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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User Reviews
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Reviews: 705 | Ratings: 2,185
Photo of mactrail
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Lovely dark brew in the tulip glass. Distinctive for the great sensual body and the big, sudsy mouthfeel.

Licorice and cherries come to mind immediately. It’s not overly sweet, though it’s hugely rich. Plenty of malt with shades of dark roasted barley and a deep, intriguing complexity. This one is on my list to try again, but I’m glad I was able to have the tap version.

Certainly one of the best Belgian beers I’ve had. On tap at Pizza Port in Ocean Beach. Transcribed from 12/12/12 tasting notes.

 511 characters

Photo of Rifugium
3.86/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

First had: ???
This review is for a recent tasting, on tap at Capone's, Norristown, PA

I hadn't had this in a while, so I figured I'd give it another spin. Slightly hazed, ruddy brown pour, with a small cap of off-white head that retained well and left a bit of lacing on the snifter. Nice aroma, toasted bread, light spice, yeast, peach and pear. Taste reflected the nose, caramel malts, yeast, brown sugar, allspice, candied fruits. It's an easy drinker, medium-bodied, crisp, flavorful, some boozy heat, but as it is a 10% quad, you have to expect that a little.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.93/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a brown body with a large, foamy khaki-colored head. Quite effervescent!

Smell: A nice mix of pitted fruits with notes of cocoa powder, holiday-minded spices, cracked black pepper, and yeast.

Taste: Juicy dark fruits with a hearty dusting of cocoa and tossed with a mix of sugar 'n' spice. Slight bready yeastiness. Just of earthy bitterness. Semi-dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Well carbonated. Warming alcohol presence.

Drinkability: A fine holiday sipper (regardless of the 10% ABV) that made for pleasant Christmas Day drinking.

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Photo of dcmchew
4.48/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

0.75 bottle, using my tiny new Westy XII glass.
Dark brown with some copperish hues, one finger head, medium retention, very sticky lacing afterwards.
Fruity smell, with red grapes, prunes, banana, also caramel, dark christmasy spices.
Sweet caramel takes center stage, with musty grapes and plums, cherries, some citrus here and there, heavily spiced. Yeasts were really busy, giving off clove, ginger, low cinnamon, anise and faint vanilla. Malts aren't robust, bit bready, like a nice foundation for the complex spices. Warm alcohol, nicely hidden.
Smooth mouthfeel, a little bit syrupy, perfect actually. There's also quite a lot of fizz at first, that enhances its drinkability. Sweet, but does not cling in the aftertaste.
Quite a dangerous beer, very tasty and balanced, one might finish the 0.75 l bottle without even noticing. Christmas ale indeed.

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

Generously bubbled dark cranberry with orange and gold highlights. The pale toffee colored head was at least four fingers following a gentle pour and doesn't look as though it will melt until New Year's. Thankfully, it's sticky enough to decorate the goblet with fine sheets of lightly stippled lace.

The nose is classic BSDA. It's hard to say for sure, but it smells like the typical yeasty spiciness, not so much added spices. The beer smells like freshly baked pumpernickel covered in dark fruits and ground cloves. Good, but not quite magical.

That's my first impression of the flavor as well, but I have a sneaking suspicion that warming will make this dark ale blossom into something even more delicious. For that to happen, the metallic vibe that has intruded on the first few mouthfuls has to fade. It does... eventually.

I'm surprised at how bitter and dry Christmas Ale is, relatively speaking. It isn't out of line for the style, but it is a little unusual for a holiday beer. The flavor profile is made up of toasted brown bread (with a rye-like earthy spiciness), black tea leaves, figs, anise seed, orange peel, cloves, black pepper and a wee pinch of musky cardamom.

That this Brouwerij St. Bernardus offering would be complex was never in doubt. Warming does, indeed, open up the flavor profile and fills it in with bold strokes of color. Is it enough to earn the next highest flavor score? Tough call, but by mid-bottle, I've decided that it is. The alcohol, although well-masked, adds a bracing power that lovers of big beer should embrace.

The mouthfeel doesn't deliver the usual creamy lushness of a big Belgian ale. It's a little too brightly carbonated and is a trifle thin. It's still more than acceptable, but I was expecting mouthfeel excellence from the merry monks.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale manages to capture the spirit of the season with a spiciness whose origins are a mystery. It probably won't be everyone's cup of ale, but I'm having a great time sipping and savoring. What a wonderful beer to cap off Christmas 2008 in style.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.24/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a rather dark brown color with a very large foamy tan colored head. Great head retention with foamy lacing all around the glass.

S: Very complex and rich. Lots of dark fruit, raisins and figs, with some caramel, brown sugar, toffee, and a candy sweetness.

T: Very nice flavor profile, more dark fruit that lasts throughout, more raisins, plums, and a little cherry. The back end is filled with some caramel, brown sugar, and a slight sweetness. A little bit of doughy malt in the middle and a bit of Belgian yeast.

M: Medium to full bodied with a nice level of carbonation.

O: Another fantastic beer from St. Bernardus, deep and complex. A great beer to sip over a long evening.

