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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,446 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,446
Reviews: 578
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 106
Gots: 152 | 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: 1,446 | Reviews: 578 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of CelticAleMan
4/5  rDev -5.4%

CelticAleMan, Dec 23, 2011
Photo of JustABeerGuy
5/5  rDev +18.2%

JustABeerGuy, Dec 22, 2011
Photo of guild337
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

guild337, Dec 22, 2011
Photo of jtmcgraw
5/5  rDev +18.2%

jtmcgraw, Dec 22, 2011
Photo of Fermenticusrex
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Fermenticusrex, Dec 21, 2011
Photo of russwbeck
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Rustico for their Festivus Event.

A: Muddy brown pour with hints of orange. A finger or so of off-white head 4

S: Tons of Belgian yeast and candied sugar, mixed with Christmas ale spices 4

T: I'm impressed by how much this tastes like a Belgian instead of a Christmas ale. Very tasty with the spices stepped up a notch. Sweet and appropriately seasonal. 4

MF: Light to medium body with good carb. 4

O: I liked this, but it didn't overwhelm me. 4

russwbeck, Dec 21, 2011
Photo of jdense
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml. bottle, 2009 vintage, shared at Twelve Beers of Christmas tasting, 12.18.11.

3/4 finger medium brown head, slow dissipation with some lacing over dark brown opaque body. One of the best smelling beers I've had in a long time, pronounced stone fruit presence, plums, raisins, red currants, a little bit of pluots, balanced nicely with floral hop aromas. Taste features the above stone fruit profile with healthy dose of caramel malt or dark candi sugar which provided quite a bit of residual sweetness. Mouthfeel is well on the full side of medium, good effervescence, a surprisingly astringent mouthfeel given the inherent sweetness. This has to be one of the world's best Christmas beers especially when aged, though drinkablility is a bit impaired by high ABV.

jdense, Dec 20, 2011
Photo of AmericanGothic
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a corked and caged 750 ml bottle into a Unibroue tulip.

A: Pours a cloudy, medium brown color with two fingers of billowy, pale tan head. Exceptional retention and lace, vigorous carbonation.

S: Sweet, stewed figs and cherries, cinnamon and cardamom.

T: Much like the smell, except more intense. Spicy figs and cherries, also a little banana and prune. Sweetness is fairly low but not absent. Peppery spice floats over the other flavors and gives them something to play off of. As the beer warms, cinnamon and brown sugar joins the flavor profile. Still later, some dark berry notes. Very complex.

M: Full bodied, but the carbonation keeps it afloat. Faintly astringent.

O: This is a very tasty beer. The most interesting thing is the way the fruity and peppery esters separate from each other, makes for a very pleasant beer. I will need to have this again before the holidays are through, probably more than once.

AmericanGothic, Dec 20, 2011
Photo of BEERchitect
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Belgian Strong Dark Ales are very well suited for the holiday season even without the spicy additions common to Christmas deserts. The sweeter, succulent, and savory yeasty spice and fruity esters make for a complex staple layered on the supple malt base... absolutely sublime.

St. Bernardus' Christmas Ale pours with a rusty copper appearance with dark orange highlights and hints of garnet here and there. Mild haze and yeast caused a diffused glow to permiate the glass. A froathy mix of tightly and loosely knit head character shows great staying power and intricate patterns of lace upon the glass. A very solid Belgian look, albeit a touch light in color compared to others of the style.

Yeasy, spicy, fruity, and sweetly settled on the nose. Fruitcake-like aromas give a glimpse into the cherries, apples, figs, grapes, dates, plumbs, and sweetbread notes that set the malty and estery start to the session. Rummy alchols tickle the nose and give a sweet and vinous note to the aroma.

Delicious sweet malts give the impressions of confectioner's sugar, supple malty sweetness, and savory desert breads and coffee cake. Fruity with grapes and raisons, plumbs, and prunes, stone fruits, dehydrated dark fruits, apples and cherries all play into the estery mix as provided by yeast. Yeasty spices also attribute notes of corriander, black peppercorn, cinnamon, and a pleasant citrusy note that might be curaco additions or hop derived. Rum-like and red wine alcohols seem to be the catalyst that brings all the flavors together to give the rounded impression of rum-soaked fruitcake.

Up front sweetness gives the early impression of cloying or heavy sweetness. But the beer seems to evaporate off of the palate, much in the same was as does cotton candy- leaving a powdery dry alcohol warmth and only a memory of sweetness. The beer weighs effortless on the late palate and stomach for a remarkably drinkable session for such strength in both taste and alcohol. Assisted by strong effervescent, the beer lifts off of the tongue with ease.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale does all that world class Belgain Strong Ales are expected to, and with many extraordinary nuances to set it apart from the mere good ones. An absolute delight with each sip as new flavors reveal themselves with each visit to the glass. The descriptor words for this beer are seemingly endless.

BEERchitect, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of mynie
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours uncontrollably fizzy in a not very nice way. It's good looking once it settles, but that takes too damn long.

Smells of strong, wonderful fruit esters with big nodes of bananas and peppers along with plums, pears, and gigantic yeasty cloves. Very nice.

Tastes like it smells only good god it is as smooth as red velvet cake. Caramel gets overtaken by fruit, which gets overtaken by spice, which gets overtaken by boozy burn, and then everything ends on more spice, but then, even after that, there lingers silky smooth fruit with more bananas and the burn, holy heaven above the burn does not abate.

mynie, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of freduardo
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%

freduardo, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of Dmart1223
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Interesting beer, if you can get it. It's kind of like fermented fruitcake.

Christmas Ale pours thick, with LOTS of almond-white head that sticks around and plenty of carbonation. It's dark maple brown, a little cloudy, with some hints of red.

