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Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
93
outstanding
679 Reviews
Christmas AleChristmas Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Belgium | website

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:
679
Ratings:
2,077
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
16.23%
 
 
Wants:
178
Gots:
413
For Trade:
6
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 679 | Ratings: 2,077
Photo of scootny
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A dark cola brown color with a sizable head of off white foam. Good lacing and retention. Aromas of fruitcake and rum. Bananas and toffee. Good Belgian yeast profile and a bit of sweet alcohol. Taste is much the same with a bit of bready malt at the core. Spiced and toasty. Raisins and figs really push forward here and the alcohol while well integrated is apparent in the finish. Finish is dry and earthy with a bit of fusel booze. Some good bittering. A warming and very complex beer here. Feel is thick and rich with a lightly prickly carbonation. Goes down nicely and the flavors develop nicely as it warms. A sipper for sure but you keep sipping often. Yum.

 663 characters

Photo of IronDjinn
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a 750 ml brown caged and corked bottle. A creamy, bubbley tan head crowns a murky, cloudy opaque nut brown body.

Malty and sugary sweet nose, dates, some grape and plum, floral perfume.

Malty flavour up front akin to dark dried fruits, some icing sugar, slick molasses, citrus blossoms, mild spices. Malty and spicy aftertaste.

Light, silky smooth mouthfeel, full and sticky on the finish, amazing for the high octane of this ale.

Deceptively drinkable, plus a great starter ale for the style, it's user-friendly and not intimidating. Perfect for sharing at holiday gatherings as well.

 594 characters

Photo of PaleAlien2
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Deep brown color with a HUGE head. Very murky appearance. Head erupts on this thing like a volcano.

Smell of fruit and alcohol are prevalent in the nose.

Actually surprised, for 10% alcohol this beer is very drinkable. Tastes of biscuits and malt and esthers. No real spices to speak of.

Has a silky smooth mouthfeel. Perfect.

Very good beer.

 348 characters

Photo of Absumaster
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very brown, almost black beer with a fading head. A thin layer of off-white foam on top.

Smell is malty with notes of roast and a fruity Belgian yeast.

Taste is lightly roasted, with a candisugary sweetness. A light bitterness, which is a combination of hop and malt bitterness. The yeast adds a nice fruity, Belgian taste.

 328 characters

Photo of kmo1030
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

pours a dark ruby brown. held up to the light, you can see there are bits and pieces dancing around, i think uncorking aggitated the sediment.
the aroma somewaht subtle, but is malty and darkly fruity. not much of the spicing that is present in the taste is in the aroma, just hints. there is a touch of lemon zest, or something like it, and also berry aromas.
the taste has got a rich malty character thats not too sweet. the same dark fruits come through, grape, berry, fig, a little plum. there is a substantial spice character, mostly cinnamon, but it contains a variety of other complexities, perhaps some clove and nutmeg. it's actually quite peppery too.
the mouthfeel is a medium bodied, with overactive, coarse, clumsy carbonation. i could go for a little more body a more manageable amount of carbonation.
the drinkability is a solid 4. the abv is very well masked, there's no trace other than the slight warming in the throat. it would be even better with body and carbonation adjusted a bit. overall, while not without it's flaws it's a very good winter beer that hits most of the right notes.

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Photo of ISmith87
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - 4 - Dark red/brown mahogany colored beer that has a nice frothy off white head that leaves a nice lumpy lacing.
S - 4 - Dark fruits, plums, cinnamon, spices, belgian yeast, breadiness, bananas.
T - 4.25 - Dark fruits, plums, cherries, cinnamon. Definite belgian yeast with a nice breadiness to it.
M - 4 - Medium mouthfeel. Alc covered completely. Aftertaste is nice fruity cherry banana belgian awesomeness.
O - 4 - Good belgian beer. Nice and fruity. I'd have it again.

 479 characters

Photo of WesWes
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a cloudy brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich, roasted and crystal malt scent along with a fruity yeast aroma. It's warming to the nose with loads of fruity esters. The taste is good as well. It has a solid malt bill of crystal and roasted malts. It's complex with a warm fruity finish. The alcohol is right up front. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine seasonal. It's full flavored and warming; just what I want in the colder months of the year

 585 characters

Photo of Naugros
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

When opening Belgian beers with basket and cork I am wary of overflowing suds, but once in a while one of the more highly carbonated bottles doesn't do that and the gases release from the bottle and leave a fog lying in the neck. As you tilt the glass to pour they all wisp their way out of the bottle into the glass and them up and out. Fascinating...either that or I'm very bored.

