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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
95
world-class

1,526 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,526
Reviews: 589
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.46%
Wants: 121
Gots: 192 | 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: 1,526 | Reviews: 589 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev -5.4%

JAHMUR, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of biboergosum
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml corked and wired bottle, shared with my dark Belgian-loving sweetie (uh, beer, that is...).

This beer pours a muddy, sediment-strewn rather dark orangish-brown hue, with an ambitious rising column of frothy, fairly soapy beige head, which leaves some thorough swaths of sudsy lace around the glass in its very somnolent wake.

It smells of chewy raisins, caramel/toffee malt, everything ever baked by my mom for Christmas, a bit of earthy yeast, and softly simmering alcohol (which also has something in common with my dear mom's holiday goodies). The taste is more caramel and raisin malt sweetness, plummy fruit, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, and strongly warming alcohol.

The carbonation is sedate, but not exactly absent, the body well weighted, smoothly-textured, and a tad creamy. It finishes with that same complex, spiced Christmas baking, duly steeped in rum.

Like other holiday season libations, this is a barely restrained, indulgent sipper, for satisfying that sweet tooth, keeping out the chill, and keeping the craziness to an acceptable hum.

biboergosum, Dec 05, 2010
Photo of zeff80
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 Edition

A – Poured out a rich amber color with a beautiful, tan, foamy, three-finger head. It left sticky rings of lace on the glass.

S – It smelled of dried fruits (pear and apple). There was also a strong malty presence.

T - The taste was quite complex. Spices hit the tongue on first sip, cinnamon and maybe vanilla. A rich, roasted malt flavor lasts throughout. It had a biscuity quality, as well.

M – It was soft and smooth with a warm alcohol presence. This is a very heavy-bodied beer.

D – This is a very nice Christmas Ale. It is quite a lot to handle in one sitting. I might have to pick up another and cellar it (the bottle claims it can be cellared for up to 15 years).

zeff80, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of Jason
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Jason, Jan 18, 2013
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Super carbonated, Belgian ale just in time for this holiday season, pours a slightly clouded mahogany brown burgundy color with a light khaki tan head forming thick and fully bubbled. Aroma is full of Christmas spices meaning hints of cinnamon, ginger, and other famous pie spices. Full on flavor of ripened fruits and sweet bursting dessert like bready pie crust. Fruit filled with spices galore this is some big festive drinking Christmas ale. Full on honey tinged ripened fruit with hints of papaya, pineapple tartness with bittering hoiday spices balancing out the pure sweetness of this big Belgian ale. Alcoholic slight medicinal burn in each sip with high carbonation this really tickles the nares but the effervescent carbonation carries things well, and it finishes with bitter dry holiday spices. Wonderful amazing freak of nature Belgian Christmas bier that we all look forward to each year.

WVbeergeek, Dec 06, 2011
Photo of nickfl
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Really big head, basically 2/3 glass of foam. As the rocky head settles, and it settles very slowly, it leaves a spider web of sticky lace. The body is slightly hazy, and very dark brown with just a hint of red.

S - Fruity notes and dark malt combine to product distinct aromas of prunes, figs, and raisins. There is a nice, herbal hop undertone as well as a subtle note of alcohol.

T - Sweet and fruity up front with a strong alcohol note. Big, roasty flavors come in next with lots of chocolate and fruity notes of bananas and prunes. Herbal hops are present throughout the experience and they linger and provide a bit of bitterness to mingle with the intense toffee and chocolate flavors in the finish. There is a late alcoholic note, and quite a lot of tobacco character that lasts longer than any of the other flavors.

M - High carbonation, thick body and a dry finish.

D - I expected a big beer, but this is huge. Very complex, with a very nice, wintry roasted quality. Not exactly an easily drinkable beer, but my overall impression is very favorable. Considering the complexity and the high alcohol content, I am inclined to think that this would age very well. I also think that with its smokey tobacco flavors, this is one of the few beers I have had that could really stand up to a good cigar.

nickfl, Jan 21, 2008
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clouded dark brown with a good sized creme head that leaves a decent amount of lacing on the way down. Nose is spices and yeast. Flavor is extremely heavy on the spices. Just buckets and buckets of them. Dough rests in the background. Carbonation is extremely full and attacks the tongue. Liquid is as it should be. This is definitely a winter style brew. It is so spice forward and heavy on the body that it is to be sipped and savored over time. A nice brew for sure.

