Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,741 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,741
Reviews: 616
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.46%
Wants: 137
Gots: 261 | 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: 1,741 | Reviews: 616 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of aorloski
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Let me just say, this is a standard st. bernardus, very carbonated, my cork popped right out when the cage came off and bubbled out all over my floor, whatever. Pours a very hazy dark brown with golden notes on the edges. Huge head, obviously, probably 3 or 4 fingers.

Smell - dark fruits, winter fruits, figs, raisins, plums, candi sugar, belgian spices and yeast, smells great.

Taste - Follows the nose COMPLETELY, dark fruits dominate this with touches of sweet belgian candy sugar. Not a lot of belgian yeast comes through this, just a lot of very very sweet sugars and fruits, very tasty brew.

Mouthfeel - I am indifferent i guess, i give it a 4 because i think for the style this needs to be pretty carbonated. I rather do like how st bernardus carbonates their beers, it leaves a very crisp feel on the palate.

Overall - An incredibly delicious brew and so fitting for a christmas setting. I bought two to see how one tastes in the summer out of curiosity!

Photo of TheQuietMan22
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured into a tulip. The cork practically jumped out with a little effort, and there was a loud and authoritative POP! I thought the beer would start overflowing, but it stayed calm. The color is a dark, ruby. Just as another reviewer reported, a massive head of dense, tan head developed after a gentle pour. It dissipated very slowly to leave a billowy lacing and trails along the glass.

Smell: Lots of dark fruit and sharp spice. Bready yeast, green apples, plum, figs, cloves, and pepper. It has a noticeable alcohol edge to it, which reminds me of brandy.

Taste: Mirrors the smell with the dark fruit and spice. The plum and figs create the backbone, and it is supported by the clove and pepper spice. Bready yeast, caramel malt, and green apple emerge after the beer has warmed. The alcohol is very noticeable, though not distracting; it fades as the beer warms, but provides a nice warming feeling with each sip, which is very appreciable in the winter.

Drinkability: Frankly, it justifies the price. And then some. This is a very tasty and potent holiday beer. It makes an ideal stocking stuffer.

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

Poured into chalice glass.

A - Poured dark mahogany non-transparent color with huge head that slowly dissipated leaving significant lacing around the glass.

S - Mostly dark fruits and spices with bready yeast and malts.

T - Dark fruits predominate, figs, raisins, cherries with banana, bready yeast and lots of spices.

M - Medium bodied with high carbonation.

O - Great Christmas Ale with ABV very well hidden. I highly recommend it.

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

2009 Vintage.

A-Cork comes out with a loud POP. Even with a gentle pour there's 2+ inches of foamy, porous head, speckled with brown dots of what I can only assume is yeast. Reduces fairly quickly, leaving spotty, intermittent lacing.

S-Musty overripe apples, cloves, coriander, dry earthy hops. Not a bold or spice forward as many other Belgian Christmas releases.

T/M-Very subtle and delicate, considering the style. I'm used to Belgian Christmas beers taking a more bombastic approach to elements like spicing and density of the mouth feel. This is a straightforward, well made dark strong ale. I doubt this was made using any traditional holiday spices. The soft, creamy body ebbs and flows, exposing soft black licorice and marzipan flavors. Notes of caramel and plum round out the corners of the palate, leading into an exquisite, simple finish that lingers just long enough, not overstaying its welcome but imprinting trace flavors on the back of the throat. Leaves you wanting more.

O-A typically classy, high quality beer St. Bernardus. I expect this bottle would be fantastic with a few more years on it.

Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer has been sitting in the fridge at my other house that has been vacant for a year, but I believe that it was close to Christmas that I bought this beer and stuck it there and forgot about it. We are getting it cleaned up, so I pulled this beer out to review. I'm sure that the age hasn't hurt it at all, so let's give it a shot.

Appearance: Typical for St Bernardus, the beer is very well carbonated and I have a 3 finger head that is growing a little bit since the pour. After about 5 minutes the head was fading back into the beer and leaving huge amounts of lace on the glass. The beer is really dark, so I can't comment on the clarity.

Aroma: Through the foam I could get a little bit of sweetness from caramel, some dark fruit like plums, and a little bit of spice that I assume is from the alcohol. As the head fades, you can pick up the sweetness clearer and the yeast is contributing some subtle bread-dough notes.

