Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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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:
2,079
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
16.23%
 
 
Wants:
179
Gots:
416
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 679 | Ratings: 2,079
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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Photo of stephenjmoore
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage

A- Dark amber/chestnut colored body with a bubbly, frothy head.

S- Belgian spices, honey, dried fruit, raisins, hazelnut, cocoa.

T- Belgian spices come through with some honey and hazelnuts. Also get a lot of raisin and possibly some nutmeg.

M- Full bodied, high carbonation.

O- Good Belgian Christmas ale.

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Photo of Ragingbull
4.02/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

I had bought a bottle of this during the holidays in 2007 and upon a recommendation from the local beer guy tried "cellaring" it for a year.
Dark amber in color with reddish tint. Thick frothy head and a little bit volatile. Sweet malty nose with fruity and floral hints. Fruity malt attack with a sweetness like licorice. Very malty. The malt is so strong that it presents as a sweet beer even though it is isn't sweet in a sugar sense. The body is sufficient to carry the 10 percent alcohol which is impressive by itself. Clean finish with lingering malty aftertaste. Some spicy notes and an effervescent type of feel to it.

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Photo of tubeyes
4.02/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A dark dark brown, min head, nice lace.
S lots of strong fruity, dates, whipped cream.
T alcohol upfront, lots of great fruitiness, more of the nose greatness, plums, dark fruit.
M great carbonation and elegant velvety mouthfeel, lots of great fruity aftertaste.
O very enjoyable, had on tap at OSDH Denton on world beard day. Loved it, very warming, although we were sitting in a humid Texas evening, it was still very nice and comforting

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Photo of ssarah
4.02/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Coffee-colored brown, opaque, with thick beige head. Head appears soft and velvety, reminiscent of whipped cream. Head clings to the glass like suds in the bathtub, and lines the upper lip with each sip.

S: Aroma is slightly occluded by the thick head. Subtle aroma of biscuits and toffee malts. Nice balanced smell. Belgian yeast smell noticeable.

T: Roasted malts, caramel, spices create a deliciously balanced strong dark Belgian ale. Faint tart cider flavor. This is a festive Christmas beer that is well balanced and not too sweet like many of its counterparts.

M: Crisp with moderate carbonation. Hint of alcohol at the end of each sip.

O: Has the typical goodness of an authentic dark Belgian beer, with just enough spices to make it festive. I would recommend this beer during the holiday and winter season. Mmm, mmm..!

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Photo of midaszero
4.02/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Hazy dark amber with one finger of white head and okay lacing

S - Malty with floral hop notes. A little faint

T - Taste like Christmas. Nice and malty with some spice mixed in. There are some red grape notes. ABV hidden pretty well

M - Medium thick body with medium carbonation

D - Pretty easy to drink and very enjoyable

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Photo of tillmac62
4.02/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark brown pour with a massive head with excellent lacing that lasts forever. Nose is of dark fruit, raisins and dates, against a malt backbone with a hint of spice. Light medium body and very well carbonated. Alcohol is well hidden with dark fruit and malt flavors. Spice is present, but subdued. Clean finish with a slight alcoholic bitterness. Not as flavorful or smooth as Gouden Carolus Noel, which in my opinion, is the best of the Belgian Christmas ales.

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Photo of Long813
4.01/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage: 2010

A: Dark borwn, almost black body boasting a huge four fingers of off white foamy head. Retention is great through the entire drink leaves amazing lacing.

S: Strongest aroma is the spice. Clove, bernardus yeast. Nice sweet notes of toffee and molasses. Might be crazy but I get some bubble gum in there too.

T: Little weaker than the aromas, all the same characteristics, spice up front mixed with yeast. Sweet candy and sugar notes.

M: Medium bodied with high carbonation. Sweet sticky feeling left in the mouth with some hints of alcohol.

D: Not bad, not bad. I don't think it's amazing, but it is a pleasing brew and I'd probably get it again to age.

