St. Bernardus Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
706 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:
706
Ratings:
2,187
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
9.31%
 
 
Wants:
188
Gots:
444
For Trade:
6
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User Reviews
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Reviews: 706 | Ratings: 2,187
Photo of KBodner
4.53/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

One of my favorites of the Christmas Ales.
(L) Pours a red/brown with a good frothy tan head & slightly cloudy.
(S) Fruit, malt and a slight alcohol aroma.
(T) Dark fruit flavor with coca & malt
(F) Medium body and a little creamy but very effervescent too.
(O) Such a good balance, at even though it's 10% you might not know it, but it really brings a Holiday taste

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Photo of constantine_272
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown that fizzed up like cola. Head disappeared quick leaving just a thin off white foam ring. The smell is primarily leather, wet fresh oak and red bark chips and clay soil. Fabulous earthy taste. It comes on strong with rich brown leather, soil and meaty portabella. Oak and dark brown sugar with a touch of cocoa build a sweetness in the middle while a tart earthy decomposing banana, strawberry and rhubarb fruitiness finishes and balances the sweetness superbly. While balance is excellent, the body comes up just a little light in the middle and could have used a little more chewy mouth feel.

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Photo of biegaman
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is the epitome of a proper holiday ale: strong, sweet, spicy and it even has an appearance that, on the one hand, is as dark as those long December nights yet, simultaneously, showcases flickering ruby highlights befitting a festival of lights. Even its thin, powdery white head resembles a light dusting of fresh snow!

Love it or hate it, fruitcake is one of those classic Christmas staples. This bouquet is appropriately reminiscent of that infamous dessert, showcasing the same kind of figgy, plummy (mostly dried) fruitiness, sweet spices and sugary, toffee flavours. There's also the token hint of orange peel. It delivers exactly the profile its straightforward name would have you expect.

This review is of a 2015 bottling that's recently celebrated its first birthday. St. Bernardus Christmas Ale - just like the Abt 12 - benefits from (if not needs) a little extra time. The bubbles tone down and the flavours become richer, more integrated. Monks are known for their patience and, as tonight's sample shows, this one certainly rewards those who wait.

Each sip is a wealth of wholesome, gingerbread-like flavour. The maltiness tastes lined with brown sugar or molasses and is enlivened by a cast of baking spices that includes cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and cardamom. There's just the right amount of dried, plummy fruit for my liking. The texture is soft and only lightly sticky, with little interference from booze or bubbles.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale exhibits all that we love about and want during the Season: richness, heartiness, warmth, delicious sweets and holiday spices - and all in a serving size that encourages (or by design necessitates) sharing with others. If you're like me and stash away seasonal treats for Christmases to come, this jolly old fellow in the Santa hat is definitely your guy.

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Photo of shiu-chan
4.14/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle to glass, dark copper brown, thick creamy head with good lacing.
Sweet malt and brown sugar on nose.
Caramel, toasty malt, banana and fig on palate with rich carbonation.
Overall, a great brew with a touch of rum.

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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.57/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

11.2 oz. bottle

Pours dark maroon brownish-red with a dense creamy light khaki colored foam head. Smells like black grapes, raisin, figs, plum, apricot, spice, banana, caramel, molasses, brown sugar, toasted bready malts, apple, pear, with some floral earthy grassy pine. Tastes like black grapes, raisin, figs, plum, apricot, clove-like spice, banana, caramel, molasses, brown sugar, toasted bready malts, apple, pear, with floral earthy grassy pine. Feels medium-full bodied, thick and creamy with moderate low carbonation. Overall a really nice quad.

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Photo of opieo
4.01/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 4

I would love this brew if it was were thicker and creamier. Instead its very carbonated. It immediately foams in your mouth and does not allow you to fully savor the flavors. However, the flavors are complex and tasty. Better when room temp. A great brew.

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Photo of vinicole
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very dark amber. Thin, dense, tan head. Very effervescent.
Rich aroma of stoned and vine fruits. The alcohol is noticeable.
The taste follows with molasses, banana and rum.
Lighter than expected.
The best xmas ale that I have tasted.

