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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

627 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 627
Hads: 1,875
Avg: 4.19
pDev: 16.23%
Wants: 157
Gots: 320 | 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: 627 | Hads: 1,875
Photo of BamaBeerBuff
3.75/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at the Brickstore Pub on 12/6/08. Served in a St. Bernardus chalice.

A: A deep brown with ruby/violet highlights. The head is thick and creamy, almost like a nitro-stout. Retention is good, but not as nice as the Abt 12. Thick sheets of lace on the goblet are welcome.

S: Initially, a spiced aroma (cinnamon and clove). With time and warming, candied dark fruit (cherry, plum, raisin) becomes more apparent. Also, a strong apple aroma emerges with swirling.

T&M: Yeasty, fruity, and spiced. The alcohol is prominent and a bit distracting. Dark fruit flavors and winter spice are most prevalent in the flavor. Body is full with a refined carbonation that tingles the tongue. Nice mouthfeel.

D: It was rather difficult for me to down my chalice-full of this beer. This beer is 10% ABV and doesn't hide it in the least. The heat from the alcohol makes it difficult to drink and detracts from some of the flavors that otherwise may emerge. I sampled on-tap, but I think getting a bottle of this and sitting on it for a year may do it some good.

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Photo of Vengeance526
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark ruby brown color with a 1 finger tan head that quickly settles and leaves a moderate amount of sticky lacing.

Strong aroma of fruits and spices all around. Noticeable amounts of plum with cinnamon and nutmeg upfront.

Taste strongly mirrors the smell with lots of plum and raisin upfront along with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in the middle and a sweet yeasty finish.

Full bodied with a smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this one plays out very much like the Abt 12 but with a more noticeable spice presence. Very enjoyable and a great Christmas treat.

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Photo of Converge
4.11/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a 22oz goblet. This review was originally planned for yesterday, but long story short, it just didn't fit in. So, here we go! Bought the bottle in mid-August, so it's had a bit of time to mature.

A - Nice thick and creamy head. Deep garnet hue, with moderate sediment haze going on. Unrelenting head retention that leaves behind thick webs of sticky lacing.

S - Figs, plums, candi sugar, Belgian spices and yeast. Traces of dark chocolate, dates, and dried bananas.

T - Dark fruits, candi sugar, and Belgian yeast. Figs, dates, Belgian spices, and caramel malt. Finishes with some dark chocolate and green apple sourness. Little bits of brown sugar and dried cherries appear as well, but remain fairly muted. Light hop presence in the finish, but not nearly as much as other reviews hinted at. Alcohol presence is minimal.

M - Creamy smooth carbonation with a medium-to-big bodied feel. Fits well with the flavor profile.

D - My first BSDA, and a solid one at that. Doesn't exactly show off a whole lot of seasonal flavors, but I enjoyed it a lot overall. Sort of reminded of the Abt 12, but I liked this one a bit more. Nice and easy to drink, but the 10% ABV is disguised way too well; this one will certainly sneak up on you!

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Photo of BeerDocT
4.04/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many thanks to Minks Beverages on Delk Rd. in ATL for saving me a few bottles of this.

Poured into my old reliable La Trappe goblet, "Le Belgianator."

Appearance 4.0: Poured out a murky, chocolatey brown. Completely opaque, but as the glass lowered, it became translucent. Go figure. Nice 1/2" head slowly faded away to nice foam on top. Decent lacing.

Smell 3.75: Bouquet is very subdued on this brew. The nose became more pronounced as the beer warmed, but still quite subdued. What I do smell is nice: smoked grains, big malt... . Shame there isn't more of it.

Taste 4.25: Front is sweet and spicy, with hints of anise and a slight sourness. Middle is lovely: top of the palate and a perfect blend of sweet and slightly sour with a hint of smokiness and some nice dried dark fruits. Finish is actually somewhat dry...to begin with. Then you are hit with a subdued and wonderfully balanced taste of cloves, cardamon and a very tasty Belgian yeast. Finish is short except in the very top of the palate where you can still detect a certain lovely maltiness for minutes after each lovely gulp.

Mouthfeel 4.0: Mouthfeel definitely enhances the taste of this delicious seasonal.

Overall 4.0: Just an outstanding seasonal brew. Balanced, smooth and dangerously sessionable at its entirely undetectable 9.0%+ ABV, this is a present I want under my tree every year. I know that some purists out there may complain about "Specialty Market" this and that, but if every specialty beer could turn out like this one...wow. All I have to say is, "Vive le marché spécial!!!" Also...why is this not classified as a "Belgian Strong Dark"? Seriously, get it right, folks.

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Photo of ianjsullivan
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ST: 750 poured into a Tulip glass

A: A nice, thick, yellow, brown foam sits on top of a chestnut brown with hints of red. It is cloudy when held to the light. The head leaves some lacing.

