Christmas Ale
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Christmas AleChristmas Ale
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Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Style:
Quadrupel (Quad)
Ranked #11
ABV:
10%
Score:
94
Ranked #1,311
Avg:
4.24 | pDev: 8.96%
Reviews:
808
Ratings:
2,432
From:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
 
Belgium
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  202
Gots
  518
SCORE
94
Outstanding
Christmas AleChristmas Ale
Notes:
Reviews: 808 | Ratings: 2,432 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of bwriley4
bwriley4 from Arkansas

4.8/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I thoroughly enjoyed drinking this beer. It was poured from a bottle into a tall tulip glass at about 10 degrees Celsius, 50 Fahrenheit. This is a perfect temperature for drinking although it poured with an overly generous head and it took me a while to let it settle for drinking.

The flavor is complex and delicious. No one spice overwhelms. Other commenters give the many flavors you can detect better than I can. What is most excellent is that you have no idea you are drinking 10% abv. It does not taste like alcohol. It simply tastes lovely.

I don’t tend to enjoy sweet beers and I would not agree with those who describe this as sweet. It is easy to drink and does not leave you feeling overwhelmed by syrupy dregs. Definitely a beer to enjoy on a cold winter eve.

Feb 28, 2021
Photo of izraelc
izraelc from New York

4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark ruby. Huge thick foam. Sweet aroma. Mild cherry sweetness followed by a slight nutty finish. Somewhat syrupy. A little too carbonated for my liking. It's good but I'm not a big fan of the style so I'm not all that impressed.

Feb 13, 2021
Photo of PathofChaos
PathofChaos from Maryland

5/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance:
A murky, coffee brown under a towering column of sudsy, cappuccino froth. Leaves a slippery web of stringy lacing that dives deep.

Bouquet:
English brown malts and toasted bran, tightly twirled by a wind devil of Belgian spice. Each scent has enough bravado to be easily distinguished without offending olfaction.

Feel:
Like tucking your tongue under a wooly blanket: a supple, medium body edged by tingly scritches of carbonation. Afterwards, an ephemeral, boozy warmth rolls merrily down the gullet.

Taste:
For the observant palate, this beer is like an intricate, three-course meal. It begins with that signature, banana-esque Belgian yeast, caked in a powdery layer of allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon. At the midpoint comes a piquant parade of Sherry-soaked raisins, citron, then a thimble cream. For dessert, the aftertaste is a complex kaleidoscope of smoky chestnuts, cherries dipped in bitter chocolate, and a dry, almond liquor.

Overall:
Nutty and fruity. The spices are gentlemanly: they’re bold but tactful about it. None of the myriad flavors oversteps their bounds in this unbelievably balanced beer.

Feb 09, 2021
Photo of Bierman9
Bierman9 from New Hampshire

4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Having a pour at The Flight Center in Nashua...

Pours are dense, nearly opaque mahogany. Has no head to speak of, though, and no lacing either. Aroma is rich with ripe, dark fruit. Has raisins, dates, black cherries and plums. It is quite smooth going down, though a bit thin in body. While it's medium, it still lacks some heft.

Flavor picks up where the aroma leaves off - all kinds of dark fruit (see above!). Has some mild spicy action also. Was a bit let down, as this lacks the deep complexity I come to expect from top-shelf Belgian brewers. Prosit!


4.06/5 rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2252

Jan 23, 2021
Photo of BeerBaronBear
BeerBaronBear from New York

4.34/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Best by date: 07/14/24. Tasted 1/4/21. Finally did a side-by-side blind taste test between St. Bernardus' Abt 12 Abbey Ale and their Christmas Ale. Overall, I preferred Abt 12, although both were great. The Christmas Ale was actually a touch smoother and easier to quaff. But Abt 12 had more of a potent aroma and more spiciness and depth of flavor. However, the Christmas Ale really masks the 10% ABV wonderfully, and is a very tasty and drinkable strong abbey ale. A great choice for those chilly winter nights.

Jan 07, 2021
Photo of Historiker
Historiker from Ohio

4.41/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

If I had to use one word to describe this beer, it would be "classic". This isn't overly spiced, hopped, or otherwise doctored. It's just an outstanding Christmas beer - one that I could see wearing a tweed jacket. You know, if it weren't a beer.

This poured a deep, dark brown with a bit of a red hue. Copious amounts of cream colored head.

Smelled of dried fruits, yeast, caramel, raisin, cinnamon, and clove.

