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:
185
Gots:
443
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 705 | Ratings: 2,185
Photo of Dope
3.95/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Best before 04.09.18. (current year batch)

A: Pours a murky, dark red/brown. Ridiculously tall and fluffy light brown head. Head fades slowly with great retention. Minimal fluffy dots of lacing.

S: Somewhat traditional BSDA at first, lots of dark fruits and heavy bready malt notes. Spices kick in shortly, nutmeg and cinnamon I would say. Lots of cloves too. Belgian winter warmer, eh?

T: Lots of christmas spices here. Loads of cinnamon primarily, but nutmeg and cloves are prominent as well. Maybe even allspice? A little dark fruits but the spices really shine here. Big bready malts on the back end with a little bit of stinging alcohol. Pretty clean and cinnamony aftertaste.

M: Medium heavy, very smooth. High carbonation.

O: A belgian winter warmer if I've ever had one. Very spicy, almost a little too one-note since the spices are so prominent. Quite tasty though, I will give it that.

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

Unsurprisingly, a very nice beer. Pleasantly sweet without being cloying, and with a bit of a dry finish. A notable fruity flavour, almost apple-like, along with brown sugar, plum and general spice-like flavours, although it doesn't appear that any are used in the beer. Bready with a "yeasty" character. The nose is very fruity and sweet smelling, losing the spicy dryness that is present in the flavour.

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Photo of anteater
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 11.2oz bottle.

A: Dark dark brown with a medium light tan head, great retention.

S: Sweet belgian candi sugar, brown sugar, cherries, chocolate, belgian yeast. Light, intense, refreshing and invigorating.

T: Chocolate covered cherries up front, sweet malt and molasses. This is really delicious stuff.

M: Slightly dry, really nice drinkability.

O: I think St. Bernardus Christmas is a fantastic beer. It is one of the very first good beers, and perhaps the very first great belgian beer I've ever had and has always lived up to my first memories of how good it was.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.58/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a dark brown to settle a nearly mat black with a small sense of brownness to its body. Very heavy looking and an impressively tall capping to top it off of light crispy brown foam thats a bit rough and tumbled. Kinda crunchy looking at first but developes into a moderately creamy bubbleness and density as it sits. It keeps well and stretches all sorts of wonderful lacing that looks of wet powdered sugar.

Nice lofty aroma of cookie dough and spice. Crisp yet round with a full on malt tilt of breads and dark fruits. Mostly figgy, touch of raisin, perhaps some dates and molasses covering the big breadyness. Nice yeastyness to it which seems to be adding a root beerish type of hints to its dryness. Slender hops add some grassyness to its spicy complexity which included some anise, cinnamon, mint, and ginger cookies.

Flavors are bold, lasting and carry alot of what the smell leads to with its big maltyness and yeastified balance. Firm grip of dark candish malts leads right in with a nice holiday cake-like dimension of figgyness first, then dark cherry, dates, chocolate covered raisins, and then the peppy spices. Notes of root beer, anise, pepper, carrot cake, and ginger make their way in and out of the malty doughy darkness but linger mostly across its finish with a slender, delicately woven dryness of grassy hops. Pretty damn solid! Perhaps not quite a match to the Abt 12, but damn if its not close!

Feel is big, bold, and beautiful. The girth is massive in the body of this stuff. Heavy yet smooth, crunchy and crisp yet creamy with a whole lotta malts to create an exceedingly thick bread/cake-like structure of body. Not to mention the subtle details of yeasty play, dark fruity tang, perfectly intensed warmness, hoppy dryness, and spice. Which all lasts forever and a day the second it spills on to your palate.

Wow! Great stuff! No big surprise really. St. B knows how to impress and this is perfect for the holidays!

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Photo of KTCamm
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Champagne bottle poured into a Duvel glass. 12/26

Pours deep dark brown with immense thick white foam. Heavy lacing, patchy all over. Rich toasty fruity nose, raisins and cinnamon. Nutmeg. Plummy. Hearty flavor, spiced malt, quite boozy. Cherries. Chocolate. Loads going on here. Powerful carbonation. Excellent.

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Photo of Fatehunter
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Big three fingers of head, a dark reddish/brown colored body.
Smells of pine, caramel and overripe plums.
Quite malty and the accompanying sweetness. A bit of lemon at the end, but not really bitter. Some plum and banana in the mix too. Great balance and flavors.
Medium body, slightly sticky texture. Carbonation on the high end.
Can't go wrong with this beer, though the high carbonation did detract from the otherwise amazing experience.

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

Appearance – This ale is a dark, dingy brown in color with a modest but stubborn head.

Smell – There's a lot of yeast in this nose and it has a hint of sourness to it. The malts are a light, doughy brown. The spicing is very winterish, full of dark accents. It is very balanced and somehow manages to pull off a light balance.

