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
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:
679
Ratings:
2,080
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
16.23%
 
 
Wants:
181
Gots:
414
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 679 | Ratings: 2,080
Photo of mynie
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours uncontrollably fizzy in a not very nice way. It's good looking once it settles, but that takes too damn long.

Smells of strong, wonderful fruit esters with big nodes of bananas and peppers along with plums, pears, and gigantic yeasty cloves. Very nice.

Tastes like it smells only good god it is as smooth as red velvet cake. Caramel gets overtaken by fruit, which gets overtaken by spice, which gets overtaken by boozy burn, and then everything ends on more spice, but then, even after that, there lingers silky smooth fruit with more bananas and the burn, holy heaven above the burn does not abate.

 608 characters

Photo of tdm168
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - dark amber with a big, white head that has great retention

S - baked apples, some spices, cinnamon, Belgian yeast

T - baked apples, caramel, faint cinnamon, spices

M - medium to full bodied, smooth, well carbonated

This is a nice, malty beer where the yeast does a great job imparting spice and character. The ABV was well hidden, there was great balance and drinkability, and it has a solid all around flavor profile. This is definitely a winter beer worth checking out.

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Photo of zimm421
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle. Bottle was corked and caged. At first, didn't appear to be highly carbonated, but when poured, a huge head appears. Head is tan and very fluffy. Great retention. The beer appears a nice brown color with hints of red around the edges. The head leaves great lacing.

Nose is full of dark fruit, great Belgian yeast, dark bread and nice sugar. Not overpowering, but it smells wonderful. Taste is full of the dark fruit, alcohol and yeast. This is very sweet, and doesn't have a whole lot of balance, which is the only downside. There are some spices, but they don't do much.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, with high carbonation levels. Overall, this is a great brew, that goes down wonderfully. Besides the lack of balance, everything works together in great ways.

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Photo of BierBrawlinator
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 2 finger head and tapped out at 1 finger the rest of the way. Massive lacing on the sides of a St. Bernardus chalice.

Caramel color with hints of ruby. Initial pour was fairly clear, but almost opaque. Big malt nose coming through with a mild woody funk.

The taste is malty, creamy, smooth and silky with a medium-heavy body that just begs for more.

I had this on tap at Monk's and in a 25oz bottle, and it's consistently incredible. Grab a bottle of this while it's around. You could session with this if you pace yourself.

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed Christmas eve 2011.

A: Things open up with a violent and loud uncorking. A cola-otter-brown pour yields a monstrous rocky, foamy head that was porous and moderate on the hold leaving splotchy sticky patches on the glass for lace. Near black coloring while in the chalice is actually a very dark burgundy when backlighted revealing a vigorous effervesce. Additional pours yielded a mushrooming effect on the head which showed more resilience in its stay of execution.

S: Sugary dark plums, sweet caramel syrup, with a good Belgian yeastiness can first be found on the nose with some musky damp grains. Soft traces of estery pear drop, sweet chocolate and bananas are also evident. A 10.0%abv that is very well concealed aromatic wise never giving any indication this is a hint above 5%.

T: Yeasty with chocolate, dried banana, and pear notes from the yeast. Sweet caramel some sugary dark plums, raisins and a very bready palate add some depth. The alcohol feels/tastes more at home like a 5% as with the nose, very well refrained. The yeasty nature is nicely highlighted with a light musky nature of damp pale grains. Sweet bready caramel, malty, lush flavor.

M: Edgy carbonation provides a good deal of activity on the tongue. Creamy, frothy texture, full malt body adds lushness with some raisiny alcohol hints upon the swallow.

O: Overall a great all around beer and worthy of a special occasion. Very easy drinkability despite its indicated alcohol content. Malty lush body with a good support of yeasty character makes this all you can want from a Belgian dark ale. Once again Brouweij of St. Bernardus and St. Sixtus (Westvlteren) seem to be in a league of their own when it comes per style and overall quality.

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Photo of JayS2629
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Honest opinion. I enjoy the original Abt 12 imensely and think whatever spices are added to this one are a detraction. I still enjoy this one emensely as well and appreciate the spirit it was intended for. It is a great holiday, seasonal treat and deeply complex and sophisticated. Monk magic!

It pours a murky brown that is almost black. Cola like with a huge rocky off-white head three fingers thick and with steady staying power. Frothy rings of thick lace linger.

The aroma is spicy and full of belgian yeast esters. Dark fruit and spices. Over ripe plum, dates, and fig with cherry notes and caramel undertones. Thick toffee melts into musky, funky yeast phenols.

