Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,739 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,739
Reviews: 616
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.46%
Wants: 137
Gots: 259 | 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: 1,739 | Reviews: 616 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of GDBEERMAN
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into Waton Tulip.
A: A very foamy head, pours a three finger height and holds throughout. The body is a deep brown hue and has a thick haze and a steady stream of carbonation. The lacing is a thick coat of sticky lace.
S: The aroma is a bit on the lighter side for the style. The note of a Belgian yeasty clove. The note of a tripel on the front and a low level of complexity is found.
T/M: The front shows a note of dark fruits and a bit of a domination of fig. A bold taste that is on the higher end of a medium bodied intensity. The mouthfeel is a clean and crisp taste that is a classic Belgian taste. The finish is a bit on the sweet side, that shows a hint at the abv in this brew.
D: This is a great winter brew that shows classic style notes and a sweet winter warmer. While I would only visit this brew once a season, I would still highly recommend it.

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

This beer is uncorked with a resounding 'pop'. It pours a deep, clear, rich, not-quite-crimson red color. The head is towering, firm, and light tan in hue. Nice, big, malt aromas are front and center. Healthy doses of alcohol, dark fruit, and phenols key to the smell as well. The taste is surprisingly smooth, with a serious fullness for the high carbonation levels. Not quite as dry as I expected. The taste is heavy on the malt and fruit character. All in all, this is a fantastic beer.

Photo of metter98
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is very dark amber in color and poured with a two finger high creamy beige head that slowly died down but left a thin layer of bubbles consistently covering the surface.
S: The nose has aromas of malty sweetness and notes of dark fruits.
T: Like the smell, the taste is rather malty but has a mild amount of sweetness with notes of dark fruits and hints of yeast. The sweetness becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
M: It feels medium-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a high amount of carbonation.
D: The beer is very easy to drink considering its strength because the alcohol is well hidden.

Photo of jrallen34
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Saw this on tap at Local Option last night, couldn't pass the chance to finally tick a top Belgian...Dark brown pour, but a really deep hue that I like. The head is light tan, creamy with good retention and lacing...Finally a Christmas beer aroma that doesn't overpower the senses. Dark fruits with spice, but spice is an accent not the center of the beer. The taste is the same, dark fruits with spice.

Worth trying, great winter Christmas beer.

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

A: dark murky cranberry color. A huge pillowy off white head tops it off. A good looking beer.

S: Smells surprisingly on the lighter side. I get some sugary dark fruits and not much else.

T: This tastes really good. Lots of caramel. Lots of raisins and dates. Very nice.

M: Just under full bodied. Nice full mouthfeel. Lots of carbonation. Lots of sweetness and bitterness. Very dry in the mouth and on the finish as well.

Overall: I like this one better then I liked St. Bernardus Abt 12. The dryness really makes it enjoyable. It cuts through the sweetness to balance things out. This is the closest beer I've had to Westy 12. It really reminds me of it. I recommend this one highly.

Photo of jlindros
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Armsby Abbey Belgian Christmas night, 2007 vintage. This was the catch of the night, so delicious.

Comes with a light Belgian fizzy head and light lacing, over dark brown molasses color with hints of rosy hue, and very dark with very little light coming through.

Nose comes with sweet malts, Belgian dark malts, little candi sugar, caramel, toffee, aged malts, slight dark raisiny fruits, and just the faintest hit of spices and nutty aromas.

Taste brings lots of raisin and dark fruits, little plug and fig, nutty malts, plenty of Belgian dark malts and that aged malt taste, smooth and semi sweet, some dark candi sugar and little caramel, hints of spice and a little warming booze, a little bitterness too. Finish lingers with lots of dark malts, a little sweetness and more candi sugar, and hints of fruits that linger for a while.

Mouth is medium to a little heavier bodied with decent carbonation and very little warming booze.

Drinkability is pretty good, drinks a lot smoother and lighter than 10%, and sweetness is balanced well and the aged malt flavor probably helps.

Photo of Brabander
3.25/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had bought this bottle at the brewerie when i visited it together with the guys from the Sierra Nevada brewerie. I had high hopes of this beer because i love the beers Bernardus makes. This beer however disapointed me. That was funny in a certain way because we drank the beer in a tasting session with some BA's at my place and the rest was enthousiastic about it.