The smell's where I got the fruitcake. Just fruit all around, the most interesting of which was either pineapple, pear or both for some reason. I also might've gotten some melon and berries.

That fruitiness also comes out in the taste, which gave me hints of the above fruits, as well as also cherries. The Belgian yeast gives it a funky taste, and the 10% ABV, rather than sticking out, warms your soul.

This is a big, bold beer with a lot going on. I'd like to store one of these for a year to see the difference.

Dmart1223, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of KirstenJ
5/5  rDev +18.2%

KirstenJ, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of AlexM
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

AlexM, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of gatornation
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap

A-pours a ruby brown color with a light tat puffy head nice collar and lacing

S- was dark fruit with spice like cinnamon and nutmeg some fig

T- was better nice spice and belgian yeast with some toffee and coffee some chocolate

M- medium carbonation with some really nice spice tastes mixed dark fruit and hops, loads of flavor as it warmed

O - a nice strong dark ale with a nice crispy spicy flavor

gatornation, Dec 18, 2011
Photo of theArchitect
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

theArchitect, Dec 18, 2011
Photo of beerpirates
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

75cl bottel poured into a tulipglass

Bottle. A deep red beer with a thin tan head. The aroma has notes of over ripe fruits, yeast, spices, alcohol, prunes, and a bit of wood. The flavor is sweet with notes of malt, caramel, alcohol, over ripe fruits, prunes, and yeast, leading to a dry alcoholic finish. The alcohol prickles the tongue.

beerpirates, Dec 17, 2011
Photo of Tucquan
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on 2011-12-16 in Columbia, PA

A - Pretty clear, dark mahogany with a 2-finger head that quickly fades to 1/2-finger leaving mild lacing.

S - Sweet and earthy spices, dark yeasty bread, dark fruit, citrus and alcohol.

T - Dark dried cherries, toasted fruit cake (is there such a thing?), apple cider, a little funk, mild hop bitterness, alcohol. Dries reasonably well and leaves a sweet-sour-bready aftertaste.

M - Medium body and medium-high carbonation. Viscous and champagne-bubbly.

O - Seems like an effervescent Imperial Saison with some holiday spices. Quite pleasant. A nice holiday diversion.

Tucquan, Dec 17, 2011
Photo of bump8628
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Everything requisite for a strong Belgian Christmas ale is present. Toffee, cinnamon, treacle, and clove. Good balance with a firm bitterness. Sweetness and alcohol creep up after the first glass. Earthiness emerges after it warms up in the glass. Nice beer, but it's more expensive than Abt 12 sitting right next to it on the shelf, and we all know that one is world class.

bump8628, Dec 16, 2011
Photo of BlackHaddock
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At last I’ve had an on-tap Christmas Ale that I could review (the other times I’ve drank it I didn’t really have reviewing opportunities). This time however was different: the lovely Red Rose bar in Brugge being the venue. 33cl for Euro 4.00, worth every cent.

Poured into a St Bernardus goblet it looked the business in every way: Jet black with a deep beige crown of tight bubbles sat on top. The head stayed and gave waves of lacing as I wolfed the brew down.

The smell was of dark, rich, candied fruits with a good measure of caramel and malts thrown in.

The taste always blows me away, creamy, rich and hearty in every way, yet it’s so mellow the 10%ABV does not show at all; this is a dangerous brew and so, so easy on the palate it just slides down the throat at an alarming rate. A brew to savour, but very difficult not to quaff at pace and order another, and another, and another. Whatever spices they use just enhance the flavours from the mash tun and helps to turn the brew from excellent to superb.

A true classic and a beer I’ll never tire of drinking (if I’ve got the next day off).

BlackHaddock, Dec 15, 2011
Photo of JustEarl
5/5  rDev +18.2%

JustEarl, Dec 15, 2011
Photo of Ralphs66
5/5  rDev +18.2%

Ralphs66, Dec 15, 2011
Photo of MattSweatshirt
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opening this thing is a danger to ones face as the cork skyrocketed off as soon as I untwisted the cap. Took a minutes to locate the cork. Keep away when opening for safety's sake.

Poured the 750 bottle into a chalice producing a huge bubbly/sudsy off white/tan head with a brown body and red highlights. Head sticks around forever!

Stereotypical strong dark smells of dark fruits. I can pick up on some of the “holiday spices” going on but I mostly get cinnamon and nutmeg. If theres anything else I don’t know.

The spices and dark fruit are what hit first but theres a nice caramel thing going on and the hop finish is wonderful. Love this thing. I almost want to give it a 5.

Lovely smooth medium body. Not a bunch of carb that I was expecting since it blew the cork off. That’s prob where some of it went. Leaves a little tongue tingle.

MattSweatshirt, Dec 15, 2011
Photo of MA08
5/5  rDev +18.2%

MA08, Dec 14, 2011
Photo of EkimGram
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: 75cL bottle poured into Duvel tulip. The moment I undid the metal twine, the cork popped itself out of the bottle and put a little dent in my ceiling. Colour is a very rich brown, almost black. Head is two fingers in height, thick and puffy.

Smell: Aromas are of spices lick cinnamon and nutmeg, dark fruits, and roasted malts.

Taste: The dark fruits are first and foremost in the flavour with plum, raisins, and figs or dates. A little bitter as well as spicy. A hint of malts and booze finish things up. Dark, rich, and complex.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a surprising amount of carbonation. Silky and sticky.

Overall: Truly fantastic. I couldn't expect much more from St. Bernardus. Tastes a little like ABT 12 with spices. A good sipper for a cold winter night.

EkimGram, Dec 14, 2011
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,446 ratings.