Corsendonk Christmas Ale - Brouwerij Corsendonk

Not Rated.
Corsendonk Christmas AleCorsendonk Christmas Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

560 Reviews
THE BROS
98
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 560
Hads: 1,069
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 9.71%
Wants: 73
Gots: 130 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Corsendonk visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: pezoids on 11-22-2001

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (15) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Corsendonk Christmas Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 560 | Hads: 1,069
Photo of biegaman
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer's appearance is most earthy, both for of its crude brown tone as well as the ocher stained head which overlay the beer with a woody and ribbed covering, like the rough outer layer of tree bark. The first pour was significantly clearer and more luminescent than the second, although both concealed a little ruby colouring that was visible only when held directly into the light.

Dipping my nose into the glass for the first time caused my head to swing back; if I were blindfolded I would have thought I was smelling a sherry or cherry brandy. This sucker is more potent than its 8.5% would indicate. The aroma is lush with notes of spiced holiday cake and festering fruits. The brewers claim only coriander is used but I could easily entertain the notion of many other spices. It's temptingly enticing.

The aroma gives off a fair warning: if bold, distinctive, aggressively charismatic beers aren't your thing then stop here. Drink no further. Otherwise, it's a good bet you'll find this beer too much to handle. The taste unravels like an onion, one layer at a time: a holiday cake spiced with brown sugar, cinnamon, coriander and clove; hot oatmeal with clumps of raisin and figs; citrus juice and a bundle of white wine grapes; chestnuts and a shot of brandy...

Layer by layer the taste grows stronger and more distinctive. Many holiday ales smack of figgy pudding and the like, but few (if any, to this extent) contain such a flood of distinguishing flavours. The texture that accompanies them is equally diverse, ranging from brightly citric to spiritedly spiced to dry, malty and bready. In one sip you are entertained by all elements of the beer: a rich maltiness, a tangy spice, a delightfully nuanced yeast.

'Christmas Ales' can belong to any category of beer styles, but if we were to lump them all together as a group I'd say that Corsendonk's would be among the standouts. Part of this is because I find that slightly stronger, heartier, spiced ales tend to be better suited to the holidays but mostly it is because this happens to be one of the more distinctive, flavourful, finely crafted ales I've had in Christmases past, present (and very likely) future. (2,187 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.07/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer has a deep mahogany-brown body that glows when held to the light. The head is a thick cream off-white that last and last. It has a gentle carbonation of tiny bubbles to keep the head going.

S- The smell of pale malt is a base for notes of dark cherries, plumes, figs and a note of aromatic spices like ginger with a faint cinnamon. There is a perfume sweetness that ties all the aromas together.

T- There is a sweet lightly toasted malt flavor that has lots of nice complexity. Notes of pears and plums compliment the malt with a spicy hint of pepper at the finish. A faint note of apple with the carbonic bite at the finish has a good balance.

M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with a strong fizz in the texture. There is a soft alcohol warmth that enhances the spicy finish.

D- This is a very nice winter beer. The fruit and spice flavors really give more depth to the malt without overpowering the flavors of the typical Dark Ale. Winter was made for beers like these. (1,033 characters)

Photo of jdhilt
4.46/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a two-fingered, thick, light tan head leaving an even lace. Color is a dark, clear amber. Light-medium carbonation. Light malty/hoppy nose. Medium bodied. Starts smooth and malty, finishes with a warming touch. Excellent Christmas ale. $7.50 for a 750ml bottle. (267 characters)

Photo of akorsak
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 330 mL bottle.

A: The ale is a dark ruddy brown color, opaque through and through. At the narrower spots of my mug, brighter dark colors emerge. A huge head, 3+ fingers, threatened to overflow and make a mess. Splotchy lace followed.

S: The nose is thick with a sweet yeast strain followed by dark fruits, candi sugar and spices. Green apples and plums mix nicely with the candi sugars.

