Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,864 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,864
Reviews: 643
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 156
Gots: 307 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website
Belgium

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,864 | Reviews: 643
Photo of dirtylou
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, split

appearance: served in the seldom-used de koninck chalice, garnet-mahogany body, big creamy beige lace. nice

smell: dark belgian sugar, dark fruit, holiday spice

taste: big dark fruit, clove, banana, dark fruit soaked in booze, some holiday spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cherry, brown sugar, crystallized dates. Another nice classic from St. Bernies.

mouthfeel: rich and full, boozy finish

overall: nice

Photo of avalon07
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had a brownish color and a thick consistency. There was a half inch of creamy head and excellent lacing.

S: A very spicy, malty aroma. Actually does remind me of Christmas.

T: Taste is well done and full of spices: Ginger, cumin, malt, orange and Belgian yeast. Flavorful.

M: Well-carbonated beer that goes down easy. Full-bodied.

D: This is a solid effort from St. Bernardus, a brewery that seems incapable of making a bad beer.

Photo of dgilks
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fairly standard hazy brown colour with some red tint. Moderate tan head with decent head retention.

Bready, caramelised malts with noticeable sweetness. There are some dark fruits as well as classic winter spice.

Rich and fruity. Plenty of banana and stone fruit. Spice cake. Balanced and tasty but still missing that something I find in Rochefort and others.

Medium-full body with moderate carbonation. Good.

A nice beer with plenty of flavour. Balanced with just enough dryness to make it drinkable.

Photo of rudzud
4.06/5  rDev -4%
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.

Photo of ccrida
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into my large St. Feuillien goblet, the Christmas Ale has St. Bernardus' signature huge, rocky, long lasting head, khaki colored leaving heavy lace. The brew is a dark garnet. St. Bernadus' beers have such amazingly rocky head, they're the reason I basically never give a 5 for appearance to any other beer.

Smell is fantastic, luscious dark fruit dripping with dark candi sugar, with a whiff of booze. Again, they nailed it.

Taste is where the deviation from the abt 12 becomes more evident, less sweet fruit and a notable peppery spiciness, with a bit more phenols and fusels as well. Good, but still a bit of a disappointment, mainly because I love the abt so much, and the skew between the sweet fruity nose and the hasher edges of the taste. I'll have to lay a few down for awhile and see how much it rounds out...

Mouthfeel is slippery and soft, with a full body and high digestability.

Drinkability is average - for a St. Bernadus strong dark, which puts it higher then most. Still, while quite tasty, it drinks like the huge beer that it is, and at it's young age, with rather sharp elbows. Bonus points for the 50's kitsch label.
Served at cellar temp.

Photo of Cyberkedi
4.58/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This comes out of the tap an opaque dark brown with a thick pale tan head. Aroma is very hoppy and spicy, inviting a taste. Flavor does not disappoint - it is mainly hoppy with spicy overtones and a spicy, evergreen aftertaste. Texture is very smooth and cooling. An excellent winter brew.

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

Pours a deep brown, ruby red color; murky and opaque with a thick, fluffy, creamy, and long-lasting beige head. Sweet and malty aromas jump from the glass immediately upon pouring; wine-like in aroma, with grapes and phenolic smells meshing together. Apple skins, berries, prunes, and a subtle hint of clove from the signature Belgian yeast. In the taste, there are many more spices coming out than were in the aroma. Nutmeg, anise, ginger, tiny bits of cinnamon, maybe even a touch of white pepper. Some light cocoa notes all around, bready and thick in flavor, clove and some spicy bitterness hits fast on the tail end. Earthy, dirty, and again full of boozy fruits - plums, figs, apples, soaked in booze. Bread and a touch of rye in the aftertaste. Thick body, heavy, lots of fine carbonation.

A solid Christmastime BSDA that acts as a wonderful winter warmer. One of the things I like about most BSDA's are their complex flavor profiles, and this one is no different. Lots of things going on, but they work together well.

Photo of Durge
3.69/5  rDev -12.8%
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.

Photo of clayrock81
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.

Photo of tbeckett
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
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.

Photo of Jwale73
4.01/5  rDev -5.2%
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.

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

A-Dark brown with a large frothy head. Takes quite some time for me to be able to drink past the foam. Lots of lacing.

S-Like many have said before. Its bottled Christmas. Smells like Santa's beard. Christmas spices all over the place.

T-Cinnamon, nutmeg etc. Belgian yeast. Dark fruits. I find that the alcohol is masked more in this one than the Abt 12. Excellent for the season. Perfect application of the flavors.

M-Medium to heavy. Smooth. Quite delectible.

D-Not an overly easy drinker due to the alcohol level. Still, pretty damn good.

