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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 jkd03c
3/5  rDev -29.1%

jkd03c, Dec 09, 2013
Photo of Stoutsman
3/5  rDev -29.1%

Stoutsman, Jan 14, 2012
Photo of Rollzroyce21
3/5  rDev -29.1%

Rollzroyce21, Dec 07, 2011
Photo of vfedetz
3/5  rDev -29.1%

vfedetz, Jan 07, 2014
Photo of ZAP
3/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A-Brugandy brown color...big tan pillowy head builds by the second as it sits in the glass...too much

S-Black licorice and ginger snaps are the first impression....also figs and raisins.

T-Feels pretty hot....boozy and alcoholic....the black licorice and ginger snaps again lead the way....prunes, raisins, figs...some mild bready yeastiness.

M-Too alcoholic...too charged up....

D-One of my least favorite of St. B lot...not horrible but certainly not in the same ballpark as some of my favorites of theirs. Too much air, heat, and a little heavy on the black licorice/ginger snap taste too...

ZAP, Jan 31, 2008
Photo of Nichols33
3/5  rDev -29.1%

Nichols33, Aug 24, 2014
Photo of TimH
3/5  rDev -29.1%

TimH, May 19, 2012
Photo of amphion1065
3.05/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

750 mL bottle with a "13.08.16" date stamp, served in a Duvel tulip.

Quite a loud pop when I uncorked the bottle, though thankfully this wasn't a gusher. Pours a light, reddish copper brown. A huge, 2.5-finger light tan head with very tight bubbles last and lasts - the retention is excellent. Lacing is gorgeous.

Lots of citrus in the aroma. Right off the bat, orange peel and a heavy dose of coriander come into play. A very strong Belgian yeast character. Underneath, some toffee, prunes and vanilla. It's a sort of strange combination, like a Christmas pudding or fruitcake with an amped up citrus zest.

Predictably, there's plenty of orange in the taste. A peppery kick to the finish, which largely drowns out the dark fruit flavors at work. Man this is hot, far more so than Abt. 12, and the booze is pretty distracting. An odd, astringent bitterness in the back end.

Mouthfeel is solid, lively and just heavy enough. I expect nothing less from this brewery.

Judged against other BSDAs, this is pretty mediocre. As a Christmas ale, I feel just about the same.

amphion1065, Dec 03, 2011
Photo of mntlover
3.08/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a nice deep brown murky color, with some red note showing thru, nice rich Belgian look to it. Head is rich nice fluffy tan that last and lasts finally falls to ringed scum that laces all the way down.

Aroma is rich malty sugary molasses with dark fruits mingled through out. Some light spice and nice alcohol notes that blend into the mix.

Taste is wow carbonation is noticed right away a downer for me anyway. Malty in taste, molasses brown sugars mingled with fruits plums raisins. Finish has hints of liquorice left from the malt, also finishes with spice cloves, pepper and hops.

Mouthfeel is the down fall of this brew, the burst of carbonation up front just turned me off. I am sure the flavors would have been much better if the tingling in my mouth wasn't masking the flavors in this beer.

Drinkability is not good for me wouldn't want to try this one again. Find this a problem with Belgians sometimes, just too much CO2 for my tastes. Looked great smelled great first sip ruined it for me, as I finished the bottle CO2 did mellow some what but still too much for me, wanted to like it but.

mntlover, Dec 25, 2007
Photo of crnipeter
3.1/5  rDev -26.7%
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.

crnipeter, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of mdunman
3.13/5  rDev -26%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Opaque brown color that pours a very thick light tan head that stays around til the very end.

S: Wine like aroma, smell of red grapes and alcohol.

T: Starts with a fairly sweet grape flavor then progresses to a mild wine like taste, grapes and alcohol, with spices around the edges and finishes with a merlot like dryness.

M: Feels like a champagne, loaded with carbonation and gives a bit of sizzle across the whole of the mouth.

Not a typical Christmas Ale by any means. Very original sensation from start to finish, but this wasn't my kind of beer. And at $11 for a 750mL bottle, I don't think I'll be picking one up next year.

mdunman, Jan 09, 2011
Photo of bobhits
3.13/5  rDev -26%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I've been through half a bottle of this and I still can't get a handle on what to say about it. No hate no love...just beer.

