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
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 703 | Ratings: 2,182
Photo of StoutElk_92
4.57/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

11.2 oz. bottle

Pours dark maroon brownish-red with a dense creamy light khaki colored foam head. Smells like black grapes, raisin, figs, plum, apricot, spice, banana, caramel, molasses, brown sugar, toasted bready malts, apple, pear, with some floral earthy grassy pine. Tastes like black grapes, raisin, figs, plum, apricot, clove-like spice, banana, caramel, molasses, brown sugar, toasted bready malts, apple, pear, with floral earthy grassy pine. Feels medium-full bodied, thick and creamy with moderate low carbonation. Overall a really nice quad.

 554 characters

Photo of GatorBeerNerd
4.56/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a dark amber brown with a couple finger thick fluffy tan head. The head clings to the side all the way down. This one could be the post card for a tasty looking beer.

S: A very subtle fruity smell along with the characteristic aroma of Belgian yeast mixed in. I like the aroma a lot, but there are a lot in this style that are more inviting.

T: One sip and you know this is a St Bernardus brew. It has the classic yeast taste that is evident in all of their line. There is a fruity taste and hints of brown sugar as well. The alcohol definitely warms in the after taste but it is hidden well in the mouth. There is no alcohol burn at all. In the end I marked this down slightly since the taste isn't very complex, but I really enjoyed this one.

M: For my tastes, this one has the perfect amount of in mouth carbonation as well as an excellent viscosity. Rolling it around in the mouth is almost as enjoyable as each swallow.

D: Even though the warming affect of this one makes you not be able to knock it back as fast as you might want, I still gave it a 5. That is because this one it is the most drinkable of this style I have ever had. For a winter warmer, it is easy to drink.

God bless St Bernardus, they make some fine beers!

 1,245 characters

Photo of stevecee2003
4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have only just seen the St. Bernardus "Christmas Ale", but apparently it has been around for a while. Since 'Bernards is the highest ranked beer I've ever drank (according to Beer Advocate) I simply had to try this Christmas Ale.

APP: Pours dark and murky, but thats not a particularly bad thing. Interestingly, like other reviewers, upon each successive pour the head responds much more favorably. Don't know why, but it is interesting. Dark with mahagony colors.

SM: Like a few others I can smell the rum and mollasses. Plus it is definately spicey in a pumpkin sort of way.

Taste: I can taste how it is a very well made beer. It is special. Up to the standards that I and many others have put upon St. Bernardus. Its just that this taste is not my taste. I prefer IPA's. But certainly I can appreciate this well-crafted flavor. It's all there, cocoa, yeast, and some spice.

Drink/Overall: I'm certainly glad I tried it. Well worth a taste-testing. Certainly a high quality beer. I have had my bottle for this holiday season, and I can see how it might be one-bottle-worthy for each new holiday season.

 1,114 characters

Photo of SlapPalsPodcast
4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A brilliant holiday ale, my favorite, in fact. Rich and complex with tones of delightful spice. Surprisingly easy to drink quickly...though I wouldn't recommend rushing this one.

 178 characters

Photo of Eisen
4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Westmalle goblet: looks like a wonderfully made milk chocolate with whip cream on top. Thick white head followed by a cloudy chocolate. Alcohol warms it enough so that it smells and tastes like hot chocolate. It almost melts. The sugars and hops are perfectly balanced. At 10%, drinkability is fantastic.

 318 characters

Photo of corey0212
4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky chestnut brown, slight reddish highlights when held to light, and an absolutely gigantic foamy beige head, settles extremely slowly and leaves big clumps of lacing on the glass. Lots of spicy dark fruits on the nose, raisin, plum, fig, and big Belgian yeast aromas. Taste follows right along, some belly-warming alcohol, slightly earthy character to the beer as well. Really, I'm having a hard time imagining anything more enjoyable to sip on during a freezing snowy night, with the holidays right around the corner. Absolutely delicious.

 552 characters

Photo of julian89
4.54/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer a long time ago, found a paper record of my review and figured I'd transfer it to BA.
Poured from bottle to snifter.

