St. Bernardus Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
703 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:
703
Ratings:
2,182
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
9.31%
 
 
Wants:
185
Gots:
447
For Trade:
6
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User Reviews
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Reviews: 703 | Ratings: 2,182
Photo of stumac
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

this brew pours up a red tinted brown color with a nice frothy off white head. great lacing. the nose is red apple, faint candy sugar, sweet malts, caramel, pear. the taste is very sweet, dark cherries, yeast, chewy malts. medium bodied and medium carbo. I like Belgium Holiday Ales because they generally don't have a set taste and they are all different. A solid beer.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Best by 8/3/16.

Pours a murky dark brown with a huge 3 inch foamy beige head that settles to a small cap. Base on the first pour I got mostly foam so I think there may an issue with the carbonation on this one. A latticework of thin rings lines the glass on the drink down. Smell is of bready malt, brown sugar, and some dark fruits. Taste is very much the same with a nice flavor of dark fruits (raisins, plums, etc.) on the finish. Like I suspected based on the pour, this beer has an extremely high level of carbonation with a very crisp and bubbly mouthfeel. Way overcarbonated in my opinion but without any indicators of infection or the like. Overall, this is a good BSDA and a very nice beer to sip on for Christmas night but the mouthfeel brings down my enjoyment of this beer.

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Photo of pants678
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A hazy, deep, opaque amber with a solid beige foam.

Sweet yeast, chocolate, tinge of pine.

Well hopped cherries with a mix of spices and molasses. The finish of gingerbread which gives the sort of Christmas feel. The body, though, is a bread with figs or grapes and brown sugar. Bit too sweet, but the finish counter acts

Surprising I finished in a single sitting. Medium body that hides the 10%.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a goblet for a well carbonated brown body with lasting tan head and bubbly lace. A great yeasty smell along with some sweet caramel malt and minor citric hop bitterness along with orange. Real smooth, a little creamy, medium-bodied with a little bit of oakiness along with minor pepper and spices. Hints of vanilla and chocolate along with caramel give it a balanced sweetness and there is a good fruit base with orange and pear and a little citric notes. Has a dry yet clean finish and the ABV is well hidden. A very enjoyable ale to relax with and sip on.

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Photo of ROMER79
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a typical ale from Sint Bernardus. It is very similar to the Abbot 12 but with a little more of a spice to it. I really do not think that the St. can make a bad beer.

It pours a deep cherry red color with a tan two finger head that has hints of red in it. It clings to the glass all the way through to the bottom until the last drop.

Like I said it is a typical St. B Ale. but it has fruit notes throughout. Figs, spices, cherries, and raisins are all present in this ale for that warm holiday feel.

Great going down the pipes and easy to drink. A little carbonation for the bite with a mix of an alcohol taste. If you let it rest on your palate you will truly respect the flavor in this beer and the message that it sends to your brain when you drink it. It is a great holiday treat and it is very stimulating for relaxing the mind after a long week of work.

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Photo of NilocRellim
4.04/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Pours a clear mahogany colour. Fruity nose with a Belgian yeasty banana aroma, slightly spicy and alcoholic. Sweet and malty but blended, with sticky tree fruits; slightly alcoholic in flavour despite the 10%.

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Photo of BeerDocT
4.04/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many thanks to Minks Beverages on Delk Rd. in ATL for saving me a few bottles of this.

Poured into my old reliable La Trappe goblet, "Le Belgianator."

Appearance 4.0: Poured out a murky, chocolatey brown. Completely opaque, but as the glass lowered, it became translucent. Go figure. Nice 1/2" head slowly faded away to nice foam on top. Decent lacing.

Smell 3.75: Bouquet is very subdued on this brew. The nose became more pronounced as the beer warmed, but still quite subdued. What I do smell is nice: smoked grains, big malt... . Shame there isn't more of it.

Taste 4.25: Front is sweet and spicy, with hints of anise and a slight sourness. Middle is lovely: top of the palate and a perfect blend of sweet and slightly sour with a hint of smokiness and some nice dried dark fruits. Finish is actually somewhat dry...to begin with. Then you are hit with a subdued and wonderfully balanced taste of cloves, cardamon and a very tasty Belgian yeast. Finish is short except in the very top of the palate where you can still detect a certain lovely maltiness for minutes after each lovely gulp.