There we go! Poured in a tasting glass the beer looks ok. Nice head but a little bit too much carbonation for a dark beer. You could say it is an overcarbonated 12.

I will try this one on tap when i am at the Christmasbeerfestival in Essen this weekend.

Edit:

We had this beer at the end of 2011 at my cousin Peters place. Great beers and great fun.

This beer was poured in my Essen Christmasbeerfestivalglass (what a word for wordfeud!) The beer was disappointing again...

Photo of Kromes
3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: A dark, dark amber with ruby highlights and a thick off white head that sits on top of the beer. Good lacing down the glass.

S: Roasted malt, bready yeast, anise, dark fruit and spice.

T: A toasted brown sugar, molasses, and dark fruit flavor to start, the boozy flavors then kick in along with a lighter fruitiness, bitterness and belgian funk in the beer.

M: Lower carbonation and a sticky, syrupy feel and it leaves the mouth a little dry and with a peppery spice.

D: The beer has a very strong flavor. You can definitely taste and feel the alcohol. However, the beer is tasty and has quite a kick.

Photo of rudzud
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the Armsby Abbey's yearly Belgian Christmas on 12/15.

*Note: This is a 2007 vintage*

A - Poured into a goblet this has a nice mahogany, cloudy pour with one of the most impressive heads I've ever seen. This 1 finger of big bubble head hung around for the duration of the ale leaving massive, clumpy side lacing. I'ver never seen bubbles of this size before in my brew, its insane!

S - Yeasty dough with raisins and dark fruit. Light aromas, yet what coems through is heavy.

T - Big raisin notes on this along with maybe some cherries too. So mellow and smooth thanks to the aging. There are some subdued carmel and malt flavours that are really pleasant.

M - Low carbonation due to age which is understandable. Not too heavy but it is syrupy.

D - Smooth, solid flavours with a great appearance. The appearance of this really sealed the deal for me. Such a gorgeous ale.

Photo of phishgator
4.85/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

From a 750ml into a chalice. Nice hazy, brown carbonated with a decent head for ten perecent. lacing is slight. The aroma is fruity like sweet sugary candy. The taste is just like the smell, but with bread pudding taking over. Rasins and molasses also come through in the flavor. There is a lot going on with this brew. The body is full, but that doesn't stop you from craving more.

Photo of scoots511
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served out of 750mL bottle the corked "popped" and removing the cork was effortless due to the conditioned bottle psi. Pretty awesome label on the bottle. Makes me want to see this under the xmas tree.

A: Dark amber color, off-white head with tight carbonated head

S: Fruit-like apple/grape crisp smell

T: Nice depth/complexity to the taste. Many flavors going on. A slight bit of sourness on the sides of the tongue

M: Nice belgian mouthfeel

D: At 750mL 10% it's highly drinkable and smooth, a good one to share on a cold winter night by the fire.

Photo of D23
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A) Pours a mahogany color with a fluffy off white head. Good lacing throught the glass.

S)Subtle hints of spice. Very faint No scent jumps to the front or overpowers. Also a hint of bananna.

T) Dark fruits and sweet malt. Alcohol taste is present but not overpowering.

M) Medium body ever so slight stickey finish.

D) Easy drinker given the ABV. As the beer warms the flavors come thru. Very enjoyable Christmas brew.

Photo of drummstikk
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer tastes like cherry cough syrup! But it's really not bad at all. It has none of the bitter or minty flavors of Robitussin, but all of the sweet estery plastic-cherry-goodness. Allspice and ginger combine in the tart medicinal finish, caramelized sugar and caramel malts fill out the middle, and bright Belgian phenols start us all off. Hop aroma is absent, while hop bitterness just peaks through the finish. Body is thick and syrupy, and carbonation is light. Color is hazy dark amber/ light brown. Fruits are present all throughout: cherries, plums, with a hint of peach and melon. Aroma is funky and phenolic.

Don't worry about the 10% ABV -- it will go down smooth, just like a good medicine.

My only complaint is that this beer is a bit sweet for all its medicinal flavors. The gestalt is an underattenuated ale with Brettanomyces cherry pie flavors. If I hadn't been a sickly child, swilling Dimetapp every winter, I am sure this beer wouldn't conjure the same images. As it is, a dryer finish would steer me into bliss.

Photo of AgentMunky
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a growler into a 25cL St. Bernardus goblet.

