St. Bernardus Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
703 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:
703
Ratings:
2,181
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
9.31%
 
 
Wants:
185
Gots:
447
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 703 | Ratings: 2,181
Photo of bosco7
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big frothy head sits a top a dark brown beer. Head retention is superb.

Cola, apple, cherry, almond, acetic, spicy phenolics, and cocoa powder in the nose.

Tastes much better than it smells. I was a little worried that this would be thin and cola-ish. Starts big and full of toffee flavors then moves into chocolate, cherry, almond, cola, roasted malt, macerated plum, vanilla, and baked raisin (think the raisins in an oatmeal raisin cookie that get a little crunchy). Black pepper, nutmeg, and more almond in the finish. Hop character is earthy.

Carbonation is high but with a couple swirls it becomes less prickly and lets the body of the beer shine. This was quite the treat. So complex and drinkable: a perfect winter companion.

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Photo of phishgator
4.84/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

From a 750ml into a chalice. Nice hazy, brown carbonated with a decent head for ten perecent. lacing is slight. The aroma is fruity like sweet sugary candy. The taste is just like the smell, but with bread pudding taking over. Rasins and molasses also come through in the flavor. There is a lot going on with this brew. The body is full, but that doesn't stop you from craving more.

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Photo of BeRanger
3.27/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours kind of a murky brown with about 2-3 fingers of white head that stayed for quite some time.

S - The smell was nice, plentiful spices and yeast. Seemed rich of cinnamon, plum and other sweet smells.

T - Taste the cinnamon, plums and other spices/sweet flavors. Unfortunately for me the taste was ruined by the extremely high carbonation. It was too much to handle.

M - Medium body with extremely high carbonation.

O - I was pretty disappointed with this bottle as I felt the carbonation was extremely high compared to what it should be. I have one more bottle in my cellar that I hope to enjoy sometime in the near future. If it's less carbonated, I intend to possibly change the review. I liked the flavors that were coming through however.

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Photo of Spineypanda
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark thick liquid with a nice dark and thin head.
Smells of spices and some ginger as well as the smells you get from the Abt 12.
Tastes really nice, like gingerbread and has a good strong abbey ale taste to it that blends nicely.
It is a shame this was the last one in my store, otherwise I would buy another :).

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Photo of HoppyBastard
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a corked bottle 1 pint 9.4 ounce into a Shaker pint glass.

APPEARANCE: pours a clear dark brown color with two-finger tan head after a careful pour, excellent retention, highly carbonated, significant lacing on the glass.

SMELL: sweet malt, pears, bread, faint spice maybe Nutmeg?

TASTE: the taste follows the nose, initially sweet then bread and pears with faint spice taste of cinnamon and a little Belgian funk, the 10% alcohol is noticeable but well disguised.

PALATE: this is a sticky beer with higher carbonation.

OVERALL: this is an excellent beer, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The higher alcohol content would prevent me from having it often but it's great to have on a special occasion like Christmas. This beer would most certainly appeal to anyone who enjoys the Belgian Quad style.

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

750 mL bottle poured into a Chimay goblet.
Best by 07/08/2012. 2007 vintage?

Pours a deep orange-tinted chestnut brown, murky and flecked with sediment, even after a gentle pour. Topped by a large and growing foamy ecru head, also flecked with sediment. Multiple rings of lacing left behind.

Rich and spicy nose, bit on yeasty fruit. Aromas of green apples, nutmeg, unripe pears, green bananas, faintly, a touch of candied nuts, and just a whiff of alcohol. Rich and dense and packed, but somehow remains subtle-ish.

On the palate this beer proves to be a continuation of the nose broadly, though some of the specifics differ. Apple note takes on the characteristics of a spiced, aged cider, but still shows some green apple tartness. There's a touch of bright citrus right up front that's gone almost as soon as it appears. More nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon, which seems to bring with it a powdery texture (a phenomenon I've found often with beers that taste like cinnamon). Quite big and strong and just a little rough around the edges. Fades smoothly and quite quickly into mild toasted malt and a lingering spicy nuttiness.

Lots of small bubbles of carbonation that turn out prickly and somewhat unpleasant. Medium-full bodied, somewhat firm. Very tasty, but unfortunately not a beer style that I seem to like.

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Photo of MrDell
4.99/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

18.12.2015

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale
Quadrupel - 10% - 750ml bottle - Bottled 28.07.15 (Almost 5 months old)

St. Bernardus’ website:
St.Bernardus Christmas Ale is a dark seasonal brewed in the classic 'Quadrupel' style of Belgium's best Abbey Ales. (10,0 % ABV) Similar to all the beers from our brewery, it greets the drinker with the signature aroma of the St.Bernardus house yeast strain (in use since 1946!) Rivalling the complexity of the St.Bernardus Abt 12, St.Bernardus Christmas Ale offers a spicy, mint-like flavor profile exuding the tastes of warming alcohol, fermented molasses, apricots, licorice and marzipan that are highligted by the perfect balance of brewing sugars.

