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 gpatt55
3.78/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On-Tap @ The Daily Pint

Pours a rich ruddy brown with a nice thin head and fine lacing. Nose is fairly subdued with yeasty/dark bread, chocolate and fruitcake notes. Fairly rich and sweet on the attack but the body isn't as heavy. Compared to the Abt 12 this is less weighty and fairly drinkable. Mouthfeel lacks some weight and richness one would expect from this style. A little more density would help to balance the 10% ABV. Still the pedigree shows with excellent purity in the dark malt/yeasty/toffee flavors. A fine Xmas ale for a winter night but by no means transcendent.

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Photo of IronCitySteve
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark brown color with some amber hues. Provides a nice thick tan foam head. There is some spotty to moderate lacing.

S: Lots of raisin, brown sugar, prunes, yeast and some clove spice.

T: Is a rather sweet tasting beer. The dark fruit tastes like it was store in booze. There is a lot of sugar taste in there as well. In addition, the alcohol is prevalent.

M: Leaves a thick sweet taste on the palate with a twinge of alcohol.

D: I enjoy the beer, but this was a tad too sweet for me. I would certainly enjoy another, but it is a sipping beer for sure.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best By 09/08/2012, Sampled December 2007
Served only lightly chilled, the beer is clearly well carbonated as even a reasonably careful pour produces a billowing, slightly over-flowing, initially seven-finger thick, lightly browned, tan colored head of foam that slowly recedes while leaving a delicate lacing pattern on the sides of my 30cl Tripel Karmeliet tulip. the beer sits in my glass a burnt, amber tinged, very dark brown color, but shows a brilliantly clear, dark ruby hue when held up to the light. In passing inspection of the nose, aromas of dark fruit and spices mix quite equally. A deeper draught of the nose reveals aromas of raisins, figs, concentrated plum, brown sugar, sweet cola, clove, touches of allspice, a hint of molasses, dark chocolate, light ginger or maybe really galangal and even some cardamom like notes. The aroma ends up being a bit more focused on the dark, caramelized fruit notes with just a backdrop of spice character that leaves no doubt that this is a Belgian yeast strain.

The carbonation provides a prickly, lightening effect to what is really a medium full beer. It does not drink as heavy as the 10% alcohol might suggest, but is certainly has that Belgian lightness that is in many of the better made strong beers from their. The beer is definitely sweet, which accentuates the quite noticeable dark fruit character; caramelized plums, figs, raisins and even some apple flavors are individually noticeable. The beer finishes with a mix of spiciness and warming alcohol that is a touch pepper-like, with some spicy ginger, toasty brandy & rum, and some turpene driven phenolic clove / cardamom notes. Bread like malt notes reminiscent of toasted bread, hints of browned-whole-grain bread, touches of rye, caramelized-dark German bread, biscuit malt and roasted / broiled / concentrated figs.

The second pour has just as voluminous a head as the first, and the beer, a little more chilled now, tastes even a bit lighter than it did initially. The ample carbonation focuses the flavors more on the peppery spice notes, while softening the rich fruitiness that is there after it has mellowed. This is certainly a contemplative brew; I could wish for a bit more malt complexity in the flavor (at times the alcohol and spiciness can be a little too much), but the nose really is quite intriguing. While I certainly enjoy the lightness / heft of this brew as is, it seems to be missing a bit of richness that could add a bit more balance (these are not necessarily opposing characters though as some richness could be added without making this beer feel heavier).

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson, AZ

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Photo of philbe311
3.81/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - This one has a head that just doesn't stop... Four plus fingers of airy continually rising light khaki colored head with a slightly rocky top that is audibly fizzy... Excellent retention... Ultimately what is left is a full creamy lace with a mound of foamy head in the center of the glass... The head sits a top a murky medium-to-dark brown colored body... Still for the most part with no discernible carbonation... A good bit of lacing clings to the glass...

S - Belgian yeast and a slight bit of funk to start... Next are a truck load of dark fruit aromas highlighted by dates, raisins, and plums... Bread pudding... Perhaps some tobacco notes...

T - Not as malty as expected... Fig... Raisins... Dark breads... Some Belgian yeast notes... The finish is a unique blend of vanilla and tobacco... A touch of booze on the finish...

M - On the lighter side of full bodied... A delicate carbonated tickle on the tip of the tongue... Sleek and slightly sticky... A tinge of alcohol induced heat... Warming throughout...

D - An easy drinking Belgian Strong Dark Ale which should be no surprise coming from a Trappist brewery... I would gladly enjoy this offering each holiday season...

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Photo of bluegrassbrew
3.81/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle into a tulip.

Pours a deep brown with a massive head that leaves nice chunky lacing around the glass.

Smell is hot, hot, heat! Alcohol mostly.

Taste is heavy on the alcohol. Hints of nutmeg and dates.

Mouthfeel is creamy and good.