Coppery brown, ruddy, close to purple is color with a high standing head that dissipates into a bubbly 1/2" layer, leaving behind clumps of lace on the sides of the glass. The carbonation is very evident as the bubbles climb the sides of the glass, building the chunky head.

Fruity esters rise from the beer and carry with them sourness and sweet maltiness, presenting as tropical fruits and cherries with some dark bread.

Another beer that has the taste falling short of the smell. It's still quite yummy, but I wish more of the esters translated. I was really looking forward to some subtle sourness balancing fruity and malty sweetness. That's sort of here, but the sourness comes through as vinous on the tongue and tropical fruits and cherries give way to the better known dark fruits, namely figs and raisins. Perhaps this is the effect of 10% alcohol coming through on your palate.

The vinous nature of the beer takes over, leaving you salivating as you drink and much of the aftertaste action takes place in the back corners of your mouth. Not bad, but not wonderful either.

So far this one of my favorite winter offerings this year. St. Bernardus rarely disappoints and this is no exception.

 1,589 characters

Photo of taez555
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled 12/31/07, reviewing from notes.

This beer poured an opaque tannish ruby body with a huge white head.

Nose was typical big Belgian. Loads of Belgian years and phenols. There's a sharp potpourri type holiday spice note Dark dry fruits and touches of caramel. There's a strong alcohol burn in every whiff. As it warms the spices really shine through.

Taste is medium to full bodied. Lots of dry tannins. Loads of big dark prunes, plums, dark raisins mixed with soft caramel, milk chocolate and mild espresso beans. There's a very course large bubbled mouth-feel throughout.

Overall a very good beer. It's no anniversary or abt 12, but still... worth every penny for a solid St. Bernardus.

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Photo of DaveBlack
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep brown color with reddish tints. The head is about 1 1/2 fingers, light tan, and has a seemingly infinite retention.

S: Candied fruits, Belgian yeast, alcohol, and sugary malt. Lots of smells going on here, and they all complement one another.

T: Burnt sugar, earthy yeast, a touch of banana, a little bit of a nutmeg hint as well. Herbal hops balance out the end, along with phenols. The alcohol is definitely present, but in a way that plays nicely with the rest of the flavors, bringing a nice, warming sensation to the beer.

M: Creamy, heavy body with a LOT of carbonation.

O: Not a whole lot about this beer says, specifically "Christmas" but there's a lot that says winter. The spices are warm, the alcohol is warm, the beer is thick and sweet and delicious. Honestly, no single part of this beer stands out to me, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

 884 characters

Photo of Beric
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Serving: Bottle into snifter
Served: 1 January 2015

Appearance: Not the prettiest of beers when poured. Pours a deep brown with some musky tints. Due to the ABV, the head quickly collapses into a haphazard ring of moldy looking bubbles. Little to no lacing.

Aroma: Alcohol perceptible in the nose, giving a slight medicinal smell (though this is to be expected given the ABV). Strong notes of plum, date, and raisin.

Taste: Complex notes of dark, sticky fruits and viscus molasses rounded by softer overripe banana esters from the yeast. Marvelously complex and a beer that gets better with time at room temperature, as the banana esters fade slightly and the date note really starts coming through.

Mouthfeel: Medium-high body and minimal carbonation makes this one a sipper.

Overall: A great beer and one I'll definitely buy again. A good way to usher in the new year! Would highly recommend.

 899 characters

Photo of brewskifan55
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Chimay goblet

A: Ice tea amber, opaque. A tan two finger head that lingers. Very thick lacing.

S: Bready malts, cinnamon, nutmeg, dark fruits (dates, plums figs, cherries)

T: Follows nose in holiday style. A great Belgian Quad. Belgian yeast slides down the chimney for a great finish.

M: Medium to heavy with thick, chewy carbonation.

O: A terrific seasonal. Just a shade under the abt 12. Recommended. Great to give as a gift.

