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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

633 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 633
Hads: 1,890
Avg: 4.19
pDev: 9.31%
Wants: 171
Gots: 339 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website

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: 633 | Hads: 1,890
Photo of Liverpool08
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby red with a deliciuos fluffy mocha colored head. Has the sweet malty/funky aroma of a good Abbey ale. The first sip is YUMMY! Malty, smooth, and creamy, with ahint of cinnamon at the end. Each sip is even better than the first. More malty smoothnes with hints of dried fruits and nutmeg. A great ale for Christmas. I will be looking for this one every December!

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Photo of Spineypanda
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark thick liquid with a nice dark and thin head.
Smells of spices and some ginger as well as the smells you get from the Abt 12.
Tastes really nice, like gingerbread and has a good strong abbey ale taste to it that blends nicely.
It is a shame this was the last one in my store, otherwise I would buy another :).

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Photo of SpdKilz
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at FO Santa Monica

Appearance - When given to me there was about two fingers of medium brown mocha looking head. This slowly dissipates and leaves great lacing on the side of the glass.

Smell - At the forefront there are heavily toasted/sweet malt fragrances followed immediately by holiday spices such as ginger and vanilla. It finishes with some dark fruit flavors such as dark cherries and figs.

Taste - Very similar to the smell though I taste the spices up front. I can taste cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla. This melds away to a nice sweet malty flavor which is soon enveloped by the dark fruit flavors (most noticeably when tasting is the cherry). Tastes like Christmas in a bottle!

Mouthfeel - Very thick and creamy. Lower amounts of carbonation. Finishes with a slight spicy/tartness.

Drinkability - Relatively so - definitely a sipper. Near the end, as it warms up more, you can taste the alcohol a bit more than at the beginning. Overall a very good "fireplace" sipper.

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Photo of Lunch
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at Frisco Grille in Columbia, MD (12/16/09) into a goblet at the appropriate temperature.

A: Pours a chestnut brown with ruby hues and a creamy one finger head. The carbonation is quite lively in this one.

S: Complex yet slightly subdued Belgian aroma containing a fair amount of spice, roasted sweet malt, and an overall Belgian character that is hard to put my finger on.

T: Pleasant Christmas flavors with a nice Belgian kick containing roasted malt, a heap of spice, carob, chocolate, caramel, and toffee surrounding in a marmalade of dark fruits (plum, raisin, prune, and figs). There is a slight chalky characteristic that slightly drag down the flavor.

M: Full-bodied with active carbonation and a pleasant hint of the 10% abv.

D: Drinkability is actually quite good for a higher abv. ale as the flavors play off one another and create a nice spiced ale to be enjoyed around the holidays.

Overall this beer is becoming one of my favorite Christmas Ales and it is another well crafted ale from the brewers of St. Bernardus. Recommended.

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Photo of brownbeer
4.65/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I think this is a 2007 vintage, as the cork has a best before date of 2012. I assume it's a five year date. Although, that contradicts the suggestion on the bottle to age it up to 15 years. I digress.

Dark brown with a nice, light brown head, retention, the whole nine. Looks great.

The first thing I notice in the aroma is licorice. Then fig, Christmas plum pudding. Too many great notes for me to understand. Christmas in a bottle.

Spicy yeast flavors, a hint of apple fruitiness, fruitcake, nutmeg, caramel, raisin. Full, creamy body with a nice, warming finish. Could possibly benefit from a softer carbonation.

I'm not sure if the two years of age helped this out, but this beer is in that small group that defines Belgian greatness. Classy stuff.

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Photo of HoosBrews
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served to me in a Belgian style glass. Appearance was dark, with a huge amount of head which laced extremely well. The nose hasd hints of cherry and a prominent alcohol aroma (not in a bad way, just bold). Taste was a wonderful blend of sweetness, warmth from the alcohol, and complex fruitiness and spice. The high carbonation of this beer really gives it it huge mouthfeel. Given the higher gravity of this beer, I'm impressed with the smooth finish which makes this beer highly drinkable. Overall, one of the better Christmas beers I've had all year!

