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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

1,456 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,456
Reviews: 581
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 112
Gots: 161 | 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: 1,456 | Reviews: 581 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of walshclimb
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

walshclimb, Jan 09, 2008
Photo of dedrinker
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

dedrinker, Jan 08, 2008
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

RblWthACoz, Jan 07, 2008
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 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.

Georgiabeer, Jan 05, 2008
Photo of JayQue
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

JayQue, Jan 05, 2008
Photo of Domingo
3.53/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

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.

Domingo, Jan 02, 2008
Photo of dnichols
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

dnichols, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of zeff80
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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).

zeff80, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of Bierguy5
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Bierguy5, Dec 29, 2007
Photo of BuckSpin
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

BuckSpin, Dec 29, 2007
Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

weeare138, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of willjschmidt
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

willjschmidt, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of Franchise
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Franchise, Dec 27, 2007
Photo of homebrewhawk
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

homebrewhawk, Dec 26, 2007
Photo of hckyfn9999
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

hckyfn9999, Dec 26, 2007
Photo of bosco7
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

bosco7, Dec 26, 2007
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

ChainGangGuy, Dec 25, 2007
Photo of ArrogantB
3.25/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

ArrogantB, Dec 25, 2007
Photo of mntlover
3.08/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

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.

mntlover, Dec 25, 2007
Photo of Patrick999
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Patrick999, Dec 25, 2007
Photo of brdc
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

brdc, Dec 25, 2007
Photo of DavidEddie
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Happy Holiday's fellow BA‘s!

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!

DavidEddie, Dec 25, 2007
Photo of scruffwhor
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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.

scruffwhor, Dec 24, 2007
Photo of joepais
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

joepais, Dec 23, 2007
Photo of EPICAC
3.6/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

EPICAC, Dec 23, 2007
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,456 ratings.