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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

1,389 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1389
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: 1,389 | Reviews: 574 | Show All Ratings:
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 BeerDocT
BeerDocT

Georgia

4.06/5  rDev -4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2014 06:16:36 | More by BeerDocT
Photo of BierJager89
BierJager89

California

4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark opaque brown with a tan head.

S: Banana, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg in the nose.

T: Nutmeg and banana come through strong, cinnamon is there as well, especially present in the finish.

M: Full bodied and smooth.

O: Probably the second best beer they make. It's a great beer to have on Christmas.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2014 18:04:59 | More by BierJager89
Photo of GPHarris
GPHarris

Alabama

4.88/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2011 vintage

a - poured a three-fingers thick, dense tan head into a tulip glass that settled to a thick sheet with great lacing throughout. the body was dark reddish-purple.
s - big aromas of cherry, plum and raisin.
t - same as the aroma but with some spice as well. some good malt sweetness too. very complex as all St. B beers are.
m - lively carbonation.
o - excellent as always from St. B. i'll always drink one of these during the holidays i hope.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2014 22:54:02 | More by GPHarris
Photo of abeeronthebeach
abeeronthebeach

Washington

4.06/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A – Muddy brown, bringing to mind chocolate-ginger biscuits. Lively jets of bubbles.
S – Fresh, yeasty, subtle malts, and a little plum and caramel. Something of a mild Single Malt character emerges after letting the beer sit a quarter of an hour.
T – Not too overpowering. Savoury and appetizing. Malty with a little bitterness to the finish. Not as boozy as I’d have expected.
M – Pretty nicely balanced. Fizziness but not too much of it.
O – Remarkably drinkable at 10%. Nicely balanced and quite a mellow beer in all respects. Would have liked a bit more dark dried fruit and spice since it’s a Christmas Ale. Quite pricey too.

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2014 23:41:51 | More by abeeronthebeach
Photo of GarthDanielson
GarthDanielson

North Carolina

4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured on-tap and served in a chalice, the beer is a dark, ruby coloring that is hazy, with a clingy, coating, off-white head. Nose of date, cherry, fig, roasted notes, booze, and sour tannins. Flavors are tart and crisp forward, with cherry tones forming a foundation beneath old-world fruit richness of date and fig. Very layered, very rich, and very balanced. Rich cherry and fig aftertaste, with earthy and woody notes. The finish is lingering sweet, with a perfect balance. Great beer!

Serving type: on-tap

01-04-2014 03:29:46 | More by GarthDanielson
Photo of tkelley
tkelley

Massachusetts

4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle drank over several pours (this is from the first) poured into a Chimay chalice. Hoping to make this a bowl game tradition -- Go Tigers!

A -- murky reddish brown color, opaque body. Fizzy white head that pillows at first and dies down to thin layer. Okay lacing.

N -- yeasty, toasted malts, and some holiday spices.

T -- Really good. Boozy, sweet, with lots of dried fruit notes. Obviously Belgian yeast upfront. Toasted malts and those spices again, but not too much like you see sometimes.

M -- Nice and fizzy like a good Belgian should be. Somehow also smooth. A little warm on the back end.

O -- Love it. Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2014 01:48:12 | More by tkelley
Photo of Dope
Dope

Massachusetts

3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Best before 04.09.18. (current year batch)

A: Pours a murky, dark red/brown. Ridiculously tall and fluffy light brown head. Head fades slowly with great retention. Minimal fluffy dots of lacing.

S: Somewhat traditional BSDA at first, lots of dark fruits and heavy bready malt notes. Spices kick in shortly, nutmeg and cinnamon I would say. Lots of cloves too. Belgian winter warmer, eh?

T: Lots of christmas spices here. Loads of cinnamon primarily, but nutmeg and cloves are prominent as well. Maybe even allspice? A little dark fruits but the spices really shine here. Big bready malts on the back end with a little bit of stinging alcohol. Pretty clean and cinnamony aftertaste.

M: Medium heavy, very smooth. High carbonation.

