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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
95
world-class

1,523 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,523
Reviews: 588
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.46%
Wants: 121
Gots: 188 | 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: 1,523 | Reviews: 588 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of glid02
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap at the Brick Store in Atlanta.

Pours a slightly hazy brown color with ruby highlights. The head is one-finger of tan frothy goodness that sticks around for a while before dissipating into a thin, even layer across the top. Lacing is very good.

Smells of both light and dark fruits with an earthy sweet aroma. There's also a bit of spice in there - cinnamon or nutmeg.

Tastes very good. Somewhere between a trippel and a dubbel with a bit of spice. Pear and fig flavors meld seamlessly with hints of cinnamon and a slight touch of yeast. The dark fruit flavors seem to linger a bit longer than the light fruits. The alcohol is not a factor save for a nice warming sensation.

Mouthfeel is great. Smooth with subdued carbonation that coats the mouth.

Drinkability is great. The high ABV is not a factor except for making it a bad idea to drink too many of these. Really an easy brew to quaff.

Overall this is a very good beer that everyone should try this time of the year.

glid02, Dec 03, 2008
Photo of gdfan47
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

pours a dark brown with a little bit of head

alot lighter than I thought it would be

it smells like pine and cinnamon and a little root beer

it tastes really good, really smooth not too sweet

its really light and not too carbonated very easy to drink

very fun to drink and I couldnt really taste the alcohol at all

another good beer by st bernardus

gdfan47, Dec 01, 2008
Photo of adamparker05
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nut brown color with a rich mahogany core and a dark honeyed amber rim. Very light head but tremendous lacing!

Christmasy nose of prunes, sweet malts, root beer, touch of some cinnamon.

Flavors of chocolate covered raisins, rich holiday fruit, sweet christmas breads, with a great frothy root beery sweetness on the finish that just won't quit.

SUPER light carbonation (no "hiss" on opening!), very nice mouthfeel and with super finish.

Very drinkable! Not as heavy as most holiday beers!

adamparker05, Nov 30, 2008
Photo of allengarvin
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A new Bernardus beer! (At least for Texas). I poured this into a Chimay glass. It has a dark-brown color with excellent head retention, leaving a long lasting layer of creamy foam on top. The nose is sweet, with a lot of dark fruit notes, and a yeasty spiciness overlaying it. The flavor is quite nice. The malt is surprisingly light and not assertive for such a strong beer, adding sweetness but no heaviness. There's a lot of fruitiness, like candied raisins, and a nicely phenolic, almost peppery yeastiness. Quite light bodied for a 10% beer.

Very nice addition to the Bernardus lineup.

allengarvin, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of stevecee2003
4.58/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have only just seen the St. Bernardus "Christmas Ale", but apparently it has been around for a while. Since 'Bernards is the highest ranked beer I've ever drank (according to Beer Advocate) I simply had to try this Christmas Ale.

APP: Pours dark and murky, but thats not a particularly bad thing. Interestingly, like other reviewers, upon each successive pour the head responds much more favorably. Don't know why, but it is interesting. Dark with mahagony colors.

SM: Like a few others I can smell the rum and mollasses. Plus it is definately spicey in a pumpkin sort of way.

Taste: I can taste how it is a very well made beer. It is special. Up to the standards that I and many others have put upon St. Bernardus. Its just that this taste is not my taste. I prefer IPA's. But certainly I can appreciate this well-crafted flavor. It's all there, cocoa, yeast, and some spice.

Drink/Overall: I'm certainly glad I tried it. Well worth a taste-testing. Certainly a high quality beer. I have had my bottle for this holiday season, and I can see how it might be one-bottle-worthy for each new holiday season.

stevecee2003, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of rye726
4.6/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Head is a bit thin, but the beer is a rich rosewood color. Nose of dark candy malts, ripe fruit, christmas spices, and Belgian yeasts. The taste is sweet and malt strong but well balanced by the spices and herbal, peppery yeasts. Full body and perfect carbonation. Never a bad beer from Bernardus.

rye726, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of gciccarelli
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Capone's. Served in Leffe goblet.

