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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

1,417 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,417
Reviews: 576
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 96
Gots: 142 | FT: 5
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: 1,417 | Reviews: 576 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of CampusCrew
CampusCrew

Florida

3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

appearance: dark brown ale with some reddish tint.

smell: heavy christmas spices. cinnamon etc.

taste: smooth and sweet, easy to drinking belgian.

mouthfeel: medium bodied and lots of carbonation

drinkability: Great Holiday belgian but I prefer a few others to this.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2009 22:25:01 | More by CampusCrew
Photo of pants678
pants678

California

4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A hazy, deep, opaque amber with a solid beige foam that has acceptable retention.

Sweet yeast is how I'd describe what I'm getting, surrounded by a tinge of pines with a chocolate-esque smoothness. It's potent, complimentary.

As a whole it seems like well hopped cherries with a mix of spices and molasses. The finish reminds me of gingerbread which gives it the sort of Christmas feel. The body, though, is a bread flavor with figs or grapes and a balance of brown sugar. Reminds me of the 12. There are times where it seems a bit to sweet, but the finish seems to counteract that.

For something so distinct, it was surprising I made it through the entire bottle. The smooth, consistent carbonation through out helps, but so does the medium body and a complexity that hides the 10%.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2009 19:44:02 | More by pants678
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 PaleAlien2
PaleAlien2

Nebraska

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

Deep brown color with a HUGE head. Very murky appearance. Head erupts on this thing like a volcano.

Smell of fruit and alcohol are prevalent in the nose.

Actually surprised, for 10% alcohol this beer is very drinkable. Tastes of biscuits and malt and esthers. No real spices to speak of.

Has a silky smooth mouthfeel. Perfect.

Very good beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2009 02:30:21 | More by PaleAlien2
Photo of RedBeerchetta
RedBeerchetta

Massachusetts

3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got a 750ml bottle at Publick House Provisions in Brookline, MA.

Lots of carbonation, almost as much as a cola. Color is milk chocolate brown. No red hue to it even when held up to the light. Large bubbles in the head that quickly disintegrate into a 3/4 coating on the top.

Smell is of yeast, some alcohol and a little bit of spice.

A bit cloying- quite sweet with more body than the other holiday beers I've had this season (like N'ic Chouffe and Affligem, both of which are more balanced).

Not my favorite holiday beer but still quite nice and enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2009 23:25:39 | More by RedBeerchetta
Photo of crnipeter
crnipeter

Slovenia

3.1/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sybaritic monk with Santa's cap smiles from the label inviting you to join him so why not listen to his call? 750 ml into Rochefort chalice.

Coppery brown with light tan head that quickly dissipates. Not impressed.
I'd expected a quad enhanced with spices but I was wrong. This beer should be labeled x-mas Grottenbier as the aroma profile strongly resembles that of a grotten: Unascertainable spices blended with sweet cocoa and alcohol, lots of alcohol. Flavors correspond to the aromas with addition of slightly hoppy finish. Alcohol is overpowering. I could swear this is merely an alcoholic build-up of a Grottenbier. Prickly on the palate with more body and not as dry as its less potent brother. I've been deluded by the smiling monk.
Sint Bernardus is one of my favorite breweries for its Pater (6), Prior (8) and Abott (12) line. However, those beers are legacy of tight cooperation between the brewery and local monastery and could be classified as descendants of Westvleteren. Unfortunately the rest of Bernardus offerings does not meet the high standards set by the pious brothers 6,8 and 12.

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2009 22:42:38 | More by crnipeter
Photo of Buttermaker
Buttermaker

California

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

This is a perfectly fine beer but with all the outstanding Christmas beers out there the St. Bernardus Christmas Ale doesn't really distinguish itself. The best thing I can say about the nose is it's rather unremarkable...mostly malt with some alcohol. The taste is good...again mostly malt with just a touch too much alcohol for my taste. If you like warmers try the Delirium Noels which hides it's 10.0% ABV much better than this one. There's definitely some dried fruit on the palate but no nutmeg or other x-mas spices in this one. Mouthfeel and drinkability are in line with the taste.