Mouthfeel 4.0: Mouthfeel definitely enhances the taste of this delicious seasonal.

Overall 4.0: Just an outstanding seasonal brew. Balanced, smooth and dangerously sessionable at its entirely undetectable 9.0%+ ABV, this is a present I want under my tree every year. I know that some purists out there may complain about "Specialty Market" this and that, but if every specialty beer could turn out like this one...wow. All I have to say is, "Vive le marché spécial!!!" Also...why is this not classified as a "Belgian Strong Dark"? Seriously, get it right, folks.

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Photo of cambabeer
4.04/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was good. Very nutmegy and peppery. Very warming with the alcohol and cinnamon. Mild hops, fairly high carbonation, medium body. A good sense of deep fruits and sweetness from that, which gets balanced by the alcohol towards the end.

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Photo of craftaholic
4.04/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Appearance- Pours a muddy deep brown glass with very active streams of carbonation leading up to a frothy head that has great retention. The head has a beige color and the alcohol leaves a thin layer as it walks around the glass.

Nose- The aroma is very thick banana yeast with a slight spice and dark fruit notes. There is some hop presence. Nothing overpowering.

Taste- The banana and clove yeast flavors are very strong in the forefront. Then swoops in a wave of bready malts and brown sugar sweetness. There are dark fruit notes of cherries and raisins but also some light orange and lemon. The spice is what makes this a great christmas ale with a strong clove, cinnamon and even ginger notes running rampant. Lastly the alcohol is definitely there, it attempts to hide among the spice and myriad of flavors but sticks out like a sore thumb.

Mouthfeel- Creamy and rich and aptly carbonated.

Drinkability- A nice sipper for a cold eve because the alcohol doesn't hide too well as the brew warms. Would I be seeking it out at $12-14 a bottle again? No. However it is definitely a good spiced quad.

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Photo of Premo88
4.04/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

25.4 oz. bomber poured into chalice

(25.07.18 printed on cap; best before July 25, 2018)

L: classic Belgian foam pours out of bottle -- couldn't properly pour this brew into anything but a wide-mouthed glass; tan foam is super thick and lasts forever atop an amber brew ... the color is relatively light for a quad, reddish brown, copper, red, nothing black nor mud-brown; clarity is uncanny -- even off the pour, it looks almost 80% clear, and as it sits in the glass for a few minutes, sure enough it clears up to almost German-lager-like proportions ... absolutely beautiful; no sticking or lacing but otherwise a perfect-looking beer

S: grapes, wine, sweet grapes ... copper, metal rust; dark dried fruits, even some dried cranberries in there, but mostly dates and raisins

T: slightly boozy punch of sweet dark fruits, dates mostly, and wine/grapes; a little yeast/grain in the aftertaste

F: fantastic! i'm a sucker for carbonation, so the Belgians are my favorites, and this one delivers. very full and carbonated but just light enough to be very drinkable; possibly too carbonated ... you *do* have to drink through foam often

O: dangerous beer here -- perhaps the lightest, easiest drinking quad I've run across so far in limited experience with the style; it's got plenty of dark-fruit notes, even as dark as raisins, but it's still very accessible and sweet

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Photo of searsclone
4.04/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had to use a corkscrew to get the bottle open, date on bottom of bottle is 19/08/12, reviewed in late January 2011. Poured into 2 New Belgium globe glasses. A ridiculous amount of tan head. Copper golden color with a huge amount of sediment. You can really tell that this one is alive.

Smells like raisins and brown sugar, and as it warms, fruitcake.

Taste of raisins, fruit, burnt sugar, burnt apricots and a vanilla finish. Alcohol is well hidden. As it warms, and I read some of the other reviews, I get a bit of a tobacco finish. Also, something that I can't figure out, maybe smoke or burnt toast?

Mouthfeel is lighter and cleaner than expected.

The 75 cl bottle is perfect size for two people.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the corked, caged 750 ml. bottle. Sampled on December 6, 2013.

It has a brown-ruby red with decent clarity and a fluffy, long-lasting beige head.

Loads of character on the aroma including bready roasted malts, dark fruit, mild spice, Belgian sugar, and a touch of alcohol.

