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: 1,868
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 9.09%
Wants: 157
Gots: 312 | 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: 1,868
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)

Photo of Naugled
3.47/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

served in a goblet.

Dark hazy brown with a fine creamy head that very quickly dissipates

Very sweet nose, smells like candi or soda

Woah, a very sugar forward beer. Tastes like there's nothing but sugar in this. Dark sticky sweet sugar. Some hotness comes through, but is needed to cut the syrupiness.

Medium mouthfeel, but on the thin side of medium. however not cloying and has a smooth softness to it.

drinkable, but over the top sweet. I guess that's what people want for the holidays. (494 characters)

Photo of froghop
3.48/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

vintage 2007.

pours a dark brown with a large tan bubbly head.

smell is of caramel, spice, malt, and raisins.

taste is very carbonated, somewhat watery, dark fruits, spice, some caramel, end is tangy on the tongue.

overall a good beer but slightly overrated, too much carbonation and needs to be a little thicker for my liking. (331 characters)

Photo of Mar02x
3.5/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - A dark brown beer with a fluffy head. There are some carbonation bubbles visible that a racing to the top.

S - Fruity and fresh nose, spices, caramel and vanilla scents.

T - Caramel, candy sugar, nutty flavors, spices, vanilla , oranges - very complex but not so nice.

M - A lot of carbonation that quickly disappears.

O - A good Christmas ale but not so special. It is over the top. A not so good attempt to make something good even better. (449 characters)

Photo of jcruelty
3.5/5  rDev -16.3%

I can't remember exactly what this tasted like. That's the problem w/ having a Christmas beer party... there's so many good ones but they all blur. I think I slightly prefer Scaldis Noel (188 characters)

Photo of dedrinker
3.5/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Muddy bronze color with a goofy head. Aromas of bubble gum and cough medicine (not in a bad way). The flavors were of raisins ("purple" popsicle from childhood) and some yeast and candi sugar. This may be good after a year in the basement for next Christmas, but I'll take the Abt 12 first. (290 characters)

Photo of StarlightSeraph
3.53/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My 150th review, on Christmas night.

Poured from a corked and caged 75 cl bottle into my Chimay goblet.

Appearance: Pours a murky mahogany, with hints of red when held up to a light. Two fingers of thick, frothy off-white head. Tons of lacing.

Smell: When I opened the bottle, I got a whiff of cinnamon and gingerbread, but I didn't really get that in the glass. In the glass, all I can really get is the belgian yeast.

Taste: An intense, sweet and tangy roasted-chocolate flavor is the first thing that hits the taste buds. Tangy fruits are there in the background, as is the belgian yeast. A definitely burn from the alcohol as it goes down.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly, incredibly high carbonation, almost to the point of it being painful on the tongue. I realize that most Belgians are highly carbonated, but this is one of the most intensely carbonated beers I've ever tasted. It is nice and creamy, though.

Drinkability: A definite sipper, both due to the carbonation and the high alcohol. An enjoyable beer, too, although I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more of a...special, or holiday, feel to this beer - it tasted almost generic, and there wasn't something that made it stand out. I would certainly have it again, but it's not one I would spend hours searching for. I wouldn't mind having one of these on hand to age, though. (1,351 characters)

Photo of Vixie
3.53/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark ruby red color. Looks black at first, but when held to the light, it is deep red. Forms a very large tan head, pour this one carefully, or you will overflow your glass with foam.

The smell is very malty, but I can detect some spice as well. Pepper, licorice, and cinnamon come to mind as I'm smelling it.

Fruity with a hint of spice. Raisin and a bit of cinnamon apple, with a bit of pepper behind it. There is some nice alcohol warming at the finish.

The feel seems a bit weak for the style, I was expecting a bit more presence.

A decent beer, but not as complex as I was expecting. I have had several beers of this style, and it doesn't quite match up to the best of them. Still, it is a nice beer to drink on a cold night, and glad I tried it. (768 characters)

Photo of Domingo
3.53/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

I like the normal St. Bernardus offerings, so I picked this up for the season and ended up drinking it on New Year's Day.
Pours a darker brown than their normal abt 12 and it has a massive tan head. After the head started taking over I had to lighten up on the pour a little. Pretty impressive for something this potent.
Smells chocolately, raisin-like, and boozy. There's a little bit of a floral hop presence, too. The Belgian yeast is in check a little bit, but it's there.
Tastes boozier than I expected. It also has a pretty sharp hop bite in the finish, too. Flavors are of roasted nuts, caramel, chocolate, and sugars. Nothing really unusual to be honest, but a standard dark Belgian ale with more alcohol burn and hops.
Mouthfeel's thick and chewy, but that's what a beer like this needs.
It took me about an hour and a half to finish my half of the bottle and when I was done, I was done for the evening. It's just a little too much considering I didn't find the flavor to be all that unique.
Not bad, but I'm not sure it's anything I'll pick up again unless it's on sale. (1,081 characters)

Photo of emerge077
3.56/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It looked nearly perfect in the light, tiny jets of carbonation raced through the hazy chestnut liquid, with a fluffy head of tan foam. Every so often, larger bubbles would be carried upward from the bottom, powerless in the slipstream.