A - A deep, dark brown color with a small of-white head. Virtually no lacing.

S - Spices and malt presence. Hint of plum and cherries as well.

T - On the sweet side...perhaps a bit too much for me. Has that almost vinegarette-style taste....but also manages to be vaguely reminiscent of a candy cane. Definitely reminds one of Christmas. Big spice presence, malt, cherry...

M - Very highly carbonated, and somewhat syrupy.

D - Heavy body and too much sweetness would make it harder to have more than one...

Not a bad beer, but not my favorite. Too sweet for me...worth checking out if that's what you're into.

gciccarelli, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of corby112
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on-tap at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, PA.

Pours a dark ruby/ chestnut brown with thick, slightly beige head. Pleasant aroma consisting of cherries, dark fruits, chocolate, cinnamon spice and alcohol. Very smooth drinking and surprising amount of fruit. Cherries, plum, sugar cane, dark berries and peppery cinnamon taste. Dry finish with a nice alcohol warmth. A very nice balance of maltiness, spiciness, fruit and alcohol. Very tasty!

corby112, Nov 28, 2008
Photo of Magpie14
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: deep brown with ruby hues shining though, spotty creamed off-white lacing. Served in a snifter...

S: spiced plums and cherries, sweet malts tones with raisins

T: creamy and rich with a spiced maltiness. Chocolate covered cherries, reminiscent of a port wine. Has a dash of cinnamon and cloves with poof of yeast/bread. Makes for a real nice winter warmer at the fireplace. On the sweeter side of life, but yet, well rounded.

M: creamy to the tilt, wonderful feel and amazingly soft on the tongue. Goes down real easy and can get ya in trouble if your not careful

D: one of the smoother beers and nicest christmas ales I have had. It was complimenting the cool brisk day we had and warmed me up real nice and fuzzy like. Try it and love it!

Magpie14, Nov 26, 2008
Photo of midaszero
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Hazy dark amber with one finger of white head and okay lacing

S - Malty with floral hop notes. A little faint

T - Taste like Christmas. Nice and malty with some spice mixed in. There are some red grape notes. ABV hidden pretty well

M - Medium thick body with medium carbonation

D - Pretty easy to drink and very enjoyable

midaszero, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of Billolick
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber, caged and corked, best before date etched on the bottom of the bottle (sometime in 2012) Pours dark dark brown, initially under a huge head, that slowly recedes , leaving gobs of heavy lace all over the glass. Cola and raisin nose, prickly carbonation, lots of character and cola, dark fruits, yeasty goodness and alcohol all swimming around. Let it warm up, let the flavors open up and savor this flavorful Belgian beauty

Billolick, Nov 19, 2008
Photo of bonbini26
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ Track 84, Warwick, RI

A: Poured a dark, clear, ruby with a foamy white head, about 3 fingers, average swiss lacing during drinking

S: Almost like a pumpkin ale, minus the pumpkin, spices, fruity malts from a belgian ale you expect, and lingering hops

T: Very fruity and spicy. with belgian maltiness and sweetness,

M: The sugars coat the mouth along with the carbonation of the hops and alcohol is tame, but noticeable

D: This is a very nice xmas beer, complex, yet drinkable, another excellent brew from St. Bernardus, a must for any belgain fan

bonbini26, Nov 19, 2008
Photo of ColForbinBC
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL bottle poured into a St. Bernardus chalice

Pours a russet brown with reddish highlights and a chilled haze. A tight, fluffy tan head rose and receded quickly to leave a collar around the edges of the beer. Faint rings of lace left hanging around.

Very broad range of aromas. Cinnamon, dark fruits, molasses, booze, strong belgian yeast, brown sugar, anise, and grassy hops. The yeast kind of dominates, but the spices and dark fruit rise to the occasion and balance it out.

The fruits and spice shine through with a kick ass doughy, yeast flavor that holds real strong. A bit of cocoa powder, molasses, and hops round out the palate.

