Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,865 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,865
Reviews: 643
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 156
Gots: 307 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,865 | Reviews: 643
Photo of Wildman
3.63/5  rDev -14.2%
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.

Photo of jpiper
3.63/5  rDev -14.2%
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.

Photo of Viggo
3.65/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle, Lexx picked this one up.

Pours a cloudy orange/brown, big and loose off white head forms, settles to a thin layer, leaves behind some decent lace. Smell is caramel, cinnamon, bread, yeast, apples, alcohol, pretty rich aroma, nice. Taste is raisins, caramel, spices, bread, quite sweet, apples and spice in the finish, touch of brown sugar. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with high carbonation. Overly sweet, carbonation was a little too high, made it kind of prickly. Overall okay but I was expecting more from this. Thanks Lexx!

Photo of Westsidethreat
3.65/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Super carbonated, will need to let this one chill out. As it falls, it leaves a sticky/sudsy webbing of sandy colored bubbles. Body is a deep, dark, mahogany brown.

S: A lot of yeast in the nose. Also some subliminal brown sugar, aluminum, minor dark fruits, cookie dough and spices.

T: First impression is the alcohol in this beer. This beer needs to be layed down for at minimum a few more months to let it chill out a bit. But enough of that, lets get back to business. After the alcohol, a molasses like sweetness mixes with the traditional Bernardus yeast. Spices of the likes of nutmeg, allspice, coriander and maybe even trace cinnamon can be found. The bready malt could be a bit richer and less subdued…but I bet some age would help that. Finishes quite yeasty with a whole lotta alcohol converges on all sides of the palate.

M: Full body and with just a touch of carbo sting.

D: I’m conflicted. This beer needs some time to lay down but I fear that the spices will be lost. Well, its way too hot now but I’m reviewing it for what it is. Its taking me a while to get through it. And as the flavor is good, its horribly unbalanced right now.

Photo of gueuzeonhigh
3.65/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

As soon as I saw "Christmas Ale" on the label I expected beer as a mulled wine wannabe.
But to my surprise! Poured into my bar glass with an effervescent and lively head that refused to settle. It fought the walls of my glass as it succumbed to the inevitable forces of gravity. Looked all the world like unfiltered apple cider. A nice bucolic nose-- yeast, the grain harvest and some citrus zest thrown in for good measure.

At first I thought the mouthfeel was thin-- along with the flavor, but the more of this libation I consume the more I realize that this Belgian dark ale does indeed have the characteristic of many fine beers of the same style that I've sampled. There's a tartness, a biting edge that keeps the tanking session interesting-- I notice I'm licking my chops for the next sip. There's that tang of the citrus zest that I noted in the nose, the fine bitter hops, I swear I taste green apples, and some hints of spices-- even some coriander-- maybe, perhaps? But I think this is a pure beer-- no "improvements" added beyond the tried and true tradition of the brewing art.

This beer is worth your effort to find and the cost-- the 10% ABV will surely inflate the price per bottle.

One other thing-- it's not just for the Yuletide season-- I've put a few bottles in the cellar.
Come mid summer on a cool evening this should be a genuine treat!

Photo of BretSikkink
3.66/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured with a decent foamy head of some stature, although by the time I get to my table it is much reduced. Colors of brown and red, hazy, leaning towards black on the shadowed side of the glass.

Nose is very malty, with dried fruit, molasses, allspice notes. Estery as well.

The bubblegum ester note is most prominent on the flavor, alongside the mulling spices. If this doesn't sound tasty to you, don't bother. Peppery hops. Lots of esters and phenols, but the spices are big.

Full body with a smooth carbonation. Finishes strong and sweet. Way too rich for me, but it's a fair Belgian winter ale.

Photo of jujubeast6000
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed 1/4/2009 (bottle dated 19/08/12):

Pours a huge, active, frothy tannish colored head, with big bubbles. Body is a dark brown color, can't see through at all. Very floral, sweet smelling nose. Dark fruit like plum or grape. Some spiciness too, and a little bit of alcohol. Not an overpowering aroma. sweet spicy, effervescent aftertaste, not too drying, thirst-quenching. A fruity taste, somewhat dark, but some light fruit present too, like pear and banana. Nice winter spices. Carbonated palate, somewhat creamy. Not too bad, tasty for a spiced brew. Even tastier as it warms.