Strong aroma of bubblegum/banana from the yeast esters. Slight sweetness, bordering on cloying.

Deeply malty flavors with light fruit and nuttiness. A bit too sweet for my taste, but it's not overdone. Dry finish hints at the high abv, but it's hidden in the taste. I'm happy that I shared this at a holiday party instead of trying to drink the whole thing myself. (605 characters)

Photo of Bernoulli
3.57/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

1/2-3/4" head that lasts

dark hazy amber

filled two glasses with an inch for person #3 to try.

Not much of a smell, maybe a wiff of banana bread?

The alcohol flavor is not overpowering at all but you can tell its there if you swish it around. Definite taste of a variety of spices but not that jump out so much you can place them. Carbonation as it goes down. Flavor fades quickly at first. Warm staying power as it goes on.

A warming, not over-powering, satisfying winter ale.

(Even the MGD drinker at the table thought it was ok.) (538 characters)

Photo of UrbanCaveman
3.57/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle, poured into a snifter at room temperature.

A: Pours a rich, deep bronze-brown, and forms a fantastically thick head with good retention. Fairly clear, enough to see the bubbles rising from the bottom. Lacing is rather remarkable - this amount of froth and lacing should not even be possible for a 10% ABV beer!

S: Sweet malt and yeast, wreathed through with plum, fig, and cherry notes. The candi sweetness is of course present, along with just a tinge of funk.

T: So, that's what a quad with cinnamon in it tastes like. There's significant heat in this, from a combination of cinnamon spice with noticeable alcohol. Sweet malt, candi sugar, and dark fruits, particularly cherry, are all present, but beneath the spiceahol mix. The finish leaves a lingering burn.

M: Rather thin and sharply carbonated for a quad, actually. I was expecting something stickier, given the head and lacing.

O: I am rather underwhelmed by this beer, especially from St. Bernardus. The Abt 12 is spectacular, but this does not disguise the alcohol content half as well - instead, it disguises the underlying yeast flavors with alcohol and spice. I wouldn't say it is a bad beer, but I would not go out of my way to have it again. Perhaps if I were to encounter it on tap somewhere for a decent price per pour. (1,308 characters)

Photo of smcolw
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Massive 80% head in the glass. Settles steadily leaving spotty lace on the glass. Cloudy light brown color.

Sugar candy and alcohol are the dominant aromas. Mild hop in the background.

Creamy with a mild sweetness and the archetypical Belgian flavor from the yeast. Alcohol is potent and adds to the rich body. The swallow has a faint touch of hop, but it's a predominantly sour malt flavor. The aftertaste is brief. (419 characters)

Photo of bruachan
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

deep mahogany with sudsy head that, predictably, didn't really last

strong dark fruit with some vinous and even genuinely winey elements. slight airy hops, cinnamon

warming and spicy. mouthfeel is good and provides a decent palette on which to base the tasty brew. plenty of dark continental malts. with time the breadier variety of malt experiences begin, taking the place of the fruitier kind bit by bit. cola. despite the heat to be expected of a 10% beverage, this one doesn't really have it; though warming, very drinkable

that being said, it's not all that impressive, to be honest (590 characters)

Photo of rajendra82
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The classic St. Bernardus packaging was themed in red and green on this bomber, and the jolly monk had donned a Santa Clause hat as snow covered the brewery shield. Is this going to really be “bringing heavenly nectar within reach” as promised? There was only one way to find out.

The cork came off with a loud pop, but the beer stayed put inside the bomber. As I poured it into a St. Bernardus goblet, the beer was murky brown in color, and the head was only one finger tall. The aroma was heavy with anise and had some banana notes as well. The taste seemed like a watery version of the Abt 12, except it seemed almost salty. The dark malts seemed to be struggling to rise above the huge carbonation sting. There were overtones raisins, figs, red apples, and brown sugar, but everything seemed to be diluted with club soda. The alcohol was well hidden as expected. There was some earthy yeast flavor in the taste as well. I'd say that this was quite a complex beer, but not all aspects of complexity were working towards a cohesive whole. As it warmed up some, the carbonation became more subdued, allowing me to appreciate the flavors better. Medium full mouthfeel was good, but never approached that velvety smoothness of the exceptional quadruples.

A good beer, but pales in comparison with its other illustrious brethren. Not a fair standard I suppose, since most other beers do as well. (1,397 characters)

Photo of illidurit
3.6/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On tap at The Red in Santa Cruz. Pours a muddy dark brown with a thick tan head that sticks around until the liquid is gone. Great thick lacing. Aroma is very deep, with fig, overripe plum, green apple, caramelized orange peel, ginger, phenols, and a touch of saccharine cola. Flavor is a little more straightforward. Rummy raisins, orange peel, ginger, and licorice. Alcohol and carbonation are a bit too apparent and so this beer is not particularly drinkable, but it is a nice warming winter treat to share. (510 characters)

Photo of falloutsnow
3.61/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From: Binny's, Champaign, IL
Date: "08-08-17" stamped on cage
Glass: Tulip

St. Bernardus' Christmas Ale is a caramel, phenol, and ethanol-forward strong Belgian ale that is marginally satisfying for these flavors (though I'd go with any doppelbock instead). At times, I think I'm drinking caramel-colored and flavored fizzy, but less sweet, soda pop. Feeling generous, I say this is good, but not at all amazing, and at $12 for 750ml, I'll let it pass in the coming years (give me a Het Anker Blauw instead).

