Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
Ratings: 1,439 | Reviews: 576 | Display Reviews Only:
3.25/5 rDev -23.2%
Christmas Eve seemed an appropriate time top open this beer. It was very dark brown with a white head and the bubbles seemed really compacted together. It smelled like slight herbal mints, whiff of chocolate (barely detectable), and raisins. The flavor was raisin and plum-like. Decent stuff but the 10.5 ABV knocked me down.
12-25-2007 17:40:07 | More by ArrogantB
3.08/5 rDev -27.2%
Pours a nice deep brown murky color, with some red note showing thru, nice rich Belgian look to it. Head is rich nice fluffy tan that last and lasts finally falls to ringed scum that laces all the way down.
Aroma is rich malty sugary molasses with dark fruits mingled through out. Some light spice and nice alcohol notes that blend into the mix.
Taste is wow carbonation is noticed right away a downer for me anyway. Malty in taste, molasses brown sugars mingled with fruits plums raisins. Finish has hints of liquorice left from the malt, also finishes with spice cloves, pepper and hops.
Mouthfeel is the down fall of this brew, the burst of carbonation up front just turned me off. I am sure the flavors would have been much better if the tingling in my mouth wasn't masking the flavors in this beer.
Drinkability is not good for me wouldn't want to try this one again. Find this a problem with Belgians sometimes, just too much CO2 for my tastes. Looked great smelled great first sip ruined it for me, as I finished the bottle CO2 did mellow some what but still too much for me, wanted to like it but.
12-25-2007 03:16:28 | More by mntlover
4.28/5 rDev +1.2%
I had a full bottle to myself this Christmas Eve...even though I pulled out all the stops with a St. Bernardus, I couldn't sway anyone from wine. Oh well....a bottle of this all to myself, things could be worse. Served it pretty warm, maybe slightly above cellar temp - wanted to let the full flavor of this baby pull through.
Appearance - While I may not have tasted the thousands of beers many of you have, I've still tasted and reviewed some excellent beers, and I swear I've never seen anything like this. The head was copious, and retention was unparalleled. Lacing? Forget that, more like DRAPES. No lacing, but drapes. I've not seen that before....the head clung to the glass as if glued there. I'd give this a 10 if I could.
Smell - pretty standard for a BSDA. Nothing really distinguished this as a "Christmas Ale" - sniffed blindly, I'd have a hard time distinguishing this from a regular St. Bernardus or a Chimay Blue. Raisins, prunes, currants, alcohol. Don't get me wrong, it smells great - I know I'm drinking a hell of a beer.
Taste, feel, drinkability - Congruent with its aroma, I couldn't really pick out anything "Christmas-y" about this beer. It tasted like a quad. A very good quad. Sweet, but I tasted a fairly muscular hop trying to push its way through the sweet dark fruits and vinous character. Alcohol is assertive, but you won't really view it as a detriment. 10%, yes, but it's manageable....just have it with some hearty food and it'll be great. Smooth and goes down easy - especially with a bold meal. I would expect nothing less from St. Bernardus, and this did not disappoint. Actually a bit more dry in the finish than I expected, suggesting a smoky Merlot.
Did I finish the whole 750 alone? You damn well better believe I did.
12/25 edit - This left me with probably my biggest hangover of the year. I don't know what the deal is....it's not as if I've never had a 750 of strong beer to myself. Be careful with this one.
12-25-2007 02:57:47 | More by Patrick999
4.3/5 rDev +1.7%
Large corked and caged bottle, poured into a goblet.
Perfect presentation, a dark brown with multiple red highlights, and an everlasting creamy, dense tan head that keeps a thick collar and a clinging lace all the (long) way down to the end. The aroma strikes you right as you pour it, that malty sweetness, candy sugar, caramel, an explosion of dark fruits, and a peppery spiciness.
Full bodied and creamy, it is also malty and sweet as expected, caramelized, with multiple dark fruits coming and going, warmingly alcoholic with the same peppery spiciness of the aroma, but here a bit exaggerated, which limits its drinkability.
A very good brew, but not spectacular as I expected from St Bernardus.
12-25-2007 02:24:02 | More by brdc
4.33/5 rDev +2.4%
Happy Holiday's fellow BAs!
Best before 09/08/12 printed on the bottom.