Appearance: Light opaque brown with a creamy 2 inch head and good retention. Minimal lacing.

Smell: Glorious dark fruit and sweet malt smell. Dominated by all spice, plum, pear, and apricot. Very Christmas like.

Taste: Right off the bat it has that strong Belgian sweetness. Fruit taste is prominent just like the Bernardus Triple. The spices make it a very festive beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium to thick bodied with excellent carbonation.

Drinkability: Great beer and easily drinkable. You can drink this beer pretty much year round. May be a little heavy for summer though.

 709 characters

Photo of DenisKolkin
4.54/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle enjoyed with brother-in-law on Christmas Day. Liked it so much split a bottle with my Mom on boxing day. It's truly a great season to know people who enjoy craft beer as much as you do.

Appearance - Dark brown with two fingers of head when poured into a wine glass. Greta retention and a thin layer of sticky lacing smothered the glass.

Smell - Dark inviting and complex, trace of banana, Christmas baking, candied sugar some dark fruits, plum and cherry. Huge butterscotch aroma upon repeated whiffs.

Taste - Boom! Same as the aroma, like exactly the same. Butterscotch, fruit cake, cherry and plum. Modest alcohol burn. Almost one of those beers where when you take a sip you know but don't really know what you're going to get. Maybe it will taste like cherries and plums? Maybe butterscotch? Amazing.

Mouthfeel - Velvety with perfect carbonation for the body. Simply fantastic.

Overall - What a treat. Great Christmas beer, but I can obviously see this bee delicious at any time, especially in winter. Similar to ABT12, there are resemblances, but this is it's own beer through in through with the butterscotch being the star.

 1,151 characters

Photo of dnarx
4.54/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Was a nice dark orangy-brown with a tan head that left lacing up the side.

S: Smelled of dark fruits and spice

T: Slightly sweet but not overwhelmingly so, nice dark fruit flavors mingling with the spice, like a great bread pudding without the bread.

Mouthfeel was smooth with a good body.

Overall I really enjoyed this beer, I only had one because of the alcohol content and the sweetness, although subtle a little more than I prefer.

 443 characters

Photo of curasowa
4.54/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Hazy, dark red color with two fingers of light tan head that fades very slowly with a thick curtain of lace.

Aroma: Lots of ripe fruit, mostly cherry and raisin over toasted malt. Faint hints of yeast and lemon mix in here and there.

Taste: Full bodied and creamy up front with lots of malt sweetness, along with some sticky, candy-syrup sweetness. A surprising amount of carbonation lightens things up in the middle, where some of the fruit notes show up along with some molasses and that wonderful Belgian yeastiness. A little bit of boozyness on the way out, but otherwise a lingering, slightly bready finish.

The Rest: Fantastic. A terrific Quad with big, bold flavors yet with layers of subtlety.

 716 characters

Photo of impending
4.54/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml into a tulip. Pours a deep garnet, back lite it would make a nice ornament. Dense towering head, nice lacing.

Merry Christmas to my nose, a wonderful Noël scent rich with spices atop a classic strong dark.

The taste is wonderful, try it. This is the Noël of the season plus wonderful in July.
quadish
simply superb
cheers
jd

 335 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.53/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Belgian Strong Dark Ales are very well suited for the holiday season even without the spicy additions common to Christmas deserts. The sweeter, succulent, and savory yeasty spice and fruity esters make for a complex staple layered on the supple malt base... absolutely sublime.

St. Bernardus' Christmas Ale pours with a rusty copper appearance with dark orange highlights and hints of garnet here and there. Mild haze and yeast caused a diffused glow to permiate the glass. A froathy mix of tightly and loosely knit head character shows great staying power and intricate patterns of lace upon the glass. A very solid Belgian look, albeit a touch light in color compared to others of the style.

Yeasy, spicy, fruity, and sweetly settled on the nose. Fruitcake-like aromas give a glimpse into the cherries, apples, figs, grapes, dates, plumbs, and sweetbread notes that set the malty and estery start to the session. Rummy alchols tickle the nose and give a sweet and vinous note to the aroma.

