Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
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Ratings: 1,425 | Reviews: 576 | Display Reviews Only:
4.45/5 rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
750ml bottle: This one pours a very cloudy mahogany brown color. There was almost no head on it, and left no lacing. Nice nose! Christmas spices, caramel malt, faint dark fruits, some breadiness and Belgian yeast notes. The taste is very good. Rich malts, not too much sweetness, dark fruits, yeasty and bready, Christmas spices. Definitely a keeper! Has this on tap at Monks also and was equally good as the bottled version!
Serving type: bottle
02-23-2014 21:25:15 | More by Boto
3.61/5 rDev -14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5
From: Binny's, Champaign, IL
Date: "08-08-17" stamped on cage
St. Bernardus' Christmas Ale is a caramel, phenol, and ethanol-forward strong Belgian ale that is marginally satisfying for these flavors (though I'd go with any doppelbock instead). At times, I think I'm drinking caramel-colored and flavored fizzy, but less sweet, soda pop. Feeling generous, I say this is good, but not at all amazing, and at $12 for 750ml, I'll let it pass in the coming years (give me a Het Anker Blauw instead).
Pours a large (>3cm) head of medium-sized, beige-colored bubbles, yielding a somewhat frothy appearance. Retention is excellent, the foam lasting several minutes in a slow decline to a thick ring around the perimeter of the glass and a modest film lingering atop the body of the beer. Lacing is excellent, with meringue-thick and complex patterns clinging to all sides of the glass. Body is a very dark brown color, with light bringing out slightly lighter brown-orange hues around the periphery. Highly numerous and vigorous carbonation visible along the sides of the glass, but not through, the body being opaque.
Aroma is sweet, of very dark to burnt caramel, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, anise, and slight ethanol. Despite the apparent complexity, the aroma is only moderately strong, robust, or expressive and does not make me get particularly excited about the beer.
Flavor of caramel-anise-ethanol as major notes with cloves and nutmeg, subtle dried dates and brown figs, and light banana ester as more minor characters. Front of palate is of dark caramel-like sweetness, ethanol, anise, light banana ester and dried dates. Mid-palate of dark and burnt caramel-like sweetness, anise, cloves, nutmeg, and slight ethanol. Back of palate of dark caramel, anise, ethanol, cloves and nutmeg (sharp phenols), much lesser light banana and dried dates. Aftertaste of ethanol, caramel-like sweetness, clove-like phenols, and cough syrup.
Beer is medium-light in body, with carbonation of high intensity, resulting in a somewhat fizzy, calming to foamy and smooth mouthfeel. The mouthfeel fits the expected idea for a Belgian trappist, though I think it's a bit overly aggressive and rough for such a huge beer. Ethanol present as slight heat in nostrils and mild burn on the back of the throat. Closes dry, with moderate stickiness lingering on the palate.
Serving type: bottle
02-22-2014 07:22:58 | More by falloutsnow
4.49/5 rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Poured 750 ml bottle into St. Bernardus glass
A-Poured a misty brown-amber body, with a slightly off white one finger head.
S-Complex fruity and malty aroma, apricots/peaches, apples, slightly dusty, slightly sweet, overall lovely.
T-Taste is sweet, malty, light plum, full taste supported by a light tartness - and supported well! Some banana, nutmeg and spice.
M-Full bodied, soft, nice smooth mouthfeel and good carbonation.
O-Overall a great Christmas Ale, my new favorite.
Serving type: on-tap
02-20-2014 13:21:56 | More by reebtaerG
4.35/5 rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Picked up a 4 pack of 11.2oz bottles on clearance at Woodman's. Let's see how this stacks up to Abt 12.
11.2 oz bottle poured into pint glass.
Appearance: Pours a very very dark reddish brown. Big, frothy head that takes quite some time to die down, leaving a sticky lacing along the side of the glass.
Smell: From the moment I poured this, I got hit by the same sort of sweetness that Abt 12 has in it. The brown sugar, dates, raisin notes come shining on through. I don't smell any real booziness to it. Maybe a trace of banana here, with some nutmeg and holiday type spices.
Taste: That's... different. This hits you in a different way than Abt 12. More of the holiday spices, but the date/raisin notes still are definitely here. A complex taste to it, pretty crisp, but not boozy at all.
