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: 1,867
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 9.09%
Wants: 156
Gots: 312 | 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
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Reviews: 627 | Hads: 1,867
Photo of Pencible
3.93/5  rDev -6%
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. (746 characters)

Photo of Jesstyr
4.87/5  rDev +16.5%
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. (604 characters)

Photo of bobsy
4/5  rDev -4.3%
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. (891 characters)

Photo of beeragent
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
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!!! (803 characters)

Photo of spointon
4.64/5  rDev +11%
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. (1,059 characters)

Photo of JVEyck309
4.92/5  rDev +17.7%
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. (1,859 characters)

Photo of alexgash
4.37/5  rDev +4.5%
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! (840 characters)

Photo of dahlen22
4.32/5  rDev +3.3%
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!! (643 characters)

Photo of jtinks
4.61/5  rDev +10.3%
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. (297 characters)

Photo of THORN
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
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. (587 characters)

Photo of MeanGene
4.65/5  rDev +11.2%
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!! (839 characters)

Photo of rfgetz
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
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. (424 characters)

Photo of BarrelO
2.51/5  rDev -40%
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. (372 characters)

Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
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. (463 characters)

Photo of cbarrett4
4.32/5  rDev +3.3%
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. (410 characters)

Photo of HalfFull
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
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. (1,594 characters)

Photo of drtth
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
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. (2,589 characters)

Photo of clayrock81
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
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. (569 characters)

Photo of noslenwerd
4.83/5  rDev +15.6%
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... (434 characters)

Photo of bruachan
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

deep mahogany with sudsy head that, predictably, didn't really last

strong dark fruit with some vinous and even genuinely winey elements. slight airy hops, cinnamon

warming and spicy. mouthfeel is good and provides a decent palette on which to base the tasty brew. plenty of dark continental malts. with time the breadier variety of malt experiences begin, taking the place of the fruitier kind bit by bit. cola. despite the heat to be expected of a 10% beverage, this one doesn't really have it; though warming, very drinkable

that being said, it's not all that impressive, to be honest (590 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 brystmar
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from its bottle into my Tremens snifter. The beer pours a nice darkish brown color with lots (2-3 fingers worth) of foamy head. Good retention of the head with plenty of lacing remaining on my glass. Smells strongly of various spices -- none of which I can pinpoint -- with a hint of mint in the background.

Given the spicy smell, I was expecting similar results in the taste department, but that wasn't the case at all. The flavors of malt and spice balance each other out well and led to a very pleasant drink.

Carbonation is just about perfect for this full-bodied brew; it has a pleasant mouthfeel overall. Much more smooth of a drink than I expected from its sharp smell. Cheers! (693 characters)

Photo of beertunes
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in tulip. Poured a very dark, slightly reddish, brown with almost 2 inches of dark khaki colored head that had very good retention and moderate lacing.

The aroma is a pleasantly stimulating mixture of malt and spice. The flavors follow along with a nice yeast taste added to the mix. I can't put my finger on which spices I'm tasting, but they are yummy.

The body is very good, full, well rounded and smooth, without being heavy, sticky or lingering. Drinkability is very good, just watch out for that 10% ABV.

Overall, a wonderful brew. Worth seeking out, a must try. (578 characters)

Photo of chiefydawg
4.07/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Amber Brown cloudy effervescent body with big foamy light khaki head. Decent lace.

Pitted fruit scent accentuates light tobacco leaf. Candilike maltiness. Some Belgian funky yeast.

Prune juice concentrate takes center stage early. Dark chocolate (without the roast) and mellow caramel back it up.
By this description of its dominant flavors, one would think this is cloying. But take into account the surprisingly bitter hop backdrop, high carbonation, and Belgian sharpness, this beer turns out quite balanced. There is this unidentifiable spice lurking, like allspice or nutmeg (I am a grilling/stir fry type, not baker, so hard to place this spice - sorry).

Crisp yet filling malty mouthfeel with a clean, lasting bitterness (yeah that's right). Still, there is this light pruney coating on the tongue long after each swallow. Interesting for sure. The Belgian twang even hangs out awhile (especially in the burp 15 minutes later...). The considerable 10%ABV is cloaked. I mean I let some sit for an hour in a warm room and it still was chill.

Overall an intriguing ale. Kind of like an Old Ale w/ a shake of pale chocolate malt chucked onto a frenzied slurry of spicy phenolic Abby yeast.
I dunno. Belgians brewers just do what they want, eff the style, and I respect that (extreme beer in the USA). Strange and yummy. Quaint step out of the ordinary. (1,360 characters)

Photo of Travlr
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Amber brown, with a thin light tan head and a scant malty aroma. Full mouth, light chocolate start progressing to caramel with some spice. Sweet, but not too overly so. i'd like to try this one after laying it down for 3 or 4 years - hopefully will become more complex. (269 characters)

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