Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

627 Reviews
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 627
Hads: 1,872
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 9.09%
Wants: 157
Gots: 314 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website
Belgium

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: 627 | Hads: 1,872
Photo of kensuthe
4.78/5  rDev +14.4%
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. (1,491 characters)

Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
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. (495 characters)

Photo of Floydster
4.01/5  rDev -4.1%
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 (1,442 characters)

Photo of GatorBeerNerd
4.56/5  rDev +9.1%
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! (1,245 characters)

Photo of bilyboy65
4.07/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a pilsner glass. This has also been aged for a year. Purchased Jan 07 and drank Mar 08.

A: Poured a very forthy 3 finger head that was a dark tan color. Lasted for a while as well and left a good film on the glass. The beer was a dark tan color on the bottom of the glass and became darker towards the top.

S: There was a strong apply fruit smell that was complimented nicely by cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. The smell alone was very warming.

T: There was a hint of the alcohol in the taste of this beer. The fruits were the main course. The cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar teamed up to cause a apple pie flavoring. The aftertaste was very fruity and added a great finish to this beer.

M: The carbonation dances on the tongue bringing out the flavors.

D: There was a lot of carbonation in the beer. Making it challenging to really enjoy the full taste of the beer. (908 characters)

Photo of bluejacket74
3.2/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

750 ml bottle. Served in a chalice, the beer pours dark brown with an inch and a half frothy tan head. Head retention and lacing are both pretty good. Aroma is nice, it smells like dark fruit, cinnamon, bread, yeast, pepper, cloves, and caramel. Taste is similar to the aroma, but there's also a good bit of alcohol/booze and also a slight metallic taste noticable. Mouthfeel/body is medium with high carbonation. Way too much carbonation for my taste. This hurts the drinkability for me. The high carbonation makes this brew hard to drink, it feels like I'm drinking bubbles and not liquid. Overall it's a decent brew, but would be much better if the carbonation was cut down some. It looks good and tastes good, but it's not easy to drink at all. (748 characters)

Photo of akorsak
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A 750 mL corked and caged bottle purchased at State Line.

A: The ale opened with a great pop and build-up of head in the glass. The first pour resulted in 2 fingers of beer and 4 fingers of head. As it receded, the lacing was minimal, focused at the base of the beer and the mouth of the glass. The ale is a hazy amber color, more orange at the base and brown at the mouth.

S: The nose has a strong cinnamon and nutmeg nose, touched by brown sugar and St. Berny's distinctive yeast. The nose is full and warming.

T: The first sip is heavy on boozy warmth, good for a cold Christmas eve. The overcarbonation in the pour has left the body somewhat flat and complacent. Dark candi sugars and yeasty fruit flavors mix nicely, sweet with raisins, apples, cinnamon and a touch of hoppy bitterness. The spice profile has the versatility to hang with a wassail. This, foreseeably, could even be mulled for a real warming treat.

M: The ale does not disappoint, lots of flavor is packed into the 750 mL packaging. The body is very similar to the Abt ale, which is a proven winner.

D: The abv is high but the flavor profile makes up for it. I only bought one bottle, so I will have to sit patiently until next Christmas. (1,214 characters)

Photo of bditty187
4.52/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fairly reddish-coppery in hue with plenty of brown in the mix as well; attractive color (it's not too murky). Massive beige head, some three fingers worth; head retention was respectable. The bubbles, while large, were slow to fade away. A small, soapy cap lasted the entire consumption. Lacing started before I took a sip, I always liked that. Subsequent lacing was spotty, overall and somewhat disappointing. Still the appearance was respectable... aw hell, this is a good looking beer.

The nose is lightly malty, bread dough mixed with raisins and spices. Notes of brown sugar, figs, cola, and some chocolate; I even get a hint of root beer which I really like. The spiciness is quite light, so much so I can't really pull it apart. I can't tell from the bottle if this beer is spiced or if it is the work of the yeast. Maybe both as it is a Christmas beer after all. While the bouquet isn't very potent I really like what it is saying. Subtly complex and very appealing... maybe better than Abt 12! Or not... it is still an appealing nose.

Big flavors on the palate, way more than the nose indicated. Ripe fruits mixed with alcohol notes, spices (nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and allspice, coriander... to name a few) laced with caramel, molasses, and cookie dough. Pears, apples, figs, raisins, dates and a hint of something tropical... maybe cherries too (I love the fruitiness of this beer). Tongue coating maltiness, lots of caramel and dough with a kiss of chocolate which translates well into the aftertaste. I am totally impressed with the palate. I really like it, there is great depth without being overwhelming. I like the range of flavors... spicy and fruity (both dark and orchard), malty with just a kiss of booziness. This beer is hitting the spot with me... perfectly. I don't know if this beer is as great as I think but so what. I love it.

