St. Bernardus Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
2,192 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:
2,192
Reviews:
708
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: 2,192 |  Reviews: 708
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

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

On-tap 8/9/2015 at Natty Greene’s Tavern, in North Attleboro, MA served in an over-sized wine glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains fruit, brown sugar, Belgian yeast, caramelized malts and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of dark fruit, brown sugar and caramel. Then some breadiness comes in from Belgian yeast and a hearty malt character. The hops presence is very mild but complementary and brings a very good balance considering the sweetness. The after-taste is sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, deceptively strong kick, good representation of style, this is a solid beer to drink for a while if you’re in the mood for the style.

 890 characters

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -16.5%

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.

 567 characters

Photo of mendvicdog
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%

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.

 857 characters

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.

 256 characters

Photo of billab914
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of smithj4
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%

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.

 561 characters

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

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.

 419 characters

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.

 695 characters

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.

 2,069 characters

Photo of duceswild
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of Jason
4/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of Slatetank
4/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of ZEB89
4/5  rDev -4.5%

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.

 717 characters

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

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,192 ratings.
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