The taste gets really spicy. Holiday spices shine against yeasty spice notes. Nutmeg and cinnamon tones surf on the wave of funky belgian yeast tones of dark fruit,candy sugar, and dark rum notes. Musky notes and metallic, medicinal tones intrude slightly. Some may enjoy these licorice like flavors.

Mouthfeel is creamy and medium bodied.

easy sipper. Complex, interesting, and enjoyable. Slightly under the original Abt. 12 but still amazing.

 1,119 characters

Photo of OWSLEY069
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky amber to brown-ish color with a big light tan head. In the aroma, candy sugar, small roastiness, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In the taste, cinnamon, a dry sugary feel, and small hints of plum (as sugar plums danced in my head, sorry...) A small spicey bite, and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry cinnamon/ spice aftertaste. Quite smooth and not overbarring, nice spices, all around pretty good.

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Photo of bosco7
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big frothy head sits a top a dark brown beer. Head retention is superb.

Cola, apple, cherry, almond, acetic, spicy phenolics, and cocoa powder in the nose.

Tastes much better than it smells. I was a little worried that this would be thin and cola-ish. Starts big and full of toffee flavors then moves into chocolate, cherry, almond, cola, roasted malt, macerated plum, vanilla, and baked raisin (think the raisins in an oatmeal raisin cookie that get a little crunchy). Black pepper, nutmeg, and more almond in the finish. Hop character is earthy.

Carbonation is high but with a couple swirls it becomes less prickly and lets the body of the beer shine. This was quite the treat. So complex and drinkable: a perfect winter companion.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer on-tap in a tulip at Special Brews in Lynnwood.

Appearance: cloudy, chocolatey brown with a thick finger of creamy tan foam and a nice lace. The lace stays on the glass forever. Beautiful!

Smell: sweet malt with a great dark-fruit aroma. Rich and enticing.

Taste: rich, lustrous malt with a great chocolate, raisin and dark fruit flavor: plum, cherry, dates. A little bit of alcohol warmth throughout. Absolutely delicious!

Mouthfeel: rich body with a good level of carbonation and a wonderful silky smoothness. Awesome!

Overall: delicious, lovely, drinkable treat. I can't believe I've never had it until now.

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Photo of davidperez
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

BB 27 06 18

Served in a St. Bernardus chalice, it pours a very deep, dark and murky brown. It develops a two-finger head light brown and sudsy, with low retention.
Nice lacing.

The bouquet is of caramel, booze, vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, slightly toasted malts and dark fruits. Not very assertive.

Totally scrumptious.
Expressive carbonation upfront, that lasts a good while.
An assertive and balanced flavor at first, but short after the sweetness overruns completely the tamed bitterness. Caramel, molasses, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, figs, plums, raisins and a bit of cherry, fruity liquor as the alcohol is very assertive, a slight chocolate note and just a hint of wood.
The finish is long, and it has that multifaceted, waning sweetness. A bit of sweetness coats your palate at the end.
Medium body, smooth.

Will definitely try this again for sure.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle into a St. Bernardus chalice.

A: Clear deep brown body under two fingers of dense tan head. Tremendous retention and thick lace. Gorgeous.

S: Dark fruit dominates, with huge fig, raisin, and date. Some sweet/tart cherry as well, with rich toasted breadiness underneath. Decadent and yet delicate. Terrific.

T: Bready up front, with dark fruits close behind. Some nice fig gives way to a strongly boozy finish, though, marring things a bit after such a lovely start. The aftertaste balances the alcohol warmth with some spicy yeastiness, though, making the overall package pretty enjoyable. Definitely a bit of a letdown after the phenomenal aroma, but an excellent BSDA all the same.

M: Thick, soft, and as creamy as can be. Perfect.

O: It's been too long since i had ABT 12, but this reminded me more of Rochefort 10 than anything else. The aroma in particular took me back to a rainy afternoon in Belgium, sipping a Rochefort in its eponymous home town. I'm curious to see whether a year might tone down the booziness just a bit and make this a truly world-class beer.

Cheers!

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Photo of nickfl
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Really big head, basically 2/3 glass of foam. As the rocky head settles, and it settles very slowly, it leaves a spider web of sticky lace. The body is slightly hazy, and very dark brown with just a hint of red.

S - Fruity notes and dark malt combine to product distinct aromas of prunes, figs, and raisins. There is a nice, herbal hop undertone as well as a subtle note of alcohol.

T - Sweet and fruity up front with a strong alcohol note. Big, roasty flavors come in next with lots of chocolate and fruity notes of bananas and prunes. Herbal hops are present throughout the experience and they linger and provide a bit of bitterness to mingle with the intense toffee and chocolate flavors in the finish. There is a late alcoholic note, and quite a lot of tobacco character that lasts longer than any of the other flavors.

