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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,446 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,446
Reviews: 578
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 106
Gots: 151 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website

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: 1,446 | Reviews: 578 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of albern
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

albern, Dec 09, 2007
Photo of lordofthewiens
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.

lordofthewiens, Dec 05, 2007
Photo of rallison
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.

rallison, Dec 04, 2007
Photo of feloniousmonk
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....

feloniousmonk, Dec 02, 2007
Photo of Gueuzedude
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

Gueuzedude, Dec 02, 2007
Photo of hero27
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.

hero27, Dec 01, 2007
Photo of cjgator3
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.

cjgator3, Nov 30, 2007
Photo of KiltedCulinarian
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

Poured a rich dirty brown into goblets, with a spotty dark head; lacing lasted through to the end. Piney smell, and the taste was full of spices. A touch of bitterness showed through, perhaps making it taste even more like Christmas. I poured it chilled initially and wasn't very impressed, but it improved tremendously as it warmed up a bit. Great to have by the fire during the holiday season, and the bottle size makes it nice to share with friends/family.

KiltedCulinarian, Nov 25, 2007
Photo of GbVDave
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Poured from a bottle into two St. Bernardus goblets. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

A: Pours a dark muddy brown, almost like black tea. Huge off-white head of pure cream. Lace stuck to everything!

S: Big spicey aroma. Clove/caramom, cola, juniper, pine, figs, chocolate, cherry, apples, and candied fruit.

T: Huge spicey, malty goodness. Rum soaked raisins, plums, figs, candi sugar, bread pudding, dark chocolate covered cherries, tangy apples, and a certain resinous minty flavor (juniper berry? piney hops?)

M: Like velvet...soaked in cream.

D: Alcohol barely makes its' presence felt in either aroma or taste, but boy does it ever warm the cheeks! This is friggin' Christmas in a bottle!

GbVDave, Nov 25, 2007
Photo of BlindPig
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%

A- Pours with a huge tan head into the St. Bernys goblet. Murky dark brown body with some murky ruby hues. Great head retention and nice thick lacing that sticks to side of glass, a lot!
S- Huge spice, clove, light nutmeg, toffee, chocolate, some mint, blend between grass and weaker pine (almost like a Christmas tree), and one or two other things I just can't pick out make up a nice complex aroma.
T- Most everything in the nose comes out in the flavor. You can almost taste Christmas in a glass. Alcohol tickles the tongue a little bit and warms up throat very soothingly.
M- Medium body with high carbonation like most of St. Bernys beers.
D- St. Bernys has yet to let me down and once again they pull off another great beer. Wish you could find this in Vegas. I would love to have a few of these closer to Christmas. Also I think it would be great with a year or two on it.

BlindPig, Nov 24, 2007
Photo of mcallister
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%

A very dirty russett colored liquid pours into my snifter. Highly carbonated as the other reviewers have noted. Head is choppy, three inches high and seperates into a very foamy consistency. It's also tan.

Dried pitted fruits with belgian yeast and spices everywhere. An earthy musty quality lingers but really is appetizing to this beer. A hint of cinnamon, with a roasted fig puree and alcohol soaked dates and raisins. A bit of cherry and nutty undertones.

One fine specimen. Rich with tingly carbonation and a good amount of acidity. Really lively on the tongue. Full of fig notes with a bit of carmelized pear, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Great balance with a bitterness on the finish. Spicey belgian qualities and a yeasty finish but not overly done. Good amounts of alcohol on the finish in the chest as well. A definite winner.

mcallister, Nov 20, 2007
Photo of RoyalT
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Appearance – This ale is a dark, dingy brown in color with a modest but stubborn head.

Smell – There's a lot of yeast in this nose and it has a hint of sourness to it. The malts are a light, doughy brown. The spicing is very winterish, full of dark accents. It is very balanced and somehow manages to pull off a light balance.

Taste – The yeast comes through strongly at the taste, and the malt is again like the nose; very light and doughy. I'm getting a bit of baker's chocolate as well. The spices pulled back some from the nose but are still present and well-balanced.

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.

RoyalT, Nov 19, 2007
Photo of shroompod
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%

Pours with a rocky head, good lacing. Nice dark color.

I can smell apples, prunes, dark cherries, and some cinnamon. Very complex.

Taste reminds me of fruitcake. Some bourbon/alcohol notes on the finish.

Mouthfeel is thick , rich somewhat sweet.

This is a fantastic beer, but one for the evening is plenty.

shroompod, Nov 19, 2007
Photo of Halcyondays
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

25.4 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark sepia brown, with a full, off-white/tan head, that stays robust throughout the whole glass, leaving excellent, thick lacing. A sight to behold.

S: Smells mainly of dark malt, sugar, molasses, and gingerbread.

T: The taste is a complex cornucopia of dark flavours. Heavy brown sugar is mixed with prune and fig, which in turn meets cinnamon, nutmeg, and all-spice to create a truly fantastic taste experience, one of the best BSDA's I have ever had. This was close, not quite a 5, if 4.75 was an option, I'd probably give it that, a fantastic flavour overall.

M: Thick and rich, smooth, phenolic, a great warming wintertime brew.

D: I think I have found the ultimate beer to pair with pumpkin pie in this one. Full of rich, complex, dark flavours, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is a world-class Yule beer made by one of the best producers in Belgium. I really liked this beer.

Halcyondays, Nov 17, 2007
Photo of largadeer
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%

Appearance: Poured from a 750ml bottle depicting a jolly monk (with a Santa hat) drinking beer in the snow. The beer itself is dark amber, nearly black, with a cloudy tan head that doesn't show any sign of fading.