A: A creamy head appears, shot through with bubbles. The beer is dark, ruddy brown, turning translucent when backlit. Beautiful lacing all down the sides.

S: Banana pudding. Cloves. Light yeast and other fruits.

T: A tad tart. Figgy fruit. Lightish and spicy -- cloves and possible fennel. It definitely improves as it warms, opening up other fruits, but staying somewhat sour. Aftertaste is drying and not the best part of the taste.

M: Smooth but watery; it feels like apple juice. Some carbonation keeping things lively.

D: A very enjoyable beer, but not the best Christmas ale, BSDA, or St. Bernardus.

EDIT: After two days in the fridge, the character of this beer changed drastically. Obviously, it became less carbonated and more sticky, but, more dramatically, the sourness disappeared completely to be replaced by maraschino cherries and a cough syrup flavour. The smell is different too -- cherries, christmas cake, and plum pudding.

Photo of eric5bellies
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drank from my Leffe Chalice.

A - A very nice head complemeted by a rich mahogany colour. The head is virtually the same for the entire beer.

S - Small amount of yeast and spice.

T - There is some spice and definitley some aniseed here. Lots of dark fruits that is followed by a boozey finish.

M - Medium to full body with medium carbonation and very very smooth.

D - Yet another top brew by St Bernardus, would go down well with christmas pudding.

Photo of plfahey
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750mL corked bottle into a tulip glass

Appearance-Reddish-brown in color, with ruby highlights. Somewhat hazy. Giant, light tan, rocky foam head leaving behind belgian lace.

Smell-Big aroma of dark/dried fruit (Plums, Raisins, Prunes, Figs), and a hint of green apples. Some bready malt, not really any hops. Light molasses, with spice hints including cinnamon and cloves. Some sweet dark candi sugar is blended with a whiff of alcohol in the finish.

Taste-The flavor is less complex and varied than the aroma. Less sweet than aroma indicates, Some malt and dark fruits (prunes and figs), which dries quickly to a smooth alcohol flavor with a hint of anise/dark candi sugar. Hop bitterness is very low, and hop flavor is negligible.

Mouthfeel-Medium body, enhanced by high carbonation. Rich, warming alcohol, and quite smooth.

My only complaint is the flavor, which is a little bit 1-dimensional compared with the other aspects of the beer. Nonetheless, it's still very good, and would definitely fit the bill as a winter warmer. Belgians often do a good job at making the alcohol in these high ABV beers sneaky-this one is no exception.

Photo of runningjoke
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The appearance was everything I expected. It's head was large with tight bubbles which turned to foam before turning into lace. A quick swirl will pump up the foam again. When held up to the light it has an opaque caramel/toffee color with some mahogony-red highlights at the edges and bottom of the glass. Continuous columns of bubbles stream to the top of the glass.
Malty smell with traces of cider, rum-raisin, and allspice.
Spicy and hot. It is malty with very little hop character. aftertaste has a slight astringent quality. This beer is really smooth and flavorful. It is an exceptional beer, fitting for a limited release.

Photo of teromous
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: First of all the head on this beer is simply amazing. The head does not even want to recede! The beer itself pours a rich brown color and billions of tiny bubbles rise to the top. As expected from a head this powerful, it laces the glass and doesn't go away.

S: There isn't a spice smell at all. I guess I expected some from a Christmas beer. The room instantly fills up with a unique Belgian beer scent. There is a yeasty smell to the beer but not overpowering.

T: A sip of this gives off a very thick, rich, full mouth of...well, Belgian beer! It has a slight hint of alcohol but is very smooth. There is no spice to this beer, as it seems the beer is more of a winter warmer than a spiced holiday beer. It has a very earthy flavor, bordering on a light oak. It is a rich beer but not very complex.

M: It has a very lush mouthful and warms without burning. It seems to be lacking something in the aftertaste.

D: This is very drinkable. It would probably go well with a gamy meat without spoiling the palate.

Photo of CMW
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a deep ruby red color with light brown head and plenty of retention.

S - Figs, raisins, apples, sugar, and bready malt.

T - Definitely on this sweet side but not in a bad way. Plenty of dark fruits mix well with an almost rock candy taste. Cinnamon and nutmeg spices can also be tasted.

M - Full bodied and provides a nice covering mouthfeel.

D - I polished this off quite easily and the flavors are not too bold and could allow for a second to be had.

