St. Bernardus Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

706 Reviews
St. Bernardus Christmas AleSt. Bernardus Christmas Ale

Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Style: Quadrupel (Quad)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by seaoflament on 10-23-2007

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Reviews: 706 | Ratings: 2,187
Photo of StJamesGate
4.09/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bright cherry-mahogany with loose moussy beige foam. 4.25
Glace cherries, birch beer, and brandy butter. 4
Rum cake, prunes, slight cloves, dried red berries, vanilla extract, marshmallow and Canada mints. 4
Numbing Dentyne linger.
Medium, creamy, slight heat. 4.25

Puts the Christmas in Christmas - the bubblegum side of Belgian yeast rather than a bunch of pepper, and red more than dark fruit from the malts. A bit hot but the body is right there and fizz is right to keep it from cloying. A slow burn, which is on target for the season. Kaiser Blau's gum-snapping kid sister. 4.25

*from notes

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Photo of JamFuel
4.22/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a reddish brown. with a creamy head. Like most Belgian beers, not a looker.

Deep smell, plums, raisins, brown sugar and nutmeg are the big notes.

Very complex taste, as a quad should be. Dried fruit, raisins, cocoa, molasses and figs all duke it out on the palate. Some nutmeg at the back. Taste stays in your mouth for a long time.

Medium bodied, soft and smooth.

Really nice quad. I prefer the regular Bernardus, but this is a deep and rewarding beer.

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Photo of flyingpig
3.52/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

330ml bottle from Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer, Glasgow (£5.00):
Interesting & drinkable but disappointing when compared to the previous St. Bernardus offerings & definitely lacking something. Opening a lot weaker than expected with a light, sweet taste, it didn't seem like a 10% beer. There was good carbonation & the darker fruits were nice but they seemed fleeting & not strong enough. It was a relatively easy beer to drink though with a subtle tang & okay balance but it was a little underwhelming & easily my least favourite St. Bernardus beer thus far.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV "St. Bernardus Christmas Ale"
750 ml brown glass bottle, corked & caged
$11.99 @ Total Wine & More, Cherry Hill, NJ

Each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas I gather together a few beers that complete the season for me. Amongst the Belgians, The Abbaye Cistercienne Paix-Dieu, Chimay Grande Reserve, and St. Bernardus Christmas Ale are all must haves.

It pours a fairly clear mahogany brown body before you disturb the yeast, and the head is a pillowy tan that later settles to become denser. The head retention and lacing are very good.

The nose expresses yeasty fruitiness and soft phenolics, as well as some additional soft spice and some lightly sugary malt.

Although it's labeled as a Christmas ale it's not spiced like so many American examples that generally include cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and so forth; and which are generally over-done. The spicing here is more subtle. It's more minty, and cola-like, with notes of licorice and molasses which work well with the rich, sugary malts - it is a quadrupel! You might find some brown sugar, caramel, or even marzipan. But it's also fruity, displaying some dark skinned fruits as well as some underlying apricot and apple. The alcohol has a presence to it, but it doesn't step forward, even in the finish. It's superbly balanced, and finishes mainly dry with lingering spice and a drop of browned sugar.

The body is medium-full with a very fine bubbled effervescent carbonation that lends a little zest before warming to become creamy-smooth.

Overall it's a fairly malty and strong beer that doesn't really come across that way, and at 10% ABV it's dangerously drinkable.

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

Dark brown with two fingers of light tan head that lasts about ten minute. Sheets of fine bubble lace.
Smell is sweet pleasant plum fruit with some fruitcake type scents.
Taste is rich roasted malts with molasses plums toffee some nut like flavors.
Mouthfeel is medium with big carbonation. Finish slightly dry and bitter sweet.
Warmth from the alcohol but very little in the taste. Overall a really fine special occasion beer.

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Photo of abrown13470
4.14/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is my first BA post now that I'm starting to learn how to dissect beer so bear with me. Consumed in a snifter glass.

Appearance - very dark brown/red with 2 fingers of light brown red.
Nose - dark fruit, somewhat phenolic, caramel (?) with slight booziness
Taste - spicy, caramel
Mouthfeel - medium high carbonation. Full bodied. Slightly dry finish
Overall - great beer. I'd be curious to try a cellared bottle.

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Photo of Brewxer
4.8/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

So good that I'd also drink this on New Years Day, at Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween, every long weekend in the summer, sick days from work, etc. Amazing.

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Photo of gr8ful
4.93/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours dark brown from 22 oz bottle. Nice creamy 1/4 inch head. Quickly dissipated. Toasty , bready aroma...smells like roasted malts but not in overpowering way. Tastes like it smells. Warm , carbonated mouthfeel. You can taste the alcohol but it is not too much in the taste. Really good ale. My only slightly complaint is that I can't figure out why this is a "Christmas" ale other than it is fairly high alcohol and tastes as if would be nice to sip by the fire (if it wasn't 77 degrees here in DFW today

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Photo of Jacobob10
4.39/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle.