T: Dark and delicious. The ale isn't shy about its depth. Candi sugars, darkly sweet, lead off with fruits following in short order. Moderate spices add to the warmth of the ale, cinnamon and clove primarily. The carbonation that was so huge in the pour has disappeared, leaving the full flavors to linger on the palate.

M: The mouthfeel is rich, Belgium at its best. The candi sugars are sweet and never drop off.

D: The ale is big, not one that I'd want to drink from a 750 mL bottle. The fullness of the flavors is excellent, rich and satisfying. (943 characters)

Photo of Wasatch
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Best By: 18/09/08

Been holding on to this one for about a year.

Poured into a Delirium tulip a nice dark mahongy color, nice carbonation, nice two-finger foamy tan head, lots and lots of nice sticky lacing follows. The nose is malty, yeasty, nice touch of figs, raisins, and plums, also some caramel notes. The taste is slightly sweet, malty, nice dark fruits/caramel. The alcohol is hidden very well. Medium body. Very drinkable, this is my first Corsendonk and it's very tasty, I do have another brew by them, I'm sure it will be awesome as well. Recommended. (563 characters)

Photo of ppoitras
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from somewhere local.

Poured into a Rapscallion snifter, formed an inch tall foamy tan head. Beer was translucent, but not clear, and of a bright reddish brown hue. Heavy foam lacing prevalent. Aroma is Belgian spicing and malts, with a bit of room left for some fruitiness. Taste is initially sweet malt, quickly enhanced by the spicing, then closing with a dry, slightly warming finish. Mouthfeel is quite creamy, and this brew is quite drinkable for its potency. Happy holidays would brought on by a few of these. (532 characters)

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a dark, hazy reddish amber with a massive light tan head with good retention and great lacing. Aroma of dried and fresh dark fruit, bready malt and an almost minerally spicing. Flavor follows, dominated by dark dried fruit, brown sugar, coriander and oxidation flavors. Finishes semi-dry with dark fruit, spicing and faint hops. Medium bodied. The bottle has a "best before" date of 2015, but serious online research does not reveal how that translates to bottling date. There is noticeable, but pleasant oxidation flavor here, so I'm curious how old the bottle is. A pleasant, but somewhat understated Belgian strong dark ale. (667 characters)

Photo of flagmantho
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 750mL bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: medium brown hue with a moderate haze and two fingers of frothy tan foam. Head has good retention and an attractive, chunky lace is left on the glass. I like it.

Smell: quite sweet with a nice maltiness and a bit of chocolate character. There's also a dusty element I quite like. It's not bursting with fruitiness, yet it is still very good in its own subdued way. Quite good indeed.

Taste: sweet but not overwhelmingly so, with a nice malty character and some subtle flavor of dark fruit -- raisins and dates. This is a very low-key beer, but I like it anyway.

Mouthfeel: medium body but with a huge carbonation and giant, if somewhat evanescent, creaminess. Love it.

Overall: a fantastic beer. It drinks damn easy for 8.5%. I usually like a little more complexity, but this beer's subtlety is its personality. Great. (888 characters)

Photo of Evil_Pidde
3.68/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours burgundy with a massive beautiful off-white creamy head that stays for a really long time before it dissipates leaving lots of lacings.

S: Belgian, yeasty, light perfumed, lots of spices. Sweet malts.

T: Sweet light roasted malt, lots of dark dried fruits. Very belgian. Not as well balanced as I hoped for.

M: The aftertaste is rather long and holds mostly sweetness. The body is full and the carbonation is medium. A warm alcoholic feeling.

D: Not the best Belgian strong dark ale, and not very "christmasy". I'll buy a Trappist one next time. (559 characters)

Photo of Viggo
4.06/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Christmas tasting with biegaman, grub and ThatWineGuy, biegaman busted this one out.

Pours a clear ruby red, some brown hints, very thick off white head forms, leaves tons of lace sheets, settles to a thick layer, very pretty. Smell is apples, spices, caramel, yeast, bread, nice malt layers, spices are done right, nice fruitiness. Taste is yeasty, some spices, bread, caramel, apples, banana, wheat, citrus, oak, lots of fruit, neat! Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium to high carbonation, easy to drink, nice flavours, great Christmas beer. Thanks Jan! (560 characters)

Photo of Bighuge
4.57/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This bottle appears to be the 2002 edition.

