Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,865 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,865
Reviews: 643
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.22%
Wants: 156
Gots: 307 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,865 | Reviews: 643
Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz caged bottle into pint glass - new bottle i think. Pours a deep mahogany brown with slight off white head. Nice deep dried fruit typical belgian dubbel aromas bu mixed with big spice character. Taste is of dried fruit and lots of spices - nutmeg, cinnamon, etc...its a bit heavy on the spice, but its still excellent. Deff worth having and a great brew for the holiday season...this would probbaly mellow a bit with some age.

Photo of ryan1788a5
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a Chimay goblet.

A: Pours a dark reddish brown with a moderate haze. Persistent fine-bubbled tan head appears creamy and pillowy and holds fast at a height of a half-inch. A single thin, delicate ring of lacing remains.

S: Powdery chocolate, touch of molasses, bread crust, dried figs, plums, and sweet cherries. Spicy Belgian yeast scents of black pepper and clove.

T: Fruity tastes of cherry, plum, and wild berries open. Clove and yeasty spices pick up shortly thereafter with flavors of cinnamon and black pepper. The alcohol has a spicy, peppery kick of its own that is even a bit reminiscent of chili peppers in that there is a bit of a burn in the swallow. Estery and fruity again with a bit of grape skin. Brown bread and black cocoa powder, a little wood, and even some leathery notes. Hazelnut. Very dry overall. Slight herbal hop bitterness toward the end. Finishes with a dry powdery cocoa and crust malt character and lots of yeasty spice.

M: Full and a bit thick with a slight chewy feel. Very high level of aggressive carbonation.

O: This beer hits harder than the rest of the St. Bernardus line. It treats the palate a little more roughly, and the alcohol presence is not as well hidden. That's not a bad thing for a big winter beer though. I really enjoyed this Christmas offering. It has all the complexity one could want, and it retains that distinct St. Bernardus 'house' taste. An excellent fireside sipper for sure.

Photo of rangerred
4.67/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip out of a 750ml bottle.

Pours a hazy dark brown with some reddish hues. Billowy tan head with incredible head retention and huge chunks of lacing hanging onto the sides of the glass.

Instant Belgian character on the aroma with clove and banana from the yeast. Brown sugar and some molasses are present along with some toast. Licorice along with a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg, and dark fruits.

Lots of dark fruit in the flavor along with more banana and clove. More brown sugar with strong caramel notes. A very slight bit of tartness on the tip of the tongue. Moderate sweetness that perfectly compliments the other flavors. The finish is moderately dry leaving just the smallest hint of residual sweetness. Alcohol is completely hidden save for a slight bit of warming making this a pleasure to drink.

Overall, this is really one of the best beers I have ever had. Just so much going on and all the flavors and characteristics are perfectly balanced. Dangerously drinkable and one to really savor during the holidays.

Photo of Hatzilla
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark ruddy amber with a thick head and minimal lacing. Smells of spices, raisins, plums, cherries and brown sugar. Taste is more spices, dark fruits, brown sugar and molasses. Mouthfeel is smooth with medium carbonation and a dry finish. Overall a fantastic Christmas ale (my new favorite)! which is a nice alternative to the Abt 12. Alcohol is well hidden for 10% ABV. Merry Christmas!

Photo of acevenom
5/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass. Pours dark caramel brown with a thick, eggshell colored head that dissipates slowly. Plenty of lacing is left on the side of the glass during consumption. There are aromas of banana, spices such as cinnamon and clove, malt, fig, and some caramel sweetness. The malt backbone is bready and mildly sweet with banana, cinnamon, clove, and fig. The 10% alcohol is well hidden in this beer. Saying the taste follows the nose is true, but it also understates the execution of the well-balanced and complex flavors in this beer. One flavor does not dominate the other. The beer is medium to full bodied with strong carbonation. This makes the beer smooth and dangerously drinkable. If you are looking for a great Belgian strong dark ale, this is a great place to begin.

Photo of ThickNStout
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750mL bottle from Minks (Marietta, GA). 10.99. Served in an oversized snifter.

Pours deep but opaque mahogany with a finger and a half off white head that fades quickly.

Smells of dark fruit, sugar, yeast and toffee.

Taste of is a rich and complex mixture of plums, cherries, toffee, molasses, yeasty funk, brown sugar, spice and a little booze.

Creamy medium full body with a crisp carbonated effervescence. Long sweet finish.

A well made strong dark ale for any season. Another great brew from good ol' St Bernardus.

Photo of brentk56
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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

Photo of TBoneJones
4.36/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012
Pours deep and dark, with cherry brown mahogany highlights when held in light. Beautiful-looking ale, with a perfectly thick off-white head.
Smells like light banana esters, malt, spice, some fig and sweet bread.
First taste I can tell this is an ongoing complexity. Raisin, bread pudding and sweet dark fruit (date/ raisin), nutty and with nutmeg, some peppering, with a long burning finish. Pretty well carbonated. This sipper was a great choice for a Christmas beer. Complex, strong, nice seasonal flavoring. Would recommend to anyone, especially those who enjoy Abby beers..to try Christmastime or anytime during the winter.

