Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 679 | Ratings: 2,080
Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. Small, off-white head sinks into a murky amber body. Aroma is mainly of sweet dark fruits, dates, figs and raisins. Taste is sweet, slightly warming, and includes all of the aforementioned fruits and some peppery spice. ABV is wonderfully hidden behind the loads of flavors in this beer. A truly special and delicious treat. Paired well with Thanksgiving deviled eggs, sweet potatoes and cornbread.

 463 characters

Photo of cbarrett4
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from tap at Henry's 12th street. Medium head settling to a nice lace. Dark brown hue. Packed with dark malty goodness, and holiday spices, nutmeg, molasses, brown sugar. Yum. Rich flavors of dark malts and said molasses, spices. Medium weight, almost smells and tastes like it needs more body. Smooth, low tannins, very easy on the finish. Good brew, but expect more from this brewery and at this price.

 410 characters

Photo of HalfFull
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a corked 750 ml. bottle into a wine glass. Christmas Ale pours somewhat light for the style, a clear reddish brown in color and with an inch of meringue like tan head. Make that two inches, no three inches. A fervent boil of carbonation built the foam up after the pour until it peaked an inch above the rim of the glass. Kind of like a Santa hat on top of the brew. Retention and lacing, as expected from the pour, are robust.

Nose is initially light for the style, with the firm carbonation and apple notes being the only things strong enough to pierce the dense blanket of foam. Spiced chocolate cherry reveal a decent depth after the foam settles to a steady cap. Vinous notes accompany along with a sense of champagne like effervescence. Yeast subtleties expand with warming and combine beautifully with the malt/spice balance giving a bump to the rating. Nutmeg and cinnamon and dried flowers are subtle and enticing.

Flavor is light and fruity and with nary a note of alcohol in sight. Notable cherry wraps around some light fig notes. A lingering spice finish maintains for a full 30 seconds each sip. Flavor improves and expands as the carbonation settles, revealing the nuances that said bottle conditioning helped create. Offers a smooth feel and a body that belies it's own strength. This beer drinks like it's 7 or 8 percent, never revealing its true nature.

Note: From a bottle this beer needs to release some carbonation to really shine. Pop it cold and let it outgas and warm before serving. Malt structure is welcomingly light for the ABV yet offers good depth.

 1,594 characters

Photo of drtth
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in Chalice glass. A glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As served the beer is a nice brownish mahogany color with ┬╝" tan head that soon recedes to a small ring of foam with an irregular patch of foam on the surface. Initially sipping leaves some leggy lacing but with the high alcohol it is neither dense nor long lasting. As the head recedes down to just a small ring and an irregular patch of foam that covers less than half of the liquid, sipping leaves behind only sparse legs and speckles of lacing. Well before the beer is gone the head, ring of foam and any lacing is long gone.

Smell: The aroma is soft, sweet and restrained but definitely contains spice and fruity malt. There is some, but not much alcohol detectable, however, there are some spicy earthy hop characteristics in here along with the fruity malt sweetness that runs through the whole aroma. While initially the aroma seems not to be a very complex one, the complexity grows as the beverage warms and as one spends more time with it.

Taste: The flavor is light, refreshing, clean, and subtle with some nice fruity sweetness without being too rich or too sweet. The dominant flavor has some dark fruits and some spicy earthy character, part of which may come from the hops. Some of the sweetness seems to be from the alcohol which is nicely controlled and has no burn at all.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium to full-bodied with very moderate but persistent carbonation. However, by the end of the beer the carbonation is present only in a slight prickling sensation in the mouth. The finish is medium to long and begins with the mix of earthiness and light sweetness that trails off to spicy, peppery dryness.

Drinkability: This is really a nice beer for sipping and in many ways is a showcase for the spices and the subtle effects of the noble hops. I'll be looking out for this in the future. As a seasonal treat this is a nice one to have and to serve. If it were not for the ABV I'd have another immediately this one is gone. Based on my experience with St. Bernadus Abt 12 I was expecting a more malt dominant brew as a Christmas seasonal. However, while this beer has malt present there is a very different balance between malt and hops than in the 12. Here the spiciness is never lost in the malt. At first I was not sure I liked this beer but as I have sipped my way slowly through it I find a growing appreciation for the balance of flavors. In addition this one has shown some very nice and interesting changes in flavors as it warmed to room temperature.

 2,589 characters

Photo of clayrock81
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a goblet for a well carbonated brown body with lasting tan head and bubbly lace. A great yeasty smell along with some sweet caramel malt and minor citric hop bitterness along with orange. Real smooth, a little creamy, medium-bodied with a little bit of oakiness along with minor pepper and spices. Hints of vanilla and chocolate along with caramel give it a balanced sweetness and there is a good fruit base with orange and pear and a little citric notes. Has a dry yet clean finish and the ABV is well hidden. A very enjoyable ale to relax with and sip on.

 569 characters

Photo of noslenwerd
4.83/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Hazy brown with a burnt orange tint.