S: Yeast, clove, and raisin dominate.

T: Fruity and sweet, it has slight bread upfront, some clove, and then raisins. The finish is dry and has a bit of plum, some mild alcohol, and spice. This is a very balanced beer; it is hard to believe it has 10 perfect alcohol.

M: Creamy and medium bodied.

D: Since it is smooth, and the finish is dry, the beer is balanced.

Overall: What a beer. It has lots of complex flavors, but, more importantly, it has restraint. Like any good Belgian beer, it has elegance. At 10 percent, it puts some warmth in your cheeks. It is without a doubt a great beer for the season.

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Photo of curasowa
4.54/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Hazy, dark red color with two fingers of light tan head that fades very slowly with a thick curtain of lace.

Aroma: Lots of ripe fruit, mostly cherry and raisin over toasted malt. Faint hints of yeast and lemon mix in here and there.

Taste: Full bodied and creamy up front with lots of malt sweetness, along with some sticky, candy-syrup sweetness. A surprising amount of carbonation lightens things up in the middle, where some of the fruit notes show up along with some molasses and that wonderful Belgian yeastiness. A little bit of boozyness on the way out, but otherwise a lingering, slightly bready finish.

The Rest: Fantastic. A terrific Quad with big, bold flavors yet with layers of subtlety.

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

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. 750ml. Dec. 2009 vintage

Rich reddish-brown color with a 1 finger tan head. Cloudy body with some sediment. Mild carbonation, mediocre lacing.

Raisins and figs were prominent. Brown sugar, spices and a malty backbone were also there.

Deep malty flavor, with raisins being prominent. Other fruity flavors (figs and pears maybe) were present. There was some alcohol burn, but altogether I didn't find it disturbing in the least. Semi-sweet finish.

Mouthfeel & Drinkability:
Smooth, dry, well carbonated and a medium body. Great drinkability. When served at around 55 degrees, you get a lot of complexity that isn't present at colder temperatures. As it warmed, I really started to enjoy and appreciate it more. The raisin flavor really opens up as the temperature rises.

Notes: I noticed many comments saying that there is not much flavor to the Christmas Ale. I disagree. It is very flavorful, if a little one-sided (in the raisin and fruity aspects). Perhaps they didn't let it warm...

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Photo of Vixie
3.53/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark ruby red color. Looks black at first, but when held to the light, it is deep red. Forms a very large tan head, pour this one carefully, or you will overflow your glass with foam.

The smell is very malty, but I can detect some spice as well. Pepper, licorice, and cinnamon come to mind as I'm smelling it.

Fruity with a hint of spice. Raisin and a bit of cinnamon apple, with a bit of pepper behind it. There is some nice alcohol warming at the finish.

The feel seems a bit weak for the style, I was expecting a bit more presence.

A decent beer, but not as complex as I was expecting. I have had several beers of this style, and it doesn't quite match up to the best of them. Still, it is a nice beer to drink on a cold night, and glad I tried it.

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Photo of whoneeds8
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a murky brown into a Westmalle Chalace. Very good lacing all the way down the glass. Smell was very typical of a Bernardus Dark Ale. Taste was very complex, however I didn't like the initial mouthfeel of high carbonation. It was ticking my taste buds too much. It mellowed after sitting for a little while.

I might go buy another bottle to let age in the cellar to find out how well this ages for next year.

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Photo of AmericanGothic
4.36/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a corked and caged 750 ml bottle into a Unibroue tulip.

A: Pours a cloudy, medium brown color with two fingers of billowy, pale tan head. Exceptional retention and lace, vigorous carbonation.

S: Sweet, stewed figs and cherries, cinnamon and cardamom.

T: Much like the smell, except more intense. Spicy figs and cherries, also a little banana and prune. Sweetness is fairly low but not absent. Peppery spice floats over the other flavors and gives them something to play off of. As the beer warms, cinnamon and brown sugar joins the flavor profile. Still later, some dark berry notes. Very complex.

M: Full bodied, but the carbonation keeps it afloat. Faintly astringent.

O: This is a very tasty beer. The most interesting thing is the way the fruity and peppery esters separate from each other, makes for a very pleasant beer. I will need to have this again before the holidays are through, probably more than once.

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

St. Bernardus Christmas pours a deep burgundy brown with a generous ecru head of creamy foam which leaves nice sheets of sticky lacing.

The aroma has a nice spicy yeast scent bound in dark malty fruits... raisins, plums, apricots and also brandied pears.

The taste has a nice spiciness to it, cloves and cardamon with a full dark fruit flavor including dark cherries, grapes, plums and their dried counterparts raisins and prunes. Orchard fruits also make an appearance like sun warmed ripe pears. Alcohol is nicely integrated in the matrix of complex fruit flavors and is noticed mostly as a pleasant warmness. The finish is dryer than expected given the strong sweetish fruit and malt flavors.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, medium and creamy, slightly chalky and finishes smooth.

