St. Bernardus Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
705 Reviews
St. Bernardus Christmas AleSt. Bernardus Christmas Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Belgium
sintbernardus.be

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
705
Ratings:
2,185
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
9.31%
 
 
Wants:
185
Gots:
443
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 705 | Ratings: 2,185
Photo of ryan1788a5
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a Chimay goblet.

A: Pours a dark reddish brown with a moderate haze. Persistent fine-bubbled tan head appears creamy and pillowy and holds fast at a height of a half-inch. A single thin, delicate ring of lacing remains.

S: Powdery chocolate, touch of molasses, bread crust, dried figs, plums, and sweet cherries. Spicy Belgian yeast scents of black pepper and clove.

T: Fruity tastes of cherry, plum, and wild berries open. Clove and yeasty spices pick up shortly thereafter with flavors of cinnamon and black pepper. The alcohol has a spicy, peppery kick of its own that is even a bit reminiscent of chili peppers in that there is a bit of a burn in the swallow. Estery and fruity again with a bit of grape skin. Brown bread and black cocoa powder, a little wood, and even some leathery notes. Hazelnut. Very dry overall. Slight herbal hop bitterness toward the end. Finishes with a dry powdery cocoa and crust malt character and lots of yeasty spice.

M: Full and a bit thick with a slight chewy feel. Very high level of aggressive carbonation.

O: This beer hits harder than the rest of the St. Bernardus line. It treats the palate a little more roughly, and the alcohol presence is not as well hidden. That's not a bad thing for a big winter beer though. I really enjoyed this Christmas offering. It has all the complexity one could want, and it retains that distinct St. Bernardus 'house' taste. An excellent fireside sipper for sure.

 1,469 characters

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

A - Poured a dark brown color with a tan head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of dark fruit and Christmas spices

T - Follows the nose mostly dark fruit of plums with good spices

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

D - This is an excelent Christmas beer with an excelent taste definitly worth trying

 329 characters

Photo of Darkmagus82
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a 10 oz chalice glass

Appearance – The beer was served a deep mahogany colored brew with a decent haze and a thick one finger head. The head faded holds on for some time, eventually fading to give a decent level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma was heaviest of dark fruit aromas of plum, raisin and some fig. Mixed with these aromas is a very subtle spice (cinnamon and nutmeg) aroma as well as a yeast aroma and a little bit of banana.

Taste – The taste begins with the dark sweet fruits that were detected in the nose. The raisin and prune character of the taste are soon joined by a yeasty taste as well as a spice flavor. While the spice starts off on the weaker side it soon grows stronger with flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg becoming more potent. Flavors of a banana nature and some bready tastes then come to the tongue. These flavors all mingle together to in the end , with the advent of some alcohol taste, leave a warming fruity spiced taste to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel –The body of the beer is quite creamy with a carbonation level that is rather moderate. The creamy body is fantastic as it baths the tongue in the fruit, bready, and warming alcohol flavors of the brew. The carbonation seems to add just the right excitement to the mouthfeel to complement the spice tastes. Overall rather pleasant.

Overall – Quite tasty of fruit, warming and just the right amount of spice. A delicious winter warmer.

 1,450 characters

Photo of BMMillsy
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%

Corked and caged 750 ml bottle shared with Dad. Pours dark reddish brown, some purple color, creamy one finger white to off white head. Aroma has much more fruit character than the 12, with lots of sweet cherry notes, caramel malts, funky Belgian yeast of course, and candi sugar. Much more muted hop notes here than the 12 as well. Flavor follows the smell closely with big sweet fruit flavors--tastes like the added cherries to this one, but can’t find info on fruit additions--light spice, candi sugar and sweet malts. Very smooth and pleasant. Sweet but not cloying. Medium carbonation and plus body. This was really nice.

 628 characters

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

Poured from a corked and caged 750 bottle into a snifter glass.

A: A medium murky brownish color with a one finger off white head. Minimal glass lacing.

S: Sweet fruits, holiday spices, nutmeg, cinnamon and some yeasty notes.

T: Great fruity flavors with cherry, apple, fig, date, candied fruit (fruitcake), nutmeg, some cinnamon and slight clove. The candy fruit lasts through for the sweetness with some slight musty yeasty flavors. Finish is long and sweet, but not overly so. Very enjoyable.

M: Almost perfect. Medium body, not overly alcoholic, not cloying sweet, just enjoyable.

D: High, unfortunately the 750 went down real easy.

Overall a real nice Christmas Ale that I will surely pick up each year from now on. Not a superstar, but just a really solid enjoyable beer....like I expected anything else from St. Bernardus.