Appearance: As soon as I poured this beer I noticed how similar to its brother Abt. is in both looks and aroma so this review maybe more of a comparison. Very deep brown with a big, noisy cappuccino coloured head. If memory serves me correctly, ever so slightly darker than the Abt.

Aroma: Straight away that lovely trademark yeast, that originates from St. Sixtus (Westvleteren), hits you followed by loads of dark fruits and alcohol. Smell very similar to Abt. but with a bit more punch, especially where the fruitiness is concerned.

Taste: St. Bernardus Abt. 12 on steroids! Absolutely fantastic. So complex with such a long finish. Flavours include fig, liquorice, dates, dark cherries, brandy, raisins, red wine, dark toffee, banana, burnt caramel... it's like a British Christmas pudding in a glass!

Mouthfeel: Creamy, smooth, oily and then ever so slightly drying finish.

Overall: So, the big one – is it better than Abt. 12? Very difficult to say, having had Abt. So many times and this just the once but at this stage I actually think it is… just! Either way, they are VERY similar, both are favourites and both are world class beers. The Christmas Ale is just that tiny bit tastier, perhaps due to the spices.
11 / 10.

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Photo of Liverpool08
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby red with a deliciuos fluffy mocha colored head. Has the sweet malty/funky aroma of a good Abbey ale. The first sip is YUMMY! Malty, smooth, and creamy, with ahint of cinnamon at the end. Each sip is even better than the first. More malty smoothnes with hints of dried fruits and nutmeg. A great ale for Christmas. I will be looking for this one every December!

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

Poured from a caged and corked 750 on Christmas afternoon at cellar temperature. I bought this bottle last year so there is at least a year of age in this one. Looking forward to trying it.

A real foamer, this bottle.

A-Deep garnet brown with ruby highlights when held to light. Moderate clarity with a fair amount of sediment. Rocky, creamy tan head that doesn't budge even a few minutes after pouring. Amazing this head. Like whipped cream.

S-Sweet malts and dark fruits. Not a terribly pungent nose, but what I am getting is very aromatic. Hints of chocolate, and candied fruits underscored by Belgian yeast.

T-Dark fruits, marachino cherries, sweet malty yeast, and warming alcohol. I have not had a regular Abt 12 in a long time, but not sure how different this is than that. I don't recall the sweet dark cherry flavor that pervades this beer, so I'd say this holiday offering is a bit different. I'm liking it a bit better as well, but I'm a sucker for flavorful holiday brews. No holiday spices of note here, maybe just a hint of cinnamon. Call this liquid rum soaked fruitcake. YUM!

M-Creamy, silky smooth, a bit sticky, this is the perfect mouthfeel without being overpowered by efferevescence as so many of these Belgians tend to be. Spot on.

D-Drinkability? Well, I cracked this 750, and I'm damn well going to finish up this fine brew, but this one is a treat to be savored.

This is the first time I have ever tried this. Bought another earlier in this season to age for next year, now I am interested in cracking it open to see how it compares to the aged version. For some reason, these go on deep discount after Santa arrives. Heading to the beer store tomorrow to see what is left.

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

Pours dark red-brown with one fingered off-white head in St. Bernardus chalice. Good lacing along sides of glass.

Smell is characteristically Belgian. Lots of banana, clove and other ripe fruits.

Taste is heavy with banana, clove, plums and other ripe fruits. Light bitterness in the finish to balance it out. Very nice.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with heavy carbonation.

Overall this was excellent. Merry Crimus!!

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Photo of Hunter
3.84/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark, nut brown ale with minimal carbonation and lacing. Head was thin and vanished quickly.

Smell: Apples, raisins, mild spice, some alcoholic undertones. Lighter than I expected.

Taste: The high alcohol % comes through on the tongue; Spiced fruit, anise, smoky malt.

Mouthfeel: Nice balance between clean and cloying. the beer stays on the palate after the swallow, but not in an oppressive way.

Overall: A good winter warmer, and worth your time.

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Photo of sjccmd
4.39/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I believe it said best buy 2012 on the bottom of the bottle.

Pours dark amber with ruby highlights and a light tan fizzy head. Lacing is pretty thin. Nice looking, but looks like it doesn't have as much body as I'd like.

The smell is pretty much everything I'd want to smell in a BSDA. Dark fruits, brown sugar, raisins, caramel, with a touch of spiciness.

The taste initially follows the sweetness of the smell but is rounded off with slightly bitter roasted malts, alcohol warmth, and a dry finish.

The mouthfeel is a bit of a let-down. It's not very thick and little too fizzy for my liking. It delivers the flavors decently, but I was hoping for more body.