Photo of Gatch
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012. Says it can be aged up to 15 years. I can't imagine how good this would be after a few years, let alone 10 or 15.

A: Deep, dark brown with shades of ruby red. Big, fluffy, off-white to light brown head that builds and fades quickly leaving behind a fizzy, thin layer of foam on top until the first sip.

S: Mmmm...figs, raisins, dark and sweet malts, ripe plums, dark bread, sugar. Very nice. But as the beer warms, some of this disappears, surprisingly.

T: Crazy amount of carbonation (expected from the huge pop from the cork when opened). Thick, creamy, and full of flavor. Sweet, sugary, roasted malt complemented by dark, poached, sugary fruits.

M: Super carbonated and full of roasted flavor. The flavor is stronger than the body makes you believe. A tad cloying in the finish with some warmth from the alcohol.

O: It's a great beer but doesn't seem to be anything crazy or special. Spot on for the style, though. Spiced enough to make this feel like a holiday ale.

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle opened on 12.7.12

A - Pours a deep brown with a ruby hilights. A huge foamy light tan head with amazing retention forms.

S - Spices, raisins, figs, light fruit, cola.

T - Similar, spices are more up-front and dominating.

D - Great carbonation and a medium to light body.

O - Belgian Abbey with Christmas Spices.

Photo of Treebs
3.89/5  rDev -8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml c&c bottle served in an English pub glass. My future mother-in-law surprised me with this on Christmas.

A: Pours a hazy, dark cherry wood color with a deeper brown body. A thick light tan head forms on the pour that slowly recedes to a hefty cap. Sticky sheets of lace are left down the glass.

S: Dark malts and some honey sweetness. A little fig in the periphery. Bready notes with some musty yeast.

T: Dark bread sweetness with some underlying cinnamon and nutmeg like spices. There are some minimal banana esters from the yeast. Oaty and nutty as well.

M: A little too prickly on the carbonation. Medium bodied with the booze nicely hidden.

O: Very nicely developed flavors with some hidden booze. Definitely drank like it was 7-8%. I would have liked a little less carbonation to smooth out the mouthfeel, but overall it was very nice.

Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.92/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale has a thick, frothy, light beige head, made up of very tiny bubbles. The appearance is brown, with evident tiny bubble streams up the side of the glass and a nice lacing sheen. The aroma is of a strong, yeasty, fruit (plum, raisin, dates), brown bread, and a mild spiciness. Taste is similar, with even some banana showing up. There is an underlying alcohol presence, which, however, is not unpleasant. The mouthfeel is light to medium and prickly, and St. Bernardus Christmas Ale finishes mostly dry, mellow, and drinkable. One can certainly detect brandy-wine type qualities here, and it’s nice to see a Christmas beer without all the offensive, over-the-top flavoring. Overall, this is a world class beer! A true beer fan must try it!

RJT

Photo of ksimons
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-a deep chestnut with ruby highlights and a good two fingers worth of cream colored head

S-caramel, toffee, chocolate, dark fruits of cherries, figs, raisins, and yeast

T-matches the smell nicely, lots of caramel and toffee, dark fruit, cocoa, light banana, Belgian yeast, and just a touch of hops to round things out

M-medium body, spicy carbonation

Overall a really delicious BSDA and Christmas beer. Really great tasting and nicely complex.

Photo of stephenjmoore
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage

A- Dark amber/chestnut colored body with a bubbly, frothy head.

S- Belgian spices, honey, dried fruit, raisins, hazelnut, cocoa.

T- Belgian spices come through with some honey and hazelnuts. Also get a lot of raisin and possibly some nutmeg.

M- Full bodied, high carbonation.

O- Good Belgian Christmas ale.

Photo of Hex92
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought the bottle around Christmas 2011, just opened it in Dec 2012.

I hoped that it would be a bigger version of the abt 12. Not so much.

A- huge head that lingers. Reddish gold hue.
S- smells like a tasty beer.
T-typical dried fruits the alcohol is well hidden, but the flavor is nothing like abt 12. Its actually pretty tame for the style. Very dry not very malty, not much spice or much else present. Its tasty, but not great.
M- a bit thin doesn't coat the mouth really at all.

O- for the money I would rather buy the abt. This is a decent beer, but not worth $13.

Photo of Philly82785
4.62/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one of my favorite Christmas brews. Pours a nice dark brown, with several inches of head. A nose of banana, raisin, and cloves. Flavor of raisins, figs, and a tad boozy. Very malty with little to no hop presence. Has a nice velvet mouth feel.

Photo of macrosmatic
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. Poured from corked & caged bomber into a Peg's snifter glass.

A: Nearly opaque, rich brown in color, with a huge light tan head that lingers.

S: Rich sweet malt, fruity esters with apple and banana prominent, some booze.

T: Follows the nose almost identically, but adds some spiciness. I suppose that's the Christmas aspect? The palate isn't as boozy as the nose suggests.

M: Medium body, good carbonation, moderate alcohol presence given the hefty ABV.

