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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

633 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 633
Hads: 1,893
Avg: 4.19
pDev: 16.23%
Wants: 172
Gots: 342 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: seaoflament on 10-23-2007

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (12) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Christmas Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 633 | Hads: 1,893
Photo of gford217
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

No better way to spend a Christmas evening than sipping on a St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. 750mL bottle poured into a goblet.

Pours a deep, murky brown with ruby hints around the edges. The head is a full three fingers and shows no sign of receding, leaving tons of lacing down the glass.

The nose doesn't surprise too much, though there aren't lots of spice presence that I may have expected from a Christmas ale. The main aromas are the Belgian yeast and candi sugar that form the base with hints of dark fruits and bread as well.

The taste is also mainly that of a dark Belgian with tons of sweet malts, Belgian yeast and candi sugar. However, I definitely get more spices than the aroma would suggest as well as raisins and plums. There is a slight bitterness in the aftertaste along with some alcohol burn that warms me up a bit.

The mouthfeel is creamy but with tons of carbonation that helps coat the palate with the sticky sugar sweetness that dominates. The finish is just a tad dry.

I've always been a big fan of St. Bernardus, so I was expecting a great beer and it delivered. One of the best holiday beers I've had recently. Highly recommended!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Generously bubbled dark cranberry with orange and gold highlights. The pale toffee colored head was at least four fingers following a gentle pour and doesn't look as though it will melt until New Year's. Thankfully, it's sticky enough to decorate the goblet with fine sheets of lightly stippled lace.

The nose is classic BSDA. It's hard to say for sure, but it smells like the typical yeasty spiciness, not so much added spices. The beer smells like freshly baked pumpernickel covered in dark fruits and ground cloves. Good, but not quite magical.

That's my first impression of the flavor as well, but I have a sneaking suspicion that warming will make this dark ale blossom into something even more delicious. For that to happen, the metallic vibe that has intruded on the first few mouthfuls has to fade. It does... eventually.

I'm surprised at how bitter and dry Christmas Ale is, relatively speaking. It isn't out of line for the style, but it is a little unusual for a holiday beer. The flavor profile is made up of toasted brown bread (with a rye-like earthy spiciness), black tea leaves, figs, anise seed, orange peel, cloves, black pepper and a wee pinch of musky cardamom.

That this Brouwerij St. Bernardus offering would be complex was never in doubt. Warming does, indeed, open up the flavor profile and fills it in with bold strokes of color. Is it enough to earn the next highest flavor score? Tough call, but by mid-bottle, I've decided that it is. The alcohol, although well-masked, adds a bracing power that lovers of big beer should embrace.

The mouthfeel doesn't deliver the usual creamy lushness of a big Belgian ale. It's a little too brightly carbonated and is a trifle thin. It's still more than acceptable, but I was expecting mouthfeel excellence from the merry monks.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale manages to capture the spirit of the season with a spiciness whose origins are a mystery. It probably won't be everyone's cup of ale, but I'm having a great time sipping and savoring. What a wonderful beer to cap off Christmas 2008 in style.

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Photo of dsa7783
4.22/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ML bottle purchased caged and corked from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield...
Appearance: Ruddy, dark-brown hue... Minimal carbonation, heavy head and major lacing around the edge of the serving glass...
Smell: All types of whiffs here... Graham crackers, brown sugars, molasses, honey, and of course, rich malts...
Taste: Thick, honey and molasses flavor... Alcohol is pretty well hidden, chewy malts, brown sugars, cinnamon, and caramel... Great for the Winter season...
Mouthfeel: Rich and creamy on the tongue...
Drinkability took a hit due to the hefty 10% abv... more of a sipping beer...
Great stuff...

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Photo of tburkhart
3.43/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Shared with BA raznug on the 1st anniversary of our homebrewing.

Pours a very nice caramel color. Typical think Belgian head. Very think carbonation. The big bubbles turn to more of a creamy head as the it settles.

Typical Belgian spices in the nose.

Typical Belgian spices in the taste.

An OK beer. I've had better Belgians.

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Photo of prototypic
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very impressive. This one's just a little foggy and is a dark brown color that almost looks deep red. Lots of scarlet undertones. The head is gargantuan. Carbonation appears very active and yields a 3+ finger deep head. Needless to say, it's very patient and brooding. Sure to last step for step with the brew underneath. Heavy sheets of lace line the glass.