Murky brown in appearance. A very dense, thick off white head. Pillow like sticky lacing, that hangs around. Aromas of raisins, tons of other dark fruits, and spices. Well blended flavors of dark fruits, tart grape, candied sugar, mild chocolate, and some spices of clove and cinnamon. Finishes with some warming alcohol. Mouth feel is creamy and smooth. Highly carbonated, very fizzy. Drinkability is excellent and very enjoyable. Very similar to Abt 12. If you like boozy beers, then this one's for you. CHEERS!
12-25-2007 02:06:21 | More by DavidEddie
4.13/5 rDev -2.4%
The perfect looking Belgian brew, deep, murky brown with dark ruby highlights and a great, thick retaining head. The only thing that its look is lacking is the bubbling. The aroma is very Belgian and awesome in that sense, but not very Christmasy. Makes me think of figs and sweet bread. The taste is very pretty sweet and complex. Lots of brown sugar with some with a few spices. Hints of clove and cinnamon. But just not as seasonal as expected.
12-24-2007 05:29:32 | More by scruffwhor
4.05/5 rDev -4.3%
Well two days till Christmas so time to pop the cork on this one. The bottle poured ruby red with a large billowy light coco brown head. Aromas of Belgium yeast, fruit and spices (cinnamon, ginger and clove) filled my nose. This ale has a full creamy mouth feel with carbonation that tickles the tongue. The first thing I noticed about the Flavors was sweet fruit figs and raisins with a nice balance of Christmas spices. A nice bitter finish that is not to over whelming, almost the typical peppery bite. The alcohol is extremely well hidden and this beer will sneak up on you. Great holiday offering from St. Bernardus hope to find another one for next year.
12-23-2007 22:08:16 | More by joepais
3.6/5 rDev -14.9%
Appearance: Pours a hazy-brown with a beige head that thins to a film.
Smell: Subdued, some dark fruit, malts and a light spiciness.
Taste: Sweet malts, dark fruit, a nice alcoholic spice, and a light bitterness in the finish.
Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, carbonation is a little high.
Drinkability: Too sweet and spicy.
12-23-2007 01:37:16 | More by EPICAC
3.63/5 rDev -14.2%
A: Super carbonated, will need to let this one chill out. As it falls, it leaves a sticky/sudsy webbing of sandy colored bubbles. Body is a deep, dark, mahogany brown.
S: A lot of yeast in the nose. Also some subliminal brown sugar, aluminum, minor dark fruits, cookie dough and spices.
T: First impression is the alcohol in this beer. This beer needs to be layed down for at minimum a few more months to let it chill out a bit. But enough of that, lets get back to business. After the alcohol, a molasses like sweetness mixes with the traditional Bernardus yeast. Spices of the likes of nutmeg, allspice, coriander and maybe even trace cinnamon can be found. The bready malt could be a bit richer and less subdued but I bet some age would help that. Finishes quite yeasty with a whole lotta alcohol converges on all sides of the palate.
M: Full body and with just a touch of carbo sting.
D: Im conflicted. This beer needs some time to lay down but I fear that the spices will be lost. Well, its way too hot now but Im reviewing it for what it is. Its taking me a while to get through it. And as the flavor is good, its horribly unbalanced right now.
12-22-2007 16:12:36 | More by Westsidethreat
3.55/5 rDev -16.1%
It looked nearly perfect in the light, tiny jets of carbonation raced through the hazy chestnut liquid, with a fluffy head of tan foam. Every so often, larger bubbles would be carried upward from the bottom, powerless in the slipstream.
Strong aroma of bubblegum/banana from the yeast esters. Slight sweetness, bordering on cloying.
Deeply malty flavors with light fruit and nuttiness. A bit too sweet for my taste, but it's not overdone. Dry finish hints at the high abv, but it's hidden in the taste. I'm happy that I shared this at a holiday party instead of trying to drink the whole thing myself.
12-17-2007 01:48:28 | More by emerge077
4.03/5 rDev -4.7%
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale pours the darkest red imaginable. If this beer is not directly backlit it borders on black. When backlit there's a mahogany hue with tiny carbonation bubbles rushing to the surface. A one finger beige head formed on the pour that had strong staying power from the massive amount of carbonation. Leaves drink lines after each sip. An excellent looking beer.
Smell is full of candy and spice. Brown sugar, gingerbread cookies, some spicy yeast, cinnamon, and dark bread. This beer really does bring out the smells of Winter and Christmas.
