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 Ragingbull
4.02/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

I had bought a bottle of this during the holidays in 2007 and upon a recommendation from the local beer guy tried "cellaring" it for a year.
Dark amber in color with reddish tint. Thick frothy head and a little bit volatile. Sweet malty nose with fruity and floral hints. Fruity malt attack with a sweetness like licorice. Very malty. The malt is so strong that it presents as a sweet beer even though it is isn't sweet in a sugar sense. The body is sufficient to carry the 10 percent alcohol which is impressive by itself. Clean finish with lingering malty aftertaste. Some spicy notes and an effervescent type of feel to it.

Photo of ShareANevada
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a respectable muddled brown into my unibroue stem. A delicate lovely head sticking around for a bit. Smells of fruits and spices, just as one would expect. The first couple sips surprised me with the carbonation. Very fine bubbles, but more than I expected, perhaps the beer was yet too cold.

As it breathed, the carbonation settled down a little and made for a very nice treat. Just lovely balanced flavors, no hint of the lurking 10%. This was a very enjoyable beer, and i'm anxious to see was 2 years on one of these would do.

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

Poured a cloudy dark amber color with a dirty white head and good carbonation. Nose is malt, yeast, driedf fruits, spiciness and candy. Taste was of malt, caramel and candy with the added spice. Finish was nice, not as boozy as the 10% ABV leads you to believe. Good brew overall.

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

Sampled this at the 2009 Central Coast BA Bacchanal.

Appearance: Light brown in color and very cloudy. A fizzy white head quickly retreats to a mere ring. Light lacing.

Smell: Loads of sweet malt and sour Belgian yeast. Caramel, spice, dark fruit (prunes?), and orange rind.

Taste: Same as the scent, but with added clove and extra spice. Very malty, very tasty.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body, highly carbonated, and pretty dry. Active, malty, and chewy.

Drinkability: Wish I had more of this. The little 4oz. sampler wasn't enough. Really tasty, but I could see this one being very hard to finish on one's own. The carbonation, spice, and body may get to ya.

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

Had this on tap at the Horse Brass.

A- The light was fairly low in the bar and this looked very dark, almost black in color

S- Smelled spicy and fruity, dark fruits, fig, cherry.

T- Very good. Dates, raisins, nutmeg, alcohol.

M- Thick full bodied

D- This is definitely a slow drinker here. Perfect for the cold holiday season.

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

Photo of bimish
4.52/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured into a goblet. Clear, medium reddish brown color. Thin head disspiates quickly, minimal lacing. Average carbonation.

S - Nice malty aroma, lots of caramel notes. Spicy and fruity aromas also apparent.

T - Beautiful, well-rounded malty flavor. Very little bitterness, but malty flavors offset nicely by complex spicy and citrus flavors.

M - Good carbonation level, nice, medium-bodied mouthfeel.

D - Very drinkable for a couple of bears, but the spicy flavors would wear on your after a few.

Photo of far333
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Christmas gift from my wife. Served at cellar temp in a crystal snifter.

Murky orangey brown colored with a light brown head that settles out quickly leaving no lace. Yeast chunklets are suspended and moving around.

Aroma of sweet raspberry and honey, some heather and yeastiness.

Rich flavor of sweet caramel and toffee, raspberry and pomegranate, lots of other sweet fruits, hints of vanilla and leather. Honey notes, a bit floral. Subtle phenols. Very smooth for its strength.

Moderate carbonation, silky but bordering on syrupy. Tingly on the tongue. Finishes crisp.

Tasty beer, very rich. Good after dinner sipper.

Photo of asabreed
4.52/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Corked and caged bottle into a Brooklyn snifter.

Appearance: Dark hazy amber brown with tons of billowing and lacing, though it settles more quickly and surprisingly than I expected for such a brew. The color's perfect for a Christmas night. Not opaque, but when light hits the dark brown and sometimes-bright amber, it's a sigh to see.

Smell: So much here. Whiffs of candied fruit, molasses, vanilla, cola, raspberry, tobacco, cherry, pepper, marmalade, tropical fruits. The list literally changes every five minutes with temperature changes. I'd love to have a bottle of this ten years from now.

Taste: A beer that makes the air through the nostrils taste better as breathing seems to naturally happen. Big candied fruits and spice, and perfect for Christmas. Licorice, molasses, caramel malts, yeast and fruit esters, tropical fruit, raspberry comes through nicely, vanilla, dates, maybe some figs. Again, age and time and a long time with this beer brings out so much. And it seriously does a lot for the air you breathe, which I love about great Belgians.

Mouthfeel: Hugely bubbly and full and effervescent and tingly and smooth and creamy. Perfection.

Drinkability: A pretty awesome beer, St. Bernardus or not. A lot to admire, which I wasn't surprised about. It's fairly expensive, but certainly worth it, especially for a beyond-great holiday brew to share with friends and family. I can't think of a better one to drink at Christmas really at this point, and I can't believe it's taken me this long to get to it.

Photo of sprucetip
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle into goblet.

Hazy medium brown, modest head fades fast and leaves film, spotty lacing. Red highlights.

