Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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 brurevu
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This particular bottle has been aging in my fridge for the last year. The Christmas Ale is bottle conditioned so it poured with a generous head over its deep ruby brown body. The aroma was of fruits and malty sweetness with the taste following the same with some added complexity and a slight bitterness on the palate. The creamy mouthfeel rounded out this truly excellent Christmas Ale that is a fantastic beer for the Holidays.

 429 characters

Photo of jnn4v
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Brasserie Beck in Washington DC.

A: Mahogany / walnut brown color. Translucent around the edges and generally hazy. No sediment. Moderate cream colored head with very fine texture.

S: Nutmeg, ginger, and other holiday spices are the very first thing I noticed. Also some dried dark fruits like raisins and dates as well as spiced or candied nuts.

T: Good flavor. Spices are the most dominant trait, but they aren't overpowering. Some good mixes of nutty flavors with molasses and brown sugar malts, dates, raisins and prunes.

M: Very good mouthfeel. Good body and texture from the viscosity. Nice, refined carbonation as well.

D: Different than I expected (I'd been hoping for Abt 12 plus spices, and this is more of a brown with spices). However, it definitely grew on me. Very drinkable at refrigerator, cellar or room temperature.

 857 characters

Photo of Jesstyr
4.87/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

St. Bernardus is one of my favorites, so I gave this a try when I saw it on the shelves at Publick House in Brookline. Now I wish I could buy a dozen more. Quickly became one of my all time favorites.

Poured into a stemless tulip glass out of a .

A: dark brown with very creamy head.

S: Rich aroma with chocolate and a little bit of bourbon, and subtle winter spices.

T: Rich flavor of chocolate and dark fruits, not sweet, just a little bit of toffee and raisins and a bit yeasty. Great with cheese.

M: Light and a little creamy.

D: Too easy. Finished the bottle and didnt feel it till much later.

 604 characters

Photo of VirginiaBeerMan
3.89/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the Capital Ale House in Richmond; served in a snifter
Cloudy brown with thin head, nice spice aromas; this is definitely a slow drinking beer, not one to consume in multiples, the 10% ABV is there, but somewhat masked with a nice taste; decent mouthfeel; this is one I would go back to, but not buy in large quantities unless you were serving to people that could appreciate this style.

 397 characters

Photo of UrbanCaveman
3.57/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle, poured into a snifter at room temperature.

A: Pours a rich, deep bronze-brown, and forms a fantastically thick head with good retention. Fairly clear, enough to see the bubbles rising from the bottom. Lacing is rather remarkable - this amount of froth and lacing should not even be possible for a 10% ABV beer!

S: Sweet malt and yeast, wreathed through with plum, fig, and cherry notes. The candi sweetness is of course present, along with just a tinge of funk.

T: So, that's what a quad with cinnamon in it tastes like. There's significant heat in this, from a combination of cinnamon spice with noticeable alcohol. Sweet malt, candi sugar, and dark fruits, particularly cherry, are all present, but beneath the spiceahol mix. The finish leaves a lingering burn.

M: Rather thin and sharply carbonated for a quad, actually. I was expecting something stickier, given the head and lacing.

O: I am rather underwhelmed by this beer, especially from St. Bernardus. The Abt 12 is spectacular, but this does not disguise the alcohol content half as well - instead, it disguises the underlying yeast flavors with alcohol and spice. I wouldn't say it is a bad beer, but I would not go out of my way to have it again. Perhaps if I were to encounter it on tap somewhere for a decent price per pour.

 1,308 characters

Photo of BWH3
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle which I found for under $11 in center city Philadelphia

A: A solid medium brown the color of pecan containing a few shades of red when held to the light. The head is big bubbly beige but fades quite easily but fortunately leaves a lovely lacing.

S: Bubble gum, sour cherry, anise.

T: Spicy, caramelized cherries with notes of cinnamon and licorice. Sweet up front then bitter and spicy hot. The phenols bring out the heat as well as the alcohol. This one brings the heat. The alcohol is a bit palpable but I am sure if one aged the beer it would mellow some.

M: Nice effervescence. Light medium body. Head retention could be better but is not below average.

