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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: 151 | 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 woosterbill
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%

750ml bottle into a St. Bernardus chalice.

A: Clear deep brown body under two fingers of dense tan head. Tremendous retention and thick lace. Gorgeous.

S: Dark fruit dominates, with huge fig, raisin, and date. Some sweet/tart cherry as well, with rich toasted breadiness underneath. Decadent and yet delicate. Terrific.

T: Bready up front, with dark fruits close behind. Some nice fig gives way to a strongly boozy finish, though, marring things a bit after such a lovely start. The aftertaste balances the alcohol warmth with some spicy yeastiness, though, making the overall package pretty enjoyable. Definitely a bit of a letdown after the phenomenal aroma, but an excellent BSDA all the same.

M: Thick, soft, and as creamy as can be. Perfect.

O: It's been too long since i had ABT 12, but this reminded me more of Rochefort 10 than anything else. The aroma in particular took me back to a rainy afternoon in Belgium, sipping a Rochefort in its eponymous home town. I'm curious to see whether a year might tone down the booziness just a bit and make this a truly world-class beer.

Cheers!

woosterbill, Dec 25, 2013
Photo of 3HovsepiansBrews
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

A - Dark brown/red with a tan head.
S - Plums, raisins, dried apricots, alcohol, cherries.
T - Alcohol, cherries, dried fruits, and toffee. There is also a slight dark chocolate at the end of the sip that lingers.
M - Medium body with mild carbonation.
O - Refreshing and drinkable considering the abv. Nice alcohol warmth with a good flavor and aroma

3HovsepiansBrews, Jan 14, 2012
Photo of dahlen22
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

After having a Bernadus 12 on tap at the Eulogy Bar in Philadelphia, I figured I would give this a go. The beer is a reddish-brown color with a nice 1/2 inch of head. The aroma is nice, but taste is what matters.

This beer has plenty of legs and tastes good. It starts off velvety with a slight bit of spice and caramel. It then goes into raisons, toffee, and some winter spices. Being 10%, I would not sit down and drink more than one or two, but this is a beer for the winter months. As far as Christmas beers goes, this is not quite as good as a Corsendonk Christmas, but it does rank high within this category of beers. Merry Christmas!!

dahlen22, Dec 10, 2009
Photo of likestoswallow
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

From a 750 ml bottle.

A: Pours a murky brown color with a fair sized beige head that lasts only a short while and leaves plenty of sticky lacing.

S: Loaded with Belgian yeasts, sweet malts, dark fruits and spices.

T: Very complex with more sweet malts, cola, molasses, nutmeg, cloves, figs, dates and walnuts.

M: Full, smooth and malty with subdued carbonation.

D: Wow, for a strong Belgian ale it just does not get any more drinkable than this. Very good with the alcohol well hidden.

likestoswallow, Jan 01, 2009
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Bottle: Poured a deep burgundy color ale with a super large foamy head with great retention and good lacing. Aroma of dry fruit and fruity ester with some candi sugar and some nicer Belgian malt. Taste is a well balanced mix between some fruity ester, some dry fruits such as figs and notes of Belgian malt. Body is full with great carbonation and no appearance of alcohol. Very well done though it probably fell short of the ABT 12.

Phyl21ca, May 30, 2009
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 tzieser
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

2009 vintage poured into wine glass.

pours dark brown in color with a thick off white head. little to no sediment visible.

amazing aroma. sweet smells of belgian candi sugar, molassas like malts, notes of various spices and belgian yeast.

amazing flavor. sweet and complex. belgian candi sugar again, with big malts and lots of belgian yeast flavor. very similar to the abt 12 but with more spiciness, but the spices are still very subtle thanks to the extra year of cellaring. probably the best holiday beer you can get.

smooth and creamy mouthfeel; good drinkability. wish i had more than 1 bottle.

a must have for the holidays.

MERRY CHISTMAS!!

tzieser, Dec 25, 2010
Photo of RedBrewer83
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Poured into goblet...

A: Dark brown amber body with a big three finger creamy tan head that falls slowly leaving great lacing and a thick foam head on top of the beer.

S: Raisins, figs, dried fruit, candy caramel malt, spices (nutmeg, clove, allspice). Smells like Christmas!

T: Follows nose with added flavor intensity and a hint of booze that comes across in a delicious way! A little intense on the sweetness, but somehow not cloying.

M: Smooth carbonation, almost velvety mouthfeel and nice dry finish that keeps this from being an overly sweet cloying beer.

