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 robbyc1
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big looking belgian with a massive amount of head, my first look more to come.

Nice fruity nose with yeasty esters, some bubblegum, dark fruit wafts from the glass.

It tastes like the nose with a bit hit of not overdone sweetness at the end, very complex, spicy, with intriguing aftertaste.

Photo of stumac
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

this brew pours up a red tinted brown color with a nice frothy off white head. great lacing. the nose is red apple, faint candy sugar, sweet malts, caramel, pear. the taste is very sweet, dark cherries, yeast, chewy malts. medium bodied and medium carbo. I like Belgium Holiday Ales because they generally don't have a set taste and they are all different. A solid beer.

Photo of Oxymoron
4.01/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Merry Ho ho ho this fat man! Pours a merky brown color with some lighter tan hues throughout. A off white colored head left good retention but limited lacing. Both did not last through the tasting.

The nose has a lot going on. Some lighter malt notes with a light chocolate aroma and a touch of caramel. Some complexity but limiting in a way. A noticeable spice aroma. Some baking spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and a light ginger aroma. Some other spice notes, white pepper and a light pear note on the backend. Yeast is noticeable, and distinct with St Berny beers.

The taste is a bit more one sided to the spices, relative to the nose. The same spices mix in with more of a hint of cloves and cinnamon. The ginger backs off but there is a rose peddle flavor on the back end. The yeast also comes out with more of a light fruity taste. Almost like a fruitcake like taste. The malt is present but is limited with more of a malty taste and hints of coco. Some minor heat and a touch of fusels as well.

The body is closer to moderate but a bit much for a Belgium holiday beer. Some heat from the alcohol. Overall good but very muddled together. Would have liked to see the spice back off and more Belgian characteristics come out.

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 selecter70
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mmmm...not quite what I was expecting from a "Holiday" (grr..Christmas) Ale. But thanks to Christopher's in Cambridge & St. Bernardus, I can expand my expectations of such! It was lovely to find this gem on draught, served proper, glassware & all. Served up dark & mysterious with a thin, lacey head that soon disappeared, a grape-malt & lavender aroma pervaded, but not tacky or overwhelmingly so. The color showed in the light as a dark purple-brown and an intial alchol nose upon sipping soon opened to a chewy dunkelweiss with grape hints in a Belgian lambic style. Quite a lovely sipping & savoring ale (& quite potent!).

Photo of MacDomer
3.43/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this on Christmas Eve and am now just getting to reviewing. I am a huge fan of Bernardus Tripel and Abt 12, but this was a letdown from an otherwise great brewer.

Split a corked & caged 750 mL bottle with the family. Poured into a Westy chalise and two Chimay chalises.

A - Medium brown to dark in color, with a decent microfoam head (typical Belgian). Some yeast floaties as well - berk. Visible carbonation.

S - Some nice yeast and fruit notes in the nose, along with alcohol (not much). However, this was the first Belgian that I'd consider medicinal smelling. A bit of a turnoff.

T - Dark fruits, such as raisin and plum, a bit of bitterness, but again there's the medicinal quality. Odd. Not a fan. Some spices that start off fairly well, but they fade and take backstage to some strange herbal medicinal quality.

M - As you would expect from the style, but a bit over carbonated.

D - Won't buy this one again, but was fun to try nonetheless. If friends have it, I'd give it another go, but I was underwhelmed this time.

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 Haybeerman
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Slightly cloudy deep brown/amber color with caramel highlights. Poured a 3 finger tan-colored billowy head with good retention; eventually like a dollop of merangue on top. Gobs of lacing (not quite rings).

S: Lots of complex dark fruits. Spices and hot alcohol.

T: Complex rich dark fruits like prunes, figs,raisins and more. Tastes deepened and changes as it warmed. Warming alcohol.

M: Full body. Nicely balance carbonation. Flavors engulf the mouth and tongue. (yeah, I like it a lot)

D: Full drinks make the most of this one, but 10% abv dictates some time in between.