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Photo of Pencible
3.93/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This poured a nearly opaque dark mahogany with tons of fluffy tan head. It smelled like spicy and sour Belgian yeast with rich caramel, nutmeg, candi sugar, fresh wheat, and a bit of alcohol. It tasted like wild creamy yeast and spicy malt, with some sweet candi sugar and caramel and a bit of raisin and fig and alcohol. It was slightly thick with moderate carbonation, and had a bittersweet and sour aftertaste. Overall this had a great dark Belgian scent and taste with a bit of a spicy twist for the holidays. It had good body too, but the alcohol was fairly hot, so a fresh bottle wasn't entirely easy to drink. It was still enjoyable to sip, but it didn't blow me away like Abt 12 first did. Regardless, with some age this would be amazing.

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Photo of Jesstyr
4.87/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

St. Bernardus is one of my favorites, so I gave this a try when I saw it on the shelves at Publick House in Brookline. Now I wish I could buy a dozen more. Quickly became one of my all time favorites.

Poured into a stemless tulip glass out of a .

A: dark brown with very creamy head.

S: Rich aroma with chocolate and a little bit of bourbon, and subtle winter spices.

T: Rich flavor of chocolate and dark fruits, not sweet, just a little bit of toffee and raisins and a bit yeasty. Great with cheese.

M: Light and a little creamy.

D: Too easy. Finished the bottle and didnt feel it till much later.

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Photo of bobsy
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This brewery is one of my favourites, so when I saw the Christmas Ale in Buffalo it was a no brainer.

Pours a rich dark brown with a creamy tan head that slowly dropped to a collar, but left some good lace going down. Sweet malt aroma, with some cinamon and chocolate mixed in.

Sone good yeastiness in the flavour, which gives off some mild bread notes, and a good shot of spice. Fruity sweet malts give a juicy raisin and date character, while some brown sugar adds to the sweetness. Decent so far, all the way up to the body, which is askew. Slightly too light for the style, and slightly too carbonated... a couple years should fix one of those.

I'm slowly going off these Belgian Strong Darks, as the sweetness doesn't appeal to me as much as it used to. That said I do think this is a nice example of the style, and would be a definite reccomendation for lovers of good Belgian beer.

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Photo of beeragent
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter from a 22oz bottle.

A - Pours a deep slightly hazy amber forming a massive off-white head. Very little lacing on the glass.

S - Rich aroma of dark fruits with a little Belgian candy sugar aroma and a hint of alcohol.

T - Dark fruit flavor mixes with the malts creating a sweet thick taste that coats the palate. No hop presence is detected and the alcohol in the finish is very mild. Very complex taste.

M - A little thicker than medium mouthfeel with a good amount of carbonation that is continuous. Very clean finish.

D - This should be had all year, not just at Christmas. Great Belgian dark! Great flavor and mouthfeel. The only downside to the drinkability is the higher abv., and I wouldnt even consider that a downside. Overall another great beer from St. Bernardus!!!

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Photo of spointon
4.64/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle, IL. Served in a stemmed tulip glass.

A= This ale poured a slightly murky mahogany brown color with a 3/4" light tan head. Lots of evident carbonaton release kept the head at 1/4" all the way down the glass.

S= I found a lot of Belgian charater, malty sweetness, carob, and a hint of spice in the aroma. Very nice.

T= Incredible restraint on the spices! The flavor was mostly a rich dark Belgian strong, but those spices just kept surfacing and then disappearing before I could get a good read on them. Superb balance of spice to everything else. Speaking of which, I also noted caramel, treacle, and some dark fruitiness (raisins, figs, and plums). Some spicy alcohol in th efinish but not as much as one would expect at this ABV.

MF= Medium bodied with a soft and velvety feel despite the very obvious and active carbonation release. Nice warming quality from the alcohol.

D= Really an exceptional beer and easily the best "Christmas ale" I have had to date. Dangerously drinkable despite the big ABV.