Smell: The nose is fruity and sweet. It features some apple and pear and a very healthy dose of dark fruit. The darker variety are mostly plum and raisin. Molasses and brown sugar and most definitely in the mix. Some light spice aromas emerge and consist of mostly pepper, cinnamon, and light clove. Belgian yeast permeates the nose throughout. Light alcohol is noted, but it doesn't present itself as prevalent. It's good, but could be a litle better. I had to work to pull all of that out.

Taste: It's malty and sweet. Light apple and pear mix pretty well with plum and raisin flavors. Nice solid malt backbone. There's a distinct cola-like flavor that is reminiscent of Coke. It's not bad, but I'm not enamored with that aspect. Cinnamon, pepper, and clove spices add some zeal and depth to it. They're flavorful and well done. It is a little hoppier than expected. It has a subtle, yet effective bitter punch. Belgian yeast makes its presence well known and is a very welcome addition. Alcohol is noted and is more prevalent here than on the nose. It definitely has a warming effect. Finishes spicy with a distinct bitter surge. It's good, and it's growing on me as the bottle disappears. I'm hinging on a bump in score here.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It features a medium body and is very smooth and satisfying. Carbonation is active, but does not interfere with its smooth feel. Drinkability is good. This is a deceptive beer. At 10% abv, it is very strong, but lulls you into a false sense of security. I'm handling the 750, but that will be all.

Brouwerij St. Bernardus is one of those special breweries that really can't make a bad beer. I was on the fence a little with this one as far as flavor goes. At the end of the day, it grew on me enough to warrant a 4.5 score for taste. It is that good. The nose could be a little better, but this is a damn fine beer all the same. It certainly warrants an annual purchase. Definitely recommended.

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Photo of whoneeds8
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a murky brown into a Westmalle Chalace. Very good lacing all the way down the glass. Smell was very typical of a Bernardus Dark Ale. Taste was very complex, however I didn't like the initial mouthfeel of high carbonation. It was ticking my taste buds too much. It mellowed after sitting for a little while.

I might go buy another bottle to let age in the cellar to find out how well this ages for next year.

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Photo of bigkahunas4
3.93/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml into an oversized wine glass.

Nice, dark cola colored body, with a cookie dough head. Really thick lacing. Nose was of apple jelly and a bit of alcohol.

Brew was nice and creamy, with flavors such as apple, sweet breads, and alcohol.

This was tasty, but a bit too sweet for me to have too much of.

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Photo of corey0212
4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky chestnut brown, slight reddish highlights when held to light, and an absolutely gigantic foamy beige head, settles extremely slowly and leaves big clumps of lacing on the glass. Lots of spicy dark fruits on the nose, raisin, plum, fig, and big Belgian yeast aromas. Taste follows right along, some belly-warming alcohol, slightly earthy character to the beer as well. Really, I'm having a hard time imagining anything more enjoyable to sip on during a freezing snowy night, with the holidays right around the corner. Absolutely delicious.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

We're celebrating Christmas tonight and what better way to do it than with a special Belgian Christmas beer?

Pops with a soft bang and pours into a globe glass. It's a dark redish copper color with lots of fine light brown head. The head settles to an eighth inch layer leaving some lacing behind.

Aroma is difficult to appreciate given that I just filled the house with smoke trying to have a fire in the fireplace. What I can get from it is the classic Belgian dark fruit esters and spice.

Flavor is excellent, as I've come to expect from St. Bernardus. Great depth of character from fruity to spicy, sweet to dry, it has something for everyone to enjoy.

Mouthfeel is typical Belgian with full body and lots of carbonation. Drinkability is good for the style.

It's very similar to the 12 and I would love to try them back to back if I ever get the chance.
Overall a great beer.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.7/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In my humble opinion, St. Bernardus does nothing but make great beers. Every style they make is superb. I'm hoping their Christmas beer meets the same standards.

Murky brown in the glass with just a hint of a wispy brown head. Licorice and dark fruit aromas and mulling spices.

Rich dark fruit and bready dark malt. Some warming alcohol and anise. Very thick and malty, lots of black currant and ripe plum, More licorice in the finish and aftertaste. Yummy!

Great stuff. I need to get some more.

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Photo of avalon07
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had a brownish color and a thick consistency. There was a half inch of creamy head and excellent lacing.

S: A very spicy, malty aroma. Actually does remind me of Christmas.

T: Taste is well done and full of spices: Ginger, cumin, malt, orange and Belgian yeast. Flavorful.

M: Well-carbonated beer that goes down easy. Full-bodied.