This is a very tasty Holiday treat that I can easily look forward to every year. It is a slow drinking beer but savoring it's complex flavors is no problem! Every Belgian beer I try just leads me want to try another.

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Photo of bosco7
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big frothy head sits a top a dark brown beer. Head retention is superb.

Cola, apple, cherry, almond, acetic, spicy phenolics, and cocoa powder in the nose.

Tastes much better than it smells. I was a little worried that this would be thin and cola-ish. Starts big and full of toffee flavors then moves into chocolate, cherry, almond, cola, roasted malt, macerated plum, vanilla, and baked raisin (think the raisins in an oatmeal raisin cookie that get a little crunchy). Black pepper, nutmeg, and more almond in the finish. Hop character is earthy.

Carbonation is high but with a couple swirls it becomes less prickly and lets the body of the beer shine. This was quite the treat. So complex and drinkable: a perfect winter companion.

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Photo of BeRanger
3.27/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours kind of a murky brown with about 2-3 fingers of white head that stayed for quite some time.

S - The smell was nice, plentiful spices and yeast. Seemed rich of cinnamon, plum and other sweet smells.

T - Taste the cinnamon, plums and other spices/sweet flavors. Unfortunately for me the taste was ruined by the extremely high carbonation. It was too much to handle.

M - Medium body with extremely high carbonation.

O - I was pretty disappointed with this bottle as I felt the carbonation was extremely high compared to what it should be. I have one more bottle in my cellar that I hope to enjoy sometime in the near future. If it's less carbonated, I intend to possibly change the review. I liked the flavors that were coming through however.

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Photo of gueuzeonhigh
3.65/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

As soon as I saw "Christmas Ale" on the label I expected beer as a mulled wine wannabe.
But to my surprise! Poured into my bar glass with an effervescent and lively head that refused to settle. It fought the walls of my glass as it succumbed to the inevitable forces of gravity. Looked all the world like unfiltered apple cider. A nice bucolic nose-- yeast, the grain harvest and some citrus zest thrown in for good measure.

At first I thought the mouthfeel was thin-- along with the flavor, but the more of this libation I consume the more I realize that this Belgian dark ale does indeed have the characteristic of many fine beers of the same style that I've sampled. There's a tartness, a biting edge that keeps the tanking session interesting-- I notice I'm licking my chops for the next sip. There's that tang of the citrus zest that I noted in the nose, the fine bitter hops, I swear I taste green apples, and some hints of spices-- even some coriander-- maybe, perhaps? But I think this is a pure beer-- no "improvements" added beyond the tried and true tradition of the brewing art.

This beer is worth your effort to find and the cost-- the 10% ABV will surely inflate the price per bottle.

One other thing-- it's not just for the Yuletide season-- I've put a few bottles in the cellar.
Come mid summer on a cool evening this should be a genuine treat!

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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 TBoneJones
4.36/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours deep and dark, with cherry brown mahogany highlights when held in light. Beautiful-looking ale, with a perfectly thick off-white head.
Smells like light banana esters, malt, spice, some fig and sweet bread.
First taste I can tell this is an ongoing complexity. Raisin, bread pudding and sweet dark fruit (date/ raisin), nutty and with nutmeg, some peppering, with a long burning finish. Pretty well carbonated. This sipper was a great choice for a Christmas beer. Complex, strong, nice seasonal flavoring. Would recommend to anyone, especially those who enjoy Abby beers..to try Christmastime or anytime during the winter.

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

750 mL bottle poured into a Chimay goblet.
Best by 07/08/2012. 2007 vintage?

Pours a deep orange-tinted chestnut brown, murky and flecked with sediment, even after a gentle pour. Topped by a large and growing foamy ecru head, also flecked with sediment. Multiple rings of lacing left behind.

Rich and spicy nose, bit on yeasty fruit. Aromas of green apples, nutmeg, unripe pears, green bananas, faintly, a touch of candied nuts, and just a whiff of alcohol. Rich and dense and packed, but somehow remains subtle-ish.

On the palate this beer proves to be a continuation of the nose broadly, though some of the specifics differ. Apple note takes on the characteristics of a spiced, aged cider, but still shows some green apple tartness. There's a touch of bright citrus right up front that's gone almost as soon as it appears. More nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon, which seems to bring with it a powdery texture (a phenomenon I've found often with beers that taste like cinnamon). Quite big and strong and just a little rough around the edges. Fades smoothly and quite quickly into mild toasted malt and a lingering spicy nuttiness.

Lots of small bubbles of carbonation that turn out prickly and somewhat unpleasant. Medium-full bodied, somewhat firm. Very tasty, but unfortunately not a beer style that I seem to like.