 835 characters

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

Served on-tap at Frisco Grille in Columbia, MD (12/16/09) into a goblet at the appropriate temperature.

A: Pours a chestnut brown with ruby hues and a creamy one finger head. The carbonation is quite lively in this one.

S: Complex yet slightly subdued Belgian aroma containing a fair amount of spice, roasted sweet malt, and an overall Belgian character that is hard to put my finger on.

T: Pleasant Christmas flavors with a nice Belgian kick containing roasted malt, a heap of spice, carob, chocolate, caramel, and toffee surrounding in a marmalade of dark fruits (plum, raisin, prune, and figs). There is a slight chalky characteristic that slightly drag down the flavor.

M: Full-bodied with active carbonation and a pleasant hint of the 10% abv.

D: Drinkability is actually quite good for a higher abv. ale as the flavors play off one another and create a nice spiced ale to be enjoyed around the holidays.

Overall this beer is becoming one of my favorite Christmas Ales and it is another well crafted ale from the brewers of St. Bernardus. Recommended.

 1,064 characters

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

Generously bubbled dark cranberry with orange and gold highlights. The pale toffee colored head was at least four fingers following a gentle pour and doesn't look as though it will melt until New Year's. Thankfully, it's sticky enough to decorate the goblet with fine sheets of lightly stippled lace.

The nose is classic BSDA. It's hard to say for sure, but it smells like the typical yeasty spiciness, not so much added spices. The beer smells like freshly baked pumpernickel covered in dark fruits and ground cloves. Good, but not quite magical.

That's my first impression of the flavor as well, but I have a sneaking suspicion that warming will make this dark ale blossom into something even more delicious. For that to happen, the metallic vibe that has intruded on the first few mouthfuls has to fade. It does... eventually.

I'm surprised at how bitter and dry Christmas Ale is, relatively speaking. It isn't out of line for the style, but it is a little unusual for a holiday beer. The flavor profile is made up of toasted brown bread (with a rye-like earthy spiciness), black tea leaves, figs, anise seed, orange peel, cloves, black pepper and a wee pinch of musky cardamom.

That this Brouwerij St. Bernardus offering would be complex was never in doubt. Warming does, indeed, open up the flavor profile and fills it in with bold strokes of color. Is it enough to earn the next highest flavor score? Tough call, but by mid-bottle, I've decided that it is. The alcohol, although well-masked, adds a bracing power that lovers of big beer should embrace.

The mouthfeel doesn't deliver the usual creamy lushness of a big Belgian ale. It's a little too brightly carbonated and is a trifle thin. It's still more than acceptable, but I was expecting mouthfeel excellence from the merry monks.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale manages to capture the spirit of the season with a spiciness whose origins are a mystery. It probably won't be everyone's cup of ale, but I'm having a great time sipping and savoring. What a wonderful beer to cap off Christmas 2008 in style.

 2,069 characters

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!

 385 characters

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

A - Burgundy brown, with a fluffy tan head that forms a nice bubbly collar.

S - Sweet and tangy fruit, plums cherries, clove and cinnamon, apples.

T - Brown sugar, clove, cinnamon, dark plums, dried figs, apples, candy sugar, cherries, brown spice cake, anise, some light hop and peppery alcohol on back end. The aftertaste leaves glazed plantains on the palate.

M - Moderate carbonation, medium body, light on the tongue.

A perfect Christmas beer! Sweet and spicy upfront and dry and satisfying on the finish.

 518 characters

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

Fairly standard hazy brown colour with some red tint. Moderate tan head with decent head retention.

Bready, caramelised malts with noticeable sweetness. There are some dark fruits as well as classic winter spice.

Rich and fruity. Plenty of banana and stone fruit. Spice cake. Balanced and tasty but still missing that something I find in Rochefort and others.

Medium-full body with moderate carbonation. Good.

A nice beer with plenty of flavour. Balanced with just enough dryness to make it drinkable.

 505 characters

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

I really enjoy this bottle with the cool monk in a Santa hat. I really appreciate this order of monks.

This dark ale came with three fingers of foam with a pretty decent amount of retention. I like the dark coloring to this one.

There is a great smell coming off of this one. You can definitely get a real sour presence. I also smell the dark fruit in there. There isn't much spice in the nose, though.

This is a great sipper by the fire or next to my really hot X-box.

Bernardus makes a great beer, including this one. There is great balance going on. This is an excellent Christmas beer.