D: This is a solid effort from St. Bernardus, a brewery that seems incapable of making a bad beer.

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Photo of MisterClean
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle at kerstbier tasting at the Shack.

A - Pours a light brown color, with a 2-3 fingered head, which quickly settles to 1 finger and refuses to disappear. Nice lacing in glass.

S - Orange, cumin, cardamom, ginger, and spicy hops.

T - Pretty much the same.

M - Slightly thin, with some alcohol presence, but still good.

D - Real good, despite thinness, but the nose and taste this a great beer.

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Photo of Lexluthor33
4.7/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours cherry brown with a foamy head and an amazing lace.
The aroma of malts then spices and finally the hops,fruits and yeast flow out. The alcohol can be picked up ,but only lightly.

I let this one sit for a few minutes and warm up. I then sipped on it and the first thing that hit my tongue was the sweet,dark fruits and some alcohol. Along the way the malts,spices such as cloves and even cinnamon could be tasted.
The feel was smooth and creamy with a full body and medium carbonation.

Notes: This is what Christmas is really about.(just kidding)
This beer really does make me feel the holiday season. There is something so rich and satisfying after a snifter glass of this brew that leaves one wanting more.
I believe there are two types of session beers. Summer/all season and winter session brews such as this one.
Expect to get a little warm and twisted off winter sessions due to higher ABV,but I had four glasses in a four hour span and certainly could have had more.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.58/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This comes out of the tap an opaque dark brown with a thick pale tan head. Aroma is very hoppy and spicy, inviting a taste. Flavor does not disappoint - it is mainly hoppy with spicy overtones and a spicy, evergreen aftertaste. Texture is very smooth and cooling. An excellent winter brew.

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Photo of FleeVT
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into an over sized copa de vino.

A: Pours a dull, syrup mahogany with a heavy haze to it. A creamy white head that leaves beautiful lacework caps her off.

S: Sweet malts and fruits hit you first. Apply cider, raisins and currants pave the way to a backdrop dominated by yeast and a hint of alcohol. You definitely don't expect a 10 percenter based on the nose.

T: Lots of dark fruits and molasses on the palate. The alcohol cuts through that sweetness and brings with it some holiday spices, clove and vanilla. The Belgian yeasts, which in my opinion can be overdone in this style, are perfect.

M: Smooth like velvet, just as the bottle declares. There is definitely carbonation that bites into your tongue, but it works and it's smooth. Medium to heavy bodies that fades in the back as the alcohol warms the mouth.

D: All winter long. Enjoy this slowly and relish.

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Photo of smcolw
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Massive 80% head in the glass. Settles steadily leaving spotty lace on the glass. Cloudy light brown color.

Sugar candy and alcohol are the dominant aromas. Mild hop in the background.

Creamy with a mild sweetness and the archetypical Belgian flavor from the yeast. Alcohol is potent and adds to the rich body. The swallow has a faint touch of hop, but it's a predominantly sour malt flavor. The aftertaste is brief.

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Photo of Wildman23
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Deep mahogany color with ruby highlights.
Smell- Roasted malts, yeasty spice, mulling spice, milk chocolate, roasted nuts, candied figs, and a hint of grape soda...yes, like Welch's grape soda.
Taste- So smooth, a touch of roasty malts and dark candy sugar upfront before the wave of fruity esters roll onto the palate. Candied figs, plums, ripe red grapes and Red Delicious apple go along with a mellow milk chocolate undertone. All this fruity sweetness gets rolled up into a mellow spicy character, with hints of subtle white pepper, all spice and an almost hidden note of anise. So complex, so much going on, but not overdone or too much. a truly delicious Christmas beer.
Mouthfeel- Smooth and supple with a tiny prickle of effervescence and good lacing throughout.
Drinkability- Well, for an intensely sweet, 10% abv Noel beer, this one rolls down the throat and begs for more to follow... I guess that would be outstanding drinkability!
Overall, I am not a huge fan of the Christmas styles, but this one is a one of a kind, not to be missed, outstanding beer!!!

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Photo of tempest
3.9/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Farmhouse in Emmaus, PA. Overall, this is a pretty good Belgian, but it's not as complex at the Abt 12. It actually reminds me of Chimay Blue more than Bernardus 12. The flavor comes off like a cinnamon spice caramel apple with toasted toffee and sweet bread. Delicious, but it doesn't reach the depths of a great strong dark ale. Still very easy to drink. Worth a try.