Still decently drinkable especially for the ABV. A bit of a slow drink, but it's worth savoring.

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Photo of crnipeter
3.12/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sybaritic monk with Santa's cap smiles from the label inviting you to join him so why not listen to his call? 750 ml into Rochefort chalice.

Coppery brown with light tan head that quickly dissipates. Not impressed.
I'd expected a quad enhanced with spices but I was wrong. This beer should be labeled x-mas Grottenbier as the aroma profile strongly resembles that of a grotten: Unascertainable spices blended with sweet cocoa and alcohol, lots of alcohol. Flavors correspond to the aromas with addition of slightly hoppy finish. Alcohol is overpowering. I could swear this is merely an alcoholic build-up of a Grottenbier. Prickly on the palate with more body and not as dry as its less potent brother. I've been deluded by the smiling monk.
Sint Bernardus is one of my favorite breweries for its Pater (6), Prior (8) and Abott (12) line. However, those beers are legacy of tight cooperation between the brewery and local monastery and could be classified as descendants of Westvleteren. Unfortunately the rest of Bernardus offerings does not meet the high standards set by the pious brothers 6,8 and 12.

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Photo of cbarrett4
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from tap at Henry's 12th street. Medium head settling to a nice lace. Dark brown hue. Packed with dark malty goodness, and holiday spices, nutmeg, molasses, brown sugar. Yum. Rich flavors of dark malts and said molasses, spices. Medium weight, almost smells and tastes like it needs more body. Smooth, low tannins, very easy on the finish. Good brew, but expect more from this brewery and at this price.

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Photo of mavbrew
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had at Ebenezer's, served in chalice.

A: Pours a dark brown color with amber highlights, typical of the style. There is a slight off-white head.

S: Smells of dark fruits and yeast.

T: The taste is what you would expect from the smell, dark fruits, yeast and malts. Has a bit of a sweet flavor. Finish is smooth.

M: Medium bodied with light carbonation.

D: There is a slight taste of alcohol but the 10% is masked pretty well, making it highly drinkable. Very good offering and a must try BSDA.

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Photo of JLeege
4.82/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage.
750 corked 'n caged, poured into a snifter.

Appearance- Pours a cola like color with a bubbly 2 finger just off white head. Great head retention, leaves good lacing.

Smell- Dark fruits right off the bat, aromas of grape/raisons, cherry, plum. Some light spicing. Lots of Belgian yeast on the nose. Smells terrific!

Taste- Again fruity, up front, dark fruits mostly with pronounced grapey notes. Very yeasty as well. Chocolate and cherry notes in middle of the drink. Some brown sugar flavors as well as some light maple syrup. Some banana bread and clove at the finish. Nice layering of flavors in this brew. Similar flavor profile to a nice spiced rum actually. Some slight alcohol is noticed on the finish, but deffinitly not fusel or anything. Quad-esq in the overall flavor.

Mouthfeel- High carbonation but still has a full and creamy feel to it. A slight warming is noticed, which I am liking, and looking for in Belgian of this strength on a winter night.

Overall- Glad I finally got around to trying this one. One of the best "Christmas" ales I have ever had. The flavors of this are perfect for the holiday season and it is not overspiced, for my taste, as some X-mas brews seem to be. Great beer overall and at a very fair price, this is one of the cheapest Belgian imports in my area (bumps up the drinkability a bit). Very impressed, will hopefully be revisiting this again soon and often over the winter!

Edit: Just checked and this is my highest rated beer to date (out of what I have reviewed). When I think about it, this makes perfect sense, this beer is exceptional!

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Photo of Travlr
3.95/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Amber brown, with a thin light tan head and a scant malty aroma. Full mouth, light chocolate start progressing to caramel with some spice. Sweet, but not too overly so. i'd like to try this one after laying it down for 3 or 4 years - hopefully will become more complex.

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Photo of ISmith87
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - 4 - Dark red/brown mahogany colored beer that has a nice frothy off white head that leaves a nice lumpy lacing.
S - 4 - Dark fruits, plums, cinnamon, spices, belgian yeast, breadiness, bananas.
T - 4.25 - Dark fruits, plums, cherries, cinnamon. Definite belgian yeast with a nice breadiness to it.
M - 4 - Medium mouthfeel. Alc covered completely. Aftertaste is nice fruity cherry banana belgian awesomeness.
O - 4 - Good belgian beer. Nice and fruity. I'd have it again.

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Photo of midaszero
4.02/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Hazy dark amber with one finger of white head and okay lacing

S - Malty with floral hop notes. A little faint

T - Taste like Christmas. Nice and malty with some spice mixed in. There are some red grape notes. ABV hidden pretty well

M - Medium thick body with medium carbonation

D - Pretty easy to drink and very enjoyable

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Photo of brewdude1982
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was a bomber poured into a snifter.