D: St. Bernardus once again makes a fantastic beer that needs to be sampled by all.

 759 characters

Photo of pjwilson
4.59/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured in to Chimay chalice.

A: good quad amber

S: sweet figs brown sugars

T: so sweet so good. Classic quad greatness

Mouthfeel: yep it's soft

O: as good as Abt 12

Yeah it's great. Made the mistake of starting this too cold. Opened up after warming

 255 characters

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

On tap at the Mohawk House in Sparta New Jersey.

A: Poured into a Brooklyn Tulip Glass. Pours a nice dark amber color with a two finger white head that slowly shrinks into a one finger head that stays the entire drink. Great Retention.

S: Sweet, Spicy, Bready, Not smelling much hopiness in this one. Also a slight alcohol smell.

T: Delicious Belgian yeast, bananas. Sweet and spicy citrusy flavors that have a dry finish with a slight hop bitterness. Very good

M: Medium body, medium carbonation.

D: Very drinkable. Hides booze moderately. Gave me a nice warmth from the alcohol but didn't hide it.

 605 characters

Photo of RedBrewer83
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into goblet...

A: Dark brown amber body with a big three finger creamy tan head that falls slowly leaving great lacing and a thick foam head on top of the beer.

S: Raisins, figs, dried fruit, candy caramel malt, spices (nutmeg, clove, allspice). Smells like Christmas!

T: Follows nose with added flavor intensity and a hint of booze that comes across in a delicious way! A little intense on the sweetness, but somehow not cloying.

M: Smooth carbonation, almost velvety mouthfeel and nice dry finish that keeps this from being an overly sweet cloying beer.

D: For being such a big beer that is so complex and sweet it is pretty drinkable, but not great, this is definitely a sipper, but on a cold winter night this would probably be perfect!

 752 characters

Photo of PatrickCT
4.59/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 ounce bottle poured into a Spencer glass.

a: A vibrant chestnut body with a rusty orange ring when held to the light, 2 finger pillowy off white head with large, lively bubbles.

s: Fruitcake and Stollen. Soft bready malts, candi sugar, apricots and plums.

t: Dry malts, figgy, candi sugar and caramel. Ricola like medicinal herbs mingle with the alcohol and a slight spiciness finishes.

mf: Creamy, drinkable, medium carbonation. The alcohol bite is very well hidden.

o: This is THE Belgian Christmas Ale. Complex yet drinkable, it brings to mind an Old World Christmas through its aroma and taste. Just the right amount of alcohol bite gets through to remind you are drinking a 10% beer.

 699 characters

Photo of omnigrits
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml cork and cage into a tulip.

Man, this is one of the liveliest beers I've poured in a long time. Despite being careful I got about 20% beer and 80% head which I had to let subside before topping up. Lots of lace, obviously.

A very sweet, malty Belgian nose. Lots of typical spicy Belgian yeast aromas.

Plenty of sweetness up front but also a pleasant bitterness and a dry finish, leaving both a barley sugar and a hoppy aftertaste.

Good body, well-hidden but noticeable alcohol presence.

A very nice example of a dark Belgian ale.

 554 characters

Photo of shacawgo24
4.98/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

A-Dark raisin brown body. Off-white four finger head, (yes four) that has a slight hue of pink to it. The head is incredibly soapy and foamy. Your cup will runneth and floweth over. Head is also flaked with crystals that glitter throughout like fresh fallen snowflakes. Patchy, clumpy, sticky lace decorates glass.

S-Bourbon. Sour skins of grape, cherry and apple. Baking spices. Molasses. Brown sugar. Doughy. Yeasty. Inhale deeply enough your nose might sneeze from the pure abundance of spiced yeast.

T-Brown sugar. Cherry almond. Ginger bread or something wow. Nutmeg. Vanilla. Rum. Oak/woodsy. Bourbon. Cookie. Dry cinnamon & clove. Fruit flavored glazed pies like apple & cherry. Slightest of grape flavor, akin to an astringent red wine grape. The most subdued banana note, like a custard. One can go on and on deciphering flavors. The most consistent note was the hard to describe cherry-ginger-glazed pie STRONG middle-sip flavor.