Taste: The flavor is bold, and a little stronger than I expected from the aroma. There are lots of dark fruit in the aroma with a defined spice from the alcohol. The initial fruitiness seems to fade quickly, but I think that my palate got used to it quickly and I am sure that the ABV helps that. The body is medium with high carbonation, so that it comes across your palate lively and quickly so that you can't swirl too much for fear of it exploding in your mouth. The caramel malts is very well done in this beer, and gives you some sweetness in the beginning that sticks around and actually challenges the alcohol for the finish. There are some hops in the finish, but it is all about the malt and alcohol. As the beer warms up some, there is more spice coming out that I believe may be actual additions, and I am thinking at least some coriander.

Opinion: As is usual with St Bernardus products, I have been really happy with this beer. It is great tasting and has lots of character and is dangerously easy to drink. That said, I think that I like their Abt12 better, just because. This one comes across a bit fruity in the beginning where I don't remember that with the Abt12. I am splitting hairs here. If you haven't tried this beer...try it. I would recommend anything with St Bernardus written on the bottle, and this beer is no exception. I'm glad that I finally tried it.

Photo of beerdrifter
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this beauty from my nephew Kevin. Dark mahogany-ruby pour with huge three finger head with great retention and lacing. Big herbal, complex nose with hints of black cherries, metal, brown sugar, dark fruits, and tobacco. The taste is complex as well. Lots of black cherries, plums and bananas with a nice herbal backbone with hints of cinnamon, cloves and vanilla and just a touch of chocolate and orange peel. The finish is crisp and dry. The mouthfeel is carbonated, but slightly syrupy. The alcohol is extremely well hidden. It's not as "christmasy" as I had hoped, but still a classic beer from a great brewery. Thanks Kevin!

Photo of jmvecchio1
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours out a dark brown color and has a creamy head that gives way to lacing that lingers for the entirety of the beer.

The smell is a strong, fruity aroma that packs a powerful punch of pears and apples with a slight hint of citrus.

At first sip you get a dominant pear punch that gives way to a malty apple juice finish.

Looking at this beer you don’t notice any carbonation, but this beer does have a carbonated mouthfeel.

Photo of Knapp85
3.35/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours out as a deep red color with a foamy tan colored head. The lacing isn't too bad here. The smell of the beer has a lot of spice to it. There is some decent flavors once the beer warms up. The beer right from the fridge has a metallic flavor at first. The spices kick in and leave a slight amount of heat in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is a little warming and had a lot of carbonation. Overall it's not a bad Christmas ale.

Photo of bbkd3b
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage poured into a tulip glass. The smiling monk always brings joy to me.

Beautiful dark ruby body shoots out of the bottle to give life to a stunning, 2-finger head. Light tan, and with massive retention, the two combine to make up one of the best looking beers I've come across.

A very sweet aroma drifts up the nose. Cinnamon, hints of nutmeg, and a thick serving of plums, raisins, and other dark fruits give this beer an attractive scent. No trace of hoppiness, alcohol, or yeast to be found here. Just a really thick, lovely smell. Makes me think of the holidays.

The creamy body almost destroys the tastebuds with a wave of dark fruits. It's so potent it's hard to describe. Letting it settle a bit reveals a much more subtle, likable side of the brew - the sweetness. A nice serving of sweet malts and a trace of brown sugar finish off the brew. It really massages the tongue with its carbonation. Clean finish, and a hint of alcohol to remind the drinker that this is no beginner's brew! Really well-done.

Overall/notes - Christmas in a bottle! I've heard and said this phrase before, but it here it really rings true. It definitely needs a bit of warming, but you'll be rewarded in kind. With the exception of that first shockwave, I had little to no complaints about this ale. Drink and be merry!

Photo of claspada
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aromas are sweet and spicy with dark fruits, including raisins, prunes, and figs. AS it warms you can detect more the the complex maltiness highlighted by molasses and some burnt brown sugar.
The taste begins with a solid dark maltiness including dark crystals and roasted malts. As it warms you get more of the complex dark fruitness once again highlighted by dates, raisins and prunes. Further sampling allows you to detect more of the spicy Belgian yeast flavors.
The mouthfeel nice with a solid full body and pleasantly well carbonated. Overall this is a fine holiday sipper best enjoyed with your family and/or friends. My uncle and I thoughly enjoyed this while the family rushed to the kitchen for the desserts, we already had ours in our glasses...