The massive carbonation seems to get in the way of the flavors slightly. It's good without a doubt but the carbonation has things moving far too quickly. All the aromas mentioned above are present in the flavor as well and meld nicely. Flavor is slightly more spicy with hints of pepper.
The carbonation is a little too much. Does give a nice frothy mouthfeel but pushes the flavors through too quickly. Leaves a nice tingle on the back of the tongue.
This beer goes down easily and is definately enjoyable. That said, two goblets in a sitting is enough for me.
Another beer of the highest quality from St. Bernardus. Of course that's to be expected. This beer has some really nice Christmas spicing.
12-17-2007 01:05:23 | More by joe1510
3.8/5 rDev -10.2%
750ml bottle into a tulip.
Pours a deep brown with a massive head that leaves nice chunky lacing around the glass.
Smell is hot, hot, heat! Alcohol mostly.
Taste is heavy on the alcohol. Hints of nutmeg and dates.
Mouthfeel is creamy and good.
Overall, this is a solid beer, but not as good as I expected it to be. Compared to the Abt. 12 the alcohol is more noticable and it is less complex. That being said, it was still tasty and easy to drink.
12-16-2007 02:47:28 | More by bluegrassbrew
4.58/5 rDev +8.3%
Pours out a dark brown to settle a nearly mat black with a small sense of brownness to its body. Very heavy looking and an impressively tall capping to top it off of light crispy brown foam thats a bit rough and tumbled. Kinda crunchy looking at first but developes into a moderately creamy bubbleness and density as it sits. It keeps well and stretches all sorts of wonderful lacing that looks of wet powdered sugar.
Nice lofty aroma of cookie dough and spice. Crisp yet round with a full on malt tilt of breads and dark fruits. Mostly figgy, touch of raisin, perhaps some dates and molasses covering the big breadyness. Nice yeastyness to it which seems to be adding a root beerish type of hints to its dryness. Slender hops add some grassyness to its spicy complexity which included some anise, cinnamon, mint, and ginger cookies.
Flavors are bold, lasting and carry alot of what the smell leads to with its big maltyness and yeastified balance. Firm grip of dark candish malts leads right in with a nice holiday cake-like dimension of figgyness first, then dark cherry, dates, chocolate covered raisins, and then the peppy spices. Notes of root beer, anise, pepper, carrot cake, and ginger make their way in and out of the malty doughy darkness but linger mostly across its finish with a slender, delicately woven dryness of grassy hops. Pretty damn solid! Perhaps not quite a match to the Abt 12, but damn if its not close!
Feel is big, bold, and beautiful. The girth is massive in the body of this stuff. Heavy yet smooth, crunchy and crisp yet creamy with a whole lotta malts to create an exceedingly thick bread/cake-like structure of body. Not to mention the subtle details of yeasty play, dark fruity tang, perfectly intensed warmness, hoppy dryness, and spice. Which all lasts forever and a day the second it spills on to your palate.
Wow! Great stuff! No big surprise really. St. B knows how to impress and this is perfect for the holidays!
12-15-2007 15:53:03 | More by tavernjef
3.43/5 rDev -18.9%
2007 bottle (fresh), opened 12/10/07. Bottle opens with a loud 'pop'.
A- Dark brown with ruby hilights, big rocky head.
S- Spicy esters.
T- Mildly tart, malty, earthy, light hints of fruit.
M- Med body, loads of carbonation.
D- Not bad, carbonation is a little too much *burp*.
Not a bad beer, but i think I expected a little better from St. B. Not the hilight of the season.
12-14-2007 16:07:55 | More by fartingdog
4.25/5 rDev +0.5%
750ml bottle poured into my large St. Feuillien goblet, the Christmas Ale has St. Bernardus' signature huge, rocky, long lasting head, khaki colored leaving heavy lace. The brew is a dark garnet. St. Bernadus' beers have such amazingly rocky head, they're the reason I basically never give a 5 for appearance to any other beer.
Smell is fantastic, luscious dark fruit dripping with dark candi sugar, with a whiff of booze. Again, they nailed it.
Taste is where the deviation from the abt 12 becomes more evident, less sweet fruit and a notable peppery spiciness, with a bit more phenols and fusels as well. Good, but still a bit of a disappointment, mainly because I love the abt so much, and the skew between the sweet fruity nose and the hasher edges of the taste. I'll have to lay a few down for awhile and see how much it rounds out...