This pours an opaque brown and smells like Belgium yeast an then sweet. It tastes belgiumy and is sweet and malty. It had good carbonation and a medium body. Overall I would recommend if you can find it but its seasonal and I got it after Christmas.

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

A - Pours a deep ruby red color with light brown head and plenty of retention.

S - Figs, raisins, apples, sugar, and bready malt.

T - Definitely on this sweet side but not in a bad way. Plenty of dark fruits mix well with an almost rock candy taste. Cinnamon and nutmeg spices can also be tasted.

M - Full bodied and provides a nice covering mouthfeel.

D - I polished this off quite easily and the flavors are not too bold and could allow for a second to be had.

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Photo of UrbanCaveman
3.57/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle, poured into a snifter at room temperature.

A: Pours a rich, deep bronze-brown, and forms a fantastically thick head with good retention. Fairly clear, enough to see the bubbles rising from the bottom. Lacing is rather remarkable - this amount of froth and lacing should not even be possible for a 10% ABV beer!

S: Sweet malt and yeast, wreathed through with plum, fig, and cherry notes. The candi sweetness is of course present, along with just a tinge of funk.

T: So, that's what a quad with cinnamon in it tastes like. There's significant heat in this, from a combination of cinnamon spice with noticeable alcohol. Sweet malt, candi sugar, and dark fruits, particularly cherry, are all present, but beneath the spiceahol mix. The finish leaves a lingering burn.

M: Rather thin and sharply carbonated for a quad, actually. I was expecting something stickier, given the head and lacing.

O: I am rather underwhelmed by this beer, especially from St. Bernardus. The Abt 12 is spectacular, but this does not disguise the alcohol content half as well - instead, it disguises the underlying yeast flavors with alcohol and spice. I wouldn't say it is a bad beer, but I would not go out of my way to have it again. Perhaps if I were to encounter it on tap somewhere for a decent price per pour.

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Photo of ryanonline
4.7/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep dark brown with some burgundy highlights and an enormous off white head that sits around for quite a while leaving some very thick gob like lacing.

smells very sweet with some strong hints of cherries and dark fruits with some fairly light spice notes to it. there is some cinnamon and even a touch of clove but many of the other notes are not so noticeable.

the taste is the same but with some more balanced characteristics. the cinnamon is more prevalent but not so strong that it overtakes the other flavors. a very light floral hop flavor lingers in the background.

the mouthfeel is exceptionally creamy and full bodied, the carbonation is soft and foamy. very sweet finish.

may not be super drinkable because it is pretty complex and full bodied. still very good though.

awesome beer, basically like a spiced abt 12.

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Photo of dbell23
4.7/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass. Two finger head that settles to a thin beige head that lingers throughout the drinking. Great lacing. Super dark brown color.

Smell is spicy dark Belgian. Cloves, Christmas spices dominate with malty Belgian ale fragrances. All dark Belgian aromas.

Taste is so complex. Belgian yeast, Christmas spices, smooth malts, toffee, caramel, with a hoppy/phenol finish that has a brown sugar lingering flavor. Alcohol is totally hidden. Great, sitting in front of the fire after a hike in the snow.

Mouthfeel is perfect for this type. Smooth medium/heavy. Just what I look for in this type beer.

Overall a great Belgian winter beer. Can't wait to drink this one again.

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Photo of Cozzatoad
3.63/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750ml cork caged bottle

A- Foam immediately pours out of the bottle, and it keeps building inside even after a few pours. Slightly murky brown, with ruby hints if seen through light. Huge head that quite quickly recedes to about one finger of slightly off-white soapiness. Loads of lacing on the glass

S- Dried and dark fruits among a strong alcohol feel, with a faint spicy note to it. A hint of lactic acidity as well

T- A suprisingly dry and not so strong malt character (with some notes of caramel) sets this beer apart from most belgian strong ales and other St. Bernardus beers as well. A slighlty musty herbal feel plays a major role in this beer, though in my opinion it is not perfectly balanced with the beer's dry malt character. Strong alcoholic feel, with both plain alcohol and spicy notes from the esters. Assertive dark fruit notes of cherry, raisin and maybe more. A faint hint of lactic sourness as the smell suggested. Extremely complex, but a bit messy

M- It's dry malt charcter has this beer feeling quite light in body if compared to most belgian strong ales and given it's ABV. Alcohol can definitely be felt, and though it brings a nice warming feel it gets a bit too much in the way in my opinion. Average and spot-on carbonation

O- As i have already mentioned this beer is very complex but quite a bit of a mess. It still is decently drinkable and warming, but it's musty, herbal character just not gets in the line with it's dry malt character. I didn't notice bad or completely off flavours nor any other major issue, so i'm reviewing it

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St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,181 ratings.
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