O: A belgian winter warmer if I've ever had one. Very spicy, almost a little too one-note since the spices are so prominent. Quite tasty though, I will give it that.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2013 05:55:15 | More by Dope
Photo of mattLummus
mattLummus

Tennessee

4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Really good Ale. Deep head with a fruity/nutty aroma. Nice moderate body with appropriate carbonation. Dark fruity/nutty taste, finish is nice and lingers and then gets hit with an alcohol taste. This beer was definitely enjoyable during the holidays and was an appropriate recipe as a seasonal, probably a top Christmas beer that I've tried.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2013 23:03:28 | More by mattLummus
Photo of silverking
silverking

Florida

3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- murky brown with a fluffy tan head. Excellent head retention and decent lacing.

S- tart cherry, plum, nice malt backbone. I also get hints of cocoa and toffee. Alcohol.

T- plum and cherry wrapped in dark malts. The toffee comes through in the finish.

M- lighter than expected, with champagne-like carbonation.

O- good, I just wish it had a fuller body.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2013 19:42:19 | More by silverking
Photo of KTCamm
KTCamm

New Jersey

4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Champagne bottle poured into a Duvel glass. 12/26

Pours deep dark brown with immense thick white foam. Heavy lacing, patchy all over. Rich toasty fruity nose, raisins and cinnamon. Nutmeg. Plummy. Hearty flavor, spiced malt, quite boozy. Cherries. Chocolate. Loads going on here. Powerful carbonation. Excellent.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2013 15:09:04 | More by KTCamm
Photo of mdagnew
mdagnew

United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)

4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

330ml bottle bought from Beers Of Europe

Poured a deep mahogany red / brown colour... Creamy tan head poured big and foamy then faded slowly to almost nothing... very light sticky lacing...

Aroma - Very tart and spicy dark fruits (raisins, currents, prunes), molasses / dark muscovado sugar sweetness, light smokey notes, toasted maltiness, strong Belgian yeastiness, fruit loaf and alcohol soaked Christmas cake, cinnamon, light peppery hops, some rum hints...

Taste –- Dark juicy fruits (prunes, blackcurrents, raisins), pretty noticable alcohol notes, sweet nuttiness, medicinal, some liquorice, burnt toffee sweetness, toasty malts, spicy hops, some pine notes...

Feel - Pretty smooth and creamy... medium body...fairly drinkable even at 10%..

Overall - An excellent beer - pretty much how i expect Belgian Christmas beers to be... recommended...

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2013 16:47:38 | More by mdagnew
Photo of brewskifan55
brewskifan55

Mississippi

4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Chimay goblet

A: Ice tea amber, opaque. A tan two finger head that lingers. Very thick lacing.

S: Bready malts, cinnamon, nutmeg, dark fruits (dates, plums figs, cherries)

T: Follows nose in holiday style. A great Belgian Quad. Belgian yeast slides down the chimney for a great finish.

M: Medium to heavy with thick, chewy carbonation.

O: A terrific seasonal. Just a shade under the abt 12. Recommended. Great to give as a gift.

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2013 18:42:16 | More by brewskifan55
Photo of LeRose
LeRose

Massachusetts

4.36/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This bottle was a gift in December 2012. Poured into a tulip.

Appearance - murky brown/reddish color. Nice fluffy white foam on top that persisted.

Smell - immediate hit of alcohol which shouldn't be a surprise. Dark fruit - fig and data aromas. Lightly spice notes on the nose - clove, cinnamon. Very toasty. The aroma set the expectation that this was going to be very sweet. Bready and malty.

Taste - yeasty, bready, and malty. The alcohol was not as noticeable on the taste. Heavy on the fruit notes - plum/fig/date maybe a hint of sweet cherry. Not nearly as sweet as I expected. I thought the spice components were very laid back and complimented the beer rather than dominating it - wonder if this is age related? Thought the balance was great - not a cloying, overly-spiced holiday brew.

On the tongue, kind of a medium body, pretty smooth. Where did the 10% ABV go? Carbonation was high, but not overly fizzy.

