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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

1,439 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,439
Reviews: 576
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 104
Gots: 148 | FT: 6
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: 1,439 | Reviews: 576 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BMan1113VR
BMan1113VR

California

3.93/5  rDev -7.1%

2007. Good Looking muddy brown brew with a slight orange tinge. Head pours large and stays pretty well. Head is an off-white tan in color, creamy smooth in texture, and has nice lacing. Aroma is complex with cirtus hoppy-ness coming throught the most. Allspice and a light yeasty-dough aroma is second, followed by many other smells including chocolate, apple, and possibly even red wine. Flavor was pleasent, starting on the sweetish side and over a long duration finishing ever so slightly bitter-sour with defined fruit undertones. Medium in body with a lively carbonated but creamy texture, the overall mouth feel is clearly the best part of this brew. Pretty good stuff.

02-07-2008 16:15:24 | More by BMan1113VR
Photo of ZAP
ZAP

Minnesota

3/5  rDev -29.1%

A-Brugandy brown color...big tan pillowy head builds by the second as it sits in the glass...too much

S-Black licorice and ginger snaps are the first impression....also figs and raisins.

T-Feels pretty hot....boozy and alcoholic....the black licorice and ginger snaps again lead the way....prunes, raisins, figs...some mild bready yeastiness.

M-Too alcoholic...too charged up....

D-One of my least favorite of St. B lot...not horrible but certainly not in the same ballpark as some of my favorites of theirs. Too much air, heat, and a little heavy on the black licorice/ginger snap taste too...

01-31-2008 06:03:17 | More by ZAP
Photo of DrJay
DrJay

Massachusetts

4.22/5  rDev -0.2%

Clear, coppery red hue with burnt orange edges and a billowing, fluffy cap of beige foam. Great head retention with chunky clumps of foam sticking to the glass at first, then some spotty lacing later. Great aroma - figs and prunes, apple, cinnamon, bready and yeasty, floral hops, bubblegum, pear, and mild medicinal alcohol. Sweet with some warm alcohol up front, dried fruit in the middle, with bread crust towards the end. It finished with a flash of gingerbread and lingering peppery alcohol. Medium to full bodied with very high carbonation. Palate coating with a bit of slickness and warmth. A great winter warmer with pleasing fruity notes. I'm betting this will age gracefully.

01-27-2008 01:29:10 | More by DrJay
Photo of Dukeofearl
Dukeofearl

California

4.08/5  rDev -3.5%

750 ml bottle for $11.99 at Hi Time Wine in Costa Mesa, CA. Purchased in December 2007 and tasted in January of the following year.

Pours a deep chocolate brown with a massive St. B. style foamy off-white head. After letting it settle a while (giving me a great chance to smell it), I finally got to try it out.

Aroma is typical of the rich full dark Belgian abbey beers- cocoa and raisins and dates and a hint of spiciness. A little sweet smelling.

Flavor is nice. I just have to use plain words sometimes when describing beer, and for this one, it's nice. Rich creamy mouthfeel surrounds milk chocolate, raisins and figs and perhaps some berries, a bit of grass, and a hint of spices (I am never good at identifying them specifically). Also, a touch of alcohol heat, but generally well hidden.

A good, OK, a very good beer. In my mind, I think I would rather have the plain old "normal" St. Bernardus lineup than this special brew, but that's just me. Recommended.

01-27-2008 01:20:05 | More by Dukeofearl
Photo of nickfl
nickfl

Florida

4.4/5  rDev +4%

A - Really big head, basically 2/3 glass of foam. As the rocky head settles, and it settles very slowly, it leaves a spider web of sticky lace. The body is slightly hazy, and very dark brown with just a hint of red.

S - Fruity notes and dark malt combine to product distinct aromas of prunes, figs, and raisins. There is a nice, herbal hop undertone as well as a subtle note of alcohol.

T - Sweet and fruity up front with a strong alcohol note. Big, roasty flavors come in next with lots of chocolate and fruity notes of bananas and prunes. Herbal hops are present throughout the experience and they linger and provide a bit of bitterness to mingle with the intense toffee and chocolate flavors in the finish. There is a late alcoholic note, and quite a lot of tobacco character that lasts longer than any of the other flavors.

M - High carbonation, thick body and a dry finish.

D - I expected a big beer, but this is huge. Very complex, with a very nice, wintry roasted quality. Not exactly an easily drinkable beer, but my overall impression is very favorable. Considering the complexity and the high alcohol content, I am inclined to think that this would age very well. I also think that with its smokey tobacco flavors, this is one of the few beers I have had that could really stand up to a good cigar.