Delicious sweet malts give the impressions of confectioner's sugar, supple malty sweetness, and savory desert breads and coffee cake. Fruity with grapes and raisons, plumbs, and prunes, stone fruits, dehydrated dark fruits, apples and cherries all play into the estery mix as provided by yeast. Yeasty spices also attribute notes of corriander, black peppercorn, cinnamon, and a pleasant citrusy note that might be curaco additions or hop derived. Rum-like and red wine alcohols seem to be the catalyst that brings all the flavors together to give the rounded impression of rum-soaked fruitcake.

Up front sweetness gives the early impression of cloying or heavy sweetness. But the beer seems to evaporate off of the palate, much in the same was as does cotton candy- leaving a powdery dry alcohol warmth and only a memory of sweetness. The beer weighs effortless on the late palate and stomach for a remarkably drinkable session for such strength in both taste and alcohol. Assisted by strong effervescent, the beer lifts off of the tongue with ease.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale does all that world class Belgain Strong Ales are expected to, and with many extraordinary nuances to set it apart from the mere good ones. An absolute delight with each sip as new flavors reveal themselves with each visit to the glass. The descriptor words for this beer are seemingly endless.

 2,370 characters

Photo of confer
4.53/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- What an amazing pour. Makes you wait for a few minutes before you can drink it though. Is a medium brown and a little cloudy, but the highlight is the huge head. (TWSS). It was like ice cream on the top of the beer, so thick and lasting so long.
S-It's got that sweet raisin/prune smell of a good quad.
T-This is nearly liquid perfection. So sweet with a small bit of heat and it seems to evaporate in your mouth.
MO- What a great beer. I'm halfway down my glass and it just keeps tasting better, the foamy head has calmed down but is still thick and creamy. Got this for Christmas from my wife and now want to go out and get some more.

 639 characters

Photo of KBodner
4.53/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

One of my favorites of the Christmas Ales.
(L) Pours a red/brown with a good frothy tan head & slightly cloudy.
(S) Fruit, malt and a slight alcohol aroma.
(T) Dark fruit flavor with coca & malt
(F) Medium body and a little creamy but very effervescent too.
(O) Such a good balance, at even though it's 10% you might not know it, but it really brings a Holiday taste

 368 characters

Photo of pat61
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Poured brilliant chestnut crowned by a persistent, light tan stiff 2” meringue-like foam collar that leaves gothic window lace.
S: Dark dried fruit and fruit cake.
T: Layers of flavor composed of rich malt, dark dried fruit, fig, spice, hints of anise, and fruit cake. There is some lingering carmel with a hint of chocolate especially in the finish and the aftertaste. Moderate bitterness.
F: Medium body, very creamy with above average carbonation.
O: Another classic from a fine brewery.

 499 characters

Photo of 01001111
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Cloudy, warm, caramel amber.

S: Sweet banana bread. Very malty.

T: Much like the smell; sweet, caramel bread flavors with hints of spice, nuttiness, and dark candied fruits.

M: Full bodied and smooth with a bit of zest.

O: Quite an amazing brew. If it weren't for the sweetness I could make this a regular indulgence.

 324 characters

Photo of FleeVT
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into an over sized copa de vino.

A: Pours a dull, syrup mahogany with a heavy haze to it. A creamy white head that leaves beautiful lacework caps her off.

S: Sweet malts and fruits hit you first. Apply cider, raisins and currants pave the way to a backdrop dominated by yeast and a hint of alcohol. You definitely don't expect a 10 percenter based on the nose.

T: Lots of dark fruits and molasses on the palate. The alcohol cuts through that sweetness and brings with it some holiday spices, clove and vanilla. The Belgian yeasts, which in my opinion can be overdone in this style, are perfect.

M: Smooth like velvet, just as the bottle declares. There is definitely carbonation that bites into your tongue, but it works and it's smooth. Medium to heavy bodies that fades in the back as the alcohol warms the mouth.

D: All winter long. Enjoy this slowly and relish.