M - High carbonation, thick body and a dry finish.

D - I expected a big beer, but this is huge. Very complex, with a very nice, wintry roasted quality. Not exactly an easily drinkable beer, but my overall impression is very favorable. Considering the complexity and the high alcohol content, I am inclined to think that this would age very well. I also think that with its smokey tobacco flavors, this is one of the few beers I have had that could really stand up to a good cigar.

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Photo of Jimmys
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: a dark red color with an equally dark red head. great retention and the brew leaves a pretty lacing as well.

S: sweet brown sugar. cinnamon. a little tobacco. a smooth maltyness that is a bit warming.

T: nutty and fruity. chestnuts and figs. caramel. little bits of roast. a good deal of malt on this body. the finish is a bit champagne-like. im gonna say it is actually a bit dry.

M: like i noted on the palate, a champagne like fizz on a very full body.

D: a delicious belgian dark from a brewery that doesnt really make a bad beer. wouldnt hate to see this year round. dangerously drinkable and hard to detect the 10%ABV on this tasty treat.

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Photo of taigor
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into chalice glass.

A - Poured dark mahogany non-transparent color with huge head that slowly dissipated leaving significant lacing around the glass.

S - Mostly dark fruits and spices with bready yeast and malts.

T - Dark fruits predominate, figs, raisins, cherries with banana, bready yeast and lots of spices.

M - Medium bodied with high carbonation.

O - Great Christmas Ale with ABV very well hidden. I highly recommend it.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.39/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance:
The beer pours a nice and creamy tan head that takes a while to dissipate. The beer itself is a dark brown. The beer leaves quite a bit of lacing on the glass. Obviously, the beer is opaque.

Smell:
The beer has a strong, fruity, and sugary smell. The fruit smells are mainly dark fruits such as black cherry and a little bit of plum. The beer also has a strong Belgian sugar note that blends well wit the cherry tartness and dark fruit sweetness. The smell also has a slight yeast note that comes out when it's cold. Additionally, there is a slight caramel malt smell and a hint of alcohol as well.

Taste:
The beer taste has the same notes as the aroma. The beer has a Belgian sugar note that mixes well with the dark fruit notes. The dark fruit notes come off as plum and cherry while there also appears to be a bitter hop note. The yeast is not as present in the aste as it was in the nose. However, the alcohol is more pronounced.

Mouthfeel:
The beer has some serious carbonation, which makes what would have been a heavy bodied beer lighter. The biting carbonation definitely changes the texture from something that would have been smooth to something crisp.

Overall:
A good beer that I most likely will buy again during the Christmas season.

 1,265 characters

Photo of sjccmd
4.39/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I believe it said best buy 2012 on the bottom of the bottle.

Pours dark amber with ruby highlights and a light tan fizzy head. Lacing is pretty thin. Nice looking, but looks like it doesn't have as much body as I'd like.

The smell is pretty much everything I'd want to smell in a BSDA. Dark fruits, brown sugar, raisins, caramel, with a touch of spiciness.

The taste initially follows the sweetness of the smell but is rounded off with slightly bitter roasted malts, alcohol warmth, and a dry finish.

The mouthfeel is a bit of a let-down. It's not very thick and little too fizzy for my liking. It delivers the flavors decently, but I was hoping for more body.

Still decently drinkable especially for the ABV. A bit of a slow drink, but it's worth savoring.

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Photo of sokol_1993
4.39/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look: dark brown, a good amount of foamy, creamy head.
Taste: full of molasses, sweet maltiness with hints of dark fruit seeping up at the end: plum and grape were dominant. Not much sign of alcohol, even though 10% was in there, which make it dangerously deceptive. Very complex.
Feel: full body, great after taste.

Had a 330ml bottle at wishbeer, Bangkok. Not the right weather for it, but for a quad lover all weather is great.
A great brew, but prefer its brother Abt. 12 more.

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Photo of DaveHS
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage.

A-Cork comes out with a loud POP. Even with a gentle pour there's 2+ inches of foamy, porous head, speckled with brown dots of what I can only assume is yeast. Reduces fairly quickly, leaving spotty, intermittent lacing.

S-Musty overripe apples, cloves, coriander, dry earthy hops. Not a bold or spice forward as many other Belgian Christmas releases.

T/M-Very subtle and delicate, considering the style. I'm used to Belgian Christmas beers taking a more bombastic approach to elements like spicing and density of the mouth feel. This is a straightforward, well made dark strong ale. I doubt this was made using any traditional holiday spices. The soft, creamy body ebbs and flows, exposing soft black licorice and marzipan flavors. Notes of caramel and plum round out the corners of the palate, leading into an exquisite, simple finish that lingers just long enough, not overstaying its welcome but imprinting trace flavors on the back of the throat. Leaves you wanting more.