This beer is a deep clear ruby color. Just a swirl of a head. Color of brown. Recesses to an edging and a few peninsulas jutting out from the glass side. Lacing is intricate. Wood, cinamon and subtle pine notes make a presence on the nose. Body is about light-medium. Hard to believe this brew is 8.5 a/v. Not a trace of alcohol lingers on my tongue. Cinamon, ginger and nutmeg, oh my. Not sure if I've got all the spices correct, but there is definitely some nicely integrated spicing. Not as over the top as the Anchor "Our Special Ale," which is good in it's own right. Some slight bitterness is noted from the hopping. Maltiness is so subtle and nice. Delicate pine and spruce notes blend in nicely as well. Incredibly drinkable and tasty brew. Beautiful. (807 characters)

Photo of cjgator3
4.16/5  rDev +1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass. Pours a dark plum brown that produces large creamy light tan head. The aroma is light and bready with a slight amount of tartness. It is also a tad floral with some spice and citrus (mainly oranges). The taste is also bready with a good amount of malt flavor followed by a slightly spicy and tart middle that is finished by a pleasant bitterness and slight warming from the alcohol. This beer is very drinkable despite it's hight ABV. Overall, this is a very good Christmas beer from Belgium that is recommended. I will have to revisit this again next year. (596 characters)

Photo of scruffwhor
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- a very clear brown with lots of rubyhighlights throughout. OK bubbling, good head and sparse lacing throughand through. ooks more like an English Brown ale than a Belgian.

Smell- Made me think of fruit cake with a shotof brandy to warm the chest and stomach.

Taste- Starts with wet, figgy malts that subside to darker, carmalized fruits with a touch ofsome roast. Brown sugar apple plumspice to finish.

Mouthfeel-You don't se that much carbonation, bout you can feel it. Balanced and easy to drink, especially for 8.5% abv. (544 characters)

Photo of Haybeerman
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Reddich brown colr. Poured a 3 finger off-white head that slowly condenced to a big dollup. Lacing wahed down the glass in sheets.

S: Dark juicy fruits and spices. White pepper in the end.

T: Figs, raisins, plums and lots of other dark fruits. Sweet candi sugar and lingering spices combine with yeast notes.

M: Medium-to-heavy body. Medium carbonation. Thick and creamy. Alcohol

D: Flavorful and balanced. Really nice beer. (431 characters)

Photo of bark
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The colour is dark brown-red, the beige foam is finger thick and quite light. The liquid is clear.

The smell is very fruity with flavours of brown sugar, aroma hops and candy sugar. There is also a hint of acid candy.

The carbonation is nice - rather soft with small bubbles. Creamy!

The taste is soft yet complex: Lots of sweet notes of brown and candy sugar, dried fruits (apricots?), berries, some hints of yeast and a somewhat sour touch. The aftertaste is filled of pleasant sweet malt and a slowly growing bitterness to accomplish the sweetness. The high alcoholic level surprised me, as the smell and taste didn’t reveal it at all.

This must be an extraordinary after dinner-beer! (701 characters)

Photo of bluejacket74
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle with a best before end date of 9/18/2008. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a brown/ruby color with a half inch off-white head. It smells like citrus, spices, dark fruit, bread, bananas and pears. It tastes very fruity, like dark fruit, pears and bananas, and also like pepper, cloves and Belgian yeast. Mouthfeel is medium/full, but a bit over-carbonated to me. Drinkability is OK, it's smooth but the high carbonation cuts down on the drinkability. Overall I think this is a decent beer, but I think it would be better if the carbonation was lower. But even then, I'd still drink it again given the chance. (626 characters)

Photo of glid02
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this on-tap at the Brick Store in Atlanta.

