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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Christmas AleChristmas Ale

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

1,384 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1384
Reviews: 574
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%


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)
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Ratings: 1,384 | Reviews: 574 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of FosterJM
FosterJM

California

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

966th Review on BA
Bottle to Wine Glass
750 Ml C/C

2011

Shared with friends at our 2nd annual Way before Xmas, Xmas dinner

Purchased at Bevmo Chino Hills

App- A lighter caramel brown with a very fast receding one finger head. White in color with a good bit of a pond layer. Zero cling however. A bit lacking in the normal BSDA.

Smell- A huge amount of Belgian Yeast with a lot of aromatics. Rich pine, citrus, fruits and vanilla. A little all over the place but very complex and layered.

Taste- This smelled almost the exact opposite as it tasted. It tasted like Christmas with more richness, more pine more layers and a bit more complex than I was thinking. It still was a BSDA with a yeasty note and a good bit of malts but had a bit more fruit than the standard 12 did.
I like the little bit of dryness on the last part of the tounge. A nice note of complexity.

Mouth- A medium body with a good bit of bubbles behind and and a lot of some yeast. I like the feel on this one.

Drink- I really liked this beer. It was a good way to end the evening with friends for a Xmas party in the beginning of Dec. I would/should go get another bottle of this one to age till next year.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2011 05:08:31 | More by FosterJM
Photo of Jwale73
Jwale73

Rhode Island

4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've been waiting to try this beer for a while but got totally shut out last year. 750ml corked and caged bottle served in my St. Bernardus chalice. Be careful opening this one - once I removed the cage the cork fired like a shotgun blast and ricocheted off the ceiling. Pours a deep plum color with a slightly hazy clarity. Head starts off as a fluffy, two inch, cream-colored cloud of foam. As the head recedes into a quarter inch cap, delicate, textured spots and strands of lacing are revealed and exhibit excellent adhesion. This beer looks exquisite in its proper glassware. Nose expresses dark fruits with a slightly vinous character, Belgian yeast and some nutty notes (perhaps hazelnut). Taste follows nose - flavor profile is pretty standard for the style in my opinion; however, there's a trace of ethanol that overshadows things a bit, making it difficult to tease out the subtleties. I also get a little wet cardboard towards the finish, but it dissipates quickly. Mouthfeel is light-medium with a slightly prickly carbonation, as well as a bit of gassiness. Overall, a very solid Belgian Strong Dark; however, perhaps a little young. I would probably sit on this vintage for a couple more years.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2011 01:14:55 | More by Jwale73
Photo of alexgash
alexgash

Connecticut

4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, corked and caged.

Dark ruby-tinged maple syrup. Finger of creamy, light khaki head, with okay lacing. Big, rich, rummy fruits on the nose. Pears, fruit cocktail, scorched sugar, raisins, cola, Concord grapes, and perhaps some yeasty sweetbread. Nice, complex, and inviting.

Flash of toasted malt up front. Estery fruit follows and is quickly joined by a huge swell of sweet, fruity, caramely malts. Sweet Concord grapes blend with sugar-coated raisins, perfectly ripe Bartlett pears, brown sugar, and caramel. Sweet cake batter, toasted nuts, and even a little cocoa lead into the finish. Lingering rummy fruits swell once again in the finish. There's also some yeastiness and a cocoa nib and herbal hop bitterness. Warming. Full-bodied with a thick, gently carbonated feel. Very nice, especially on this 10 degree F night!

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2009 01:24:46 | More by alexgash
Photo of GClarkage
GClarkage

California

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.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2008 05:42:40 | More by GClarkage
Photo of tdm168
tdm168

North Carolina

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

A - dark amber with a big, white head that has great retention

S - baked apples, some spices, cinnamon, Belgian yeast

T - baked apples, caramel, faint cinnamon, spices

M - medium to full bodied, smooth, well carbonated

This is a nice, malty beer where the yeast does a great job imparting spice and character. The ABV was well hidden, there was great balance and drinkability, and it has a solid all around flavor profile. This is definitely a winter beer worth checking out.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2013 22:59:18 | More by tdm168
Photo of ArrogantB
ArrogantB

Colorado

3.25/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Christmas Eve seemed an appropriate time top open this beer. It was very dark brown with a white head and the bubbles seemed really compacted together. It smelled like slight herbal mints, whiff of chocolate (barely detectable), and raisins. The flavor was raisin and plum-like. Decent stuff but the 10.5 ABV knocked me down.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2007 17:40:07 | More by ArrogantB
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
JoeyBeerBelly

New York

4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

75cl e bottle served in a chalice.

