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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

628 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 628
Hads: 1,878
Avg: 4.19
pDev: 16.23%
Wants: 157
Gots: 321 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website

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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Christmas Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 628 | Hads: 1,878
Photo of artoolemomo
3.96/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Almost all head and fortunately, the retention isn't great. The head is light and spicy beige while the body is a mauve, deep maroon that appears as a dull maroon with hints of garnet. A considerable amount of lacing is left behind.

Nose- The aroma from the bottle is strong and simplistic. Almost all bananas. A suggestion of cloves. Add a slight cream and it's almost Twinkies. The aroma from the glass is subdued. Faint banana, faint cream. Some cloves.

Taste- Banana and cloves on the forefront but because of the strength of the banana, the cloves seem inviting. Some brown bread, molasses, and aspects of brown sugar. Heavy on Belgian spice- cloves, coriander, but more than that, resilient cinnamon. A complex array of fruity esters which range from orange to lemon to raisin. The fruitiness builds as I drink this and becomes a positive aspect of the beer. Perhaps what I like best about this beer is the amazing balance and integration. It is not in your face like the last Quad I had (BBQ) and thusly, is more enjoyable. The spice (mostly cinnamon) is resilient and might be why they christened this their Christmas Ale. Fairly standard Belgian quad. That is to say, it's a good beer. Almost a really good beer. Slight cherry. Crisp and clean finish.

Mouthfeel- A little below medium bodied with ample carbonation.

Drinkability- Pretty easy going with an aspect of smoothness and creaminess to boot. Is it worth 12 bucks a bottle? No but it seems consistent with the style.

Overall- It is what it is. Another competent quad. Does that make it amazing, no. Still quite enjoyable .

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Photo of bobhits
3.13/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I've been through half a bottle of this and I still can't get a handle on what to say about it. No hate no love...just beer.

Pours an amber near black body rather common with yeast filled quads. A nice head but thinner bubbles than perhaps I expected. I know 10% but others have done it. lacing is minimal but there.

Fruity somewhat citrus, think apples and pears with a lot of spice and belgian yeast. I don't think "christmas" but a dry and I mean dry belgian quad. Notice I made no mention of sugar or malt or candy. This is dry.

The beer really is dominated by a somewhat sharp acidic apple bear flavor. I get a lot of perhaps rye bitterness with actually more malt and sugar than expected given the smell. That said the sugars are lost quickly thanks to I really think there could be a brett or similar sour element here way in the back. Spices are all over the place but again not christmas spice.

There's a lot of bite but I'm thinking more of the rye bitterness than alcohol and to be honest it goes down easy, clean, and isn't overly thick. It's about as good as a quad can be if your goal is to chug. For those more sane with 10% beers it sips well too but expect a bite of rye and sour and maybe alcohol is part of this.

I'm not thrilled with this. I'm sure my score says 'bad" to mean, but honestly this is a nice beer. It isn't worth the 11-12 bucks but you get a drinkable beer with some nice flavors and it isn't boring or something you start naming clones of instantly. That said no, it's not new or unique but hey what is, right?

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Photo of brurevu
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This particular bottle has been aging in my fridge for the last year. The Christmas Ale is bottle conditioned so it poured with a generous head over its deep ruby brown body. The aroma was of fruits and malty sweetness with the taste following the same with some added complexity and a slight bitterness on the palate. The creamy mouthfeel rounded out this truly excellent Christmas Ale that is a fantastic beer for the Holidays.

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Photo of Gusmotel
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a St. Bernardus snifter glass.

Appearance: Extremely dark, but not pitch black like a standard stout. Foam dissipated quickly into a frothy coating.

Aroma: Sugar, spice, and everything nice. The only thing this beer didn't smell like was freshly fallen snow and a warm fireplace. Both of these though I would recommend pairing with this beer. Sugar, Cinnamon Sticks, Light Citrus, Cloves, and maybe a splash of vanilla. Reminded me of warm Gluhwein in the Vienna Christmas market.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Complex. Light carbonation. Most of the aforementioned spices spring up initially. A surprisingly medium body for such a thick tasting beer. Not milkshake thick, maybe it's just the multitude of Christmas flavours that are screaming to get out. Hops weren't so noticeable as it ended more with that herbal alcohol taste one expects from a Belgian Christmas Offering.