Smell: Caramel and chocolate, wintry spices, a bit of alcohol. Very aromatic.

Taste/mouthfeel: Dark dried fruits, caramel, a bit of molasses. Dry and spicy in the finish with a greater hop presence than I was expecting. Crisp but soft carbonation similar to other St. Bernardus brews. This is nice, but I think it will drink better with 5 or 6 months on it. Recommended.

largadeer, Nov 16, 2007
Photo of timtim
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%

hazy reddish brown w/ tons of bubbles and huge off white head. great belgian lace and great retention. I was surprised by the hop character that was really really present in the nose. i imagine that will mellow out with time, and i am exited to see how this will tate next year. nose was musty, earthy hops, malt, spice (cinnamon, ginger?) dark fruit and booze. taste was dark fruit, roast, spice, hops and hints of booze. in both the nose and the taste, i could detect something new every pass. i think this one needs a little time, but the full body (which seems lighter because of the heavy carbonation) is smooth, and this is another solid solid beer from one of my favorite breweries.

timtim, Nov 10, 2007
Photo of Wildman
3.63/5  rDev -14.2%

This beer poured a cloudy dark amber color and formed a very airy large head that coated the glass with lace as it slowly subsided. A heavy amount of carbonation is present. An aroma of malt, yeast and candy. The flavor was of malt, caramel and candy. Fairly light compared to other styles by this brewery. The finish was quite sprite. Not a bad beer, but not up to the others from the brewery. Aging may help this one to improve.

Wildman, Nov 08, 2007
Photo of amiles
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%

Caged 750 with a loud pop upon opening, poured heavy into a St. Bernardus glass. Massive tan head that slowly dissipates to a pillow cover. Very large bubbles. Color is murky brown... typical, but nice. Leaves icicle like lacing around the sides. Even though the bottle suggests drinking this a bit cold for the style, I'd really recommend letting this one warm up a bit. I was SLIGHTLY disappointed when I first cracked this one,but now with a little more than a half left in the bottle, at a warmer temp... This is a fantastic beer. Glad I bought a few bottles! Nice addition the Bernardus line-up.

amiles, Nov 05, 2007
Photo of kleffman
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%

750ml bottle on special at O'Briens in San Diego. Split this with two other people and drank out of Chimay glasses. Awesome looking bottle, with a fancy label.

Pours with a nice head that settles to a solid layer of foam that doesn't dissipate over time. The lacing on the glass is nice. A very dark brown with red hues.

The aroma is not over the top but there is that definite belgian yeast character up front. Bready, dark fruits, and hints of spices. Smells very sweet, and makes your mouth water.

Taste is nice and clean, with no noticeable alcohol except it's warmth. Very balanced and nice, with a sweet dark fruit character along with the usual Belgian yeast. Spices are subtle and enjoyable.

Rather carbonated, but it's the nice small bubble thick carbonation I've grown to love that leaves a velvet mouthfeel with just a bit of a bite. I rate this high on drinkability because I think I could sit around and sip on this all night long. It's not drinkable in the usual sense of the word but being so highly enjoyable you don't want your glass to ever empty.

kleffman, Nov 03, 2007
Photo of rajendra82
3.58/5  rDev -15.4%

The classic St. Bernardus packaging was themed in red and green on this bomber, and the jolly monk had donned a Santa Clause hat as snow covered the brewery shield. Is this going to really be “bringing heavenly nectar within reach” as promised? There was only one way to find out.

The cork came off with a loud pop, but the beer stayed put inside the bomber. As I poured it into a St. Bernardus goblet, the beer was murky brown in color, and the head was only one finger tall. The aroma was heavy with anise and had some banana notes as well. The taste seemed like a watery version of the Abt 12, except it seemed almost salty. The dark malts seemed to be struggling to rise above the huge carbonation sting. There were overtones raisins, figs, red apples, and brown sugar, but everything seemed to be diluted with club soda. The alcohol was well hidden as expected. There was some earthy yeast flavor in the taste as well. I'd say that this was quite a complex beer, but not all aspects of complexity were working towards a cohesive whole. As it warmed up some, the carbonation became more subdued, allowing me to appreciate the flavors better. Medium full mouthfeel was good, but never approached that velvety smoothness of the exceptional quadruples.

A good beer, but pales in comparison with its other illustrious brethren. Not a fair standard I suppose, since most other beers do as well.

rajendra82, Nov 03, 2007
Photo of seaoflament
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%

750ml bottle, corked and caged. Picture of a jolly Monk with a green background, a red stripe in the bottom and red edges and white clunky snow.

From the bottle:
“St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is the youngest descendant in the illustrious family of delicious Abbey Ales brewed by brewery St. Bernardus since 1946. This specialty ale of 10% alc./vol. is characterized by its deep dark color with a creamy, thick head, and a full, almost velvety mouthfeel with a fruity nose.”

Pours a caramel color and settles into a ruby/brown color in the glass. A good dose of foam, about a finger or so. Great retention, there is almost a nice ¼ of an inch pillow of white head and constant bubbles down the center of my Chimay goblet.

Aroma is yeasty and bread-like, dark candied sugar, sweet dark and ripe fruits and caramel, maybe a hint of cinnamon.

Taste is of dark fruits up front with some bread qualities and a slight alcoholic finish.

The beer is very carbonated, maybe a little too much since it stings a bit as it rests on the tongue. I feel that the carbonation imparts a bit on the flavors, it would be a little easier to detect more flavors with less carbonation. Let this one get to room temp. though, it gets a little better and less carbonation sting.

seaoflament, Oct 23, 2007
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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,446 ratings.