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St. Bernardus Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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BA SCORE
93
outstanding
682 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:
682
Ratings:
2,101
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
16.23%
 
 
Wants:
180
Gots:
432
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 682 | Ratings: 2,101
Photo of shacawgo24
4.98/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

A-Dark raisin brown body. Off-white four finger head, (yes four) that has a slight hue of pink to it. The head is incredibly soapy and foamy. Your cup will runneth and floweth over. Head is also flaked with crystals that glitter throughout like fresh fallen snowflakes. Patchy, clumpy, sticky lace decorates glass.

S-Bourbon. Sour skins of grape, cherry and apple. Baking spices. Molasses. Brown sugar. Doughy. Yeasty. Inhale deeply enough your nose might sneeze from the pure abundance of spiced yeast.

T-Brown sugar. Cherry almond. Ginger bread or something wow. Nutmeg. Vanilla. Rum. Oak/woodsy. Bourbon. Cookie. Dry cinnamon & clove. Fruit flavored glazed pies like apple & cherry. Slightest of grape flavor, akin to an astringent red wine grape. The most subdued banana note, like a custard. One can go on and on deciphering flavors. The most consistent note was the hard to describe cherry-ginger-glazed pie STRONG middle-sip flavor.

M-Medium-low body. Medium-heavy carbonation. Sip starts tart, sweet and spiced. Then a punch of bitter-sweet bourbon uppercuts in the middle. Also in the middle is a sweet yeasty/doughy pie/donut note. The end of the sip is all of the aforementioned in harmony, slowly fading away into the aftertastes. The after is a gentle titillation of dry bitter holiday spices.
The yeast is the star here, swamping your palate with prickling sensations. And the hops as well bring this effect. Very sticky your lips get with time.

O-St. Bernardus does no wrong. This Christmas Ale ages perfectly, you can sip one in the summer. This quad was meant to be sipped. So complex and boozy. I do wish the body was more grand and creamy, silky. Other than that, you can't get much better in look, smell and taste. Quads are probably the best beer style on Earth. St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is powerful proof for that claim.

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Photo of jbertsch
4.98/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured a dark, dark mahogany into a chalice. Foamy off-white head was attractive and provided great lacing that stayed throughout the session.

On the nose, the banana is right up front, along with prune, fig, raisin, and apple pie spices.

The taste is characterized of ripe banana and dark fruits - including a little clove - that create a total flavor profile that's greater than the sum of its parts. Almost tastes like an intense fruitcake with booze added. Flavor has an overall aged sense to it. Definitely abbey like.

Mouthfeel is smooth with a crisp apple-like edginess.

When enjoyed slowly, its drinkability is great. Given that the bottle says you can age this for up to 15 years, I need to buy a handful of these now to save for the next Christmases.

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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 RickS95
4.93/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep mahogany brown, with little sparklies in it. The head is enormous with huge retention. After minutes, it starts to fall leaving craterous holes around the edges with sticky, gluey lacing. You can literally see the spices and the fruity flavors that will soon be coming your way.

Smells rich and fruity. Dark, ripes fruits fill the nose. Slightly peppery with some pear and a bit of alcohol. Figs, raisins, plums waft up from the glass to greet you.

Everything I said about the smell goes for the taste. Dark fruits, pepper, pear and pepper dance on the tongue. I don't know how you'd improve the taste of this beer.

It's creamy and full bodied. There's a fruity sweetness followed by a tangy, dry finish. Eventually, the alcohol shows up with a slight heat. Like the taste, I'm not sure how a beer, particularly a quad, could feel better than this.

This is an exceptionally good beer. It's very alcoholic but it's well-hidden. Easy to drink. I wish this wasn't a seasonal. Unless I crack open a bottle of Westy 12 that's been aging for a year, I already know this is the best beer I'll have this year.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.92/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale has a thick, frothy, light beige head, made up of very tiny bubbles. The appearance is brown, with evident tiny bubble streams up the side of the glass and a nice lacing sheen. The aroma is of a strong, yeasty, fruit (plum, raisin, dates), brown bread, and a mild spiciness. Taste is similar, with even some banana showing up. There is an underlying alcohol presence, which, however, is not unpleasant. The mouthfeel is light to medium and prickly, and St. Bernardus Christmas Ale finishes mostly dry, mellow, and drinkable. One can certainly detect brandy-wine type qualities here, and it’s nice to see a Christmas beer without all the offensive, over-the-top flavoring. Overall, this is a world class beer! A true beer fan must try it!

