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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: 1,872
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: 1,872
Photo of gford217
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

No better way to spend a Christmas evening than sipping on a St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. 750mL bottle poured into a goblet.

Pours a deep, murky brown with ruby hints around the edges. The head is a full three fingers and shows no sign of receding, leaving tons of lacing down the glass.

The nose doesn't surprise too much, though there aren't lots of spice presence that I may have expected from a Christmas ale. The main aromas are the Belgian yeast and candi sugar that form the base with hints of dark fruits and bread as well.

The taste is also mainly that of a dark Belgian with tons of sweet malts, Belgian yeast and candi sugar. However, I definitely get more spices than the aroma would suggest as well as raisins and plums. There is a slight bitterness in the aftertaste along with some alcohol burn that warms me up a bit.

The mouthfeel is creamy but with tons of carbonation that helps coat the palate with the sticky sugar sweetness that dominates. The finish is just a tad dry.

I've always been a big fan of St. Bernardus, so I was expecting a great beer and it delivered. One of the best holiday beers I've had recently. Highly recommended! (1,160 characters)

Photo of cokes
4.29/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Muddied auburn-brown with a short tan lacing. Lacing was non-existent. I imagine a bottle would fare better in the looks department.
It noses of figs, sugar cookies (with sprinkles), chocolate-covered candied oranges, black cherries, liquorice, pepper, clove, and wet hay.
It begins through the mouth with a rotund maltiness full of black raisins, sweet dough, gingersnaps (wet, and undercooked), molasses, orange candies, liquorice, burnt peaches, and cherries. The middle dries it significantly with roasted grain, peppercorns, allspice, and granite. Hopping is minor, with just traces of wet grass around the swallow. Alcohol is present, but mellowed, in a sweet, sugary, aged rum sense.
The meaty, full body is given some levity by the steady, percolating, tiny carbonation.
This is a jovial holiday concoction. It's more or less like a fruitier, spiced 12. (864 characters)

Photo of allforbetterbeer
4.29/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage into a chimay chalice.

Pours with plentiful carbonation forming a nearly everlasting off white head of billowy Belgian-classic head. Looks dark brown in low light but shows a misty autumn tinged rusty glow when held to light.

Smells light a true classic BSDA. Rich and layered malts coming off the foamy head Brings to mind platters of bread and cracked barley cereal. Yeasty esters are present but not out of control. A hint of banana and clove and a touch of classic Belgian yeasty herbal bite.

The flavor is like a multiple course dinner. Explosive carbonation blows up the initial yeasty esters on the palate. This is great, and is followed by some nice spices that make me think of holiday tea. Cinnamon perhaps? I am finding these to be very subtle, and take a 3rd row jump seat to the massive and poised nature of this big Belgian. After the spices comes the warm dark bready notes of the malts. There is a bit of dried fruit here as well, but it is held firmly down by the yeasty bite of a "relatively" young quad.

There is very little "heat", but a fair amount of bite from the strong estery yeast presence. The feel is on the dry side and not at all heavy because of all the carbonation.

This is excellent stuff as I would expect from this brewery. Why have I never tasted it before? I have three more bottles to cellar and I expect them to improve. Hopefully after a year or so the spices will integrate a bit, and as they fade after more years I hope to see some development of the dark fruit, leather, tobacco favors that can show up in the great quads as they age. Maybe the spices will be able to last till then too, time will tell. (1,667 characters)

Photo of Halcyondays
4.29/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

25.4 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark sepia brown, with a full, off-white/tan head, that stays robust throughout the whole glass, leaving excellent, thick lacing. A sight to behold.

S: Smells mainly of dark malt, sugar, molasses, and gingerbread.

T: The taste is a complex cornucopia of dark flavours. Heavy brown sugar is mixed with prune and fig, which in turn meets cinnamon, nutmeg, and all-spice to create a truly fantastic taste experience, one of the best BSDA's I have ever had. This was close, not quite a 5, if 4.75 was an option, I'd probably give it that, a fantastic flavour overall.

