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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

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

1,449 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,449
Reviews: 578
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 107
Gots: 154 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: seaoflament on 10-23-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,449 | Reviews: 578 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of donniecuffs
3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

At the Cloverleaf Tavern, Caldwell NJ: poured mahogany with one finger of khaki head with good lacing. Smelled of candied fruit, cloves, and blood orange; very unique. Tasted of orange, clove, allspice, and candi sugar; very similar to the nose. However, the alcohol burn was certainly evident in the finish. Very malty, velvety mouthfeel..probably the best aspect of this beer. Good sipping beer.

donniecuffs, Jan 14, 2010
Photo of bum732
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown, nice head, great retention. Smells of clove, anise, earthiness, some caramel sweetness, soft fruit, apples and pears mostly. Tastes of sweet and spicy malt leading to a very moderate fruity bitterness. Lost of spice layers present, cinnamon and all-spice mostly. Nice rich mouthfeel with alcohol barely noticable.

A really nice beer, very slick without being cloying with great flavors. Just very well put together.

bum732, Jan 12, 2010
Photo of CHickman
4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours hazy copper brown in color with a foamy/creamy tan head that stays around for quite some time; smells of sweet malt, dark fruit, spices and caramel. Decent lacing sticks to the glass.

Tastes of sweet malt, spices, caramel, raisin, pepper, apricot, dates or plum, grains, light hops, coriander, and some yeast. An excellent balance and mix of flavors that feels very creamy (says velvety on the bottle, which I agree with) on the tongue with practically no carbonation. Gets sweeter and the alcohol shows up as it warms, but remains well balanced and enjoyable throughout. The taste lingers after each sip and allows the fruits and mild spices to be savored and not conquered by the alcohol content, which does not detract from the overall flavor.

An excellent Christmas Ale which was one of the best I've ever had. It went down easy on it's own as well as complimenting the meal I had it with. A great beer!

CHickman, Jan 11, 2010
Photo of elgiacomo
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, I believe this is the '08 vintage.

Pours opaque brown with a frothy light tan head that leaves a wispy cap and good ring. Just a bit of lacing.

Aroma is a complex mix of fruit, yeast, and spices. Everything from cherries, figs and other dark fruits to apples and bananas, bubblegum, candi sugar, very yeasty and bready and then a great dose of nice cinnamon and ginger, spices well integrated with the fruity components. Great strength and a treat to inhale.

Flavor features dark fruits, candi sugar, molasses, brown sugar, caramel, toffee, bread and yeast, a bit of cinnamon, ginger and other spices, does finish a bit watery and thin, little to no alcohol presence.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, oily and slick, medium carbonation.

Great brew, although the flavor and mouthfeel don't live up to the incredible aroma, not to mention other St. Bernardus brews such as the Abt 12. Still a great beer to enjoy on Christmas Eve!

elgiacomo, Jan 10, 2010
Photo of jampics2
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Bier Market celebrating Dan-O's Birthday. Cheers old man!

Deep brown with plum highlights. White head is in it for the long run.

Smell is a nice banana clove an sweet malt combination. Mild spices as well. And, of course, the classic St B's grape/raisin/malt combo.

Taste is amazing. Sweet Belgian malt, candy sugar, grapes, spices and a lovely finish.

Perfect body and nice carb. Almost perfect feel.

Wow. Awesome beer. One of the best seasonals I've had this winter!

jampics2, Jan 10, 2010
Photo of lhaqq
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Ruby-brown semi-opaque body with a thin tan head.
S: Malts, cream, belgian sugars, molasses
T: Butter and molasses initially with some malt and barley. A little bit spicy toward the end but finishes smooth.
M: Heavy and rich, definitely a sipping beer.
D: Overall a great representation of the style.