O: Pretty tasty! Don't know that I'm going to actively seek it out every year, but certainly enjoyable.

Photo of tectactoe
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown, ruby red color; murky and opaque with a thick, fluffy, creamy, and long-lasting beige head. Sweet and malty aromas jump from the glass immediately upon pouring; wine-like in aroma, with grapes and phenolic smells meshing together. Apple skins, berries, prunes, and a subtle hint of clove from the signature Belgian yeast. In the taste, there are many more spices coming out than were in the aroma. Nutmeg, anise, ginger, tiny bits of cinnamon, maybe even a touch of white pepper. Some light cocoa notes all around, bready and thick in flavor, clove and some spicy bitterness hits fast on the tail end. Earthy, dirty, and again full of boozy fruits - plums, figs, apples, soaked in booze. Bread and a touch of rye in the aftertaste. Thick body, heavy, lots of fine carbonation.

A solid Christmastime BSDA that acts as a wonderful winter warmer. One of the things I like about most BSDA's are their complex flavor profiles, and this one is no different. Lots of things going on, but they work together well.

Photo of thierrynantes
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer bottle (75 cl.) purchased from La Cervoiserie, and tasted in 2012.

Appearance : reddish brown color with a huge tan foamy head.
Smell : dried fruits and spicy aromas.
Taste & mouthfeel : sweet and malty flavors, leading to a dry alcohol finish.
Drinkability : a very good beer in the style Belgian Strong Ale. To drink at cellar temperature.

Photo of WillCarrera
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle, best-by date of 08.08.17, poured into a tulip glass.

A- Pours a dark garnet color, topped with a huge khaki head withnice retention, leaves excellent lacing.

S- Rich, sweet aroma of caramel, toffee, and sugary, bready malt. There's also a ton of dark fruit and a mild spice. As it warms a really excellent brown sugar aroma becomes a bit more prominent. It smells delicious.

T- Similar to the aroma, lots of brown sugar, caramel and dark fruit on top of a bready malt. There's also a very, very subtle spiciness of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.

M- Medium-bodied, the feel is smooth and very, very soft.

O- A delicious beer, the flavors are rich and complex with a subtle spice that's really spot on.

Photo of ummswimmin
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really enjoy this bottle with the cool monk in a Santa hat. I really appreciate this order of monks.

This dark ale came with three fingers of foam with a pretty decent amount of retention. I like the dark coloring to this one.

There is a great smell coming off of this one. You can definitely get a real sour presence. I also smell the dark fruit in there. There isn't much spice in the nose, though.

This is a great sipper by the fire or next to my really hot X-box.

Bernardus makes a great beer, including this one. There is great balance going on. This is an excellent Christmas beer.

Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.6/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: 1/2" tan head over brown liquid.

S: Pears, green apples, green grapes, cherries, strawberries, grass and flowers.

T: Strawberries, pears, cherries, figs, dark grapes, biscuity malt, and grass.

M: Medium viscosity and and high level of foamy and soft carbonation.

O: One of the best Christmas Beers I have ever had. Somewhat dry and not too sweet, the flavours of the yeast are fantastic.

Photo of Braz
4.21/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours very dark ruby with huge rocky white head that stays bubbly throughout. Lots of fruity aromas. Citrus, banana, raisin, clove are all apparent.
Strong flavor. Can taste raisin and figs. Alcohol taste is heavy as well, like brandy perhaps. Very malty, little to no hop presence.
Huge body and tons of carbonation. Very lively and strong brew with a velvet like texture. Only minor complaint would be that it's almost too bubbly and it gets in the way of the flavors.

Photo of brureview
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

First time tasting this beer.

It's a carbonated cloved sipper.

Pours an attractive caramel color with a 2.5 finger head. Quite nice.

The pleasant aroma, although light, is lemon and cloves.

Mouth feel at first tastes smooth- this is a deception- this bottle conditioned beer is highly carbonated.

The taste is cloves-lemon-banana. The carbonation overwhelms the finish, but it is an integral part of the beer's signature. A carbonated sipper.

I prefer the Southern Tier 2xmas for the season. Easy drinking and an excellent spice finish.

Photo of axeman9182
3.69/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle, courtesy of Amanti Vino's Beer of the Month program. It was poured into my Brooklyn Brewery tulip.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale pours a very dark mahogany, with a handful of cherry highlights. Roughly two fingers of bone colored foam crown the beer, but head retention and lacing are both a bit disappointing. The nose displays a nice ester and phenol balance. There's plenty of dark fruit in the aroma, with a solid, yet secondary spicy quality to it. There's not as much fruitiness as far as the flavor goes. There's a bit of plum, but overall the sweetness is more caramel than anything else. The clove phenol character is a bit more potent here, perhaps just a little too much for my taste. There's also a warming (but not hot) booziness that lingers a little bit. Can't argue with the mouthfeel though, as the beer is wonderfully dried out and drinkable for 10%, and the carbonation has plenty of life to it. The Christmas Ale isn't the most impressive beer in St. Bernardus's repertoire, but it's still a fairly solid strong Belgian brew.

Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,865 ratings.