Photo of joemcgrath27
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

shared with a fellow BA, several months after the holidays
A - impenetrable plumb purple, tall head dissipated very slowly
S - rich dark fruits, sweet burnt sugar and light x-mas cake spices
T - sugar plums dancing in my head, similar to the nose with the addition of herbal hops, yeasty, and phenolic
M - very creamy and full to start, begins to thin out with spices and sweetness that lingers
O - a winter warmer if there ever was one, its not the super spiced up version that some go for, but is more of a strong sweet belgian with a little x-mas cheer baked in, well worth a purchase

Photo of babaracas
3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From corked and caged 750ml. Pours a mostly clear dark reddish brown with two fingers of creamy khaki colored foam. Settles to a decent sized clump and coats the glass in thick lace. Smell: quite vinous and fruity...cherry, raisin, plum. Brown sugar. Very slightly acetic. Taste: brown sugar, tartish apple skin, red plum, cherry. Vinous again. Feel is extraordinarily creamy, but is also massively carbonated which boots the flavors from the tongue too early. Though the high carbonation and the decent but nondescript hopping keeps it from being really sweet. It might just be me or this bottle, but this one seems like a combo of a BSDA with a mild flanders red. Interesting, but odd. Best by 7/28/15, so bottled 7/28/10.

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

Madd props to joemcgrath27 for sharing this gem with me.

A - Pours a ruby red colours, finger of light bubbly head with solid retention and sporadic lacing.

S - Quite complex with musty caramel, cloves and an ABV sweetness alongside spices including a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon.

T - A very tasty, and unique, offering with a bit of a grape/port-ish characteristics. The dark musty fruits also come through with some sweet caramel and toffee.

M - Medium bodied ale that goes down smooth and finishes with a touch of dryness. No complaints here.

O - Super glad I had an opportunity to taste this one, and I would highly recommend anyone in a festive mood grab a bottle and share the experience with a fellow BA. Tons of flavours and the high ABV goes nearly undetected making for a fantastic experience. Cheers for the beer Joe!

Photo of david131
4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- A deep, dark leathery brown liquid with a bit of murkiness to it. When held to a light, there are some ruby highlights at the edges. The creamy light brown head is thick and has excellent retention.

S- Brown sugar, vanilla, plums, gingerbread, and bubblegum. Very aromatic, unique, and inviting.

T- Same as the aroma. Sweet and malty with a nice fruity finish.

M- Exceedingly creamy and smooth with a good amount of carbonation to keep things lively.

D- Very drinkable considering the alcohol content. Very well made. World class.

Photo of BMoney575
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 3-11-11

Pours a very dark and mostly opaque deep red/brown color. Very foamy, with a huge tan head that lasts forever. Very pleasant and interesting.

Smell is pungent booze and Belgian kick, aromas of banana and clove dominate. Not overly complex, but enjoyable.

Taste is just where the smell leads you, flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and banana at the very end. Slightly disappointing in its simplicity, but still tasty.

Mouthfeel is good, thick and creamy, with lots of carbonation to keep it light.

Drinkability is good, the booze is not as pronounced as I expected.

Overall, an interesting beer that's well worth picking up.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #47 (Dec 2010):

Sizable head drops down to a latte-like foam; this ale is nearly black in color as well. Candied fruit, plum pudding, hint of broth, burnt sugar and mulling spices scream X-mas to the nose. Carbonation smoothes the palate, silky with a delicate but thick medium body. Malt character is on the dry side for the most part; a smattering of caramel is in the middle. A bit hoppy with a side of phenols, all of which go herbal. Alcohol is pretty tame for 10 percent--it warms but does not rake the taste buds too much. Fruity, spicy and yeasty with hints of dark sugar and some earthy yeast in the drying finish. Super complex, yet still a sipper. This ale is waiting to be thrown at a rich holiday meal.

Photo of JamisonM
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 bottle 750 ml bottle corked and caged served in a snifter

A: 3 fingers of head, tan head with the body being a nice mahogany pretty dark, hazy as well.

S: Dark Cherry with some of that spicy Belgian Yeast sweet notes but also some more vinus notes smells great!

T: Oh my my that is good! Tons of dark fruits Cherry Plum Fig and dates notes come all flying at you at once. nice complex flavors and very flavorful! Alcohol is masked well.

M: Mouth is med and carbonation is high

D: super drinkable and enjoyable

Overall: A great beer I wish I would have bought more and now its all sold out! I am getting at least 2 bottles next year! This is one of the very best Christmas/winter seasonal's I have had! I highly recommend this one!

Photo of searsclone
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had to use a corkscrew to get the bottle open, date on bottom of bottle is 19/08/12, reviewed in late January 2011. Poured into 2 New Belgium globe glasses. A ridiculous amount of tan head. Copper golden color with a huge amount of sediment. You can really tell that this one is alive.

Smells like raisins and brown sugar, and as it warms, fruitcake.

Taste of raisins, fruit, burnt sugar, burnt apricots and a vanilla finish. Alcohol is well hidden. As it warms, and I read some of the other reviews, I get a bit of a tobacco finish. Also, something that I can't figure out, maybe smoke or burnt toast?

Mouthfeel is lighter and cleaner than expected.