lhaqq, Jan 10, 2010
Photo of cbutova
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes that I took a few nights ago. Pours a hazy dark copper-brown color with a gigantic creamy head that would not go away. The head is so creamy that I could almost skim it off and eat it. Medium lacing is left on my glass. Smell is huge fruit and spices. There are yeasty/bread-like notes and a tiny bit of alcohol. I get cloves, coriander and pine in the nose as well. The smell is a bit too spicy to me. The taste is also very fruity. Dark fruits like raisins attack the mouth. Nutmeg, coriander and cloves also assault the palette. There is also a huge yeast taste but no alcohol, impressive for 10%ABV. The taste is a little over the top for me in fruits and spices. The mouthfeel is a bit watery to me. Not what I expected from the huge creamy head. Lighter body than I would want for a pretty big beer. A huge coat of spicy fruit is left on a warm tongue. As far as DB, drinking a lot of this would be tough. I am very happy that I halved the bottle because the spices become extremely powerful after even one pint. The alcohol also starts to get pretty hot as it warms up.

cbutova, Jan 10, 2010
Photo of dstc
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy brown with a fizzy tan head. Head falls to about nothing. Some lace.

This has a big malty nose filled with nice spice. Smells sweet.

Nice sweet malt taste, obviously. Has a bit of spice a regular Abt 12 does not however it resembles that beer, which is great since I love that beer.

Nice smooth, somewhat chewy mouthfeel with a good bite.

Love it. Awesome Christmas brew. Much enjoyed.

dstc, Jan 09, 2010
Photo of Rizow
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Let me do kneel before thine bottle, O Father, let me don my gay apparel and beg of you, Father, O Father Christmas, is that you? Father, please hear my confession: I have drunk of much Christmas Ale this season, and I hope your absolution more easily forthcoming that it was YOUR Christmas Ale, O Father. I faced the burly, foamy head you didst so endow of your creation, and I persevered. I did admire the dark copper and burnt chestnut tones of your creation, and I yet persevered. Upon encountering its sweet, sweet nose, replete with malt and yeast and candied fruit, I did nearly suc'cmb, but still further did I persevere. Upon meeting its wondrous tastes of cherries, figs, nutmeg and spice, and sweet malts, I did so nearly come to the very edge of temptation, but on did I persevere. Only when finally met with thine creation's easy drinkability did I fall utterly into its arms, ne'er to return. O Father, in thy wisdom thou have dost created the ultimate seasonal ale, one shall I drink now and forever, until, perhaps, faced with Damnation.

Thine is the kingdom and the power.

Rizow, Jan 09, 2010
Photo of atremains
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper/amber with a MONSTROUS head that does not quit, must wait 3-5 minutes for it to die down and pour the rest of the beer. Smell is caramel, raisins, dark fruits, sweet, and toasty. Taste is big and sweet, lots of fruits and some burnt toast. Caramel as well. Mouthfeel is good, creamy, could be a tiny bit heavier. Lots of fruity sweetness, the alcohol is well masked but it warms nicely. Good brew, lots to take in.

atremains, Jan 08, 2010
Photo of Throckmorton
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this review refers to my bottle, but have also had it on tap at two places this season. to my surprise, I PREFER it out of the bottle.

A - deep brown, hints of red. nice cream colored head that lasted awhile.

S - some nut or even toast, along with a sweet aroma like a minced meat pie.

T - wow, nice fruits - currants, plum, prune. Deep and smooth and complex, could hardly notice the alcohol. Nice malt under-pinings. Flavors have good, pleasant staying power, nice after taste.

M - warm, thick.

D - oh yeah.

Throckmorton, Jan 04, 2010
Photo of sjccmd
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I believe it said best buy 2012 on the bottom of the bottle.

Pours dark amber with ruby highlights and a light tan fizzy head. Lacing is pretty thin. Nice looking, but looks like it doesn't have as much body as I'd like.

The smell is pretty much everything I'd want to smell in a BSDA. Dark fruits, brown sugar, raisins, caramel, with a touch of spiciness.

The taste initially follows the sweetness of the smell but is rounded off with slightly bitter roasted malts, alcohol warmth, and a dry finish.

The mouthfeel is a bit of a let-down. It's not very thick and little too fizzy for my liking. It delivers the flavors decently, but I was hoping for more body.

Still decently drinkable especially for the ABV. A bit of a slow drink, but it's worth savoring.

sjccmd, Jan 03, 2010
Photo of aeminter
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nice deep brown with a foamy off white to tan head...