M: Thick and rich, smooth, phenolic, a great warming wintertime brew.

D: I think I have found the ultimate beer to pair with pumpkin pie in this one. Full of rich, complex, dark flavours, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is a world-class Yule beer made by one of the best producers in Belgium. I really liked this beer. (911 characters)

Photo of 3HovsepiansBrews
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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 (351 characters)

Photo of likestoswallow
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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. (491 characters)

Photo of bucklemyshoe
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Notes from Christmas day 2010:

#12 - 12 beers of Christmas. 750 mL bottle at 45 degrees into a St. Bernardus chalice.

A: It pours a mostly opaque ruby red color with an enticing two-finger, off-white head that becomes a bit rocky but laces well.

S: Intense spicy banana notes, cherries, candi sugar, nutmeg, and cinammon.

T: It appears to be an excellent blending of the Belgian Stong Dark Ale with holiday spices; banana that lingers throughout, candied plums and figs, candi sugar, cinammon, and nutmeg all show through.

M: It has a relatively thick body with a syrupy feel and finishing stickiness.

D: This is terrific and definitely the best abbey-style Christmas ale. (678 characters)

Photo of rallison
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy dark reddish brown with a 1/2 finger head that mostly dies.

Smells of dark fruits with maybe a touch of Belgian Candi Sugar.

Tastes especially of dark fruits, with an emphasis on raisin and apple flavors. Some Candi sugar sweetness. Nice spicing as well. Overall, I enjoy this, but I like the flavors of their normal quad more.

Mouthfeel is rich and satisfying.

Drinkability is quite good.

Overall, recommended. While not my favorite from St. Bernardus, it is still very tasty - and very drinkable. (519 characters)

Photo of drtth
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in Chalice glass. A glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As served the beer is a nice brownish mahogany color with ¼" tan head that soon recedes to a small ring of foam with an irregular patch of foam on the surface. Initially sipping leaves some leggy lacing but with the high alcohol it is neither dense nor long lasting. As the head recedes down to just a small ring and an irregular patch of foam that covers less than half of the liquid, sipping leaves behind only sparse legs and speckles of lacing. Well before the beer is gone the head, ring of foam and any lacing is long gone.

Smell: The aroma is soft, sweet and restrained but definitely contains spice and fruity malt. There is some, but not much alcohol detectable, however, there are some spicy earthy hop characteristics in here along with the fruity malt sweetness that runs through the whole aroma. While initially the aroma seems not to be a very complex one, the complexity grows as the beverage warms and as one spends more time with it.

Taste: The flavor is light, refreshing, clean, and subtle with some nice fruity sweetness without being too rich or too sweet. The dominant flavor has some dark fruits and some spicy earthy character, part of which may come from the hops. Some of the sweetness seems to be from the alcohol which is nicely controlled and has no burn at all.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium to full-bodied with very moderate but persistent carbonation. However, by the end of the beer the carbonation is present only in a slight prickling sensation in the mouth. The finish is medium to long and begins with the mix of earthiness and light sweetness that trails off to spicy, peppery dryness.

Drinkability: This is really a nice beer for sipping and in many ways is a showcase for the spices and the subtle effects of the noble hops. I'll be looking out for this in the future. As a seasonal treat this is a nice one to have and to serve. If it were not for the ABV I'd have another immediately this one is gone. Based on my experience with St. Bernadus Abt 12 I was expecting a more malt dominant brew as a Christmas seasonal. However, while this beer has malt present there is a very different balance between malt and hops than in the 12. Here the spiciness is never lost in the malt. At first I was not sure I liked this beer but as I have sipped my way slowly through it I find a growing appreciation for the balance of flavors. In addition this one has shown some very nice and interesting changes in flavors as it warmed to room temperature. (2,589 characters)

Photo of jlindros
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Armsby Abbey Belgian Christmas night, 2007 vintage. This was the catch of the night, so delicious.

