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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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Christmas Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 627 | Hads: 1,872
Photo of Rifugium
3.86/5  rDev -7.7%
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. (567 characters)

Photo of anakar
4.85/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Spectacular.
Now that we've made things clear let me break this down.

App: Apart from the very lovely and festive looking bottle it comes in, this beer pours a very dark caramel, almost black, with a thick a medium lasting head of fluff.

Smell: Taking a whiff makes you think of several things, the first being - this is a strong one (10% alc ain't no joke), once you got past that, you can sense some very heavy caramel and barleyish smells, just makes you think of stooping lower and lower into an old armchair.

Taste: This is where "Spectacular" comes in. Mind you, this is no light brew and should be takes very seriously. It's flavor is rich and full of alcoholic fumes, anybody who ever had a triple or a quad should know what they taste like, this one is classic but a bit more (to the better).

Feel: is also superb, going all over your mouth it slushes away easily, it has very little carb-bite to it, but it isn't creamy (like a guinness). Watch out! the 10% hits pretty quickly and made me a bit woozy after a pint.

Overall: I've said it before and I'll say it again "SPECTACULAR" - keep it for special occasions. (1,128 characters)

Photo of flagmantho
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer on-tap in a tulip at Special Brews in Lynnwood.

Appearance: cloudy, chocolatey brown with a thick finger of creamy tan foam and a nice lace. The lace stays on the glass forever. Beautiful!

Smell: sweet malt with a great dark-fruit aroma. Rich and enticing.

Taste: rich, lustrous malt with a great chocolate, raisin and dark fruit flavor: plum, cherry, dates. A little bit of alcohol warmth throughout. Absolutely delicious!

Mouthfeel: rich body with a good level of carbonation and a wonderful silky smoothness. Awesome!

Overall: delicious, lovely, drinkable treat. I can't believe I've never had it until now. (635 characters)

Photo of Ryanm1
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First thing I must say about this beer is that is was overwhelmingly carbonated. Normally, carbonation isn't the first thing I notice about a beer, but tasting this is just pops off your tongue. It's almost like eating pop rock and a can of cola. I don't want that to come off as a bad thing because it wasn't, it was a very enjoyable beer, possibly one of the best I've ever had. Pours a dark brown decievingly so as you'd expect a belgiany golden color. Also decving is the slight amount of head on the pour which is in no way indicative of the bursting flavor you are going to have jumping around in your mouth. Molasses, apricots and licorice can be found upon hitting the palate. 10% ABV.

This is my interpretation of a perfect Christmas Ale. (749 characters)

Photo of beergoot
4.65/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark copper body topped with a thick, sticky off-white head. Figs, licorice, holiday spices, and some alcohol notes wrapped up in the aroma. Sweet, malty, spicy, boozy flavor; well-blended and intriguing taste surprises with every sip; brown sugar and molasses; medium alcohol warmth melds with a gentle hop bitterness finishes the taste experience nicely; slightly phenolic. Medium-heavy body; vinous; wet and juicy.

A very well-done holiday beer. Big and beautiful with excellent balance and complexity. Festive flavors abound and make for a near perfect beer to sip on a cold, winter afternoon while sitting with a crackling hardwood fire nearby. (650 characters)

Photo of dbell23
4.7/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass. Two finger head that settles to a thin beige head that lingers throughout the drinking. Great lacing. Super dark brown color.

Smell is spicy dark Belgian. Cloves, Christmas spices dominate with malty Belgian ale fragrances. All dark Belgian aromas.

Taste is so complex. Belgian yeast, Christmas spices, smooth malts, toffee, caramel, with a hoppy/phenol finish that has a brown sugar lingering flavor. Alcohol is totally hidden. Great, sitting in front of the fire after a hike in the snow.

Mouthfeel is perfect for this type. Smooth medium/heavy. Just what I look for in this type beer.

