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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: 1,871
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Christmas Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 627 | Hads: 1,871
Photo of Daniellobo
3.68/5  rDev -12%
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. (1,273 characters)

Photo of Durge
3.69/5  rDev -11.7%
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. (799 characters)

Photo of axeman9182
3.69/5  rDev -11.7%
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. (1,059 characters)

Photo of gciccarelli
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
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. (659 characters)

Photo of mcann2pu
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
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, (609 characters)

Photo of natelocc787
3.72/5  rDev -11%
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. (456 characters)

Photo of GClarkage
3.73/5  rDev -10.8%
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. (1,029 characters)

Photo of DoubleJ
3.73/5  rDev -10.8%
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? (1,000 characters)

Photo of Retta123
3.73/5  rDev -10.8%
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. (751 characters)

Photo of far333
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
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. (624 characters)

Photo of donniecuffs
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
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. (397 characters)

Photo of mithrascruor
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
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. (983 characters)

Photo of Atricapilla
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
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. (329 characters)

Photo of BamaBeerBuff
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
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. (1,051 characters)

Photo of zdk9
3.76/5  rDev -10%
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. (1,267 characters)

Photo of ryrust5301
3.76/5  rDev -10%
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. (1,128 characters)

Photo of mwilbur
3.77/5  rDev -9.8%
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. (640 characters)

Photo of PlutonowyManiek
3.78/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Weak head. On the surface danced just fine bubbles.
Bouquet is clear cloves, orange, spices evocative of winter.
Taste is very dry, plums and all the characteristics of aroma reminiscent of mulled wine, is also bulky and heavy, and of course alcohol, which is incredibly warming up.
Alcohol (10%) in beer is well hidden. St. Bernardus Christmas Ale enchants bitterness which is dry, seasoned.
This beer is a "fat", rich, yet easy to drink, saturation of more than average.
Highly recommend for winter evenings by the fireplace with a good book. (544 characters)

Photo of Hex92
3.78/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought the bottle around Christmas 2011, just opened it in Dec 2012.

I hoped that it would be a bigger version of the abt 12. Not so much.

A- huge head that lingers. Reddish gold hue.
S- smells like a tasty beer.
T-typical dried fruits the alcohol is well hidden, but the flavor is nothing like abt 12. Its actually pretty tame for the style. Very dry not very malty, not much spice or much else present. Its tasty, but not great.
M- a bit thin doesn't coat the mouth really at all.

O- for the money I would rather buy the abt. This is a decent beer, but not worth $13. (575 characters)

Photo of ryannosaurus
3.78/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750 poured to snifter.

Deep brown, translucent, big tan head that settles quickly, leaving a light lacing.

Aroma is yeasty banana and brown sugar

Taste has more elements, less of the banana with some toffee and coffee, a bit of cloves, some actual hop bitterness to balance. Just a trace of butteriness. I'd expect some hot alcohol warning at 10% abv, and it isn't there... kind of sneaky.

Mouth feel is less thick than I'd expect, nice sting from the CO2.

Banana in the nose obscures some of the more subtle flavor elements, but they are there. If you like St B's dark, you will like this for the same reasons. Nice one to wrap up the holiday. (649 characters)

Photo of gpatt55
3.78/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On-Tap @ The Daily Pint

Pours a rich ruddy brown with a nice thin head and fine lacing. Nose is fairly subdued with yeasty/dark bread, chocolate and fruitcake notes. Fairly rich and sweet on the attack but the body isn't as heavy. Compared to the Abt 12 this is less weighty and fairly drinkable. Mouthfeel lacks some weight and richness one would expect from this style. A little more density would help to balance the 10% ABV. Still the pedigree shows with excellent purity in the dark malt/yeasty/toffee flavors. A fine Xmas ale for a winter night but by no means transcendent. (581 characters)

Photo of IronCitySteve
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark brown color with some amber hues. Provides a nice thick tan foam head. There is some spotty to moderate lacing.

S: Lots of raisin, brown sugar, prunes, yeast and some clove spice.

T: Is a rather sweet tasting beer. The dark fruit tastes like it was store in booze. There is a lot of sugar taste in there as well. In addition, the alcohol is prevalent.