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

Massive 80% head in the glass. Settles steadily leaving spotty lace on the glass. Cloudy light brown color.

Sugar candy and alcohol are the dominant aromas. Mild hop in the background.

Creamy with a mild sweetness and the archetypical Belgian flavor from the yeast. Alcohol is potent and adds to the rich body. The swallow has a faint touch of hop, but it's a predominantly sour malt flavor. The aftertaste is brief.

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

On-tap at Stuffed Sandwich

A: The pour is a dark brown color with some amber sort of highlights and an appropriately large off-white head.

S: A really rich, luscious nose of caramel, brown sugar, candi sugar, and toffee. Tons and tons of fruits too, like cherries, figs, and plums.

T: The flavor is just as wonderful. Sweet brown sugar and caramel lead the way with plenty of cherries, plums, and raisins to provide further sweetness. There's some clove and nutmeg flavors as well as a nice yeastiness.

M: The body is medium with a really full and rolling carbonation.

D: Maybe the best of all the Belgian Christmas beers I've had to this point. This is pretty much what I think of/look for in this kind of beer.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a wine glass.

Man, that monk sure looks happy and festive. His brew pours a hazy sienna topped by a finger of dirty tan foam. The nose comprises nutmeg, fig, cinnamon, and a touch of roasted malts. The taste runs very similarly, with the addition of banana and chocolate. The body is a staunch medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a somewhat grainy feel. Overall, another win from Bernardus. I can't wait to try the others I've yet to experience.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
3.48/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes. Dark ruby color with beige head. Aroma is yeasty and alcoholic. Taste is sweet, full of yeasty esters with dried fruits but also a slight fermentation note. Body is highly effervescent, acidic and quite light. Not really my kind of beer.

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

Vertical of 2010-2013 shared by raveskdr. Thanks Chris! Copper brown body with a broken beige head. Aromas of Belgian yeast, caramel malt, well water, mineral, raisins. Smooth flavor, showing some signs of age (’10, ’11). Medium bodied with soft carbonation on all vintages, with the most recent perhaps a bit more vibrant. Lots of flavor. Slightly sweet, with subtle spice and a touch of brown sugar. Tasty.

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

Super carbonated, Belgian ale just in time for this holiday season, pours a slightly clouded mahogany brown burgundy color with a light khaki tan head forming thick and fully bubbled. Aroma is full of Christmas spices meaning hints of cinnamon, ginger, and other famous pie spices. Full on flavor of ripened fruits and sweet bursting dessert like bready pie crust. Fruit filled with spices galore this is some big festive drinking Christmas ale. Full on honey tinged ripened fruit with hints of papaya, pineapple tartness with bittering hoiday spices balancing out the pure sweetness of this big Belgian ale. Alcoholic slight medicinal burn in each sip with high carbonation this really tickles the nares but the effervescent carbonation carries things well, and it finishes with bitter dry holiday spices. Wonderful amazing freak of nature Belgian Christmas bier that we all look forward to each year.

 902 characters

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

Pours a clouded dark brown with a good sized creme head that leaves a decent amount of lacing on the way down. Nose is spices and yeast. Flavor is extremely heavy on the spices. Just buckets and buckets of them. Dough rests in the background. Carbonation is extremely full and attacks the tongue. Liquid is as it should be. This is definitely a winter style brew. It is so spice forward and heavy on the body that it is to be sipped and savored over time. A nice brew for sure.

 477 characters

Photo of tdm168
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - dark amber with a big, white head that has great retention

S - baked apples, some spices, cinnamon, Belgian yeast

T - baked apples, caramel, faint cinnamon, spices

M - medium to full bodied, smooth, well carbonated

This is a nice, malty beer where the yeast does a great job imparting spice and character. The ABV was well hidden, there was great balance and drinkability, and it has a solid all around flavor profile. This is definitely a winter beer worth checking out.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.26/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured on tap giving off a very nice opaque dark brown nut quality body. Good looking tan cream head almost as well.

Smell is a one trick pony. This is an all out banana syrup bomb, not even starch smelling just like faint Dairy Queen banana topping. I am not a fan of bananas so this makes for a not enjoyable smell and review for me (keep that in mind). Taffy notes as well, and with brown sugar notes and mild butter.

Taste is actually solid with a nice simple carbonation and sour chew quality. Banana syrup but not too thick body leaving a good finish.
Strangely enough, I am not a fan of this flavor but this is a well put together brew. I wouldn't want this again, but I can see the reasons why people would have this beer again no problem.

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Photo of jwc215
3.4/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750 ml cage-corked bottle, poured into glass chalice provided by Wasatch:

Pours hazed dark brown with a thin tan head that becomes a large island. Some lacing sticks.

The smell is of dark bread, light spiciness, in an herbal way. There's a hint of prune and anise.

The taste is of spicy pumpernickel. Not spiced, but spicy. Yeasty with some anise and earthy notes. Sharp, yet creamy. Potency might add more body than is actually there.

This was less than expected for the brewery. I tend to prefer the non-spiced winter beers, but this one - well...doesn't really do it for me. Nice, but expected better from this brewery.

