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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,459 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,459
Reviews: 581
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 113
Gots: 164 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: seaoflament on 10-23-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,459 | Reviews: 581 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on tap at the Tops Tasting Room. Finally got up to this. Pours gorgeous black with a significnat white head, and some spices holding on the tap. Lacey. This is a rich ale, mildly malty, with ginger, allspice, c-hop, white pepper. Just had been tapped last night.A sipper.

Sammy, Feb 07, 2010
Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

t0rin0, Sep 08, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Best by 8/3/16.

Pours a murky dark brown with a huge 3 inch foamy beige head that settles to a small cap. Base on the first pour I got mostly foam so I think there may an issue with the carbonation on this one. A latticework of thin rings lines the glass on the drink down. Smell is of bready malt, brown sugar, and some dark fruits. Taste is very much the same with a nice flavor of dark fruits (raisins, plums, etc.) on the finish. Like I suspected based on the pour, this beer has an extremely high level of carbonation with a very crisp and bubbly mouthfeel. Way overcarbonated in my opinion but without any indicators of infection or the like. Overall, this is a good BSDA and a very nice beer to sip on for Christmas night but the mouthfeel brings down my enjoyment of this beer.

UCLABrewN84, Dec 26, 2011
Photo of djrn2
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%

djrn2, Dec 29, 2011
Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -5.4%

zestar, Nov 11, 2013
Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -5.4%

spycow, Jan 14, 2013
Photo of Thorpe429
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this with Christmas dinner in 2009. Thanks to my parents for spontaneously picking this up and surprising my wife and I with it for the meal.

Pours a dark caramel with a nice tan head and some good lacing. Nose is quite nice, dominated by plums, figs, dates, nutmeg, allspice, a touch of cinnamon, and some doughy malt. Lovely yeast character. Taste is just as complex and uber integrated. Like a nice holiday dessert without being at all overly sweet. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy; super smooth. Drinkability is quite nice. Will have to make this a tradition.

Thorpe429, Sep 24, 2010
Photo of metter98
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is very dark amber in color and poured with a two finger high creamy beige head that slowly died down but left a thin layer of bubbles consistently covering the surface.
S: The nose has aromas of malty sweetness and notes of dark fruits.
T: Like the smell, the taste is rather malty but has a mild amount of sweetness with notes of dark fruits and hints of yeast. The sweetness becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
M: It feels medium-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a high amount of carbonation.
D: The beer is very easy to drink considering its strength because the alcohol is well hidden.

metter98, Dec 20, 2010
Photo of Texasfan549
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Texasfan549, Feb 04, 2014
Photo of brentk56
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
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

brentk56, Dec 25, 2012
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

BuckeyeNation, Dec 25, 2008
Photo of BEERchitect
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Belgian Strong Dark Ales are very well suited for the holiday season even without the spicy additions common to Christmas deserts. The sweeter, succulent, and savory yeasty spice and fruity esters make for a complex staple layered on the supple malt base... absolutely sublime.

St. Bernardus' Christmas Ale pours with a rusty copper appearance with dark orange highlights and hints of garnet here and there. Mild haze and yeast caused a diffused glow to permiate the glass. A froathy mix of tightly and loosely knit head character shows great staying power and intricate patterns of lace upon the glass. A very solid Belgian look, albeit a touch light in color compared to others of the style.

Yeasy, spicy, fruity, and sweetly settled on the nose. Fruitcake-like aromas give a glimpse into the cherries, apples, figs, grapes, dates, plumbs, and sweetbread notes that set the malty and estery start to the session. Rummy alchols tickle the nose and give a sweet and vinous note to the aroma.

Delicious sweet malts give the impressions of confectioner's sugar, supple malty sweetness, and savory desert breads and coffee cake. Fruity with grapes and raisons, plumbs, and prunes, stone fruits, dehydrated dark fruits, apples and cherries all play into the estery mix as provided by yeast. Yeasty spices also attribute notes of corriander, black peppercorn, cinnamon, and a pleasant citrusy note that might be curaco additions or hop derived. Rum-like and red wine alcohols seem to be the catalyst that brings all the flavors together to give the rounded impression of rum-soaked fruitcake.

Up front sweetness gives the early impression of cloying or heavy sweetness. But the beer seems to evaporate off of the palate, much in the same was as does cotton candy- leaving a powdery dry alcohol warmth and only a memory of sweetness. The beer weighs effortless on the late palate and stomach for a remarkably drinkable session for such strength in both taste and alcohol. Assisted by strong effervescent, the beer lifts off of the tongue with ease.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale does all that world class Belgain Strong Ales are expected to, and with many extraordinary nuances to set it apart from the mere good ones. An absolute delight with each sip as new flavors reveal themselves with each visit to the glass. The descriptor words for this beer are seemingly endless.