An excellent Christmas Ale. Happy to try it.

Photo of champ103
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark mahogany color. A large beige head forms with great retention. Plenty of sticky lace is left behind. This looks beautiful in my St. Bernardus chalice.
S: At first, cinnamon and nutmeg hits the nose. Some other peppery spices as well. Dark fruits of figs, plums, and raisins come next. A doughy yeast aroma that I find in many Belgian beers. Complex and wonderful.
T: Cinnamon is upfront again. Lots of dark fruit that follow the nose. Some sweet and malty caramel. A light burnt wood flavor. Dough and yeast.
M/D: A full body that is a bit dry. A light snap of carbonation, but a good creaminess follows. This is exceptionally smooth and easy to drink for the high ABV. Something to sip and savor.

This is a great winter brew. Highly recommended, and something I will have more of.

Photo of ZAP
3.02/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A-Brugandy brown color...big tan pillowy head builds by the second as it sits in the glass...too much

S-Black licorice and ginger snaps are the first impression....also figs and raisins.

T-Feels pretty hot....boozy and alcoholic....the black licorice and ginger snaps again lead the way....prunes, raisins, figs...some mild bready yeastiness.

M-Too alcoholic...too charged up....

D-One of my least favorite of St. B lot...not horrible but certainly not in the same ballpark as some of my favorites of theirs. Too much air, heat, and a little heavy on the black licorice/ginger snap taste too...

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

750mL bottle poured into a St. Bernardus chalice

Pours a russet brown with reddish highlights and a chilled haze. A tight, fluffy tan head rose and receded quickly to leave a collar around the edges of the beer. Faint rings of lace left hanging around.

Very broad range of aromas. Cinnamon, dark fruits, molasses, booze, strong belgian yeast, brown sugar, anise, and grassy hops. The yeast kind of dominates, but the spices and dark fruit rise to the occasion and balance it out.

The fruits and spice shine through with a kick ass doughy, yeast flavor that holds real strong. A bit of cocoa powder, molasses, and hops round out the palate.

The carbonation seemed to be a little high. Full bodied. Really coats the mouth and bubbles off.

Drinkability was slightly above par. Nothing hindering. A good version of the style and always nice to
get another St. Bernardus offering in the mix.

Photo of rfgetz
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark copper brown with an small, dense off-white head. Clumpy retention, minimal lacing. Smell is of dark fruit (fig, prune, raisin) with mulling spice background. Taste is sweet dark fruit (fig, prune, raisin, date) with a mulling spice background. Velvety smooth on the palate with only a minimal alcohol burn. Very nice holiday brew with a full flavor profile without going overboard on any particular ingrediant.

Photo of OWSLEY069
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky amber to brown-ish color with a big light tan head. In the aroma, candy sugar, small roastiness, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In the taste, cinnamon, a dry sugary feel, and small hints of plum (as sugar plums danced in my head, sorry...) A small spicey bite, and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry cinnamon/ spice aftertaste. Quite smooth and not overbarring, nice spices, all around pretty good.

Photo of tavernjef
4.58/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a dark brown to settle a nearly mat black with a small sense of brownness to its body. Very heavy looking and an impressively tall capping to top it off of light crispy brown foam thats a bit rough and tumbled. Kinda crunchy looking at first but developes into a moderately creamy bubbleness and density as it sits. It keeps well and stretches all sorts of wonderful lacing that looks of wet powdered sugar.

Nice lofty aroma of cookie dough and spice. Crisp yet round with a full on malt tilt of breads and dark fruits. Mostly figgy, touch of raisin, perhaps some dates and molasses covering the big breadyness. Nice yeastyness to it which seems to be adding a root beerish type of hints to its dryness. Slender hops add some grassyness to its spicy complexity which included some anise, cinnamon, mint, and ginger cookies.

Flavors are bold, lasting and carry alot of what the smell leads to with its big maltyness and yeastified balance. Firm grip of dark candish malts leads right in with a nice holiday cake-like dimension of figgyness first, then dark cherry, dates, chocolate covered raisins, and then the peppy spices. Notes of root beer, anise, pepper, carrot cake, and ginger make their way in and out of the malty doughy darkness but linger mostly across its finish with a slender, delicately woven dryness of grassy hops. Pretty damn solid! Perhaps not quite a match to the Abt 12, but damn if its not close!

Feel is big, bold, and beautiful. The girth is massive in the body of this stuff. Heavy yet smooth, crunchy and crisp yet creamy with a whole lotta malts to create an exceedingly thick bread/cake-like structure of body. Not to mention the subtle details of yeasty play, dark fruity tang, perfectly intensed warmness, hoppy dryness, and spice. Which all lasts forever and a day the second it spills on to your palate.