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Photo of Billolick
4.13/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber, caged and corked, best before date etched on the bottom of the bottle (sometime in 2012) Pours dark dark brown, initially under a huge head, that slowly recedes , leaving gobs of heavy lace all over the glass. Cola and raisin nose, prickly carbonation, lots of character and cola, dark fruits, yeasty goodness and alcohol all swimming around. Let it warm up, let the flavors open up and savor this flavorful Belgian beauty

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

Dark in color, in between violet and brown, with a nice head, if short, if a bit overblown with bubbles, and not sticking around...another pour gives higher head, but, it too, dies off with a quickness...

Aroma: sweet and spicy, dark fruits, plus dark rum, mollasses, some brown sugar, maybe, but green hoppy feels as well...ripe, fresh, lovely, beautiful....so good!

Tastin' it: ...cola, cocoa...fierce carbonation....big, fat, outlandish Belgian yeast, the kind that I associate with cookie dough...more carbonic effervescencem and cola feel, mixed with pepper, anise, and other spices ...needs more yeast, though...full mouthfeel, practically inhabits all the rooms of the senses...but doesn't do what the Abbot 12 does, which is my disappointment....I want that and then some, not less than that...
not bad, but too carbonated, very flavorful, and yet not flavorful enough..I expected the Abbot 12 and then some, and I got something less...
a good beverage, warming, alcoholic, spicy, a blast of pepper and malt, and somehow not quite what I expected from St. BErnardus...a bit less, a wee bit....there;s burnished cherries, there's raisins, and dates, and more....

 1,171 characters

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured on-tap and served in a chalice, the beer is a dark, ruby coloring that is hazy, with a clingy, coating, off-white head. Nose of date, cherry, fig, roasted notes, booze, and sour tannins. Flavors are tart and crisp forward, with cherry tones forming a foundation beneath old-world fruit richness of date and fig. Very layered, very rich, and very balanced. Rich cherry and fig aftertaste, with earthy and woody notes. The finish is lingering sweet, with a perfect balance. Great beer!

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Photo of GClarkage
3.73/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12/27/08- Purchased at Hi-Times in Costa Mesa, CA.

Presentation- 750ml bottle, both caged and corked. Poured into my St. Bernardus chalice. 2008 Edition.

Appearance- Deep caramel-brown in color. Yeasty and murky. About a 1.5 inch head which holds up very well. Leaves some small chunks, patches and streak of lace behind.

Smell- Not hugely outgoing, but caramely and notes of dark fruits including rasins and plums. Good nose, but light.

Taste- Damn annoying metallic note at the end of every swallow. Slowly fades a bit after every sip, but still never totally goes away. Loys of caramel and very sweet. Fruits are sweet and chewy with mostly figs and rasins...fruit is held in check and alochol is slightly detected. Sweet, but not really in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation level, lightly chewy and a medium to fuller mouthfeel.

Drinkability- Without the metallic note it's very good. Not quite up to their flagship, but could be almost as good. With the note it's slightly annoying and better than average.

 1,029 characters

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

On tap at Rustico, beer is brown and mostly clear with a thin brown head of tiny bubbles that leaves a lot of lacing on the glass. Carbonation moderate.

Aroma is sweet and clean with minimal yeast esters. Smells good.

Beer is medium in body and sweet up front. The midpalate gives way to a semi-dry finish with some more sweetness and no bitterness, the beer overall is highly drinkable and nice. It falls a little short in the middle of the mouth with the sweetness on either side and dryness at the end. I like this beer and this brewery, they are awesome.

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Photo of stevoj
4.6/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Schwing! Sitting around on Christmas Eve and sipping this beauty. Nice sour smell of dried fruit and molasses, dark, dark brown with oily skin of a head.Flavor repats the fruit theme with a little sweetness, alcohol isn’t noticed until its on its way down your throat. Really, really good!

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.22/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review from 1/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a dark, ruddy brown amber with a nice one finger light tan head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of sweet malt, dark and dried fruit and Belgian spicing. Flavor follows with strong dark fruits, brown sugar and spicing; somewhat astringent aftertaste. Medium bodied with some creaminess. A very nice Belgian winter warmer from a great brewery.

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

Appearance: brown in color with a 2" head that falls pretty quickly. Some spotty lace develops during the session.

Smell: big malt sweetness, brown sugars, and bits of spice.

Taste: huge malt profile, brown sugar, prunes, black plums, some softer spiciness, light alcohol, yeast, and a nice bitterness makes up a full flavored ale.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Lightly crisp to start, smooth at the finish. Relatively short aftertaste with this one.

Drinkability: this one goes down quickly despite the high alcohol levels. A few of these could be consumed in a session, but you will be feeling it quickly.

 615 characters

Photo of tempest
3.9/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Farmhouse in Emmaus, PA. Overall, this is a pretty good Belgian, but it's not as complex at the Abt 12. It actually reminds me of Chimay Blue more than Bernardus 12. The flavor comes off like a cinnamon spice caramel apple with toasted toffee and sweet bread. Delicious, but it doesn't reach the depths of a great strong dark ale. Still very easy to drink. Worth a try.

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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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