Comes with a light Belgian fizzy head and light lacing, over dark brown molasses color with hints of rosy hue, and very dark with very little light coming through.

Nose comes with sweet malts, Belgian dark malts, little candi sugar, caramel, toffee, aged malts, slight dark raisiny fruits, and just the faintest hit of spices and nutty aromas.

Taste brings lots of raisin and dark fruits, little plug and fig, nutty malts, plenty of Belgian dark malts and that aged malt taste, smooth and semi sweet, some dark candi sugar and little caramel, hints of spice and a little warming booze, a little bitterness too. Finish lingers with lots of dark malts, a little sweetness and more candi sugar, and hints of fruits that linger for a while.

Mouth is medium to a little heavier bodied with decent carbonation and very little warming booze.

Drinkability is pretty good, drinks a lot smoother and lighter than 10%, and sweetness is balanced well and the aged malt flavor probably helps. (1,097 characters)

Photo of WillCarrera
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle, best-by date of 08.08.17, poured into a tulip glass.

A- Pours a dark garnet color, topped with a huge khaki head withnice retention, leaves excellent lacing.

S- Rich, sweet aroma of caramel, toffee, and sugary, bready malt. There's also a ton of dark fruit and a mild spice. As it warms a really excellent brown sugar aroma becomes a bit more prominent. It smells delicious.

T- Similar to the aroma, lots of brown sugar, caramel and dark fruit on top of a bready malt. There's also a very, very subtle spiciness of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.

M- Medium-bodied, the feel is smooth and very, very soft.

O- A delicious beer, the flavors are rich and complex with a subtle spice that's really spot on. (717 characters)

Photo of sprat1960
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: Chestnut brown with flashes of red and yellow. Pours with a light tan creamy two finger head that dies down gradually leaving a thin, even layer of foam on the surface of the beer and a little sticky lacing on the glass.

Smell: Delicious. Grainy, slightly sweet (think molasses).

Taste: Delicious. Taste close to how its smells. Grainy, slightly sweet, mildly peppery finish.

Feel: Full, medium body with nice mild carbonation.

Overall: Delicious. smooth quad. Would love to drink this again! (516 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured on-tap and served in a chalice, the beer is a dark, ruby coloring that is hazy, with a clingy, coating, off-white head. Nose of date, cherry, fig, roasted notes, booze, and sour tannins. Flavors are tart and crisp forward, with cherry tones forming a foundation beneath old-world fruit richness of date and fig. Very layered, very rich, and very balanced. Rich cherry and fig aftertaste, with earthy and woody notes. The finish is lingering sweet, with a perfect balance. Great beer! (490 characters)

Photo of aorloski
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Let me just say, this is a standard st. bernardus, very carbonated, my cork popped right out when the cage came off and bubbled out all over my floor, whatever. Pours a very hazy dark brown with golden notes on the edges. Huge head, obviously, probably 3 or 4 fingers.

Smell - dark fruits, winter fruits, figs, raisins, plums, candi sugar, belgian spices and yeast, smells great.

Taste - Follows the nose COMPLETELY, dark fruits dominate this with touches of sweet belgian candy sugar. Not a lot of belgian yeast comes through this, just a lot of very very sweet sugars and fruits, very tasty brew.

Mouthfeel - I am indifferent i guess, i give it a 4 because i think for the style this needs to be pretty carbonated. I rather do like how st bernardus carbonates their beers, it leaves a very crisp feel on the palate.