Deep brown color with a creamy tan head. From the first whiff of the aroma, I was enamored with this beer. Banana, fig, toasted bread, chocolate, licorice, cinnamon. Wonderfully complex from the strong, yet balanced, malt and yeast. Medium-full bodied, creamy, and just overall delicious.

Given my love for Abt 12, I can't believe it took me this long to try the Christmas Ale but it was worth the wait. A fantastic beer that I will be purchasing every Christmas from now on.

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3.99/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I was so excited to pop this fresh 2016 bottle of the #2 ranked blind taste test Holiday Brew by Paste..
This was fresh as could be as the foamy head and huge lacing clearly showed me and had to slow my pour .
I love strong dark Belgians and though I thouroghly enjoyed the 22 oz bomber, well I guess my expectations were too great .
As it warmed in the glass the smell and flavors began to grow stronger and stronger and the second half of the bottle was better than the first half ;)

I kept closing my eyes and tried to pretend that it was a blind test , but I truly couldn't taste much difference than just a darker version of a four year old Carolus Gouden van de Keizer except for some spicy notes .

I also would like to add that if given the choice I would choose St Bernardus abt 12 over this beer probably 6 or 7 days of the week.

Overall I still rated it pretty high as it's a quality Belgian brew, but next up will be a bottle of Scaldis Belgian Noel .. maybe not fair as the Scaldis has a year of age and was ranked #1 in the same blind test , plus 50% higher in cost .


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Photo of KBodner
4.53/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

One of my favorites of the Christmas Ales.
(L) Pours a red/brown with a good frothy tan head & slightly cloudy.
(S) Fruit, malt and a slight alcohol aroma.
(T) Dark fruit flavor with coca & malt
(F) Medium body and a little creamy but very effervescent too.
(O) Such a good balance, at even though it's 10% you might not know it, but it really brings a Holiday taste

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Photo of constantine_272
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown that fizzed up like cola. Head disappeared quick leaving just a thin off white foam ring. The smell is primarily leather, wet fresh oak and red bark chips and clay soil. Fabulous earthy taste. It comes on strong with rich brown leather, soil and meaty portabella. Oak and dark brown sugar with a touch of cocoa build a sweetness in the middle while a tart earthy decomposing banana, strawberry and rhubarb fruitiness finishes and balances the sweetness superbly. While balance is excellent, the body comes up just a little light in the middle and could have used a little more chewy mouth feel.

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Photo of biegaman
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is the epitome of a proper holiday ale: strong, sweet, spicy and it even has an appearance that, on the one hand, is as dark as those long December nights yet, simultaneously, showcases flickering ruby highlights befitting a festival of lights. Even its thin, powdery white head resembles a light dusting of fresh snow!

Love it or hate it, fruitcake is one of those classic Christmas staples. This bouquet is appropriately reminiscent of that infamous dessert, showcasing the same kind of figgy, plummy (mostly dried) fruitiness, sweet spices and sugary, toffee flavours. There's also the token hint of orange peel. It delivers exactly the profile its straightforward name would have you expect.

This review is of a 2015 bottling that's recently celebrated its first birthday. St. Bernardus Christmas Ale - just like the Abt 12 - benefits from (if not needs) a little extra time. The bubbles tone down and the flavours become richer, more integrated. Monks are known for their patience and, as tonight's sample shows, this one certainly rewards those who wait.

Each sip is a wealth of wholesome, gingerbread-like flavour. The maltiness tastes lined with brown sugar or molasses and is enlivened by a cast of baking spices that includes cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and cardamom. There's just the right amount of dried, plummy fruit for my liking. The texture is soft and only lightly sticky, with little interference from booze or bubbles.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale exhibits all that we love about and want during the Season: richness, heartiness, warmth, delicious sweets and holiday spices - and all in a serving size that encourages (or by design necessitates) sharing with others. If you're like me and stash away seasonal treats for Christmases to come, this jolly old fellow in the Santa hat is definitely your guy.

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Photo of shiu-chan
4.14/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle to glass, dark copper brown, thick creamy head with good lacing.
Sweet malt and brown sugar on nose.
Caramel, toasty malt, banana and fig on palate with rich carbonation.
Overall, a great brew with a touch of rum.

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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.57/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

11.2 oz. bottle

Pours dark maroon brownish-red with a dense creamy light khaki colored foam head. Smells like black grapes, raisin, figs, plum, apricot, spice, banana, caramel, molasses, brown sugar, toasted bready malts, apple, pear, with some floral earthy grassy pine. Tastes like black grapes, raisin, figs, plum, apricot, clove-like spice, banana, caramel, molasses, brown sugar, toasted bready malts, apple, pear, with floral earthy grassy pine. Feels medium-full bodied, thick and creamy with moderate low carbonation. Overall a really nice quad.