Overall I think this is an excellent beer and if memory serves, it is somewhat of a bargain in terms of price. Obviously a year in waiting did not hurt it any. I would not hesitate to pick up leftover bottles and let them stay with me until next Christmas. Good stuff.

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2013 01:04:06 | More by LeRose
Photo of Tingle
Tingle

New Jersey

4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

St. Bernardus 12 is a favorite of mine, so I had to try the Christmas Ale.

Christmas Ale is definitely a bit fruitier, and less chocolately. Mouthfeel was a bit thinner than expected, but still not bad. I like the 12 slightly better, but you really can't go wrong with any of the Bernardus beers around the holiday season..

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2013 16:31:02 | More by Tingle
Photo of micromaniac129
micromaniac129

Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a russett brown color with blood orange highlights. The deep beige head explodes during the pour and ends quite tall. Not that dense of a head it fades rather quickly with some spotty lacing.

The nose had a sour and vinagary smell, at first then notes of fruitcakes and yeast come into play.
My first sip and I thought how thin it was. I was expecting a thick and velvetty quad.
Plenty of dark fruits and malty grains plus a hint of citrus and all of a sudden it's like a fruitcake. My first couple of sips I had a good alcohol burn but smoothes out as I go.
The mouthfeel, I don't know, the high carbonation makes the feel of the beer explode on the palate.
A very good beer with a great depth of flavor.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2013 14:11:27 | More by micromaniac129
Photo of mooseo
mooseo

Pennsylvania

4.63/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle into snifter.

A - Dark brown with ruby highlights. A titanic off white head sticks around until the end.

S - Banana, dark fruit, plum, bready malt. Traces of herbal spice and alcohol.

T - Dried dark fruit, fig, plum, banana, Belgian yeast. Bready malt provides a solid backbone. Sweet and complex. Alcohol is surprisingly muted.

M - Silky and creamy. Full bodied, high carbonation. Warming alcohol.

O - A delicious quad. This beer evolves as it warms, bringing out more flavor and complexity. Perfect to wind down with on a cold winter day.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2013 02:14:44 | More by mooseo
Photo of ryannosaurus
ryannosaurus

Arizona

3.8/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750 poured to snifter.

Deep brown, translucent, big tan head that settles quickly, leaving a light lacing.

Aroma is yeasty banana and brown sugar

Taste has more elements, less of the banana with some toffee and coffee, a bit of cloves, some actual hop bitterness to balance. Just a trace of butteriness. I'd expect some hot alcohol warning at 10% abv, and it isn't there... kind of sneaky.

Mouth feel is less thick than I'd expect, nice sting from the CO2.

Banana in the nose obscures some of the more subtle flavor elements, but they are there. If you like St B's dark, you will like this for the same reasons. Nice one to wrap up the holiday.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2013 00:57:12 | More by ryannosaurus
Photo of BB1313
BB1313

Ohio

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

11.2oz bottle poured into a tulip. Pours a deep brown with not much light getting through; huge fluffy off-white head that sticks around and leaves awesome lacing and retention. The aromas are full of dark fruits and sweet malts. Lots of raisins and plums. Dark cherries too. Some dates in the mix. Candied sugar aromas are there. Of course there's some yeast. The flavors really match the nose. Tons of sweet fruits. Hints of bubblegum and banana too. More plums. Lots of sweet cherries. Finishes with some holiday spices. There's a subtle earthiness. Woodsy. The flavors are very clean. There's basically no hints of alcohol and just finishes with the slightest warmth. Mouthfeel is wonderful. It's full-bodied with very active carbonation. Very smooth, fluffy, and creamy. This makes a nice sipper with a nice complexity.

This is a great Quad. The craftsmanship is very impressive. This is pretty similar to their Abt 12, in my opinion. There's minor differences, especially the subtle spices. I think I'd give Abt 12 the edge, but I'd have to do a side by side to really tell. Either way, this is a great beer. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2013 20:52:53 | More by BB1313
Photo of Mavigo
Mavigo

Michigan

4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this from Discount Drinks in Farmington Hills. Served in a snifter.