Taste – The yeast comes through strongly at the taste, and the malt is again like the nose; very light and doughy. I'm getting a bit of baker's chocolate as well. The spices pulled back some from the nose but are still present and well-balanced.

Mouthfeel – This is not quite full-bodied but it is big. The carbonation is strong and fluffy, tickling the inside cheeks like a good BSDA should.

Drinkability – This is a terrific addition to the St Bernie inventory. It's a wonderful wintertime specialty ale.

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Photo of pkalix
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

had last night, recovering from memory....
pours an ultra dark brown with beautiful lacing on the sides.
smells divine, but unexplainable. typical malts similar to the other st bernardus brews but a few spices tossed in also, apparently.
taste and mouthfeel is a creamy, malty wonderland with a slight hop finish.
at 10%, this is a real piece of work. there is some bitterness to contend with but it's actually a nice part of the overall taste. not as smooth and delicious as the others, but an appreciative craft of art. and it's on tap at the local belgian pub. i gotta get down there soon!

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.12/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz caged bottle into pint glass - new bottle i think. Pours a deep mahogany brown with slight off white head. Nice deep dried fruit typical belgian dubbel aromas bu mixed with big spice character. Taste is of dried fruit and lots of spices - nutmeg, cinnamon, etc...its a bit heavy on the spice, but its still excellent. Deff worth having and a great brew for the holiday season...this would probbaly mellow a bit with some age.

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Photo of gford217
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

No better way to spend a Christmas evening than sipping on a St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. 750mL bottle poured into a goblet.

Pours a deep, murky brown with ruby hints around the edges. The head is a full three fingers and shows no sign of receding, leaving tons of lacing down the glass.

The nose doesn't surprise too much, though there aren't lots of spice presence that I may have expected from a Christmas ale. The main aromas are the Belgian yeast and candi sugar that form the base with hints of dark fruits and bread as well.

The taste is also mainly that of a dark Belgian with tons of sweet malts, Belgian yeast and candi sugar. However, I definitely get more spices than the aroma would suggest as well as raisins and plums. There is a slight bitterness in the aftertaste along with some alcohol burn that warms me up a bit.

The mouthfeel is creamy but with tons of carbonation that helps coat the palate with the sticky sugar sweetness that dominates. The finish is just a tad dry.

I've always been a big fan of St. Bernardus, so I was expecting a great beer and it delivered. One of the best holiday beers I've had recently. Highly recommended!

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Photo of cjgiant
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap:
Second time having this beer on tap. First time I was generally impressed and not in a rating mood. This time confirmed that I should have been impressed.

Pour is a amber/auburn/brown, with nice off-white to tan head that films the surface through most of the pour. Lacing is significant on a washed glass. Nose is confusing. I get a nice scent, but I'm not sure it fits the style. Up front I almost get Sprite-like lemon-lime soda notes. This is backed, and in different sniffs overcome by and balanced by the normal dark fruit notes I'd expect from a quad. Maybe it's the Chrtmas spice that doesn't come through "properly" to me. I really like it, but not sure it's "to style".

Feel is actually somewhat lift and effervescent, which I think is the most non-stylistic flaw in the beer. Funny thing is, like the confusing smell, for lack, I like this as well, personally. The tastes are honey-sweet versions of dark fruits, tending towards candied versions thereof. The Sprite flavors come with the feel, and are noticeable to me in the background. There is very little bitterness to speak if, and whole I would describe the beer as fairly sweet, it's not syrupy sweet.

A definite must have during the holiday season.

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Photo of illidurit
3.6/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On tap at The Red in Santa Cruz. Pours a muddy dark brown with a thick tan head that sticks around until the liquid is gone. Great thick lacing. Aroma is very deep, with fig, overripe plum, green apple, caramelized orange peel, ginger, phenols, and a touch of saccharine cola. Flavor is a little more straightforward. Rummy raisins, orange peel, ginger, and licorice. Alcohol and carbonation are a bit too apparent and so this beer is not particularly drinkable, but it is a nice warming winter treat to share.

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

Purchased in 2009

Pours a dark plum color under a fluffy, light tan head that settles to a creamy ring. Smells of dark, fruity bread...rich berry and fig, caramelized sugar, faint vanilla bean, and warm spices. Juicy dark fruity flavor...more yeastiness than the nose. A rich maltiness lurks beneath the fruit (and a solid helping of booze). Cocoa, pepper, and xmas spices. Wait for it to warm up a little to bring out the best qualities. Slick, plush mouthfeel - warming and lightly bitter. Once this warmed to slightly cooler than room temperature, everything seemed to come together to form a delightful holiday beer.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.92/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale has a thick, frothy, light beige head, made up of very tiny bubbles. The appearance is brown, with evident tiny bubble streams up the side of the glass and a nice lacing sheen. The aroma is of a strong, yeasty, fruit (plum, raisin, dates), brown bread, and a mild spiciness. Taste is similar, with even some banana showing up. There is an underlying alcohol presence, which, however, is not unpleasant. The mouthfeel is light to medium and prickly, and St. Bernardus Christmas Ale finishes mostly dry, mellow, and drinkable. One can certainly detect brandy-wine type qualities here, and it’s nice to see a Christmas beer without all the offensive, over-the-top flavoring. Overall, this is a world class beer! A true beer fan must try it!