Pours a large (>3cm) head of medium-sized, beige-colored bubbles, yielding a somewhat frothy appearance. Retention is excellent, the foam lasting several minutes in a slow decline to a thick ring around the perimeter of the glass and a modest film lingering atop the body of the beer. Lacing is excellent, with meringue-thick and complex patterns clinging to all sides of the glass. Body is a very dark brown color, with light bringing out slightly lighter brown-orange hues around the periphery. Highly numerous and vigorous carbonation visible along the sides of the glass, but not through, the body being opaque.

Aroma is sweet, of very dark to burnt caramel, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, anise, and slight ethanol. Despite the apparent complexity, the aroma is only moderately strong, robust, or expressive and does not make me get particularly excited about the beer.

Flavor of caramel-anise-ethanol as major notes with cloves and nutmeg, subtle dried dates and brown figs, and light banana ester as more minor characters. Front of palate is of dark caramel-like sweetness, ethanol, anise, light banana ester and dried dates. Mid-palate of dark and burnt caramel-like sweetness, anise, cloves, nutmeg, and slight ethanol. Back of palate of dark caramel, anise, ethanol, cloves and nutmeg (sharp phenols), much lesser light banana and dried dates. Aftertaste of ethanol, caramel-like sweetness, clove-like phenols, and cough syrup.

Beer is medium-light in body, with carbonation of high intensity, resulting in a somewhat fizzy, calming to foamy and smooth mouthfeel. The mouthfeel fits the expected idea for a Belgian trappist, though I think it's a bit overly aggressive and rough for such a huge beer. Ethanol present as slight heat in nostrils and mild burn on the back of the throat. Closes dry, with moderate stickiness lingering on the palate. (2,372 characters)

Photo of EPICAC
3.62/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy-brown with a beige head that thins to a film.

Smell: Subdued, some dark fruit, malts and a light spiciness.

Taste: Sweet malts, dark fruit, a nice alcoholic spice, and a light bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, carbonation is a little high.

Drinkability: Too sweet and spicy. (319 characters)

Photo of Cozzatoad
3.63/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750ml cork caged bottle

A- Foam immediately pours out of the bottle, and it keeps building inside even after a few pours. Slightly murky brown, with ruby hints if seen through light. Huge head that quite quickly recedes to about one finger of slightly off-white soapiness. Loads of lacing on the glass

S- Dried and dark fruits among a strong alcohol feel, with a faint spicy note to it. A hint of lactic acidity as well

T- A suprisingly dry and not so strong malt character (with some notes of caramel) sets this beer apart from most belgian strong ales and other St. Bernardus beers as well. A slighlty musty herbal feel plays a major role in this beer, though in my opinion it is not perfectly balanced with the beer's dry malt character. Strong alcoholic feel, with both plain alcohol and spicy notes from the esters. Assertive dark fruit notes of cherry, raisin and maybe more. A faint hint of lactic sourness as the smell suggested. Extremely complex, but a bit messy

M- It's dry malt charcter has this beer feeling quite light in body if compared to most belgian strong ales and given it's ABV. Alcohol can definitely be felt, and though it brings a nice warming feel it gets a bit too much in the way in my opinion. Average and spot-on carbonation

O- As i have already mentioned this beer is very complex but quite a bit of a mess. It still is decently drinkable and warming, but it's musty, herbal character just not gets in the line with it's dry malt character. I didn't notice bad or completely off flavours nor any other major issue, so i'm reviewing it (1,570 characters)

Photo of Wildman
3.63/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a cloudy dark amber color and formed a very airy large head that coated the glass with lace as it slowly subsided. A heavy amount of carbonation is present. An aroma of malt, yeast and candy. The flavor was of malt, caramel and candy. Fairly light compared to other styles by this brewery. The finish was quite sprite. Not a bad beer, but not up to the others from the brewery. Aging may help this one to improve. (430 characters)

Photo of jpiper
3.63/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured (too cold) into an older St Beranardus chalice.

In the low light, an amber-brown with a creamy, soapy head which dissipates to a beautiful lace.

The aromas are feint at this temperature. A good swirl later in the session brings out dried fruit aromas.

Flavors are caramel malt, raisins, dates. Sweet and spicy. It's a good flavor, last time I had it it seemed too sweet and somewhat unpleasant, but this is much more drinkable. There is a little hop profile, giving just a hint of bitterness (accompanying the spice: cinnamon, clove), but the sweetness powers through (the spice sticks around for a while). The yeast reminds of other St Bernardus brews.

Smooth mouthfeel, but a bit heavy and cloying. This one is a sipper. Tough to imagine drinking more than one of these.

Good, but not great. (805 characters)

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