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Photo of Jwale73
4.01/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've been waiting to try this beer for a while but got totally shut out last year. 750ml corked and caged bottle served in my St. Bernardus chalice. Be careful opening this one - once I removed the cage the cork fired like a shotgun blast and ricocheted off the ceiling. Pours a deep plum color with a slightly hazy clarity. Head starts off as a fluffy, two inch, cream-colored cloud of foam. As the head recedes into a quarter inch cap, delicate, textured spots and strands of lacing are revealed and exhibit excellent adhesion. This beer looks exquisite in its proper glassware. Nose expresses dark fruits with a slightly vinous character, Belgian yeast and some nutty notes (perhaps hazelnut). Taste follows nose - flavor profile is pretty standard for the style in my opinion; however, there's a trace of ethanol that overshadows things a bit, making it difficult to tease out the subtleties. I also get a little wet cardboard towards the finish, but it dissipates quickly. Mouthfeel is light-medium with a slightly prickly carbonation, as well as a bit of gassiness. Overall, a very solid Belgian Strong Dark; however, perhaps a little young. I would probably sit on this vintage for a couple more years.

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Photo of Floydster
4.01/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml corked and caged bottle purchased from Walnut Liquorette back in January for eleven dollars, split with my friend tonight, poured into my Chimay goblet

A-Dark brown with some auburn highlights, 1 1/4 inch foamy light tan head that stuck around for a real long time, incredible retention and sticky lacing

S-Belgian yeast that is typical in these brews, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, bready malt aromas, wide variety of spices that were not too strong but certainly there, and red apples

T-Started out tasting exactly like the ABT 12 in my opinion, the whole difference was that it was a little breadier instead of being more sugary, the aftertaste had the same sweetness, this one also felt a little thicker and filling in a way, started to taste an array of spices after about fifteen minutes and then could tell this was a Christmas beer, not much fruit in the taste, malt and brown sugar were dominant throughout, nice twist on a classic beer

M-Sweet, spicy, and chewy mouthfeel, medium bodied, lots of carbonation, hence the bottle gushing when I popped the cork, long lasting taste

D-Probably could not have drank this bottle by myself, ten percent alcohol would catch up to me very quickly, smooth though, a little heavy on the stomach because of the sweetness

Similar to St. Bernardus in many ways, this one will probably age beautifully, would drink again, hopefully it is released again next holiday season, recommended

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Photo of Oxymoron
4.01/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Merry Ho ho ho this fat man! Pours a merky brown color with some lighter tan hues throughout. A off white colored head left good retention but limited lacing. Both did not last through the tasting.

The nose has a lot going on. Some lighter malt notes with a light chocolate aroma and a touch of caramel. Some complexity but limiting in a way. A noticeable spice aroma. Some baking spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and a light ginger aroma. Some other spice notes, white pepper and a light pear note on the backend. Yeast is noticeable, and distinct with St Berny beers.

The taste is a bit more one sided to the spices, relative to the nose. The same spices mix in with more of a hint of cloves and cinnamon. The ginger backs off but there is a rose peddle flavor on the back end. The yeast also comes out with more of a light fruity taste. Almost like a fruitcake like taste. The malt is present but is limited with more of a malty taste and hints of coco. Some minor heat and a touch of fusels as well.

The body is closer to moderate but a bit much for a Belgium holiday beer. Some heat from the alcohol. Overall good but very muddled together. Would have liked to see the spice back off and more Belgian characteristics come out.

