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:
2,080
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
16.23%
 
 
Wants:
181
Gots:
414
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 679 | Ratings: 2,080
Photo of rallison
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy dark reddish brown with a 1/2 finger head that mostly dies.

Smells of dark fruits with maybe a touch of Belgian Candi Sugar.

Tastes especially of dark fruits, with an emphasis on raisin and apple flavors. Some Candi sugar sweetness. Nice spicing as well. Overall, I enjoy this, but I like the flavors of their normal quad more.

Mouthfeel is rich and satisfying.

Drinkability is quite good.

Overall, recommended. While not my favorite from St. Bernardus, it is still very tasty - and very drinkable.

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Photo of mabermud
4.06/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Look: Dark chocolate hued with mahogany. The head was off-white, tinged yellow, and dirty. Quick dispersion. Maybe one or two bubbles left on the surface at a minute. I know, these beers normally look this way, but the look deserves the score.
Smell: Rich Belgian aroma, yeasty, dark beer smell. Sweet, yeasty, medicinal aromas. This has the smell of something I used to drink when I was sick in elementary school.
Taste: Yeasty, cherry cough drops.
Feel: Medium throughout. The carbonation has no essence, it just disappears. POOF.

Overall - It has been a decade or so since I last had this. It tastes about the same. It's special, but then again, maybe it isn't. Not my style of beer. It's good, but it isn't if this is not your style of beer. I personally, have some appreciation for this beer.

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

A- What an amazing pour. Makes you wait for a few minutes before you can drink it though. Is a medium brown and a little cloudy, but the highlight is the huge head. (TWSS). It was like ice cream on the top of the beer, so thick and lasting so long.
S-It's got that sweet raisin/prune smell of a good quad.
T-This is nearly liquid perfection. So sweet with a small bit of heat and it seems to evaporate in your mouth.
MO- What a great beer. I'm halfway down my glass and it just keeps tasting better, the foamy head has calmed down but is still thick and creamy. Got this for Christmas from my wife and now want to go out and get some more.

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

750ml bottle, corked and caged. Picture of a jolly Monk with a green background, a red stripe in the bottom and red edges and white clunky snow.

From the bottle:
“St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is the youngest descendant in the illustrious family of delicious Abbey Ales brewed by brewery St. Bernardus since 1946. This specialty ale of 10% alc./vol. is characterized by its deep dark color with a creamy, thick head, and a full, almost velvety mouthfeel with a fruity nose.”

Pours a caramel color and settles into a ruby/brown color in the glass. A good dose of foam, about a finger or so. Great retention, there is almost a nice ¼ of an inch pillow of white head and constant bubbles down the center of my Chimay goblet.

Aroma is yeasty and bread-like, dark candied sugar, sweet dark and ripe fruits and caramel, maybe a hint of cinnamon.

Taste is of dark fruits up front with some bread qualities and a slight alcoholic finish.

The beer is very carbonated, maybe a little too much since it stings a bit as it rests on the tongue. I feel that the carbonation imparts a bit on the flavors, it would be a little easier to detect more flavors with less carbonation. Let this one get to room temp. though, it gets a little better and less carbonation sting.

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

Appearance - Let me just say, this is a standard st. bernardus, very carbonated, my cork popped right out when the cage came off and bubbled out all over my floor, whatever. Pours a very hazy dark brown with golden notes on the edges. Huge head, obviously, probably 3 or 4 fingers.

Smell - dark fruits, winter fruits, figs, raisins, plums, candi sugar, belgian spices and yeast, smells great.

Taste - Follows the nose COMPLETELY, dark fruits dominate this with touches of sweet belgian candy sugar. Not a lot of belgian yeast comes through this, just a lot of very very sweet sugars and fruits, very tasty brew.

Mouthfeel - I am indifferent i guess, i give it a 4 because i think for the style this needs to be pretty carbonated. I rather do like how st bernardus carbonates their beers, it leaves a very crisp feel on the palate.

Overall - An incredibly delicious brew and so fitting for a christmas setting. I bought two to see how one tastes in the summer out of curiosity!

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Photo of Andrew041180
4.41/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured as a nightcap on Christmas Day, 2014.

Deep brown mahogany with ruby highlights in the correct light. Strong carbonation maintains a thin head and accentuates a nice feel. The flavor is breadier than I expected, almost marzen like, but obviously with greater potency. Slightly spicy character, but more related to the yeast than actual spice additions. Quite dry finish, with barely a hint of alcohol. Lovely beer.