RJT

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Photo of stephenjmoore
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage

A- Dark amber/chestnut colored body with a bubbly, frothy head.

S- Belgian spices, honey, dried fruit, raisins, hazelnut, cocoa.

T- Belgian spices come through with some honey and hazelnuts. Also get a lot of raisin and possibly some nutmeg.

M- Full bodied, high carbonation.

O- Good Belgian Christmas ale.

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

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #47 (Dec 2010):

Sizable head drops down to a latte-like foam; this ale is nearly black in color as well. Candied fruit, plum pudding, hint of broth, burnt sugar and mulling spices scream X-mas to the nose. Carbonation smoothes the palate, silky with a delicate but thick medium body. Malt character is on the dry side for the most part; a smattering of caramel is in the middle. A bit hoppy with a side of phenols, all of which go herbal. Alcohol is pretty tame for 10 percent--it warms but does not rake the taste buds too much. Fruity, spicy and yeasty with hints of dark sugar and some earthy yeast in the drying finish. Super complex, yet still a sipper. This ale is waiting to be thrown at a rich holiday meal.

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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 cokes
4.29/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Muddied auburn-brown with a short tan lacing. Lacing was non-existent. I imagine a bottle would fare better in the looks department.
It noses of figs, sugar cookies (with sprinkles), chocolate-covered candied oranges, black cherries, liquorice, pepper, clove, and wet hay.
It begins through the mouth with a rotund maltiness full of black raisins, sweet dough, gingersnaps (wet, and undercooked), molasses, orange candies, liquorice, burnt peaches, and cherries. The middle dries it significantly with roasted grain, peppercorns, allspice, and granite. Hopping is minor, with just traces of wet grass around the swallow. Alcohol is present, but mellowed, in a sweet, sugary, aged rum sense.
The meaty, full body is given some levity by the steady, percolating, tiny carbonation.
This is a jovial holiday concoction. It's more or less like a fruitier, spiced 12.

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Photo of arizcards
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a 75cl bottle at Total Wine in early October 2010 for $10.99.

Beer poured a brownish red with a nice off white head initially - 4.0

Nose is wonderful, dark fruits, bread, ripe banana - 4.5

Taste is ripe dark fruit and dark bread - 4.5

Mouthfeel has the classic Belgian yeast strain smoothness traits but it flattens out quickly - 3.5

Drinkability is good. This is a very tasty enjoyable beer that i will try again - 4.0

Re-Review 3-28-2014

Beer poured brown with a nice frothy off white head that is hanging around nicely - 4.5

Nose is dark fruits and hints of holiday spices - 4.0.

Taste is dark fruits and nutmeg - 4.25

Mouthfeel is classic Belgian smoothness, medium body but very smooth - 4.5

Overall this is a very solid brew, not as good as the original ABT but tasty nonetheless - 4.25

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.85/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at Monk's Cafe in Philly

A - Poured from tap dark brown/red with a creamy 0.5" off white head that clung nicely to the authentic 25th anniversary St. Bernardus goblet. Excellent lacing prevailed throughout.

S - Malty, dark fruits, figs and currants. subtle notes of hops and sour apple. slight yeastiness and light hints of holiday spice. Quite different from the usual holiday ales.

T - Initial caramel malty sweetness, candi sugar. fresh hops and spices mingle in a wondrous balance. Lingering aftertaste adds to ongoing pleasure. Swirls of fruit, malt, hops, and spice hides the alcohol quite well.

M - Full bodied and mild carbonation. Very smooth.

D - Extremely drinkable. I could do a few of them in an evening

Overall - I was highly impressed with this offering from St. Bernardus. Quite different than what I expected from a holiday beer, almost like a Chimay Blue but less fruity. Candi sugar and caramel malts prevail and make for a sweet ride throughout the experience, yet it is well balanced with slight hop notes. For $8.50/12 oz, it was definitely worth every drop. I would like a few bottles to cellar and see how it turns out next year. An excellent accompaniment for a fireside chat after a nice holiday dinner. Highly recommended.