Recommended Music Pairing: Ray Charles - The Spirit of Christmas

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2009 05:13:18 | More by Buttermaker
Photo of mjaskula
mjaskula

New York

4.53/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a large wine glass. Pours a dark brown with red highlights. The huge head pours thick and thins out to a film, leave a small amount of lacing.

Aroma is thick and sweet with dark fruits, and a bit of alcohol. Really inviting. The flavor is big and complex, continuing the nose. Lots of sweetness and dark fruit flavors, some spiciness. A bit of alcohol heat. There's some tartness in the finish as well.

The mouthfeel is pretty thick, but the high carbonation and dryness balance it out well.

I'm not sure what makes this a christmas beer, but it's really good regardless.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2009 01:34:02 | More by mjaskula
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 Liverpool08
Liverpool08

Massachusetts

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

Pours a deep ruby red with a deliciuos fluffy mocha colored head. Has the sweet malty/funky aroma of a good Abbey ale. The first sip is YUMMY! Malty, smooth, and creamy, with ahint of cinnamon at the end. Each sip is even better than the first. More malty smoothnes with hints of dried fruits and nutmeg. A great ale for Christmas. I will be looking for this one every December!

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2009 21:25:11 | More by Liverpool08
Photo of Spineypanda
Spineypanda

Texas

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

Pours a dark thick liquid with a nice dark and thin head.
Smells of spices and some ginger as well as the smells you get from the Abt 12.
Tastes really nice, like gingerbread and has a good strong abbey ale taste to it that blends nicely.
It is a shame this was the last one in my store, otherwise I would buy another :).

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2009 21:07:33 | More by Spineypanda
Photo of SpdKilz
SpdKilz

Illinois

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

Had this on tap at FO Santa Monica

Appearance - When given to me there was about two fingers of medium brown mocha looking head. This slowly dissipates and leaves great lacing on the side of the glass.

Smell - At the forefront there are heavily toasted/sweet malt fragrances followed immediately by holiday spices such as ginger and vanilla. It finishes with some dark fruit flavors such as dark cherries and figs.

Taste - Very similar to the smell though I taste the spices up front. I can taste cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla. This melds away to a nice sweet malty flavor which is soon enveloped by the dark fruit flavors (most noticeably when tasting is the cherry). Tastes like Christmas in a bottle!

Mouthfeel - Very thick and creamy. Lower amounts of carbonation. Finishes with a slight spicy/tartness.

Drinkability - Relatively so - definitely a sipper. Near the end, as it warms up more, you can taste the alcohol a bit more than at the beginning. Overall a very good "fireplace" sipper.

Serving type: on-tap

12-17-2009 19:15:57 | More by SpdKilz
Photo of Lunch
Lunch

Maryland

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

Served on-tap at Frisco Grille in Columbia, MD (12/16/09) into a goblet at the appropriate temperature.

A: Pours a chestnut brown with ruby hues and a creamy one finger head. The carbonation is quite lively in this one.

S: Complex yet slightly subdued Belgian aroma containing a fair amount of spice, roasted sweet malt, and an overall Belgian character that is hard to put my finger on.

T: Pleasant Christmas flavors with a nice Belgian kick containing roasted malt, a heap of spice, carob, chocolate, caramel, and toffee surrounding in a marmalade of dark fruits (plum, raisin, prune, and figs). There is a slight chalky characteristic that slightly drag down the flavor.

M: Full-bodied with active carbonation and a pleasant hint of the 10% abv.

D: Drinkability is actually quite good for a higher abv. ale as the flavors play off one another and create a nice spiced ale to be enjoyed around the holidays.

Overall this beer is becoming one of my favorite Christmas Ales and it is another well crafted ale from the brewers of St. Bernardus. Recommended.

Serving type: on-tap

12-17-2009 16:23:22 | More by Lunch
Photo of brownbeer
brownbeer

Missouri

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

I think this is a 2007 vintage, as the cork has a best before date of 2012. I assume it's a five year date. Although, that contradicts the suggestion on the bottle to age it up to 15 years. I digress.