Overall a great Belgian winter beer. Can't wait to drink this one again. (695 characters)

Photo of pkalix
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

had last night, recovering from memory....
pours an ultra dark brown with beautiful lacing on the sides.
smells divine, but unexplainable. typical malts similar to the other st bernardus brews but a few spices tossed in also, apparently.
taste and mouthfeel is a creamy, malty wonderland with a slight hop finish.
at 10%, this is a real piece of work. there is some bitterness to contend with but it's actually a nice part of the overall taste. not as smooth and delicious as the others, but an appreciative craft of art. and it's on tap at the local belgian pub. i gotta get down there soon! (592 characters)

Photo of sennin
4.52/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a wide nosed wine glass, 2012 edition.

A: Pours a brown/dark auburn color. Apparent lacing throughout the drinking session, sticks quite well to the glass. Cloudy in appearance, foam is an off-white head color. Nothing all that special, but definitely nice to look at.

S: First whiffs gives way to a biscuit like smell. Figs, orange peel, and citrus smells appear after. Very pleasant smelling beer. Prepares you for what is to come quite well.

T: Gets sweeter as it warms, but not cloyingly so. It's actually a perfect balance between sweet and bitter. Very elegant. Alcohol is present but is not overpowering at all. Figs tastes are pleasant much like what you get in the nose, and give way to something of a dark chocolate bitterness with a slightly caramel like backbone. Excellent. Overall, the beer is very malty but it strikes a very good balance as a whole. This is a great tasting beer and only gets better as you drink it.

M: Creamy and slightly bubbly. Once again, there is a perfect balance between the two. It wraps around the tongue and the feeling stays a long time after you sip. It is a very pleasant mouthfeel and definitely one of the best that I have yet tasted.

This is the best Christmas Ale I have had. Everyone should try this beer, it doesn't matter if you like or dislike beer. This is one of those brews that could turn a Miller Lite drinker into a craft beer/Belgian ale lover over night. Get out grab a glass and raise it to the sky. (1,481 characters)

Photo of TrappistJohnMD
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark red-brown with one fingered off-white head in St. Bernardus chalice. Good lacing along sides of glass.

Smell is characteristically Belgian. Lots of banana, clove and other ripe fruits.

Taste is heavy with banana, clove, plums and other ripe fruits. Light bitterness in the finish to balance it out. Very nice.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with heavy carbonation.

Overall this was excellent. Merry Crimus!! (416 characters)

Photo of thecheapies
4.27/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Muddy dark brown with a thin lip of beige foam. Looks soupy in body.

Spicy phenols, clove, pretzel bread, fig, licorice, apple wine, Belgian sugar, alcohol, and a savory aroma that's almost briny. Excellent complexity.

Plum, clove, licorice, banana yeast, almond, booze, allspice, saltiness, brandy, and wintergreen. Hugely bready and malty. Combination of dark fruit sweetness, spiciness, sting of booze, and a briny saltiness makes for a fulfilling profile.

Rich full body. So creamy, it's soupy. Almost has the consistency of fatty chicken broth. Carbonation is light-medium with light prickle that tries not to augment some heady booze strength.

One of my favorite Belgian Christmas beers, if not my favorite. So rich and decadent. Unreal good. (752 characters)

Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz caged bottle into pint glass - new bottle i think. Pours a deep mahogany brown with slight off white head. Nice deep dried fruit typical belgian dubbel aromas bu mixed with big spice character. Taste is of dried fruit and lots of spices - nutmeg, cinnamon, etc...its a bit heavy on the spice, but its still excellent. Deff worth having and a great brew for the holiday season...this would probbaly mellow a bit with some age. (442 characters)

Photo of ryan1788a5
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a Chimay goblet.

A: Pours a dark reddish brown with a moderate haze. Persistent fine-bubbled tan head appears creamy and pillowy and holds fast at a height of a half-inch. A single thin, delicate ring of lacing remains.

S: Powdery chocolate, touch of molasses, bread crust, dried figs, plums, and sweet cherries. Spicy Belgian yeast scents of black pepper and clove.

