Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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679 Reviews
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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

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Reviews: 679 | Ratings: 2,080
Photo of jzeilinger
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a dark brown, raisin color with a very thick, creamy, toffee colored head that doesn't go away - very thick, frothy lacing.

S - Belgian spice, banana, bready, yeasty, some chocolate aroma.

T - Raisins, figs, prunes, chocolate, bananas, clove, roasted sweet caramel/toffee malt, some alcohol presence, lingering mild chocolate bitterness.

M - Big full body, viscous, slippery, light carbonation turns to a creamy finish.

O - Outstanding beer.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On Tap at Monk's

A- Christmas ale in the tulip holds a very dark brown hue but is slick looking in the liquid. The head is nice and tight with a cinnamon color to it leaving lines of lace.

S- Loads of sweet malt with a nice spicy under lay which come up more with warming. Also getting a lot of dark fruit of many varieties. Some chocolate and caramel remain at a distance. Belgian yeast with a bunch of warming.

T- This is in my top three for christmas ales, a style im not crazy about, but I always seem to go for this one. It's probably because it does not remind me of christmas offerings that much Chocolate, malt sweetners, Belgian candi yeast, alot of dark fruit especially cherry and plum. Some raisins and a bunch of spices str8 off the rack. Now what make's it so special, well it's the balance of these ingredients, it's level. The spices do not get in the way as many winter beers do, here they dance with the other flavors.

M- Silky, smooth, rich, to die for. Another thing that's great about this offering is the absence of alcohol, it's no where in sight. A big above medium bodied with light but bright carb. This one's a winner, it goes down so, so, so easy. This is not a chore in any way.

D- This is a easy one to drink quick. I could do a whole bottle easily and in fact i will because the way my life's been going recently I need to be drunk more, the 10% helps. Im thinking BSDA with a winter warmer twist. This could be my favorite offering from bernardus, either this or the 12, may have to compare.

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Photo of Liverpool08
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby red with a deliciuos fluffy mocha colored head. Has the sweet malty/funky aroma of a good Abbey ale. The first sip is YUMMY! Malty, smooth, and creamy, with ahint of cinnamon at the end. Each sip is even better than the first. More malty smoothnes with hints of dried fruits and nutmeg. A great ale for Christmas. I will be looking for this one every December!

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Photo of DrJay
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear, coppery red hue with burnt orange edges and a billowing, fluffy cap of beige foam. Great head retention with chunky clumps of foam sticking to the glass at first, then some spotty lacing later. Great aroma - figs and prunes, apple, cinnamon, bready and yeasty, floral hops, bubblegum, pear, and mild medicinal alcohol. Sweet with some warm alcohol up front, dried fruit in the middle, with bread crust towards the end. It finished with a flash of gingerbread and lingering peppery alcohol. Medium to full bodied with very high carbonation. Palate coating with a bit of slickness and warmth. A great winter warmer with pleasing fruity notes. I'm betting this will age gracefully.

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Photo of THORN
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 botle 1 pint 9 Fl. Oz. poured into Duvel snifter.
A: Dark purple red, cannot see through center. Red around the edges with visible CO2 trails on bottom of snifter. Pours 1/2 inch vanilla colored head. Thick sticky lacing left behind around snifter.
S: Sweet toasted malts followed by sweet cherries and ginger. Sight vanilla linger.
T: Dark toasted malts, followed by strong toffee body, Cinnamon and raisins linger into slight alcohol taste.
M: Light on tongue but still syrupy. Slight warming feeling.
D: Very well balanced, slight alcohol is welcome with body that accompanies.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled this at the 2009 Central Coast BA Bacchanal.

Appearance: Light brown in color and very cloudy. A fizzy white head quickly retreats to a mere ring. Light lacing.

Smell: Loads of sweet malt and sour Belgian yeast. Caramel, spice, dark fruit (prunes?), and orange rind.

Taste: Same as the scent, but with added clove and extra spice. Very malty, very tasty.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body, highly carbonated, and pretty dry. Active, malty, and chewy.

Drinkability: Wish I had more of this. The little 4oz. sampler wasn't enough. Really tasty, but I could see this one being very hard to finish on one's own. The carbonation, spice, and body may get to ya.