Mouthfeel: Bubbly and crisp. Lingers a bit longer in the aftertaste, in a warming manner from the alcohol. Not a burning sensation, thankfully. Definitely a lighter body to it.
Overall: Dangerously sessionable for a 10% ABV. Very enjoyable. I'd love to age a couple of these in the basement.
Serving type: bottle
02-16-2014 03:41:50 | More by don1481
4.51/5 rDev +6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
Poured in a mini snifter at a blind quad tasting out of a 750ml bottle, courtesy of jdhowe. 2012 vintage. Later that evening, I opened up a fresh 2013 vintage (out of a 11.2oz bottle) that was dated with a "best by" date of "24/7/18." Am I the only one that thinks it's bizarre that the larger bottles say that this variant of St. Bernardus will age up to 13 years in the bottle, but the smaller ones have expiration dates, for whatever reason?
While the newer bottle poured a near exact rendition of the regular Abt. 12 (brown, plum tinged, big frothy head), the '12 vintage was astonishingly clearer and showcased less frothiness at the top, in spite of a playful blast of carbonation at the bottom. Some cloudiness and sediment - looked exactly like the regular Abt. 12 (also '12 vintage) that was next to it during the tasting.
When I took a whiff out of the glass, however, I knew instantly that this had to be the spiced ale - it's such a distinct, unique aroma. At first, you get a cascade of delicate, dried dark fruits, ranging from raisins, dates and blackberries, but then it is overtaken by the caramel and replaced with ginger peel, allspice, cinnamon, and most notably of all, crushed red pepper. Yes, indeed, the pepper a fabulous addition to the base beer, and sets a savory standard that masks and washes away the booze and potentially additional sweetness at the finish. Very bright and unique, especially for a mass-produced Belgian spiced ale.
The flavor continues to showcase the excellent balance between the flavorful, crisp malt profile, as well as the spices at hand. Firm, yet not over the top, notes of raisins, berries, and prunes, with an impressive prickly spiciness from the pepper, as well as some cinnamon, allspice, and some faded finger peel. Contains a slight wet yeasty character and some extra sweetness from the alcohol that is canceled out nicely by the spices. With the biscuit, caramel forward profile, this feels like a much lighter beer than it really is. Carbonation is just right, and something truly unique is happening to this vintage. I'd imagine, over time, that it would develop fascinating notes of oxidation akin to Sherry, and the complexity inhibited by the spices would increase ten fold. Really incredible stuff, with all things considered.
I knew this would be the clear winner of the tasting as soon as I took a sip of it - it may not have the yeasty prowess of other quads we tasted, nor as much of a robust malt profile, but it certainly wins in its ever unique profile and versatility for the pure and simple purpose of consumption. I'd love to buy a case of this and see how it evolves over the course of 12 years, but every vintage is different, it seems. The 2012, from what I can gather, is going to be quite generous in its development. The '13 is drinking supremely well as well, and whether fresh or aged, this beer really knocks most spiced beers out of the park, and perhaps most of its other Belgian peers overall.
Serving type: bottle
02-11-2014 20:08:15 | More by magictacosinus
4.41/5 rDev +4.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
Brother got me a 750ml for christmas, paired with some top notch BBQ from Blue ribbon in arlington. A great contrast to the salty/savoryness of a heavy meal.
A: Pours a dark ruby red, semi transparent, with a super huge frothy white head that lasts througout. Leaves some dark lacing. Really beautiful, a massive head that locked super sticky, like melted marshmallows.
S & Taste: Lots of dark fruits, brown sugar, prunes, chocolate covered cherrys, rasins, maybe even some cognac like notes. Some sugar candies, and that classic super funky belgian yeast. A little bready, with some clove/all spice. Very tasty, a good dessert beer, that contrasts well with smoked meats. Would also go well with salty cheeses, or cured meats. Very rich but not cloying, which was impressive. Pretty well balanced, and hidden ABV.
M: Rich syrupy, very carbonated for richness. Rather drinkable for ABV/OG.
O: I dont usually like belgian Quads or Tripels as their often cloying. This was quite excellent though. Would pair great with christmas dinner. Could go well as a dessert on its on, with dessert, or in contrast to a savory dish. Too much flavor for white meat or blander food. One of my favorite belgians.
Serving type: bottle
02-09-2014 02:07:14 | More by BigCheese
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,425 ratings.