Medium in body, both light on the tongue and yet filling enough. Airy but amble... none of this makes sense on paper (computer screen) but it works like this on my palate. Moderate carbonation; I think the mouthfeel works very well with this beer. Did I mention the great aftertaste?

Damn drinkable. After tasting this I am even more pissed that I was not able to get this into Nebraska this winter. Next year, for sure! This beer really hit the spot with me. Honestly, this might be my favorite St. Bernardus beer. Damn, damn tasty. Thanks Bill! (2,410 characters)

Photo of Viggo
3.65/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle, Lexx picked this one up.

Pours a cloudy orange/brown, big and loose off white head forms, settles to a thin layer, leaves behind some decent lace. Smell is caramel, cinnamon, bread, yeast, apples, alcohol, pretty rich aroma, nice. Taste is raisins, caramel, spices, bread, quite sweet, apples and spice in the finish, touch of brown sugar. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with high carbonation. Overly sweet, carbonation was a little too high, made it kind of prickly. Overall okay but I was expecting more from this. Thanks Lexx! (541 characters)

Photo of ROMER79
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a typical ale from Sint Bernardus. It is very similar to the Abbot 12 but with a little more of a spice to it. I really do not think that the St. can make a bad beer.

It pours a deep cherry red color with a tan two finger head that has hints of red in it. It clings to the glass all the way through to the bottom until the last drop.

Like I said it is a typical St. B Ale. but it has fruit notes throughout. Figs, spices, cherries, and raisins are all present in this ale for that warm holiday feel.

Great going down the pipes and easy to drink. A little carbonation for the bite with a mix of an alcohol taste. If you let it rest on your palate you will truly respect the flavor in this beer and the message that it sends to your brain when you drink it. It is a great holiday treat and it is very stimulating for relaxing the mind after a long week of work. (873 characters)

Photo of Beerzebub
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, served in a big wine glass at 59 F/ 15 C.

Attractive dark orangish brown color, medium size fluffy beige head, Chunky lace in rings and impressive bubbly sheets like Havarti.

Smells like tart yeasty berries, with figs, prunes, cocoa, warm spice, woody herbs, violet, root beer, biscuit, and heady solventy alcohol. Elegant, cohesive, and very nice.

Tastes boozy and solventy, with lots of dark sugar and dark fruit, berries, cocoa, and root beer. A welcome balancing hop presence, earthy, herbal, floral. Plenty of warm spice comes in for a long finish; boozy, but the other elements all hang in there. Reasonably balanced despite the big fusel booze, and quite tasty.

Too fizzy at first, but swirling renders it smooth. Very very drinkable, the first 500 ml anyway.

Good stuff. (798 characters)

Photo of Springdogg
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a chalice. The beer had a nice, tan two inch head on it that seemed to last an eternity. It was a beautiful shade of mahogony brown. Smell seemed very bready with a hint of maybe figs and...raisins? The taste had a lot of alcohol. Alcohol was the first thing that I could tast and the last. In between, were the flavors of figs, a faint taste of anise, more bread and a hint of toffee. Overall, a very nice beer to wrap up to on a very cold evening. It did seem a little hot, but over the course of the bottle (and as it warmed to room temp), it seemed to mellow out quite a bit. (591 characters)

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours brown in color with a huge off-white head. The head was at least 2 inches and took several minutes to fall to a froth. Smell is belgian yeast and some dark fruit, figs. I'm not really getting a lot of christmas spice or taste in this. The mouthfeel is full and creamy, very nice. A decent beer, but I couldn't help but to get something metallic out of the taste. (368 characters)

Photo of BMan1113VR
3.97/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007. Good Looking muddy brown brew with a slight orange tinge. Head pours large and stays pretty well. Head is an off-white tan in color, creamy smooth in texture, and has nice lacing. Aroma is complex with cirtus hoppy-ness coming throught the most. Allspice and a light yeasty-dough aroma is second, followed by many other smells including chocolate, apple, and possibly even red wine. Flavor was pleasent, starting on the sweetish side and over a long duration finishing ever so slightly bitter-sour with defined fruit undertones. Medium in body with a lively carbonated but creamy texture, the overall mouth feel is clearly the best part of this brew. Pretty good stuff. (675 characters)

Photo of ZAP
3.02/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A-Brugandy brown color...big tan pillowy head builds by the second as it sits in the glass...too much

S-Black licorice and ginger snaps are the first impression....also figs and raisins.

T-Feels pretty hot....boozy and alcoholic....the black licorice and ginger snaps again lead the way....prunes, raisins, figs...some mild bready yeastiness.

M-Too alcoholic...too charged up....

