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Christmas Ale - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

633 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 633
Hads: 1,893
Avg: 4.19
pDev: 16.23%
Wants: 172
Gots: 342 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website

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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Christmas Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 633 | Hads: 1,893
Photo of Metalmonk
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

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Photo of Kallessin
4.06/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

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Photo of armock
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
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

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Photo of natelocc787
3.72/5  rDev -11.2%
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.

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Photo of Vengeance526
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

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Photo of Naugled
3.47/5  rDev -17.2%
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.

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Photo of wnh
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

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Photo of Beerenauslese
4.4/5  rDev +5%
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.

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Photo of thegodfather2701
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

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Photo of Pahn
3.18/5  rDev -24.1%
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.

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Photo of Stigs
3.95/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

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Photo of Chico1985
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

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Photo of StarlightSeraph
3.53/5  rDev -15.8%
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.

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Photo of BlackBearForge
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

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Photo of caddybuyer
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a caged and corked 750 on Christmas afternoon at cellar temperature. I bought this bottle last year so there is at least a year of age in this one. Looking forward to trying it.

A real foamer, this bottle.

A-Deep garnet brown with ruby highlights when held to light. Moderate clarity with a fair amount of sediment. Rocky, creamy tan head that doesn't budge even a few minutes after pouring. Amazing this head. Like whipped cream.

S-Sweet malts and dark fruits. Not a terribly pungent nose, but what I am getting is very aromatic. Hints of chocolate, and candied fruits underscored by Belgian yeast.

T-Dark fruits, marachino cherries, sweet malty yeast, and warming alcohol. I have not had a regular Abt 12 in a long time, but not sure how different this is than that. I don't recall the sweet dark cherry flavor that pervades this beer, so I'd say this holiday offering is a bit different. I'm liking it a bit better as well, but I'm a sucker for flavorful holiday brews. No holiday spices of note here, maybe just a hint of cinnamon. Call this liquid rum soaked fruitcake. YUM!

M-Creamy, silky smooth, a bit sticky, this is the perfect mouthfeel without being overpowered by efferevescence as so many of these Belgians tend to be. Spot on.

D-Drinkability? Well, I cracked this 750, and I'm damn well going to finish up this fine brew, but this one is a treat to be savored.

This is the first time I have ever tried this. Bought another earlier in this season to age for next year, now I am interested in cracking it open to see how it compares to the aged version. For some reason, these go on deep discount after Santa arrives. Heading to the beer store tomorrow to see what is left.

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Photo of CampusCrew
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

appearance: dark brown ale with some reddish tint.

smell: heavy christmas spices. cinnamon etc.

taste: smooth and sweet, easy to drinking belgian.

mouthfeel: medium bodied and lots of carbonation

drinkability: Great Holiday belgian but I prefer a few others to this.

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Photo of pants678
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A hazy, deep, opaque amber with a solid beige foam.

Sweet yeast, chocolate, tinge of pine.

Well hopped cherries with a mix of spices and molasses. The finish of gingerbread which gives the sort of Christmas feel. The body, though, is a bread with figs or grapes and brown sugar. Bit too sweet, but the finish counter acts

Surprising I finished in a single sitting. Medium body that hides the 10%.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On Tap at Monk's

A- Christmas ale in the tulip holds a very dark brown hue but is slick looking in the liquid. The head is nice and tight with a cinnamon color to it leaving lines of lace.

S- Loads of sweet malt with a nice spicy under lay which come up more with warming. Also getting a lot of dark fruit of many varieties. Some chocolate and caramel remain at a distance. Belgian yeast with a bunch of warming.

T- This is in my top three for christmas ales, a style im not crazy about, but I always seem to go for this one. It's probably because it does not remind me of christmas offerings that much Chocolate, malt sweetners, Belgian candi yeast, alot of dark fruit especially cherry and plum. Some raisins and a bunch of spices str8 off the rack. Now what make's it so special, well it's the balance of these ingredients, it's level. The spices do not get in the way as many winter beers do, here they dance with the other flavors.