The carbonation seemed to be a little high. Full bodied. Really coats the mouth and bubbles off.

Drinkability was slightly above par. Nothing hindering. A good version of the style and always nice to
get another St. Bernardus offering in the mix.

ColForbinBC, Nov 18, 2008
Photo of theopholis
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750mL bottle.

Appearance- Body is a failry cloudy, medium brown with shades of red/orange when held to the light. I was careful with the bottle, so I shouldn't have gotten any sediment. Oh well...

Despite an tall pour, there was no head whatsoever. Just a few bubbles on top. the bubbles to leave a very tight ring as you drink down.

Smell- Fruity (with lots of lighter fruits), much lighter smelling than it looks. Some pleasant notes of bubble gum, sour cherry, some unidentifiable spice. Very inviting.

Taste- Wow. Very flavorful. A spicy, malt sweetness, with a mouth full of hops that weren't in the nose assaults your taste buds. this is definitely a sipping beer. Nice blend of cook cherries, cinnamon, with an odd hop flavor on the back of the tongue. Like they used a weak hop tea, but a lot of it. Sweet up front then mildly bitter and hoppy. A hint of phenolic heat. The very last sensation you get is a subtle mix of alcohol and tannins in the nasal passages as it slides down the gullet.

Mouthfeel- Medium body (for the style). Despite the lack of head, it does have some decent carbonation, but not very lively. This is a bottle conditioned beer, which could explain the lack of head and effervescence.

Drinkability- Quite good. I will probably pick up a couple of bottles and save them for next year. Give them a couple of good shakes to get the yeast going again.

theopholis, Nov 18, 2008
Photo of DmanGTR
4.88/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at Monk's Cafe in Philly

A - Poured from tap dark brown/red with a creamy 0.5" off white head that clung nicely to the authentic 25th anniversary St. Bernardus goblet. Excellent lacing prevailed throughout.

S - Malty, dark fruits, figs and currants. subtle notes of hops and sour apple. slight yeastiness and light hints of holiday spice. Quite different from the usual holiday ales.

T - Initial caramel malty sweetness, candi sugar. fresh hops and spices mingle in a wondrous balance. Lingering aftertaste adds to ongoing pleasure. Swirls of fruit, malt, hops, and spice hides the alcohol quite well.

M - Full bodied and mild carbonation. Very smooth.

D - Extremely drinkable. I could do a few of them in an evening

Overall - I was highly impressed with this offering from St. Bernardus. Quite different than what I expected from a holiday beer, almost like a Chimay Blue but less fruity. Candi sugar and caramel malts prevail and make for a sweet ride throughout the experience, yet it is well balanced with slight hop notes. For $8.50/12 oz, it was definitely worth every drop. I would like a few bottles to cellar and see how it turns out next year. An excellent accompaniment for a fireside chat after a nice holiday dinner. Highly recommended.

DmanGTR, Nov 16, 2008
Photo of BWH3
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle which I found for under $11 in center city Philadelphia

A: A solid medium brown the color of pecan containing a few shades of red when held to the light. The head is big bubbly beige but fades quite easily but fortunately leaves a lovely lacing.

S: Bubble gum, sour cherry, anise.

T: Spicy, caramelized cherries with notes of cinnamon and licorice. Sweet up front then bitter and spicy hot. The phenols bring out the heat as well as the alcohol. This one brings the heat. The alcohol is a bit palpable but I am sure if one aged the beer it would mellow some.

M: Nice effervescence. Light medium body. Head retention could be better but is not below average.

D: St. Bernardus once again makes a fantastic beer that needs to be sampled by all.

BWH3, Nov 13, 2008
Photo of IronDjinn
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a 750 ml brown caged and corked bottle. A creamy, bubbley tan head crowns a murky, cloudy opaque nut brown body.

Malty and sugary sweet nose, dates, some grape and plum, floral perfume.

