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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

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

1,831 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,831
Reviews: 638
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 143
Gots: 291 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: seaoflament on 10-23-2007

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (12) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,831 | Reviews: 638 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kmwilson76
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of arkansastroy
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of Converge
4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a 22oz goblet. This review was originally planned for yesterday, but long story short, it just didn't fit in. So, here we go! Bought the bottle in mid-August, so it's had a bit of time to mature.

A - Nice thick and creamy head. Deep garnet hue, with moderate sediment haze going on. Unrelenting head retention that leaves behind thick webs of sticky lacing.

S - Figs, plums, candi sugar, Belgian spices and yeast. Traces of dark chocolate, dates, and dried bananas.

T - Dark fruits, candi sugar, and Belgian yeast. Figs, dates, Belgian spices, and caramel malt. Finishes with some dark chocolate and green apple sourness. Little bits of brown sugar and dried cherries appear as well, but remain fairly muted. Light hop presence in the finish, but not nearly as much as other reviews hinted at. Alcohol presence is minimal.

M - Creamy smooth carbonation with a medium-to-big bodied feel. Fits well with the flavor profile.

D - My first BSDA, and a solid one at that. Doesn't exactly show off a whole lot of seasonal flavors, but I enjoyed it a lot overall. Sort of reminded of the Abt 12, but I liked this one a bit more. Nice and easy to drink, but the 10% ABV is disguised way too well; this one will certainly sneak up on you!

Photo of JayS2629
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Honest opinion. I enjoy the original Abt 12 imensely and think whatever spices are added to this one are a detraction. I still enjoy this one emensely as well and appreciate the spirit it was intended for. It is a great holiday, seasonal treat and deeply complex and sophisticated. Monk magic!

It pours a murky brown that is almost black. Cola like with a huge rocky off-white head three fingers thick and with steady staying power. Frothy rings of thick lace linger.

The aroma is spicy and full of belgian yeast esters. Dark fruit and spices. Over ripe plum, dates, and fig with cherry notes and caramel undertones. Thick toffee melts into musky, funky yeast phenols.

The taste gets really spicy. Holiday spices shine against yeasty spice notes. Nutmeg and cinnamon tones surf on the wave of funky belgian yeast tones of dark fruit,candy sugar, and dark rum notes. Musky notes and metallic, medicinal tones intrude slightly. Some may enjoy these licorice like flavors.

Mouthfeel is creamy and medium bodied.

easy sipper. Complex, interesting, and enjoyable. Slightly under the original Abt. 12 but still amazing.

Photo of tedho21
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of Lantern
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of Adrianized
4/5  rDev -5.4%

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

Consumed Christmas eve 2011.

A: Things open up with a violent and loud uncorking. A cola-otter-brown pour yields a monstrous rocky, foamy head that was porous and moderate on the hold leaving splotchy sticky patches on the glass for lace. Near black coloring while in the chalice is actually a very dark burgundy when backlighted revealing a vigorous effervesce. Additional pours yielded a mushrooming effect on the head which showed more resilience in its stay of execution.

S: Sugary dark plums, sweet caramel syrup, with a good Belgian yeastiness can first be found on the nose with some musky damp grains. Soft traces of estery pear drop, sweet chocolate and bananas are also evident. A 10.0%abv that is very well concealed aromatic wise never giving any indication this is a hint above 5%.

T: Yeasty with chocolate, dried banana, and pear notes from the yeast. Sweet caramel some sugary dark plums, raisins and a very bready palate add some depth. The alcohol feels/tastes more at home like a 5% as with the nose, very well refrained. The yeasty nature is nicely highlighted with a light musky nature of damp pale grains. Sweet bready caramel, malty, lush flavor.

M: Edgy carbonation provides a good deal of activity on the tongue. Creamy, frothy texture, full malt body adds lushness with some raisiny alcohol hints upon the swallow.

O: Overall a great all around beer and worthy of a special occasion. Very easy drinkability despite its indicated alcohol content. Malty lush body with a good support of yeasty character makes this all you can want from a Belgian dark ale. Once again Brouweij of St. Bernardus and St. Sixtus (Westvlteren) seem to be in a league of their own when it comes per style and overall quality.