Pours a dark amber with a two-finger tan head. The head sticks around for quite a while before settling into a pancake on top of the beer. Lacing is decent.

Smells of fruits - mostly light but hints of darker ones - along with mild spices and milder yeast smells.

Tastes good. Light fruit flavors up front that segue into darker fruits and very light spices. There's a nice classic Belgian aftertaste - very sweet but not overly so.

Mouthfeel is very good. Good thickness with a grainy carbonation that does it's job very well. Smooth.

Drinkability is good. I finished this very easily and could've had another.

Overall this is a solid Christmas beer that should be in everyone's rotation. (742 characters)

Photo of claspada
3.85/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aromas of fairly mild dark fruit, burnt caramels, candy sugar and sweet malts. Obvious Belgian yeast smells as well.

The taste is very light roast with a bit of mild dark fruits. There is also some light caramel, cocoa and toffee. Flavors of prunes, raisins and dark cherries. At the end, a moderate hop finish showed itself and cleaned the pallet well.

The mouthfeel is on the dry-side, delightfully round with a alert carbonation while some alcohol reveal itself in that of a warming manner. Smooth and very pleasant to the palate. Mild, but not weak, very simple yet balanced. (581 characters)

Photo of Gusler
4.42/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A murky mahogany color on the pour, with a bountiful head that is also frothy in its texture with the residual lace fine sheets to coat the glass. Aroma of raisins, malt and cotton candy sweet, a true pleasure to the nose. Sweetly malt at the front, top is rich and full, and the finish brandy like, pleasantly hopped, pleasing in its acidity and the aftertaste somewhat alcohol bitter with a nice sense of warmth for the tummy on these cold winter nights. (456 characters)

Photo of rudzud
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From notes taken at the Armsby Abbey's yearly Belgian Christmas on 12/15.

*2009 Vintage*

A - Mahogany pour with a nice light head but fades to leave super lacing and deanse clouds.

S - Earthy light funk. Very light on fruit notes as well as some good belgian spices.

T - Dense, deep fruits along with light sugars and sweet malts. This while not sticky, is almost lip smacking good. The spice note really falls in line with the whole Christmas brew.

M - Medium carbonation tickles the tongue. Incredibly nice and light on the mouth.

D - Great mouthfeel and taste and that clumpy head all work together for a very enjoyable strong dark ale. (645 characters)

Photo of avalon07
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Poured from a bomber to a tulip glass. Had a dark brown color with ruby red tints. Cloudy consistency. There was a big, off-white, creamy, long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A fruity, malty, spicy smell. Very aromatic.

T: Tasted of malt, citrus fruits, esters and spices. Remarkably well-balanced with clean lines. Alcohol is barely noticable. An excellent flavor.

M: Lots of carbonation with a very dry finish. Medium- to full-bodied.

D: A drinkable beer if there ever was one. AN extremely well-constructed Belgian Strong Dark Ale that's one of the best I've had in the style. (585 characters)

Photo of ccrida
2.43/5  rDev -41%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Served on draft in a regular Corsendonk cervoise, it was a dark amber in a color with very little head or carbonation, but left behind a nice khaki lace. The aroma was mainly sweet malt and yeast, but fairly mild. The taste was immediately dominated by anise, which gave way to a nice malt backbone and a bit of fig or prune, then a slightly boozy finish. I had trouble getting by the anise, which I'll admit is far from my favorite spice, and not normally so overbearing as to turn me off from the rest of the brew. The mouthfeel was a bit thin for the style, and since I didn't care for the spice used, I didn't find this one to be that drinkable. I should also note that the 8.5% ABV was no less evident then some of the +10% Noels that are much more balanced. I seem to recall liking the Corsendonk Noel last year, so I'm not sure if the recipe has changed, the keg I drank from needed aged, or my palate is finer tuned, but this year it's my least favorite of any holiday beer so far. (989 characters)

Photo of xnicknj
3.91/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at Jon's Bar and Grille - served in tulip

Deep plum, near-purple pour with a thin beige head resting on top. Fades out completely, leaving little lacing or film behind.

