St. Bernardus Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
2,193 Ratings
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
Ratings:
2,193
Reviews:
709
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
9.31%
 
 
Wants:
188
Gots:
446
For Trade:
6
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,193 |  Reviews: 709
Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.75/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of metter98
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is very dark amber in color and poured with a two finger high creamy beige head that slowly died down but left a thin layer of bubbles consistently covering the surface.
S: The nose has aromas of malty sweetness and notes of dark fruits.
T: Like the smell, the taste is rather malty but has a mild amount of sweetness with notes of dark fruits and hints of yeast. The sweetness becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
M: It feels medium-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a high amount of carbonation.
D: The beer is very easy to drink considering its strength because the alcohol is well hidden.

 614 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.53/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Belgian Strong Dark Ales are very well suited for the holiday season even without the spicy additions common to Christmas deserts. The sweeter, succulent, and savory yeasty spice and fruity esters make for a complex staple layered on the supple malt base... absolutely sublime.

St. Bernardus' Christmas Ale pours with a rusty copper appearance with dark orange highlights and hints of garnet here and there. Mild haze and yeast caused a diffused glow to permiate the glass. A froathy mix of tightly and loosely knit head character shows great staying power and intricate patterns of lace upon the glass. A very solid Belgian look, albeit a touch light in color compared to others of the style.

Yeasy, spicy, fruity, and sweetly settled on the nose. Fruitcake-like aromas give a glimpse into the cherries, apples, figs, grapes, dates, plumbs, and sweetbread notes that set the malty and estery start to the session. Rummy alchols tickle the nose and give a sweet and vinous note to the aroma.

Delicious sweet malts give the impressions of confectioner's sugar, supple malty sweetness, and savory desert breads and coffee cake. Fruity with grapes and raisons, plumbs, and prunes, stone fruits, dehydrated dark fruits, apples and cherries all play into the estery mix as provided by yeast. Yeasty spices also attribute notes of corriander, black peppercorn, cinnamon, and a pleasant citrusy note that might be curaco additions or hop derived. Rum-like and red wine alcohols seem to be the catalyst that brings all the flavors together to give the rounded impression of rum-soaked fruitcake.

Up front sweetness gives the early impression of cloying or heavy sweetness. But the beer seems to evaporate off of the palate, much in the same was as does cotton candy- leaving a powdery dry alcohol warmth and only a memory of sweetness. The beer weighs effortless on the late palate and stomach for a remarkably drinkable session for such strength in both taste and alcohol. Assisted by strong effervescent, the beer lifts off of the tongue with ease.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale does all that world class Belgain Strong Ales are expected to, and with many extraordinary nuances to set it apart from the mere good ones. An absolute delight with each sip as new flavors reveal themselves with each visit to the glass. The descriptor words for this beer are seemingly endless.

 2,370 characters

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

750ml corked and wired bottle, shared with my dark Belgian-loving sweetie (uh, beer, that is...).

This beer pours a muddy, sediment-strewn, and rather dark orange-brick brown colour, with an ambitious rising column of frothy, and fairly soapy beige head, which leaves some thorough swaths of sudsy lace around the glass in its very somnolent wake.

It smells of chewy raisins, caramel/toffee malt, everything ever baked by my mom for Christmas, a bit of earthy yeast, and softly simmering alcohol (which also has something in common with my dear mom's holiday goodies). The taste is more caramel and raisin malt sweetness, plummy fruit, nutmeg and cinnamon spice, brown sugar, and strongly warming alcohol.

The carbonation is sedate, but not exactly absent in its gently frothiness, the body well weighted, smoothly-textured, and a tad creamy. It finishes with that same complex, spiced Christmas baking sweetness, all duly steeped in rum.

Overall, much like other holiday season libations, this is a barely restrained, indulgent sipper, for satisfying that sweet tooth, keeping out the chill, and keeping all that other craziness to an acceptable hum. Very worthy of checking out if you like the style, or just need a cool Christmas gift for the beer geek on your list - hint, hint.

 1,288 characters

Photo of oline73
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of brentk56
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Expected a bit more carbonation when I popped the cork so I was not surprised that the head was not overly impressive; after a few minutes, all that remains is a film and a ringlet, though it is rather leggy, leaving quite a smattering of dots and dashes

Smell: Spice cake aromatics, with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove joining the dark fruit (fig and date) elements

Taste: Spice cake with caramel frosting; in the middle, the fig and date flavors develop, along with all the spices detected in the aroma; a little tartness, after the swallow, along with a balsa wood dimension, brings an interesting phenolic angle to the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: One of the better Christmas ales to come out of Belgium; my bottle was a bit undercarbonated but still quite good

 829 characters

Photo of SocalKicks
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of emerge077
3.56/5  rDev -15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It looked nearly perfect in the light, tiny jets of carbonation raced through the hazy chestnut liquid, with a fluffy head of tan foam. Every so often, larger bubbles would be carried upward from the bottom, powerless in the slipstream.

Strong aroma of bubblegum/banana from the yeast esters. Slight sweetness, bordering on cloying.

Deeply malty flavors with light fruit and nuttiness. A bit too sweet for my taste, but it's not overdone. Dry finish hints at the high abv, but it's hidden in the taste. I'm happy that I shared this at a holiday party instead of trying to drink the whole thing myself.

 605 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 WillieThreebiers
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of zeff80
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 Edition

A – Poured out a rich amber color with a beautiful, tan, foamy, three-finger head. It left sticky rings of lace on the glass.

S – It smelled of dried fruits (pear and apple). There was also a strong malty presence.

T - The taste was quite complex. Spices hit the tongue on first sip, cinnamon and maybe vanilla. A rich, roasted malt flavor lasts throughout. It had a biscuity quality, as well.