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Photo of opieo
4.01/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 4

I would love this brew if it was were thicker and creamier. Instead its very carbonated. It immediately foams in your mouth and does not allow you to fully savor the flavors. However, the flavors are complex and tasty. Better when room temp. A great brew.

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Photo of vinicole
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very dark amber. Thin, dense, tan head. Very effervescent.
Rich aroma of stoned and vine fruits. The alcohol is noticeable.
The taste follows with molasses, banana and rum.
Lighter than expected.
The best xmas ale that I have tasted.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

perhaps my favorite holiday beer of the year this year, as good as any out there thats for sure. its funny listening to a bar full of people drinking this beer, "it tastes just like banana bread" they say, but i really didnt get that from this. it does have comforting hearty seasonal bakery thing going on, but i dont get the banana in the least. instead i get a nice caramelized bready grain base, brown sugar, and spicy belgian yeast. if this is in fact a spiced ale and not just presenting that complexion from the yeast, than its a genius blend and dose, because it fits so seamlessly into the beer, soft ginger, clove, and nutmeg in here perhaps, or maybe its just a perfect yeast strain at the perfect temperature. i get subtle vanilla, tobacco, licorice, tea, raisin, dried fig, molasses, even subtle maple, its beautiful and complex, and the mouthfeel is amazing too. no trace of the alcohol, smooth and rich but also not too sweet and extremely well carbonated, this is what you want quads and holidays ales to feel like! sturdy but not too sturdy. there is not a chill in the world that this beer couldnt warm up, perfect for the season, expertly refined, fancy in the glass, and something to share without a doubt. absolutely loved it, great to have it on tap for the first time, and now the bar for holiday beers has been set impossibly high. tons going on here, lots of layers, a cohesive whole, puts me right in the christmas spirit!

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Photo of Radcpa
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aged for six months. Dark brown appearance with one finger head that dedicates quickly. Nice fruity aroma. Very smooth fruity taste without any alcohol taste.

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Photo of jackecks
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Year: 2011, it was a great year. A treat to have it on draft at Porter Beer bar.
Look: Dark brown with a deliciously dense head, which dissipated quickly. Looks like a celebration.
Smell: Smells like raisin bran, sugary and earthy, but pleasant and subtle.
Taste: Definitely a beer made for celebration, with alcohol present in an almost whisky way, with plenty of fruit and raisin bursting from the maltiness.
Feel: nice and creamy, with a bite at the end from the alcohol.
Overall: A classic that ages well. I'm officially in the Christmas spirit.

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Photo of Bruno74200
4.47/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L - Beautiful white head over a brown body

S - spicy (nutmeg, cinnamon) and estery

T - Rumy and vinous with different estery notes, spicy (pepper, and cinnamon mostly), a bit of licorice, grapes, red apple, dates. Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts)

F - Dry mouthfeel with a vivid carbonation

O - A great quadruple and a great Christmas beer. Balanced perfectly

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Photo of MacMalt
4.21/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2016 vintage. Poured into tulip glass. It pours a cola ruby-brown with a buff colored head and lacing that dissipated quickly. It smells of candied plum and raisin, as well as banana, brown sugar, coriander, clove, and a whiff of tobacco. The taste largely follows the nose but there is also some cinnamon and and a hint of peppery hops at the finish. The fruit flavors really come out as the glass warms. It also has a dry finish. This ale features lively carbonation and the 10% ABV gives it a punch. This ale is a holiday classic and I'm glad to have finally tried it. Like It's a Wonderful Life, it will be a regular at my house.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.24/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thoroughly enjoyed from the growler via Eightball Brewing in a snifter.
This FINE Belgian Christmas pours a nice red tinged mahogany with a moderate
head of white foam that subsides to a thick ring, light pool, and subtle lacing.
Nose of candied figs, plum, vanilla, mild cinnamon, mild nutmeg, brown sugars,
and light banana bread notes. Flavors follow the nose with light exceptions with
vanilla and a hint of orange peel awash in brown sugars. Fig and plum notes dance on
the middle of the taste and fade into herbal traces of cinnamon and nutmeg with light
phenol notes from the yeast reminiscent of banana bread mixed with a hint of cherries
and a touch of herbal hops on the rear to keep things lively. Excellent mouth feel; medium
light carbonation is lightly prickly with a warming background and sweet lightly spiced
finish that is lightly dry.

Overall a fantastic brew and one I look forward to each Christmas.


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Photo of Hopfenpeter
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This beer poured a nice golden bronze building a typical belgian plume. The smell reminds of fig, banana and tart. Tasting the beer you will get your typical Belgium tart enriched with christmas flavors which remind of banana nut bread, dark fruit and fig. The feel is again typical Belgium, refreshing bubbly up front and slightly tart and soothing in the back. Overall a masterpiece!

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Photo of tlema1
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: muddy brown, with a bubbly head
S: some fig, some banana
T: some banana, deark fruit and booze
F: very tingly on the tongue, boozy finishing
O: very nice Xmas ale

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St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,187 ratings.
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