The 75 cl bottle is perfect size for two people.

Photo of CuriousMonk
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 750ml bottle into a heavy chalice glass. A- Murky caramel/orange hue, huge amounts of off-white frothy head that is effervescent and mostly sustaining, splatters of lacing S- Nose is dark fruits, sweet belgian candy, alcohol, green apples, and spices T- Initial taste is dark fruits followed by spritzy spices, peppermint, and bananas, finishes with sweetness and alcohol warming M- Full-bodied, thick chewy texture, amped-up carbonation D- Smooth and balanced strong ale, milder spice flavors and lively carbonation contribute to a unique taste profile, very easy. One of my top winter brews.

Photo of smakawhat
3.28/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured on tap giving off a very nice opaque dark brown nut quality body. Good looking tan cream head almost as well.

Smell is a one trick pony. This is an all out banana syrup bomb, not even starch smelling just like faint Dairy Queen banana topping. I am not a fan of bananas so this makes for a not enjoyable smell and review for me (keep that in mind). Taffy notes as well, and with brown sugar notes and mild butter.

Taste is actually solid with a nice simple carbonation and sour chew quality. Banana syrup but not too thick body leaving a good finish.
Strangely enough, I am not a fan of this flavor but this is a well put together brew. I wouldn't want this again, but I can see the reasons why people would have this beer again no problem.

Photo of mdunman
3.13/5  rDev -26%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Opaque brown color that pours a very thick light tan head that stays around til the very end.

S: Wine like aroma, smell of red grapes and alcohol.

T: Starts with a fairly sweet grape flavor then progresses to a mild wine like taste, grapes and alcohol, with spices around the edges and finishes with a merlot like dryness.

M: Feels like a champagne, loaded with carbonation and gives a bit of sizzle across the whole of the mouth.

Not a typical Christmas Ale by any means. Very original sensation from start to finish, but this wasn't my kind of beer. And at $11 for a 750mL bottle, I don't think I'll be picking one up next year.

Photo of bucklemyshoe
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Notes from Christmas day 2010:

#12 - 12 beers of Christmas. 750 mL bottle at 45 degrees into a St. Bernardus chalice.

A: It pours a mostly opaque ruby red color with an enticing two-finger, off-white head that becomes a bit rocky but laces well.

S: Intense spicy banana notes, cherries, candi sugar, nutmeg, and cinammon.

T: It appears to be an excellent blending of the Belgian Stong Dark Ale with holiday spices; banana that lingers throughout, candied plums and figs, candi sugar, cinammon, and nutmeg all show through.

M: It has a relatively thick body with a syrupy feel and finishing stickiness.

D: This is terrific and definitely the best abbey-style Christmas ale.

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

Poured from a corked and caged 750 bottle into a snifter glass.

A: A medium murky brownish color with a one finger off white head. Minimal glass lacing.

S: Sweet fruits, holiday spices, nutmeg, cinnamon and some yeasty notes.

T: Great fruity flavors with cherry, apple, fig, date, candied fruit (fruitcake), nutmeg, some cinnamon and slight clove. The candy fruit lasts through for the sweetness with some slight musty yeasty flavors. Finish is long and sweet, but not overly so. Very enjoyable.

M: Almost perfect. Medium body, not overly alcoholic, not cloying sweet, just enjoyable.

D: High, unfortunately the 750 went down real easy.

Overall a real nice Christmas Ale that I will surely pick up each year from now on. Not a superstar, but just a really solid enjoyable beer....like I expected anything else from St. Bernardus.

Photo of Kendo
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a Duvel tulip. Body is medium brown in color with a 2-finger light tan head.

S: Very nice - dried fruits, especially figs. Also roasted chestnuts, holiday spices (cinnamon & nutmeg) and fruitcake-type scents. Smells like the holidays.

T: First impression: spice, fruit and malt. Taste of brown sugar and hazelnuts, also brown bread. Holiday spices (allspice, cinnamon) show up, as well as a generally earthy taste. Dark fruits evident as well (figs come to mind again). Some heat at the finish and down the gulley.

M: Nice fizziness; call it medium in heft.

D: Very good. A nice holiday offering, though I wasn't blown away by it.

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

Fairly standard hazy brown colour with some red tint. Moderate tan head with decent head retention.

Bready, caramelised malts with noticeable sweetness. There are some dark fruits as well as classic winter spice.

Rich and fruity. Plenty of banana and stone fruit. Spice cake. Balanced and tasty but still missing that something I find in Rochefort and others.

Medium-full body with moderate carbonation. Good.

A nice beer with plenty of flavour. Balanced with just enough dryness to make it drinkable.

Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,741 ratings.