RJT

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Photo of JVEyck309
4.92/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bomber corked and caged - pours a muddy bloody opaque reddish brown with one finger head that sticks around in a chalice glass, smell is complex and exciting..cherries and dark fruit aromas mixed with sugars, vanilla, cokeacola, yeasty bread .. I don't know, the works.. It's good to go. This beer made me crack a window open to let in some cold winter air.. much needed. Grandma used to make amazing nut breads.. I want one of those really bad right now.. would pair so well with this rich brew. Ugh.. the complexity, it's like hearing Beethoven's 9th all over again for the first time or like the first time you found your dad's porno. A world opens up and eyes pop out and mind is dancing in a field of whatevers. Taste .. my stupid childish palate is not ready to even pontificate or articulate but hell.. I've had better beers.. too much christmas cheer makes me giggly and I can't think clearly. (Should have held onto this one for xmass.. oh well.. I shall get another bottle!) Spicey dancing dark fruits and a whole lot of spirit. Certain to make your day a bit brighter in the dreary dread of Christmas season... cause who needs family when you got booze, right? well.. I digress. Anyway, theres a lot to this brew and I get annoyed with myself when I try to pull out a bunch of keywords in the BA community.. "dark fruits, esters, phenols, malts - bready, earthy, etc. hops- citrusy, grapefruity, etc.." oh words. How frustrating they can be.. yet we have nothing else to rely upon. Mouthfeel is spectacuallalalrrl bubbly but not overbearing. Now about this beer I am drinking.. think Abt 12 times 5.. it's delicious in all the right places and I am ever so grateful and humble and I reflect upon life's impermanence and how all humankind is akin and yet so vastly different...
Hare Krishna. Goodnight

Go and buy another bottle of this beer, idiot.

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Photo of Cthulhusquid
4.89/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Three finger white-brown head, very dark brown body.

Smell : See below, but the spice is a bit less apparent.

Taste : Dark fruits, cinnamon, clove, sweet cake spice, a little caramel, and a note of bubblegum.

Feel : Very high carbonation, medium body, slight alcohol bite, a little warming.

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Photo of Bigbadbudman
4.88/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was my first Christmas ale I have tried. And as usual like all St. Bernardus beers it was simply amazing. The fruits and chocolates all worked very well together. Tremendous amount of alcohol present which is always good. But it was very well balanced with the taste. There is an amazing head when poured out of the bottle. I actually had to use my Stella knife to cut the head off. A must try in my book.

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Photo of jroberts8811
4.88/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

On Tap at Bier Station in Kansas City, MO. Poured into Tulip

A- deep amber, with iltte carbonation. Opaque with 1 finger head. head dissipates quickly and leaves great lacing.

S-spicy! coriander, clove, cinnamon,honey, malt, sweet belgian funkiness, bready, yeasty. yum.

T-wow. sweet, bready, malt bomb. spices galore, completely enhance what would otherwise be their abt 12. nothing i would change or add. perfectly balanced. ABV is completely hidden.

M-full, low carbonation. Clings to the tongue. wonderful.

O- Bernardus is in my top 5 favorites and this beer does not disappoint. Softer/flatter on tap versus bottle but I'm glad I had the chance to get it on tap. kegs are without conditioning so the experiences are different.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.87/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep and dark brownish amber red with lots of bubbles. Huge six finger bubbly off white head that slowly fades into a thin patchy layer. Leaves some good lacing on the glass.

Smell: Huge aroma of dark fruits leaps out of the glass. Raisins, prunes, figs, dates, and dark cherries. Lots of Belgian yeast with some hints of clove spice. Some hints of cinnamon and nutmeg spices. Also a hint of banana and brown sugar. Great mix of dark fruits and spices.

Taste: Just as great as the smell. Spicy Belgian yeast with cloves and banana. Huge taste of dark fruit with notes of raisins, figs, prunes, dates, and dark cherries. Also a noticeable presence of winter spices including cinnamon and nutmeg. Some caramel malts in the background provide some breadyness. Very fruity but not overly sweet. Spices add a lot.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a carbonation on the higher side. fruity and somewhat sticky. Spicy and finishes dry. No alcohol heat noticeable.

Overall: A very good Belgian Dark Ale and one of the best Christmas beers in the world. Great use of dark fruits and spices.

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Photo of Jesstyr
4.87/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

St. Bernardus is one of my favorites, so I gave this a try when I saw it on the shelves at Publick House in Brookline. Now I wish I could buy a dozen more. Quickly became one of my all time favorites.

Poured into a stemless tulip glass out of a .

A: dark brown with very creamy head.

S: Rich aroma with chocolate and a little bit of bourbon, and subtle winter spices.

T: Rich flavor of chocolate and dark fruits, not sweet, just a little bit of toffee and raisins and a bit yeasty. Great with cheese.

M: Light and a little creamy.

D: Too easy. Finished the bottle and didnt feel it till much later.

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Photo of canucklehead
4.87/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

What a Xmas treat this beer is with a nose that never stops developing and a huge head flecked with brown spots from the sediment. I got a huge rounded mouthfeel with lots of dark candy fruits and typical Belgian yeast. No spices in this Xmas ale but rather the suggestion of Xmas pudding. I really savoured this beer with every sip as it was part of a trade and not available in BC.

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Photo of GPHarris
4.87/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2011 vintage

a - poured a three-fingers thick, dense tan head into a tulip glass that settled to a thick sheet with great lacing throughout. the body was dark reddish-purple.
s - big aromas of cherry, plum and raisin.
t - same as the aroma but with some spice as well. some good malt sweetness too. very complex as all St. B beers are.
m - lively carbonation.
o - excellent as always from St. B. i'll always drink one of these during the holidays i hope.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.85/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at Monk's Cafe in Philly

A - Poured from tap dark brown/red with a creamy 0.5" off white head that clung nicely to the authentic 25th anniversary St. Bernardus goblet. Excellent lacing prevailed throughout.