01-21-2008 06:13:45 | More by nickfl
Photo of Drew966
Drew966

Florida

4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale pours a mahogany brown with a huge tan head from a brown 750 ml bottle. The aroma is spicy. The taste is also quite spicy, almost a wintergreen like flavor, but not as strong. Spice definitely dominates the flavor, but dark fruits are also present. A very enjoyable Christmas beer, definitely worth a try.

01-20-2008 05:53:24 | More by Drew966
Photo of taez555
taez555

Massachusetts

4.1/5  rDev -3.1%

Sampled 12/31/07, reviewing from notes.

This beer poured an opaque tannish ruby body with a huge white head.

Nose was typical big Belgian. Loads of Belgian years and phenols. There's a sharp potpourri type holiday spice note Dark dry fruits and touches of caramel. There's a strong alcohol burn in every whiff. As it warms the spices really shine through.

Taste is medium to full bodied. Lots of dry tannins. Loads of big dark prunes, plums, dark raisins mixed with soft caramel, milk chocolate and mild espresso beans. There's a very course large bubbled mouth-feel throughout.

Overall a very good beer. It's no anniversary or abt 12, but still... worth every penny for a solid St. Bernardus.

01-14-2008 16:24:42 | More by taez555
Photo of Bighuge
Bighuge

Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Dark mahogany body. Thick crop of beige head. It sticks around forever, though it does diminish ever so slightly creating a rocky landscape on top of the nectar. Very inviting nose. Subtly, yet very pleasing to the sense of smell. Doughy yeastiness with bready malts and cinnamon spiciness blend to give the warm aroma of comfort. Biscuity malt base serves nicely for the layers of complexity on top. Spice tones intermingle with fruits and candy. Light alcoholic tones are present to create a little warmth. Body is light-medium and the carbonation lends an ever so sublte effervescence to the whole experience. This is quite enjoyable and I'm not exactly surprised being that it comes from my favorite Belgian Brewery.

01-10-2008 05:40:58 | More by Bighuge
Photo of walshclimb
walshclimb

Nevada

4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Very foamy pour. I had to use a 3rd glass due to rapid head building, even pouring very slowly Tan head is very rocky with small bbublles grading to large bubbles at the top. Body is slighly murky dark chocolate color with very active carbonation. Leaves bubbly, spidery lace. Rich and malty aroma with spice, herbs, and a little fruit (apple). Maybe a hint of chocolate and a bit of alcohol smell as well. Big malt IF with slightly acidic finish that is long lived, slowly mellowing to a pleasant bitterness on the tongue. Full bodied with creamy texture and an alcoholic finish. Overall, this is a great slow taster wthat is at once big and very drinkable.

01-09-2008 20:00:59 | More by walshclimb
Photo of dedrinker
dedrinker

Kansas

3.5/5  rDev -17.3%

Muddy bronze color with a goofy head. Aromas of bubble gum and cough medicine (not in a bad way). The flavors were of raisins ("purple" popsicle from childhood) and some yeast and candi sugar. This may be good after a year in the basement for next Christmas, but I'll take the Abt 12 first.

01-08-2008 05:40:53 | More by dedrinker
Photo of RblWthACoz
RblWthACoz

Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

Pours a clouded dark brown with a good sized creme head that leaves a decent amount of lacing on the way down. Nose is spices and yeast. Flavor is extremely heavy on the spices. Just buckets and buckets of them. Dough rests in the background. Carbonation is extremely full and attacks the tongue. Liquid is as it should be. This is definitely a winter style brew. It is so spice forward and heavy on the body that it is to be sipped and savored over time. A nice brew for sure.

01-07-2008 00:11:09 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of Georgiabeer
Georgiabeer

Georgia

4.4/5  rDev +4%

One of the nicest Christmas beers I had this year. I'm really glad that St. Bernardus decided to make and bottle this brew. It is still a little sharp, I think a little time in the bottle will smooth out the edges. Nevertheless, it is still delicious now. Pours a beautiful dark brown with a batter like head- big, thick, and creamy and which leaves excellent lacing. Aromas of sweet malt, banana, alcohol, and cookie dough. Well carbonated with flavors of pffefernuse- black pepper, clove, cinnamon, coriander, and cookie dough. Not overly sweet, in fact there is a dry somewhat astringent bitterness throughout that nicely offsets the spice cookie flavors. Delicious! Mouthfeel is carbonated, full, spicy, and creamy. Drinkability should improve with a few more months in the cellar. A great addition to the Belgian winter repertoire.