M: Leaves a thick sweet taste on the palate with a twinge of alcohol.

D: I enjoy the beer, but this was a tad too sweet for me. I would certainly enjoy another, but it is a sipping beer for sure. (567 characters)

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best By 09/08/2012, Sampled December 2007
Served only lightly chilled, the beer is clearly well carbonated as even a reasonably careful pour produces a billowing, slightly over-flowing, initially seven-finger thick, lightly browned, tan colored head of foam that slowly recedes while leaving a delicate lacing pattern on the sides of my 30cl Tripel Karmeliet tulip. the beer sits in my glass a burnt, amber tinged, very dark brown color, but shows a brilliantly clear, dark ruby hue when held up to the light. In passing inspection of the nose, aromas of dark fruit and spices mix quite equally. A deeper draught of the nose reveals aromas of raisins, figs, concentrated plum, brown sugar, sweet cola, clove, touches of allspice, a hint of molasses, dark chocolate, light ginger or maybe really galangal and even some cardamom like notes. The aroma ends up being a bit more focused on the dark, caramelized fruit notes with just a backdrop of spice character that leaves no doubt that this is a Belgian yeast strain.

The carbonation provides a prickly, lightening effect to what is really a medium full beer. It does not drink as heavy as the 10% alcohol might suggest, but is certainly has that Belgian lightness that is in many of the better made strong beers from their. The beer is definitely sweet, which accentuates the quite noticeable dark fruit character; caramelized plums, figs, raisins and even some apple flavors are individually noticeable. The beer finishes with a mix of spiciness and warming alcohol that is a touch pepper-like, with some spicy ginger, toasty brandy & rum, and some turpene driven phenolic clove / cardamom notes. Bread like malt notes reminiscent of toasted bread, hints of browned-whole-grain bread, touches of rye, caramelized-dark German bread, biscuit malt and roasted / broiled / concentrated figs.

The second pour has just as voluminous a head as the first, and the beer, a little more chilled now, tastes even a bit lighter than it did initially. The ample carbonation focuses the flavors more on the peppery spice notes, while softening the rich fruitiness that is there after it has mellowed. This is certainly a contemplative brew; I could wish for a bit more malt complexity in the flavor (at times the alcohol and spiciness can be a little too much), but the nose really is quite intriguing. While I certainly enjoy the lightness / heft of this brew as is, it seems to be missing a bit of richness that could add a bit more balance (these are not necessarily opposing characters though as some richness could be added without making this beer feel heavier).

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson, AZ (2,644 characters)

Photo of philbe311
3.81/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - This one has a head that just doesn't stop... Four plus fingers of airy continually rising light khaki colored head with a slightly rocky top that is audibly fizzy... Excellent retention... Ultimately what is left is a full creamy lace with a mound of foamy head in the center of the glass... The head sits a top a murky medium-to-dark brown colored body... Still for the most part with no discernible carbonation... A good bit of lacing clings to the glass...

S - Belgian yeast and a slight bit of funk to start... Next are a truck load of dark fruit aromas highlighted by dates, raisins, and plums... Bread pudding... Perhaps some tobacco notes...

T - Not as malty as expected... Fig... Raisins... Dark breads... Some Belgian yeast notes... The finish is a unique blend of vanilla and tobacco... A touch of booze on the finish...

M - On the lighter side of full bodied... A delicate carbonated tickle on the tip of the tongue... Sleek and slightly sticky... A tinge of alcohol induced heat... Warming throughout...

D - An easy drinking Belgian Strong Dark Ale which should be no surprise coming from a Trappist brewery... I would gladly enjoy this offering each holiday season... (1,193 characters)

Photo of bluegrassbrew
3.81/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle into a tulip.

Pours a deep brown with a massive head that leaves nice chunky lacing around the glass.

Smell is hot, hot, heat! Alcohol mostly.

Taste is heavy on the alcohol. Hints of nutmeg and dates.

Mouthfeel is creamy and good.

Overall, this is a solid beer, but not as good as I expected it to be. Compared to the Abt. 12 the alcohol is more noticable and it is less complex. That being said, it was still tasty and easy to drink. (452 characters)

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