Overall: Not overly sweet or spicy, though there is a definite abundance of this in the beer's character. Again, probably best served when it's cold outside as it will warm you right up. Bought a second bottle to open Christmas Day.

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Photo of Underrower
2.72/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

750ml bottle served in a small goblet

Looked good but maybe a little lighter in color than the ABT12. Not much foam when poured at first but later glasses had more foam. That slightly rosey transparancy in a strong dark belgian ale concerns me. Usually, the dark ales with no red color turn out to taste the best unless we are talking about Gulden Draak.

Smelled good. Had some fruit and bread on the nose.

When cold it was pretty good and I had high hopes as it warmed and opened but by the end of the bottle the hopes were dashed. What opened up was sickening sweetness then bitter and lots of alcohol taste.

Creamy mouth feel and nice carbonation. Warmed up it did pour a nice head of foam.

Overall, I should have kept cold. I will not be buying this again. I like sweet beers but this kind of sweetness is something else entirely. I have tried most of the St Bernardus offerings and I have to rate Abt 12 number one followed by the Tripel then the Pater 6 and Watou Tripel. This Christmas Ale I will lump in with the Prior 8 and the Wit as beers I will probably never have again.

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Photo of tubeyes
4.02/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A dark dark brown, min head, nice lace.
S lots of strong fruity, dates, whipped cream.
T alcohol upfront, lots of great fruitiness, more of the nose greatness, plums, dark fruit.
M great carbonation and elegant velvety mouthfeel, lots of great fruity aftertaste.
O very enjoyable, had on tap at OSDH Denton on world beard day. Loved it, very warming, although we were sitting in a humid Texas evening, it was still very nice and comforting

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Photo of BurlesqueRadio
4.44/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

I bought this beer at a liquor store in downtown Denver two days before Christmas last year. I was spending the holidays away from my family living 1,500 miles from them and wanted to grab a sixer of ANYTHING. There were so many brews (even collaborations) by Lagunitas & Dogfish Head that I'd already tried from this particular liquor store so I was definitely in gear to snag something different.

I had my first St. Bernardus at a WOB on my 21st birthday and thought it tasted so delicious that I could barely remember my evening after 4 too many. The Christmas Ale had to hold up to the name so I gave it a shot.

I remember thinking that I needed to take smaller sips, an extremely sweet beer with a very strong mouthfeel and such a high ABV definitely indicated so. Soothing, velvety- Christmas-y. The sweetness reminded me of a concentrated caramel syrup, but in the best way possible. In beer. One of my favorites.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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Photo of Smurf2055
2.75/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into tulip at Uber in Seattle.

Appears dark hazel with very little head. Nice lacing.

Aroma seemed a bit weak. Slightly malty, and a small fruit aroma. Very subtle.

Taste was a bit bitter with a small alcohol burn. Somewhat complex, but nothing really stood out.

Palate was a bit grainy with little carbonation.

Not sure what was going on with this, but I wasn’t all that impressed...

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Photo of curasowa
4.54/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Hazy, dark red color with two fingers of light tan head that fades very slowly with a thick curtain of lace.

Aroma: Lots of ripe fruit, mostly cherry and raisin over toasted malt. Faint hints of yeast and lemon mix in here and there.

Taste: Full bodied and creamy up front with lots of malt sweetness, along with some sticky, candy-syrup sweetness. A surprising amount of carbonation lightens things up in the middle, where some of the fruit notes show up along with some molasses and that wonderful Belgian yeastiness. A little bit of boozyness on the way out, but otherwise a lingering, slightly bready finish.

The Rest: Fantastic. A terrific Quad with big, bold flavors yet with layers of subtlety.