Dark brown with a nice, light brown head, retention, the whole nine. Looks great.

The first thing I notice in the aroma is licorice. Then fig, Christmas plum pudding. Too many great notes for me to understand. Christmas in a bottle.

Spicy yeast flavors, a hint of apple fruitiness, fruitcake, nutmeg, caramel, raisin. Full, creamy body with a nice, warming finish. Could possibly benefit from a softer carbonation.

I'm not sure if the two years of age helped this out, but this beer is in that small group that defines Belgian greatness. Classy stuff.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2009 03:30:30 | More by brownbeer
Photo of HoosBrews
HoosBrews

North Carolina

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

Served to me in a Belgian style glass. Appearance was dark, with a huge amount of head which laced extremely well. The nose hasd hints of cherry and a prominent alcohol aroma (not in a bad way, just bold). Taste was a wonderful blend of sweetness, warmth from the alcohol, and complex fruitiness and spice. The high carbonation of this beer really gives it it huge mouthfeel. Given the higher gravity of this beer, I'm impressed with the smooth finish which makes this beer highly drinkable. Overall, one of the better Christmas beers I've had all year!

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2009 22:25:56 | More by HoosBrews
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
Photo of Jesstyr
Jesstyr

Virginia

4.88/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

St. Bernardus is one of my favorites, so I gave this a try when I saw it on the shelves at Publick House in Brookline. Now I wish I could buy a dozen more. Quickly became one of my all time favorites.

Poured into a stemless tulip glass out of a .

A: dark brown with very creamy head.

S: Rich aroma with chocolate and a little bit of bourbon, and subtle winter spices.

T: Rich flavor of chocolate and dark fruits, not sweet, just a little bit of toffee and raisins and a bit yeasty. Great with cheese.

M: Light and a little creamy.

D: Too easy. Finished the bottle and didnt feel it till much later.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2009 18:50:25 | More by Jesstyr
Photo of bobsy
bobsy

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This brewery is one of my favourites, so when I saw the Christmas Ale in Buffalo it was a no brainer.

Pours a rich dark brown with a creamy tan head that slowly dropped to a collar, but left some good lace going down. Sweet malt aroma, with some cinamon and chocolate mixed in.

Sone good yeastiness in the flavour, which gives off some mild bread notes, and a good shot of spice. Fruity sweet malts give a juicy raisin and date character, while some brown sugar adds to the sweetness. Decent so far, all the way up to the body, which is askew. Slightly too light for the style, and slightly too carbonated... a couple years should fix one of those.

I'm slowly going off these Belgian Strong Darks, as the sweetness doesn't appeal to me as much as it used to. That said I do think this is a nice example of the style, and would be a definite reccomendation for lovers of good Belgian beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2009 20:07:26 | More by bobsy
Photo of beeragent
beeragent

Texas

4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter from a 22oz bottle.

A - Pours a deep slightly hazy amber forming a massive off-white head. Very little lacing on the glass.

S - Rich aroma of dark fruits with a little Belgian candy sugar aroma and a hint of alcohol.

T - Dark fruit flavor mixes with the malts creating a sweet thick taste that coats the palate. No hop presence is detected and the alcohol in the finish is very mild. Very complex taste.

M - A little thicker than medium mouthfeel with a good amount of carbonation that is continuous. Very clean finish.

D - This should be had all year, not just at Christmas. Great Belgian dark! Great flavor and mouthfeel. The only downside to the drinkability is the higher abv., and I wouldnt even consider that a downside. Overall another great beer from St. Bernardus!!!

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2009 00:21:10 | More by beeragent
Photo of spointon
spointon

Illinois

4.68/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle, IL. Served in a stemmed tulip glass.

A= This ale poured a slightly murky mahogany brown color with a 3/4" light tan head. Lots of evident carbonaton release kept the head at 1/4" all the way down the glass.

S= I found a lot of Belgian charater, malty sweetness, carob, and a hint of spice in the aroma. Very nice.