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

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #47 (Dec 2010):

Sizable head drops down to a latte-like foam; this ale is nearly black in color as well. Candied fruit, plum pudding, hint of broth, burnt sugar and mulling spices scream X-mas to the nose. Carbonation smoothes the palate, silky with a delicate but thick medium body. Malt character is on the dry side for the most part; a smattering of caramel is in the middle. A bit hoppy with a side of phenols, all of which go herbal. Alcohol is pretty tame for 10 percent--it warms but does not rake the taste buds too much. Fruity, spicy and yeasty with hints of dark sugar and some earthy yeast in the drying finish. Super complex, yet still a sipper. This ale is waiting to be thrown at a rich holiday meal.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours brown with a beige head. Lots of extremely small, fine bubbles. The aroma is Belgian yeast as well as dark fruits and candi sugar. The taste pretty much follows the aroma, with lots of caramel malt. The overall flavor is pretty sweet and the alcohol is present and warming. Medium mouthfeel and highly carbonated.

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

While smelling this beer I pick up fruity notes of banana and dark fruits. The carbonation looks quite high with lots of little tiny bubbles. Dark bronze in color. Much more dark fruit comes through in the taste with a bit of chocolate in there. A slight alcohol taste but hidden pretty well for 10% abv. It is very carbonated and has a prickly mouthfeel with a medium heavy body. The carbonation from this beer leaves you quite full. I don't pick out a lot of spices in the beer like I was expecting. I would drink again but would probably not look specifically for it in the store.

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Photo of spacecake9
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opened a bottle from Xmas 2014. Poured into a goblet.
A - Pours a dark brown with a large head that leaves a thick cap and a lot of lacing.
S - Aroma is Belgian yeast, banana and bready,
T - Flavor is a bit sweet, malty and dark fruit.
M - Carbonation is high. Medium mouth feel.
O - This is a tasty Quad.

 310 characters

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

750ml bottle into Waton Tulip.
A: A very foamy head, pours a three finger height and holds throughout. The body is a deep brown hue and has a thick haze and a steady stream of carbonation. The lacing is a thick coat of sticky lace.
S: The aroma is a bit on the lighter side for the style. The note of a Belgian yeasty clove. The note of a tripel on the front and a low level of complexity is found.
T/M: The front shows a note of dark fruits and a bit of a domination of fig. A bold taste that is on the higher end of a medium bodied intensity. The mouthfeel is a clean and crisp taste that is a classic Belgian taste. The finish is a bit on the sweet side, that shows a hint at the abv in this brew.
D: This is a great winter brew that shows classic style notes and a sweet winter warmer. While I would only visit this brew once a season, I would still highly recommend it.

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

Gonna give this one 4's across the board. It's aite, but it takes backseat to the big dog. It reminds Raul of this one time when he dated a twin; I'd look at the doppelgänger, and always wondered...but there has to be a reason why I chose twin #1 over #2.

So, like said ex's sister that I never got a piece of; St. Berny Christmas was a bit less flavorful, slightly less robust, but I'm sure like a romp with sister #2, it was still a good time.

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Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The cork flew out of the top as I was on my last twist of the cage. Thank goodness it only left a small battle scar in TomDecapolis' ceiling...
Appears a hazy dark amber with a soapy head of light tan foam that slowly fades out. Spotty lacing clings to the sides of the glass.
Smell is of raisins, plums, cocoa, anise, nutmeg, caramel, and brown sugar.
Taste echoes the aromas with the trademark Saint Bernie yeast pulling through with a touch of holiday spicing to make it complete.
Mouthfeel is medium full and lingering of raisins, fig newtons, fennel, sweet nougat, caramel, and pine needels.

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

Got this beauty from my nephew Kevin. Dark mahogany-ruby pour with huge three finger head with great retention and lacing. Big herbal, complex nose with hints of black cherries, metal, brown sugar, dark fruits, and tobacco. The taste is complex as well. Lots of black cherries, plums and bananas with a nice herbal backbone with hints of cinnamon, cloves and vanilla and just a touch of chocolate and orange peel. The finish is crisp and dry. The mouthfeel is carbonated, but slightly syrupy. The alcohol is extremely well hidden. It's not as "christmasy" as I had hoped, but still a classic beer from a great brewery. Thanks Kevin!

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