Pours an amber near black body rather common with yeast filled quads. A nice head but thinner bubbles than perhaps I expected. I know 10% but others have done it. lacing is minimal but there.

Fruity somewhat citrus, think apples and pears with a lot of spice and belgian yeast. I don't think "christmas" but a dry and I mean dry belgian quad. Notice I made no mention of sugar or malt or candy. This is dry.

The beer really is dominated by a somewhat sharp acidic apple bear flavor. I get a lot of perhaps rye bitterness with actually more malt and sugar than expected given the smell. That said the sugars are lost quickly thanks to I really think there could be a brett or similar sour element here way in the back. Spices are all over the place but again not christmas spice.

There's a lot of bite but I'm thinking more of the rye bitterness than alcohol and to be honest it goes down easy, clean, and isn't overly thick. It's about as good as a quad can be if your goal is to chug. For those more sane with 10% beers it sips well too but expect a bite of rye and sour and maybe alcohol is part of this.

I'm not thrilled with this. I'm sure my score says 'bad" to mean, but honestly this is a nice beer. It isn't worth the 11-12 bucks but you get a drinkable beer with some nice flavors and it isn't boring or something you start naming clones of instantly. That said no, it's not new or unique but hey what is, right?

bobhits, Nov 03, 2013
Photo of bluejacket74
3.18/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

750 ml bottle. Served in a chalice, the beer pours dark brown with an inch and a half frothy tan head. Head retention and lacing are both pretty good. Aroma is nice, it smells like dark fruit, cinnamon, bread, yeast, pepper, cloves, and caramel. Taste is similar to the aroma, but there's also a good bit of alcohol/booze and also a slight metallic taste noticable. Mouthfeel/body is medium with high carbonation. Way too much carbonation for my taste. This hurts the drinkability for me. The high carbonation makes this brew hard to drink, it feels like I'm drinking bubbles and not liquid. Overall it's a decent brew, but would be much better if the carbonation was cut down some. It looks good and tastes good, but it's not easy to drink at all.

bluejacket74, Mar 15, 2008
Photo of mrfrancis
3.18/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours what initially appears to be a nearly opaque black, but when held up to the light, the ale is actually a clear, dark, brownish amber. This ale pours with a tremendous, rocky beige head that laces deep into the glass. It's really a good looking beer.

S: The smell is a bit of a disappointment really, as soft, gentle aromas of banana, cream, milk chocolate, figs, and dates fill the nose. I was expecting something a bit spicier and more assertive. At least there is nothing in the way of an alcohol aroma.

T: Opens sweet and rich with notes of caramel, dark bread, pear drop candy, banana, chocolate, heavy cream, figs, raisins, and dates. Unfortunately, there is an overwhelming alcohol flavor and presence that singes the tongue and obliterates any chance of other flavors developing. The finish is hot and intoxicating with pear drop, banana, cream, and chocolate notes lost in a swirl of fiery alcohol.

M: Full bodied and filling with active carbonation. This ale is initially smooth, creamy, malty, and rich, but once the alcohol kicks in, it dries out completely. Very difficult to drink. I cannot figure out why this beer is so off-kilter.

O: I've always been a fan of both St. Bernardus and this style, so I really wanted to like this beer. Unfortunately, I just couldn't. The overwhelming alcohol presence and heavy mouthfeel ruined this one for me. I doubt I'll be purchasing this beer again.

mrfrancis, Dec 06, 2011
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.

Pahn, Dec 26, 2009
Photo of david18
3.2/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I had a twelve ounce draft of this at the Amsterdam Ale House on Manhattan's Upper West Side. This was an ok beer but not great. I usually don't like Winter Ales but it was really more of a typical belgian dark than what one might typically think of a winter beer as.

Appearance was typical of the style. A dark mahogany but not a lot of head. Belgian lacing was still there, however.

Aroma was a little thin. Dark fruit and esthery yeast, as expected, but a little underwhelming.

Flavor as well was not as interesting as I had hoped and the alcohol heat was a little bit much.