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Photo of YieldToNothing
5/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

first 5 star review
750ml poured into a st bernardus chalice

pours an opaque brown with a quarter inch head. taste hints at nutmeg, smell has some cinnamon going on.

taste is full, this is a heavy beer but the abv is definitely well hidden.

i love this beer and i'm one of few that likes this better than the abt 12.

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Photo of Auraan
4.98/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured a beautiful deep, dark color with two fingers of rich off white head. Gorgeous. Scents of dark fruit, banana, alcohol and Belgian yeast. The flavor is excellent, dark fruit, raisins, chocolate, Belgian sugar, slight hints of alcohol and peppery notes are present. Light carbonation and a sticky, let drinkable body lead to an excellent mouthfeel. A fantastic Belgian. By far one of my absolute favorites.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at MacGregor's Grill and Taproom in Henrietta, NY.

Pours a dark brown, almost black. Belgian style huge head, 2.5 inches or so.

Smells like fruitcake, cherry, plums, raisins, and Belgian yeast.

Tastes similar- fruitcake, cherry, plums, raisins, and Belgian yeast- with strong dark fruits and fruitcake flavors- bready malts plus cherries, plums, and raisins give the fruitcake impression. Some cinnamon as well. Very sweet, not really cloying though, fortunately.

Thick, creamy body and mouthfeel. Low carbonation.

A great Christmas beer. Not quite as good as Abt 12, but still one of St. Bernardus' better offerings.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.39/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a nice and creamy tan head that takes a while to dissipate. The beer itself is a dark brown. The beer leaves quite a bit of lacing on the glass. Obviously, the beer is opaque.

The beer has a strong, fruity, and sugary smell. The fruit smells are mainly dark fruits such as black cherry and a little bit of plum. The beer also has a strong Belgian sugar note that blends well wit the cherry tartness and dark fruit sweetness. The smell also has a slight yeast note that comes out when it's cold. Additionally, there is a slight caramel malt smell and a hint of alcohol as well.

The beer taste has the same notes as the aroma. The beer has a Belgian sugar note that mixes well with the dark fruit notes. The dark fruit notes come off as plum and cherry while there also appears to be a bitter hop note. The yeast is not as present in the aste as it was in the nose. However, the alcohol is more pronounced.

The beer has some serious carbonation, which makes what would have been a heavy bodied beer lighter. The biting carbonation definitely changes the texture from something that would have been smooth to something crisp.

A good beer that I most likely will buy again during the Christmas season.

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Photo of Scooter51
5/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was recently in my favorite establishment in Rochester, NY which happens to have over 130 taps. To say they have a great selection would be an understatement.

I came upon St. Bernardus Christmas Ale quite by accident. I had requested a second of my usual amber beer from a well known German brewery that is quite good in its' own right, and for whatever reason the bartender provided me St. Bernardus Christmas Ale.

While it was a bit of a change from my usual beer of choice, I must admit that I was quite surprised by it's appearance, smell, taste mouthfeel and overall quality as my ranking of 5 indicates.

It was as if I walked into my favorite establishment and was swept off my feet by the most beautiful, intelligent, personable woman I had ever met. It was one heck of an experience.

It is important that I mention that this particular ale has an ABV of 10, so I would caution anyone to be very judicious when imbibing this great brew to either be home or have a designated driver. Cheers!

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Photo of jroberts8811
4.88/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

On Tap at Bier Station in Kansas City, MO. Poured into Tulip

A- deep amber, with iltte carbonation. Opaque with 1 finger head. head dissipates quickly and leaves great lacing.

S-spicy! coriander, clove, cinnamon,honey, malt, sweet belgian funkiness, bready, yeasty. yum.

T-wow. sweet, bready, malt bomb. spices galore, completely enhance what would otherwise be their abt 12. nothing i would change or add. perfectly balanced. ABV is completely hidden.

M-full, low carbonation. Clings to the tongue. wonderful.

O- Bernardus is in my top 5 favorites and this beer does not disappoint. Softer/flatter on tap versus bottle but I'm glad I had the chance to get it on tap. kegs are without conditioning so the experiences are different.