T= Incredible restraint on the spices! The flavor was mostly a rich dark Belgian strong, but those spices just kept surfacing and then disappearing before I could get a good read on them. Superb balance of spice to everything else. Speaking of which, I also noted caramel, treacle, and some dark fruitiness (raisins, figs, and plums). Some spicy alcohol in th efinish but not as much as one would expect at this ABV.

MF= Medium bodied with a soft and velvety feel despite the very obvious and active carbonation release. Nice warming quality from the alcohol.

D= Really an exceptional beer and easily the best "Christmas ale" I have had to date. Dangerously drinkable despite the big ABV.

Serving type: on-tap

12-12-2009 23:01:39 | More by spointon
Photo of JVEyck309
JVEyck309

New Jersey

4.93/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bomber corked and caged - pours a muddy bloody opaque reddish brown with one finger head that sticks around in a chalice glass, smell is complex and exciting..cherries and dark fruit aromas mixed with sugars, vanilla, cokeacola, yeasty bread .. I don't know, the works.. It's good to go. This beer made me crack a window open to let in some cold winter air.. much needed. Grandma used to make amazing nut breads.. I want one of those really bad right now.. would pair so well with this rich brew. Ugh.. the complexity, it's like hearing Beethoven's 9th all over again for the first time or like the first time you found your dad's porno. A world opens up and eyes pop out and mind is dancing in a field of whatevers. Taste .. my stupid childish palate is not ready to even pontificate or articulate but hell.. I've had better beers.. too much christmas cheer makes me giggly and I can't think clearly. (Should have held onto this one for xmass.. oh well.. I shall get another bottle!) Spicey dancing dark fruits and a whole lot of spirit. Certain to make your day a bit brighter in the dreary dread of Christmas season... cause who needs family when you got booze, right? well.. I digress. Anyway, theres a lot to this brew and I get annoyed with myself when I try to pull out a bunch of keywords in the BA community.. "dark fruits, esters, phenols, malts - bready, earthy, etc. hops- citrusy, grapefruity, etc.." oh words. How frustrating they can be.. yet we have nothing else to rely upon. Mouthfeel is spectacuallalalrrl bubbly but not overbearing. Now about this beer I am drinking.. think Abt 12 times 5.. it's delicious in all the right places and I am ever so grateful and humble and I reflect upon life's impermanence and how all humankind is akin and yet so vastly different...
Hare Krishna. Goodnight

Go and buy another bottle of this beer, idiot.

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2009 04:06:51 | More by JVEyck309
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 dahlen22
dahlen22

New Jersey

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

After having a Bernadus 12 on tap at the Eulogy Bar in Philadelphia, I figured I would give this a go. The beer is a reddish-brown color with a nice 1/2 inch of head. The aroma is nice, but taste is what matters.

This beer has plenty of legs and tastes good. It starts off velvety with a slight bit of spice and caramel. It then goes into raisons, toffee, and some winter spices. Being 10%, I would not sit down and drink more than one or two, but this is a beer for the winter months. As far as Christmas beers goes, this is not quite as good as a Corsendonk Christmas, but it does rank high within this category of beers. Merry Christmas!!

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2009 23:17:19 | More by dahlen22
Photo of jtinks
jtinks

Illinois

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

poured from a corked 750ml bottle in a de koninck "bolleke" glass...nice reddish color with about a three-quarter-inch head. quite delicious. beer like this almost makes a chicago winter worthwhile. smells like melting caramel and tastes very malty. i think i detect some coriander notes in there.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2009 03:00:33 | More by jtinks
Photo of THORN
THORN

Minnesota

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

2009 botle 1 pint 9 Fl. Oz. poured into Duvel snifter.
A: Dark purple red, cannot see through center. Red around the edges with visible CO2 trails on bottom of snifter. Pours 1/2 inch vanilla colored head. Thick sticky lacing left behind around snifter.
S: Sweet toasted malts followed by sweet cherries and ginger. Sight vanilla linger.
T: Dark toasted malts, followed by strong toffee body, Cinnamon and raisins linger into slight alcohol taste.
M: Light on tongue but still syrupy. Slight warming feeling.
D: Very well balanced, slight alcohol is welcome with body that accompanies.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2009 06:59:58 | More by THORN
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,417 ratings.