S: Smells spicy and fruity

T: The taste to me was amazing and everything I expect from a dark belgian ale. A bit more carbonated than your average belgian dark, but I thought of it as a good thing. Very complex flavor but no one flavor hit me, but was mildly fruity.

Summary: Extremely drinkable beer and thus far my favorite "Winter Warmer" to . Will for sure be drinking this one again...

 434 characters

Photo of bruachan
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

deep mahogany with sudsy head that, predictably, didn't really last

strong dark fruit with some vinous and even genuinely winey elements. slight airy hops, cinnamon

warming and spicy. mouthfeel is good and provides a decent palette on which to base the tasty brew. plenty of dark continental malts. with time the breadier variety of malt experiences begin, taking the place of the fruitier kind bit by bit. cola. despite the heat to be expected of a 10% beverage, this one doesn't really have it; though warming, very drinkable

that being said, it's not all that impressive, to be honest

 590 characters

Photo of mcann2pu
3.7/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Not sure of the date on this bottle, the background color on the logo was blue though,
a- pours into my glass an interesting redish color, a good three fingers worth of thick tan head that settled down to maybe a 1/4 of an inch worth,
s- first to the nose is the spice, very Christmas like smell, then I can pick up on the sweet fruit smell that I would associate with this brewery,
t- good taste, the spie is not too overpowering and I feel that it blends well with the sweet tasting malts,
m- good.
d- fairly high, good beer overall, not bad for a x-mas release, but I still would take the 12 over this one,

 609 characters

Photo of brystmar
3.98/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from its bottle into my Tremens snifter. The beer pours a nice darkish brown color with lots (2-3 fingers worth) of foamy head. Good retention of the head with plenty of lacing remaining on my glass. Smells strongly of various spices -- none of which I can pinpoint -- with a hint of mint in the background.

Given the spicy smell, I was expecting similar results in the taste department, but that wasn't the case at all. The flavors of malt and spice balance each other out well and led to a very pleasant drink.

Carbonation is just about perfect for this full-bodied brew; it has a pleasant mouthfeel overall. Much more smooth of a drink than I expected from its sharp smell. Cheers!

 693 characters

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 chiefydawg
4.07/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Amber Brown cloudy effervescent body with big foamy light khaki head. Decent lace.

Pitted fruit scent accentuates light tobacco leaf. Candilike maltiness. Some Belgian funky yeast.

Prune juice concentrate takes center stage early. Dark chocolate (without the roast) and mellow caramel back it up.
By this description of its dominant flavors, one would think this is cloying. But take into account the surprisingly bitter hop backdrop, high carbonation, and Belgian sharpness, this beer turns out quite balanced. There is this unidentifiable spice lurking, like allspice or nutmeg (I am a grilling/stir fry type, not baker, so hard to place this spice - sorry).

Crisp yet filling malty mouthfeel with a clean, lasting bitterness (yeah that's right). Still, there is this light pruney coating on the tongue long after each swallow. Interesting for sure. The Belgian twang even hangs out awhile (especially in the burp 15 minutes later...). The considerable 10%ABV is cloaked. I mean I let some sit for an hour in a warm room and it still was chill.

Overall an intriguing ale. Kind of like an Old Ale w/ a shake of pale chocolate malt chucked onto a frenzied slurry of spicy phenolic Abby yeast.
I dunno. Belgians brewers just do what they want, eff the style, and I respect that (extreme beer in the USA). Strange and yummy. Quaint step out of the ordinary.

 1,360 characters

Photo of Travlr
3.95/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Amber brown, with a thin light tan head and a scant malty aroma. Full mouth, light chocolate start progressing to caramel with some spice. Sweet, but not too overly so. i'd like to try this one after laying it down for 3 or 4 years - hopefully will become more complex.

 269 characters

Photo of njmoons
4.49/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An excellent sweet Belgian Dark.

Was happy to find this on tap at the local Beer Bar.

Pours a dark reddish brown with little if any head.

Smell is of sweet friuts, figs, raisins, and some spice. The sweet smells over shadow light notes of malt, chocolate, and there is little if any alcohol in the smell.

Taste starts sweet with fruit and spices in good balance, slightly overshawdowing the malt. The sweet flavor last right through the end, but never is overwhelming to the flavor of the beer. The finsih is mildly bitter (very mild), slightly alcohol warm, and unexpectedly crisp. Taste is almost a 5 just a little sweet for me. Overall one most unique beers that I have truely enjoyed with the combination of subtle flavors and balance making this a winner!

The mouthfeel is heavy and consistent with the style. Drinkability is excellent for such a strong beer, but after a couple you really start to feel it.

 918 characters

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

I was pleasantly surprised with this beer. I bought it in 07 and it stuck around in the closet until I decided it was time to clear out some beers.

Smells fantastic, like a strong dark Belgian should. There may have been some spices once but they're all but gone now... or maybe it's just the yeast. I can't tell

I taste a lot of dark fruit flavors and high lov crystal malts. The raisin malty sweetness tastes fantastic. I don't really know what I expected but it was really a treat. I'll grab another one if I find it again.