Malty flavour up front akin to dark dried fruits, some icing sugar, slick molasses, citrus blossoms, mild spices. Malty and spicy aftertaste.

Light, silky smooth mouthfeel, full and sticky on the finish, amazing for the high octane of this ale.

Deceptively drinkable, plus a great starter ale for the style, it's user-friendly and not intimidating. Perfect for sharing at holiday gatherings as well.

IronDjinn, Nov 01, 2008
Photo of John_M
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Max's yesterday.

The beer pours a very dark brown amber color with excellent head retention and lacing. On the nose I get some cola and cherry, some sweet ice tea, along with some underlying spice. The flavors on the palate generally replicate the nose, and the beer has a moderately sweet, soft, creamy mouthfeel. Abv. is very well disguised, though one senses that it's up there. Still, this beer is ridiculously easy to drink and my 10 ounce goblet was gone far too quickly.

A very nice beer. Not all that different from the regular abt 12, but quite delicious nonetheless. Don't see any previous reviews of this beer on draft, so I'm assuming this may be the first year for this beer to be released in that format. Good stuff.

John_M, Nov 01, 2008
Photo of Wasatch
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml
Caged/Corked

Poured into my new St. Bernardus Watou Over Sized Wine Glass, the color is a nice brown/amber color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger plus foamy light tan color, with some nice small islands and sticky lacing around the edges. The nose is malyt, nice touch of yeast, figs, raisins, plums. The taste is sweet, malty/yeasty, nice tones of dark fruit. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden very well with this one. Very drinkable, another awesome brew from St. Bernardus.

Wasatch, Aug 05, 2008
Photo of ryrust5301
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a caged and corked 750ml. bottle into my St. Bernardus Goblet. Nice touch throwing a santa hat on the monk with snow falling in the background.

Appearance - This one poured extremely well. Color is a hefty dark brown almost chocolate color. Massive head crowned this one. Two fingers in size of tan, puffy, chunkiness. After the head calms down a blanket of clumpy white bubbles coats the top.

Smell - Very thick with an alcohol bite. Same as the regular Abt 12 with rich dark fruits, raisin, and a sweet mollasses coating. Dark fruits win out, but there's a spiciness there also.

Taste & Mouthfeel - This one definitely has a nice thick body to it. Lite carbonation keeps the body in check and pulls it back a little bit. Sweet dark fruits like plums, and raisins with a spicy bite in the back give this brew a nice round complexity. Thick bready malts coat the throat for awhile on the aftertaste.

Drinkability - I prefer the Abt 12, but this is one I can look forward to trying again come Christmas time. Would make a heavenly sipper on Christmas eve or night, shared with the family celebrating the holidays.

ryrust5301, Jul 24, 2008
Photo of ShrLSU
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml into a Westy goblet. First had it at the Brick Store in Atlanta and bought a bottle to take home from Green's Liquor.

A: Poured a dark brown color with a frothy tan head. The head sticks to the glass after drinking and settling..

S: This smells like Christmas. Cinnamon, dark fruits, some slight hops, and a warm spice scent. Just a perfect example of what you would think of a typical Belgian scent crossed with christmas flavors.

T: Very fruity and spicy. The Cinnamon is nice after the dark fruits and apple taste settle in. A lite alcohol bite at the end. This gets better as it warms as well.

M: Very carbonated. It tingles in the mouth but you can gradually go through the flavors in the beer as it tingles away at your tongue.

D: This is one of the best Christmas beers i've had. It's very complex but very enjoyable. If you love Belgians and the christmas beer style then this ones a must. I hope we get this close to Louisiana. I'll definitely crack one of these come December 25th.

ShrLSU, Jul 24, 2008
Photo of kensuthe
4.8/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark brown 750ml bottle with the St. Bernardus monk in a Christmas hat with snow in the background over a green shield. Poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. Topped with an inch thick, fluffy tan head that stuck around and clung to the sides of the glass on the way down. Rich, dark brown beer with small carbonation trailing up the sides of the glass.