L - hazy brown color with a creamy beige head that left some thick globs of foam around the glass.

S - tart plums, sour purple grapes.

T - tart dark fruits with Belgian yeast finishing tart and dry.

F - medium bodied with a creamy feel.

D - good drinkability.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2010 05:42:53 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of rudzud
rudzud

Massachusetts

4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the Armsby Abbey's yearly Belgian Christmas on 12/15.

*Note: This is a 2007 vintage*

A - Poured into a goblet this has a nice mahogany, cloudy pour with one of the most impressive heads I've ever seen. This 1 finger of big bubble head hung around for the duration of the ale leaving massive, clumpy side lacing. I'ver never seen bubbles of this size before in my brew, its insane!

S - Yeasty dough with raisins and dark fruit. Light aromas, yet what coems through is heavy.

T - Big raisin notes on this along with maybe some cherries too. So mellow and smooth thanks to the aging. There are some subdued carmel and malt flavours that are really pleasant.

M - Low carbonation due to age which is understandable. Not too heavy but it is syrupy.

D - Smooth, solid flavours with a great appearance. The appearance of this really sealed the deal for me. Such a gorgeous ale.

Serving type: on-tap

12-16-2010 20:51:40 | More by rudzud
Photo of puboflyons
puboflyons

New Hampshire

4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the corked, caged 750 ml. bottle. Sampled on December 6, 2013.

It has a brown-ruby red with decent clarity and a fluffy, long-lasting beige head.

Loads of character on the aroma including bready roasted malts, dark fruit, mild spice, Belgian sugar, and a touch of alcohol.

The body falls into the medium range. It starts light but seems to get heavier.

Like the aroma, the taste is alive with toasty malts, dark fruit, molasses, and raisins but it ends with a big lingering hop bite at the finish. Some alcohol burn.

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2013 03:41:49 | More by puboflyons
Photo of mynie
mynie

Indiana

4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours uncontrollably fizzy in a not very nice way. It's good looking once it settles, but that takes too damn long.

Smells of strong, wonderful fruit esters with big nodes of bananas and peppers along with plums, pears, and gigantic yeasty cloves. Very nice.

Tastes like it smells only good god it is as smooth as red velvet cake. Caramel gets overtaken by fruit, which gets overtaken by spice, which gets overtaken by boozy burn, and then everything ends on more spice, but then, even after that, there lingers silky smooth fruit with more bananas and the burn, holy heaven above the burn does not abate.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2011 07:02:35 | More by mynie
Photo of lordofthewiens
lordofthewiens

Maine

4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 750ml bottle poured into a goblet. Medium brown color with red highlights. A very thick tan head, almost the appearance of whipped cream. Nice aroma of dark fruit and some sugar. Similar taste, but there was also a pronounced spiciness that lingered really well. A great after dinner sipping beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2007 22:15:27 | More by lordofthewiens
Photo of CrazyDavros
CrazyDavros

Australia

4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours hazy brown with a small head.
Nose shows doughy yeast, golden syrup, caramel, figs, raisins, cinnamon and a little alcohol. Pretty much Christmas pudding in a glass.
Similarly rich and sweet flavours, the alcohol is a little too much but otherwise very nice.
Carbonation seems a little too high for these flavours.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2011 02:40:45 | More by CrazyDavros
Photo of clayrock81
clayrock81

Virginia

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

Poured into a goblet for a well carbonated brown body with lasting tan head and bubbly lace. A great yeasty smell along with some sweet caramel malt and minor citric hop bitterness along with orange. Real smooth, a little creamy, medium-bodied with a little bit of oakiness along with minor pepper and spices. Hints of vanilla and chocolate along with caramel give it a balanced sweetness and there is a good fruit base with orange and pear and a little citric notes. Has a dry yet clean finish and the ABV is well hidden. A very enjoyable ale to relax with and sip on.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2009 15:46:38 | More by clayrock81
Photo of Suds
Suds

Pennsylvania

4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer is uncorked with a resounding 'pop'. It pours a deep, clear, rich, not-quite-crimson red color. The head is towering, firm, and light tan in hue. Nice, big, malt aromas are front and center. Healthy doses of alcohol, dark fruit, and phenols key to the smell as well. The taste is surprisingly smooth, with a serious fullness for the high carbonation levels. Not quite as dry as I expected. The taste is heavy on the malt and fruit character. All in all, this is a fantastic beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2010 01:34:34 | More by Suds
Photo of Durge
Durge