Rich and sweet in the nose with candied dark fruits and brown sugar. Dates, raisins and figs, soft alcohol warmth and Belgian yeast.

Malty layers of tasty sweet dark fruit, containing a mix and mash of raisins, dates and figs. Burnt sugar and Belgian yeast resting on top of a thick backbone with toasted warmth. Rich and robust, finishing a bit hot and sweet.

Fuller medium body, decent carbonation, sticky and a bit heavy on the tongue. This fits in well with other Belgian Christmas beers I've sampled, and while still sweet, this isn't as cloying as some others (i.e., St. Feuillien). (771 characters)

Photo of DefenCorps
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Best by 26 August 2012, picked up for 75cents a couple of weeks back. From notes.

Clear mahogany with a dense, khaki-colored head with excellent retention, this beer looks very good. There is no lacing, but patches of foam do stick to the side of my glass. The nose is great. Yeasty, this has a spicy, mildly fruity kick with raisins, prunes, molasses, brown sugar and a little bit of stale cinnamon. Sweetness is reserved, I also get a mild tobacco-like aroma. The yeast character is strong, lending a fairly hefty spice presence to the nose.
The palate opens spicy and fruity with a bit of burnt sugar and cola. Again, the prunes and molasses come through, but this isn't a sweet beer. Quite the opposite, this finishes quite dry. The mid-palate really carries the fruit, and coupled with the strong yeast character, it brings to mind an almost tropical fruit-like intensity. As it warms, the malt complexity does grow, getting a mild dark caramel character to go with the prunes and burnt sugar.Dry with an earthy, leathery malt character, the alcohol is very well hidden here. Spicy and yeasty on the finish, this beer is medium-light on the palate with a high level of carbonation, much higher than I care for, REALLY foaming up in my mouth. This does get distracting fairly quickly, and this is this beers only significant flaw. Solid stuff, I would not hesitate to drink this again. (1,390 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.57/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

8.5 oz bottle poured into a Corsendonk Christmas Ale glass.
8.5% ABV, Best before end 07/09/11 printed on back label

A - Poured with care to leave the bottle's undoubtedly thick sediment behind, this beer produces a creamy light tan head that froths up to a sizable stature. Chunky lace delicately blankets the glass like powdery snow on an evergreen. The dark cherry wood beer is still hazy despite the pour but by the beer's lighter toasted oak base carbonation can be seen rushing from a nucleation point, feeding the tall head.

S - Exotic and voluptuous Corsendonk Christmas Ale gushes with dark fruits and sweetness. Caramelized dark candi sugar is reminiscent of warm brown sugar and molasses with a touch of smoke while the earthy yeast nose presents fig, candied date, and a touch of prune juice. Malty and smooth, the nose of this beer is warm and inviting!

T - Not unlike the aroma, Corsendonk Christmas Ale has a powerful fruit aspect that ties the fig, date, and prune into more sweetness than the nose lets on. Brown sugar, dark candi sugar, caramel and toffee overlap a touch faint touch of smoked malt that lingers with the earthy and dry toasted malts before a faint touch of alcohol spice trails off.

M - Corsendonk Christmas Ale starts with a nice smooth feel but succumbs to a blast of heavy carbonation, which I find actually detracts from the flavor of the beer, scrubbing the tongue profusely (though, on the other hand, makes it a prime candidate to pair with dinner). Soothing feeling, this medium-full bodied beer has a delicate warming alcohol finish.

O - Best By date? HA! This precious beer has been sitting in the basement for over 3 years and doesn't show any signs of degradation; instead, expanding on it's fantastic Belgian yeast characteristics wonderfully. Dark fruit and sweet nuances play off the dry, toasted malt for a nearly perfect dark ale that soothes with every sip, warming gently from within. Make this a Christmas staple. I think I'll have to get a large bottle for my celebration! (2,033 characters)

Corsendonk Christmas Ale from Brouwerij Corsendonk
92 out of 100 based on 560 ratings.