Wow! Great stuff! No big surprise really. St. B knows how to impress and this is perfect for the holidays!

Photo of sweemzander
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750mL corked and caged bottle poured into a tulip.

(A)- Pours a dark burnt sienna color. Produced a giant head of fluffy tan colored froth. Great retention and tons of lace.

(S)- Rich bits of dark fruits, yeasty lemon and banana, and a clay-like earth. Very subtle bits of spices.

(T)- Same like the smell was. Though, a much sharper yeast presence than the smell led me to believe, but has the same great dark fruits: plum, cassis, grape, and raisin.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. A bit heavy in the yeast department, so it really gets a bit earthier and drier than expected.

(D)- Overall, another solid beer from St. Bernardus. Malty and rich with classic components.

Photo of drpimento
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served with a smallish, cream colored head and lots of lace. Color is a cloudy brown amber. Aroma is super malty, vineous, yeast, caramel, toffee, fruit. Flavor's very similar to nose with toffee, caramel, malt, yeast, carbonic tang all in the fore! Body and carbonation are faultless. Finish is malt, carmel, toffee and a touch of fruit while of average length. Luscious beer!

Photo of mrfrancis
3.21/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours what initially appears to be a nearly opaque black, but when held up to the light, the ale is actually a clear, dark, brownish amber. This ale pours with a tremendous, rocky beige head that laces deep into the glass. It's really a good looking beer.

S: The smell is a bit of a disappointment really, as soft, gentle aromas of banana, cream, milk chocolate, figs, and dates fill the nose. I was expecting something a bit spicier and more assertive. At least there is nothing in the way of an alcohol aroma.

T: Opens sweet and rich with notes of caramel, dark bread, pear drop candy, banana, chocolate, heavy cream, figs, raisins, and dates. Unfortunately, there is an overwhelming alcohol flavor and presence that singes the tongue and obliterates any chance of other flavors developing. The finish is hot and intoxicating with pear drop, banana, cream, and chocolate notes lost in a swirl of fiery alcohol.

M: Full bodied and filling with active carbonation. This ale is initially smooth, creamy, malty, and rich, but once the alcohol kicks in, it dries out completely. Very difficult to drink. I cannot figure out why this beer is so off-kilter.

O: I've always been a fan of both St. Bernardus and this style, so I really wanted to like this beer. Unfortunately, I just couldn't. The overwhelming alcohol presence and heavy mouthfeel ruined this one for me. I doubt I'll be purchasing this beer again.

Photo of Darkmagus82
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a 10 oz chalice glass

Appearance – The beer was served a deep mahogany colored brew with a decent haze and a thick one finger head. The head faded holds on for some time, eventually fading to give a decent level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma was heaviest of dark fruit aromas of plum, raisin and some fig. Mixed with these aromas is a very subtle spice (cinnamon and nutmeg) aroma as well as a yeast aroma and a little bit of banana.

Taste – The taste begins with the dark sweet fruits that were detected in the nose. The raisin and prune character of the taste are soon joined by a yeasty taste as well as a spice flavor. While the spice starts off on the weaker side it soon grows stronger with flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg becoming more potent. Flavors of a banana nature and some bready tastes then come to the tongue. These flavors all mingle together to in the end , with the advent of some alcohol taste, leave a warming fruity spiced taste to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel –The body of the beer is quite creamy with a carbonation level that is rather moderate. The creamy body is fantastic as it baths the tongue in the fruit, bready, and warming alcohol flavors of the brew. The carbonation seems to add just the right excitement to the mouthfeel to complement the spice tastes. Overall rather pleasant.

Overall – Quite tasty of fruit, warming and just the right amount of spice. A delicious winter warmer.

Photo of CrazyDavros
4.16/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

Photo of ArrogantB
3.3/5  rDev -22%
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.

Photo of RoyalT
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – This ale is a dark, dingy brown in color with a modest but stubborn head.

Smell – There's a lot of yeast in this nose and it has a hint of sourness to it. The malts are a light, doughy brown. The spicing is very winterish, full of dark accents. It is very balanced and somehow manages to pull off a light balance.

Taste – The yeast comes through strongly at the taste, and the malt is again like the nose; very light and doughy. I'm getting a bit of baker's chocolate as well. The spices pulled back some from the nose but are still present and well-balanced.

Mouthfeel – This is not quite full-bodied but it is big. The carbonation is strong and fluffy, tickling the inside cheeks like a good BSDA should.

Drinkability – This is a terrific addition to the St Bernie inventory. It's a wonderful wintertime specialty ale.

Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,864 ratings.