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Photo of DaveHS
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage.

A-Cork comes out with a loud POP. Even with a gentle pour there's 2+ inches of foamy, porous head, speckled with brown dots of what I can only assume is yeast. Reduces fairly quickly, leaving spotty, intermittent lacing.

S-Musty overripe apples, cloves, coriander, dry earthy hops. Not a bold or spice forward as many other Belgian Christmas releases.

T/M-Very subtle and delicate, considering the style. I'm used to Belgian Christmas beers taking a more bombastic approach to elements like spicing and density of the mouth feel. This is a straightforward, well made dark strong ale. I doubt this was made using any traditional holiday spices. The soft, creamy body ebbs and flows, exposing soft black licorice and marzipan flavors. Notes of caramel and plum round out the corners of the palate, leading into an exquisite, simple finish that lingers just long enough, not overstaying its welcome but imprinting trace flavors on the back of the throat. Leaves you wanting more.

O-A typically classy, high quality beer St. Bernardus. I expect this bottle would be fantastic with a few more years on it.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.93/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, deep, dark, mahogany color, with a finger and a half of white-colored head that slowly dissolved away into a lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Very nice and very aromatic, with tons of bready, toasted malt, imparting notes of freshly baked pastry, as well as lots of dried stone fruit, such as raisins, prunes, figs, apricots, and cherries. I also get toffee and brown sugar, a touch of dark chocolate, a touch of licorice, and lots of funky Belgian yeast, which imparts aromas of saddle leather, wet blanket and roasted chestnuts. Smells inviting and delicious!

Taste: Absolutely delicious! Fantastically, so! There is lots of bready, toasted malt up front, followed by lots of dried stone fruit, such as raisins, prunes, figs, apricots, and cherries. There is also quite a bit of toffee and brown sugar-like sweetness, as well as a touch of dark chocolate, a touch of licorice, and lots of nutty, spicy, funky Belgian yeast.

Mouthfeel: Slightly chewy and nicely effervescent as there is quite a lot of carbonation to tickle the taste buds. With an ABV of 10%, there is just a hint of a pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate, otherwise, the alcohol is very well masked.

Overall: This is another absolutely fantastic beer from St. Bernardus! Each one that I’ve had has been absolutely stellar! I highly recommend each of the beers from this fantastic Belgian brewery!

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Photo of zookerman182
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is dark ruby red and clear with a two finger head.
Aroma is cherries, tartness and spices.
Flavor is dark fruit and black cherry with some spice on the back end.
Mouthfeel is bubbly and bitter and spice slightly lingers with each sip.
Great beer for the holidays!

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Photo of Beric
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Serving: Bottle into snifter
Served: 1 January 2015

Appearance: Not the prettiest of beers when poured. Pours a deep brown with some musky tints. Due to the ABV, the head quickly collapses into a haphazard ring of moldy looking bubbles. Little to no lacing.

Aroma: Alcohol perceptible in the nose, giving a slight medicinal smell (though this is to be expected given the ABV). Strong notes of plum, date, and raisin.

Taste: Complex notes of dark, sticky fruits and viscus molasses rounded by softer overripe banana esters from the yeast. Marvelously complex and a beer that gets better with time at room temperature, as the banana esters fade slightly and the date note really starts coming through.

Mouthfeel: Medium-high body and minimal carbonation makes this one a sipper.

Overall: A great beer and one I'll definitely buy again. A good way to usher in the new year! Would highly recommend.

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Photo of Long813
4.01/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage: 2010

A: Dark borwn, almost black body boasting a huge four fingers of off white foamy head. Retention is great through the entire drink leaves amazing lacing.

S: Strongest aroma is the spice. Clove, bernardus yeast. Nice sweet notes of toffee and molasses. Might be crazy but I get some bubble gum in there too.

T: Little weaker than the aromas, all the same characteristics, spice up front mixed with yeast. Sweet candy and sugar notes.

M: Medium bodied with high carbonation. Sweet sticky feeling left in the mouth with some hints of alcohol.

D: Not bad, not bad. I don't think it's amazing, but it is a pleasing brew and I'd probably get it again to age.

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Photo of keithmurray
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml poured into a chalice

Appearance is a rich brown colour with an inch of tan head

Smell is of allspice, nutmeg and raisins

Taste is malty richness, accompanied by hints of allspice, raisin and cocoa. Sweet aftertaste, but not too sweet, but rather a plesant aftertaste.

