Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
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Ratings: 1,441 | Reviews: 576 | Display Reviews Only:
3.9/5 rDev -7.8%
750ml bottle poured into a large goblet shaped glass
Pours a pretty cloudy brown color, big coarse head and a LOT of active carbonation that sustains the head. Looks like the head is clinging pretty strongly, leaving some impressive lacing. Smell is spicy, I smell nutmeg and cinnamon mainly, I can smell dark fruits like plums and cherries. It smells very Belgian, which probably means I can really smell the yeast.
Taste is surprisingly not sweet. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, it's very strong, which means a lot of sugar must have fermented out. The dark fruits have a strong presence, as does the alcohol, the carbonation is so strong it comes out in the flavor as well. Aftertaste sweetens up a bit.
Mouthfeel is a difficult to describe combination of light and heavy...it's rather thick and sticky, but the carbonation makes it sort of seem lighter than it is. It's kind of nice. The strong taste and the strong alcohol make it not so easy to drink. It's a good and interesting beer, though.
11-29-2010 03:37:46 | More by snaotheus
3.53/5 rDev -16.5%
I like the normal St. Bernardus offerings, so I picked this up for the season and ended up drinking it on New Year's Day.
Pours a darker brown than their normal abt 12 and it has a massive tan head. After the head started taking over I had to lighten up on the pour a little. Pretty impressive for something this potent.
Smells chocolately, raisin-like, and boozy. There's a little bit of a floral hop presence, too. The Belgian yeast is in check a little bit, but it's there.
Tastes boozier than I expected. It also has a pretty sharp hop bite in the finish, too. Flavors are of roasted nuts, caramel, chocolate, and sugars. Nothing really unusual to be honest, but a standard dark Belgian ale with more alcohol burn and hops.
Mouthfeel's thick and chewy, but that's what a beer like this needs.
It took me about an hour and a half to finish my half of the bottle and when I was done, I was done for the evening. It's just a little too much considering I didn't find the flavor to be all that unique.
Not bad, but I'm not sure it's anything I'll pick up again unless it's on sale.
01-02-2008 15:28:07 | More by Domingo
4.83/5 rDev +14.2%
75cL bottle from The Lighthouse in Manchester, Maine. Pours a hazy but still translucent dark copper with a half inch of light tan head. Smells intensely fruity and spicy, with banana, nut, and chocolate notes. Tastes fruity, chocolatey, and spicy, with an underlying toastiness. Banana, nut, cherry, dates, and cloves all play nearly equal roles. On the heavier side of medium-bodied with ample carbonation. More of a sipper, though one sip most definitely invites another and this beer was gone long before I wanted it to be. Wow. Quite possibly the best beer this brewery makes, a phenomenal Christmas beer, and one of the most flavorful and complex beers I've had all year. Amazing!
12-09-2008 00:23:16 | More by MrHurmateeowish
3.68/5 rDev -13%
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.
01-15-2009 04:18:06 | More by jujubeast6000
4/5 rDev -5.4%
On-tap at Rustico for their Festivus Event.
A: Muddy brown pour with hints of orange. A finger or so of off-white head 4
S: Tons of Belgian yeast and candied sugar, mixed with Christmas ale spices 4
T: I'm impressed by how much this tastes like a Belgian instead of a Christmas ale. Very tasty with the spices stepped up a notch. Sweet and appropriately seasonal. 4
MF: Light to medium body with good carb. 4
O: I liked this, but it didn't overwhelm me. 4
12-21-2011 04:06:00 | More by russwbeck
4.75/5 rDev +12.3%
Poured a dark, dark mahogany into a chalice. Foamy off-white head was attractive and provided great lacing that stayed throughout the session.
On the nose, the banana is right up front, along with prune, fig, raisin, and apple pie spices.
The taste is characterized of ripe banana and dark fruits - including a little clove - that create a total flavor profile that's greater than the sum of its parts. Almost tastes like an intense fruitcake with booze added. Flavor has an overall aged sense to it. Definitely abbey like.
Mouthfeel is smooth with a crisp apple-like edginess.
When enjoyed slowly, its drinkability is great. Given that the bottle says you can age this for up to 15 years, I need to buy a handful of these now to save for the next Christmases.
12-05-2010 15:24:39 | More by jbertsch
4.08/5 rDev -3.5%
Poured from a 750 mL bottle into a St. Bernardus branded goblet.
