St. Bernardus Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
705 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:
705
Ratings:
2,185
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
9.31%
 
 
Wants:
184
Gots:
443
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 705 | Ratings: 2,185
Photo of ABOWMan
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer easily pours a four finger head of frothy amber colored foam that lingers throughout the entire tasting. t's residual, leaves a network of lacing on the glass marking each resting point along the journey. The color of this brew is a copper orange and is slightly cloudy which hints at the flavor that is in store.

The aroma is of spice, roasted malt, citrus, fruit and alcohol.

The flavor delivers along the same line. Roasted caramel, orange, yeast fruitiness typical of most Belgium beers, and hints of corriander and clove, which are not overbearing. I was please to see the spiciness take a back seat in this Christmas ale, allowing the typically strong belgium influences to take center stage.

The mouthfeel was full bodied and think which one would expect from a beer this this backbone and ABV. No disappointment here.

This Ale was worth the price and is worthy of being opened any time of year despite it's name.

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Photo of beertunes
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in tulip. Poured a very dark, slightly reddish, brown with almost 2 inches of dark khaki colored head that had very good retention and moderate lacing.

The aroma is a pleasantly stimulating mixture of malt and spice. The flavors follow along with a nice yeast taste added to the mix. I can't put my finger on which spices I'm tasting, but they are yummy.

The body is very good, full, well rounded and smooth, without being heavy, sticky or lingering. Drinkability is very good, just watch out for that 10% ABV.

Overall, a wonderful brew. Worth seeking out, a must try.

 578 characters

Photo of TBoneJones
4.36/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012
Pours deep and dark, with cherry brown mahogany highlights when held in light. Beautiful-looking ale, with a perfectly thick off-white head.
Smells like light banana esters, malt, spice, some fig and sweet bread.
First taste I can tell this is an ongoing complexity. Raisin, bread pudding and sweet dark fruit (date/ raisin), nutty and with nutmeg, some peppering, with a long burning finish. Pretty well carbonated. This sipper was a great choice for a Christmas beer. Complex, strong, nice seasonal flavoring. Would recommend to anyone, especially those who enjoy Abby beers..to try Christmastime or anytime during the winter.

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Photo of AmericanGothic
4.36/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a corked and caged 750 ml bottle into a Unibroue tulip.

A: Pours a cloudy, medium brown color with two fingers of billowy, pale tan head. Exceptional retention and lace, vigorous carbonation.

S: Sweet, stewed figs and cherries, cinnamon and cardamom.

T: Much like the smell, except more intense. Spicy figs and cherries, also a little banana and prune. Sweetness is fairly low but not absent. Peppery spice floats over the other flavors and gives them something to play off of. As the beer warms, cinnamon and brown sugar joins the flavor profile. Still later, some dark berry notes. Very complex.

M: Full bodied, but the carbonation keeps it afloat. Faintly astringent.

O: This is a very tasty beer. The most interesting thing is the way the fruity and peppery esters separate from each other, makes for a very pleasant beer. I will need to have this again before the holidays are through, probably more than once.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this with Christmas dinner in 2009. Thanks to my parents for spontaneously picking this up and surprising my wife and I with it for the meal.

Pours a dark caramel with a nice tan head and some good lacing. Nose is quite nice, dominated by plums, figs, dates, nutmeg, allspice, a touch of cinnamon, and some doughy malt. Lovely yeast character. Taste is just as complex and uber integrated. Like a nice holiday dessert without being at all overly sweet. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy; super smooth. Drinkability is quite nice. Will have to make this a tradition.

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Photo of HoosBrews
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served to me in a Belgian style glass. Appearance was dark, with a huge amount of head which laced extremely well. The nose hasd hints of cherry and a prominent alcohol aroma (not in a bad way, just bold). Taste was a wonderful blend of sweetness, warmth from the alcohol, and complex fruitiness and spice. The high carbonation of this beer really gives it it huge mouthfeel. Given the higher gravity of this beer, I'm impressed with the smooth finish which makes this beer highly drinkable. Overall, one of the better Christmas beers I've had all year!

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Photo of womencantsail
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Stuffed Sandwich

A: The pour is a dark brown color with some amber sort of highlights and an appropriately large off-white head.

S: A really rich, luscious nose of caramel, brown sugar, candi sugar, and toffee. Tons and tons of fruits too, like cherries, figs, and plums.

T: The flavor is just as wonderful. Sweet brown sugar and caramel lead the way with plenty of cherries, plums, and raisins to provide further sweetness. There's some clove and nutmeg flavors as well as a nice yeastiness.

M: The body is medium with a really full and rolling carbonation.

D: Maybe the best of all the Belgian Christmas beers I've had to this point. This is pretty much what I think of/look for in this kind of beer.

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Photo of alexgash
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, corked and caged.

Dark ruby-tinged maple syrup. Finger of creamy, light khaki head, with okay lacing. Big, rich, rummy fruits on the nose. Pears, fruit cocktail, scorched sugar, raisins, cola, Concord grapes, and perhaps some yeasty sweetbread. Nice, complex, and inviting.

Flash of toasted malt up front. Estery fruit follows and is quickly joined by a huge swell of sweet, fruity, caramely malts. Sweet Concord grapes blend with sugar-coated raisins, perfectly ripe Bartlett pears, brown sugar, and caramel. Sweet cake batter, toasted nuts, and even a little cocoa lead into the finish. Lingering rummy fruits swell once again in the finish. There's also some yeastiness and a cocoa nib and herbal hop bitterness. Warming. Full-bodied with a thick, gently carbonated feel. Very nice, especially on this 10 degree F night!

 840 characters

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.

 1,736 characters

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.

 1,312 characters

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.

 655 characters

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.

 762 characters

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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St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,185 ratings.
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