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Photo of jnn4v
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Brasserie Beck in Washington DC.

A: Mahogany / walnut brown color. Translucent around the edges and generally hazy. No sediment. Moderate cream colored head with very fine texture.

S: Nutmeg, ginger, and other holiday spices are the very first thing I noticed. Also some dried dark fruits like raisins and dates as well as spiced or candied nuts.

T: Good flavor. Spices are the most dominant trait, but they aren't overpowering. Some good mixes of nutty flavors with molasses and brown sugar malts, dates, raisins and prunes.

M: Very good mouthfeel. Good body and texture from the viscosity. Nice, refined carbonation as well.

D: Different than I expected (I'd been hoping for Abt 12 plus spices, and this is more of a brown with spices). However, it definitely grew on me. Very drinkable at refrigerator, cellar or room temperature.

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Photo of gdfan47
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

pours a dark brown with a little bit of head

alot lighter than I thought it would be

it smells like pine and cinnamon and a little root beer

it tastes really good, really smooth not too sweet

its really light and not too carbonated very easy to drink

very fun to drink and I couldnt really taste the alcohol at all

another good beer by st bernardus

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Photo of MDDMD
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-dark brown color with hints of ruby and a nice light tan head with good lacing

S-malt, cinnamon, cloves, raisins and plums, brown sugar

T-malt, dark fruit, brown sugar,cinnamon, cloves, hints of licorice

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth, alcohol very well integrated

O-a delicious Christmas beer to savor during the cold months

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Photo of Vengeance526
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark ruby brown color with a 1 finger tan head that quickly settles and leaves a moderate amount of sticky lacing.

Strong aroma of fruits and spices all around. Noticeable amounts of plum with cinnamon and nutmeg upfront.

Taste strongly mirrors the smell with lots of plum and raisin upfront along with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in the middle and a sweet yeasty finish.

Full bodied with a smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this one plays out very much like the Abt 12 but with a more noticeable spice presence. Very enjoyable and a great Christmas treat.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark in color, in between violet and brown, with a nice head, if short, if a bit overblown with bubbles, and not sticking around...another pour gives higher head, but, it too, dies off with a quickness...

Aroma: sweet and spicy, dark fruits, plus dark rum, mollasses, some brown sugar, maybe, but green hoppy feels as well...ripe, fresh, lovely, good!

Tastin' it: ...cola, cocoa...fierce carbonation....big, fat, outlandish Belgian yeast, the kind that I associate with cookie dough...more carbonic effervescencem and cola feel, mixed with pepper, anise, and other spices ...needs more yeast, though...full mouthfeel, practically inhabits all the rooms of the senses...but doesn't do what the Abbot 12 does, which is my disappointment....I want that and then some, not less than that...
not bad, but too carbonated, very flavorful, and yet not flavorful enough..I expected the Abbot 12 and then some, and I got something less...
a good beverage, warming, alcoholic, spicy, a blast of pepper and malt, and somehow not quite what I expected from St. BErnardus...a bit less, a wee bit....there;s burnished cherries, there's raisins, and dates, and more....

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Photo of KiltedCulinarian
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured a rich dirty brown into goblets, with a spotty dark head; lacing lasted through to the end. Piney smell, and the taste was full of spices. A touch of bitterness showed through, perhaps making it taste even more like Christmas. I poured it chilled initially and wasn't very impressed, but it improved tremendously as it warmed up a bit. Great to have by the fire during the holiday season, and the bottle size makes it nice to share with friends/family.

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Photo of jrenihan
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Unsurprisingly, a very nice beer. Pleasantly sweet without being cloying, and with a bit of a dry finish. A notable fruity flavour, almost apple-like, along with brown sugar, plum and general spice-like flavours, although it doesn't appear that any are used in the beer. Bready with a "yeasty" character. The nose is very fruity and sweet smelling, losing the spicy dryness that is present in the flavour.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark ruby-black with a big finger of frothy dark khaki head. Fades slowly.

S - Sweet dark caramel malts, dark fruits, Belgian yeast, clove, coriander, pepper, other spices, candi sugar, booze.

T - Sweet dark caramel malts, raisin and other dark fruits, Belgian yeast, clove, coriander, pepper, other spices, candi sugars, some booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth with a warming, sweet, and lightly spicy finish.