Peach raisin and generally fruity esters. Spicy, anise perhaps. Heat, sweet and malty.

Candy sugar and malty sweetness, dark fruit, hint of hops, some booze. Very smooth and complex. Mostly balanced but a bit on the sweet side.

Medium carbonation, rich full texture, warming, very clean and smooth finish.

A bit too sweet to drink a whole lot of, but very rich and complex. Definitely a solid and genuine Belgian strong.

Photo of Vendetta
3.91/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is plum, pruney. Cloudy, unfiltered. Stagnant, medium foam head. Thick, foamy paste of a lacing down the glass as it's consumed.

Smells vinous and sweet.

Taste is extremely complex as per norm of the St Bernardus brews that I've had. Very vinous and a bit dry up front, finishes pruney and much more on the sweet side. Leaves a significantly plum aftertaste. Warms the belly nice thanks to the ABV but it really isn't all that detectable. Perfect winter beer.

Mouthfeel is also very very good. Thick, full-bodied without being punishing to drink. Little carbonation.

This is a very, very good example of a Belgian beer and if you have any remote interest in the style then you'll love this one.

Photo of beer2day
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aged 1 year in the cellar.

Pours a deep caramel with a building head. Nose speaks of caramel malt, candy sugar, with a hint of spice (nutmeg, but not sure).

Hits the tongue and the caramelized candy sugar nose transfers. Appropriately thick and malty. Finishes sweet with a slight nod to the abv.

Would have marked the smell score higher, but it did not quite live up to the taste.

Not my favorite St B, but good on a cold night with the fire going.

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

The beer easily pours a four finger head of frothy amber colored foam that lingers throughout the entire tasting. t's residual, leaves a network of lacing on the glass marking each resting point along the journey. The color of this brew is a copper orange and is slightly cloudy which hints at the flavor that is in store.

The aroma is of spice, roasted malt, citrus, fruit and alcohol.

The flavor delivers along the same line. Roasted caramel, orange, yeast fruitiness typical of most Belgium beers, and hints of corriander and clove, which are not overbearing. I was please to see the spiciness take a back seat in this Christmas ale, allowing the typically strong belgium influences to take center stage.

The mouthfeel was full bodied and think which one would expect from a beer this this backbone and ABV. No disappointment here.

This Ale was worth the price and is worthy of being opened any time of year despite it's name.

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

It pours a hazy and potently carbonated brownish amber with orange-gold margins. A hand-span of light beige frothy head sno-cones the top of the glass eternally. Ropey lacing tethers the inside of the glass.

In the aroma, caramel and tart wheat join a fruity candy note. Clove, papaya, and a dash of pepper crisp things capably. Still, a hot vent of alcohol makes denoting much else a bit of a strain.

Upon sipping, toasted malt carries caramel and a melon fruitiness, while currants mingle with clove, coriander, and a notable green apple crispness. Alcohol is again hot and broad-chested. Residual sugar sweetness, some yeasty dough, and a growing dry bitterness jockey for front position in the sensory cavalcade of a lasting finish.

Between medium and full bodied, the thick grain accompanies an airy presence to deliver a round, creamy character to the palate.

It's not as multi-dimensional and smooth as many St. Bernardus offerings, but it says Happy Holidays in a bold, auspicious manner. In fact, it's the almost obnoxiously prevalent ABV, searing and blearing, that holds things back a bit. And yet, despite the intimidation factor, I'm happier at the end of the bottle than at the beginning, and that's in a good way.

Photo of Atricapilla
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Westmalle goblet. It is a medium to dark mahogany color with a medium sized, foamy, dirty-white head that laced away.

Aroma: Some light malt, dark fruits, apple, with a bit of ethanol.

Taste: Again, light malt with a bit of date. A hint of some medicinal herbs and has an ethanolic finish.

Photo of robbyc1
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

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

this brew pours up a red tinted brown color with a nice frothy off white head. great lacing. the nose is red apple, faint candy sugar, sweet malts, caramel, pear. the taste is very sweet, dark cherries, yeast, chewy malts. medium bodied and medium carbo. I like Belgium Holiday Ales because they generally don't have a set taste and they are all different. A solid beer.

Photo of Oxymoron
4.01/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Merry Ho ho ho this fat man! Pours a merky brown color with some lighter tan hues throughout. A off white colored head left good retention but limited lacing. Both did not last through the tasting.

The nose has a lot going on. Some lighter malt notes with a light chocolate aroma and a touch of caramel. Some complexity but limiting in a way. A noticeable spice aroma. Some baking spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and a light ginger aroma. Some other spice notes, white pepper and a light pear note on the backend. Yeast is noticeable, and distinct with St Berny beers.

The taste is a bit more one sided to the spices, relative to the nose. The same spices mix in with more of a hint of cloves and cinnamon. The ginger backs off but there is a rose peddle flavor on the back end. The yeast also comes out with more of a light fruity taste. Almost like a fruitcake like taste. The malt is present but is limited with more of a malty taste and hints of coco. Some minor heat and a touch of fusels as well.