 448 characters

Photo of timtim
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

hazy reddish brown w/ tons of bubbles and huge off white head. great belgian lace and great retention. I was surprised by the hop character that was really really present in the nose. i imagine that will mellow out with time, and i am exited to see how this will tate next year. nose was musty, earthy hops, malt, spice (cinnamon, ginger?) dark fruit and booze. taste was dark fruit, roast, spice, hops and hints of booze. in both the nose and the taste, i could detect something new every pass. i think this one needs a little time, but the full body (which seems lighter because of the heavy carbonation) is smooth, and this is another solid solid beer from one of my favorite breweries.

 689 characters

Photo of ColdOneKev
4.09/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Dark ruby body, fluffy huge off-white head fades quickly. Low lacing.
S - Peppery, yeast dominates the nose.
T - Sweet, dark fruits. Pepper, clove. Slight hint of alcohol. Residual sweetness.
M - Medium/thick body. High carbonation. Really moves over the palate, dries out and leaves slight booze burn.
O - I always heard good things and I was certainly not disappointed. Definitely a go-to Christmas from now on.

 418 characters

Photo of Throckmorton
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this review refers to my bottle, but have also had it on tap at two places this season. to my surprise, I PREFER it out of the bottle.

A - deep brown, hints of red. nice cream colored head that lasted awhile.

S - some nut or even toast, along with a sweet aroma like a minced meat pie.

T - wow, nice fruits - currants, plum, prune. Deep and smooth and complex, could hardly notice the alcohol. Nice malt under-pinings. Flavors have good, pleasant staying power, nice after taste.

M - warm, thick.

D - oh yeah.

 515 characters

Photo of Dukeofearl
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle for $11.99 at Hi Time Wine in Costa Mesa, CA. Purchased in December 2007 and tasted in January of the following year.

Pours a deep chocolate brown with a massive St. B. style foamy off-white head. After letting it settle a while (giving me a great chance to smell it), I finally got to try it out.

Aroma is typical of the rich full dark Belgian abbey beers- cocoa and raisins and dates and a hint of spiciness. A little sweet smelling.

Flavor is nice. I just have to use plain words sometimes when describing beer, and for this one, it's nice. Rich creamy mouthfeel surrounds milk chocolate, raisins and figs and perhaps some berries, a bit of grass, and a hint of spices (I am never good at identifying them specifically). Also, a touch of alcohol heat, but generally well hidden.

A good, OK, a very good beer. In my mind, I think I would rather have the plain old "normal" St. Bernardus lineup than this special brew, but that's just me. Recommended.

 970 characters

Photo of BostonHops
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle served in a snifter.

pours a murky chestnut tone while yielding a generous 2"+ beige/tan head. strong retention and patches of lacing evident. nose offers a strong spice presence with other notes of dark fruit, caramel, brown sugar, and belgian yeast.

flavor follows the aroma with strong opening salvo of spices, followed by the malt and caramel / brown sugar elements, then the dark fruits. tasty, relatively complex. medium-plus bodied mouthfeel with some prickly carbonation.

overall, it's a bit reminiscent of (at the risk of being simplistic) a spiced version of the abt 12 - which i would prefer. a very good christmas ale, just nothing overly spectacular.

(originally reviewed: 12-07-2011)

 714 characters

Photo of John_M
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Max's yesterday.

The beer pours a very dark brown amber color with excellent head retention and lacing. On the nose I get some cola and cherry, some sweet ice tea, along with some underlying spice. The flavors on the palate generally replicate the nose, and the beer has a moderately sweet, soft, creamy mouthfeel. Abv. is very well disguised, though one senses that it's up there. Still, this beer is ridiculously easy to drink and my 10 ounce goblet was gone far too quickly.

A very nice beer. Not all that different from the regular abt 12, but quite delicious nonetheless. Don't see any previous reviews of this beer on draft, so I'm assuming this may be the first year for this beer to be released in that format. Good stuff.

 742 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served ontap into its brand named chalice.

Appears a hazed murky brown, obviously some yeast is there in suspension. Aroma is light and primarily malty with some banana aroma from the yeast. Great belgian ale flavors. Some dark fruits, downplayed spice with light touches of allspice and cinnamon. Some citrus is also noted, possibly from the hops. Brown sugar, burnt caramel. A really nice and well rounded belgian ale. Medium to high level of carbonation with a more-ish finish. I really liked this one. St. Bernardus brews some tasty beers.