The body falls into the medium range. It starts light but seems to get heavier.

Like the aroma, the taste is alive with toasty malts, dark fruit, molasses, and raisins but it ends with a big lingering hop bite at the finish. Some alcohol burn.

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Photo of BuckSpin
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: v.2007 750ml bottle in a stemmed tulip

Opened with more of a "BANG" than a "POP"! Poured crisp, lively, crackiln' with lots of energy. Deep, lush sweet nose, rich with caramelized malts & fruits like dark cherry, raisin, fig. Belgian yeasts are present as well as spices like coriander dance in the background overtop a faint, yet noticeable, sharpness from lurking alcohol. With some time to bloom it softens & grows a little rounder, fuller, some faint chocolate is present.

The head of a snappin', cracklin', sticky 2 fingers (can't believe I typed "sticky fingers") worth of very loose, dull parchment hued foam fades rather quickly, leaving only a thin blanket with a decent edge ring that is already lacing. Color is classic - deep & ruddy, almost opaque to the naked eye, its actually a hazy cranberry hue, dark, softly radiant with a faint brassiness.

Crisp & lush, it comes out of gate guns blazing with an almost sharp spiciness just edgy with coriander & pepper. Sharply semi-dry, the aridity acts as a buffer for the rich caramelized malts that resonate fruit sweetness from dark cherry, raisin, a little fig. The yeast quality only accentuates the spices & dryness. The hops, playing bass in the background, provide an almost overlooked bitterness, a slight burnt quality, that really grounds the lush caramels, sharp spices & dry, yeasted feel with a soild anchor. These monks sure do know how to keep many balls in the air & balance many different qualities/tastes/mouthfeels so that no one is dominate & all are countered against another.

This is definitely a sipper, both out of respect for its complex taste structure & the well hidden (until the swallow) alcohol. Personally I enjoy a beer that causes me to downshift & relax, so this is fine by me.

It grows drier & crisper on the palate, the malts take on a cracker-like quality, more breadlike. The spice aspect melds with the yeast & dryness, slowly fading but still a combined force to be reckoned with & enjoyed. The alcohol (as mentioned previously) is well hidden but, on the throat, definitely rises up with not so much a whisper but a steady chorus of warmth that steadily & continualy builds in strength until the whole of my cranial orifice from my upper jaw up are warm & alive with a steady, warm glow.

It finishes with a nice, bittersweet adieu, slowly fading off and trading sharp spices & aridity for soft warmth & an constant, burning glow, leaving a surprising clean & sweet aftertaste that echoes of caramel, stone fruits & just a hint of bread, Definitely a sipper for a cold night.

This was a damn nice beer. Not surprisingly it was rather complex yet very well balanced. A great beer that would be perfect to take the chill off any beer lover. That said, I do think this would (as the bottle indicates) benefit from a few years (well, maybe more than a few) of cellaring to round it off and soften those edges. They suggest up to 15 years. Not sure I could wait that long, but I do think a few years would definitely reward the cellarer (cellarer?) with a more robust, full beer.It would take a very, very strong cheese to hold up to this. A great Belgian winter ale, definitely recommenced & strongly suggested as a cellaring candidate....but definitely worth at least one bottle's worth of enjoyment now.

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Photo of obywan59
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a corked and wired 750 ml bottle. Smiling monk in a Santa cap on the label. According to the back label, this is the "youngest descendent" in the St. Bernardus family. This beer is matured for 3 months in tanks before bottle conditioning and will age for up to 15 years.

After the cork popped off like a rifle shot, the beer poured a rather dark translucent brown into my St. Bernadus xtra-large wine glass, with a substantial 2 finger head that recedeed somewhat quickly leaving light lacing and a ring around the edge.

Aroma of tart and dark fruits and a spiciness that seems at first to come from the Belgian yeast. Later though, I caught a couple of whiffs of actual spice.

The taste is wonderfully spicy and sweet, but it also delivers an almost citrusy, grapefruit-like tartness. I caught a bit of bitterness in the middle early on, but later the sweet and the tart flavors dominated.

This beer is very fizzy, but after that sensation dissipates, the mouthfeel is really smooth. There is substantial alcohol burn in the throat. Very warming.

