I will always grab one around Christmas time

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2012 04:20:24 | More by lovindahops
Photo of JohnnyMc
JohnnyMc

Ohio

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

This stands out as one of my new favorite Christmas Ales. The aroma has a nice blend of spices, malts and cherries. From the first sip the great balance of cherries and honey mix with the malts and spices that evoke memories of Christmas.

While a very strong beer there is no taste of alcohol and even with the cherries, honey and spices this is not a sweet beer either. This is great for the holiday season.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2012 04:11:06 | More by JohnnyMc
Photo of ckollias
ckollias

Maryland

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

Enjoyed this 750ml bottle out of a Belgian tulip glass.

A: Pours a dark amber hue with a huge, off-white, fizzy, 5-finger head that spills over the top of my glass. Head last forever, leaving a nice trail down the side of the glass and ends in a large solid fizzy lace.

S: Aromas of dark fruits, chocolate, and spicy malt.

T: Similar to the smell dark fruits and hints if chocolate. Solid malty background with a smooth middle and finishes slightly sweet.

M: Very strong and boozy. Heavy body and heavy carbonation.

O: Excellent strong Belgian Christmas ale. Great flavors, aroma, and mouth feel.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2012 01:40:50 | More by ckollias
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,385 ratings.