 233 characters

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

perhaps my favorite holiday beer of the year this year, as good as any out there thats for sure. its funny listening to a bar full of people drinking this beer, "it tastes just like banana bread" they say, but i really didnt get that from this. it does have comforting hearty seasonal bakery thing going on, but i dont get the banana in the least. instead i get a nice caramelized bready grain base, brown sugar, and spicy belgian yeast. if this is in fact a spiced ale and not just presenting that complexion from the yeast, than its a genius blend and dose, because it fits so seamlessly into the beer, soft ginger, clove, and nutmeg in here perhaps, or maybe its just a perfect yeast strain at the perfect temperature. i get subtle vanilla, tobacco, licorice, tea, raisin, dried fig, molasses, even subtle maple, its beautiful and complex, and the mouthfeel is amazing too. no trace of the alcohol, smooth and rich but also not too sweet and extremely well carbonated, this is what you want quads and holidays ales to feel like! sturdy but not too sturdy. there is not a chill in the world that this beer couldnt warm up, perfect for the season, expertly refined, fancy in the glass, and something to share without a doubt. absolutely loved it, great to have it on tap for the first time, and now the bar for holiday beers has been set impossibly high. tons going on here, lots of layers, a cohesive whole, puts me right in the christmas spirit!

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

Aged for six months. Dark brown appearance with one finger head that dedicates quickly. Nice fruity aroma. Very smooth fruity taste without any alcohol taste.

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Photo of jackecks
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Year: 2011, it was a great year. A treat to have it on draft at Porter Beer bar.
Look: Dark brown with a deliciously dense head, which dissipated quickly. Looks like a celebration.
Smell: Smells like raisin bran, sugary and earthy, but pleasant and subtle.
Taste: Definitely a beer made for celebration, with alcohol present in an almost whisky way, with plenty of fruit and raisin bursting from the maltiness.
Feel: nice and creamy, with a bite at the end from the alcohol.
Overall: A classic that ages well. I'm officially in the Christmas spirit.

 555 characters

Photo of Bruno74200
4.47/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L - Beautiful white head over a brown body

S - spicy (nutmeg, cinnamon) and estery

T - Rumy and vinous with different estery notes, spicy (pepper, and cinnamon mostly), a bit of licorice, grapes, red apple, dates. Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts)

F - Dry mouthfeel with a vivid carbonation

O - A great quadruple and a great Christmas beer. Balanced perfectly

 355 characters

Photo of MacMalt
4.21/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2016 vintage. Poured into tulip glass. It pours a cola ruby-brown with a buff colored head and lacing that dissipated quickly. It smells of candied plum and raisin, as well as banana, brown sugar, coriander, clove, and a whiff of tobacco. The taste largely follows the nose but there is also some cinnamon and and a hint of peppery hops at the finish. The fruit flavors really come out as the glass warms. It also has a dry finish. This ale features lively carbonation and the 10% ABV gives it a punch. This ale is a holiday classic and I'm glad to have finally tried it. Like It's a Wonderful Life, it will be a regular at my house.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.24/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thoroughly enjoyed from the growler via Eightball Brewing in a snifter.
This FINE Belgian Christmas pours a nice red tinged mahogany with a moderate
head of white foam that subsides to a thick ring, light pool, and subtle lacing.
Nose of candied figs, plum, vanilla, mild cinnamon, mild nutmeg, brown sugars,
and light banana bread notes. Flavors follow the nose with light exceptions with
vanilla and a hint of orange peel awash in brown sugars. Fig and plum notes dance on
the middle of the taste and fade into herbal traces of cinnamon and nutmeg with light
phenol notes from the yeast reminiscent of banana bread mixed with a hint of cherries
and a touch of herbal hops on the rear to keep things lively. Excellent mouth feel; medium
light carbonation is lightly prickly with a warming background and sweet lightly spiced
finish that is lightly dry.

Overall a fantastic brew and one I look forward to each Christmas.

Cheers

 940 characters

Photo of Hopfenpeter
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This beer poured a nice golden bronze building a typical belgian plume. The smell reminds of fig, banana and tart. Tasting the beer you will get your typical Belgium tart enriched with christmas flavors which remind of banana nut bread, dark fruit and fig. The feel is again typical Belgium, refreshing bubbly up front and slightly tart and soothing in the back. Overall a masterpiece!