Overall - An incredibly delicious brew and so fitting for a christmas setting. I bought two to see how one tastes in the summer out of curiosity! (981 characters)

Photo of walshclimb
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very foamy pour. I had to use a 3rd glass due to rapid head building, even pouring very slowly Tan head is very rocky with small bbublles grading to large bubbles at the top. Body is slighly murky dark chocolate color with very active carbonation. Leaves bubbly, spidery lace. Rich and malty aroma with spice, herbs, and a little fruit (apple). Maybe a hint of chocolate and a bit of alcohol smell as well. Big malt IF with slightly acidic finish that is long lived, slowly mellowing to a pleasant bitterness on the tongue. Full bodied with creamy texture and an alcoholic finish. Overall, this is a great slow taster wthat is at once big and very drinkable. (658 characters)

Photo of craftbeersweden
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle from Systembolaget, Sweden in december 2014. Pours hazy, brown-reddish with a three finger high beige foam that leaves lacing on the glass.

Nose: Belgian yeast, spice, fried fruit, plum, banana and fresch apples.
Taste: Syrup, dried fruit, dark malt, chocolate, spice, raisin, coffee and bread - Really good!

Medium, complex body with a great carbonation and a very good job on hiding the alcohol.
Tasty with a sweetnes that ends with a lillte bitternes - Great! (482 characters)

Photo of ccrida
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into my large St. Feuillien goblet, the Christmas Ale has St. Bernardus' signature huge, rocky, long lasting head, khaki colored leaving heavy lace. The brew is a dark garnet. St. Bernadus' beers have such amazingly rocky head, they're the reason I basically never give a 5 for appearance to any other beer.

Smell is fantastic, luscious dark fruit dripping with dark candi sugar, with a whiff of booze. Again, they nailed it.

Taste is where the deviation from the abt 12 becomes more evident, less sweet fruit and a notable peppery spiciness, with a bit more phenols and fusels as well. Good, but still a bit of a disappointment, mainly because I love the abt so much, and the skew between the sweet fruity nose and the hasher edges of the taste. I'll have to lay a few down for awhile and see how much it rounds out...

Mouthfeel is slippery and soft, with a full body and high digestability.

Drinkability is average - for a St. Bernadus strong dark, which puts it higher then most. Still, while quite tasty, it drinks like the huge beer that it is, and at it's young age, with rather sharp elbows. Bonus points for the 50's kitsch label.
Served at cellar temp. (1,188 characters)

Photo of rapidsequence
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle, poured into a snifter-- several times. It was $13.25 from Pints O'Plenty. This years vintage- bottled in August.

Appearance: Dark brown and nearly clear. The head is off white to light brown and enormous. It fades to a stiff centimeter of tightly bubbled foam, and that never completely fades. Thick lacing. This is a winner.

Smell: It has that powerful, wonderful, distinctive St. B yeasty aroma. Spicy without being overly cloved. Dark fruits-- more plums and red grapes than raisins and prunes. A little cherry. Really great.

Taste: Very spicy, fruity, and yeasty. Like a rummy fruitcake. Its not as deep and rich as the ABT 12, and its more spicy tasting. Near the end there's a little yeasty tartness, then a bitterness that is probably orange peel. Not a fan of orange peel, or any similar citrusy bitterness in Belgian beers, so this takes it down a notch for me.

Mouthfeel: Its of course highly carbed, appropriately, but soft and not tingly. Feels big, but thins out slightly at the finish. Really good.

Overall: Excellent beer. As above, I could do without the bitterness, but its a great Christmas beer. (1,134 characters)

Photo of DavidEddie
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Happy Holiday's fellow BA‘s!

Best before 09/08/12 printed on the bottom.

Murky brown in appearance. A very dense, thick off white head. Pillow like sticky lacing, that hangs around. Aromas of raisins, tons of other dark fruits, and spices. Well blended flavors of dark fruits, tart grape, candied sugar, mild chocolate, and some spices of clove and cinnamon. Finishes with some warming alcohol. Mouth feel is creamy and smooth. Highly carbonated, very fizzy. Drinkability is excellent and very enjoyable. Very similar to Abt 12. If you like boozy beers, then this one's for you. CHEERS! (589 characters)

Photo of ksimons
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-a deep chestnut with ruby highlights and a good two fingers worth of cream colored head

S-caramel, toffee, chocolate, dark fruits of cherries, figs, raisins, and yeast

T-matches the smell nicely, lots of caramel and toffee, dark fruit, cocoa, light banana, Belgian yeast, and just a touch of hops to round things out

M-medium body, spicy carbonation

Overall a really delicious BSDA and Christmas beer. Really great tasting and nicely complex. (449 characters)

Photo of oglmcdgl
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On draft at kraftworks.

