Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

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

1,864 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,864
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: 1,864 | Reviews: 643
Photo of cbutova
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes that I took a few nights ago. Pours a hazy dark copper-brown color with a gigantic creamy head that would not go away. The head is so creamy that I could almost skim it off and eat it. Medium lacing is left on my glass. Smell is huge fruit and spices. There are yeasty/bread-like notes and a tiny bit of alcohol. I get cloves, coriander and pine in the nose as well. The smell is a bit too spicy to me. The taste is also very fruity. Dark fruits like raisins attack the mouth. Nutmeg, coriander and cloves also assault the palette. There is also a huge yeast taste but no alcohol, impressive for 10%ABV. The taste is a little over the top for me in fruits and spices. The mouthfeel is a bit watery to me. Not what I expected from the huge creamy head. Lighter body than I would want for a pretty big beer. A huge coat of spicy fruit is left on a warm tongue. As far as DB, drinking a lot of this would be tough. I am very happy that I halved the bottle because the spices become extremely powerful after even one pint. The alcohol also starts to get pretty hot as it warms up.

Photo of dstc
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy brown with a fizzy tan head. Head falls to about nothing. Some lace.

This has a big malty nose filled with nice spice. Smells sweet.

Nice sweet malt taste, obviously. Has a bit of spice a regular Abt 12 does not however it resembles that beer, which is great since I love that beer.

Nice smooth, somewhat chewy mouthfeel with a good bite.

Love it. Awesome Christmas brew. Much enjoyed.

Photo of Rizow
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Let me do kneel before thine bottle, O Father, let me don my gay apparel and beg of you, Father, O Father Christmas, is that you? Father, please hear my confession: I have drunk of much Christmas Ale this season, and I hope your absolution more easily forthcoming that it was YOUR Christmas Ale, O Father. I faced the burly, foamy head you didst so endow of your creation, and I persevered. I did admire the dark copper and burnt chestnut tones of your creation, and I yet persevered. Upon encountering its sweet, sweet nose, replete with malt and yeast and candied fruit, I did nearly suc'cmb, but still further did I persevere. Upon meeting its wondrous tastes of cherries, figs, nutmeg and spice, and sweet malts, I did so nearly come to the very edge of temptation, but on did I persevere. Only when finally met with thine creation's easy drinkability did I fall utterly into its arms, ne'er to return. O Father, in thy wisdom thou have dost created the ultimate seasonal ale, one shall I drink now and forever, until, perhaps, faced with Damnation.

Thine is the kingdom and the power.

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

Pours a dark copper/amber with a MONSTROUS head that does not quit, must wait 3-5 minutes for it to die down and pour the rest of the beer. Smell is caramel, raisins, dark fruits, sweet, and toasty. Taste is big and sweet, lots of fruits and some burnt toast. Caramel as well. Mouthfeel is good, creamy, could be a tiny bit heavier. Lots of fruity sweetness, the alcohol is well masked but it warms nicely. Good brew, lots to take in.

Photo of Throckmorton
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this review refers to my bottle, but have also had it on tap at two places this season. to my surprise, I PREFER it out of the bottle.

A - deep brown, hints of red. nice cream colored head that lasted awhile.

S - some nut or even toast, along with a sweet aroma like a minced meat pie.

T - wow, nice fruits - currants, plum, prune. Deep and smooth and complex, could hardly notice the alcohol. Nice malt under-pinings. Flavors have good, pleasant staying power, nice after taste.

M - warm, thick.

D - oh yeah.

Photo of sjccmd
4.39/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I believe it said best buy 2012 on the bottom of the bottle.

Pours dark amber with ruby highlights and a light tan fizzy head. Lacing is pretty thin. Nice looking, but looks like it doesn't have as much body as I'd like.

The smell is pretty much everything I'd want to smell in a BSDA. Dark fruits, brown sugar, raisins, caramel, with a touch of spiciness.

The taste initially follows the sweetness of the smell but is rounded off with slightly bitter roasted malts, alcohol warmth, and a dry finish.

The mouthfeel is a bit of a let-down. It's not very thick and little too fizzy for my liking. It delivers the flavors decently, but I was hoping for more body.

Still decently drinkable especially for the ABV. A bit of a slow drink, but it's worth savoring.

Photo of aeminter
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nice deep brown with a foamy off white to tan head...

S - Malts and a bit of cereal, some alcohol, rose petals, dried stone fruits

T/M - Wow, definitely a Belgian Strong. High carbonation...a bit of a bite.