 528 characters

Photo of bobjonesSD
3.99/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at O'brien's

It was poured on-tap into a chimay goblet with the silver edge - looked a nice dark brown/black with very little head likely due to the pour. It smelled terrific - dark and spicy with a fruitiness as well. The taste was also quite good but I expected a little more from the smell. Mouthfeel was merely ok - perhaps slightly more carbonated than I would have expected. Drinkability was good - I would have drank several more of these.

 455 characters

Photo of morebeergood
3.45/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Kinsale as part of their Xmas in July weekend. Served in a tulip style glass. Dark orange & reddish color. No real head and doesn't look very carbonated. Smelled a lot like cinnamon and orange peel. Has a definite dubbel taste to it. Lots of ripe fruit and jam. The only thing that surprised me was the mouthfeel. I found this beer very thin and watery. I expected a bit more from such a well know Belgian brewer. It was a nice beer on a cool evening, but not one of my favorite Christmas beers I've ever had. Not hearty enough for a winter themed beer.

 563 characters

Photo of wordemupg
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

13/07/09 750ml corked bottle i got at dalhouise co-op

A dark brown with some ufo's

S quite nice some raisins booze and lots of spice,

T also quite nice yeast, bread and yes lots of spice, raisins, and nutmeg sits heavy booze is there but would not guess 10%

M thick but not creamy nor chewey, good carbonation, Solid overall

D not the best day for drinking, "summer" night in calgary would have been better as a winter warmer (DUH)

 439 characters

Photo of mulder1010
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a 750 poured into my Belle-Vue kriek glass.

A--a dark brown color with a nice head. Light brown head that lasted for a near minute and well carbonated. Good lacing with the glass.

S-- mmmm spices. Smells a bit like Chimay but with a bit more spice. A bit of plum and rasin. Smells like a Christmas beer should.

T-- More plum. Still a bit like Chimay to me. Get a lot of spices, bit of orange in it as well. Not as heavy as I had thought.

M--Very solid. Already like this beer, good mix of fruit and spices. Do not get the ABV 10% until it goes down, slight burn but that is ok.

D-- Very drinkable. Savor this beer on a good cold night. It will keep you warm. I could easily see drinking 2 of these puppies and still wanting more. A classic example of a good Christmas Ale. Very well done. Too bad it is July and I am in Sydney, Australia.

 844 characters

Photo of srandycarter
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this a few years back and was not happy. I love this brewery, so I had to give it another shot. Old review follows. Glad I tried it again.

A - Dark raw honey, very carbonated pop of cork. Nice thick near white head, leaves slowly to disk. Lots of persistent cling lace.

S - Bready, dark cooked fruits. Banana ever present. I am looking forward to this.

T - Shazam! Banana bread, and some holiday dark fruits to go along with it. Nice meal. Heat pretty well masked in taste. Knocked it a little for a small sour twang at the end that didn't seem to go with it.

M - Medium to heavy mouth, nice carb and wonderful balance considering the massive flavors.

D - Even at this ABV, I could give it a go for some time!

From 6.09 A3 S4.5 T3.5 M3.5 D3.5
Damn. First Lost Abbey Angel's Share Brandy last night , 750 corked, flat. Tonight, this one, completely flat too. Both have great taste, but without carbonation, it's like saltines without the salt. I am not going to even bother drinking it. Need a food recipe to use it....

 1,028 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.31/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep burgundy color ale with a super large foamy head with great retention and good lacing. Aroma of dry fruit and fruity ester with some candi sugar and some nicer Belgian malt. Taste is a well balanced mix between some fruity ester, some dry fruits such as figs and notes of Belgian malt. Body is full with great carbonation and no appearance of alcohol. Very well done though it probably fell short of the ABT 12.

 433 characters

Photo of BradLikesBrew
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Caramel/copper body with a frothy head. Sweet raisins, spiced stone fruits, and a little funk. The palate is sweet caramelized sugars, raisins, figs, spice, earthy yeast, alcohol, and a bitter finish. The body is medium and finish dry. Good brew from one of the top Belgian brewers. Like ABT 12, but maybe a touch more sweetness.

 329 characters

Photo of Ragingbull
4.02/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

I had bought a bottle of this during the holidays in 2007 and upon a recommendation from the local beer guy tried "cellaring" it for a year.
Dark amber in color with reddish tint. Thick frothy head and a little bit volatile. Sweet malty nose with fruity and floral hints. Fruity malt attack with a sweetness like licorice. Very malty. The malt is so strong that it presents as a sweet beer even though it is isn't sweet in a sugar sense. The body is sufficient to carry the 10 percent alcohol which is impressive by itself. Clean finish with lingering malty aftertaste. Some spicy notes and an effervescent type of feel to it.

 627 characters

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.

 537 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy dark amber color with a dirty white head and good carbonation. Nose is malt, yeast, driedf fruits, spiciness and candy. Taste was of malt, caramel and candy with the added spice. Finish was nice, not as boozy as the 10% ABV leads you to believe. Good brew overall.

 280 characters

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.

 660 characters

Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,080 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.
  • Extreme Beer Fest┬« Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!