O-A typically classy, high quality beer St. Bernardus. I expect this bottle would be fantastic with a few more years on it.

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Photo of beeragent
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter from a 22oz bottle.

A - Pours a deep slightly hazy amber forming a massive off-white head. Very little lacing on the glass.

S - Rich aroma of dark fruits with a little Belgian candy sugar aroma and a hint of alcohol.

T - Dark fruit flavor mixes with the malts creating a sweet thick taste that coats the palate. No hop presence is detected and the alcohol in the finish is very mild. Very complex taste.

M - A little thicker than medium mouthfeel with a good amount of carbonation that is continuous. Very clean finish.

D - This should be had all year, not just at Christmas. Great Belgian dark! Great flavor and mouthfeel. The only downside to the drinkability is the higher abv., and I wouldnt even consider that a downside. Overall another great beer from St. Bernardus!!!

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Photo of mactrail
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Lovely dark brew in the tulip glass. Distinctive for the great sensual body and the big, sudsy mouthfeel.

Licorice and cherries come to mind immediately. It’s not overly sweet, though it’s hugely rich. Plenty of malt with shades of dark roasted barley and a deep, intriguing complexity. This one is on my list to try again, but I’m glad I was able to have the tap version.

Certainly one of the best Belgian beers I’ve had. On tap at Pizza Port in Ocean Beach. Transcribed from 12/12/12 tasting notes.

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Photo of Beerenauslese
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a muddy brown with a moderate head that dissipates quickly.

Smells of hay, brown sugar, nutmeg, clove, raisins.

Highly spiced, with ginger, coffee, prunes, dark fruit. Fairly sweet, some metalic cola tastes.

Velvety mouthfeel, but light, with cleansing carbonation. It is very spicy, yet also refreshing.

Nice holiday ale, a bit sweet overall, but well spiced. Alcohol is high but the flavors carry it well.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One of the nicest Christmas beers I had this year. I'm really glad that St. Bernardus decided to make and bottle this brew. It is still a little sharp, I think a little time in the bottle will smooth out the edges. Nevertheless, it is still delicious now. Pours a beautiful dark brown with a batter like head- big, thick, and creamy and which leaves excellent lacing. Aromas of sweet malt, banana, alcohol, and cookie dough. Well carbonated with flavors of pffefernuse- black pepper, clove, cinnamon, coriander, and cookie dough. Not overly sweet, in fact there is a dry somewhat astringent bitterness throughout that nicely offsets the spice cookie flavors. Delicious! Mouthfeel is carbonated, full, spicy, and creamy. Drinkability should improve with a few more months in the cellar. A great addition to the Belgian winter repertoire.

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Photo of kleffman
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle on special at O'Briens in San Diego. Split this with two other people and drank out of Chimay glasses. Awesome looking bottle, with a fancy label.

Pours with a nice head that settles to a solid layer of foam that doesn't dissipate over time. The lacing on the glass is nice. A very dark brown with red hues.

The aroma is not over the top but there is that definite belgian yeast character up front. Bready, dark fruits, and hints of spices. Smells very sweet, and makes your mouth water.

Taste is nice and clean, with no noticeable alcohol except it's warmth. Very balanced and nice, with a sweet dark fruit character along with the usual Belgian yeast. Spices are subtle and enjoyable.

Rather carbonated, but it's the nice small bubble thick carbonation I've grown to love that leaves a velvet mouthfeel with just a bit of a bite. I rate this high on drinkability because I think I could sit around and sip on this all night long. It's not drinkable in the usual sense of the word but being so highly enjoyable you don't want your glass to ever empty.

 1,069 characters

Photo of yemenmocha
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on tap at Mellow Mushroom. More yeasty/bready notes in the nose and on the palate. Color is soft brown, hazy, with white head.

Nose is slightly citrus with baked dessert goods.

Palate has an enormous holiday spice with roasted sweetness. Basically a nice, sweet holiday dessert that happens to be a beer.

Finish is long with lingering holiday spice.

 360 characters

Photo of Tilley4
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoying on Christmas Eve while watching A Christmas Story...

What a delightful offering... It has all the aspects of an English Christmas pudding in a glass... Loads of spices, dark sweet fruits, rich malt and that wonderful Belgian yeast... Truly a joy to drink as it enhances the day... Nice and boozy... The beer is a tad over carbonated but still a masterpiece... As the beer warms up, it gets bigger and bolder... This one's a sipper and a damn tasty one... Merry Christmas!

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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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