A- comes to me with a small cap of tan head that settles quickly leaving just a few spots of lace. Hazy murky dark brown red in color.

S- candied fruits and a subtle sherry note. Light fall spice that reminds me of christmas go figure. Cloves and nutmeg with some fried orange peel.

T- dark roasted malts bring in some light coffee and chocolate then the long and slow roll into candied dark fruits, cloves, a touch of cinnamon. Apple skins and apple brandy.

M- just about medium in body with a lightish carb that let's you really feel the brew and almost makes it feel a bit more substantial before its perks its head and washes it all away.

D- killer killer stuff. I love it what else can I say. one of if not the best xmas brew ever. (770 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.31/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep burgundy color ale with a super large foamy head with great retention and good lacing. Aroma of dry fruit and fruity ester with some candi sugar and some nicer Belgian malt. Taste is a well balanced mix between some fruity ester, some dry fruits such as figs and notes of Belgian malt. Body is full with great carbonation and no appearance of alcohol. Very well done though it probably fell short of the ABT 12. (433 characters)

Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.31/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750mL corked and caged bottle into a Dogfish Head snifter. The pour is copper-colored and dark, though not quite as dark as Abt 12, and highly effervescent. It sports 2 fingers of creamy, fine, and very well-sustained head that never completely fizzled out. The nose is not too punchy and I get notes of dark fruit, cinnamon, and allspice. The spices seem to mask the rich, bready, pastry-like aroma of the standard Abt 12.

The beer has a medium body with a firm feel, though a bit thinner than Abt 12. The high level of carbonation wakes up the palate, intensifies the spices, and cuts the sweetness. Brief, bready, biscuity malt flavors of sweet bread and cake greet you first. They are quickly overtaken by the carbonation and turn to dark fruit (raisins and dates) and nuts, and then holiday spices take over and you get ginger, allspice, and a sarsaparilla-like finish. No booziness. The finish is slightly dry and appetizing. Like Abt 12, the beer tends to get a little sweeter as it de-gasses.

Overall, a very good beer, but I definitely prefer Abt 12. I generally avoid winter warmers and holiday-spiced beers, but this one is very well done. The spices are not overwhelming or unbalancing, but to me they still detract from the sweet, rich flavor characteristic of the style. I doubt I will try this again, but it's not because I didn't like it. Anyone who enjoys holiday beers should check this one out (and definitely try De Dolle Stille Nacht while you're at it). (1,491 characters)

Photo of JuicesFlowing
4.31/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a balloon glass.

Look: A dark reddish mahogany, very hazy, holds up a cream colored head. The head recedes to a thick soapy film. Light lacing.

Aroma: Figs, cherries, spices such as cinnamon, tart cranberry, malts.

Taste: Fruity and spicy with cranberries, apples, and cherries coming to mind. Malty with just enough sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, dry boozy finish.

Overall: Delicious, with a perfect blend of fruit, malts, and spiciness. This tastes how a Christmas ale should in my opinion. Consumed on Christmas day, 2014. (549 characters)

Photo of runningjoke
4.31/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The appearance was everything I expected. It's head was large with tight bubbles which turned to foam before turning into lace. A quick swirl will pump up the foam again. When held up to the light it has an opaque caramel/toffee color with some mahogony-red highlights at the edges and bottom of the glass. Continuous columns of bubbles stream to the top of the glass.
Malty smell with traces of cider, rum-raisin, and allspice.
Spicy and hot. It is malty with very little hop character. aftertaste has a slight astringent quality. This beer is really smooth and flavorful. It is an exceptional beer, fitting for a limited release. (631 characters)

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