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Photo of peabody
4.22/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a dark Ice Tea color with 1/2 finger of off-white suds. Not a lot of lacing.
Smell is malty belgian yeast with funky raisin and cinnamon. Can't smell the alcohol.
Taste is corriander and nutmeg mixed with vanilla and banana oils with a sugary caramel malty finish.
Mouthfeel is really clean with no trace of alcohol. The aftertaste is almost non-existant.
Wonderful drinkability here. Too bad this only comes out once a year.

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.47/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow...now this is a f* Belgian Strong Dark Ale!!!

Pours a slightly hazy dark brown color with a full finger light tan head of tiny bubbles that resist fading. The smell is CLASSIC!! I mean 'I'm lov'in' the Belgian yeast, malty core with dark fruit, figs, NECCO chocolate and just the right amount of holiday spices.
Nicely carbonated, the mouth feel is complimented by the creaminess of the head and the figgy flavors. Full flavored, this is textbook to style...the Belgian malty fruit thing is center stage... the mouth feel is creamy and much heavier than your everyday abbey ale. The 10% ABV is well integrated. I personally HIGHLY RECOMMEND this one as part of your holiday festivities!! Another High Quality product from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV.

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Photo of cokes
4.29/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Muddied auburn-brown with a short tan lacing. Lacing was non-existent. I imagine a bottle would fare better in the looks department.
It noses of figs, sugar cookies (with sprinkles), chocolate-covered candied oranges, black cherries, liquorice, pepper, clove, and wet hay.
It begins through the mouth with a rotund maltiness full of black raisins, sweet dough, gingersnaps (wet, and undercooked), molasses, orange candies, liquorice, burnt peaches, and cherries. The middle dries it significantly with roasted grain, peppercorns, allspice, and granite. Hopping is minor, with just traces of wet grass around the swallow. Alcohol is present, but mellowed, in a sweet, sugary, aged rum sense.
The meaty, full body is given some levity by the steady, percolating, tiny carbonation.
This is a jovial holiday concoction. It's more or less like a fruitier, spiced 12.

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Photo of brewcrew76
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Murky brown with amber and ruby highlights and a thin beige head that leaves patches of foam behind.

S - Ripe fruits with a sweet malty nose, raisins and prunes with spicy Belgian yeast, nutmeg and other holiday spices.

T - Spicy, ripe fruits, sweet doughy malts, slight phenolics, candi sugar sweetness, holiday spices with an earthy aftertaste.

M - Medium and chewy, on the higher side for carbonation, slightly slick with the lightest alcohol sting but the 10%abv is extremely well hidden.

D - Very good but spicier and sweeter than other St Bernardus offerings making it just slightly less drinkable.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky amber to brown-ish color with a big light tan head. In the aroma, candy sugar, small roastiness, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In the taste, cinnamon, a dry sugary feel, and small hints of plum (as sugar plums danced in my head, sorry...) A small spicey bite, and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry cinnamon/ spice aftertaste. Quite smooth and not overbarring, nice spices, all around pretty good.

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Photo of champ103
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark mahogany color. A large beige head forms with great retention. Plenty of sticky lace is left behind. This looks beautiful in my St. Bernardus chalice.
S: At first, cinnamon and nutmeg hits the nose. Some other peppery spices as well. Dark fruits of figs, plums, and raisins come next. A doughy yeast aroma that I find in many Belgian beers. Complex and wonderful.
T: Cinnamon is upfront again. Lots of dark fruit that follow the nose. Some sweet and malty caramel. A light burnt wood flavor. Dough and yeast.
M/D: A full body that is a bit dry. A light snap of carbonation, but a good creaminess follows. This is exceptionally smooth and easy to drink for the high ABV. Something to sip and savor.

This is a great winter brew. Highly recommended, and something I will have more of.

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Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.82/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

75cL bottle from The Lighthouse in Manchester, Maine. Pours a hazy but still translucent dark copper with a half inch of light tan head. Smells intensely fruity and spicy, with banana, nut, and chocolate notes. Tastes fruity, chocolatey, and spicy, with an underlying toastiness. Banana, nut, cherry, dates, and cloves all play nearly equal roles. On the heavier side of medium-bodied with ample carbonation. More of a sipper, though one sip most definitely invites another and this beer was gone long before I wanted it to be. Wow. Quite possibly the best beer this brewery makes, a phenomenal Christmas beer, and one of the most flavorful and complex beers I've had all year. Amazing!

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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
93 out of 100 based on 633 ratings.