Smell: Belgian yeast, figs, raisins, other fruits, cinnamon, nutmeg, other spices, slight alcohol tinge, and bread are all in the aroma. A very appealing smell to compliment a very pleasing head.

Taste & Mouthfeel: The taste of Belgian yeast, a combination of tartness and sweetness from the various fruit components, and a slight holiday spiciness all blend together to produce a cheerful, satisfying taste. The aftertaste has a slight alcohol flavoring, with a mellow blended sugar, spice, and fruit tone. The carbonation makes the beer feel like silk in your mouth, and it is pleasant and light when swallowed.

Drinkability: You might think that a moderate alcohol content mixed with a slightly high amount of carbonation would make this beer less drinkable, but the flavors and smells combine with these factors to make a highly, highly drinkable beer. Sit back on a cold night and relax with this beer, and let it warm you up from within and make you think about happy times.

The only thing bad I have to say about this beer is that I didn't buy enough, so now my wife and I will have to wait until next year for more.

kensuthe, Apr 21, 2008
Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Best by date of 7/8/2012 on the bottom

Pours a nice murky dark brown/red color, lots of fluffy head and patching lacing, fasts fairly fast but there's so much of it.

Smell is malty with spice and dark fruit, nothing overwhelming or anything that overrides all the other aromas.

Taste is controlled by the load of fruits but not entirely sweet, some yeastiness, can make out some alcohol tones, way too carbonated, every sip and drink turns into foam in my mouth and becomes a bit distracting.

deltatauhobbit, Apr 11, 2008
Photo of Floydster
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml corked and caged bottle purchased from Walnut Liquorette back in January for eleven dollars, split with my friend tonight, poured into my Chimay goblet

A-Dark brown with some auburn highlights, 1 1/4 inch foamy light tan head that stuck around for a real long time, incredible retention and sticky lacing

S-Belgian yeast that is typical in these brews, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, bready malt aromas, wide variety of spices that were not too strong but certainly there, and red apples

T-Started out tasting exactly like the ABT 12 in my opinion, the whole difference was that it was a little breadier instead of being more sugary, the aftertaste had the same sweetness, this one also felt a little thicker and filling in a way, started to taste an array of spices after about fifteen minutes and then could tell this was a Christmas beer, not much fruit in the taste, malt and brown sugar were dominant throughout, nice twist on a classic beer

M-Sweet, spicy, and chewy mouthfeel, medium bodied, lots of carbonation, hence the bottle gushing when I popped the cork, long lasting taste

D-Probably could not have drank this bottle by myself, ten percent alcohol would catch up to me very quickly, smooth though, a little heavy on the stomach because of the sweetness

Similar to St. Bernardus in many ways, this one will probably age beautifully, would drink again, hopefully it is released again next holiday season, recommended

Floydster, Apr 10, 2008
Photo of GatorBeerNerd
4.58/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a dark amber brown with a couple finger thick fluffy tan head. The head clings to the side all the way down. This one could be the post card for a tasty looking beer.

S: A very subtle fruity smell along with the characteristic aroma of Belgian yeast mixed in. I like the aroma a lot, but there are a lot in this style that are more inviting.

T: One sip and you know this is a St Bernardus brew. It has the classic yeast taste that is evident in all of their line. There is a fruity taste and hints of brown sugar as well. The alcohol definitely warms in the after taste but it is hidden well in the mouth. There is no alcohol burn at all. In the end I marked this down slightly since the taste isn't very complex, but I really enjoyed this one.

M: For my tastes, this one has the perfect amount of in mouth carbonation as well as an excellent viscosity. Rolling it around in the mouth is almost as enjoyable as each swallow.

D: Even though the warming affect of this one makes you not be able to knock it back as fast as you might want, I still gave it a 5. That is because this one it is the most drinkable of this style I have ever had. For a winter warmer, it is easy to drink.

God bless St Bernardus, they make some fine beers!

GatorBeerNerd, Mar 30, 2008
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
95 out of 100 based on 1,523 ratings.