 886 characters

Photo of asabreed
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Corked and caged bottle into a Brooklyn snifter.

Appearance: Dark hazy amber brown with tons of billowing and lacing, though it settles more quickly and surprisingly than I expected for such a brew. The color's perfect for a Christmas night. Not opaque, but when light hits the dark brown and sometimes-bright amber, it's a sigh to see.

Smell: So much here. Whiffs of candied fruit, molasses, vanilla, cola, raspberry, tobacco, cherry, pepper, marmalade, tropical fruits. The list literally changes every five minutes with temperature changes. I'd love to have a bottle of this ten years from now.

Taste: A beer that makes the air through the nostrils taste better as breathing seems to naturally happen. Big candied fruits and spice, and perfect for Christmas. Licorice, molasses, caramel malts, yeast and fruit esters, tropical fruit, raspberry comes through nicely, vanilla, dates, maybe some figs. Again, age and time and a long time with this beer brings out so much. And it seriously does a lot for the air you breathe, which I love about great Belgians.

Mouthfeel: Hugely bubbly and full and effervescent and tingly and smooth and creamy. Perfection.

Drinkability: A pretty awesome beer, St. Bernardus or not. A lot to admire, which I wasn't surprised about. It's fairly expensive, but certainly worth it, especially for a beyond-great holiday brew to share with friends and family. I can't think of a better one to drink at Christmas really at this point, and I can't believe it's taken me this long to get to it.

 1,531 characters

Photo of Hopdaemon39
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Acme in Rochester. Unfortunately it was not poured into the proper vessel (it was poured into a strange pint type glass). The appearance rating suffered- it pours a deep mahogany with lots of head and good lacing.

Smells very sweet- ALMOST like alcohol but sweeter and with a little spice. Very pleasant.

Tastes rich and malty. It is a very sweet beer with the appropriate spices- maybe a little cinnamon and nutmeg. Also a little taste of yeast.

Mouthfeel is incredible- this is an amazingly refreshing beer for how sweet it is and how alcoholic it is. It is medium to full bodied with light to medium carbonation.

This a definitely a beer worth drinking again and again if you can find it and want to shell out the bucks.

 742 characters

Photo of bditty187
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fairly reddish-coppery in hue with plenty of brown in the mix as well; attractive color (it's not too murky). Massive beige head, some three fingers worth; head retention was respectable. The bubbles, while large, were slow to fade away. A small, soapy cap lasted the entire consumption. Lacing started before I took a sip, I always liked that. Subsequent lacing was spotty, overall and somewhat disappointing. Still the appearance was respectable... aw hell, this is a good looking beer.

The nose is lightly malty, bread dough mixed with raisins and spices. Notes of brown sugar, figs, cola, and some chocolate; I even get a hint of root beer which I really like. The spiciness is quite light, so much so I can't really pull it apart. I can't tell from the bottle if this beer is spiced or if it is the work of the yeast. Maybe both as it is a Christmas beer after all. While the bouquet isn't very potent I really like what it is saying. Subtly complex and very appealing... maybe better than Abt 12! Or not... it is still an appealing nose.

Big flavors on the palate, way more than the nose indicated. Ripe fruits mixed with alcohol notes, spices (nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and allspice, coriander... to name a few) laced with caramel, molasses, and cookie dough. Pears, apples, figs, raisins, dates and a hint of something tropical... maybe cherries too (I love the fruitiness of this beer). Tongue coating maltiness, lots of caramel and dough with a kiss of chocolate which translates well into the aftertaste. I am totally impressed with the palate. I really like it, there is great depth without being overwhelming. I like the range of flavors... spicy and fruity (both dark and orchard), malty with just a kiss of booziness. This beer is hitting the spot with me... perfectly. I don't know if this beer is as great as I think but so what. I love it.

Medium in body, both light on the tongue and yet filling enough. Airy but amble... none of this makes sense on paper (computer screen) but it works like this on my palate. Moderate carbonation; I think the mouthfeel works very well with this beer. Did I mention the great aftertaste?