A: Pours a hazy, amber-mahogany color, very bubbly, with a 1/4 inch beige head that dissipates after a few minutes leaving some patches of lace.

S: Great aroma, plums, dried fruits, bananas, spices, cardamom, yeast, malts, wheat

T: Tastes awesome. Very sweet, definitely a quad. Very rich and robust, dark fruitiness, complimented with yeast, malts, spices.

M: Full bodied with ample amounts of carbonation, well balanced, great flow, great taste.

O: This was awesome, Merry Christmas! Another great beer from St. Bernardus. A bit expensive though.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2013 04:56:27 | More by Mavigo
Photo of woosterbill
woosterbill

Connecticut

4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle into a St. Bernardus chalice.

A: Clear deep brown body under two fingers of dense tan head. Tremendous retention and thick lace. Gorgeous.

S: Dark fruit dominates, with huge fig, raisin, and date. Some sweet/tart cherry as well, with rich toasted breadiness underneath. Decadent and yet delicate. Terrific.

T: Bready up front, with dark fruits close behind. Some nice fig gives way to a strongly boozy finish, though, marring things a bit after such a lovely start. The aftertaste balances the alcohol warmth with some spicy yeastiness, though, making the overall package pretty enjoyable. Definitely a bit of a letdown after the phenomenal aroma, but an excellent BSDA all the same.

M: Thick, soft, and as creamy as can be. Perfect.

O: It's been too long since i had ABT 12, but this reminded me more of Rochefort 10 than anything else. The aroma in particular took me back to a rainy afternoon in Belgium, sipping a Rochefort in its eponymous home town. I'm curious to see whether a year might tone down the booziness just a bit and make this a truly world-class beer.

Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2013 04:46:23 | More by woosterbill
Photo of gueuzeonhigh
gueuzeonhigh

Maine

3.64/5  rDev -13.9%
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!

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2013 00:36:33 | More by gueuzeonhigh
Photo of ssarah
ssarah

Colorado

4.01/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Coffee-colored brown, opaque, with thick beige head. Head appears soft and velvety, reminiscent of whipped cream. Head clings to the glass like suds in the bathtub, and lines the upper lip with each sip.

S: Aroma is slightly occluded by the thick head. Subtle aroma of biscuits and toffee malts. Nice balanced smell. Belgian yeast smell noticeable.

T: Roasted malts, caramel, spices create a deliciously balanced strong dark Belgian ale. Faint tart cider flavor. This is a festive Christmas beer that is well balanced and not too sweet like many of its counterparts.

M: Crisp with moderate carbonation. Hint of alcohol at the end of each sip.

O: Has the typical goodness of an authentic dark Belgian beer, with just enough spices to make it festive. I would recommend this beer during the holiday and winter season. Mmm, mmm..!

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2013 21:27:00 | More by ssarah
Photo of ISmith87
ISmith87

Arizona

4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - 4 - Dark red/brown mahogany colored beer that has a nice frothy off white head that leaves a nice lumpy lacing.
S - 4 - Dark fruits, plums, cinnamon, spices, belgian yeast, breadiness, bananas.
T - 4.25 - Dark fruits, plums, cherries, cinnamon. Definite belgian yeast with a nice breadiness to it.
M - 4 - Medium mouthfeel. Alc covered completely. Aftertaste is nice fruity cherry banana belgian awesomeness.
O - 4 - Good belgian beer. Nice and fruity. I'd have it again.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2013 23:59:47 | More by ISmith87
Photo of RaulMondesi
RaulMondesi

California

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

Gonna give this one 4's across the board. It's aite, but it takes backseat to the big dog. It reminds Raul of this one time when he dated a twin; I'd look at the doppelgänger, and always wondered...but there has to be a reason why I chose twin #1 over #2.

So, like said ex's sister that I never got a piece of; St. Berny Christmas was a bit less flavorful, slightly less robust, but I'm sure like a romp with sister #2, it was still a good time.

Serving type: on-tap

12-21-2013 02:22:07 | More by RaulMondesi
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,389 ratings.