Connecticut

3.7/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A murky mahogany color with an island of wispy off-white fizz on top and decent traces of lace. The aroma offers delicate malt and hints of apple and maybe even a touch of clove. Weaker than I expected but it comes through if you give it a chance. The flavor commands an unusual fruit melange that includes cotton candy mango and grapefruit. Quite odd. At once interestingly nice but then a bit off-putting. Caramel malt is definitely there but the odd fermenting fruit flavors take over and it's attention getting. There's some cinnamon and grassy grain apple to top off this interesting brew. Alcohol is not overly notable but it's a little warming. The body is easily medium with a good fizzy carbonation that gives it a slightly lighter feel for the style. Worth a try but not a real wow for me.

Serving type: on-tap

01-29-2014 04:15:11 | More by Durge
Photo of merlin48
merlin48

Kentucky

4.63/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Corked and caged bottle found at Pappy's Beer Store out in the middle of nowhere a couple miles north of Cumberland Gap. Served slightly chilled into a St Bernardus goblet. Pours a clear, but dark, chestnut body that has an exceptional ruby glow when held to light. Beige head retains very well and leaves some classical sheet lacing.

Aroma hints at the bountiful Belgian flavors to follow. Lots of dark fruits, bubblegum, Belgian yeasties,and a plethora of malty attributes that include caramel and milk chocolate. A hint of tart cherries underneath.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, satiny and full bodied with a moderate carbonation.

Taste seems to be dominated by dark fruits. Lots of dates, figs, and raisins. Plenty of caramel notes. Bubblegum and Belgian yeast notes. Damn! What an expressive malt base-teasing with nuttiness and a touch of molasses. Hints of earthy and floral hops add somewhat of a bitter balance. Dark rum notes in the middle and into the finish remind you that this is 10% abv. Finsihes with an earthiness and maltiness that lets you know this is a genuine Trappist experience.

It's been way too long since I've savored one of these special brews from these smiling monks. Absolutely exceptional brew here.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2010 01:47:20 | More by merlin48
Photo of HuskyinPDX
HuskyinPDX

Washington

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

Bottle opened on 12.7.12

A - Pours a deep brown with a ruby hilights. A huge foamy light tan head with amazing retention forms.

S - Spices, raisins, figs, light fruit, cola.

T - Similar, spices are more up-front and dominating.

D - Great carbonation and a medium to light body.

O - Belgian Abbey with Christmas Spices.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2012 06:34:14 | More by HuskyinPDX
Photo of canucklehead
canucklehead

British Columbia (Canada)

4.88/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

What a Xmas treat this beer is with a nose that never stops developing and a huge head flecked with brown spots from the sediment. I got a huge rounded mouthfeel with lots of dark candy fruits and typical Belgian yeast. No spices in this Xmas ale but rather the suggestion of Xmas pudding. I really savoured this beer with every sip as it was part of a trade and not available in BC.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2009 20:01:18 | More by canucklehead
Photo of BARFLYB
BARFLYB

Pennsylvania

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.

Serving type: on-tap

12-25-2009 07:16:46 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of ngeunit1
ngeunit1

California

4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark ruby-black with a big finger of frothy dark khaki head. Fades slowly.

S - Sweet dark caramel malts, dark fruits, Belgian yeast, clove, coriander, pepper, other spices, candi sugar, booze.

T - Sweet dark caramel malts, raisin and other dark fruits, Belgian yeast, clove, coriander, pepper, other spices, candi sugars, some booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth with a warming, sweet, and lightly spicy finish.

D - Great balanced Quad. Good mix of yeast and malt flavors.

Serving type: bottle

04-28-2013 08:00:42 | More by ngeunit1
Photo of Metalmonk
Metalmonk

North Carolina

4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The pour results in a superbly fluffy head (two fingers), which crackles and deflates very slowly, leaving super-sticky styrofoamish lace on the glace. Color is a deep chocolate-brown in color, nearly opaque; difficult to see the bubbles feeding that mammoth head.

As a Christmas ale, it's appropriately fruity and spicy in the nose, recalling tart/young gooseberry and cranberry; light sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. Earth/mineral, shaved chocolate and a fairly assertive alcohol creep into the aroma.