The body is closer to moderate but a bit much for a Belgium holiday beer. Some heat from the alcohol. Overall good but very muddled together. Would have liked to see the spice back off and more Belgian characteristics come out.

Photo of jujubeast6000
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed 1/4/2009 (bottle dated 19/08/12):

Pours a huge, active, frothy tannish colored head, with big bubbles. Body is a dark brown color, can't see through at all. Very floral, sweet smelling nose. Dark fruit like plum or grape. Some spiciness too, and a little bit of alcohol. Not an overpowering aroma. sweet spicy, effervescent aftertaste, not too drying, thirst-quenching. A fruity taste, somewhat dark, but some light fruit present too, like pear and banana. Nice winter spices. Carbonated palate, somewhat creamy. Not too bad, tasty for a spiced brew. Even tastier as it warms.

Photo of selecter70
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mmmm...not quite what I was expecting from a "Holiday" (grr..Christmas) Ale. But thanks to Christopher's in Cambridge & St. Bernardus, I can expand my expectations of such! It was lovely to find this gem on draught, served proper, glassware & all. Served up dark & mysterious with a thin, lacey head that soon disappeared, a grape-malt & lavender aroma pervaded, but not tacky or overwhelmingly so. The color showed in the light as a dark purple-brown and an intial alchol nose upon sipping soon opened to a chewy dunkelweiss with grape hints in a Belgian lambic style. Quite a lovely sipping & savoring ale (& quite potent!).

Photo of MacDomer
3.43/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this on Christmas Eve and am now just getting to reviewing. I am a huge fan of Bernardus Tripel and Abt 12, but this was a letdown from an otherwise great brewer.

Split a corked & caged 750 mL bottle with the family. Poured into a Westy chalise and two Chimay chalises.

A - Medium brown to dark in color, with a decent microfoam head (typical Belgian). Some yeast floaties as well - berk. Visible carbonation.

S - Some nice yeast and fruit notes in the nose, along with alcohol (not much). However, this was the first Belgian that I'd consider medicinal smelling. A bit of a turnoff.

T - Dark fruits, such as raisin and plum, a bit of bitterness, but again there's the medicinal quality. Odd. Not a fan. Some spices that start off fairly well, but they fade and take backstage to some strange herbal medicinal quality.

M - As you would expect from the style, but a bit over carbonated.

D - Won't buy this one again, but was fun to try nonetheless. If friends have it, I'd give it another go, but I was underwhelmed this time.

Photo of zdk9
3.76/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours black with amber to chocolate brown highlights. The head is initially about a fingers worth of tight white bubbles that change into swirls and eddies on the surface of the beer and small amounts of spidery lacing.

S- I'm getting raw alcohol, a small amount of ripe banana. I wish I could take out some brighter flavors or some malt, but I'm finding the alcohol to be somewhat oppressive on my nose.

T- I can appreciate the complexity of the taste of this beer. Theres alcohol again, but here the malt does claim its own space, with dark gingercake notes. The banana is present, joined by some rumraisins. Overall sweet and alcoholic.

M- The carbonation is at just the right level for this one, which leaves enough syrup on my tongue to enjoy for a bit. I do wish the alcohol were more hidden, but I can't decide how much to fault a 10% beer for that.

D- At first I didn't really get this beer- it seemed to be a high alcohol Belgian w/ lots of banana. But after reviewing it I began to enjoy the complexity of the taste and mouthfeel more. While I wouldn't rate it as my favorite Holiday beer it is certainly good, and probably were I in a colder climate during January I would like it even more (I bet it's great in front a fire as the label advertises.

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

A: Slightly cloudy deep brown/amber color with caramel highlights. Poured a 3 finger tan-colored billowy head with good retention; eventually like a dollop of merangue on top. Gobs of lacing (not quite rings).

S: Lots of complex dark fruits. Spices and hot alcohol.

T: Complex rich dark fruits like prunes, figs,raisins and more. Tastes deepened and changes as it warmed. Warming alcohol.

M: Full body. Nicely balance carbonation. Flavors engulf the mouth and tongue. (yeah, I like it a lot)

D: Full drinks make the most of this one, but 10% abv dictates some time in between.

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

Bottle from Kingdom Liquor, FL.

Poured hazy brown color with a large fizzy brown head that was mostly lasting with excellent lacing. Aroma was as complex heavy spicy nutmeg and yeast. Medium body with a creamy texture and soft carbonation. Heavy spice bittersweet flavor with a heavy bittersweet finish with medium alcohol bite.

Good brew.

Photo of Celt44
4.52/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Recommended by a local craft brew store owner - My sincere thanks to him.

Appearance is a light reddish hue - almost looks like brandy or cognac from a distance considering the head disperses fairly quickly.

Smell - Strong Malt and Sweetness up front. Citrus fruits, very slight alcohol. Very appealing

Taste - Malts and cranberries. Hops makes and appearance. Grapefruit bitterness at the end.

Mouthfeel - Beautiful - It's a Belgian!

Overall one of, if not thee best beer I've had that has called itself a "Christmas" beer or ale. Can't wait till next year!

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