Taste followed the nose, but with the addition of some molasses, and some some peppery spice. There really isn't any bitterness. Rather, the hops compliment the malts to create a very well balanced beer.

Mouthfeel was on the lighter end of medium bodied. The 10% ABV feels more like 8%. Wonderful aftertaste.

Overall, I really liked this one. There are several really enjoyable Christmas beers out there but this one puts in the mood for Europe, snow, a fire, and dark, stained wood.

Dec 30, 2020
Photo of Tony210
Tony210 from New Jersey

3.75/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours with unending foamy head and carbonation. I don’t care for the overly yeasty aroma and flavor. Not for me.

12/29/20
Bomber shared with Pep
3.75 rating

Dec 30, 2020
Photo of mycousinvinny
mycousinvinny from New York

4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours nice red/brown with a tan frothy foam
smell cherries,Clove, pine nutmeg, malt, spice.
nice taste of cherries and clove and slight bitterness basically tastes like christmas
this is a very nice christmas/winter beer

Dec 28, 2020
Photo of johnnnniee
johnnnniee from New Hampshire

4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the Packie
Dark brown with a touch of hazy and a huge frothy tan head that persists. Rich brown sugary caramel with bits of pitted fruits and earthy spicy notes. Very nice.

Dec 28, 2020
Photo of Jack_14
Jack_14 from Italy

3.71/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Intense brown color, impenetrable. Not too abundant hazelnut foam.
On the nose I find: panettone, dark caramel and dehydrated plums.
Medium body.
In the mouth, in addition to these hints, I also find walnuts, wild berries (especially red currants), and cherries in alcohol.
The sweetness of this beer touches the liqueur and hints of licorice and star anise emerge.
With each drink new notes emerge.
Sip, warm, enveloping, light ethyl tip.
The finish tends to the bittering of herbal stamp ... of a monastic pharmacy. Clean finish and long gustatory mold.

Dec 27, 2020
Photo of misteil
misteil from Ireland

3.26/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

look: one finger tan coloured head which quickly dissipates to a thin layer of bubbles, beer is a dark brown colour, quite opaque.

smell: smells quite good, lot of raisin, dark fruit forward, some banana, spice, nutty, oaky, rich malt aroma, milk chocolate, caramel, very herbal but sweet, most inviting.

taste: the aromas do not really flourish in the taste however, there is brown bread malt, lot of raisin and prune, spiced, banana, but its really metallic, to the point of not being very pleasant, oh well.

feel: light to medium bodied, highly carbonated, metallic tang, lot of alcohol warming/burn

overall: although im not able to ascertain when this was brewed, i have a feeling its ancient, which is a damn shame because this bottle was expensive, oh well, not to worry, although if this is what the beer is meant to taste like then, eh, i'm not a fan.

Dec 25, 2020
Photo of osheamatth
osheamatth from New York

4.44/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2020 Edition. Now THIS is a Christmas ale. Very dark bronze pour into the sniffter with a foamy head that will foresee the effervescence in the taste. The one overwhelming note that comes out of the nose is banana. Bananas Foster to be more specific. That glorious marriage of the tropical fruit, alcohol & butter that comes together in brilliant caramelization. It's the caramel that pushes through on the palate. Yes there is plenty of alcohol but it really doesn't set the ale back because it's balanced into the flavor profile of cherries jubilee, toasted malt balls, dark cacao and holiday spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and particularly allspice. Typical of a belgian ale you do also get that yeastiness which can be off-putting for me but in this case it acts in harmony with the complexities going on. The mouthfeel is the aforementioned effervescence but almost to the point of distraction. Actually the only flaw I have for this brew.

Dec 22, 2020
Photo of officerbill
officerbill from New York

4.19/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Deep, dark brown with a hint of ruby around the edge and a dark tan head that dissolves into a film.
Cherries, plums, figs, prunes, some cloves, maybe cinnamon, a little molasses, with a background of ginger heat.
The carbonation doesn't show, but there's a fizzy quality that fills your mouth.
This isn't a great quad, but it is a great Christmas ale.