Damn drinkable. After tasting this I am even more pissed that I was not able to get this into Nebraska this winter. Next year, for sure! This beer really hit the spot with me. Honestly, this might be my favorite St. Bernardus beer. Damn, damn tasty. Thanks Bill!

 2,410 characters

Photo of Gregaroo
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Update:
11-30-16 - on tap at Monk's. So good. Had a few.
12-3-15 - On tap at Monk's in Philly. Served in a short teardrop glass. Just the best ad I'm now officially in the holiday spirit! Super dark brown in color. Not too boozy.

 231 characters

Photo of Celt44
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Recommended by a local craft brew store owner - My sincere thanks to him.

Appearance is a light reddish hue - almost looks like brandy or cognac from a distance considering the head disperses fairly quickly.

Smell - Strong Malt and Sweetness up front. Citrus fruits, very slight alcohol. Very appealing

Taste - Malts and cranberries. Hops makes and appearance. Grapefruit bitterness at the end.

Mouthfeel - Beautiful - It's a Belgian!

Overall one of, if not thee best beer I've had that has called itself a "Christmas" beer or ale. Can't wait till next year!

 564 characters

Photo of Wildman23
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Deep mahogany color with ruby highlights.
Smell- Roasted malts, yeasty spice, mulling spice, milk chocolate, roasted nuts, candied figs, and a hint of grape soda...yes, like Welch's grape soda.
Taste- So smooth, a touch of roasty malts and dark candy sugar upfront before the wave of fruity esters roll onto the palate. Candied figs, plums, ripe red grapes and Red Delicious apple go along with a mellow milk chocolate undertone. All this fruity sweetness gets rolled up into a mellow spicy character, with hints of subtle white pepper, all spice and an almost hidden note of anise. So complex, so much going on, but not overdone or too much. a truly delicious Christmas beer.
Mouthfeel- Smooth and supple with a tiny prickle of effervescence and good lacing throughout.
Drinkability- Well, for an intensely sweet, 10% abv Noel beer, this one rolls down the throat and begs for more to follow... I guess that would be outstanding drinkability!
Overall, I am not a huge fan of the Christmas styles, but this one is a one of a kind, not to be missed, outstanding beer!!!

 1,080 characters

Photo of bimish
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured into a goblet. Clear, medium reddish brown color. Thin head disspiates quickly, minimal lacing. Average carbonation.

S - Nice malty aroma, lots of caramel notes. Spicy and fruity aromas also apparent.

T - Beautiful, well-rounded malty flavor. Very little bitterness, but malty flavors offset nicely by complex spicy and citrus flavors.

M - Good carbonation level, nice, medium-bodied mouthfeel.

D - Very drinkable for a couple of bears, but the spicy flavors would wear on your after a few.

 509 characters

Photo of sennin
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a wide nosed wine glass, 2012 edition.

A: Pours a brown/dark auburn color. Apparent lacing throughout the drinking session, sticks quite well to the glass. Cloudy in appearance, foam is an off-white head color. Nothing all that special, but definitely nice to look at.

S: First whiffs gives way to a biscuit like smell. Figs, orange peel, and citrus smells appear after. Very pleasant smelling beer. Prepares you for what is to come quite well.

T: Gets sweeter as it warms, but not cloyingly so. It's actually a perfect balance between sweet and bitter. Very elegant. Alcohol is present but is not overpowering at all. Figs tastes are pleasant much like what you get in the nose, and give way to something of a dark chocolate bitterness with a slightly caramel like backbone. Excellent. Overall, the beer is very malty but it strikes a very good balance as a whole. This is a great tasting beer and only gets better as you drink it.

M: Creamy and slightly bubbly. Once again, there is a perfect balance between the two. It wraps around the tongue and the feeling stays a long time after you sip. It is a very pleasant mouthfeel and definitely one of the best that I have yet tasted.

This is the best Christmas Ale I have had. Everyone should try this beer, it doesn't matter if you like or dislike beer. This is one of those brews that could turn a Miller Lite drinker into a craft beer/Belgian ale lover over night. Get out grab a glass and raise it to the sky.

 1,481 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.

    Subscribe