Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

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

1,864 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,864
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: 1,864 | Reviews: 643
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.8/5  rDev -10.2%
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

Photo of philbe311
3.81/5  rDev -9.9%
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...

Photo of bluegrassbrew
3.81/5  rDev -9.9%
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.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.82/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

750 shared with a work buddy... 2014 bottling.. Pours a deep walnut but still shows good clarity, khaki head sticks around forever with nice lacing. Toasty with a bit of spice cake essence.. Not as rich as some of the other Quads but still very respectable.. Very high carbonation IMO, pretty burpy.. With warmth, the spices bloom a little more than I appreciate.. Nothing wrong with it, I just prefer the Abt 12 better.

4.25/4/3.75/3.5/3.75

Photo of RedBeerchetta
3.82/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got a 750ml bottle at Publick House Provisions in Brookline, MA.

Lots of carbonation, almost as much as a cola. Color is milk chocolate brown. No red hue to it even when held up to the light. Large bubbles in the head that quickly disintegrate into a 3/4 coating on the top.

Smell is of yeast, some alcohol and a little bit of spice.

A bit cloying- quite sweet with more body than the other holiday beers I've had this season (like N'ic Chouffe and Affligem, both of which are more balanced).

Not my favorite holiday beer but still quite nice and enjoyable.

Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Best by date of 7/8/2012 on the bottom

Pours a nice murky dark brown/red color, lots of fluffy head and patching lacing, fasts fairly fast but there's so much of it.

Smell is malty with spice and dark fruit, nothing overwhelming or anything that overrides all the other aromas.

Taste is controlled by the load of fruits but not entirely sweet, some yeastiness, can make out some alcohol tones, way too carbonated, every sip and drink turns into foam in my mouth and becomes a bit distracting.

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours brown in color with a huge off-white head. The head was at least 2 inches and took several minutes to fall to a froth. Smell is belgian yeast and some dark fruit, figs. I'm not really getting a lot of christmas spice or taste in this. The mouthfeel is full and creamy, very nice. A decent beer, but I couldn't help but to get something metallic out of the taste.

Photo of steelersfan6669
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

even In the summer this beer is good.
slightly cloying but the spice kind of balances it well.

A-brown with a lot of carb and foam

S-spices , molasses, sugar , yeast and a bread or dough quality

T-almonds ,oak or wood, vanilla , cloves , cinnamon , dried cherries.

M-heavy carbonation , sweet , heavy

O-I like this beer on a chilly evening when I only want one beer .

Photo of ShareANevada
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a respectable muddled brown into my unibroue stem. A delicate lovely head sticking around for a bit. Smells of fruits and spices, just as one would expect. The first couple sips surprised me with the carbonation. Very fine bubbles, but more than I expected, perhaps the beer was yet too cold.

As it breathed, the carbonation settled down a little and made for a very nice treat. Just lovely balanced flavors, no hint of the lurking 10%. This was a very enjoyable beer, and i'm anxious to see was 2 years on one of these would do.

Photo of Hunter
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark, nut brown ale with minimal carbonation and lacing. Head was thin and vanished quickly.

Smell: Apples, raisins, mild spice, some alcoholic undertones. Lighter than I expected.

Taste: The high alcohol % comes through on the tongue; Spiced fruit, anise, smoky malt.

Mouthfeel: Nice balance between clean and cloying. the beer stays on the palate after the swallow, but not in an oppressive way.

Overall: A good winter warmer, and worth your time.

Photo of whoneeds8
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a murky brown into a Westmalle Chalace. Very good lacing all the way down the glass. Smell was very typical of a Bernardus Dark Ale. Taste was very complex, however I didn't like the initial mouthfeel of high carbonation. It was ticking my taste buds too much. It mellowed after sitting for a little while.

I might go buy another bottle to let age in the cellar to find out how well this ages for next year.

Photo of drcarver
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - a very translucent brown with below average carbonation and a fluffy head that leaves decent lacing

S - as compared to other it has a fairly vegetable earthiness matched with the yeast and hint of dark frutis that come with the style.

T/M - sweet brown sugar like front followed by a roasted carrot flavor. Finished with a hint of alcohol (which is scary that it isn't more prominent). Medium full body with a smooth feel.

D - not bad.

Oh yeah and the cork damn near took my head off shooting out of the bottle.

Photo of sweemzander
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750mL corked and caged bottle poured into a tulip.

(A)- Pours a dark burnt sienna color. Produced a giant head of fluffy tan colored froth. Great retention and tons of lace.

(S)- Rich bits of dark fruits, yeasty lemon and banana, and a clay-like earth. Very subtle bits of spices.

(T)- Same like the smell was. Though, a much sharper yeast presence than the smell led me to believe, but has the same great dark fruits: plum, cassis, grape, and raisin.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. A bit heavy in the yeast department, so it really gets a bit earthier and drier than expected.

(D)- Overall, another solid beer from St. Bernardus. Malty and rich with classic components.

Photo of scoots511
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served out of 750mL bottle the corked "popped" and removing the cork was effortless due to the conditioned bottle psi. Pretty awesome label on the bottle. Makes me want to see this under the xmas tree.

A: Dark amber color, off-white head with tight carbonated head

S: Fruit-like apple/grape crisp smell

T: Nice depth/complexity to the taste. Many flavors going on. A slight bit of sourness on the sides of the tongue

M: Nice belgian mouthfeel

D: At 750mL 10% it's highly drinkable and smooth, a good one to share on a cold winter night by the fire.