 544 characters

Photo of Suds
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer is uncorked with a resounding 'pop'. It pours a deep, clear, rich, not-quite-crimson red color. The head is towering, firm, and light tan in hue. Nice, big, malt aromas are front and center. Healthy doses of alcohol, dark fruit, and phenols key to the smell as well. The taste is surprisingly smooth, with a serious fullness for the high carbonation levels. Not quite as dry as I expected. The taste is heavy on the malt and fruit character. All in all, this is a fantastic beer.

 489 characters

Photo of Foxman
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

 1,236 characters

Photo of mltobin
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap over in NY state.

Appearance is deep red-brown, some lacing going on. Its` nose has raisins, yeast, candy, brown sugar and figs. A very robust smelling beer. Taking a sip of this strong dark ale and I taste spices from the winter season such as cinnamon and clove, along with some more dark fruits. MF leans towards full, the alcohol does not really hide. Sip this one and enjoy on a cold winter day.

 415 characters

Photo of allengarvin
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A new Bernardus beer! (At least for Texas). I poured this into a Chimay glass. It has a dark-brown color with excellent head retention, leaving a long lasting layer of creamy foam on top. The nose is sweet, with a lot of dark fruit notes, and a yeasty spiciness overlaying it. The flavor is quite nice. The malt is surprisingly light and not assertive for such a strong beer, adding sweetness but no heaviness. There's a lot of fruitiness, like candied raisins, and a nicely phenolic, almost peppery yeastiness. Quite light bodied for a 10% beer.

Very nice addition to the Bernardus lineup.

 591 characters

Photo of perrymarcus
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle served in a snifter.

pours a murky chestnut tone while yielding a generous 2"+ beige/tan head. strong retention and patches of lacing evident.

nose offers a strong spice presence with other notes of dark fruit, caramel, brown sugar, and belgian yeast.

flavor follows the aroma with strong opening salvo of spices, followed by the malt and caramel / brown sugar elements, then the dark fruits. tasty, relatively complex. medium-plus bodied mouthfeel with some prickly carbonation.

overall, it's a bit reminiscent of (at the risk of being simplistic) a spiced version of the abt 12 - which i would prefer. a very good christmas ale, just nothing overly spectacular.

 680 characters

Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer has been sitting in the fridge at my other house that has been vacant for a year, but I believe that it was close to Christmas that I bought this beer and stuck it there and forgot about it. We are getting it cleaned up, so I pulled this beer out to review. I'm sure that the age hasn't hurt it at all, so let's give it a shot.

Appearance: Typical for St Bernardus, the beer is very well carbonated and I have a 3 finger head that is growing a little bit since the pour. After about 5 minutes the head was fading back into the beer and leaving huge amounts of lace on the glass. The beer is really dark, so I can't comment on the clarity.

Aroma: Through the foam I could get a little bit of sweetness from caramel, some dark fruit like plums, and a little bit of spice that I assume is from the alcohol. As the head fades, you can pick up the sweetness clearer and the yeast is contributing some subtle bread-dough notes.

Taste: The flavor is bold, and a little stronger than I expected from the aroma. There are lots of dark fruit in the aroma with a defined spice from the alcohol. The initial fruitiness seems to fade quickly, but I think that my palate got used to it quickly and I am sure that the ABV helps that. The body is medium with high carbonation, so that it comes across your palate lively and quickly so that you can't swirl too much for fear of it exploding in your mouth. The caramel malts is very well done in this beer, and gives you some sweetness in the beginning that sticks around and actually challenges the alcohol for the finish. There are some hops in the finish, but it is all about the malt and alcohol. As the beer warms up some, there is more spice coming out that I believe may be actual additions, and I am thinking at least some coriander.

Opinion: As is usual with St Bernardus products, I have been really happy with this beer. It is great tasting and has lots of character and is dangerously easy to drink. That said, I think that I like their Abt12 better, just because. This one comes across a bit fruity in the beginning where I don't remember that with the Abt12. I am splitting hairs here. If you haven't tried this beer...try it. I would recommend anything with St Bernardus written on the bottle, and this beer is no exception. I'm glad that I finally tried it.

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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
93 out of 100 based on 679 ratings.
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