Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,689 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,689
Reviews: 607
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.46%
Wants: 136
Gots: 259 | 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: 1,689 | Reviews: 607 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev -5.4%

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.

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

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

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.

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.

Photo of Gavage
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: brown in color with a 2" head that falls pretty quickly. Some spotty lace develops during the session.

Smell: big malt sweetness, brown sugars, and bits of spice.

Taste: huge malt profile, brown sugar, prunes, black plums, some softer spiciness, light alcohol, yeast, and a nice bitterness makes up a full flavored ale.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Lightly crisp to start, smooth at the finish. Relatively short aftertaste with this one.

Drinkability: this one goes down quickly despite the high alcohol levels. A few of these could be consumed in a session, but you will be feeling it quickly.

Photo of BlackHaddock
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At last I’ve had an on-tap Christmas Ale that I could review (the other times I’ve drank it I didn’t really have reviewing opportunities). This time however was different: the lovely Red Rose bar in Brugge being the venue. 33cl for Euro 4.00, worth every cent.

Poured into a St Bernardus goblet it looked the business in every way: Jet black with a deep beige crown of tight bubbles sat on top. The head stayed and gave waves of lacing as I wolfed the brew down.

The smell was of dark, rich, candied fruits with a good measure of caramel and malts thrown in.

The taste always blows me away, creamy, rich and hearty in every way, yet it’s so mellow the 10%ABV does not show at all; this is a dangerous brew and so, so easy on the palate it just slides down the throat at an alarming rate. A brew to savour, but very difficult not to quaff at pace and order another, and another, and another. Whatever spices they use just enhance the flavours from the mash tun and helps to turn the brew from excellent to superb.

A true classic and a beer I’ll never tire of drinking (if I’ve got the next day off).

Photo of orangesol
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of imperialking
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of yourefragile
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%

Photo of duceswild
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of corby112
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on-tap at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, PA.

Pours a dark ruby/ chestnut brown with thick, slightly beige head. Pleasant aroma consisting of cherries, dark fruits, chocolate, cinnamon spice and alcohol. Very smooth drinking and surprising amount of fruit. Cherries, plum, sugar cane, dark berries and peppery cinnamon taste. Dry finish with a nice alcohol warmth. A very nice balance of maltiness, spiciness, fruit and alcohol. Very tasty!

Photo of superspak
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into signature chalice; best before 7/24/2017. Pours lightly hazy very dark red color with a 1 finger foamy light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty foamy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big raisin, plum, fig, pear, light banana, brown sugar, molasses, toast, clove, pepper, brown bread, coriander, and yeast earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity/spicy esters with balanced malt sweetness; and good strength. Taste of raisin, plum, fig, pear, light banana, clove, pepper, toast, brown sugar, coriander, brown bread, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of dark fruits, banana, toast, brown sugar, clove, pepper, brown bread, coriander, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Fantastic balance and complexity of fruity/spicy yeast ester flavors with dark malt sweetness; with zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a slick, crisp, and moderately prickly mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a highly excellent Belgian strong dark ale! Great balance and complexity of fruity/spicy esters with malt sweetness; and very smooth and crisp to sip on for 10%. A highly enjoyable offering.

Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The cork flew out of the top as I was on my last twist of the cage. Thank goodness it only left a small battle scar in TomDecapolis' ceiling...
Appears a hazy dark amber with a soapy head of light tan foam that slowly fades out. Spotty lacing clings to the sides of the glass.
Smell is of raisins, plums, cocoa, anise, nutmeg, caramel, and brown sugar.
Taste echoes the aromas with the trademark Saint Bernie yeast pulling through with a touch of holiday spicing to make it complete.
Mouthfeel is medium full and lingering of raisins, fig newtons, fennel, sweet nougat, caramel, and pine needels.

Photo of Billolick
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber, caged and corked, best before date etched on the bottom of the bottle (sometime in 2012) Pours dark dark brown, initially under a huge head, that slowly recedes , leaving gobs of heavy lace all over the glass. Cola and raisin nose, prickly carbonation, lots of character and cola, dark fruits, yeasty goodness and alcohol all swimming around. Let it warm up, let the flavors open up and savor this flavorful Belgian beauty

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One of the nicest Christmas beers I had this year. I'm really glad that St. Bernardus decided to make and bottle this brew. It is still a little sharp, I think a little time in the bottle will smooth out the edges. Nevertheless, it is still delicious now. Pours a beautiful dark brown with a batter like head- big, thick, and creamy and which leaves excellent lacing. Aromas of sweet malt, banana, alcohol, and cookie dough. Well carbonated with flavors of pffefernuse- black pepper, clove, cinnamon, coriander, and cookie dough. Not overly sweet, in fact there is a dry somewhat astringent bitterness throughout that nicely offsets the spice cookie flavors. Delicious! Mouthfeel is carbonated, full, spicy, and creamy. Drinkability should improve with a few more months in the cellar. A great addition to the Belgian winter repertoire.