Overall, this is a solid beer, but not as good as I expected it to be. Compared to the Abt. 12 the alcohol is more noticable and it is less complex. That being said, it was still tasty and easy to drink.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.82/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

750 shared with a work buddy... 2014 bottling.. Pours a deep walnut but still shows good clarity, khaki head sticks around forever with nice lacing. Toasty with a bit of spice cake essence.. Not as rich as some of the other Quads but still very respectable.. Very high carbonation IMO, pretty burpy.. With warmth, the spices bloom a little more than I appreciate.. Nothing wrong with it, I just prefer the Abt 12 better.


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Photo of RedBeerchetta
3.82/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got a 750ml bottle at Publick House Provisions in Brookline, MA.

Lots of carbonation, almost as much as a cola. Color is milk chocolate brown. No red hue to it even when held up to the light. Large bubbles in the head that quickly disintegrate into a 3/4 coating on the top.

Smell is of yeast, some alcohol and a little bit of spice.

A bit cloying- quite sweet with more body than the other holiday beers I've had this season (like N'ic Chouffe and Affligem, both of which are more balanced).

Not my favorite holiday beer but still quite nice and enjoyable.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.83/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Best by date of 7/8/2012 on the bottom

Pours a nice murky dark brown/red color, lots of fluffy head and patching lacing, fasts fairly fast but there's so much of it.

Smell is malty with spice and dark fruit, nothing overwhelming or anything that overrides all the other aromas.

Taste is controlled by the load of fruits but not entirely sweet, some yeastiness, can make out some alcohol tones, way too carbonated, every sip and drink turns into foam in my mouth and becomes a bit distracting.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.83/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours brown in color with a huge off-white head. The head was at least 2 inches and took several minutes to fall to a froth. Smell is belgian yeast and some dark fruit, figs. I'm not really getting a lot of christmas spice or taste in this. The mouthfeel is full and creamy, very nice. A decent beer, but I couldn't help but to get something metallic out of the taste.

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Photo of steelersfan6669
3.83/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

even In the summer this beer is good.
slightly cloying but the spice kind of balances it well.

A-brown with a lot of carb and foam

S-spices , molasses, sugar , yeast and a bread or dough quality

T-almonds ,oak or wood, vanilla , cloves , cinnamon , dried cherries.

M-heavy carbonation , sweet , heavy

O-I like this beer on a chilly evening when I only want one beer .

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Photo of ShareANevada
3.83/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a respectable muddled brown into my unibroue stem. A delicate lovely head sticking around for a bit. Smells of fruits and spices, just as one would expect. The first couple sips surprised me with the carbonation. Very fine bubbles, but more than I expected, perhaps the beer was yet too cold.

As it breathed, the carbonation settled down a little and made for a very nice treat. Just lovely balanced flavors, no hint of the lurking 10%. This was a very enjoyable beer, and i'm anxious to see was 2 years on one of these would do.

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Photo of Hunter
3.84/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark, nut brown ale with minimal carbonation and lacing. Head was thin and vanished quickly.

Smell: Apples, raisins, mild spice, some alcoholic undertones. Lighter than I expected.

Taste: The high alcohol % comes through on the tongue; Spiced fruit, anise, smoky malt.

Mouthfeel: Nice balance between clean and cloying. the beer stays on the palate after the swallow, but not in an oppressive way.

Overall: A good winter warmer, and worth your time.

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Photo of whoneeds8
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a murky brown into a Westmalle Chalace. Very good lacing all the way down the glass. Smell was very typical of a Bernardus Dark Ale. Taste was very complex, however I didn't like the initial mouthfeel of high carbonation. It was ticking my taste buds too much. It mellowed after sitting for a little while.

I might go buy another bottle to let age in the cellar to find out how well this ages for next year.

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Photo of drcarver
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - a very translucent brown with below average carbonation and a fluffy head that leaves decent lacing

S - as compared to other it has a fairly vegetable earthiness matched with the yeast and hint of dark frutis that come with the style.

T/M - sweet brown sugar like front followed by a roasted carrot flavor. Finished with a hint of alcohol (which is scary that it isn't more prominent). Medium full body with a smooth feel.

D - not bad.

Oh yeah and the cork damn near took my head off shooting out of the bottle.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750mL corked and caged bottle poured into a tulip.

(A)- Pours a dark burnt sienna color. Produced a giant head of fluffy tan colored froth. Great retention and tons of lace.

(S)- Rich bits of dark fruits, yeasty lemon and banana, and a clay-like earth. Very subtle bits of spices.

(T)- Same like the smell was. Though, a much sharper yeast presence than the smell led me to believe, but has the same great dark fruits: plum, cassis, grape, and raisin.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. A bit heavy in the yeast department, so it really gets a bit earthier and drier than expected.

(D)- Overall, another solid beer from St. Bernardus. Malty and rich with classic components.