D: For being such a big beer that is so complex and sweet it is pretty drinkable, but not great, this is definitely a sipper, but on a cold winter night this would probably be perfect!

RedBrewer83, May 24, 2010
Photo of FreshHawk
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

A - Hazy chestnut brown with a good amount of sediment. Smaller, bubbly, foamy, light, off-white head. Disappears pretty fast leaving a wispy ring of lace.

S - Classic BSDA aroma with a bit more spice that others. Dark fruit, dark bread, and some spiciness (both Christmasy and BSDA spice).

T - Like the aroma this has what you would expect from a BSDA. Plenty of raisin and some dark bread. A good amount of spice including some earthy spice, cinnamon, clove, pepper, and a touch of orange peel. Some Belgian yeast flavors come out. More bitter than I was expecting.

M - Medium body with average carbonation. Has a bit of a zesty feel and less creaminess than I was expecting.

D - It made for a nice holiday sipper. Lots of spice and typical BSDA flavors. A little strong with the spice and bitterness cuts down on how easy it is to drink.

Notes: A BSDA with plenty of spice and bitterness. Good beer but I was expecting a little more. I enjoyed it for a holiday sipper for a winter day with family. Good beer overall.

FreshHawk, Dec 26, 2010
Photo of cbarrett4
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Poured from tap at Henry's 12th street. Medium head settling to a nice lace. Dark brown hue. Packed with dark malty goodness, and holiday spices, nutmeg, molasses, brown sugar. Yum. Rich flavors of dark malts and said molasses, spices. Medium weight, almost smells and tastes like it needs more body. Smooth, low tannins, very easy on the finish. Good brew, but expect more from this brewery and at this price.

cbarrett4, Nov 26, 2009
Photo of drtth
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Served in Chalice glass. A glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As served the beer is a nice brownish mahogany color with ¼" tan head that soon recedes to a small ring of foam with an irregular patch of foam on the surface. Initially sipping leaves some leggy lacing but with the high alcohol it is neither dense nor long lasting. As the head recedes down to just a small ring and an irregular patch of foam that covers less than half of the liquid, sipping leaves behind only sparse legs and speckles of lacing. Well before the beer is gone the head, ring of foam and any lacing is long gone.

Smell: The aroma is soft, sweet and restrained but definitely contains spice and fruity malt. There is some, but not much alcohol detectable, however, there are some spicy earthy hop characteristics in here along with the fruity malt sweetness that runs through the whole aroma. While initially the aroma seems not to be a very complex one, the complexity grows as the beverage warms and as one spends more time with it.

Taste: The flavor is light, refreshing, clean, and subtle with some nice fruity sweetness without being too rich or too sweet. The dominant flavor has some dark fruits and some spicy earthy character, part of which may come from the hops. Some of the sweetness seems to be from the alcohol which is nicely controlled and has no burn at all.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium to full-bodied with very moderate but persistent carbonation. However, by the end of the beer the carbonation is present only in a slight prickling sensation in the mouth. The finish is medium to long and begins with the mix of earthiness and light sweetness that trails off to spicy, peppery dryness.

Drinkability: This is really a nice beer for sipping and in many ways is a showcase for the spices and the subtle effects of the noble hops. I'll be looking out for this in the future. As a seasonal treat this is a nice one to have and to serve. If it were not for the ABV I'd have another immediately this one is gone. Based on my experience with St. Bernadus Abt 12 I was expecting a more malt dominant brew as a Christmas seasonal. However, while this beer has malt present there is a very different balance between malt and hops than in the 12. Here the spiciness is never lost in the malt. At first I was not sure I liked this beer but as I have sipped my way slowly through it I find a growing appreciation for the balance of flavors. In addition this one has shown some very nice and interesting changes in flavors as it warmed to room temperature.

drtth, Nov 18, 2009
Photo of jlindros
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Had on tap at Armsby Abbey Belgian Christmas night, 2007 vintage. This was the catch of the night, so delicious.

Comes with a light Belgian fizzy head and light lacing, over dark brown molasses color with hints of rosy hue, and very dark with very little light coming through.

Nose comes with sweet malts, Belgian dark malts, little candi sugar, caramel, toffee, aged malts, slight dark raisiny fruits, and just the faintest hit of spices and nutty aromas.

Taste brings lots of raisin and dark fruits, little plug and fig, nutty malts, plenty of Belgian dark malts and that aged malt taste, smooth and semi sweet, some dark candi sugar and little caramel, hints of spice and a little warming booze, a little bitterness too. Finish lingers with lots of dark malts, a little sweetness and more candi sugar, and hints of fruits that linger for a while.