Photo of Daniellobo
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice, rich and quite approachable St. Bernardus

Presentation: 750 ml. corked bottle. Old fashion front label design with the image of the smiling St. Bernardus monk with a Santa hat holding a glass of the brew under falling snow. Lengthy note on the back with historic touches covering the main characteristics of the beer, including some general serving indications. Cork cage notes best by date (27.0515). Shows Alc. by Vol. (10%) Poured in a tulip glass.

A - Deep brown with ruby edges with a frothy head, medium retention, good lumpy surface memory, and nice touches of lace.

S - Malt sweetness, Belgium yeast tones, and a sugary sense.

T - Malty sweet flavor, plenty of sugar, with a soft fruity range and a shy pinch of spices.

M -Medium body with a high carbonation that still remains rather smooth providing a nice tingle as the brew progresses. Boozy sense in the finish as the brew warms and reaches its end.

D - Nicely drinkable, a bit mono-chord and generic but in a way that works well for the brew.

Notes: Feels a touch short of the impression from their XII but by the same token it may be more popularly liked, at least as an entry point for festive drinking across a diverse table. Not a favorite of mine, but with sharing in mind I would repeat it.

Photo of Durge
3.69/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A murky mahogany color with an island of wispy off-white fizz on top and decent traces of lace. The aroma offers delicate malt and hints of apple and maybe even a touch of clove. Weaker than I expected but it comes through if you give it a chance. The flavor commands an unusual fruit melange that includes cotton candy mango and grapefruit. Quite odd. At once interestingly nice but then a bit off-putting. Caramel malt is definitely there but the odd fermenting fruit flavors take over and it's attention getting. There's some cinnamon and grassy grain apple to top off this interesting brew. Alcohol is not overly notable but it's a little warming. The body is easily medium with a good fizzy carbonation that gives it a slightly lighter feel for the style. Worth a try but not a real wow for me.

Photo of axeman9182
3.69/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle, courtesy of Amanti Vino's Beer of the Month program. It was poured into my Brooklyn Brewery tulip.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale pours a very dark mahogany, with a handful of cherry highlights. Roughly two fingers of bone colored foam crown the beer, but head retention and lacing are both a bit disappointing. The nose displays a nice ester and phenol balance. There's plenty of dark fruit in the aroma, with a solid, yet secondary spicy quality to it. There's not as much fruitiness as far as the flavor goes. There's a bit of plum, but overall the sweetness is more caramel than anything else. The clove phenol character is a bit more potent here, perhaps just a little too much for my taste. There's also a warming (but not hot) booziness that lingers a little bit. Can't argue with the mouthfeel though, as the beer is wonderfully dried out and drinkable for 10%, and the carbonation has plenty of life to it. The Christmas Ale isn't the most impressive beer in St. Bernardus's repertoire, but it's still a fairly solid strong Belgian brew.

Photo of gciccarelli
3.7/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Capone's. Served in Leffe goblet.

A - A deep, dark brown color with a small of-white head. Virtually no lacing.

S - Spices and malt presence. Hint of plum and cherries as well.

T - On the sweet side...perhaps a bit too much for me. Has that almost vinegarette-style taste....but also manages to be vaguely reminiscent of a candy cane. Definitely reminds one of Christmas. Big spice presence, malt, cherry...

M - Very highly carbonated, and somewhat syrupy.

D - Heavy body and too much sweetness would make it harder to have more than one...

Not a bad beer, but not my favorite. Too sweet for me...worth checking out if that's what you're into.

Photo of mcann2pu
3.7/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Not sure of the date on this bottle, the background color on the logo was blue though,
a- pours into my glass an interesting redish color, a good three fingers worth of thick tan head that settled down to maybe a 1/4 of an inch worth,
s- first to the nose is the spice, very Christmas like smell, then I can pick up on the sweet fruit smell that I would associate with this brewery,
t- good taste, the spie is not too overpowering and I feel that it blends well with the sweet tasting malts,
m- good.
d- fairly high, good beer overall, not bad for a x-mas release, but I still would take the 12 over this one,

Photo of natelocc787
3.72/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Red crimson beer with an off-white foamy head. The nose smelled like a Christmas fruitcake. Lots of nuts, toffee, mild chocolate and raisins. The taste was there, mouthfeel was not. A slow sipper for sure, dark brown bread, sweet almost cloying from the malts, dark candi sugar and spice cake in the taste. Mouthfeel was not alive, not sharp either but dull, slightly dry and semi-flat tasting. Definitely a complex beer, just not impressed with much else.

Photo of GClarkage
3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12/27/08- Purchased at Hi-Times in Costa Mesa, CA.