Overall an OK beer but not too great. Their quad is much better.

david18, Jan 19, 2012
Photo of BeRanger
3.23/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours kind of a murky brown with about 2-3 fingers of white head that stayed for quite some time.

S - The smell was nice, plentiful spices and yeast. Seemed rich of cinnamon, plum and other sweet smells.

T - Taste the cinnamon, plums and other spices/sweet flavors. Unfortunately for me the taste was ruined by the extremely high carbonation. It was too much to handle.

M - Medium body with extremely high carbonation.

O - I was pretty disappointed with this bottle as I felt the carbonation was extremely high compared to what it should be. I have one more bottle in my cellar that I hope to enjoy sometime in the near future. If it's less carbonated, I intend to possibly change the review. I liked the flavors that were coming through however.

BeRanger, Dec 31, 2011
Photo of safaricook
3.25/5  rDev -23.2%

safaricook, Nov 26, 2012
Photo of twenty5
3.25/5  rDev -23.2%

twenty5, May 10, 2013
Photo of Brabander
3.25/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had bought this bottle at the brewerie when i visited it together with the guys from the Sierra Nevada brewerie. I had high hopes of this beer because i love the beers Bernardus makes. This beer however disapointed me. That was funny in a certain way because we drank the beer in a tasting session with some BA's at my place and the rest was enthousiastic about it.

There we go! Poured in a tasting glass the beer looks ok. Nice head but a little bit too much carbonation for a dark beer. You could say it is an overcarbonated 12.

I will try this one on tap when i am at the Christmasbeerfestival in Essen this weekend.

Edit:

We had this beer at the end of 2011 at my cousin Peters place. Great beers and great fun.

This beer was poured in my Essen Christmasbeerfestivalglass (what a word for wordfeud!) The beer was disappointing again...

Brabander, Dec 17, 2010
Photo of acashk
3.25/5  rDev -23.2%

acashk, Dec 26, 2012
Photo of ArrogantB
3.25/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Christmas Eve seemed an appropriate time top open this beer. It was very dark brown with a white head and the bubbles seemed really compacted together. It smelled like slight herbal mints, whiff of chocolate (barely detectable), and raisins. The flavor was raisin and plum-like. Decent stuff but the 10.5 ABV knocked me down.

ArrogantB, Dec 25, 2007
Photo of smakawhat
3.28/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured on tap giving off a very nice opaque dark brown nut quality body. Good looking tan cream head almost as well.

Smell is a one trick pony. This is an all out banana syrup bomb, not even starch smelling just like faint Dairy Queen banana topping. I am not a fan of bananas so this makes for a not enjoyable smell and review for me (keep that in mind). Taffy notes as well, and with brown sugar notes and mild butter.

Taste is actually solid with a nice simple carbonation and sour chew quality. Banana syrup but not too thick body leaving a good finish.
Strangely enough, I am not a fan of this flavor but this is a well put together brew. I wouldn't want this again, but I can see the reasons why people would have this beer again no problem.

smakawhat, Jan 10, 2011
Photo of Knapp85
3.35/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours out as a deep red color with a foamy tan colored head. The lacing isn't too bad here. The smell of the beer has a lot of spice to it. There is some decent flavors once the beer warms up. The beer right from the fridge has a metallic flavor at first. The spices kick in and leave a slight amount of heat in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is a little warming and had a lot of carbonation. Overall it's not a bad Christmas ale.

Knapp85, Jun 11, 2011
Photo of jwc215
3.4/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750 ml cage-corked bottle, poured into glass chalice provided by Wasatch:

Pours hazed dark brown with a thin tan head that becomes a large island. Some lacing sticks.

The smell is of dark bread, light spiciness, in an herbal way. There's a hint of prune and anise.

The taste is of spicy pumpernickel. Not spiced, but spicy. Yeasty with some anise and earthy notes. Sharp, yet creamy. Potency might add more body than is actually there.

This was less than expected for the brewery. I tend to prefer the non-spiced winter beers, but this one - well...doesn't really do it for me. Nice, but expected better from this brewery.

jwc215, Dec 28, 2008
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
94 out of 100 based on 1,446 ratings.