S - Malts and a bit of cereal, some alcohol, rose petals, dried stone fruits

T/M - Wow, definitely a Belgian Strong. High carbonation...a bit of a bite.

I could get used to drinking this, but I don't think my waste band could.

aeminter, Jan 02, 2010
Photo of kmo1030
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

pours a dark ruby brown. held up to the light, you can see there are bits and pieces dancing around, i think uncorking aggitated the sediment.
the aroma somewaht subtle, but is malty and darkly fruity. not much of the spicing that is present in the taste is in the aroma, just hints. there is a touch of lemon zest, or something like it, and also berry aromas.
the taste has got a rich malty character thats not too sweet. the same dark fruits come through, grape, berry, fig, a little plum. there is a substantial spice character, mostly cinnamon, but it contains a variety of other complexities, perhaps some clove and nutmeg. it's actually quite peppery too.
the mouthfeel is a medium bodied, with overactive, coarse, clumsy carbonation. i could go for a little more body a more manageable amount of carbonation.
the drinkability is a solid 4. the abv is very well masked, there's no trace other than the slight warming in the throat. it would be even better with body and carbonation adjusted a bit. overall, while not without it's flaws it's a very good winter beer that hits most of the right notes.

kmo1030, Jan 02, 2010
Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours brown with a beige head. Lots of extremely small, fine bubbles. The aroma is Belgian yeast as well as dark fruits and candi sugar. The taste pretty much follows the aroma, with lots of caramel malt. The overall flavor is pretty sweet and the alcohol is present and warming. Medium mouthfeel and highly carbonated.

Mora2000, Jan 01, 2010
Photo of augustgarage
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750mL bottle into my new White Birch flute/tulip (thanks ShogoKawada!). Best Before August 27th, 2014.

Liquid is a turbid shade of rosewood with terra cotta highlights. A large beige head recedes to half a finger of crystalline snow-like foam. Retention is excellent, though the lacing is not the immense sticky merengue commonly associated with Belgian styles. A tall ring of legs shimmers just above the foam.

The aroma is entrancing with bock-like elements of banana (or actually...roasted kabocha) and bread dough as well as heavy esters from the alcohol suggesting fruit-cake, orange-peel, and a touch of spice (clove?).

Immense caramel and gingerbread flavors on the palate, with malt and stewed cherry as a backbone. Nothing I've tried is closer to liquid gingerbread than this. The alcohol adds a little complexity suggesting apple butter and dried apricot. The finish is sweet yet yeasty and bready, bringing to mind English digestive biscuits.

Medium-bodied, creamy, and very effervescent, with the carbonation helping fill the mouth with flavor. ABV seems just a touch hot, but then I've been eating serrano filled tamales this evening so it is probably just me.

The witbier and quad offered by St. Bernardus are at the apex of their respective styles - and their Christmas offering is no slouch either, even if I have had a few Winter brews I've enjoyed more.

augustgarage, Jan 01, 2010
Photo of Metalmonk
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.

Metalmonk, Dec 31, 2009
Photo of aerozeppl
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sitting around in a cabin in the Poconos. Fire is roaring.The women just went to the butcher to procure exotic meats. 11:59 am. Time for a beer. We are after all professionals.

A: Nice deep brown color. Quite a few garnet highlights. Quite a bit of head for a Belgian ale. Quite nice looking.

S: Really great nose. Really rich malt nose. Quite a bit of nutmeg. Little bit of clove. Candied plums. Nice amount of dark fruit. Nice nose.

T: The initial taste is quite sweet. The spice is not as powerful. Really complex. Tons of dark fruit with the spice working well with it.

M: Really creamy.Really great.

D: A superb drinker. The cool thing is the label says it can be cellared for up to 15 years. Cool. They make nothing but excellent beer after excellent beer.

aerozeppl, Dec 31, 2009
Photo of Kallessin
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Has tons of sizzling bubbles at first pour that settles to a very fluffy, foamy tan head. A deep murky brown with peach and caramel highlight when held up to the light.

A very fruity and spicy aroma with a fair amount of sweet malt and yeasty bread. Hints of sugary candy, pear and apple and some earthy hops.