01-05-2008 16:10:47 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of JayQue
JayQue

Virginia

4.2/5  rDev -0.7%

I haven't had a disappointing St Bernadus beer yet. This one pours a dark, dense mahogany color with no light coming through the goblet. Big tan head that slowly recedes to a thick covering. Good lacing. Smell was pretty mediocre for a Belgian.

A really nice mix of tastes. Hops bitterness, spices, Belgian candy sugar and alcohol taste all mixed into a great drinking experience. The sweetness and hops are well balanced so the sweetness is not cloying. The alcohol is warming but not overpowering. The spices let you know this is a winter /Christmas brew. Mouthfeel is rich like you would expect in a Belgian Ale. Drinkability is good but this is a sipper and not a session beer.

I will be adding this to the winter lineup every year.

01-05-2008 03:12:45 | More by JayQue
Photo of Domingo
Domingo

Colorado

3.53/5  rDev -16.5%

I like the normal St. Bernardus offerings, so I picked this up for the season and ended up drinking it on New Year's Day.
Pours a darker brown than their normal abt 12 and it has a massive tan head. After the head started taking over I had to lighten up on the pour a little. Pretty impressive for something this potent.
Smells chocolately, raisin-like, and boozy. There's a little bit of a floral hop presence, too. The Belgian yeast is in check a little bit, but it's there.
Tastes boozier than I expected. It also has a pretty sharp hop bite in the finish, too. Flavors are of roasted nuts, caramel, chocolate, and sugars. Nothing really unusual to be honest, but a standard dark Belgian ale with more alcohol burn and hops.
Mouthfeel's thick and chewy, but that's what a beer like this needs.
It took me about an hour and a half to finish my half of the bottle and when I was done, I was done for the evening. It's just a little too much considering I didn't find the flavor to be all that unique.
Not bad, but I'm not sure it's anything I'll pick up again unless it's on sale.

01-02-2008 15:28:07 | More by Domingo
Photo of dnichols
dnichols

Washington

4.18/5  rDev -1.2%

I sampled with imacoug (BA member) a caged and corked 750 ml bottle that we poured into chilled chalices.

A: I poured a dark brown body with a moderate tan head that receded to an even cover. The lacing was modest and did not retain as the beer was consumed.

S: It had a bold dark yeasty profile supported by dark toasted and sweet malts and a spicy rich hoppy presence that was reminicent of nutmeg, cinniman, and all-spice.

T: Each sip presents a front of strong yeast and toasted malts. The dark chocolate is followed by spices that are reminiscent of hot chocolate spiced with marshmallows, cinnamon and nutmeg.

M: It was full bodied with a creamy richness of the yeast and malts hid well the high ABV however, there was a lingering sour aftertaste that detracted from the experience.

D: The full body creamy richness and the well crafted and balanced spices makes this a wonderful winter brew. However, the high ABV and lingering sourness off set its qualities and make this a one bottle a night brew for me (but a fine bottle it is).

Mouthfeel – This is not quite full-bodied but it is big. The carbonation is strong and fluffy, tickling the inside cheeks like a good BSDA should.

Drinkability – This is a terrific addition to the St Bernie inventory. It's a wonderful wintertime specialty ale.

12-30-2007 03:30:12 | More by dnichols
Photo of zeff80
zeff80

Missouri

4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

2007 Edition

A – Poured out a rich amber color with a beautiful, tan, foamy, three-finger head. It left sticky rings of lace on the glass.

S – It smelled of dried fruits (pear and apple). There was also a strong malty presence.

T - The taste was quite complex. Spices hit the tongue on first sip, cinnamon and maybe vanilla. A rich, roasted malt flavor lasts throughout. It had a biscuity quality, as well.

M – It was soft and smooth with a warm alcohol presence. This is a very heavy-bodied beer.

D – This is a very nice Christmas Ale. It is quite a lot to handle in one sitting. I might have to pick up another and cellar it (the bottle claims it can be cellared for up to 15 years).

12-30-2007 00:49:27 | More by zeff80
Photo of Bierguy5
Bierguy5

Ohio

4.47/5  rDev +5.7%

750 ml, 10% ABV, best before 7/8/12. Pours a very dark chestnut color with some ruby hues. Thick, foamy tan head. The head stays on top like a pillow top, and turns into this great frothy, rocky top. Head retention was perfect. Even at the end of the glass, there was a layer of foam left. Huge sheets of lace left coating nearly the entire glass. Impressive so far.