I could get used to drinking this, but I don't think my waste band could.

Photo of kmo1030
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

pours a dark ruby brown. held up to the light, you can see there are bits and pieces dancing around, i think uncorking aggitated the sediment.
the aroma somewaht subtle, but is malty and darkly fruity. not much of the spicing that is present in the taste is in the aroma, just hints. there is a touch of lemon zest, or something like it, and also berry aromas.
the taste has got a rich malty character thats not too sweet. the same dark fruits come through, grape, berry, fig, a little plum. there is a substantial spice character, mostly cinnamon, but it contains a variety of other complexities, perhaps some clove and nutmeg. it's actually quite peppery too.
the mouthfeel is a medium bodied, with overactive, coarse, clumsy carbonation. i could go for a little more body a more manageable amount of carbonation.
the drinkability is a solid 4. the abv is very well masked, there's no trace other than the slight warming in the throat. it would be even better with body and carbonation adjusted a bit. overall, while not without it's flaws it's a very good winter beer that hits most of the right notes.

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours brown with a beige head. Lots of extremely small, fine bubbles. The aroma is Belgian yeast as well as dark fruits and candi sugar. The taste pretty much follows the aroma, with lots of caramel malt. The overall flavor is pretty sweet and the alcohol is present and warming. Medium mouthfeel and highly carbonated.

Photo of augustgarage
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750mL bottle into my new White Birch flute/tulip (thanks ShogoKawada!). Best Before August 27th, 2014.

Liquid is a turbid shade of rosewood with terra cotta highlights. A large beige head recedes to half a finger of crystalline snow-like foam. Retention is excellent, though the lacing is not the immense sticky merengue commonly associated with Belgian styles. A tall ring of legs shimmers just above the foam.

The aroma is entrancing with bock-like elements of banana (or actually...roasted kabocha) and bread dough as well as heavy esters from the alcohol suggesting fruit-cake, orange-peel, and a touch of spice (clove?).

Immense caramel and gingerbread flavors on the palate, with malt and stewed cherry as a backbone. Nothing I've tried is closer to liquid gingerbread than this. The alcohol adds a little complexity suggesting apple butter and dried apricot. The finish is sweet yet yeasty and bready, bringing to mind English digestive biscuits.

Medium-bodied, creamy, and very effervescent, with the carbonation helping fill the mouth with flavor. ABV seems just a touch hot, but then I've been eating serrano filled tamales this evening so it is probably just me.

The witbier and quad offered by St. Bernardus are at the apex of their respective styles - and their Christmas offering is no slouch either, even if I have had a few Winter brews I've enjoyed more.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The pour results in a superbly fluffy head (two fingers), which crackles and deflates very slowly, leaving super-sticky styrofoamish lace on the glace. Color is a deep chocolate-brown in color, nearly opaque; difficult to see the bubbles feeding that mammoth head.

As a Christmas ale, it's appropriately fruity and spicy in the nose, recalling tart/young gooseberry and cranberry; light sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. Earth/mineral, shaved chocolate and a fairly assertive alcohol creep into the aroma.

Flavor stays on the fruity/spicy tip of the aroma , but on the tongue the fruits turn darker and the spices less sweet. Some white pepper and clove bite along with a fig/grape hint. Has a woody herbal/spiced tea vibe...and then with warming, it transforms. What I get after about 30 minutes is cinnamon roll--equal parts gooey, yeasty dough, caramel-ish qualities and cinnamon spice. Ghostly specters of root beer or Dr. Pepper work their way into the finish, and that is not a criticism, and hopefully not a cheapening of this beer's quality--just an approximation of another flavor characteristic of this complex beer.

Mouthfeel is wonderful, having a vibrant carbonation, a nice balancing velvet smoothness, and an overall airiness. A little bit of stick throughout the mouth.

No surprise that those behind St. Bernardus, monks or otherwise, would turn out an excellent Christmas ale. Their regular line (which is anything but regular) consists of some of the greatest beers in the world, and this one is no exception.

Photo of aerozeppl
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sitting around in a cabin in the Poconos. Fire is roaring.The women just went to the butcher to procure exotic meats. 11:59 am. Time for a beer. We are after all professionals.

A: Nice deep brown color. Quite a few garnet highlights. Quite a bit of head for a Belgian ale. Quite nice looking.

S: Really great nose. Really rich malt nose. Quite a bit of nutmeg. Little bit of clove. Candied plums. Nice amount of dark fruit. Nice nose.