Photo of tmoneyba
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Kingdom Liquor, FL.

Poured hazy brown color with a large fizzy brown head that was mostly lasting with excellent lacing. Aroma was as complex heavy spicy nutmeg and yeast. Medium body with a creamy texture and soft carbonation. Heavy spice bittersweet flavor with a heavy bittersweet finish with medium alcohol bite.

Good brew.

Photo of Celt44
4.52/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Recommended by a local craft brew store owner - My sincere thanks to him.

Appearance is a light reddish hue - almost looks like brandy or cognac from a distance considering the head disperses fairly quickly.

Smell - Strong Malt and Sweetness up front. Citrus fruits, very slight alcohol. Very appealing

Taste - Malts and cranberries. Hops makes and appearance. Grapefruit bitterness at the end.

Mouthfeel - Beautiful - It's a Belgian!

Overall one of, if not thee best beer I've had that has called itself a "Christmas" beer or ale. Can't wait till next year!

Photo of BeTheBall
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Dark amber color; beautiful pillowy head that lasts for a long time, some lacing on the glass as the beer drains.

S: dark fruit and a slight alcohol presence.

T: complex and rich fruits such as raisins, figsd, plums, apples? Very tasty.

M: mouthfeel is extraordinary, coating the entire mouth, tonugue and throat. Well above average, even for Belgian ales I've had.

D: 10% ABV is not for the faint of heart, but the huge and delicious flavors do a pretty good job of hiding it, to a point.

Photo of likestoswallow
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a 750 ml bottle.

A: Pours a murky brown color with a fair sized beige head that lasts only a short while and leaves plenty of sticky lacing.

S: Loaded with Belgian yeasts, sweet malts, dark fruits and spices.

T: Very complex with more sweet malts, cola, molasses, nutmeg, cloves, figs, dates and walnuts.

M: Full, smooth and malty with subdued carbonation.

D: Wow, for a strong Belgian ale it just does not get any more drinkable than this. Very good with the alcohol well hidden.

Photo of CHADMC3
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The deep walnut brown body gives off only a slight white head with little noticeable carbonation.

Aroma is of sweet, dark fruit, molasses, and malt.

A slight spice such as nutmeg or cinnamon is faint amongst the dark fruits of raisins or fig with hints of yeast as well.

Little carbonation, medium body, dry, and an excellent array of character for the palate.

This is a fantastic beer. Tons of deep flavors, almost too easy to drink, begging you to take another sip, and the high ABV does not overwhelm amongst the various flavors.

Photo of ThirstyBird
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on New Years Eve 2009 from a 750 bottle

A - Pours a deep root beer reddish brown with a light tan head that turns into a skim coat. Nice lacing.
S - Sweetness from the heavy malt are apparent then comes the deep dark fruit odors. Raisins , figs maybe a slight spice note as well as some yeast.
T - As with the smell I get the sweet Malt up front with the dark ripe fruit. A tough of hops on the finish a little dry and spicy.
M/F - Full bodied. A bit sticky but smooth as hell.
D - This is a sipper. Quite sweet so limiting to one would probably be wise.

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 jwc215
3.4/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750 ml cage-corked bottle, poured into glass chalice provided by Wasatch:

Pours hazed dark brown with a thin tan head that becomes a large island. Some lacing sticks.

The smell is of dark bread, light spiciness, in an herbal way. There's a hint of prune and anise.

The taste is of spicy pumpernickel. Not spiced, but spicy. Yeasty with some anise and earthy notes. Sharp, yet creamy. Potency might add more body than is actually there.

This was less than expected for the brewery. I tend to prefer the non-spiced winter beers, but this one - well...doesn't really do it for me. Nice, but expected better from this brewery.

Photo of tbeck
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown in color with no clarity. Head is an off white/brown and thick. Aroma is some malts, fruit and slight hops. Very sweet. Sweet taste with some malts and hops. Lots of spice and very fruity. Excellent texture and body but not heavy. An excellent session beer especially around the holidays.