Photo of jak
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of barnzy78
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of Cozzatoad
3.63/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750ml cork caged bottle

A- Foam immediately pours out of the bottle, and it keeps building inside even after a few pours. Slightly murky brown, with ruby hints if seen through light. Huge head that quite quickly recedes to about one finger of slightly off-white soapiness. Loads of lacing on the glass

S- Dried and dark fruits among a strong alcohol feel, with a faint spicy note to it. A hint of lactic acidity as well

T- A suprisingly dry and not so strong malt character (with some notes of caramel) sets this beer apart from most belgian strong ales and other St. Bernardus beers as well. A slighlty musty herbal feel plays a major role in this beer, though in my opinion it is not perfectly balanced with the beer's dry malt character. Strong alcoholic feel, with both plain alcohol and spicy notes from the esters. Assertive dark fruit notes of cherry, raisin and maybe more. A faint hint of lactic sourness as the smell suggested. Extremely complex, but a bit messy

M- It's dry malt charcter has this beer feeling quite light in body if compared to most belgian strong ales and given it's ABV. Alcohol can definitely be felt, and though it brings a nice warming feel it gets a bit too much in the way in my opinion. Average and spot-on carbonation

O- As i have already mentioned this beer is very complex but quite a bit of a mess. It still is decently drinkable and warming, but it's musty, herbal character just not gets in the line with it's dry malt character. I didn't notice bad or completely off flavours nor any other major issue, so i'm reviewing it

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Best by 8/3/16.

Pours a murky dark brown with a huge 3 inch foamy beige head that settles to a small cap. Base on the first pour I got mostly foam so I think there may an issue with the carbonation on this one. A latticework of thin rings lines the glass on the drink down. Smell is of bready malt, brown sugar, and some dark fruits. Taste is very much the same with a nice flavor of dark fruits (raisins, plums, etc.) on the finish. Like I suspected based on the pour, this beer has an extremely high level of carbonation with a very crisp and bubbly mouthfeel. Way overcarbonated in my opinion but without any indicators of infection or the like. Overall, this is a good BSDA and a very nice beer to sip on for Christmas night but the mouthfeel brings down my enjoyment of this beer.

Photo of Listers
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of coz
4/5  rDev -5.4%

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

A - Burgundy brown, with a fluffy tan head that forms a nice bubbly collar.

S - Sweet and tangy fruit, plums cherries, clove and cinnamon, apples.

T - Brown sugar, clove, cinnamon, dark plums, dried figs, apples, candy sugar, cherries, brown spice cake, anise, some light hop and peppery alcohol on back end. The aftertaste leaves glazed plantains on the palate.

M - Moderate carbonation, medium body, light on the tongue.

A perfect Christmas beer! Sweet and spicy upfront and dry and satisfying on the finish.

Photo of Yesdog
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of Agent1
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally, after two years of wanting to open this 750ml, it has been poured and left to warm in my Watou glass. I am excited to see how this recipe will differ from the Abt 12, as it is still one of my all-time favorite beers. Let's see how the Christmas Ale compares!

Appearance - Very active. Held up to the light, you can see that this is fairly carbonated, creating an amazing beige head. Bubbly and creamy. Heavy lacing. A deep, deep brown with a faint ruby hue.

Smell - Ripe cherries and fig, heavy malts with a strong breadiness. A little bit of yeast and liquorice is noticeable, too. Lots to pick up here. Mostly dry fruits, some spices and alcohol. In fact, the alcohol is surprisingly pungent on the nose (definitely in your face). A light acidity consisting of orange peel, lemon but mostly cherries. Faint hops are present as well.

Taste - The alcohol definitely cuts through more than the Abt 12. It seems to have more edge. Dried cherry is the most predominant ingredient in this beer for me. Smooth Belgian candi sugars and plenty of toffee. Bready, like most St. Bernardus products. Faint notes of herbs and spices nearing the finish (perhaps nutmeg and cinnamon, but that may be my imagination!). Curious to know if this is aged in cognac casks, hence the cherry. Figs, liquorice, bitter orange peel, dry hops and alcohol. Again, the abv is definitely more noticeable compared to the Abt 12. Not sure how I feel about this...

Mouthfeel - This travels all throughout the mouth. Very warm and smooth. It stimulates the entire palate. In this sense I really appreciate it, but on the other hand, the alcohol pierces the tongue a little too much. It is not as hidden as the Abt 12 and a little less balanced due to this.