Mouth is medium to a little heavier bodied with decent carbonation and very little warming booze.

Drinkability is pretty good, drinks a lot smoother and lighter than 10%, and sweetness is balanced well and the aged malt flavor probably helps.

jlindros, Dec 18, 2010
Photo of runningjoke
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

The appearance was everything I expected. It's head was large with tight bubbles which turned to foam before turning into lace. A quick swirl will pump up the foam again. When held up to the light it has an opaque caramel/toffee color with some mahogony-red highlights at the edges and bottom of the glass. Continuous columns of bubbles stream to the top of the glass.
Malty smell with traces of cider, rum-raisin, and allspice.
Spicy and hot. It is malty with very little hop character. aftertaste has a slight astringent quality. This beer is really smooth and flavorful. It is an exceptional beer, fitting for a limited release.

runningjoke, Dec 13, 2010
Photo of GarthDanielson
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Poured on-tap and served in a chalice, the beer is a dark, ruby coloring that is hazy, with a clingy, coating, off-white head. Nose of date, cherry, fig, roasted notes, booze, and sour tannins. Flavors are tart and crisp forward, with cherry tones forming a foundation beneath old-world fruit richness of date and fig. Very layered, very rich, and very balanced. Rich cherry and fig aftertaste, with earthy and woody notes. The finish is lingering sweet, with a perfect balance. Great beer!

GarthDanielson, Jan 04, 2014
Photo of Gavage
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Appearance: brown in color with a 2" head that falls pretty quickly. Some spotty lace develops during the session.

Smell: big malt sweetness, brown sugars, and bits of spice.

Taste: huge malt profile, brown sugar, prunes, black plums, some softer spiciness, light alcohol, yeast, and a nice bitterness makes up a full flavored ale.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Lightly crisp to start, smooth at the finish. Relatively short aftertaste with this one.

Drinkability: this one goes down quickly despite the high alcohol levels. A few of these could be consumed in a session, but you will be feeling it quickly.

Gavage, Mar 09, 2009
Photo of robbyc1
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Big looking belgian with a massive amount of head, my first look more to come.

Nice fruity nose with yeasty esters, some bubblegum, dark fruit wafts from the glass.

It tastes like the nose with a bit hit of not overdone sweetness at the end, very complex, spicy, with intriguing aftertaste.

robbyc1, Jan 27, 2009
Photo of aorloski
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Appearance - Let me just say, this is a standard st. bernardus, very carbonated, my cork popped right out when the cage came off and bubbled out all over my floor, whatever. Pours a very hazy dark brown with golden notes on the edges. Huge head, obviously, probably 3 or 4 fingers.

Smell - dark fruits, winter fruits, figs, raisins, plums, candi sugar, belgian spices and yeast, smells great.

Taste - Follows the nose COMPLETELY, dark fruits dominate this with touches of sweet belgian candy sugar. Not a lot of belgian yeast comes through this, just a lot of very very sweet sugars and fruits, very tasty brew.

Mouthfeel - I am indifferent i guess, i give it a 4 because i think for the style this needs to be pretty carbonated. I rather do like how st bernardus carbonates their beers, it leaves a very crisp feel on the palate.

Overall - An incredibly delicious brew and so fitting for a christmas setting. I bought two to see how one tastes in the summer out of curiosity!

aorloski, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of DavidST
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Poured from a 75 co bottle into a goblet, 2010 edition. This pours a slightly hazy dark tea color with a decent white head which dissipates quickly. The smells are of belgium yeast esters, dark fruit and spices. Feel is very high carbonation, medium feel. The taste is good pretty malts, lots of ripe dark fruit, a little alcohol burn, but tasty.

DavidST, Jan 01, 2012
Photo of zeff80
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

2007 Edition

A – Poured out a rich amber color with a beautiful, tan, foamy, three-finger head. It left sticky rings of lace on the glass.

S – It smelled of dried fruits (pear and apple). There was also a strong malty presence.

T - The taste was quite complex. Spices hit the tongue on first sip, cinnamon and maybe vanilla. A rich, roasted malt flavor lasts throughout. It had a biscuity quality, as well.

M – It was soft and smooth with a warm alcohol presence. This is a very heavy-bodied beer.