Photo of elricorico
4.68/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Very dark brown, opaque in the goblet, with a more than adequate beige head that sticks around for ages. Lacing forms designs all around the glass.

Sweet and malty aroma. Dark fruits, raisins, and a sweet root beer impression. A touch of musty yeast notable on every other whiff.

Taste can be described in one word as decadent. Sweet and complex through the front half of the mouth. Dryer and just a bit vinuous through the finish. Spices are there but subtley blended throughout. Fantastic.

Full bodied with lowish carbonation. Creamy and chewy even. Just a nice feel for a sipper.

It really doesn't get much better than this. I'd been looking forward to the bottle for a long time, and it does not dissapoint.

Photo of erikm25
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a medium to heavy caramel brown coloring. Hints of copper and bronze highlights. The head is a massive, deep, and sticky pillow of slightly off white fluff. Retention is perfect. Lacing coats and sticks all around the glass. Looks like the frosted windows of my apartment that I have been seeing recently.

S: Subtle dough nose that is spiced with some fruit and candies. Notes of chocolate. Crisp apples and ripe pears with a healthy dash of black pepper. Sugary with a citrusy orange tinge. Not overwhelmingly spicy but the aromas are warm and welcoming.

T: Complex spiciness with thick malt back. Vanilla and coriander. Gingerbread with raisins and clove. Peaches, candy canes, and subtle black peppers. Toasted rye bread sprinkled with brown sugar, grapes, and ginger. A pinch of cinnamon and peppercorns. Very mild pumpkin pie like taste. Mild hops towards the finish. The ABV is high but no alcohol is present in the taste.

M: Creamy and full bodied. Great carbonation.

D: I had been saving this one for a few weeks to cap off Christmas night. Very drinkable and a great offering for the holiday season. Complex and first rate beer.

Photo of keepersj12
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is one good beer. Why oh why deer lord would this only be available at Christmas. I guess that answers it's own question. The lord is no fool. Beautiful mud pour. Nice head. Aroma of wine. Taste is sweet then sour and then just good. Heavy alcohol makes it a bit tough to drink when driving. Otherwise down it goes.

Photo of gford217
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

No better way to spend a Christmas evening than sipping on a St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. 750mL bottle poured into a goblet.

Pours a deep, murky brown with ruby hints around the edges. The head is a full three fingers and shows no sign of receding, leaving tons of lacing down the glass.

The nose doesn't surprise too much, though there aren't lots of spice presence that I may have expected from a Christmas ale. The main aromas are the Belgian yeast and candi sugar that form the base with hints of dark fruits and bread as well.

The taste is also mainly that of a dark Belgian with tons of sweet malts, Belgian yeast and candi sugar. However, I definitely get more spices than the aroma would suggest as well as raisins and plums. There is a slight bitterness in the aftertaste along with some alcohol burn that warms me up a bit.

The mouthfeel is creamy but with tons of carbonation that helps coat the palate with the sticky sugar sweetness that dominates. The finish is just a tad dry.

I've always been a big fan of St. Bernardus, so I was expecting a great beer and it delivered. One of the best holiday beers I've had recently. Highly recommended!

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Generously bubbled dark cranberry with orange and gold highlights. The pale toffee colored head was at least four fingers following a gentle pour and doesn't look as though it will melt until New Year's. Thankfully, it's sticky enough to decorate the goblet with fine sheets of lightly stippled lace.

The nose is classic BSDA. It's hard to say for sure, but it smells like the typical yeasty spiciness, not so much added spices. The beer smells like freshly baked pumpernickel covered in dark fruits and ground cloves. Good, but not quite magical.

That's my first impression of the flavor as well, but I have a sneaking suspicion that warming will make this dark ale blossom into something even more delicious. For that to happen, the metallic vibe that has intruded on the first few mouthfuls has to fade. It does... eventually.