RblWthACoz, Jan 07, 2008
Photo of Slatetank
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Slatetank, Feb 17, 2013
Photo of jlindros
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Armsby Abbey Belgian Christmas night, 2007 vintage. This was the catch of the night, so delicious.

Comes with a light Belgian fizzy head and light lacing, over dark brown molasses color with hints of rosy hue, and very dark with very little light coming through.

Nose comes with sweet malts, Belgian dark malts, little candi sugar, caramel, toffee, aged malts, slight dark raisiny fruits, and just the faintest hit of spices and nutty aromas.

Taste brings lots of raisin and dark fruits, little plug and fig, nutty malts, plenty of Belgian dark malts and that aged malt taste, smooth and semi sweet, some dark candi sugar and little caramel, hints of spice and a little warming booze, a little bitterness too. Finish lingers with lots of dark malts, a little sweetness and more candi sugar, and hints of fruits that linger for a while.

Mouth is medium to a little heavier bodied with decent carbonation and very little warming booze.

Drinkability is pretty good, drinks a lot smoother and lighter than 10%, and sweetness is balanced well and the aged malt flavor probably helps.

jlindros, Dec 18, 2010
Photo of drabmuh
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Rustico, beer is brown and mostly clear with a thin brown head of tiny bubbles that leaves a lot of lacing on the glass. Carbonation moderate.

Aroma is sweet and clean with minimal yeast esters. Smells good.

Beer is medium in body and sweet up front. The midpalate gives way to a semi-dry finish with some more sweetness and no bitterness, the beer overall is highly drinkable and nice. It falls a little short in the middle of the mouth with the sweetness on either side and dryness at the end. I like this beer and this brewery, they are awesome.

drabmuh, Nov 15, 2010
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark in color, in between violet and brown, with a nice head, if short, if a bit overblown with bubbles, and not sticking around...another pour gives higher head, but, it too, dies off with a quickness...

Aroma: sweet and spicy, dark fruits, plus dark rum, mollasses, some brown sugar, maybe, but green hoppy feels as well...ripe, fresh, lovely, beautiful....so good!

Tastin' it: ...cola, cocoa...fierce carbonation....big, fat, outlandish Belgian yeast, the kind that I associate with cookie dough...more carbonic effervescencem and cola feel, mixed with pepper, anise, and other spices ...needs more yeast, though...full mouthfeel, practically inhabits all the rooms of the senses...but doesn't do what the Abbot 12 does, which is my disappointment....I want that and then some, not less than that...
not bad, but too carbonated, very flavorful, and yet not flavorful enough..I expected the Abbot 12 and then some, and I got something less...
a good beverage, warming, alcoholic, spicy, a blast of pepper and malt, and somehow not quite what I expected from St. BErnardus...a bit less, a wee bit....there;s burnished cherries, there's raisins, and dates, and more....

feloniousmonk, Dec 02, 2007
Photo of mendvicdog
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

mendvicdog, Dec 11, 2011
Photo of Rifugium
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
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.

Rifugium, Jan 09, 2013
Photo of mactrail
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Lovely dark brew in the tulip glass. Distinctive for the great sensual body and the big, sudsy mouthfeel.

Licorice and cherries come to mind immediately. It’s not overly sweet, though it’s hugely rich. Plenty of malt with shades of dark roasted barley and a deep, intriguing complexity. This one is on my list to try again, but I’m glad I was able to have the tap version.

Certainly one of the best Belgian beers I’ve had. On tap at Pizza Port in Ocean Beach. Transcribed from 12/12/12 tasting notes.

mactrail, Jan 20, 2013
Photo of beernads
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%

beernads, May 08, 2013
Photo of DrunkinYogi
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

DrunkinYogi, Aug 11, 2014
Photo of WesWes
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a cloudy brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich, roasted and crystal malt scent along with a fruity yeast aroma. It's warming to the nose with loads of fruity esters. The taste is good as well. It has a solid malt bill of crystal and roasted malts. It's complex with a warm fruity finish. The alcohol is right up front. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine seasonal. It's full flavored and warming; just what I want in the colder months of the year

WesWes, Dec 05, 2008
Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours brown with a beige head. Lots of extremely small, fine bubbles. The aroma is Belgian yeast as well as dark fruits and candi sugar. The taste pretty much follows the aroma, with lots of caramel malt. The overall flavor is pretty sweet and the alcohol is present and warming. Medium mouthfeel and highly carbonated.