D-One of my least favorite of St. B lot...not horrible but certainly not in the same ballpark as some of my favorites of theirs. Too much air, heat, and a little heavy on the black licorice/ginger snap taste too... (598 characters)

Photo of DrJay
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear, coppery red hue with burnt orange edges and a billowing, fluffy cap of beige foam. Great head retention with chunky clumps of foam sticking to the glass at first, then some spotty lacing later. Great aroma - figs and prunes, apple, cinnamon, bready and yeasty, floral hops, bubblegum, pear, and mild medicinal alcohol. Sweet with some warm alcohol up front, dried fruit in the middle, with bread crust towards the end. It finished with a flash of gingerbread and lingering peppery alcohol. Medium to full bodied with very high carbonation. Palate coating with a bit of slickness and warmth. A great winter warmer with pleasing fruity notes. I'm betting this will age gracefully. (685 characters)

Photo of Dukeofearl
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle for $11.99 at Hi Time Wine in Costa Mesa, CA. Purchased in December 2007 and tasted in January of the following year.

Pours a deep chocolate brown with a massive St. B. style foamy off-white head. After letting it settle a while (giving me a great chance to smell it), I finally got to try it out.

Aroma is typical of the rich full dark Belgian abbey beers- cocoa and raisins and dates and a hint of spiciness. A little sweet smelling.

Flavor is nice. I just have to use plain words sometimes when describing beer, and for this one, it's nice. Rich creamy mouthfeel surrounds milk chocolate, raisins and figs and perhaps some berries, a bit of grass, and a hint of spices (I am never good at identifying them specifically). Also, a touch of alcohol heat, but generally well hidden.

A good, OK, a very good beer. In my mind, I think I would rather have the plain old "normal" St. Bernardus lineup than this special brew, but that's just me. Recommended. (970 characters)

Photo of nickfl
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Really big head, basically 2/3 glass of foam. As the rocky head settles, and it settles very slowly, it leaves a spider web of sticky lace. The body is slightly hazy, and very dark brown with just a hint of red.

S - Fruity notes and dark malt combine to product distinct aromas of prunes, figs, and raisins. There is a nice, herbal hop undertone as well as a subtle note of alcohol.

T - Sweet and fruity up front with a strong alcohol note. Big, roasty flavors come in next with lots of chocolate and fruity notes of bananas and prunes. Herbal hops are present throughout the experience and they linger and provide a bit of bitterness to mingle with the intense toffee and chocolate flavors in the finish. There is a late alcoholic note, and quite a lot of tobacco character that lasts longer than any of the other flavors.

M - High carbonation, thick body and a dry finish.

D - I expected a big beer, but this is huge. Very complex, with a very nice, wintry roasted quality. Not exactly an easily drinkable beer, but my overall impression is very favorable. Considering the complexity and the high alcohol content, I am inclined to think that this would age very well. I also think that with its smokey tobacco flavors, this is one of the few beers I have had that could really stand up to a good cigar. (1,312 characters)

Photo of Drew966
4.32/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale pours a mahogany brown with a huge tan head from a brown 750 ml bottle. The aroma is spicy. The taste is also quite spicy, almost a wintergreen like flavor, but not as strong. Spice definitely dominates the flavor, but dark fruits are also present. A very enjoyable Christmas beer, definitely worth a try. (333 characters)

Photo of taez555
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled 12/31/07, reviewing from notes.

This beer poured an opaque tannish ruby body with a huge white head.

Nose was typical big Belgian. Loads of Belgian years and phenols. There's a sharp potpourri type holiday spice note Dark dry fruits and touches of caramel. There's a strong alcohol burn in every whiff. As it warms the spices really shine through.

Taste is medium to full bodied. Lots of dry tannins. Loads of big dark prunes, plums, dark raisins mixed with soft caramel, milk chocolate and mild espresso beans. There's a very course large bubbled mouth-feel throughout.

Overall a very good beer. It's no anniversary or abt 12, but still... worth every penny for a solid St. Bernardus. (697 characters)

Photo of Bighuge
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark mahogany body. Thick crop of beige head. It sticks around forever, though it does diminish ever so slightly creating a rocky landscape on top of the nectar. Very inviting nose. Subtly, yet very pleasing to the sense of smell. Doughy yeastiness with bready malts and cinnamon spiciness blend to give the warm aroma of comfort. Biscuity malt base serves nicely for the layers of complexity on top. Spice tones intermingle with fruits and candy. Light alcoholic tones are present to create a little warmth. Body is light-medium and the carbonation lends an ever so sublte effervescence to the whole experience. This is quite enjoyable and I'm not exactly surprised being that it comes from my favorite Belgian Brewery. (720 characters)

Photo of walshclimb
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
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. (658 characters)

Photo of dedrinker
3.5/5  rDev -16.3%
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. (290 characters)

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
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. (477 characters)

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
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. (836 characters)

Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
93 out of 100 based on 627 ratings.