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Photo of JVEyck309
4.92/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bomber corked and caged - pours a muddy bloody opaque reddish brown with one finger head that sticks around in a chalice glass, smell is complex and exciting..cherries and dark fruit aromas mixed with sugars, vanilla, cokeacola, yeasty bread .. I don't know, the works.. It's good to go. This beer made me crack a window open to let in some cold winter air.. much needed. Grandma used to make amazing nut breads.. I want one of those really bad right now.. would pair so well with this rich brew. Ugh.. the complexity, it's like hearing Beethoven's 9th all over again for the first time or like the first time you found your dad's porno. A world opens up and eyes pop out and mind is dancing in a field of whatevers. Taste .. my stupid childish palate is not ready to even pontificate or articulate but hell.. I've had better beers.. too much christmas cheer makes me giggly and I can't think clearly. (Should have held onto this one for xmass.. oh well.. I shall get another bottle!) Spicey dancing dark fruits and a whole lot of spirit. Certain to make your day a bit brighter in the dreary dread of Christmas season... cause who needs family when you got booze, right? well.. I digress. Anyway, theres a lot to this brew and I get annoyed with myself when I try to pull out a bunch of keywords in the BA community.. "dark fruits, esters, phenols, malts - bready, earthy, etc. hops- citrusy, grapefruity, etc.." oh words. How frustrating they can be.. yet we have nothing else to rely upon. Mouthfeel is spectacuallalalrrl bubbly but not overbearing. Now about this beer I am drinking.. think Abt 12 times 5.. it's delicious in all the right places and I am ever so grateful and humble and I reflect upon life's impermanence and how all humankind is akin and yet so vastly different...
Hare Krishna. Goodnight

Go and buy another bottle of this beer, idiot.

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Photo of alexgash
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, corked and caged.

Dark ruby-tinged maple syrup. Finger of creamy, light khaki head, with okay lacing. Big, rich, rummy fruits on the nose. Pears, fruit cocktail, scorched sugar, raisins, cola, Concord grapes, and perhaps some yeasty sweetbread. Nice, complex, and inviting.

Flash of toasted malt up front. Estery fruit follows and is quickly joined by a huge swell of sweet, fruity, caramely malts. Sweet Concord grapes blend with sugar-coated raisins, perfectly ripe Bartlett pears, brown sugar, and caramel. Sweet cake batter, toasted nuts, and even a little cocoa lead into the finish. Lingering rummy fruits swell once again in the finish. There's also some yeastiness and a cocoa nib and herbal hop bitterness. Warming. Full-bodied with a thick, gently carbonated feel. Very nice, especially on this 10 degree F night!

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Photo of dahlen22
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After having a Bernadus 12 on tap at the Eulogy Bar in Philadelphia, I figured I would give this a go. The beer is a reddish-brown color with a nice 1/2 inch of head. The aroma is nice, but taste is what matters.

This beer has plenty of legs and tastes good. It starts off velvety with a slight bit of spice and caramel. It then goes into raisons, toffee, and some winter spices. Being 10%, I would not sit down and drink more than one or two, but this is a beer for the winter months. As far as Christmas beers goes, this is not quite as good as a Corsendonk Christmas, but it does rank high within this category of beers. Merry Christmas!!

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Photo of jtinks
4.61/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured from a corked 750ml bottle in a de koninck "bolleke" glass...nice reddish color with about a three-quarter-inch head. quite delicious. beer like this almost makes a chicago winter worthwhile. smells like melting caramel and tastes very malty. i think i detect some coriander notes in there.

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Photo of THORN
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 botle 1 pint 9 Fl. Oz. poured into Duvel snifter.
A: Dark purple red, cannot see through center. Red around the edges with visible CO2 trails on bottom of snifter. Pours 1/2 inch vanilla colored head. Thick sticky lacing left behind around snifter.
S: Sweet toasted malts followed by sweet cherries and ginger. Sight vanilla linger.
T: Dark toasted malts, followed by strong toffee body, Cinnamon and raisins linger into slight alcohol taste.
M: Light on tongue but still syrupy. Slight warming feeling.
D: Very well balanced, slight alcohol is welcome with body that accompanies.

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Photo of MeanGene
4.65/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Big ol' 22 oz bomber into my Ayinger Celebrator glass.

I've had the pleasure of having this beer last Christmas for the first time and thought it was terrific. Went back the next day and our local store was all out.

Luckily, our local Wegman's picked it up this year in abundance!

Pours a dark red with a one-finger white head with formidable lacing.

Smells like a Belgian with winter spices

Taste is terrific. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of Belgians...I like them don't get me wrong but I'm hard to really impress. This is out of this world though. Good amount of winter spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc) with a nice finish

Mouthfeel is very satisfying...stays with you for a few minutes but really pleasant.