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Photo of pants678
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A hazy, deep, opaque amber with a solid beige foam.

Sweet yeast, chocolate, tinge of pine.

Well hopped cherries with a mix of spices and molasses. The finish of gingerbread which gives the sort of Christmas feel. The body, though, is a bread with figs or grapes and brown sugar. Bit too sweet, but the finish counter acts

Surprising I finished in a single sitting. Medium body that hides the 10%.

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Photo of caddybuyer
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a caged and corked 750 on Christmas afternoon at cellar temperature. I bought this bottle last year so there is at least a year of age in this one. Looking forward to trying it.

A real foamer, this bottle.

A-Deep garnet brown with ruby highlights when held to light. Moderate clarity with a fair amount of sediment. Rocky, creamy tan head that doesn't budge even a few minutes after pouring. Amazing this head. Like whipped cream.

S-Sweet malts and dark fruits. Not a terribly pungent nose, but what I am getting is very aromatic. Hints of chocolate, and candied fruits underscored by Belgian yeast.

T-Dark fruits, marachino cherries, sweet malty yeast, and warming alcohol. I have not had a regular Abt 12 in a long time, but not sure how different this is than that. I don't recall the sweet dark cherry flavor that pervades this beer, so I'd say this holiday offering is a bit different. I'm liking it a bit better as well, but I'm a sucker for flavorful holiday brews. No holiday spices of note here, maybe just a hint of cinnamon. Call this liquid rum soaked fruitcake. YUM!

M-Creamy, silky smooth, a bit sticky, this is the perfect mouthfeel without being overpowered by efferevescence as so many of these Belgians tend to be. Spot on.

D-Drinkability? Well, I cracked this 750, and I'm damn well going to finish up this fine brew, but this one is a treat to be savored.

This is the first time I have ever tried this. Bought another earlier in this season to age for next year, now I am interested in cracking it open to see how it compares to the aged version. For some reason, these go on deep discount after Santa arrives. Heading to the beer store tomorrow to see what is left.

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Photo of TrappistJohnMD
4.22/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark red-brown with one fingered off-white head in St. Bernardus chalice. Good lacing along sides of glass.

Smell is characteristically Belgian. Lots of banana, clove and other ripe fruits.

Taste is heavy with banana, clove, plums and other ripe fruits. Light bitterness in the finish to balance it out. Very nice.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with heavy carbonation.

Overall this was excellent. Merry Crimus!!

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Photo of searsclone
4.04/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had to use a corkscrew to get the bottle open, date on bottom of bottle is 19/08/12, reviewed in late January 2011. Poured into 2 New Belgium globe glasses. A ridiculous amount of tan head. Copper golden color with a huge amount of sediment. You can really tell that this one is alive.

Smells like raisins and brown sugar, and as it warms, fruitcake.

Taste of raisins, fruit, burnt sugar, burnt apricots and a vanilla finish. Alcohol is well hidden. As it warms, and I read some of the other reviews, I get a bit of a tobacco finish. Also, something that I can't figure out, maybe smoke or burnt toast?

Mouthfeel is lighter and cleaner than expected.

The 75 cl bottle is perfect size for two people.

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Photo of crnipeter
3.12/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sybaritic monk with Santa's cap smiles from the label inviting you to join him so why not listen to his call? 750 ml into Rochefort chalice.

Coppery brown with light tan head that quickly dissipates. Not impressed.
I'd expected a quad enhanced with spices but I was wrong. This beer should be labeled x-mas Grottenbier as the aroma profile strongly resembles that of a grotten: Unascertainable spices blended with sweet cocoa and alcohol, lots of alcohol. Flavors correspond to the aromas with addition of slightly hoppy finish. Alcohol is overpowering. I could swear this is merely an alcoholic build-up of a Grottenbier. Prickly on the palate with more body and not as dry as its less potent brother. I've been deluded by the smiling monk.
Sint Bernardus is one of my favorite breweries for its Pater (6), Prior (8) and Abott (12) line. However, those beers are legacy of tight cooperation between the brewery and local monastery and could be classified as descendants of Westvleteren. Unfortunately the rest of Bernardus offerings does not meet the high standards set by the pious brothers 6,8 and 12.

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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 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 MartzMimic
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at McNellie's OKC. Pours a reddish brown with a fantastically creamy head that hangs around for a long time. Thick, substantial lacing on the glass. It's a bit cold, and I imagine the temperature is keeping the aroma subdued. There's some breadiness and a bit of spice. Lots of dark fruit and spices on the tongue, much like a fruitcake. Sweet toffee on the end, but not a huge aftertaste. It's very creamy, but not overly thick. This is one of the better Christmas beers that I've tried, and I'll certainly choose this one again.

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