Photo of drummstikk
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer tastes like cherry cough syrup! But it's really not bad at all. It has none of the bitter or minty flavors of Robitussin, but all of the sweet estery plastic-cherry-goodness. Allspice and ginger combine in the tart medicinal finish, caramelized sugar and caramel malts fill out the middle, and bright Belgian phenols start us all off. Hop aroma is absent, while hop bitterness just peaks through the finish. Body is thick and syrupy, and carbonation is light. Color is hazy dark amber/ light brown. Fruits are present all throughout: cherries, plums, with a hint of peach and melon. Aroma is funky and phenolic.

Don't worry about the 10% ABV -- it will go down smooth, just like a good medicine.

My only complaint is that this beer is a bit sweet for all its medicinal flavors. The gestalt is an underattenuated ale with Brettanomyces cherry pie flavors. If I hadn't been a sickly child, swilling Dimetapp every winter, I am sure this beer wouldn't conjure the same images. As it is, a dryer finish would steer me into bliss.

Photo of bump8628
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Everything requisite for a strong Belgian Christmas ale is present. Toffee, cinnamon, treacle, and clove. Good balance with a firm bitterness. Sweetness and alcohol creep up after the first glass. Earthiness emerges after it warms up in the glass. Nice beer, but it's more expensive than Abt 12 sitting right next to it on the shelf, and we all know that one is world class.

Photo of CampusCrew
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

appearance: dark brown ale with some reddish tint.

smell: heavy christmas spices. cinnamon etc.

taste: smooth and sweet, easy to drinking belgian.

mouthfeel: medium bodied and lots of carbonation

drinkability: Great Holiday belgian but I prefer a few others to this.

Photo of brewcrew76
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Murky brown with amber and ruby highlights and a thin beige head that leaves patches of foam behind.

S - Ripe fruits with a sweet malty nose, raisins and prunes with spicy Belgian yeast, nutmeg and other holiday spices.

T - Spicy, ripe fruits, sweet doughy malts, slight phenolics, candi sugar sweetness, holiday spices with an earthy aftertaste.

M - Medium and chewy, on the higher side for carbonation, slightly slick with the lightest alcohol sting but the 10%abv is extremely well hidden.

D - Very good but spicier and sweeter than other St Bernardus offerings making it just slightly less drinkable.

Photo of Rifugium
3.86/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

First had: ???
This review is for a recent tasting, on tap at Capone's, Norristown, PA

I hadn't had this in a while, so I figured I'd give it another spin. Slightly hazed, ruddy brown pour, with a small cap of off-white head that retained well and left a bit of lacing on the snifter. Nice aroma, toasted bread, light spice, yeast, peach and pear. Taste reflected the nose, caramel malts, yeast, brown sugar, allspice, candied fruits. It's an easy drinker, medium-bodied, crisp, flavorful, some boozy heat, but as it is a 10% quad, you have to expect that a little.

Photo of cjgator3
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

70ml corked and caged bottle poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. Pours a dark brown color with a large tan head with excellent retention and lacing. The aroma is sweet malt, dark fruits, spices and yeast. The taste is sweet malt and an array of spices with a rather dry, spicy and boozy finish. Overall, this is another good beer from St Bernardus. I am curious to see how this one ages, it should improve greatly with a little more time.

Photo of jeffjeff1
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was one of the christmas presents from my fiance. Almost done with the christmas presents lol

Appearance- brownish red color, nice head

Smell- spices, malt

Taste- spices, dark fruit

Mouthfeel- medium to full bodied

Drinkability- Overall really good, would love to have it again

Photo of beerpirates
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

75cl bottel poured into a tulipglass

Bottle. A deep red beer with a thin tan head. The aroma has notes of over ripe fruits, yeast, spices, alcohol, prunes, and a bit of wood. The flavor is sweet with notes of malt, caramel, alcohol, over ripe fruits, prunes, and yeast, leading to a dry alcoholic finish. The alcohol prickles the tongue.

Photo of cbutova
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes that I took a few nights ago. Pours a hazy dark copper-brown color with a gigantic creamy head that would not go away. The head is so creamy that I could almost skim it off and eat it. Medium lacing is left on my glass. Smell is huge fruit and spices. There are yeasty/bread-like notes and a tiny bit of alcohol. I get cloves, coriander and pine in the nose as well. The smell is a bit too spicy to me. The taste is also very fruity. Dark fruits like raisins attack the mouth. Nutmeg, coriander and cloves also assault the palette. There is also a huge yeast taste but no alcohol, impressive for 10%ABV. The taste is a little over the top for me in fruits and spices. The mouthfeel is a bit watery to me. Not what I expected from the huge creamy head. Lighter body than I would want for a pretty big beer. A huge coat of spicy fruit is left on a warm tongue. As far as DB, drinking a lot of this would be tough. I am very happy that I halved the bottle because the spices become extremely powerful after even one pint. The alcohol also starts to get pretty hot as it warms up.

Photo of gatornation
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap

A-pours a ruby brown color with a light tat puffy head nice collar and lacing

S- was dark fruit with spice like cinnamon and nutmeg some fig

T- was better nice spice and belgian yeast with some toffee and coffee some chocolate

M- medium carbonation with some really nice spice tastes mixed dark fruit and hops, loads of flavor as it warmed

O - a nice strong dark ale with a nice crispy spicy flavor

Photo of Buttermaker
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a perfectly fine beer but with all the outstanding Christmas beers out there the St. Bernardus Christmas Ale doesn't really distinguish itself. The best thing I can say about the nose is it's rather unremarkable...mostly malt with some alcohol. The taste is good...again mostly malt with just a touch too much alcohol for my taste. If you like warmers try the Delirium Noels which hides it's 10.0% ABV much better than this one. There's definitely some dried fruit on the palate but no nutmeg or other x-mas spices in this one. Mouthfeel and drinkability are in line with the taste.

Recommended Music Pairing: Ray Charles - The Spirit of Christmas

Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,864 ratings.