M – It was soft and smooth with a warm alcohol presence. This is a very heavy-bodied beer.

D – This is a very nice Christmas Ale. It is quite a lot to handle in one sitting. I might have to pick up another and cellar it (the bottle claims it can be cellared for up to 15 years).

 694 characters

Photo of dmorgan310
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

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

Appearance: Poured from a 750ml bottle depicting a jolly monk (with a Santa hat) drinking beer in the snow. The beer itself is dark amber, nearly black, with a cloudy tan head that doesn't show any sign of fading.

Smell: Caramel and chocolate, wintry spices, a bit of alcohol. Very aromatic.

Taste/mouthfeel: Dark dried fruits, caramel, a bit of molasses. Dry and spicy in the finish with a greater hop presence than I was expecting. Crisp but soft carbonation similar to other St. Bernardus brews. This is nice, but I think it will drink better with 5 or 6 months on it. Recommended.

 586 characters

Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of superspak
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into signature chalice; best before 6/29/2019. Pours lightly hazy very dark reddish brown color with a 1 finger fairly dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big raisin, plum, apricot, fig, cherry, pear, apple, coriander, pepper, clove, light banana, brown sugar, brown bread, toasted biscuit, nuttiness, herbal, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of fruity/spicy yeast and dark/bready malt notes; with great strength. Taste of big raisin, plum, apricot, fig, cherry, pear, apple, coriander, pepper, clove, light banana, brown sugar, brown bread, toasted biscuit, nuttiness, herbal, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Large amount of yeast/coriander spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark fruits, coriander, clove, pepper, banana, toasted biscuit, brown sugar, brown bread, nuttiness, and yeast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Fantastic complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/spicy yeast and dark/bready malt flavors; with a great malt/yeast spiciness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Good amount of dryness from carbonation and yeast spiciness. Medium-high carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very smooth, crisp, moderately creamy/bready, and lightly prickly mouthfeel that is awesome. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is an outstanding Belgian strong dark ale! All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/spicy yeast and dark/bready malt flavors; and very smooth and crisp to sip on for 10%. A highly enjoyable offering.

 1,730 characters

Photo of Boone757
4/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of olradetbalder
3.75/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of DrBier
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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.

 565 characters

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 chinchill
4.21/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Large 75cl bottle (2012?) served in a large Piraat tulip.

A: Dark but clear red-brown body. Large, durable, off-white foamy head,with exceptional lacing. Patchy sticky lace decorates the glass well after tipping.

Aroma: Dark fruits and dark bread crust. Faint spices. yeast and an unfortunate touch of must comes with the yeastiness.

Flavor: Sweet, but not overly so, with hints of toffee and brown sugar. Hints of spices including nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. A suggestion of rum. Dark fruit in abundance. No mustiness, thankfully. Complex and layered. Faint, ripe banana. Loads of depth here, and other flavor components come and go, adding to the enjoyment of this great ale.

Feel: medium body. Medium-heavy but soft carbonation makes for a light and lively feel.. Smooth, sticky and gently warming.

O: More like an ABT 12 than St. Bernardus Prior 8. Better than the Prior 8 and, if not for the aroma, it would be better than the ABT 12 too. Despite the Xmas theme, quite enjoyable in the summer. Highly recommended.

 1,029 characters

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

Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV "St. Bernardus Christmas Ale"
750 ml brown glass bottle, corked & caged
$11.99 @ Total Wine & More, Cherry Hill, NJ

Each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas I gather together a few beers that complete the season for me. Amongst the Belgians, The Abbaye Cistercienne Paix-Dieu, Chimay Grande Reserve, and St. Bernardus Christmas Ale are all must haves.

It pours a fairly clear mahogany brown body before you disturb the yeast, and the head is a pillowy tan that later settles to become denser. The head retention and lacing are very good.

The nose expresses yeasty fruitiness and soft phenolics, as well as some additional soft spice and some lightly sugary malt.

Although it's labeled as a Christmas ale it's not spiced like so many American examples that generally include cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and so forth; and which are generally over-done. The spicing here is more subtle. It's more minty, and cola-like, with notes of licorice and molasses which work well with the rich, sugary malts - it is a quadrupel! You might find some brown sugar, caramel, or even marzipan. But it's also fruity, displaying some dark skinned fruits as well as some underlying apricot and apple. The alcohol has a presence to it, but it doesn't step forward, even in the finish. It's superbly balanced, and finishes mainly dry with lingering spice and a drop of browned sugar.

The body is medium-full with a very fine bubbled effervescent carbonation that lends a little zest before warming to become creamy-smooth.

Overall it's a fairly malty and strong beer that doesn't really come across that way, and at 10% ABV it's dangerously drinkable.

 1,665 characters

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

Had on tap at Armsby Abbey Belgian Christmas night, 2007 vintage. This was the catch of the night, so delicious.

Comes with a light Belgian fizzy head and light lacing, over dark brown molasses color with hints of rosy hue, and very dark with very little light coming through.

Nose comes with sweet malts, Belgian dark malts, little candi sugar, caramel, toffee, aged malts, slight dark raisiny fruits, and just the faintest hit of spices and nutty aromas.

Taste brings lots of raisin and dark fruits, little plug and fig, nutty malts, plenty of Belgian dark malts and that aged malt taste, smooth and semi sweet, some dark candi sugar and little caramel, hints of spice and a little warming booze, a little bitterness too. Finish lingers with lots of dark malts, a little sweetness and more candi sugar, and hints of fruits that linger for a while.

Mouth is medium to a little heavier bodied with decent carbonation and very little warming booze.

Drinkability is pretty good, drinks a lot smoother and lighter than 10%, and sweetness is balanced well and the aged malt flavor probably helps.

 1,097 characters

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,193 ratings.
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