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:
2,181
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
9.31%
 
 
Wants:
185
Gots:
447
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 703 | Ratings: 2,181
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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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 opieo
4.01/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 4

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

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Photo of 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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St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,181 ratings.
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