Dec 19, 2020
Photo of Snowcrash000
Snowcrash000 from Germany

4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep, dark mahogany coloration that turns blood red with visible carbonation when held up to the light and a medium, creamy, lasting head. Smells of lightly toasted, caramel malt and distinct, malty and estery fruit and spice, with notes of plum, fig, red apple, clove and nutmeg. Taste is an excellent balance of lightly toasted, caramel malt, hints of toffee and brown sugar and quite distinct malty/estery fruit and estery spice, with notes of raisin, fig, plum, red apple, clove and nutmeg, as well as hints of cocoa powder, licorice and tobacco. Finishes bittersweet, with a light bitterness and medium sweetness, as well as some toasted malt, brown sugar and dark fruit and estery spice lingering in the aftertaste. full, velvety mouthfeel with a rich body and medium/strong carbonation.

This makes for a great Christmas Ale, with a heavy emphasis on the dark fruits and spices, which do lend a certain christmas fruitcake feeling to this, while it never feels too sweet or boozy, with an excellent balance of sweet malts and estery spice, with the spices really being particularly distinct here and providing an excellent counterpoint to the sweeter toffee and brown sugar notes, while hints of cocoa powder and tobacco lend a bit more depth and provide certain earthy quality here. While I'm actually not the biggest fan of Quadrupels, I really enjoyed the great balance of sweet, bitter and spicy notes to this, as well as the richness of character. Overall, a terrific Christmas Quadrupel that really captures the spirit of the season with its fruitcake character, rich flavor profile and subtle complexity.

Dec 19, 2020
Photo of papposilenus
papposilenus from New Hampshire

4.38/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From an 11.2oz bottle, code-stamped 13 07 24. Served in a tulip.

Pours in a tea colored stream, raisin colored in the glass, with a big, beige, pocked and puffed up head of foam insulation. Retention is epic, leaving a fat, creamy blanket of suds.

Smell is sweetly creamy and pungently fruity. Trifle, custard, jam, raisins, pipe tobacco.

Taste is similar to the nose but sharper and with some toasty bitterness. Sherry-soaked raisins, citron and cream. Red wine and nutmeg. Cinnamon, chocolate and mild American cigarette tobacco follows.

Feel is creamy but crisp, medium bodied with fine, bright carbonation. Dry at the finish, with a comfortable boozy warmth in the gullet.

Dec 15, 2020
Photo of woodychandler
woodychandler from Pennsylvania

4.39/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I had my eye on the 4-pack that included a chalice for some time & during today's visit to the Friendly Greek Bottle Shop (FGBS), I decided to pull the trigger, even if it was all Bottles (eeek!).

From the Bottle (whoa!): "Christmas Ale Abbey Ale"; "14[-]07[-]24".

I am getting a sense of their aging/shelf life from this indulgence, at least. Next came my Pop!ping of the cap, followed by a slow, gentle C-Line pour into the awaiting chalice. I got just under two fingers of dense, foamy, deep-tan/light-brown (closer to deep-tan) head with very good retention for my efforts. Color was Dark-Brown to Very Dark Brown (SRM = > 27, < 34), although closer to 34, with NE-quality clarity. Nose was smoky, like roasting chestnuts, with notes of cherries, almonds & milk chocolate. 8=O It was like some kind of wild Cadbury's chocolate bar! Mouthfeel was medium, but very effervescent. The taste was like a mash-up of chocolate-covered cherries, almonds, smoky-roasted chestnuts & spices, including cinnamon & nutmeg! 8=O I doubt that any of it was adjuncts, making it all the more impressive. I am on the hunt every year for a Holiday/Christmas beer to use in my Crock Pot Roast recipe. This might be in contention, but its price is a limiting factor. Still, mulled would be one other way to go if I am not cooking with it. Finish was dry & I could not decide if it was from the yeast or if spices were used as adjuncts. Hmm. YMMV.

Dec 14, 2020
Photo of oberon
oberon from North Carolina

4.02/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours into chalice a rich deep amber with a frothy tight one finger beige head atop.Phenols and stone fruit stand out most in the nose,somewhat cake-like.Yeast forward and spiced on the palate,much drier than anticipated,not overly boozy.Not as rich and fruit forward as I was expecting but it's a classic this time of year because it's just solid.

Dec 13, 2020
Photo of highdesertdrinker
highdesertdrinker from Arizona

4.6/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally found some more of this after not seeing it for a few years. Pours an eggplant color with good head as is custom with these. Smells like banana, clove, alcohol, tastes like banana with plums, clove, wheat, a little spicey and a little alcohol burn but smooth like a good wine. My favorite Christmas Ale besides Celebration and a treat for the season, cheers!