 595 characters

Photo of WunderLlama
4.19/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into pint glass

Dark reddish brown , cola like appearance, frothy taupe two finger foam cap

Aroma of dark fruits , roast malts

Taste of dark fruits , alcohol present

Sudsy, , fizzy, feel the alcohol

Good beer

 229 characters

Photo of breadwinner
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Really nice Christmas beer that'll jump up and hit you like a Mac truck in spite of its kind and festive appearance. Some spices, some dark fruit, some fruity/banana-like esters on the nose, along with a sweet bready note + candi sugar. Palate is similar, a touch more phenolic bite alongside enduring sweetness, the yeast really coming through as you go. Body is bubbly and full, as you'd expect. Nice stuff for Christmas festivities -- a beer for sharing.

 457 characters

Photo of joemcgrath27
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

shared with a fellow BA, several months after the holidays
A - impenetrable plumb purple, tall head dissipated very slowly
S - rich dark fruits, sweet burnt sugar and light x-mas cake spices
T - sugar plums dancing in my head, similar to the nose with the addition of herbal hops, yeasty, and phenolic
M - very creamy and full to start, begins to thin out with spices and sweetness that lingers
O - a winter warmer if there ever was one, its not the super spiced up version that some go for, but is more of a strong sweet belgian with a little x-mas cheer baked in, well worth a purchase

 587 characters

Photo of metter98
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is very dark amber in color and poured with a two finger high creamy beige head that slowly died down but left a thin layer of bubbles consistently covering the surface.
S: The nose has aromas of malty sweetness and notes of dark fruits.
T: Like the smell, the taste is rather malty but has a mild amount of sweetness with notes of dark fruits and hints of yeast. The sweetness becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
M: It feels medium-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a high amount of carbonation.
D: The beer is very easy to drink considering its strength because the alcohol is well hidden.

 614 characters

Photo of BB1313
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a tulip. Pours a deep brown with not much light getting through; huge fluffy off-white head that sticks around and leaves awesome lacing and retention. The aromas are full of dark fruits and sweet malts. Lots of raisins and plums. Dark cherries too. Some dates in the mix. Candied sugar aromas are there. Of course there's some yeast. The flavors really match the nose. Tons of sweet fruits. Hints of bubblegum and banana too. More plums. Lots of sweet cherries. Finishes with some holiday spices. There's a subtle earthiness. Woodsy. The flavors are very clean. There's basically no hints of alcohol and just finishes with the slightest warmth. Mouthfeel is wonderful. It's full-bodied with very active carbonation. Very smooth, fluffy, and creamy. This makes a nice sipper with a nice complexity.

This is a great Quad. The craftsmanship is very impressive. This is pretty similar to their Abt 12, in my opinion. There's minor differences, especially the subtle spices. I think I'd give Abt 12 the edge, but I'd have to do a side by side to really tell. Either way, this is a great beer. Recommended.

 1,128 characters

Photo of dar482
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A pretty fun take on the base beer with Christmas fruit cake spices throughout. Along with the dark sweet fruits is a general tone of caramelized banana. A decent mouthfeel with good carbonation to move the beer around.

 219 characters

Photo of mavbrew
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had at Ebenezer's, served in chalice.

A: Pours a dark brown color with amber highlights, typical of the style. There is a slight off-white head.

S: Smells of dark fruits and yeast.

T: The taste is what you would expect from the smell, dark fruits, yeast and malts. Has a bit of a sweet flavor. Finish is smooth.

M: Medium bodied with light carbonation.

D: There is a slight taste of alcohol but the 10% is masked pretty well, making it highly drinkable. Very good offering and a must try BSDA.

 498 characters

Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is the first review I've done in quite some time, so why not start with a classic. I've had a lot of Belgian Christmas beers over the years, and this is one of the best. I was lucky to be able to try it on tap, thanks to the guys at #3 Craft Brews here in Cape Coral. The beer is sweeter and less carbonated than the regular 12 (which is one of my absolute favorite beers). A nice seasonal treat, but it would be too sweet for me on a regular basis (in fact, I'm going to have a chocolate chip cookie with it in a little while!).

 534 characters

Photo of eduardolinhalis
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml served in a La Trappe Trappist chalice.

A: Pours a dark amber to brown color with a big creamy fluffy beige head. A bit cloudy. Good retention. A thin layer is always there and many lacings are left

S: Mainly dark fruits and caramel. Plums, dates, figs and raisins. Caramel malts, Belgian yeasts, toffee and alcohol in the end

T: Follows the nose: Dark fruits, toffee, caramel malts and Belgian yeasts. Sweet taste and mild on bitterness, quite bready as a traditional Belgian strong Ale. Alcohol can be also felt in the end

M: Full creamy and molasses body. Medium carbonation. Alcohol in the end

O: Very drinkable and tasty beer. Exactly what you expect from a St. Bernardus beer... An excellent beer! ;)

 717 characters

Photo of dnichols
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I sampled with imacoug (BA member) a caged and corked 750 ml bottle that we poured into chilled chalices.