BEERchitect, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of kjkinsey
5/5  rDev +18.2%

kjkinsey, Dec 06, 2011
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep burgundy color ale with a super large foamy head with great retention and good lacing. Aroma of dry fruit and fruity ester with some candi sugar and some nicer Belgian malt. Taste is a well balanced mix between some fruity ester, some dry fruits such as figs and notes of Belgian malt. Body is full with great carbonation and no appearance of alcohol. Very well done though it probably fell short of the ABT 12.

Phyl21ca, May 30, 2009
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%

ygtbsm94, Jan 12, 2012
Photo of jaydoc
4/5  rDev -5.4%

jaydoc, Nov 28, 2013
Photo of womencantsail
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Stuffed Sandwich

A: The pour is a dark brown color with some amber sort of highlights and an appropriately large off-white head.

S: A really rich, luscious nose of caramel, brown sugar, candi sugar, and toffee. Tons and tons of fruits too, like cherries, figs, and plums.

T: The flavor is just as wonderful. Sweet brown sugar and caramel lead the way with plenty of cherries, plums, and raisins to provide further sweetness. There's some clove and nutmeg flavors as well as a nice yeastiness.

M: The body is medium with a really full and rolling carbonation.

D: Maybe the best of all the Belgian Christmas beers I've had to this point. This is pretty much what I think of/look for in this kind of beer.

womencantsail, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of kylehay2004
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Word of caution, make sure you aim this one away from anything breakable or your face as my cork rocketed across the room unlike any I have ever seen. Large frothy head, nice retention on a deep clear amber body.

S: rich dark fruit aroma with mostly fig and cherry and strawberry, not too sweet.

T: more dark fruit but more sour than sweet. Spicey Belgian yeast as well.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation. Semi dry in the finish.

Overall: a Little sour but overall a nice drinkable strong ale from this brewery.

kylehay2004, Mar 01, 2012
Photo of Knapp85
3.35/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours out as a deep red color with a foamy tan colored head. The lacing isn't too bad here. The smell of the beer has a lot of spice to it. There is some decent flavors once the beer warms up. The beer right from the fridge has a metallic flavor at first. The spices kick in and leave a slight amount of heat in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is a little warming and had a lot of carbonation. Overall it's not a bad Christmas ale.

Knapp85, Jun 11, 2011
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a brown body with a large, foamy khaki-colored head. Quite effervescent!

Smell: A nice mix of pitted fruits with notes of cocoa powder, holiday-minded spices, cracked black pepper, and yeast.

Taste: Juicy dark fruits with a hearty dusting of cocoa and tossed with a mix of sugar 'n' spice. Slight bready yeastiness. Just of earthy bitterness. Semi-dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Well carbonated. Warming alcohol presence.

Drinkability: A fine holiday sipper (regardless of the 10% ABV) that made for pleasant Christmas Day drinking.

ChainGangGuy, Dec 25, 2007
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%

westcoastbeerlvr, Jan 10, 2013
Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev -5.4%

JAHMUR, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of largadeer
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured from a 750ml bottle depicting a jolly monk (with a Santa hat) drinking beer in the snow. The beer itself is dark amber, nearly black, with a cloudy tan head that doesn't show any sign of fading.

Smell: Caramel and chocolate, wintry spices, a bit of alcohol. Very aromatic.

Taste/mouthfeel: Dark dried fruits, caramel, a bit of molasses. Dry and spicy in the finish with a greater hop presence than I was expecting. Crisp but soft carbonation similar to other St. Bernardus brews. This is nice, but I think it will drink better with 5 or 6 months on it. Recommended.

largadeer, Nov 16, 2007
Photo of TMoney2591
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a wine glass.

Man, that monk sure looks happy and festive. His brew pours a hazy sienna topped by a finger of dirty tan foam. The nose comprises nutmeg, fig, cinnamon, and a touch of roasted malts. The taste runs very similarly, with the addition of banana and chocolate. The body is a staunch medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a somewhat grainy feel. Overall, another win from Bernardus. I can't wait to try the others I've yet to experience.

TMoney2591, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of SocalKicks
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

SocalKicks, Dec 24, 2013
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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,459 ratings.