Drinkability is higher than average for a big beer...still, wouldn't want to drink more than one in a night!

Pick it up!!

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Photo of rfgetz
3.95/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark copper brown with an small, dense off-white head. Clumpy retention, minimal lacing. Smell is of dark fruit (fig, prune, raisin) with mulling spice background. Taste is sweet dark fruit (fig, prune, raisin, date) with a mulling spice background. Velvety smooth on the palate with only a minimal alcohol burn. Very nice holiday brew with a full flavor profile without going overboard on any particular ingrediant.

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Photo of BarrelO
2.51/5  rDev -40.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

750ml bottle poured into a goblet.

A: Brown body with the typical giant Belgian head.

S: Dark fruits and spices.

T: Similar to the aroma. Not overly phenolic, but still cloying. I don't know, it just didn't click for me.

M: Reasonably light with good carbonation.

D: I like more plum and bready flavors in my quads, and they're totally absent in this one. Drain pour.

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Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. Small, off-white head sinks into a murky amber body. Aroma is mainly of sweet dark fruits, dates, figs and raisins. Taste is sweet, slightly warming, and includes all of the aforementioned fruits and some peppery spice. ABV is wonderfully hidden behind the loads of flavors in this beer. A truly special and delicious treat. Paired well with Thanksgiving deviled eggs, sweet potatoes and cornbread.

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Photo of cbarrett4
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from tap at Henry's 12th street. Medium head settling to a nice lace. Dark brown hue. Packed with dark malty goodness, and holiday spices, nutmeg, molasses, brown sugar. Yum. Rich flavors of dark malts and said molasses, spices. Medium weight, almost smells and tastes like it needs more body. Smooth, low tannins, very easy on the finish. Good brew, but expect more from this brewery and at this price.

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Photo of HalfFull
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a corked 750 ml. bottle into a wine glass. Christmas Ale pours somewhat light for the style, a clear reddish brown in color and with an inch of meringue like tan head. Make that two inches, no three inches. A fervent boil of carbonation built the foam up after the pour until it peaked an inch above the rim of the glass. Kind of like a Santa hat on top of the brew. Retention and lacing, as expected from the pour, are robust.

Nose is initially light for the style, with the firm carbonation and apple notes being the only things strong enough to pierce the dense blanket of foam. Spiced chocolate cherry reveal a decent depth after the foam settles to a steady cap. Vinous notes accompany along with a sense of champagne like effervescence. Yeast subtleties expand with warming and combine beautifully with the malt/spice balance giving a bump to the rating. Nutmeg and cinnamon and dried flowers are subtle and enticing.

Flavor is light and fruity and with nary a note of alcohol in sight. Notable cherry wraps around some light fig notes. A lingering spice finish maintains for a full 30 seconds each sip. Flavor improves and expands as the carbonation settles, revealing the nuances that said bottle conditioning helped create. Offers a smooth feel and a body that belies it's own strength. This beer drinks like it's 7 or 8 percent, never revealing its true nature.

Note: From a bottle this beer needs to release some carbonation to really shine. Pop it cold and let it outgas and warm before serving. Malt structure is welcomingly light for the ABV yet offers good depth.

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Photo of drtth
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a goblet for a well carbonated brown body with lasting tan head and bubbly lace. A great yeasty smell along with some sweet caramel malt and minor citric hop bitterness along with orange. Real smooth, a little creamy, medium-bodied with a little bit of oakiness along with minor pepper and spices. Hints of vanilla and chocolate along with caramel give it a balanced sweetness and there is a good fruit base with orange and pear and a little citric notes. Has a dry yet clean finish and the ABV is well hidden. A very enjoyable ale to relax with and sip on.

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Photo of noslenwerd
4.83/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Hazy brown with a burnt orange tint.

S: Smells spicy and fruity

T: The taste to me was amazing and everything I expect from a dark belgian ale. A bit more carbonated than your average belgian dark, but I thought of it as a good thing. Very complex flavor but no one flavor hit me, but was mildly fruity.

Summary: Extremely drinkable beer and thus far my favorite "Winter Warmer" to . Will for sure be drinking this one again...

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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
93 out of 100 based on 633 ratings.