Overall - Personally, I do not find this ale nearly as balanced as the Abt 12. It is a great Christmas beer, but maybe not as quite as good compared to others I've recently had (see my other reviews). I love the cherries in this beer and I certainly appreciate the label! Fairly festive and the dried fruits and cherries really bring out an interesting quality to this. A solid Christmas ale.

Photo of confer
4.53/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- What an amazing pour. Makes you wait for a few minutes before you can drink it though. Is a medium brown and a little cloudy, but the highlight is the huge head. (TWSS). It was like ice cream on the top of the beer, so thick and lasting so long.
S-It's got that sweet raisin/prune smell of a good quad.
T-This is nearly liquid perfection. So sweet with a small bit of heat and it seems to evaporate in your mouth.
MO- What a great beer. I'm halfway down my glass and it just keeps tasting better, the foamy head has calmed down but is still thick and creamy. Got this for Christmas from my wife and now want to go out and get some more.

Photo of crobinso
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of projectflam86
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle.

A- Pours a dark brown color with a thick sudsy head that leaves nice lacing.

S- Strong Belgian yeast and spice with some alcohol present as well.

T- Clove, banana, Belgian candy sugar, and alcohol in the finish.

M- Medium bodied with crazy active carbonation.

O- Overall a very nice Belgian/Christmas ale.

Photo of draheim
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Third in my "three beers of Christmas" series.

750mL bottle (best by 7/27/2015) into a chalice. Pours a beautiful clear mahogany w/ a rich creamy off-white head.

Aroma is warm dark bread, rich malt, figs, spice, and sweet candi sugar.

Taste follows nose: fermenting dark fruit, sweet malt, yeast, raisins, spice, and some nice warm booze. Mouthfeel is full-bodied with a little tingle from the carbonation.

Overall another great Belgian Christmas ale. Not too much difference among the three I tried, and all are worthy.

Photo of Mahlik
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750 ml bottle poured into tulip glass

A - Pours a dark brown with reddish hues. Pours with a big pillowy cream-colored head. Head retention is really solid. Head dissipates to a thick crown, leaving behind great streaks of lacing.

S - Such an amazing aroma on this beer. Dark fruits such as raisins and figs hit the nose first. Plenty of Belgian yeast characteristics. A great spice profile including cloves and cinnamon. Pleasant aroma of brown sugar pushes through. Some banana notes as well.

T - Dark fruits and bready malts make the base of the flavor. A nice blend of caramel, cloves, brown sugar and cinnamon enter along with some fruity esters from the yeast. Sweet but not overbearing. I know it's been said by many others but I think rum-soaked fruitcake is a good description.

M - Medium-full bodied with slightly more than medium carbonation. Big, rich and sweet. Alcohol presence is above average but this is not quite a sipper. The alcohol seems to fade away before the aftertaste. A nice dry finish.

O - Fantastic. I've made this beer a part of my Christmas morning traditions. A perfect beer for the holidays. I enjoy just sitting by the tree and indulging on the rich, sweet taste of this beer. The dark fruit, bread and spice elements all blend to create an amazing Christmas experience.

Photo of IMTHOMAS
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of 1950carlen
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of MattyG85
4.87/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep and dark brownish amber red with lots of bubbles. Huge six finger bubbly off white head that slowly fades into a thin patchy layer. Leaves some good lacing on the glass.

Smell: Huge aroma of dark fruits leaps out of the glass. Raisins, prunes, figs, dates, and dark cherries. Lots of Belgian yeast with some hints of clove spice. Some hints of cinnamon and nutmeg spices. Also a hint of banana and brown sugar. Great mix of dark fruits and spices.

Taste: Just as great as the smell. Spicy Belgian yeast with cloves and banana. Huge taste of dark fruit with notes of raisins, figs, prunes, dates, and dark cherries. Also a noticeable presence of winter spices including cinnamon and nutmeg. Some caramel malts in the background provide some breadyness. Very fruity but not overly sweet. Spices add a lot.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a carbonation on the higher side. fruity and somewhat sticky. Spicy and finishes dry. No alcohol heat noticeable.

Overall: A very good Belgian Dark Ale and one of the best Christmas beers in the world. Great use of dark fruits and spices.

Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,831 ratings.