Taste very fruity and spicy with lots of sweetness. Some spiced fruitcake, black cherries, orange peel, tart caramel apples and hints of brown sugar. A little boozey and barely a hint of bitterness.

Very warming and tingly mouthfeel. There's tons of carbonation in there giving it smooth, but foamy sensation.

This is a great sipping beer. Fairly complex and flavorful with a satisfying warming feel about it.

Kallessin, Dec 31, 2009
Photo of armock
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured a dark brown color with a tan head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of dark fruit and Christmas spices

T - Follows the nose mostly dark fruit of plums with good spices

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

D - This is an excelent Christmas beer with an excelent taste definitly worth trying

armock, Dec 30, 2009
Photo of natelocc787
3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Red crimson beer with an off-white foamy head. The nose smelled like a Christmas fruitcake. Lots of nuts, toffee, mild chocolate and raisins. The taste was there, mouthfeel was not. A slow sipper for sure, dark brown bread, sweet almost cloying from the malts, dark candi sugar and spice cake in the taste. Mouthfeel was not alive, not sharp either but dull, slightly dry and semi-flat tasting. Definitely a complex beer, just not impressed with much else.

natelocc787, Dec 30, 2009
Photo of Vengeance526
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark ruby brown color with a 1 finger tan head that quickly settles and leaves a moderate amount of sticky lacing.

Strong aroma of fruits and spices all around. Noticeable amounts of plum with cinnamon and nutmeg upfront.

Taste strongly mirrors the smell with lots of plum and raisin upfront along with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in the middle and a sweet yeasty finish.

Full bodied with a smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this one plays out very much like the Abt 12 but with a more noticeable spice presence. Very enjoyable and a great Christmas treat.

Vengeance526, Dec 28, 2009
Photo of Naugled
3.48/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

served in a goblet.

Dark hazy brown with a fine creamy head that very quickly dissipates

Very sweet nose, smells like candi or soda

Woah, a very sugar forward beer. Tastes like there's nothing but sugar in this. Dark sticky sweet sugar. Some hotness comes through, but is needed to cut the syrupiness.

Medium mouthfeel, but on the thin side of medium. however not cloying and has a smooth softness to it.

drinkable, but over the top sweet. I guess that's what people want for the holidays.

Naugled, Dec 28, 2009
Photo of wnh
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a Chimay goblet.
Best by 07/08/2012. 2007 vintage?

Pours a deep orange-tinted chestnut brown, murky and flecked with sediment, even after a gentle pour. Topped by a large and growing foamy ecru head, also flecked with sediment. Multiple rings of lacing left behind.

Rich and spicy nose, bit on yeasty fruit. Aromas of green apples, nutmeg, unripe pears, green bananas, faintly, a touch of candied nuts, and just a whiff of alcohol. Rich and dense and packed, but somehow remains subtle-ish.

On the palate this beer proves to be a continuation of the nose broadly, though some of the specifics differ. Apple note takes on the characteristics of a spiced, aged cider, but still shows some green apple tartness. There's a touch of bright citrus right up front that's gone almost as soon as it appears. More nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon, which seems to bring with it a powdery texture (a phenomenon I've found often with beers that taste like cinnamon). Quite big and strong and just a little rough around the edges. Fades smoothly and quite quickly into mild toasted malt and a lingering spicy nuttiness.

Lots of small bubbles of carbonation that turn out prickly and somewhat unpleasant. Medium-full bodied, somewhat firm. Very tasty, but unfortunately not a beer style that I seem to like.

wnh, Dec 27, 2009
Photo of Beerenauslese
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a muddy brown with a moderate head that dissipates quickly.

Smells of hay, brown sugar, nutmeg, clove, raisins.

Highly spiced, with ginger, coffee, prunes, dark fruit. Fairly sweet, some metalic cola tastes.

Velvety mouthfeel, but light, with cleansing carbonation. It is very spicy, yet also refreshing.

Nice holiday ale, a bit sweet overall, but well spiced. Alcohol is high but the flavors carry it well.

Beerenauslese, Dec 27, 2009
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,449 ratings.