T: The initial taste is quite sweet. The spice is not as powerful. Really complex. Tons of dark fruit with the spice working well with it.

M: Really creamy.Really great.

D: A superb drinker. The cool thing is the label says it can be cellared for up to 15 years. Cool. They make nothing but excellent beer after excellent beer.

Photo of Kallessin
4.06/5  rDev -4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Has tons of sizzling bubbles at first pour that settles to a very fluffy, foamy tan head. A deep murky brown with peach and caramel highlight when held up to the light.

A very fruity and spicy aroma with a fair amount of sweet malt and yeasty bread. Hints of sugary candy, pear and apple and some earthy hops.

Taste very fruity and spicy with lots of sweetness. Some spiced fruitcake, black cherries, orange peel, tart caramel apples and hints of brown sugar. A little boozey and barely a hint of bitterness.

Very warming and tingly mouthfeel. There's tons of carbonation in there giving it smooth, but foamy sensation.

This is a great sipping beer. Fairly complex and flavorful with a satisfying warming feel about it.

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

A - Poured a dark brown color with a tan head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of dark fruit and Christmas spices

T - Follows the nose mostly dark fruit of plums with good spices

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

D - This is an excelent Christmas beer with an excelent taste definitly worth trying

Photo of natelocc787
3.72/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Red crimson beer with an off-white foamy head. The nose smelled like a Christmas fruitcake. Lots of nuts, toffee, mild chocolate and raisins. The taste was there, mouthfeel was not. A slow sipper for sure, dark brown bread, sweet almost cloying from the malts, dark candi sugar and spice cake in the taste. Mouthfeel was not alive, not sharp either but dull, slightly dry and semi-flat tasting. Definitely a complex beer, just not impressed with much else.

Photo of Vengeance526
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark ruby brown color with a 1 finger tan head that quickly settles and leaves a moderate amount of sticky lacing.

Strong aroma of fruits and spices all around. Noticeable amounts of plum with cinnamon and nutmeg upfront.

Taste strongly mirrors the smell with lots of plum and raisin upfront along with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in the middle and a sweet yeasty finish.

Full bodied with a smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this one plays out very much like the Abt 12 but with a more noticeable spice presence. Very enjoyable and a great Christmas treat.

Photo of Naugled
3.47/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

served in a goblet.

Dark hazy brown with a fine creamy head that very quickly dissipates

Very sweet nose, smells like candi or soda

Woah, a very sugar forward beer. Tastes like there's nothing but sugar in this. Dark sticky sweet sugar. Some hotness comes through, but is needed to cut the syrupiness.

Medium mouthfeel, but on the thin side of medium. however not cloying and has a smooth softness to it.

drinkable, but over the top sweet. I guess that's what people want for the holidays.

Photo of wnh
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a Chimay goblet.
Best by 07/08/2012. 2007 vintage?

Pours a deep orange-tinted chestnut brown, murky and flecked with sediment, even after a gentle pour. Topped by a large and growing foamy ecru head, also flecked with sediment. Multiple rings of lacing left behind.

Rich and spicy nose, bit on yeasty fruit. Aromas of green apples, nutmeg, unripe pears, green bananas, faintly, a touch of candied nuts, and just a whiff of alcohol. Rich and dense and packed, but somehow remains subtle-ish.

On the palate this beer proves to be a continuation of the nose broadly, though some of the specifics differ. Apple note takes on the characteristics of a spiced, aged cider, but still shows some green apple tartness. There's a touch of bright citrus right up front that's gone almost as soon as it appears. More nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon, which seems to bring with it a powdery texture (a phenomenon I've found often with beers that taste like cinnamon). Quite big and strong and just a little rough around the edges. Fades smoothly and quite quickly into mild toasted malt and a lingering spicy nuttiness.

Lots of small bubbles of carbonation that turn out prickly and somewhat unpleasant. Medium-full bodied, somewhat firm. Very tasty, but unfortunately not a beer style that I seem to like.

Photo of Beerenauslese
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a muddy brown with a moderate head that dissipates quickly.

Smells of hay, brown sugar, nutmeg, clove, raisins.

Highly spiced, with ginger, coffee, prunes, dark fruit. Fairly sweet, some metalic cola tastes.

Velvety mouthfeel, but light, with cleansing carbonation. It is very spicy, yet also refreshing.

Nice holiday ale, a bit sweet overall, but well spiced. Alcohol is high but the flavors carry it well.

Photo of thegodfather2701
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a murky dark brown with a wonderful billowy and thick off white head that seems like it could last for days and creates a nice cascading on the glass.