M-Medium-low body. Medium-heavy carbonation. Sip starts tart, sweet and spiced. Then a punch of bitter-sweet bourbon uppercuts in the middle. Also in the middle is a sweet yeasty/doughy pie/donut note. The end of the sip is all of the aforementioned in harmony, slowly fading away into the aftertastes. The after is a gentle titillation of dry bitter holiday spices.
The yeast is the star here, swamping your palate with prickling sensations. And the hops as well bring this effect. Very sticky your lips get with time.

O-St. Bernardus does no wrong. This Christmas Ale ages perfectly, you can sip one in the summer. This quad was meant to be sipped. So complex and boozy. I do wish the body was more grand and creamy, silky. Other than that, you can't get much better in look, smell and taste. Quads are probably the best beer style on Earth. St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is powerful proof for that claim.

 1,850 characters

Photo of ByTor2112
4.12/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours up a shade of brown that leans towards being mahogany, ruby-reddish. Big foamy head that hangs out for a while but diminishes.
Aroma-Big fat bready-fruity goodness. If the flavor is anything like the aroma, it is going to be sweet.
Mouthfeel-Medium carbonation delivers a very sweet body with some booziness. The alcohol is not too hot, but present. The malt is obviously there but the fruit profiles along with rich bready flavors really dominate with this one. The yeast has chosen to put these to the forefront, and the malt backbone is disguised. Sweet and rich and tasty. The finish reveals a little of the Belgian-yeast-funk, a bit on the tangy side. The fruitiness of the aroma and flavor swings from fig to raisin to cherry to...This was a good one to share with others who are not big beer folks and everyone enjoyed it.

 835 characters

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

A: Ruby-brown semi-opaque body with a thin tan head.
S: Malts, cream, belgian sugars, molasses
T: Butter and molasses initially with some malt and barley. A little bit spicy toward the end but finishes smooth.
M: Heavy and rich, definitely a sipping beer.
D: Overall a great representation of the style.

 303 characters

Photo of bilyboy65
4.07/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a pilsner glass. This has also been aged for a year. Purchased Jan 07 and drank Mar 08.

A: Poured a very forthy 3 finger head that was a dark tan color. Lasted for a while as well and left a good film on the glass. The beer was a dark tan color on the bottom of the glass and became darker towards the top.

S: There was a strong apply fruit smell that was complimented nicely by cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. The smell alone was very warming.

T: There was a hint of the alcohol in the taste of this beer. The fruits were the main course. The cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar teamed up to cause a apple pie flavoring. The aftertaste was very fruity and added a great finish to this beer.

M: The carbonation dances on the tongue bringing out the flavors.

D: There was a lot of carbonation in the beer. Making it challenging to really enjoy the full taste of the beer.

 908 characters

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.

 585 characters

Photo of sjccmd
4.39/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

 762 characters

Photo of erikm25
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a medium to heavy caramel brown coloring. Hints of copper and bronze highlights. The head is a massive, deep, and sticky pillow of slightly off white fluff. Retention is perfect. Lacing coats and sticks all around the glass. Looks like the frosted windows of my apartment that I have been seeing recently.

S: Subtle dough nose that is spiced with some fruit and candies. Notes of chocolate. Crisp apples and ripe pears with a healthy dash of black pepper. Sugary with a citrusy orange tinge. Not overwhelmingly spicy but the aromas are warm and welcoming.

T: Complex spiciness with thick malt back. Vanilla and coriander. Gingerbread with raisins and clove. Peaches, candy canes, and subtle black peppers. Toasted rye bread sprinkled with brown sugar, grapes, and ginger. A pinch of cinnamon and peppercorns. Very mild pumpkin pie like taste. Mild hops towards the finish. The ABV is high but no alcohol is present in the taste.

M: Creamy and full bodied. Great carbonation.

D: I had been saving this one for a few weeks to cap off Christmas night. Very drinkable and a great offering for the holiday season. Complex and first rate beer.

 1,152 characters

Photo of Vendetta
3.91/5  rDev -6.7%
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.

 709 characters

Photo of ruckzuck
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought at some point in November, finally getting around to drinking as Christmas approaches.