Presentation- 750ml bottle, both caged and corked. Poured into my St. Bernardus chalice. 2008 Edition.

Appearance- Deep caramel-brown in color. Yeasty and murky. About a 1.5 inch head which holds up very well. Leaves some small chunks, patches and streak of lace behind.

Smell- Not hugely outgoing, but caramely and notes of dark fruits including rasins and plums. Good nose, but light.

Taste- Damn annoying metallic note at the end of every swallow. Slowly fades a bit after every sip, but still never totally goes away. Loys of caramel and very sweet. Fruits are sweet and chewy with mostly figs and rasins...fruit is held in check and alochol is slightly detected. Sweet, but not really in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation level, lightly chewy and a medium to fuller mouthfeel.

Drinkability- Without the metallic note it's very good. Not quite up to their flagship, but could be almost as good. With the note it's slightly annoying and better than average.

Photo of DoubleJ
3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's time I pop a magnum of fine Belgian beer. On to the beer:

Very bubbly head on top....very heady. The color is dark rbuy brown with some hues of red mixed with the main color. Head retention is very good, and it settles to a creamy lace that's simply attractive to the eye. There's medium firepower in the aroma, yet seems delicate at the same time. Figs, dates, apples, plums....it's good.

The first thing I taste are figs. After that, I can't taste a whole lot. There's a fair touch of alcohol felt in the beer, even if it is 10% ABV. More figs come out of the dark. There's isn't much in the way of other flavor. Ok, there's some pepper. It's light in the way of those famous dark fruits found in dark colored Belgian beer. Things slowly balance out as it warms, with more maltiness and less spice. On the spot in mouthfeel.

A little too one sided at first, but as it warms, things get better. Still, I'll take an Abt. 12 for Christmas instead of the Chrsitmas beer, how's that for irony?

Photo of Retta123
3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Chilled Bottle – served in tulip glass. Drank alone while husband hunting.

Appearance: Cloudy, medium red-brown with basically no head and no lacing, some bubble

Smell: Sweet, clean, crisp. Made my nose twitch.

Taste: Apple, honey, banana, cherries, but somehow not overly sweet. Did not taste or identify any spices, no oats, maybe some wheat. Not hoppy. Got a warmer feel as I drank it. Leaves honey flavor on my lips!

Mouth feel: Carbonated but smooth. Not creamy.

Overall: It was much sweeter and lighter than I expected for a Christmas Ale, but I liked it. I don’t know if it is the taste, mouth feel or just the glass, but it reminds me of a good wine. It taste lighter than an 10% ABV, but I got a nice little buzz from one bottle.

Photo of far333
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Christmas gift from my wife. Served at cellar temp in a crystal snifter.

Murky orangey brown colored with a light brown head that settles out quickly leaving no lace. Yeast chunklets are suspended and moving around.

Aroma of sweet raspberry and honey, some heather and yeastiness.

Rich flavor of sweet caramel and toffee, raspberry and pomegranate, lots of other sweet fruits, hints of vanilla and leather. Honey notes, a bit floral. Subtle phenols. Very smooth for its strength.

Moderate carbonation, silky but bordering on syrupy. Tingly on the tongue. Finishes crisp.

Tasty beer, very rich. Good after dinner sipper.

Photo of donniecuffs
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

At the Cloverleaf Tavern, Caldwell NJ: poured mahogany with one finger of khaki head with good lacing. Smelled of candied fruit, cloves, and blood orange; very unique. Tasted of orange, clove, allspice, and candi sugar; very similar to the nose. However, the alcohol burn was certainly evident in the finish. Very malty, velvety mouthfeel..probably the best aspect of this beer. Good sipping beer.

Photo of mithrascruor
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours a hazy dark brown color with a nice tan head that slowly becomes a thick film and laces the glass.

Smell: Rich malty aroma of fruit (fig, pear), some sugar and spices, and a bit of orange peel.

Taste: Deep malty flavor with a bit of raisins and sugar towards the finish. Aftertaste has some bitterness. Surprisingly not much to the flavor, I felt.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a good deal of tingly carbonation. Pretty smooth, but I thought that the carbonation was a bit too much.

Drinkability: Strong in the alcohol department, but it isn't really present in the taste.

Honestly this was a bit of a let-down. Maybe I'd set my hopes too high, having been waiting for a good time to enjoy this bottle that I'd had since Xmas, but that surely isn't all. I would have expected a bit more flavor and aroma; it didn't really feel like a Belgian Christmas ale, and for a beer of this style it wasn't particularly impressive.