Mora2000, Jan 01, 2010
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.

jwc215, Dec 28, 2008
Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 25, 2011
Photo of smcolw
3.58/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Massive 80% head in the glass. Settles steadily leaving spotty lace on the glass. Cloudy light brown color.

Sugar candy and alcohol are the dominant aromas. Mild hop in the background.

Creamy with a mild sweetness and the archetypical Belgian flavor from the yeast. Alcohol is potent and adds to the rich body. The swallow has a faint touch of hop, but it's a predominantly sour malt flavor. The aftertaste is brief.

smcolw, Dec 13, 2008
Photo of oriolesfan4
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

oriolesfan4, Nov 08, 2012
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best By 09/08/2012, Sampled December 2007
Served only lightly chilled, the beer is clearly well carbonated as even a reasonably careful pour produces a billowing, slightly over-flowing, initially seven-finger thick, lightly browned, tan colored head of foam that slowly recedes while leaving a delicate lacing pattern on the sides of my 30cl Tripel Karmeliet tulip. the beer sits in my glass a burnt, amber tinged, very dark brown color, but shows a brilliantly clear, dark ruby hue when held up to the light. In passing inspection of the nose, aromas of dark fruit and spices mix quite equally. A deeper draught of the nose reveals aromas of raisins, figs, concentrated plum, brown sugar, sweet cola, clove, touches of allspice, a hint of molasses, dark chocolate, light ginger or maybe really galangal and even some cardamom like notes. The aroma ends up being a bit more focused on the dark, caramelized fruit notes with just a backdrop of spice character that leaves no doubt that this is a Belgian yeast strain.

The carbonation provides a prickly, lightening effect to what is really a medium full beer. It does not drink as heavy as the 10% alcohol might suggest, but is certainly has that Belgian lightness that is in many of the better made strong beers from their. The beer is definitely sweet, which accentuates the quite noticeable dark fruit character; caramelized plums, figs, raisins and even some apple flavors are individually noticeable. The beer finishes with a mix of spiciness and warming alcohol that is a touch pepper-like, with some spicy ginger, toasty brandy & rum, and some turpene driven phenolic clove / cardamom notes. Bread like malt notes reminiscent of toasted bread, hints of browned-whole-grain bread, touches of rye, caramelized-dark German bread, biscuit malt and roasted / broiled / concentrated figs.

The second pour has just as voluminous a head as the first, and the beer, a little more chilled now, tastes even a bit lighter than it did initially. The ample carbonation focuses the flavors more on the peppery spice notes, while softening the rich fruitiness that is there after it has mellowed. This is certainly a contemplative brew; I could wish for a bit more malt complexity in the flavor (at times the alcohol and spiciness can be a little too much), but the nose really is quite intriguing. While I certainly enjoy the lightness / heft of this brew as is, it seems to be missing a bit of richness that could add a bit more balance (these are not necessarily opposing characters though as some richness could be added without making this beer feel heavier).

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson, AZ

Gueuzedude, Dec 02, 2007
Photo of GClarkage
3.7/5  rDev -12.5%
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.

GClarkage, Dec 28, 2008
Photo of Halcyondays
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

25.4 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark sepia brown, with a full, off-white/tan head, that stays robust throughout the whole glass, leaving excellent, thick lacing. A sight to behold.

S: Smells mainly of dark malt, sugar, molasses, and gingerbread.

T: The taste is a complex cornucopia of dark flavours. Heavy brown sugar is mixed with prune and fig, which in turn meets cinnamon, nutmeg, and all-spice to create a truly fantastic taste experience, one of the best BSDA's I have ever had. This was close, not quite a 5, if 4.75 was an option, I'd probably give it that, a fantastic flavour overall.

M: Thick and rich, smooth, phenolic, a great warming wintertime brew.

D: I think I have found the ultimate beer to pair with pumpkin pie in this one. Full of rich, complex, dark flavours, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is a world-class Yule beer made by one of the best producers in Belgium. I really liked this beer.

Halcyondays, Nov 17, 2007
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
95 out of 100 based on 1,526 ratings.