D – This is a very nice Christmas Ale. It is quite a lot to handle in one sitting. I might have to pick up another and cellar it (the bottle claims it can be cellared for up to 15 years).

zeff80, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of walshclimb
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

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.

walshclimb, Jan 09, 2008
Photo of brentk56
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Appearance: Expected a bit more carbonation when I popped the cork so I was not surprised that the head was not overly impressive; after a few minutes, all that remains is a film and a ringlet, though it is rather leggy, leaving quite a smattering of dots and dashes

Smell: Spice cake aromatics, with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove joining the dark fruit (fig and date) elements

Taste: Spice cake with caramel frosting; in the middle, the fig and date flavors develop, along with all the spices detected in the aroma; a little tartness, after the swallow, along with a balsa wood dimension, brings an interesting phenolic angle to the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: One of the better Christmas ales to come out of Belgium; my bottle was a bit undercarbonated but still quite good

brentk56, Dec 25, 2012
Photo of BlackBearForge
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

St. Bernardus Christmas pours a deep burgundy brown with a generous ecru head of creamy foam which leaves nice sheets of sticky lacing.

The aroma has a nice spicy yeast scent bound in dark malty fruits... raisins, plums, apricots and also brandied pears.

The taste has a nice spiciness to it, cloves and cardamon with a full dark fruit flavor including dark cherries, grapes, plums and their dried counterparts raisins and prunes. Orchard fruits also make an appearance like sun warmed ripe pears. Alcohol is nicely integrated in the matrix of complex fruit flavors and is noticed mostly as a pleasant warmness. The finish is dryer than expected given the strong sweetish fruit and malt flavors.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, medium and creamy, slightly chalky and finishes smooth.

This is a very tasty Holiday treat that I can easily look forward to every year. It is a slow drinking beer but savoring it's complex flavors is no problem! Every Belgian beer I try just leads me want to try another.

BlackBearForge, Dec 25, 2009
Photo of dudemuskie
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Had a bottle of this in the cellar for close to a year...figured a little belated Christmas present to myself would be a lovely idea after a 14 hour work day!

Appearance- Tight light beige head quickly rises, nearly like that of a glass of champagne, and quickly fades to a very thin residual ring. Deep brown with faint reddish-orange highlights, slightly hazy from bottle refermentation.

Aroma- Whoa, lots going on here! Perfumey alcohols, candilike caramel and raisins, hints of honey and very soft cinnamon spice. Dark dried fruits like cherries and maybe even a hint of apricot. Nice yeast character also. Incredibly complex and an excellent nose suitable for a winter warmer!

Flavor- Starts sweet with caramel, raisins, rich toffee and opens up to a wonderful yeasty, softly spicy, middle. Finishes rich, but not overwhelming with a perfumy, almost powdery fruitiness. Some herbal hop notes present as well as some warming alcohol. Long lingering finish of warm bread/biscuits, herbal hops, and soft yeast spice. Very nice.

Mouthfeel- Champagne-esque CO2 works very well with the higher alcohol. Medium bodied, moderate residual sweetness, low to no bitterness as spice from yeast is primary balance for malty/candi sugar sweetness. Slightly dry but sticky finish.

Overall- Excellent winter warmer, would like to try one fresh to see what the spice level is and how muted the perfumy alcohol notes are as opposed to this older bottle. Have a feeling a bottle of this fabulous winter brew would hold up for quite some time! Well worth a try, especially this time of year!

dudemuskie, Jan 21, 2010
Photo of Drew966
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

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.

Drew966, Jan 20, 2008
Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

2011 Version
Poured into a Chimay goblet from a 750ml bottle.

A - A nice strong pop is heard after the cork is pulled. Pours a nice slight caramel color with some brown notes and a huge 2 inch slightly off white head. The head is dense and creamy almost like a cappuccino.

S - Traditional and delicious BSDA spice. SOme nice yeasty phenols. There is also a ton of bready malt with some slight clove and some nice cinnamon notes. The aroma is delicious and silky smooth. There is some slight caramel sweetness and mild alcoholic notes.

T & M - Wow. Soo creamy. Traditional Dark Ale spice is present. There is some slight peppercorn and of course some clove. There is also a nice bready taste that has some slight sweet hints. Cinnamon is perceived as well. There is some alcoholic notes that are present yet welcome and warming. The beer is smooth and well crafted. It is quite complex as well. There are some dark fruit undertones throughout the middle portion of the beer that can be perceived better as it warms. This is not only a delicious winter beer it is actually a delicious beer period.

O - Very good beer by St. Bernardus. Complex yet approachable and high on the ABV but not too intense. Very good beer and great for the cooler weather.

JoEBoBpr, Nov 17, 2011
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,446 ratings.