Photo of Atricapilla
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Westmalle goblet. It is a medium to dark mahogany color with a medium sized, foamy, dirty-white head that laced away.

Aroma: Some light malt, dark fruits, apple, with a bit of ethanol.

Taste: Again, light malt with a bit of date. A hint of some medicinal herbs and has an ethanolic finish.

Photo of rden4654
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%

Decent Beer I would not go out of my way to buy it though.

Photo of BamaBeerBuff
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at the Brickstore Pub on 12/6/08. Served in a St. Bernardus chalice.

A: A deep brown with ruby/violet highlights. The head is thick and creamy, almost like a nitro-stout. Retention is good, but not as nice as the Abt 12. Thick sheets of lace on the goblet are welcome.

S: Initially, a spiced aroma (cinnamon and clove). With time and warming, candied dark fruit (cherry, plum, raisin) becomes more apparent. Also, a strong apple aroma emerges with swirling.

T&M: Yeasty, fruity, and spiced. The alcohol is prominent and a bit distracting. Dark fruit flavors and winter spice are most prevalent in the flavor. Body is full with a refined carbonation that tingles the tongue. Nice mouthfeel.

D: It was rather difficult for me to down my chalice-full of this beer. This beer is 10% ABV and doesn't hide it in the least. The heat from the alcohol makes it difficult to drink and detracts from some of the flavors that otherwise may emerge. I sampled on-tap, but I think getting a bottle of this and sitting on it for a year may do it some good.

Photo of zdk9
3.76/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours black with amber to chocolate brown highlights. The head is initially about a fingers worth of tight white bubbles that change into swirls and eddies on the surface of the beer and small amounts of spidery lacing.

S- I'm getting raw alcohol, a small amount of ripe banana. I wish I could take out some brighter flavors or some malt, but I'm finding the alcohol to be somewhat oppressive on my nose.

T- I can appreciate the complexity of the taste of this beer. Theres alcohol again, but here the malt does claim its own space, with dark gingercake notes. The banana is present, joined by some rumraisins. Overall sweet and alcoholic.

M- The carbonation is at just the right level for this one, which leaves enough syrup on my tongue to enjoy for a bit. I do wish the alcohol were more hidden, but I can't decide how much to fault a 10% beer for that.

D- At first I didn't really get this beer- it seemed to be a high alcohol Belgian w/ lots of banana. But after reviewing it I began to enjoy the complexity of the taste and mouthfeel more. While I wouldn't rate it as my favorite Holiday beer it is certainly good, and probably were I in a colder climate during January I would like it even more (I bet it's great in front a fire as the label advertises.

Photo of ryrust5301
3.76/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a caged and corked 750ml. bottle into my St. Bernardus Goblet. Nice touch throwing a santa hat on the monk with snow falling in the background.

Appearance - This one poured extremely well. Color is a hefty dark brown almost chocolate color. Massive head crowned this one. Two fingers in size of tan, puffy, chunkiness. After the head calms down a blanket of clumpy white bubbles coats the top.

Smell - Very thick with an alcohol bite. Same as the regular Abt 12 with rich dark fruits, raisin, and a sweet mollasses coating. Dark fruits win out, but there's a spiciness there also.

Taste & Mouthfeel - This one definitely has a nice thick body to it. Lite carbonation keeps the body in check and pulls it back a little bit. Sweet dark fruits like plums, and raisins with a spicy bite in the back give this brew a nice round complexity. Thick bready malts coat the throat for awhile on the aftertaste.

Drinkability - I prefer the Abt 12, but this is one I can look forward to trying again come Christmas time. Would make a heavenly sipper on Christmas eve or night, shared with the family celebrating the holidays.

Photo of mwilbur
3.77/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 750 mL bottle into snifter.
A: Pours a dark amber color (more reddish with backlighting) with a thin creamy tan head.
S: Belgian yeast, spice (e.g. cinnamon, clove), and dark dried fruit (e.g. raisins, figs). Sweet and bready.
T: The spices take over here and drown out the rest of the brew a bit too much. There is still the belgian yeast, dark dried fruit, and smooth malt notes...but all in the background.
M: Smooth. Medium body. Taste lingers briefly.
D: OK drinkability. Yeah, this is a Christmas brew, but I would tone down the spice on this a bit. I agree with a recent reviewer: give me an Abt 12 any day over this one.

Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,865 ratings.