 385 characters

Photo of tlema1
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: muddy brown, with a bubbly head
S: some fig, some banana
T: some banana, deark fruit and booze
F: very tingly on the tongue, boozy finishing
O: very nice Xmas ale

 167 characters

Photo of thebeers
3.9/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dark ruby brown color with a finger of lasting, thick-and-creamy, off-white head. Gorgeous beer.

Big, distinctive aroma of burnt sugar, custard, buttered popcorn and slight ripe banana. Maybe a ghost of some stone fruit, but not much and not much Christmas spice, either.

More traditional tasting, fairly dry, with some muted caramel and fig, light banana, light Christmas spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg) and a healthy kiss of alcohol on the backend.

Slightly creamy mouthfeel with strong carbonation.

I've got mixed feelings about this one. I appreciate how distinctive and unique it is (custard? come on!), but I'm not a fan of the buttered popcorn characteristic.

 678 characters

Photo of Stakebone
3.95/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Nice tiny bubble head with lacing. Smells like slightly soured fruit and earth. Taste like it smells only more on sweet fruit for flavor. Mouthfeel is great and complements the slight sour notes.

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Photo of Cthulhusquid
4.89/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Three finger white-brown head, very dark brown body.

Smell : See below, but the spice is a bit less apparent.

Taste : Dark fruits, cinnamon, clove, sweet cake spice, a little caramel, and a note of bubblegum.

Feel : Very high carbonation, medium body, slight alcohol bite, a little warming.

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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.

 883 characters

Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
3.96/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the bottle, it pours a hazy brown with a large tan head, dissipating to a moderate head. Aroma of fruit and alcohol. Taste is fruity and dangerous.

 154 characters

Photo of Grogsky
3.2/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A nice beer for those looking to expand their palates with flavours of fruit. Definitely worth trying, but I won't stock my fridge with them. Better winter style beers are available.

 182 characters

Photo of delta490
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky brown with a decent cap of light tan head that quickly disappears. Almost no lacing is left behavior be. The aroma is fruity and sweet, but think brown sugar and burnt sugar. The taste is much the same with just a little bit of spices. The body is remarkably light and drinkable with just a little bit of carbonation.

 331 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.

 484 characters

Photo of Ozzylizard
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

$ 12.50/25.4 oz bottle + $ 2.68 shipping = $ 0.593/oz from Blackwell’s Wines and Spirits, SF CA
Undated bottle at 42 degrees into hand washed and dried JK snifter, allowed to warm to 50 degrees
Resounding “POP” when cork is pulled
Aroma of spices and fruits
Head large (five cm, aggressive pour), off white/light tan, creamy/fizzy with rocks, diminishing to three to six mm irregular ring and partial layer mostly a single bubble thick
Lacing poor – rare tiny island of tiny bubbles
Body medium brown, opaque, some effervescence
Flavor unremarkable – spice and fruit, nothing outstanding; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl. The carbonation overpowers any nuances of flavor.
Palate medium, creamy, lively almost fizzy carbonation (Bottle conditioned)

Appearance 4, Aroma 4, Flavor 3.75, Palate 3.75, Overall 4

 819 characters

Photo of woemad
4.34/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle purchased at the Spokane Valley Total Wine for $5.99. According to the rear label, this is best before June 29, 2018.

Poured into a St. Bernardus glass (love it when beer and glassware meet), this was a dark brown color, showing off reddish highlights when held up to light. There was a big, thick beige colored head that took it’s time to drop.

In the nose, I got fruit, sweetness, and spiciness kinda like a candy apple paired with a banana. Other fruits were present, however, as I also got some prune and fig aroma.

Sweet and fruity in the taste as well, but balanced with some spices a more dark fruitiness that lends some bitterness and, so, balance to the proceedings. One thing not present in the taste is the alcohol (10%) of this beer. As it warmed, the spices came out more, but not the booze, and it remained dangerously drinkable throughout.

Fairly light bodied for a big boozer, as is standard with beers of this style, and the mouthfeel had that effervescence that is so hard for American versions to capture.

I don’t think this is as complex as a quad like St. Bernardus’s Abt 12, but there’s still quite a bit going on in this beer, and all of it delicious. Yep, I’d drink it again!

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St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,187 ratings.
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