Flavor stays on the fruity/spicy tip of the aroma , but on the tongue the fruits turn darker and the spices less sweet. Some white pepper and clove bite along with a fig/grape hint. Has a woody herbal/spiced tea vibe...and then with warming, it transforms. What I get after about 30 minutes is cinnamon roll--equal parts gooey, yeasty dough, caramel-ish qualities and cinnamon spice. Ghostly specters of root beer or Dr. Pepper work their way into the finish, and that is not a criticism, and hopefully not a cheapening of this beer's quality--just an approximation of another flavor characteristic of this complex beer.

Mouthfeel is wonderful, having a vibrant carbonation, a nice balancing velvet smoothness, and an overall airiness. A little bit of stick throughout the mouth.

No surprise that those behind St. Bernardus, monks or otherwise, would turn out an excellent Christmas ale. Their regular line (which is anything but regular) consists of some of the greatest beers in the world, and this one is no exception.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2009 22:28:13 | More by Metalmonk
Photo of GbVDave
GbVDave

Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into two St. Bernardus goblets. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

A: Pours a dark muddy brown, almost like black tea. Huge off-white head of pure cream. Lace stuck to everything!

S: Big spicey aroma. Clove/caramom, cola, juniper, pine, figs, chocolate, cherry, apples, and candied fruit.

T: Huge spicey, malty goodness. Rum soaked raisins, plums, figs, candi sugar, bread pudding, dark chocolate covered cherries, tangy apples, and a certain resinous minty flavor (juniper berry? piney hops?)

M: Like velvet...soaked in cream.

D: Alcohol barely makes its' presence felt in either aroma or taste, but boy does it ever warm the cheeks! This is friggin' Christmas in a bottle!

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2007 03:08:31 | More by GbVDave
Photo of srandycarter
srandycarter

California

4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this a few years back and was not happy. I love this brewery, so I had to give it another shot. Old review follows. Glad I tried it again.

A - Dark raw honey, very carbonated pop of cork. Nice thick near white head, leaves slowly to disk. Lots of persistent cling lace.

S - Bready, dark cooked fruits. Banana ever present. I am looking forward to this.

T - Shazam! Banana bread, and some holiday dark fruits to go along with it. Nice meal. Heat pretty well masked in taste. Knocked it a little for a small sour twang at the end that didn't seem to go with it.

M - Medium to heavy mouth, nice carb and wonderful balance considering the massive flavors.

D - Even at this ABV, I could give it a go for some time!

From 6.09 A3 S4.5 T3.5 M3.5 D3.5
Damn. First Lost Abbey Angel's Share Brandy last night , 750 corked, flat. Tonight, this one, completely flat too. Both have great taste, but without carbonation, it's like saltines without the salt. I am not going to even bother drinking it. Need a food recipe to use it....

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2009 03:38:24 | More by srandycarter
Photo of tbeckett
tbeckett

Ontario (Canada)

4.26/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from Harvest Wines. From notes.

A - Poured a dark reddy brown colour with good carbonation and a lovely, thick one finger of light brown head. Great thick lace and one finger of retention. Looked lovely the whole way.

S - Vinous, dark fruit, yeast, sweet dark fruit.

T - Yeast, dark fruit, sweet. Pretty nice. The vinous element is subtle but nice and clearly there but tucked away behind that fruity sweetness. Little to no spice.

M - Medium carbonation and a full body with good feeling for the carbonation.

O/D - Lovely stuff. Rich and malty. I can imagine loving this with snow coming down. Good stuff. Tad sweet perhaps.

Serving type: bottle

06-26-2012 01:08:03 | More by tbeckett
Photo of Pencible
Pencible

Virginia

3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This poured a nearly opaque dark mahogany with tons of fluffy tan head. It smelled like spicy and sour Belgian yeast with rich caramel, nutmeg, candi sugar, fresh wheat, and a bit of alcohol. It tasted like wild creamy yeast and spicy malt, with some sweet candi sugar and caramel and a bit of raisin and fig and alcohol. It was slightly thick with moderate carbonation, and had a bittersweet and sour aftertaste. Overall this had a great dark Belgian scent and taste with a bit of a spicy twist for the holidays. It had good body too, but the alcohol was fairly hot, so a fresh bottle wasn't entirely easy to drink. It was still enjoyable to sip, but it didn't blow me away like Abt 12 first did. Regardless, with some age this would be amazing.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2009 19:01:28 | More by Pencible
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,384 ratings.