Mouthfeel is slippery and soft, with a full body and high digestability.
Drinkability is average - for a St. Bernadus strong dark, which puts it higher then most. Still, while quite tasty, it drinks like the huge beer that it is, and at it's young age, with rather sharp elbows. Bonus points for the 50's kitsch label.
Served at cellar temp.
12-14-2007 07:53:15 | More by ccrida
4.43/5 rDev +4.7%
Poured into a Duvel tulip 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-drinking but best enjoyed sipping slowly on a cold night
12-12-2007 05:45:26 | More by Stoneman78
4.13/5 rDev -2.4%
Bought at some point in November, finally getting around to drinking as Christmas approaches.
A - dark brown, super thick off-white head
S - fruity, citrusy, sweet malt, people note dark fruits and that sort of comes across to me
T - spicy, sweet, malty, bit of alcohol,
M - smooth, a bit of carbonation, nice all around
D - wow. This is a fine, fine beer (would you expect anything else?), but I think more than 1 750 mL of this would be crazy. Luckily I split mine with my gf, and I think 1 glass will be enough. Really enjoyable and warming me up nicely. Highly recommended for the holidays!
12-12-2007 04:05:10 | More by ruckzuck
4.33/5 rDev +2.4%
A new beer to try from St. Bernardus, I planned to wait until closer to Christmas-time but couldn't hold out. We poured it into St. Bernardus glasses and drank it near a Christmas tree in any case.
The beer was dark brown with a thick head, but lacked the floaties from ABT 12 and the creaminess in the foam that ABT 12 provides. Still looked OK, just closer ot the Prior 8 in appearance. The aroma was the signature yeastie fruitiness, but with a hint of spice I haven't noticed in the sibling beers. This spice came through in the flavor as a peppery note, a little biting, I'm not sure how to record it except "cracked pepper". Very nice, definitely you'd know in a blind taste test who made it, but you'd also know it was a little different. Highly recommended, along with all their other beers.
12-09-2007 13:57:57 | More by TurdFurgison
4.3/5 rDev +1.7%
This is another prodigious offering from St. Bernardus. This pours a deep brown with a frothy, thick, dark head that plumes on the sides of the glass and leaves tons of lacing. The beer also retains quite well with soapy head still lingering in my fluted glass well after I've had a few sips. The smell is sweet malts, candied sugars, yeastiness, Xmas spices, such as nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and orange rind. The carbonation of this beer will keep you burping and then some. This is a medium bodied beer that hits all the right notes. The taste is very Belgian throughout, you'll get the candied sugars, malty sweetness, spices, yeasty bite, and the sweet caramel and butterscotch flavors. The high ABV is masked over quite well, although there are some warming alcohol notes that arise towards the end. The aftertaste is very modest, all things considered. This one is well worth seeking out. L'Chaim
12-09-2007 02:40:36 | More by albern
4.05/5 rDev -4.3%
A 750ml bottle poured into a goblet. Medium brown color with red highlights. A very thick tan head, almost the appearance of whipped cream. Nice aroma of dark fruit and some sugar. Similar taste, but there was also a pronounced spiciness that lingered really well. A great after dinner sipping beer.
12-05-2007 22:15:27 | More by lordofthewiens
4.33/5 rDev +2.4%
Pours a cloudy dark reddish brown with a 1/2 finger head that mostly dies.
Smells of dark fruits with maybe a touch of Belgian Candi Sugar.
Tastes especially of dark fruits, with an emphasis on raisin and apple flavors. Some Candi sugar sweetness. Nice spicing as well. Overall, I enjoy this, but I like the flavors of their normal quad more.
Mouthfeel is rich and satisfying.
Drinkability is quite good.
Overall, recommended. While not my favorite from St. Bernardus, it is still very tasty - and very drinkable.
12-04-2007 08:36:57 | More by rallison
4.28/5 rDev +1.2%
Dark in color, in between violet and brown, with a nice head, if short, if a bit overblown with bubbles, and not sticking around...another pour gives higher head, but, it too, dies off with a quickness...
Aroma: sweet and spicy, dark fruits, plus dark rum, mollasses, some brown sugar, maybe, but green hoppy feels as well...ripe, fresh, lovely, beautiful....so good!