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Photo of scoots511
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served out of 750mL bottle the corked "popped" and removing the cork was effortless due to the conditioned bottle psi. Pretty awesome label on the bottle. Makes me want to see this under the xmas tree.

A: Dark amber color, off-white head with tight carbonated head

S: Fruit-like apple/grape crisp smell

T: Nice depth/complexity to the taste. Many flavors going on. A slight bit of sourness on the sides of the tongue

M: Nice belgian mouthfeel

D: At 750mL 10% it's highly drinkable and smooth, a good one to share on a cold winter night by the fire.

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Photo of Hoppsbabo
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Quadrupel in appearance. The head looking like recently activated yeast.
S: Smells like regular St Bernardus Abt 12.
T: Extremely phenolic, loads of nail varnish, bubblegum and bready yeast. This just tastes like regular Abt 12. Perhaps a little drier.
O: It's a slightly dry Abt 12. Not great. Not a fan of St Bernardus on the whole. Overrated.

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Photo of drummstikk
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer tastes like cherry cough syrup! But it's really not bad at all. It has none of the bitter or minty flavors of Robitussin, but all of the sweet estery plastic-cherry-goodness. Allspice and ginger combine in the tart medicinal finish, caramelized sugar and caramel malts fill out the middle, and bright Belgian phenols start us all off. Hop aroma is absent, while hop bitterness just peaks through the finish. Body is thick and syrupy, and carbonation is light. Color is hazy dark amber/ light brown. Fruits are present all throughout: cherries, plums, with a hint of peach and melon. Aroma is funky and phenolic.

Don't worry about the 10% ABV -- it will go down smooth, just like a good medicine.

My only complaint is that this beer is a bit sweet for all its medicinal flavors. The gestalt is an underattenuated ale with Brettanomyces cherry pie flavors. If I hadn't been a sickly child, swilling Dimetapp every winter, I am sure this beer wouldn't conjure the same images. As it is, a dryer finish would steer me into bliss.

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Photo of bump8628
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Everything requisite for a strong Belgian Christmas ale is present. Toffee, cinnamon, treacle, and clove. Good balance with a firm bitterness. Sweetness and alcohol creep up after the first glass. Earthiness emerges after it warms up in the glass. Nice beer, but it's more expensive than Abt 12 sitting right next to it on the shelf, and we all know that one is world class.

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Photo of CampusCrew
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

appearance: dark brown ale with some reddish tint.

smell: heavy christmas spices. cinnamon etc.

taste: smooth and sweet, easy to drinking belgian.

mouthfeel: medium bodied and lots of carbonation

drinkability: Great Holiday belgian but I prefer a few others to this.

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Photo of brewcrew76
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Murky brown with amber and ruby highlights and a thin beige head that leaves patches of foam behind.

S - Ripe fruits with a sweet malty nose, raisins and prunes with spicy Belgian yeast, nutmeg and other holiday spices.

T - Spicy, ripe fruits, sweet doughy malts, slight phenolics, candi sugar sweetness, holiday spices with an earthy aftertaste.

M - Medium and chewy, on the higher side for carbonation, slightly slick with the lightest alcohol sting but the 10%abv is extremely well hidden.

D - Very good but spicier and sweeter than other St Bernardus offerings making it just slightly less drinkable.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.86/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

First had: ???
This review is for a recent tasting, on tap at Capone's, Norristown, PA

I hadn't had this in a while, so I figured I'd give it another spin. Slightly hazed, ruddy brown pour, with a small cap of off-white head that retained well and left a bit of lacing on the snifter. Nice aroma, toasted bread, light spice, yeast, peach and pear. Taste reflected the nose, caramel malts, yeast, brown sugar, allspice, candied fruits. It's an easy drinker, medium-bodied, crisp, flavorful, some boozy heat, but as it is a 10% quad, you have to expect that a little.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

70ml corked and caged bottle poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. Pours a dark brown color with a large tan head with excellent retention and lacing. The aroma is sweet malt, dark fruits, spices and yeast. The taste is sweet malt and an array of spices with a rather dry, spicy and boozy finish. Overall, this is another good beer from St Bernardus. I am curious to see how this one ages, it should improve greatly with a little more time.

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Photo of jeffjeff1
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was one of the christmas presents from my fiance. Almost done with the christmas presents lol

Appearance- brownish red color, nice head

Smell- spices, malt

Taste- spices, dark fruit

Mouthfeel- medium to full bodied

Drinkability- Overall really good, would love to have it again

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Photo of beerpirates
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

75cl bottel poured into a tulipglass

Bottle. A deep red beer with a thin tan head. The aroma has notes of over ripe fruits, yeast, spices, alcohol, prunes, and a bit of wood. The flavor is sweet with notes of malt, caramel, alcohol, over ripe fruits, prunes, and yeast, leading to a dry alcoholic finish. The alcohol prickles the tongue.

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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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