T: Fruity tastes of cherry, plum, and wild berries open. Clove and yeasty spices pick up shortly thereafter with flavors of cinnamon and black pepper. The alcohol has a spicy, peppery kick of its own that is even a bit reminiscent of chili peppers in that there is a bit of a burn in the swallow. Estery and fruity again with a bit of grape skin. Brown bread and black cocoa powder, a little wood, and even some leathery notes. Hazelnut. Very dry overall. Slight herbal hop bitterness toward the end. Finishes with a dry powdery cocoa and crust malt character and lots of yeasty spice.

M: Full and a bit thick with a slight chewy feel. Very high level of aggressive carbonation.

O: This beer hits harder than the rest of the St. Bernardus line. It treats the palate a little more roughly, and the alcohol presence is not as well hidden. That's not a bad thing for a big winter beer though. I really enjoyed this Christmas offering. It has all the complexity one could want, and it retains that distinct St. Bernardus 'house' taste. An excellent fireside sipper for sure. (1,469 characters)

Photo of rangerred
4.67/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip out of a 750ml bottle.

Pours a hazy dark brown with some reddish hues. Billowy tan head with incredible head retention and huge chunks of lacing hanging onto the sides of the glass.

Instant Belgian character on the aroma with clove and banana from the yeast. Brown sugar and some molasses are present along with some toast. Licorice along with a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg, and dark fruits.

Lots of dark fruit in the flavor along with more banana and clove. More brown sugar with strong caramel notes. A very slight bit of tartness on the tip of the tongue. Moderate sweetness that perfectly compliments the other flavors. The finish is moderately dry leaving just the smallest hint of residual sweetness. Alcohol is completely hidden save for a slight bit of warming making this a pleasure to drink.

Overall, this is really one of the best beers I have ever had. Just so much going on and all the flavors and characteristics are perfectly balanced. Dangerously drinkable and one to really savor during the holidays. (1,039 characters)

Photo of Hatzilla
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark ruddy amber with a thick head and minimal lacing. Smells of spices, raisins, plums, cherries and brown sugar. Taste is more spices, dark fruits, brown sugar and molasses. Mouthfeel is smooth with medium carbonation and a dry finish. Overall a fantastic Christmas ale (my new favorite)! which is a nice alternative to the Abt 12. Alcohol is well hidden for 10% ABV. Merry Christmas! (394 characters)

Photo of acevenom
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass. Pours dark caramel brown with a thick, eggshell colored head that dissipates slowly. Plenty of lacing is left on the side of the glass during consumption. There are aromas of banana, spices such as cinnamon and clove, malt, fig, and some caramel sweetness. The malt backbone is bready and mildly sweet with banana, cinnamon, clove, and fig. The 10% alcohol is well hidden in this beer. Saying the taste follows the nose is true, but it also understates the execution of the well-balanced and complex flavors in this beer. One flavor does not dominate the other. The beer is medium to full bodied with strong carbonation. This makes the beer smooth and dangerously drinkable. If you are looking for a great Belgian strong dark ale, this is a great place to begin. (795 characters)

Photo of ThickNStout
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750mL bottle from Minks (Marietta, GA). 10.99. Served in an oversized snifter.

Pours deep but opaque mahogany with a finger and a half off white head that fades quickly.

Smells of dark fruit, sugar, yeast and toffee.

Taste of is a rich and complex mixture of plums, cherries, toffee, molasses, yeasty funk, brown sugar, spice and a little booze.

Creamy medium full body with a crisp carbonated effervescence. Long sweet finish.

A well made strong dark ale for any season. Another great brew from good ol' St Bernardus. (528 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.32/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Expected a bit more carbonation when I popped the cork so I was not surprised that the head was not overly impressive; after a few minutes, all that remains is a film and a ringlet, though it is rather leggy, leaving quite a smattering of dots and dashes

Smell: Spice cake aromatics, with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove joining the dark fruit (fig and date) elements

Taste: Spice cake with caramel frosting; in the middle, the fig and date flavors develop, along with all the spices detected in the aroma; a little tartness, after the swallow, along with a balsa wood dimension, brings an interesting phenolic angle to the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: One of the better Christmas ales to come out of Belgium; my bottle was a bit undercarbonated but still quite good (829 characters)