I'm surprised at how bitter and dry Christmas Ale is, relatively speaking. It isn't out of line for the style, but it is a little unusual for a holiday beer. The flavor profile is made up of toasted brown bread (with a rye-like earthy spiciness), black tea leaves, figs, anise seed, orange peel, cloves, black pepper and a wee pinch of musky cardamom.

That this Brouwerij St. Bernardus offering would be complex was never in doubt. Warming does, indeed, open up the flavor profile and fills it in with bold strokes of color. Is it enough to earn the next highest flavor score? Tough call, but by mid-bottle, I've decided that it is. The alcohol, although well-masked, adds a bracing power that lovers of big beer should embrace.

The mouthfeel doesn't deliver the usual creamy lushness of a big Belgian ale. It's a little too brightly carbonated and is a trifle thin. It's still more than acceptable, but I was expecting mouthfeel excellence from the merry monks.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale manages to capture the spirit of the season with a spiciness whose origins are a mystery. It probably won't be everyone's cup of ale, but I'm having a great time sipping and savoring. What a wonderful beer to cap off Christmas 2008 in style.

Photo of dsa7783
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ML bottle purchased caged and corked from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield...
Appearance: Ruddy, dark-brown hue... Minimal carbonation, heavy head and major lacing around the edge of the serving glass...
Smell: All types of whiffs here... Graham crackers, brown sugars, molasses, honey, and of course, rich malts...
Taste: Thick, honey and molasses flavor... Alcohol is pretty well hidden, chewy malts, brown sugars, cinnamon, and caramel... Great for the Winter season...
Mouthfeel: Rich and creamy on the tongue...
Drinkability took a hit due to the hefty 10% abv... more of a sipping beer...
Great stuff...
Recommended...

Photo of tburkhart
3.43/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Shared with BA raznug on the 1st anniversary of our homebrewing.

Pours a very nice caramel color. Typical think Belgian head. Very think carbonation. The big bubbles turn to more of a creamy head as the it settles.

Typical Belgian spices in the nose.

Typical Belgian spices in the taste.

An OK beer. I've had better Belgians.

Photo of prototypic
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very impressive. This one's just a little foggy and is a dark brown color that almost looks deep red. Lots of scarlet undertones. The head is gargantuan. Carbonation appears very active and yields a 3+ finger deep head. Needless to say, it's very patient and brooding. Sure to last step for step with the brew underneath. Heavy sheets of lace line the glass.

Smell: The nose is fruity and sweet. It features some apple and pear and a very healthy dose of dark fruit. The darker variety are mostly plum and raisin. Molasses and brown sugar and most definitely in the mix. Some light spice aromas emerge and consist of mostly pepper, cinnamon, and light clove. Belgian yeast permeates the nose throughout. Light alcohol is noted, but it doesn't present itself as prevalent. It's good, but could be a litle better. I had to work to pull all of that out.

Taste: It's malty and sweet. Light apple and pear mix pretty well with plum and raisin flavors. Nice solid malt backbone. There's a distinct cola-like flavor that is reminiscent of Coke. It's not bad, but I'm not enamored with that aspect. Cinnamon, pepper, and clove spices add some zeal and depth to it. They're flavorful and well done. It is a little hoppier than expected. It has a subtle, yet effective bitter punch. Belgian yeast makes its presence well known and is a very welcome addition. Alcohol is noted and is more prevalent here than on the nose. It definitely has a warming effect. Finishes spicy with a distinct bitter surge. It's good, and it's growing on me as the bottle disappears. I'm hinging on a bump in score here.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It features a medium body and is very smooth and satisfying. Carbonation is active, but does not interfere with its smooth feel. Drinkability is good. This is a deceptive beer. At 10% abv, it is very strong, but lulls you into a false sense of security. I'm handling the 750, but that will be all.

Brouwerij St. Bernardus is one of those special breweries that really can't make a bad beer. I was on the fence a little with this one as far as flavor goes. At the end of the day, it grew on me enough to warrant a 4.5 score for taste. It is that good. The nose could be a little better, but this is a damn fine beer all the same. It certainly warrants an annual purchase. Definitely recommended.

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