I'm sure the Captain and coke I had with the guys after we got off work contributed, but the 10% ABV DEMANDED that I savor this beer unhurriedly.

Overall, while I would normally prefer a sweeter, less tart brew, this is an excellent offering for sampling on a cold winters night.

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Photo of selecter70
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mmmm...not quite what I was expecting from a "Holiday" (grr..Christmas) Ale. But thanks to Christopher's in Cambridge & St. Bernardus, I can expand my expectations of such! It was lovely to find this gem on draught, served proper, glassware & all. Served up dark & mysterious with a thin, lacey head that soon disappeared, a grape-malt & lavender aroma pervaded, but not tacky or overwhelmingly so. The color showed in the light as a dark purple-brown and an intial alchol nose upon sipping soon opened to a chewy dunkelweiss with grape hints in a Belgian lambic style. Quite a lovely sipping & savoring ale (& quite potent!).

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Photo of BMoney575
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 3-11-11

Pours a very dark and mostly opaque deep red/brown color. Very foamy, with a huge tan head that lasts forever. Very pleasant and interesting.

Smell is pungent booze and Belgian kick, aromas of banana and clove dominate. Not overly complex, but enjoyable.

Taste is just where the smell leads you, flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and banana at the very end. Slightly disappointing in its simplicity, but still tasty.

Mouthfeel is good, thick and creamy, with lots of carbonation to keep it light.

Drinkability is good, the booze is not as pronounced as I expected.

Overall, an interesting beer that's well worth picking up.

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Photo of kels
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up one of these to share with VaTechHopHead. Caged and corked brown bomber.

Pours a toasted brown with seriously brilliant ruby highlights. Slightly opaque with a really nice defined bubbly latte-colored head. Little bits of spotty lace hang around.

Not much aroma at all in this beer. Slight caramelly notes, a little honey and cinnamon, but not much more.

This one has a serious toastiness to it while still being sweetly caramelly. There's a nice cinnamony bite with the spices characteristic of a Christmas ale. There's a little sweet honey, slick feel, slight bite of the alcohol. Dried cherry taste in the background. Decent mouthfeel; slightly creamy and filling.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL corked and caged bottle, with 10.02.16 printed on cage, I assume a best by date, probably 5 years out.

appears a murky dark brown, with thick foamy head that settles into a 1/4" covering of fine tiny bubbles. great lacing.

sweet and spicy herbal aroma. fruity, plum-like notes. taste is not as sweet, but rich and malty. the winter spices are fairly muted. medium body, extremely smooth carbonation. goes down easy.

Definitely one of the finer Christmas beer offerings.

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Photo of taylor714914
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

As a huge fan of the ABT12, I was excited to see this on tap at Always Ron’s in Hagerstown.  A murky brown, the smell is of figs, dates, toffee, and all around fruitcake flavors.  First sip evokes memories of dried fruits and various forms of sugar…brown sugar, honey, turbunado sugar, on and on.  It seems that the sweetness can morph into whatever style of sugar my brain wants.  The dried fruits complement this well.  A rich, thick brew, the mouthfeel is heavy and rich, and a 7 ounce pour was perfect.  A great strong ale for the Christmas time.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL bottle poured into a St. Bernardus chalice

Pours a russet brown with reddish highlights and a chilled haze. A tight, fluffy tan head rose and receded quickly to leave a collar around the edges of the beer. Faint rings of lace left hanging around.

Very broad range of aromas. Cinnamon, dark fruits, molasses, booze, strong belgian yeast, brown sugar, anise, and grassy hops. The yeast kind of dominates, but the spices and dark fruit rise to the occasion and balance it out.

The fruits and spice shine through with a kick ass doughy, yeast flavor that holds real strong. A bit of cocoa powder, molasses, and hops round out the palate.

The carbonation seemed to be a little high. Full bodied. Really coats the mouth and bubbles off.

Drinkability was slightly above par. Nothing hindering. A good version of the style and always nice to
get another St. Bernardus offering in the mix.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

75cl e bottle served in a chalice.

L - hazy brown color with a creamy beige head that left some thick globs of foam around the glass.

S - tart plums, sour purple grapes.

T - tart dark fruits with Belgian yeast finishing tart and dry.