A - dark brown, super thick off-white head

S - fruity, citrusy, sweet malt, people note dark fruits and that sort of comes across to me

T - spicy, sweet, malty, bit of alcohol,

M - smooth, a bit of carbonation, nice all around

D - wow. This is a fine, fine beer (would you expect anything else?), but I think more than 1 750 mL of this would be crazy. Luckily I split mine with my gf, and I think 1 glass will be enough. Really enjoyable and warming me up nicely. Highly recommended for the holidays!

 600 characters

Photo of amphion1065
3.11/5  rDev -25.8%
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.

 1,070 characters

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

A - a very translucent brown with below average carbonation and a fluffy head that leaves decent lacing

S - as compared to other it has a fairly vegetable earthiness matched with the yeast and hint of dark frutis that come with the style.

T/M - sweet brown sugar like front followed by a roasted carrot flavor. Finished with a hint of alcohol (which is scary that it isn't more prominent). Medium full body with a smooth feel.

D - not bad.

Oh yeah and the cork damn near took my head off shooting out of the bottle.

 519 characters

Photo of LeRose
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This bottle was a gift in December 2012. Poured into a tulip.

Appearance - murky brown/reddish color. Nice fluffy white foam on top that persisted.

Smell - immediate hit of alcohol which shouldn't be a surprise. Dark fruit - fig and data aromas. Lightly spice notes on the nose - clove, cinnamon. Very toasty. The aroma set the expectation that this was going to be very sweet. Bready and malty.

Taste - yeasty, bready, and malty. The alcohol was not as noticeable on the taste. Heavy on the fruit notes - plum/fig/date maybe a hint of sweet cherry. Not nearly as sweet as I expected. I thought the spice components were very laid back and complimented the beer rather than dominating it - wonder if this is age related? Thought the balance was great - not a cloying, overly-spiced holiday brew.

On the tongue, kind of a medium body, pretty smooth. Where did the 10% ABV go? Carbonation was high, but not overly fizzy.

Overall I think this is an excellent beer and if memory serves, it is somewhat of a bargain in terms of price. Obviously a year in waiting did not hurt it any. I would not hesitate to pick up leftover bottles and let them stay with me until next Christmas. Good stuff.

 1,192 characters

Photo of ryrust5301
3.76/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a caged and corked 750ml. bottle into my St. Bernardus Goblet. Nice touch throwing a santa hat on the monk with snow falling in the background.

Appearance - This one poured extremely well. Color is a hefty dark brown almost chocolate color. Massive head crowned this one. Two fingers in size of tan, puffy, chunkiness. After the head calms down a blanket of clumpy white bubbles coats the top.

Smell - Very thick with an alcohol bite. Same as the regular Abt 12 with rich dark fruits, raisin, and a sweet mollasses coating. Dark fruits win out, but there's a spiciness there also.

Taste & Mouthfeel - This one definitely has a nice thick body to it. Lite carbonation keeps the body in check and pulls it back a little bit. Sweet dark fruits like plums, and raisins with a spicy bite in the back give this brew a nice round complexity. Thick bready malts coat the throat for awhile on the aftertaste.

Drinkability - I prefer the Abt 12, but this is one I can look forward to trying again come Christmas time. Would make a heavenly sipper on Christmas eve or night, shared with the family celebrating the holidays.

 1,128 characters

Photo of HoppyBastard
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a corked bottle 1 pint 9.4 ounce into a Shaker pint glass.

APPEARANCE: pours a clear dark brown color with two-finger tan head after a careful pour, excellent retention, highly carbonated, significant lacing on the glass.

SMELL: sweet malt, pears, bread, faint spice maybe Nutmeg?

TASTE: the taste follows the nose, initially sweet then bread and pears with faint spice taste of cinnamon and a little Belgian funk, the 10% alcohol is noticeable but well disguised.

PALATE: this is a sticky beer with higher carbonation.

OVERALL: this is an excellent beer, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The higher alcohol content would prevent me from having it often but it's great to have on a special occasion like Christmas. This beer would most certainly appeal to anyone who enjoys the Belgian Quad style.

 813 characters

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