Photo of TBoneJones
4.36/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012
Pours deep and dark, with cherry brown mahogany highlights when held in light. Beautiful-looking ale, with a perfectly thick off-white head.
Smells like light banana esters, malt, spice, some fig and sweet bread.
First taste I can tell this is an ongoing complexity. Raisin, bread pudding and sweet dark fruit (date/ raisin), nutty and with nutmeg, some peppering, with a long burning finish. Pretty well carbonated. This sipper was a great choice for a Christmas beer. Complex, strong, nice seasonal flavoring. Would recommend to anyone, especially those who enjoy Abby beers..to try Christmastime or anytime during the winter. (635 characters)

Photo of Gatch
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012. Says it can be aged up to 15 years. I can't imagine how good this would be after a few years, let alone 10 or 15.

A: Deep, dark brown with shades of ruby red. Big, fluffy, off-white to light brown head that builds and fades quickly leaving behind a fizzy, thin layer of foam on top until the first sip.

S: Mmmm...figs, raisins, dark and sweet malts, ripe plums, dark bread, sugar. Very nice. But as the beer warms, some of this disappears, surprisingly.

T: Crazy amount of carbonation (expected from the huge pop from the cork when opened). Thick, creamy, and full of flavor. Sweet, sugary, roasted malt complemented by dark, poached, sugary fruits.

M: Super carbonated and full of roasted flavor. The flavor is stronger than the body makes you believe. A tad cloying in the finish with some warmth from the alcohol.

O: It's a great beer but doesn't seem to be anything crazy or special. Spot on for the style, though. Spiced enough to make this feel like a holiday ale. (981 characters)

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle opened on 12.7.12

A - Pours a deep brown with a ruby hilights. A huge foamy light tan head with amazing retention forms.

S - Spices, raisins, figs, light fruit, cola.

T - Similar, spices are more up-front and dominating.

D - Great carbonation and a medium to light body.

O - Belgian Abbey with Christmas Spices. (324 characters)

Photo of Treebs
3.89/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml c&c bottle served in an English pub glass. My future mother-in-law surprised me with this on Christmas.

A: Pours a hazy, dark cherry wood color with a deeper brown body. A thick light tan head forms on the pour that slowly recedes to a hefty cap. Sticky sheets of lace are left down the glass.

S: Dark malts and some honey sweetness. A little fig in the periphery. Bready notes with some musty yeast.

T: Dark bread sweetness with some underlying cinnamon and nutmeg like spices. There are some minimal banana esters from the yeast. Oaty and nutty as well.

M: A little too prickly on the carbonation. Medium bodied with the booze nicely hidden.

O: Very nicely developed flavors with some hidden booze. Definitely drank like it was 7-8%. I would have liked a little less carbonation to smooth out the mouthfeel, but overall it was very nice. (851 characters)

Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.92/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale has a thick, frothy, light beige head, made up of very tiny bubbles. The appearance is brown, with evident tiny bubble streams up the side of the glass and a nice lacing sheen. The aroma is of a strong, yeasty, fruit (plum, raisin, dates), brown bread, and a mild spiciness. Taste is similar, with even some banana showing up. There is an underlying alcohol presence, which, however, is not unpleasant. The mouthfeel is light to medium and prickly, and St. Bernardus Christmas Ale finishes mostly dry, mellow, and drinkable. One can certainly detect brandy-wine type qualities here, and it’s nice to see a Christmas beer without all the offensive, over-the-top flavoring. Overall, this is a world class beer! A true beer fan must try it!

RJT (773 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 stephenjmoore
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage

A- Dark amber/chestnut colored body with a bubbly, frothy head.

S- Belgian spices, honey, dried fruit, raisins, hazelnut, cocoa.

T- Belgian spices come through with some honey and hazelnuts. Also get a lot of raisin and possibly some nutmeg.

M- Full bodied, high carbonation.

O- Good Belgian Christmas ale. (324 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)

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