S-Typical Belgian spiciness up front with some clove, then some brown sugar, molasses, and a touch of dark fruits. Very malty as expected, it smells delicious.

T-Dark fruits, mostly raisin up front with some brown sugar, and the slightest hint of milk chocolate. It is very boozy which gives it a sweetness, but much like abt. 12 it coats the mouth beckoning to be savored until the last drop.

M-Rich and creamy with the perfect amount of carbonation.

D-The complexity and high abv. make this a sipper. A single 750 milliliter bottle will be plenty to drink in one sitting.

Overall, I love this beer. It reminds me of the abt. 12 but not quite as luxurious. I am glad I purchased it and may even purchase it again next year. I highly recommend it. It made my Christmas even better than it already was.

Photo of Pahn
3.18/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Burp Castle, NYC. Poured into Chimay chalice.

Appearance: Murky, chocolate-brown like coffee. No head and some speckled lacing.

Smell: Weak scent of Belgian yeast and grape.

Taste: There's some notes of grape, caramel, and brown sugar, but the dominant taste is cola. There's a bright Belgian yeast flavor at the end that's reminiscent of the finish of Saint Bernardus's quad, which is this beer's high point. The alcohol is hot and dominant. There's some noticeable hops. The flavor is a bit wine-like and dark. It's sweet and tart, almost sour. The flavor was very uneven; each sip was different, and, more often than not, unpleasant. At times, dangerously close to cough syrup.

Mouthfeel: Watery and syrupy, with way over the top carbonation.

Drinkability: Decent, considering the ABV.

---

This beer tasted unfortunately close to cola. The horribly overdone carbonation doesn't help matters. Very disappointing offering from such an outstanding brewery.

Photo of Stigs
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle served in an oversized wine glass / snifter

A - poured about a finger of loose bubbly khaki foam which quickly fell to a ring around the glass and small floating island in the middle. the beer is a dark and cloudy amber/brown.

S - regular St. Bernardus with a touch of santa. cinnamon, very dark and ripe fruits such as raisins and plums, hints of belgian yeast and grapes, finishes with a very light kiss of alcohol.

T - strong dark belgian yeast brings in a touch of the cinnamon and spice behind it. fruits of raisins and slightly sour grapes with a touch of doughy malt carrying it all. wonderful and festive.

M - typical slightly high carbonation but the sweetness adds a bit of overwhelming chewy and stickiness. overwhelming halfway into the first glass, the low point of this one.

D - a good slightly different twist on an exceptional beer. overall pretty enjoyable.

Photo of Chico1985
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first St. Bernardus beer, pretty stoked. Cork pops off with a big explosion, hitting the ceiling followed by a little bit of foaming spillage. It's a Christmas miracle! Pours very dark, looks black until held up to the light which makes it blood red with lots of sediment floating about. Big fluffy pillow of off-white head rests on top, leaves good lacing. Smell is big on Belgian yeast, fruit and a bit of booze. Taste is excellent with lots of flavors bursting through. I'm tasting lots of fruit, mostly dark ones such as cherries, plums and raisins, also a hint of banana. Lots of Belgian yeast/biscuit taste, winter spice and molasses as well. Alcohol extremely well-hidden the entire time. Very tasty and complex. I will definitely buy this next year.

Photo of StarlightSeraph
3.53/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My 150th review, on Christmas night.

Poured from a corked and caged 75 cl bottle into my Chimay goblet.

Appearance: Pours a murky mahogany, with hints of red when held up to a light. Two fingers of thick, frothy off-white head. Tons of lacing.

Smell: When I opened the bottle, I got a whiff of cinnamon and gingerbread, but I didn't really get that in the glass. In the glass, all I can really get is the belgian yeast.

Taste: An intense, sweet and tangy roasted-chocolate flavor is the first thing that hits the taste buds. Tangy fruits are there in the background, as is the belgian yeast. A definitely burn from the alcohol as it goes down.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly, incredibly high carbonation, almost to the point of it being painful on the tongue. I realize that most Belgians are highly carbonated, but this is one of the most intensely carbonated beers I've ever tasted. It is nice and creamy, though.

Drinkability: A definite sipper, both due to the carbonation and the high alcohol. An enjoyable beer, too, although I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more of a...special, or holiday, feel to this beer - it tasted almost generic, and there wasn't something that made it stand out. I would certainly have it again, but it's not one I would spend hours searching for. I wouldn't mind having one of these on hand to age, though.

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

Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,864 ratings.