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Photo of prototypic
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very impressive. This one's just a little foggy and is a dark brown color that almost looks deep red. Lots of scarlet undertones. The head is gargantuan. Carbonation appears very active and yields a 3+ finger deep head. Needless to say, it's very patient and brooding. Sure to last step for step with the brew underneath. Heavy sheets of lace line the glass.

Smell: The nose is fruity and sweet. It features some apple and pear and a very healthy dose of dark fruit. The darker variety are mostly plum and raisin. Molasses and brown sugar and most definitely in the mix. Some light spice aromas emerge and consist of mostly pepper, cinnamon, and light clove. Belgian yeast permeates the nose throughout. Light alcohol is noted, but it doesn't present itself as prevalent. It's good, but could be a litle better. I had to work to pull all of that out.

Taste: It's malty and sweet. Light apple and pear mix pretty well with plum and raisin flavors. Nice solid malt backbone. There's a distinct cola-like flavor that is reminiscent of Coke. It's not bad, but I'm not enamored with that aspect. Cinnamon, pepper, and clove spices add some zeal and depth to it. They're flavorful and well done. It is a little hoppier than expected. It has a subtle, yet effective bitter punch. Belgian yeast makes its presence well known and is a very welcome addition. Alcohol is noted and is more prevalent here than on the nose. It definitely has a warming effect. Finishes spicy with a distinct bitter surge. It's good, and it's growing on me as the bottle disappears. I'm hinging on a bump in score here.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It features a medium body and is very smooth and satisfying. Carbonation is active, but does not interfere with its smooth feel. Drinkability is good. This is a deceptive beer. At 10% abv, it is very strong, but lulls you into a false sense of security. I'm handling the 750, but that will be all.

Brouwerij St. Bernardus is one of those special breweries that really can't make a bad beer. I was on the fence a little with this one as far as flavor goes. At the end of the day, it grew on me enough to warrant a 4.5 score for taste. It is that good. The nose could be a little better, but this is a damn fine beer all the same. It certainly warrants an annual purchase. Definitely recommended.

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Photo of beergoot
4.65/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark copper body topped with a thick, sticky off-white head. Figs, licorice, holiday spices, and some alcohol notes wrapped up in the aroma. Sweet, malty, spicy, boozy flavor; well-blended and intriguing taste surprises with every sip; brown sugar and molasses; medium alcohol warmth melds with a gentle hop bitterness finishes the taste experience nicely; slightly phenolic. Medium-heavy body; vinous; wet and juicy.

A very well-done holiday beer. Big and beautiful with excellent balance and complexity. Festive flavors abound and make for a near perfect beer to sip on a cold, winter afternoon while sitting with a crackling hardwood fire nearby.

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

Had this on 2011-12-16 in Columbia, PA

A - Pretty clear, dark mahogany with a 2-finger head that quickly fades to 1/2-finger leaving mild lacing.

S - Sweet and earthy spices, dark yeasty bread, dark fruit, citrus and alcohol.

T - Dark dried cherries, toasted fruit cake (is there such a thing?), apple cider, a little funk, mild hop bitterness, alcohol. Dries reasonably well and leaves a sweet-sour-bready aftertaste.

M - Medium body and medium-high carbonation. Viscous and champagne-bubbly.

O - Seems like an effervescent Imperial Saison with some holiday spices. Quite pleasant. A nice holiday diversion.

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

966th Review on BA
Bottle to Wine Glass
750 Ml C/C

2011

Shared with friends at our 2nd annual Way before Xmas, Xmas dinner

Purchased at Bevmo Chino Hills

App- A lighter caramel brown with a very fast receding one finger head. White in color with a good bit of a pond layer. Zero cling however. A bit lacking in the normal BSDA.

Smell- A huge amount of Belgian Yeast with a lot of aromatics. Rich pine, citrus, fruits and vanilla. A little all over the place but very complex and layered.

Taste- This smelled almost the exact opposite as it tasted. It tasted like Christmas with more richness, more pine more layers and a bit more complex than I was thinking. It still was a BSDA with a yeasty note and a good bit of malts but had a bit more fruit than the standard 12 did.
I like the little bit of dryness on the last part of the tounge. A nice note of complexity.

Mouth- A medium body with a good bit of bubbles behind and and a lot of some yeast. I like the feel on this one.

Drink- I really liked this beer. It was a good way to end the evening with friends for a Xmas party in the beginning of Dec. I would/should go get another bottle of this one to age till next year.

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Photo of Boto
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle: This one pours a very cloudy mahogany brown color. There was almost no head on it, and left no lacing. Nice nose! Christmas spices, caramel malt, faint dark fruits, some breadiness and Belgian yeast notes. The taste is very good. Rich malts, not too much sweetness, dark fruits, yeasty and bready, Christmas spices. Definitely a keeper! Has this on tap at Monks also and was equally good as the bottled version!

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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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