Lots of complexity in the nose. Fruity, spicy, yeasty aromas. Earthy, figs, plums, and a whiff of alcohol. Very enjoyable. Layers of aroma.

Dark bready flavor, darker fruits, some fig, spices and yeasty character. Again, layers of flavors, without being overwhelming.

Warming alcohol. Frothy carbonation gives this a medium body feel. A big beer, with layers of character. Very nice.

12-29-2007 14:42:38 | More by Bierguy5
Photo of BuckSpin
BuckSpin

Maine

4.03/5  rDev -4.7%

Presentation: v.2007 750ml bottle in a stemmed tulip

Opened with more of a "BANG" than a "POP"! Poured crisp, lively, crackiln' with lots of energy. Deep, lush sweet nose, rich with caramelized malts & fruits like dark cherry, raisin, fig. Belgian yeasts are present as well as spices like coriander dance in the background overtop a faint, yet noticeable, sharpness from lurking alcohol. With some time to bloom it softens & grows a little rounder, fuller, some faint chocolate is present.

The head of a snappin', cracklin', sticky 2 fingers (can't believe I typed "sticky fingers") worth of very loose, dull parchment hued foam fades rather quickly, leaving only a thin blanket with a decent edge ring that is already lacing. Color is classic - deep & ruddy, almost opaque to the naked eye, its actually a hazy cranberry hue, dark, softly radiant with a faint brassiness.

Crisp & lush, it comes out of gate guns blazing with an almost sharp spiciness just edgy with coriander & pepper. Sharply semi-dry, the aridity acts as a buffer for the rich caramelized malts that resonate fruit sweetness from dark cherry, raisin, a little fig. The yeast quality only accentuates the spices & dryness. The hops, playing bass in the background, provide an almost overlooked bitterness, a slight burnt quality, that really grounds the lush caramels, sharp spices & dry, yeasted feel with a soild anchor. These monks sure do know how to keep many balls in the air & balance many different qualities/tastes/mouthfeels so that no one is dominate & all are countered against another.

This is definitely a sipper, both out of respect for its complex taste structure & the well hidden (until the swallow) alcohol. Personally I enjoy a beer that causes me to downshift & relax, so this is fine by me.

It grows drier & crisper on the palate, the malts take on a cracker-like quality, more breadlike. The spice aspect melds with the yeast & dryness, slowly fading but still a combined force to be reckoned with & enjoyed. The alcohol (as mentioned previously) is well hidden but, on the throat, definitely rises up with not so much a whisper but a steady chorus of warmth that steadily & continualy builds in strength until the whole of my cranial orifice from my upper jaw up are warm & alive with a steady, warm glow.

It finishes with a nice, bittersweet adieu, slowly fading off and trading sharp spices & aridity for soft warmth & an constant, burning glow, leaving a surprising clean & sweet aftertaste that echoes of caramel, stone fruits & just a hint of bread, Definitely a sipper for a cold night.

This was a damn nice beer. Not surprisingly it was rather complex yet very well balanced. A great beer that would be perfect to take the chill off any beer lover. That said, I do think this would (as the bottle indicates) benefit from a few years (well, maybe more than a few) of cellaring to round it off and soften those edges. They suggest up to 15 years. Not sure I could wait that long, but I do think a few years would definitely reward the cellarer (cellarer?) with a more robust, full beer.It would take a very, very strong cheese to hold up to this. A great Belgian winter ale, definitely recommenced & strongly suggested as a cellaring candidate....but definitely worth at least one bottle's worth of enjoyment now.

12-29-2007 03:12:54 | More by BuckSpin
Photo of weeare138
weeare138

Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -5.4%

The cork flew out of the top as I was on my last twist of the cage. Thank goodness it only left a small battle scar in TomDecapolis' ceiling...
Appears a hazy dark amber with a soapy head of light tan foam that slowly fades out. Spotty lacing clings to the sides of the glass.
Smell is of raisins, plums, cocoa, anise, nutmeg, caramel, and brown sugar.
Taste echoes the aromas with the trademark Saint Bernie yeast pulling through with a touch of holiday spicing to make it complete.
Mouthfeel is medium full and lingering of raisins, fig newtons, fennel, sweet nougat, caramel, and pine needels.