D - Great balanced Quad. Good mix of yeast and malt flavors.

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Photo of Ville
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.75

So tasty. Enjoyed this on a snowy ski night. Spicy to taste, I really enjoyed this, I wasn't disappointed at all. Best of all, it only cost me $2 at a food mart that sells singles. Best deal ever. I also grabbed a palate wrecker, and a 400 pound monkey.
The Belgians know how to brew. If you can get your hands on this, I recommend it

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Photo of Patrick999
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had a full bottle to myself this Christmas Eve...even though I pulled out all the stops with a St. Bernardus, I couldn't sway anyone from wine. Oh well....a bottle of this all to myself, things could be worse. Served it pretty warm, maybe slightly above cellar temp - wanted to let the full flavor of this baby pull through.

Appearance - While I may not have tasted the thousands of beers many of you have, I've still tasted and reviewed some excellent beers, and I swear I've never seen anything like this. The head was copious, and retention was unparalleled. Lacing? Forget that, more like DRAPES. No lacing, but drapes. I've not seen that before....the head clung to the glass as if glued there. I'd give this a 10 if I could.

Smell - pretty standard for a BSDA. Nothing really distinguished this as a "Christmas Ale" - sniffed blindly, I'd have a hard time distinguishing this from a regular St. Bernardus or a Chimay Blue. Raisins, prunes, currants, alcohol. Don't get me wrong, it smells great - I know I'm drinking a hell of a beer.

Taste, feel, drinkability - Congruent with its aroma, I couldn't really pick out anything "Christmas-y" about this beer. It tasted like a quad. A very good quad. Sweet, but I tasted a fairly muscular hop trying to push its way through the sweet dark fruits and vinous character. Alcohol is assertive, but you won't really view it as a detriment. 10%, yes, but it's manageable....just have it with some hearty food and it'll be great. Smooth and goes down easy - especially with a bold meal. I would expect nothing less from St. Bernardus, and this did not disappoint. Actually a bit more dry in the finish than I expected, suggesting a smoky Merlot.

Did I finish the whole 750 alone? You damn well better believe I did.

12/25 edit - This left me with probably my biggest hangover of the year. I don't know what the deal's not as if I've never had a 750 of strong beer to myself. Be careful with this one.

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Photo of captaincoffee
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml...half price at my local place. Guess they didn't think anyone would want a Xmas ale in Feb, but I figured a St Bernardus quad would have some staying power (if not aging power).
Pours brown with sizable stick head. Great nose. Tons of fruity esters. Good full mouth feel and not particularly hot for a 10% brew. Big malt, spice, complex flavor profile. Very enjoyable. Glad I got 2.

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Photo of BeerLover99
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: deep chestnut body, khaki finger head, fantastic lacing.

S: aroma of figs, dates, bread, spices, and yeast.

T: sweet figs, dates, bread, and malt.

M: medium/heavy body,
smooth/chewy/bubbly balance good mouthfeel

D: The 10% ABV is hidden rather well in this beer, but still a big sipper.
Great beer to share with friends are the holidays.


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Photo of mbrown26
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at the Thirsty Monk South.

A: A great dark beer with a nice head. It was a little too dark for me to get a real picture of the color, but it was dark and the head was nice. Lacing stayed throughout the glass.

S: Reminded me of the ABT. 12. Got fruity and malty notes.

T: Lots of malty flavor that has hints of cloves and cinnamon. Very flavorful. A different kind of beer if you're only used to pale ales or IPA styles.

M: Thick and syrupy, but clean.

D: Easy to drink, but one glass sure does for you.

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Photo of gtermi
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: This beer pours a VERY dark copper body with a thick white head that slowly fades. As the beer fades, it leaves a lot of thick lace on the glass.

S: This has a strong amount of Belgian yeast that gives off that amazing fruitiness and a sort of floral scent. Its very sweet too that tingles the nose.

T: This is where the beer REALLY shines for me. It just has that perfect amount of malt, sweetness and yeast. It is very sweet and lingers for a very long time. It almost has a fruit juice flavor to it.

M: Now I don't exactly love the mouthfeel because the beer feels so thick when I drink it. The carbonation is a killer and makes it a little less enjoyable to drink.