Photo of Adouble
1.63/5  rDev -61.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

750 cork and caged, Dec 2010 in a snifter.

loosened the cage and the cork became a projectile.

A- Deep burgandy approaching brown with a rocky off white head. opague with lots of lacing.

S- CO2, i know you cant smell co2, but the burn of co2. so i swirled it to release some of the cabonation. smells of alcohol, sweet fruits, rasin but weakly so. i really had to search to have something to say.

T- metallic, like sucking on a penny. it does not go away and is truly horrible and overwhelmes everything else. i can pick out some dark fruit, hint of licorice and some green apple in the finish. mouthfeel was watery with high prickly carbonation.

D- low. i suffered through but it was a chore.

overall not impressed

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

On-tap at Stuffed Sandwich

A: The pour is a dark brown color with some amber sort of highlights and an appropriately large off-white head.

S: A really rich, luscious nose of caramel, brown sugar, candi sugar, and toffee. Tons and tons of fruits too, like cherries, figs, and plums.

T: The flavor is just as wonderful. Sweet brown sugar and caramel lead the way with plenty of cherries, plums, and raisins to provide further sweetness. There's some clove and nutmeg flavors as well as a nice yeastiness.

M: The body is medium with a really full and rolling carbonation.

D: Maybe the best of all the Belgian Christmas beers I've had to this point. This is pretty much what I think of/look for in this kind of beer.

Photo of TMoney2591
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a wine glass.

Man, that monk sure looks happy and festive. His brew pours a hazy sienna topped by a finger of dirty tan foam. The nose comprises nutmeg, fig, cinnamon, and a touch of roasted malts. The taste runs very similarly, with the addition of banana and chocolate. The body is a staunch medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a somewhat grainy feel. Overall, another win from Bernardus. I can't wait to try the others I've yet to experience.

Photo of nickhiller
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: thick, groggy and opaque chocolate brown. A crazy 2 1/2 finger tan head with unbelievable retention and great lacing.

S: musty, funky, yeasty. The acidity is immediately apparent. It smells a little bit like vomit (just being honest). Some cherry, dark fruits and banana in the background.

T: syrupy malt, Belgian yeast, finish carries some strong dark fruits--cherries, plums, blackberries-- and dried fruits--prunes, raisins,

M: medium bodied with sharp carbonation reflecting the aforementioned head. Finish is warm and soothing.

D: for me, the appearance is the best thing about this beer. I've never seen a beer as opaque, a head as thick with such good retention and carbonation as unrelenting. The beer itself is good but in a I've-definitely-tasted-this-type-of-thing-before kind of way. I'm feeling that ABV though, warming on a cold winter day, a great feeling.

Photo of mbrown26
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at the Thirsty Monk South.

A: A great dark beer with a nice head. It was a little too dark for me to get a real picture of the color, but it was dark and the head was nice. Lacing stayed throughout the glass.

S: Reminded me of the ABT. 12. Got fruity and malty notes.

T: Lots of malty flavor that has hints of cloves and cinnamon. Very flavorful. A different kind of beer if you're only used to pale ales or IPA styles.

M: Thick and syrupy, but clean.

D: Easy to drink, but one glass sure does for you.

Photo of Daniellobo
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice, rich and quite approachable St. Bernardus

Presentation: 750 ml. corked bottle. Old fashion front label design with the image of the smiling St. Bernardus monk with a Santa hat holding a glass of the brew under falling snow. Lengthy note on the back with historic touches covering the main characteristics of the beer, including some general serving indications. Cork cage notes best by date (27.0515). Shows Alc. by Vol. (10%) Poured in a tulip glass.

A - Deep brown with ruby edges with a frothy head, medium retention, good lumpy surface memory, and nice touches of lace.

S - Malt sweetness, Belgium yeast tones, and a sugary sense.

T - Malty sweet flavor, plenty of sugar, with a soft fruity range and a shy pinch of spices.

M -Medium body with a high carbonation that still remains rather smooth providing a nice tingle as the brew progresses. Boozy sense in the finish as the brew warms and reaches its end.

D - Nicely drinkable, a bit mono-chord and generic but in a way that works well for the brew.

Notes: Feels a touch short of the impression from their XII but by the same token it may be more popularly liked, at least as an entry point for festive drinking across a diverse table. Not a favorite of mine, but with sharing in mind I would repeat it.

Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,739 ratings.