Nov 29, 2020
Photo of NCSapiens
NCSapiens from Indiana

4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours an attractive dark brown with a red tint and a full three fingers of foam. Probably the best tasting Christmas ale I have ever had. Fantastic base Belgian Quad with a delicate array of mulling spices. Notes of cinnamon, clove, all spice, and nutmeg combine with Belgian yeast, banana, fig, plum, and malt. I had the rare pleasure of quaffing this delectable brew on draft last year. Not as good in the bottle, but still a fun holiday experience.

Nov 25, 2020
Photo of SimplySinister
SimplySinister from Florida

4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Restrained pour into chalice producing a brownish-ruby brew sporting a 1" ivory head. Moderate carbonation. Good lacing.

S - Clove, pine/ fur, nutmeg, bready, malt, spice.

T - Spicy bite. Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, bready malt, sweet, vanilla. Cranberry with a tiny citrus note.

M - Dry, slightly lingering in the best way possible. Warm.

D - Christmas in a glass. Fantastic. This is a very warm brew. Not synthetic. Not artificial. It is a must try.

Nov 21, 2020
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PaulGutterman from Michigan

3.81/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance- Coca Cola with a medium-thick head.
Aroma- sweaty funk and red wine
Mouthfeel- Silky and medium-full to full body, backed up by moderate to full-strength carbonation, and moderate acid
Flavor-Rich/intense red wine with spices, a little madieraized (oxidized), dry overall, followed by a metallic finish.

Jun 28, 2020
Photo of CTHomer
CTHomer from Connecticut

3.94/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: slight haze; brownish garnet in color; less than a 1 finger tan head that receded to a splotchy cap; very little lacing;

S: spicy yeast, red wine, dark fruit, ginger, and floral;

T: at the start, it reminded me of the gum in Topps baseball cards; from the middle through the finish, it's slightly spicy cherry juice; mild bitterness in the aftertaste;

M: medium bodied; moderate carbonation; dry finish; hides the ABV really well;

O: flavor was good; aroma was better; lack of any significant head was a disappointment;

Apr 21, 2020
Photo of Kolb
Kolb from Montana

4.44/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Beautiful aroma of raisins, figs, nutmeg, cola, pepper, booze, malt. Big fluffy head. Decent level of alcohol heat in the taste along with wonderful jammy dark fruit and peppery spice. Light chocolate, a hint of tartness, red grapes, brown sugar. Finishes dry with a spicy aftertaste. A wonderful beer.

Apr 06, 2020
Photo of stortore
stortore from Illinois

4.27/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle into a goblet. 2018 edition, had 3/22/19.

Pours a beautiful ruby color, somewhat opaque, with a one and a half inch foamy head on a very careful pour, with great retention and a good amount of foamy lacing. Aromas of grapes, plums, cola, toffee, a little black pepper, light spices- coriander, clove. Flavors of grapes, malt, caramel, plums, some dates, a little cola, light spices- again, coriander, cloves. Smooth, a solid medium to full body, well carbonated on the high side.

The spices are subtle but effective. It’s not as good as Abt 12, but it’s really solid and enjoyable. Well worth a purchase.

Mar 13, 2020
Photo of Gajo74
Gajo74 from New York

4.29/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Coming out of bottle, a clear brown color that looks much darker in the glass. A large and well retaining foamy tan head rises to the top, yielding lacing throughout.

A pleasant aroma evokes Christmas spices as well as typical attributes of the Belgian Quad style. Aromas of dark fruit, particularly plums, red grape and raisins stand out, as well as cherry. Aromas of biscuity amber malts are supported by holiday like spices such as brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Interestingmy, there is a light tartness that reminds me of key lime pie.

The taste opens by highlighting rich, toasty and biscuity amber malts that provide a moderate sweetness balanced by a dry finish. There are bright notes of dark fruit such as cherry, raisins, plum, prune, and red grape, the latter of which provides a light vinous tartness. Adding to the complexity, there are flavors of Christmas spices, light peppery phenols, cola, bubblegum, hint of chocolate, amber candi sugar, and a touch of earthy hops that provide a gentle bitterness. The alcohol is amazingly hidden, clean and not particularly spicy or warming.

Medium to full bodied, however, feels light on its feet. The carbonation is lively while the mouthfeel is smooth. The balance is really nice, especially as the complexity of flavors come together real nicely as the drink warms.

I was really impressed with this as it has similar qualities to ABT 12, of which I’m a fan of, with just the right amount of seasonal spices to make it interesting. Easy to drink to boot.

Jan 17, 2020
Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 2432 ratings