The bottle creates a loud pop when I pull the cork, but it is no gusher. A burgundy brown colored beer is full and rich to the eye, with a full eggshell white head that is initially huge before settling down a little bit.
The aroma is full of plums, dates, and a bit of raisins. Holiday spices light up the nose as well. All of these aromas exist in front of a full caramel malt.
My first sip is quite sweet. Brown sugar, plums, dates, figs, and raisins are the most noticeable at first. The holiday spices from the nose come through as well; nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon all work well with the fruit notes. A bit of bread crusts and sweet caramel provide the malt presence. There is a bit of booze and light dry bitterness toward the end of the sip.
From the pop of the cork, it was obvious that this is a well-carbonated brew. It is a overly creamy carbonation with a little bit of a bubbly nature as well, as I am used to in the abbey ales. The flavor starts sweet and sticky and finishes with a light residue on the lips.
Overall I thought this was quite complex and enjoyable. Pretty much what I would expect out of St. Bernardus.
06-27-2013 00:51:02 | More by KickInTheChalice
District of Columbia
3.58/5 rDev -15.4%
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
11-17-2009 02:09:46 | More by bruachan
4.83/5 rDev +14.2%
Enjoyed on tap at the classic Crane Alley in Urbana, IL after finishing the Christmas shopping this afternoon.
One and one-half fingers of caramel-colored froth top a cloudy ruby-amber body; ample lacing on the St. Bernardus glass (yes, they have a few at Crane Alley), good duration, and lovely color give this a terrific appearance. Wonderful, fruity smells, vinous with some orange peel, some spice (cinnamon and ginger), and a bit of chocolate. Very sweet nose, very good.
Magnificent, smooth taste, heavy on the sweet fruit--maraschino cherries, grape, orange--but, from cranberry and dried fruit such as date and raisin emerging in the second half, with a distinctly sour finish that adroitly balances Christmas Ale and forestalls any cloying. Some semi-sweet chocolate peeks through the dense layers of fruit. Creamy smooth mouthfeel, making this all too easy on the palate. So impressive is how well the high ABV (10.0%) is masked. It was only in the second glass, which I immediately ordered after dousing the first, that I felt it and, by then, it was remarkably easy to accept.
Outstanding BSDA and winter beer, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale filled me with Christmas cheer all day long. What a tremendous find, and kudos to Crane Alley for finding a place for it in their typically stellar lineup of wares.
12-23-2010 23:48:00 | More by Gehrig
4.47/5 rDev +5.7%
Wow...now this is a f* Belgian Strong Dark Ale!!!
Pours a slightly hazy dark brown color with a full finger light tan head of tiny bubbles that resist fading. The smell is CLASSIC!! I mean 'I'm lov'in' the Belgian yeast, malty core with dark fruit, figs, NECCO chocolate and just the right amount of holiday spices.
Nicely carbonated, the mouth feel is complimented by the creaminess of the head and the figgy flavors. Full flavored, this is textbook to style...the Belgian malty fruit thing is center stage... the mouth feel is creamy and much heavier than your everyday abbey ale. The 10% ABV is well integrated. I personally HIGHLY RECOMMEND this one as part of your holiday festivities!! Another High Quality product from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV.
12-11-2008 20:25:03 | More by jjayjaye
4.25/5 rDev +0.5%
Drank from my Leffe Chalice.
A - A very nice head complemeted by a rich mahogany colour. The head is virtually the same for the entire beer.
S - Small amount of yeast and spice.
T - There is some spice and definitley some aniseed here. Lots of dark fruits that is followed by a boozey finish.
M - Medium to full body with medium carbonation and very very smooth.
D - Yet another top brew by St Bernardus, would go down well with christmas pudding.
12-13-2010 13:11:58 | More by eric5bellies
4.35/5 rDev +2.8%
Bottle into goblet.
Hazy medium brown, modest head fades fast and leaves film, spotty lacing. Red highlights.
Peach raisin and generally fruity esters. Spicy, anise perhaps. Heat, sweet and malty.
Candy sugar and malty sweetness, dark fruit, hint of hops, some booze. Very smooth and complex. Mostly balanced but a bit on the sweet side.
Medium carbonation, rich full texture, warming, very clean and smooth finish.
A bit too sweet to drink a whole lot of, but very rich and complex. Definitely a solid and genuine Belgian strong.
02-16-2009 04:09:33 | More by sprucetip
4.33/5 rDev +2.4%
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.
11-18-2009 21:42:22 | More by drtth
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,441 ratings.