Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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BA SCORE
93
outstanding
679 Reviews
Christmas AleChristmas Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Belgium | website

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:
679
Ratings:
2,079
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
16.23%
 
 
Wants:
179
Gots:
416
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 679 | Ratings: 2,079
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.

 442 characters

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 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.

 405 characters

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 MattyG85
4.87/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep and dark brownish amber red with lots of bubbles. Huge six finger bubbly off white head that slowly fades into a thin patchy layer. Leaves some good lacing on the glass.

Smell: Huge aroma of dark fruits leaps out of the glass. Raisins, prunes, figs, dates, and dark cherries. Lots of Belgian yeast with some hints of clove spice. Some hints of cinnamon and nutmeg spices. Also a hint of banana and brown sugar. Great mix of dark fruits and spices.

Taste: Just as great as the smell. Spicy Belgian yeast with cloves and banana. Huge taste of dark fruit with notes of raisins, figs, prunes, dates, and dark cherries. Also a noticeable presence of winter spices including cinnamon and nutmeg. Some caramel malts in the background provide some breadyness. Very fruity but not overly sweet. Spices add a lot.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a carbonation on the higher side. fruity and somewhat sticky. Spicy and finishes dry. No alcohol heat noticeable.

Overall: A very good Belgian Dark Ale and one of the best Christmas beers in the world. Great use of dark fruits and spices.

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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 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 MDDMD
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-dark brown color with hints of ruby and a nice light tan head with good lacing

S-malt, cinnamon, cloves, raisins and plums, brown sugar

T-malt, dark fruit, brown sugar,cinnamon, cloves, hints of licorice

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth, alcohol very well integrated

O-a delicious Christmas beer to savor during the cold months

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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 KYGunner
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Gorgeous hue with a festive brightness and a color resembling the dried candied fruits that come so clear in the taste. This dark cherry or mahogany was topped by a dense froth.

The sweet smell of dates, prunes, raisins and plums hit the nose with a malty back drop that fruit cake. This is called a Christmas Ale for a reason.

The flavor is dried candied fruits with lots of prunes, dates, raisin and plum. Much like the nose there's a malty cake taste that melds well an brings it all together.

The flavors are certainly in line with a Quad but it has a fruit cake like thickness that makes this an excellent winter holiday beer. Sweet and savory notes of dried candied fruits couple with malt to give this an excellent smoothness.

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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.

 2,324 characters

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 canucklehead
4.87/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

What a Xmas treat this beer is with a nose that never stops developing and a huge head flecked with brown spots from the sediment. I got a huge rounded mouthfeel with lots of dark candy fruits and typical Belgian yeast. No spices in this Xmas ale but rather the suggestion of Xmas pudding. I really savoured this beer with every sip as it was part of a trade and not available in BC.

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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 alexgash
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, corked and caged.

Dark ruby-tinged maple syrup. Finger of creamy, light khaki head, with okay lacing. Big, rich, rummy fruits on the nose. Pears, fruit cocktail, scorched sugar, raisins, cola, Concord grapes, and perhaps some yeasty sweetbread. Nice, complex, and inviting.

Flash of toasted malt up front. Estery fruit follows and is quickly joined by a huge swell of sweet, fruity, caramely malts. Sweet Concord grapes blend with sugar-coated raisins, perfectly ripe Bartlett pears, brown sugar, and caramel. Sweet cake batter, toasted nuts, and even a little cocoa lead into the finish. Lingering rummy fruits swell once again in the finish. There's also some yeastiness and a cocoa nib and herbal hop bitterness. Warming. Full-bodied with a thick, gently carbonated feel. Very nice, especially on this 10 degree F night!

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

33cl bottle. Dark ruby pour, with a tall tan-coloured head. Smells of dried fruit (figs, prunes, raisins), toasted dark sugar, chocolate, spices. The taste is very rich and complex, with strong notes of cherries and cherry liquor, followed by caramelized apples, faint cinnamon, red wine and rye bread. An excellent winter warmer, warm, sweet and spicy aftertaste, medium to full bodied and lively mouthfeel due to the high carbonation.

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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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Photo of garymuchow
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

What better beer to have on Christmas Eve?
There is some really nice soft fruit in this aroma. Sweet and light (apple, orange, pear that sort of thing). Absolutely wonderful. Soft yeasty spicing in the background.
Brownish red and tan head with good stamina.
More classic in taste in style. Clear malt, strong yeast qualities, darker fruits. Clear shot of alcohol in the gut. Richness. Nicely drying on the finish. Huge effervescence in feel.

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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 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 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 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 david18
3.18/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I had a twelve ounce draft of this at the Amsterdam Ale House on Manhattan's Upper West Side. This was an ok beer but not great. I usually don't like Winter Ales but it was really more of a typical belgian dark than what one might typically think of a winter beer as.

Appearance was typical of the style. A dark mahogany but not a lot of head. Belgian lacing was still there, however.

Aroma was a little thin. Dark fruit and esthery yeast, as expected, but a little underwhelming.

Flavor as well was not as interesting as I had hoped and the alcohol heat was a little bit much.

Overall an OK beer but not too great. Their quad is much better.

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

75cl e bottle served in a chalice.

L - hazy brown color with a creamy beige head that left some thick globs of foam around the glass.

S - tart plums, sour purple grapes.

T - tart dark fruits with Belgian yeast finishing tart and dry.

F - medium bodied with a creamy feel.

D - good drinkability.

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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
93 out of 100 based on 679 ratings.
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