This is a fairly highly carbonated beverage with a solidly strong, big bodied mouthfeel. At 10% alcohol, this is extremely drinkable. A very plesant Belgian holiday brew that I would drink again in a heartbeat

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Photo of magine
4.11/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a chalice.

Pours a very dark brown nearing black; cloudy and dirty. Has a fluffy tan head that sits about a pinkie finger width atop the brew. The silky smooth head sits nicely throughout the session. Sticky lace rims the glass all the way down. Very good looking brew.

Brew has a great smell; dark fruits, yeasts, spices. Has a nice fruit dominant nose. Smells good.

Brew is very smooth and has a malty fruity flavor. Yeasts, sweet dark fruits, spices. The head adds to the creaminess of the mouthfeel as you drink. The head on this one sets it apart. This frothy head sticks to your upper lip as you drink. For the style of brew, with the high alcohol, this is one of the best heads I have had for this style of brew. Finishes very balanced and only a tad dry. Sweet taste was expected and is about right for the style, but may put some off to the style. The alcohol is very well hidden. Really good stuff.

Very good brew to drink on a cold night and get ready for Christmas. Very well done flavors and mouthfeel; the added bonus, and what sets it apart from the others I have tried of this type is the great appearance. The velvety smooth head coats the tongue as you drink. Very good sipping brew. This isn't my favorite style of brew, but if you are going to go for a Belgian Strong Dark Ale this is maybe your best option.

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

750ml bottle BBE 17 Sept 2015

Poured 3 times into Westmalle chalice

A- dark garnet bottle with little light perception. Clarity hard to measure. 2 finger head is thick and creamy. Retention is good and lacing is excellent

S- up front almonds and a hint of marzipan. A hint of barnyard Brett like quality comes through amongst a dark fruit plum note

T- almond sweet nut quality up front with hint of dark fruit. This balances with a medicinal/hint of Brett like bitterness in the full finish. Extremely smooth with no alcohol heat

M- medium to high carbination, medium body but due to
carbonation , overall it's quite light on the tongue. Fantastic considering abv, would expect it to be stickier. Very smooth indeed!

D- if I didn't know what I was drinking I wouldn't have said this had anything to do with Christmas. No real Christmas spice note for me but that's no bad thing. Would have liked to taste more malt depth/complexity but overall tasty and deceptively smooth. No alcohol heat at all. Dangerous stuff and potentially one to age!

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Photo of dedrinker
3.5/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Muddy bronze color with a goofy head. Aromas of bubble gum and cough medicine (not in a bad way). The flavors were of raisins ("purple" popsicle from childhood) and some yeast and candi sugar. This may be good after a year in the basement for next Christmas, but I'll take the Abt 12 first.

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Photo of fx20736
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a St Bernardus chalice, served at cellar temp.

Dep chestnut brown with a pale khaki head and nice lacing.

aroma of fresh baked bread, bananas and brown sugar.

mouthfeel is light and frothy

taste of baked bread, plums, bananas and a clove-like spiciness.

Notes: Super! This is really good stuff. I've had 5 different beers by St Bernardus and love 3 of them; Pater 6, Abt 12 and this Christmas Ale.

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

Popped the cork and this exploded with foam. Had to wait 15 minutes before i could pour it. Not sure what happened. Off white head is thick and creamy. Body is clear and deep brown. Aroma is of belgian yeast with some spice and dark dried fruit. Alcohol is barely noticeable in taste. Sweet, fruity and malty. Feel is moderate and has the slightest tingle from carbonation. Very drinkable, but share it with a friend as the alcohol will seriously sneak up on you.

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

I think this is a 2007 vintage, as the cork has a best before date of 2012. I assume it's a five year date. Although, that contradicts the suggestion on the bottle to age it up to 15 years. I digress.

Dark brown with a nice, light brown head, retention, the whole nine. Looks great.

The first thing I notice in the aroma is licorice. Then fig, Christmas plum pudding. Too many great notes for me to understand. Christmas in a bottle.

Spicy yeast flavors, a hint of apple fruitiness, fruitcake, nutmeg, caramel, raisin. Full, creamy body with a nice, warming finish. Could possibly benefit from a softer carbonation.

I'm not sure if the two years of age helped this out, but this beer is in that small group that defines Belgian greatness. Classy stuff.

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Photo of jpro
4.68/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brought this one out to close out Christmas day. 750mL bottle poured into a Duvel tulip... (from notes)

A: Dark, ruby-brown; three-finger, beige head is nice and chunky, and leaves some serious gobs of lace; tiny bubbles keep a creamy head of retention going strong.