Tastin' it: ...cola, cocoa...fierce carbonation....big, fat, outlandish Belgian yeast, the kind that I associate with cookie dough...more carbonic effervescencem and cola feel, mixed with pepper, anise, and other spices ...needs more yeast, though...full mouthfeel, practically inhabits all the rooms of the senses...but doesn't do what the Abbot 12 does, which is my disappointment....I want that and then some, not less than that...
not bad, but too carbonated, very flavorful, and yet not flavorful enough..I expected the Abbot 12 and then some, and I got something less...
a good beverage, warming, alcoholic, spicy, a blast of pepper and malt, and somehow not quite what I expected from St. BErnardus...a bit less, a wee bit....there;s burnished cherries, there's raisins, and dates, and more....
12-02-2007 09:55:24 | More by feloniousmonk
3.78/5 rDev -10.6%
Best By 09/08/2012, Sampled December 2007
Served only lightly chilled, the beer is clearly well carbonated as even a reasonably careful pour produces a billowing, slightly over-flowing, initially seven-finger thick, lightly browned, tan colored head of foam that slowly recedes while leaving a delicate lacing pattern on the sides of my 30cl Tripel Karmeliet tulip. the beer sits in my glass a burnt, amber tinged, very dark brown color, but shows a brilliantly clear, dark ruby hue when held up to the light. In passing inspection of the nose, aromas of dark fruit and spices mix quite equally. A deeper draught of the nose reveals aromas of raisins, figs, concentrated plum, brown sugar, sweet cola, clove, touches of allspice, a hint of molasses, dark chocolate, light ginger or maybe really galangal and even some cardamom like notes. The aroma ends up being a bit more focused on the dark, caramelized fruit notes with just a backdrop of spice character that leaves no doubt that this is a Belgian yeast strain.
The carbonation provides a prickly, lightening effect to what is really a medium full beer. It does not drink as heavy as the 10% alcohol might suggest, but is certainly has that Belgian lightness that is in many of the better made strong beers from their. The beer is definitely sweet, which accentuates the quite noticeable dark fruit character; caramelized plums, figs, raisins and even some apple flavors are individually noticeable. The beer finishes with a mix of spiciness and warming alcohol that is a touch pepper-like, with some spicy ginger, toasty brandy & rum, and some turpene driven phenolic clove / cardamom notes. Bread like malt notes reminiscent of toasted bread, hints of browned-whole-grain bread, touches of rye, caramelized-dark German bread, biscuit malt and roasted / broiled / concentrated figs.
The second pour has just as voluminous a head as the first, and the beer, a little more chilled now, tastes even a bit lighter than it did initially. The ample carbonation focuses the flavors more on the peppery spice notes, while softening the rich fruitiness that is there after it has mellowed. This is certainly a contemplative brew; I could wish for a bit more malt complexity in the flavor (at times the alcohol and spiciness can be a little too much), but the nose really is quite intriguing. While I certainly enjoy the lightness / heft of this brew as is, it seems to be missing a bit of richness that could add a bit more balance (these are not necessarily opposing characters though as some richness could be added without making this beer feel heavier).
Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson, AZ
12-02-2007 04:25:53 | More by Gueuzedude
3.98/5 rDev -5.9%
Corked/caged 750ml bottle with the monk looking quite festive sporting a santa hat.
Pours a murky brown that is to be expected..a generous foamy head rests on top.
An array of different spice flavors from cinnamon & cloves to nutmeg & ginger..very unique. The earthy malts & boozyness also add some Christmas-y flair to this beer, that would be a fantastic Christmas gift to any beer lover (sounds like I'm trying to sell you the stuff)
The only disappointing thing I found was that the carbonation of this beer was off the charts..the first sip I took was nearly undrinkable because as soon as I'd take a sip, I had a mouth full of foam. After shaking up the bottle a few times, it settled down and the mouthfeel was much better..I'd suggest cautiously taking out the cork and letting this one sit for a while before drinking it.
I'm going to save a bottle for next Christmas, this should hold up really well.
12-01-2007 16:44:36 | More by hero27
3.83/5 rDev -9.5%
70ml corked and caged bottle poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. Pours a dark brown color with a large tan head with excellent retention and lacing. The aroma is sweet malt, dark fruits, spices and yeast. The taste is sweet malt and an array of spices with a rather dry, spicy and boozy finish. Overall, this is another good beer from St Bernardus. I am curious to see how this one ages, it should improve greatly with a little more time.
11-30-2007 04:23:42 | More by cjgator3
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,439 ratings.