M- Silky, smooth, rich, to die for. Another thing that's great about this offering is the absence of alcohol, it's no where in sight. A big above medium bodied with light but bright carb. This one's a winner, it goes down so, so, so easy. This is not a chore in any way.

D- This is a easy one to drink quick. I could do a whole bottle easily and in fact i will because the way my life's been going recently I need to be drunk more, the 10% helps. Im thinking BSDA with a winter warmer twist. This could be my favorite offering from bernardus, either this or the 12, may have to compare.

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Photo of PaleAlien2
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Deep brown color with a HUGE head. Very murky appearance. Head erupts on this thing like a volcano.

Smell of fruit and alcohol are prevalent in the nose.

Actually surprised, for 10% alcohol this beer is very drinkable. Tastes of biscuits and malt and esthers. No real spices to speak of.

Has a silky smooth mouthfeel. Perfect.

Very good beer.

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Photo of RedBeerchetta
3.82/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got a 750ml bottle at Publick House Provisions in Brookline, MA.

Lots of carbonation, almost as much as a cola. Color is milk chocolate brown. No red hue to it even when held up to the light. Large bubbles in the head that quickly disintegrate into a 3/4 coating on the top.

Smell is of yeast, some alcohol and a little bit of spice.

A bit cloying- quite sweet with more body than the other holiday beers I've had this season (like N'ic Chouffe and Affligem, both of which are more balanced).

Not my favorite holiday beer but still quite nice and enjoyable.

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Photo of crnipeter
3.12/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sybaritic monk with Santa's cap smiles from the label inviting you to join him so why not listen to his call? 750 ml into Rochefort chalice.

Coppery brown with light tan head that quickly dissipates. Not impressed.
I'd expected a quad enhanced with spices but I was wrong. This beer should be labeled x-mas Grottenbier as the aroma profile strongly resembles that of a grotten: Unascertainable spices blended with sweet cocoa and alcohol, lots of alcohol. Flavors correspond to the aromas with addition of slightly hoppy finish. Alcohol is overpowering. I could swear this is merely an alcoholic build-up of a Grottenbier. Prickly on the palate with more body and not as dry as its less potent brother. I've been deluded by the smiling monk.
Sint Bernardus is one of my favorite breweries for its Pater (6), Prior (8) and Abott (12) line. However, those beers are legacy of tight cooperation between the brewery and local monastery and could be classified as descendants of Westvleteren. Unfortunately the rest of Bernardus offerings does not meet the high standards set by the pious brothers 6,8 and 12.

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Photo of Buttermaker
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a perfectly fine beer but with all the outstanding Christmas beers out there the St. Bernardus Christmas Ale doesn't really distinguish itself. The best thing I can say about the nose is it's rather unremarkable...mostly malt with some alcohol. The taste is good...again mostly malt with just a touch too much alcohol for my taste. If you like warmers try the Delirium Noels which hides it's 10.0% ABV much better than this one. There's definitely some dried fruit on the palate but no nutmeg or other x-mas spices in this one. Mouthfeel and drinkability are in line with the taste.

Recommended Music Pairing: Ray Charles - The Spirit of Christmas

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Photo of mjaskula
4.48/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a large wine glass. Pours a dark brown with red highlights. The huge head pours thick and thins out to a film, leave a small amount of lacing.

Aroma is thick and sweet with dark fruits, and a bit of alcohol. Really inviting. The flavor is big and complex, continuing the nose. Lots of sweetness and dark fruit flavors, some spiciness. A bit of alcohol heat. There's some tartness in the finish as well.

The mouthfeel is pretty thick, but the high carbonation and dryness balance it out well.

I'm not sure what makes this a christmas beer, but it's really good regardless.

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Photo of canucklehead
4.87/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

What a Xmas treat this beer is with a nose that never stops developing and a huge head flecked with brown spots from the sediment. I got a huge rounded mouthfeel with lots of dark candy fruits and typical Belgian yeast. No spices in this Xmas ale but rather the suggestion of Xmas pudding. I really savoured this beer with every sip as it was part of a trade and not available in BC.

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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
93 out of 100 based on 633 ratings.