S: Toasted caramel malt; spice; light banana; clove; figs; very rich aroma.

T: Belgian yeast spiciness... especially clove, which peeks through more than on the nose; molasses; candi sugar; bubble gum; banana bread; very complex and satisfying.

M: Near full mouthfeel; high, extra zingy carbonation; alcohol shows up a little more with warmth.

O: A great winter sipper; complex and delicious; another superb ale from St. Bernardus! Mmmm....

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Photo of beerpirates
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

75cl bottel poured into a tulipglass

Bottle. A deep red beer with a thin tan head. The aroma has notes of over ripe fruits, yeast, spices, alcohol, prunes, and a bit of wood. The flavor is sweet with notes of malt, caramel, alcohol, over ripe fruits, prunes, and yeast, leading to a dry alcoholic finish. The alcohol prickles the tongue.

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Photo of PatrickCT
4.59/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 ounce bottle poured into a Spencer glass.

a: A vibrant chestnut body with a rusty orange ring when held to the light, 2 finger pillowy off white head with large, lively bubbles.

s: Fruitcake and Stollen. Soft bready malts, candi sugar, apricots and plums.

t: Dry malts, figgy, candi sugar and caramel. Ricola like medicinal herbs mingle with the alcohol and a slight spiciness finishes.

mf: Creamy, drinkable, medium carbonation. The alcohol bite is very well hidden.

o: This is THE Belgian Christmas Ale. Complex yet drinkable, it brings to mind an Old World Christmas through its aroma and taste. Just the right amount of alcohol bite gets through to remind you are drinking a 10% beer.

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

I sampled with imacoug (BA member) a caged and corked 750 ml bottle that we poured into chilled chalices.

A: I poured a dark brown body with a moderate tan head that receded to an even cover. The lacing was modest and did not retain as the beer was consumed.

S: It had a bold dark yeasty profile supported by dark toasted and sweet malts and a spicy rich hoppy presence that was reminicent of nutmeg, cinniman, and all-spice.

T: Each sip presents a front of strong yeast and toasted malts. The dark chocolate is followed by spices that are reminiscent of hot chocolate spiced with marshmallows, cinnamon and nutmeg.

M: It was full bodied with a creamy richness of the yeast and malts hid well the high ABV however, there was a lingering sour aftertaste that detracted from the experience.

D: The full body creamy richness and the well crafted and balanced spices makes this a wonderful winter brew. However, the high ABV and lingering sourness off set its qualities and make this a one bottle a night brew for me (but a fine bottle it is).

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 timtim
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

hazy reddish brown w/ tons of bubbles and huge off white head. great belgian lace and great retention. I was surprised by the hop character that was really really present in the nose. i imagine that will mellow out with time, and i am exited to see how this will tate next year. nose was musty, earthy hops, malt, spice (cinnamon, ginger?) dark fruit and booze. taste was dark fruit, roast, spice, hops and hints of booze. in both the nose and the taste, i could detect something new every pass. i think this one needs a little time, but the full body (which seems lighter because of the heavy carbonation) is smooth, and this is another solid solid beer from one of my favorite breweries.

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Photo of jayhawk73
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown w/ a nice once finger cocoa head. Excellent lacing left on my snifter glass. Nose is mainly figs, raisin, dark fruit, clove, and other spices. Not quite as strong as I'd like, but still very balanced and pleasant. Taste steps it up a notch- this is one of the better Belgian Christmas brews I've had. Just super balanced and really well put together. Feel is full, smooth, and incredibly balanced... Pretty amazing! Overall, this is probably the #2 Belgian Christmas beer I've had- it's definitely worth a buy. Cheers!

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

A- Pours with a huge tan head into the St. Bernys goblet. Murky dark brown body with some murky ruby hues. Great head retention and nice thick lacing that sticks to side of glass, a lot!
S- Huge spice, clove, light nutmeg, toffee, chocolate, some mint, blend between grass and weaker pine (almost like a Christmas tree), and one or two other things I just can't pick out make up a nice complex aroma.
T- Most everything in the nose comes out in the flavor. You can almost taste Christmas in a glass. Alcohol tickles the tongue a little bit and warms up throat very soothingly.
M- Medium body with high carbonation like most of St. Bernys beers.
D- St. Bernys has yet to let me down and once again they pull off another great beer. Wish you could find this in Vegas. I would love to have a few of these closer to Christmas. Also I think it would be great with a year or two on it.

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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,080 ratings.
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