A: I poured a dark brown body with a moderate tan head that receded to an even cover. The lacing was modest and did not retain as the beer was consumed.

S: It had a bold dark yeasty profile supported by dark toasted and sweet malts and a spicy rich hoppy presence that was reminicent of nutmeg, cinniman, and all-spice.

T: Each sip presents a front of strong yeast and toasted malts. The dark chocolate is followed by spices that are reminiscent of hot chocolate spiced with marshmallows, cinnamon and nutmeg.

M: It was full bodied with a creamy richness of the yeast and malts hid well the high ABV however, there was a lingering sour aftertaste that detracted from the experience.

D: The full body creamy richness and the well crafted and balanced spices makes this a wonderful winter brew. However, the high ABV and lingering sourness off set its qualities and make this a one bottle a night brew for me (but a fine bottle it is).

Mouthfeel – This is not quite full-bodied but it is big. The carbonation is strong and fluffy, tickling the inside cheeks like a good BSDA should.

Drinkability – This is a terrific addition to the St Bernie inventory. It's a wonderful wintertime specialty ale.

 1,312 characters

Photo of amiles
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Caged 750 with a loud pop upon opening, poured heavy into a St. Bernardus glass. Massive tan head that slowly dissipates to a pillow cover. Very large bubbles. Color is murky brown... typical, but nice. Leaves icicle like lacing around the sides. Even though the bottle suggests drinking this a bit cold for the style, I'd really recommend letting this one warm up a bit. I was SLIGHTLY disappointed when I first cracked this one,but now with a little more than a half left in the bottle, at a warmer temp... This is a fantastic beer. Glad I bought a few bottles! Nice addition the Bernardus line-up.

 600 characters

Photo of ianjsullivan
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ST: 750 poured into a Tulip glass

A: A nice, thick, yellow, brown foam sits on top of a chestnut brown with hints of red. It is cloudy when held to the light. The head leaves some lacing.

S: Yeast, clove, and raisin dominate.

T: Fruity and sweet, it has slight bread upfront, some clove, and then raisins. The finish is dry and has a bit of plum, some mild alcohol, and spice. This is a very balanced beer; it is hard to believe it has 10 perfect alcohol.

M: Creamy and medium bodied.

D: Since it is smooth, and the finish is dry, the beer is balanced.

Overall: What a beer. It has lots of complex flavors, but, more importantly, it has restraint. Like any good Belgian beer, it has elegance. At 10 percent, it puts some warmth in your cheeks. It is without a doubt a great beer for the season.

 804 characters

Photo of plfahey
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750mL corked bottle into a tulip glass

Appearance-Reddish-brown in color, with ruby highlights. Somewhat hazy. Giant, light tan, rocky foam head leaving behind belgian lace.

Smell-Big aroma of dark/dried fruit (Plums, Raisins, Prunes, Figs), and a hint of green apples. Some bready malt, not really any hops. Light molasses, with spice hints including cinnamon and cloves. Some sweet dark candi sugar is blended with a whiff of alcohol in the finish.

Taste-The flavor is less complex and varied than the aroma. Less sweet than aroma indicates, Some malt and dark fruits (prunes and figs), which dries quickly to a smooth alcohol flavor with a hint of anise/dark candi sugar. Hop bitterness is very low, and hop flavor is negligible.

Mouthfeel-Medium body, enhanced by high carbonation. Rich, warming alcohol, and quite smooth.

My only complaint is the flavor, which is a little bit 1-dimensional compared with the other aspects of the beer. Nonetheless, it's still very good, and would definitely fit the bill as a winter warmer. Belgians often do a good job at making the alcohol in these high ABV beers sneaky-this one is no exception.

 1,157 characters

Photo of wedge
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased in 2009

Pours a dark plum color under a fluffy, light tan head that settles to a creamy ring. Smells of dark, fruity bread...rich berry and fig, caramelized sugar, faint vanilla bean, and warm spices. Juicy dark fruity flavor...more yeastiness than the nose. A rich maltiness lurks beneath the fruit (and a solid helping of booze). Cocoa, pepper, and xmas spices. Wait for it to warm up a little to bring out the best qualities. Slick, plush mouthfeel - warming and lightly bitter. Once this warmed to slightly cooler than room temperature, everything seemed to come together to form a delightful holiday beer.

 621 characters

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,185 ratings.
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