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Photo of RickS95
4.93/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep mahogany brown, with little sparklies in it. The head is enormous with huge retention. After minutes, it starts to fall leaving craterous holes around the edges with sticky, gluey lacing. You can literally see the spices and the fruity flavors that will soon be coming your way.

Smells rich and fruity. Dark, ripes fruits fill the nose. Slightly peppery with some pear and a bit of alcohol. Figs, raisins, plums waft up from the glass to greet you.

Everything I said about the smell goes for the taste. Dark fruits, pepper, pear and pepper dance on the tongue. I don't know how you'd improve the taste of this beer.

It's creamy and full bodied. There's a fruity sweetness followed by a tangy, dry finish. Eventually, the alcohol shows up with a slight heat. Like the taste, I'm not sure how a beer, particularly a quad, could feel better than this.

This is an exceptionally good beer. It's very alcoholic but it's well-hidden. Easy to drink. I wish this wasn't a seasonal. Unless I crack open a bottle of Westy 12 that's been aging for a year, I already know this is the best beer I'll have this year.

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Photo of gabedivision
4.06/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 750 ml to a Rochefort chalice

A- Pours dark brown, with a creamy and frothy white head

S- Pungent dark fruits, sweet sugar, some toffee, very rich.

T- Sweet brown sugar, carbonation tingle up front, ,dry sweet dark fruits, alcohol on the finish, a weird metallic after taste that lingerd in my mouth long after the sip.

M- Full bodied, decent amount of carbonation that tingles in the mouth, finishes dry.

O- This beer has everything i want in a quad, except for the taste, they really lost me on it, looks perfect, smells amazing, taste just isnt there for me, not feeling this one St. Bernardus

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Photo of yamar68
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Swampy tobacco brown body with a massive beige head that paints lace all across the sides of the glass, retaining rather well.

Oh that smells beautiful - cinnamon toast, fresh bread, caramel malts and plenty of that signature St. Bernardus burnt brown sugar. The only descriptors I can come up with seem to suggest something entirely sweet but it really isn't... at least not any sweeter than most of the classic Belgian darks. This really does smell fantastic. What a pleasant change of pace compared to most American Christmas beers.

On the palate it doesn't provide quite the same degree of depth. Raisin, figs and dates... mellow cinnamon/brown sugar, there's almost like a honeysuckle type finish that cleans up the tongue. It's a bit more tame than the nose would suggest. Smooth, though, and exceedingly drinkable.

Merry fucking Christmas!

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Photo of MDDMD
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-dark brown color with hints of ruby and a nice light tan head with good lacing

S-malt, cinnamon, cloves, raisins and plums, brown sugar

T-malt, dark fruit, brown sugar,cinnamon, cloves, hints of licorice

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth, alcohol very well integrated

O-a delicious Christmas beer to savor during the cold months

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Photo of Dodo2step
4.65/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

P- Al's of Hampden

A- a frothy mountainous four and half finger head. Color is that of iced tea or prune juice.

S- dark candied fruit, raisins, plum and brown sugar. A notrsilating smell. All the smells complement each other perfectly.

F- the plum and raisin comes out more in the tongue. carbonate brown sugar malts but all in all very nice.

M- like a chewy oatmeal raisin cookie. Carboanted at first but it tapers off as it goes down.

O- a heavy beer so it took me a while. i savored it thought. this is one of the best i have ever had.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.24/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of mactrail
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Lovely dark brew in the tulip glass. Distinctive for the great sensual body and the big, sudsy mouthfeel.

Licorice and cherries come to mind immediately. It’s not overly sweet, though it’s hugely rich. Plenty of malt with shades of dark roasted barley and a deep, intriguing complexity. This one is on my list to try again, but I’m glad I was able to have the tap version.

Certainly one of the best Belgian beers I’ve had. On tap at Pizza Port in Ocean Beach. Transcribed from 12/12/12 tasting notes.

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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
93 out of 100 based on 628 ratings.