12-28-2007 20:07:41 | More by weeare138
Photo of willjschmidt
willjschmidt

California

4.13/5  rDev -2.4%

Poured from a 750 ml bottle (marked best by 07/07/12) into the appropriate St. Bernardus glass.

A: Pours a very dark brown (almost black) color with a huge thick and billowing light tan head. Great head retention leaves a big head throughout with some light lacing.

S: Some light sweet malts in the nose along with some floral accents.

T: Dark malts up front in the form of figs and raisin although with very little sweetness. The finish is peppery with some light spices. The spices tend to dominate the palate. Not quite as much complexity as I like to see in this style.

M: A creamy mouthfeel with very high carbonation.

D: Good drinkability due to the fact that the alcohol is nowhere to be found, especially for a 10% brew. This was a good offering but I think that this one will likely get better with a little aging.

12-28-2007 03:55:14 | More by willjschmidt
Photo of Franchise
Franchise

Oregon

4.2/5  rDev -0.7%

This offering from St. Bernardus pours a delicious dark brown leaving a thick tan head that is frothy and typical from the previous offerings from St.Bernardus. The aroma is very fruity, plums, figs, dates, brown sugar, sweet earthy spices and dark pitted fruit. There is also a faint sour fruit aspect in the back of this brew but nothing over powering. The taste starts matly, fruit, brown sugar, spiced seasoning, just a fantastic array of flavors and aromas massaging the palate. The finish is slightly tart on the back of the throat, hard to make out any specific christmas spices in this brew but that doesn't matter to me. A quality brew made for sipping at 10% abv the alcohol presence is barely visible well hidden in this beer.

12-27-2007 00:42:22 | More by Franchise
Photo of homebrewhawk
homebrewhawk

Kansas

3.95/5  rDev -6.6%

750ml corked bottle served in a Blvd. Smokestack Chalice. Cellar temp.
Poured a deep brown/ruby. Medium bubbled off white head. Lively carbonation. Spicy aroma with a little alcohol. Hint of a musty smell.
Full bodied brew. Lots of sweet malt and raisins. Slight hop bite in the middle. Finishes with a little banana and clove.

Drank this one after everyone left on Christmas Day. Good way to finish the holidays.

12-26-2007 18:07:25 | More by homebrewhawk
Photo of hckyfn9999
hckyfn9999

Missouri

3.9/5  rDev -7.8%

Pours a medium brown with golden hues into a St. Bernardus chalice. There is about a finger of creamy, light tan colored head with great retention which is par for their brews. Aroma is sweet, with some brown sugar, dark fruit, and banana. Also a lot of spice as well. Some clove and a little ginger.

The taste is similar to the aroma. Very spicy, more so than their other beers, seems as though there is a touch of cinnamon to go along with the clove and ginger. A very fruity and banana-like yeast presence. Nice beer, and a nice way to enjoy Christmas. Not my favorite of their beers with all of the spice that brings the drinkability down some.

12-26-2007 02:42:46 | More by hckyfn9999
Photo of bosco7
bosco7

Pennsylvania

4.4/5  rDev +4%

Big frothy head sits a top a dark brown beer. Head retention is superb.

Cola, apple, cherry, almond, acetic, spicy phenolics, and cocoa powder in the nose.

Tastes much better than it smells. I was a little worried that this would be thin and cola-ish. Starts big and full of toffee flavors then moves into chocolate, cherry, almond, cola, roasted malt, macerated plum, vanilla, and baked raisin (think the raisins in an oatmeal raisin cookie that get a little crunchy). Black pepper, nutmeg, and more almond in the finish. Hop character is earthy.

Carbonation is high but with a couple swirls it becomes less prickly and lets the body of the beer shine. This was quite the treat. So complex and drinkable: a perfect winter companion.

12-26-2007 01:53:00 | More by bosco7
Photo of ChainGangGuy
ChainGangGuy

Georgia

3.95/5  rDev -6.6%

Appearance: Pours a brown body with a large, foamy khaki-colored head. Quite effervescent!

Smell: A nice mix of pitted fruits with notes of cocoa powder, holiday-minded spices, cracked black pepper, and yeast.

Taste: Juicy dark fruits with a hearty dusting of cocoa and tossed with a mix of sugar 'n' spice. Slight bready yeastiness. Just of earthy bitterness. Semi-dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Well carbonated. Warming alcohol presence.

Drinkability: A fine holiday sipper (regardless of the 10% ABV) that made for pleasant Christmas Day drinking.

12-25-2007 20:38:16 | More by ChainGangGuy
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,439 ratings.