O: This beer is great and I would for sure buy it again. I seem to find beers that use Belgian yeasts a little too carbonated, but I guess thats just how the yeast works.

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750mL corked and caged bottle (bottled 2014) served in a Karmeliet Tulip glass.

Appearance: Brown with copper highlights - a bit cloudy but the light still goes through. Thick and massive tan head upon pouring that died down to a persistent 1/8" thick foam. Plenty of persistent lacing - thick sheets and strands.

Smell: Cloves and banana, powdery yeast, hint of fruity esters.

Taste: Lots of flavor going on: Classic Belgian yeast flavors, candi sugar, fruity esters, hint of tart cherry, hint of toffee, caramelized malt. Bitter and sweet finish with leafy hops and caramelized malt. Very delicious.

Mouthfeel: Airy and prickly carbonation at first. As the beer warmed up and the carbonation died back a bit, the beer gets a bit sticky but still smooth.

Overall / Drinkability: I personally felt the alcohol was well hidden for a quad, but I could notice it in a pleasant way about 2/3 through the glass. Full of flavor, well worth savoring as a sipper, and a big bottle is the best way to enjoy this beer to get a nice serving of the beer. It went well with food (Doro Wat) and I think it would pair well with a wide range of food. While I was not able to have this at Christmas, I think I'm going to have to pick it up again next year and see if I can make it a Christmas day beer. A very good Quad and a very good beer.

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Photo of keithv70
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I enjoyed this in a fat tulip glass. The color is deep brown with a good amount of carbonation. The 2 inch tan head subsided slowly, with minimal lacing.

The smell reminds me of tart Belgian yeast, with a strong malt profile. The taste is similar, with slight banana flavor, similar to a good Hefeweizen, on the first few sips. The next few sips revealed some cinnamon and holiday spice. The taste is good, and gets better with each swig.

The mouthfeel is crisp, with a nice carbonated bite for a Christmas Ale. Overall, this is a great seasonal beer that I will try again next year.

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Photo of EkimGram
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: 75cL bottle poured into Duvel tulip. The moment I undid the metal twine, the cork popped itself out of the bottle and put a little dent in my ceiling. Colour is a very rich brown, almost black. Head is two fingers in height, thick and puffy.

Smell: Aromas are of spices lick cinnamon and nutmeg, dark fruits, and roasted malts.

Taste: The dark fruits are first and foremost in the flavour with plum, raisins, and figs or dates. A little bitter as well as spicy. A hint of malts and booze finish things up. Dark, rich, and complex.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a surprising amount of carbonation. Silky and sticky.

Overall: Truly fantastic. I couldn't expect much more from St. Bernardus. Tastes a little like ABT 12 with spices. A good sipper for a cold winter night.

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Photo of bylerteck
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from Harvest Wines. From notes.

A - Poured a dark reddy brown colour with good carbonation and a lovely, thick one finger of light brown head. Great thick lace and one finger of retention. Looked lovely the whole way.

S - Vinous, dark fruit, yeast, sweet dark fruit.

T - Yeast, dark fruit, sweet. Pretty nice. The vinous element is subtle but nice and clearly there but tucked away behind that fruity sweetness. Little to no spice.

M - Medium carbonation and a full body with good feeling for the carbonation.

O/D - Lovely stuff. Rich and malty. I can imagine loving this with snow coming down. Good stuff. Tad sweet perhaps.

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Photo of thecheapies
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Muddy dark brown with a thin lip of beige foam. Looks soupy in body.

Spicy phenols, clove, pretzel bread, fig, licorice, apple wine, Belgian sugar, alcohol, and a savory aroma that's almost briny. Excellent complexity.

Plum, clove, licorice, banana yeast, almond, booze, allspice, saltiness, brandy, and wintergreen. Hugely bready and malty. Combination of dark fruit sweetness, spiciness, sting of booze, and a briny saltiness makes for a fulfilling profile.

Rich full body. So creamy, it's soupy. Almost has the consistency of fatty chicken broth. Carbonation is light-medium with light prickle that tries not to augment some heady booze strength.

One of my favorite Belgian Christmas beers, if not my favorite. So rich and decadent. Unreal good.

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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,080 ratings.
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