F - medium bodied with a creamy feel.

D - good drinkability.

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Photo of joe1510
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml
$10.99
Binny's Orland

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale pours the darkest red imaginable. If this beer is not directly backlit it borders on black. When backlit there's a mahogany hue with tiny carbonation bubbles rushing to the surface. A one finger beige head formed on the pour that had strong staying power from the massive amount of carbonation. Leaves drink lines after each sip. An excellent looking beer.

Smell is full of candy and spice. Brown sugar, gingerbread cookies, some spicy yeast, cinnamon, and dark bread. This beer really does bring out the smells of Winter and Christmas.

The massive carbonation seems to get in the way of the flavors slightly. It's good without a doubt but the carbonation has things moving far too quickly. All the aromas mentioned above are present in the flavor as well and meld nicely. Flavor is slightly more spicy with hints of pepper.

The carbonation is a little too much. Does give a nice frothy mouthfeel but pushes the flavors through too quickly. Leaves a nice tingle on the back of the tongue.

This beer goes down easily and is definately enjoyable. That said, two goblets in a sitting is enough for me.

Another beer of the highest quality from St. Bernardus. Of course that's to be expected. This beer has some really nice Christmas spicing.

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Photo of Gatch
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012. Says it can be aged up to 15 years. I can't imagine how good this would be after a few years, let alone 10 or 15.

A: Deep, dark brown with shades of ruby red. Big, fluffy, off-white to light brown head that builds and fades quickly leaving behind a fizzy, thin layer of foam on top until the first sip.

S: Mmmm...figs, raisins, dark and sweet malts, ripe plums, dark bread, sugar. Very nice. But as the beer warms, some of this disappears, surprisingly.

T: Crazy amount of carbonation (expected from the huge pop from the cork when opened). Thick, creamy, and full of flavor. Sweet, sugary, roasted malt complemented by dark, poached, sugary fruits.

M: Super carbonated and full of roasted flavor. The flavor is stronger than the body makes you believe. A tad cloying in the finish with some warmth from the alcohol.

O: It's a great beer but doesn't seem to be anything crazy or special. Spot on for the style, though. Spiced enough to make this feel like a holiday ale.

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Photo of seand
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a translucent dark reddish brown, with a huge amount of tan head. The cork was pushing itself out once I got it started, and came out with a pop, but no overflowing. Most of the head disappears pretty quickly, but some clumps retain and leave pretty good sheets of lacing.

S: Rich and deep, with a somewhat subtle rendition of the normal belgian spices. There's also a touch of something almost smoky. Very nicely put together.

T: Complex with very deep flavors, but also manages to feel simple subdued. The finish is there, but the aftertaste doesn't last too long, except for a touch of a smoky scotch note, which is the only indication of the booze content I notice.

M: Medium body, actually surprisingly light towards the finish. Medium but prickly carbonation.

Overall this is quite nice, but you do have to pay attention to it; it's complex, but not a flavor bomb. I can't quite place why, but it does feel like a christmas beer to me, despite not really having any christmas-y spices as far as I can tell.

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Photo of seaoflament
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, corked and caged. Picture of a jolly Monk with a green background, a red stripe in the bottom and red edges and white clunky snow.

From the bottle:
“St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is the youngest descendant in the illustrious family of delicious Abbey Ales brewed by brewery St. Bernardus since 1946. This specialty ale of 10% alc./vol. is characterized by its deep dark color with a creamy, thick head, and a full, almost velvety mouthfeel with a fruity nose.”

Pours a caramel color and settles into a ruby/brown color in the glass. A good dose of foam, about a finger or so. Great retention, there is almost a nice ¼ of an inch pillow of white head and constant bubbles down the center of my Chimay goblet.

Aroma is yeasty and bread-like, dark candied sugar, sweet dark and ripe fruits and caramel, maybe a hint of cinnamon.

Taste is of dark fruits up front with some bread qualities and a slight alcoholic finish.

The beer is very carbonated, maybe a little too much since it stings a bit as it rests on the tongue. I feel that the carbonation imparts a bit on the flavors, it would be a little easier to detect more flavors with less carbonation. Let this one get to room temp. though, it gets a little better and less carbonation sting.

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St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,182 ratings.
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