Photo of tempest
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Farmhouse in Emmaus, PA. Overall, this is a pretty good Belgian, but it's not as complex at the Abt 12. It actually reminds me of Chimay Blue more than Bernardus 12. The flavor comes off like a cinnamon spice caramel apple with toasted toffee and sweet bread. Delicious, but it doesn't reach the depths of a great strong dark ale. Still very easy to drink. Worth a try.

Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy dark amber color with a dirty white head and good carbonation. Nose is malt, yeast, driedf fruits, spiciness and candy. Taste was of malt, caramel and candy with the added spice. Finish was nice, not as boozy as the 10% ABV leads you to believe. Good brew overall.

Photo of ejimhof
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of mdaschaf
4.24/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a rather dark brown color with a very large foamy tan colored head. Great head retention with foamy lacing all around the glass.

S: Very complex and rich. Lots of dark fruit, raisins and figs, with some caramel, brown sugar, toffee, and a candy sweetness.

T: Very nice flavor profile, more dark fruit that lasts throughout, more raisins, plums, and a little cherry. The back end is filled with some caramel, brown sugar, and a slight sweetness. A little bit of doughy malt in the middle and a bit of Belgian yeast.

M: Medium to full bodied with a nice level of carbonation.

O: Another fantastic beer from St. Bernardus, deep and complex. A great beer to sip over a long evening.

Photo of DoubleJ
3.7/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's time I pop a magnum of fine Belgian beer. On to the beer:

Very bubbly head on top....very heady. The color is dark rbuy brown with some hues of red mixed with the main color. Head retention is very good, and it settles to a creamy lace that's simply attractive to the eye. There's medium firepower in the aroma, yet seems delicate at the same time. Figs, dates, apples, plums....it's good.

The first thing I taste are figs. After that, I can't taste a whole lot. There's a fair touch of alcohol felt in the beer, even if it is 10% ABV. More figs come out of the dark. There's isn't much in the way of other flavor. Ok, there's some pepper. It's light in the way of those famous dark fruits found in dark colored Belgian beer. Things slowly balance out as it warms, with more maltiness and less spice. On the spot in mouthfeel.

A little too one sided at first, but as it warms, things get better. Still, I'll take an Abt. 12 for Christmas instead of the Chrsitmas beer, how's that for irony?

Photo of BARFLYB
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On Tap at Monk's

A- Christmas ale in the tulip holds a very dark brown hue but is slick looking in the liquid. The head is nice and tight with a cinnamon color to it leaving lines of lace.

S- Loads of sweet malt with a nice spicy under lay which come up more with warming. Also getting a lot of dark fruit of many varieties. Some chocolate and caramel remain at a distance. Belgian yeast with a bunch of warming.

T- This is in my top three for christmas ales, a style im not crazy about, but I always seem to go for this one. It's probably because it does not remind me of christmas offerings that much Chocolate, malt sweetners, Belgian candi yeast, alot of dark fruit especially cherry and plum. Some raisins and a bunch of spices str8 off the rack. Now what make's it so special, well it's the balance of these ingredients, it's level. The spices do not get in the way as many winter beers do, here they dance with the other flavors.

M- Silky, smooth, rich, to die for. Another thing that's great about this offering is the absence of alcohol, it's no where in sight. A big above medium bodied with light but bright carb. This one's a winner, it goes down so, so, so easy. This is not a chore in any way.

D- This is a easy one to drink quick. I could do a whole bottle easily and in fact i will because the way my life's been going recently I need to be drunk more, the 10% helps. Im thinking BSDA with a winter warmer twist. This could be my favorite offering from bernardus, either this or the 12, may have to compare.

Photo of akorsak
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A 750 mL corked and caged bottle purchased at State Line.

A: The ale opened with a great pop and build-up of head in the glass. The first pour resulted in 2 fingers of beer and 4 fingers of head. As it receded, the lacing was minimal, focused at the base of the beer and the mouth of the glass. The ale is a hazy amber color, more orange at the base and brown at the mouth.

S: The nose has a strong cinnamon and nutmeg nose, touched by brown sugar and St. Berny's distinctive yeast. The nose is full and warming.

T: The first sip is heavy on boozy warmth, good for a cold Christmas eve. The overcarbonation in the pour has left the body somewhat flat and complacent. Dark candi sugars and yeasty fruit flavors mix nicely, sweet with raisins, apples, cinnamon and a touch of hoppy bitterness. The spice profile has the versatility to hang with a wassail. This, foreseeably, could even be mulled for a real warming treat.

M: The ale does not disappoint, lots of flavor is packed into the 750 mL packaging. The body is very similar to the Abt ale, which is a proven winner.

D: The abv is high but the flavor profile makes up for it. I only bought one bottle, so I will have to sit patiently until next Christmas.

Photo of afsdan
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,689 ratings.