S - Malty, dark fruits, figs and currants. subtle notes of hops and sour apple. slight yeastiness and light hints of holiday spice. Quite different from the usual holiday ales.

T - Initial caramel malty sweetness, candi sugar. fresh hops and spices mingle in a wondrous balance. Lingering aftertaste adds to ongoing pleasure. Swirls of fruit, malt, hops, and spice hides the alcohol quite well.

M - Full bodied and mild carbonation. Very smooth.

D - Extremely drinkable. I could do a few of them in an evening

Overall - I was highly impressed with this offering from St. Bernardus. Quite different than what I expected from a holiday beer, almost like a Chimay Blue but less fruity. Candi sugar and caramel malts prevail and make for a sweet ride throughout the experience, yet it is well balanced with slight hop notes. For $8.50/12 oz, it was definitely worth every drop. I would like a few bottles to cellar and see how it turns out next year. An excellent accompaniment for a fireside chat after a nice holiday dinner. Highly recommended.

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Photo of anakar
4.85/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Spectacular.
Now that we've made things clear let me break this down.

App: Apart from the very lovely and festive looking bottle it comes in, this beer pours a very dark caramel, almost black, with a thick a medium lasting head of fluff.

Smell: Taking a whiff makes you think of several things, the first being - this is a strong one (10% alc ain't no joke), once you got past that, you can sense some very heavy caramel and barleyish smells, just makes you think of stooping lower and lower into an old armchair.

Taste: This is where "Spectacular" comes in. Mind you, this is no light brew and should be takes very seriously. It's flavor is rich and full of alcoholic fumes, anybody who ever had a triple or a quad should know what they taste like, this one is classic but a bit more (to the better).

Feel: is also superb, going all over your mouth it slushes away easily, it has very little carb-bite to it, but it isn't creamy (like a guinness). Watch out! the 10% hits pretty quickly and made me a bit woozy after a pint.

Overall: I've said it before and I'll say it again "SPECTACULAR" - keep it for special occasions.

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

Poured this 2010 vintage into my Chimay Chalice. Poured your usual belgian brown color with 1 finger of off white lacey head that disappeared over time.

Smell was that of deep dark fruits and a even bready malt.

Taste was superb as to be expected from St. Bernardus brews. Touch of bready malt up front with berries and dark fruits such as fig and black cherries lingered on the palate as the brew made its way down.

Mouthfeel was nice and smooth. Medium feel. Not to thick and not thin by any means.

Drinkability on this is a must have for any belgian beer fan. I will procure another bottle and cellar it. I can only imagine how much smoother and silkier this brew will get with time.

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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 noslenwerd
4.83/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Hazy brown with a burnt orange tint.

S: Smells spicy and fruity

T: The taste to me was amazing and everything I expect from a dark belgian ale. A bit more carbonated than your average belgian dark, but I thought of it as a good thing. Very complex flavor but no one flavor hit me, but was mildly fruity.

Summary: Extremely drinkable beer and thus far my favorite "Winter Warmer" to . Will for sure be drinking this one again...

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Photo of TwelveOunces
4.83/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750ml poured into a St. Bernardus Goblet

A- Pours a monster beige head with tight bubbles and beautiful lacing. The beer itself is deep dark brown with reddish orange hues.
S- Big dark fruits that I expected. Rum soaked raisins. Burnt caramel, maybe even some honey? Grapefruit, a little alcohol, figs, pretty good stuff. maybe some figs and cinnamon as well.
T- A full variety of crazy flavors, different with every sip. Creamy caramel mixed with dark fruits, Some cinnamon and ginger make this thing come alive. Sugary sweet fruit aftertaste with brown sugar. Started to taste the alcohol after it warmed up a bit.
M- Boatloads of carbonation, its a truly living beer. Definitely a warming in the stomach because its 10%. This thing pours with a lot of foamy head so be cautious on the pour as the head goes nowhere.
O- Awesome beer. It is in my opinion, a little better then the 12. Its just like the twelve but with a slight Christmas kick.

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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 MrHurmateeowish
4.82/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

75cL bottle from The Lighthouse in Manchester, Maine. Pours a hazy but still translucent dark copper with a half inch of light tan head. Smells intensely fruity and spicy, with banana, nut, and chocolate notes. Tastes fruity, chocolatey, and spicy, with an underlying toastiness. Banana, nut, cherry, dates, and cloves all play nearly equal roles. On the heavier side of medium-bodied with ample carbonation. More of a sipper, though one sip most definitely invites another and this beer was gone long before I wanted it to be. Wow. Quite possibly the best beer this brewery makes, a phenomenal Christmas beer, and one of the most flavorful and complex beers I've had all year. Amazing!

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Photo of bmcmahon1024
4.81/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Drank for the first time this past Christmas season and I now babe a new favorite Christmas beer. Perfectly balanced and with a high abv I would have never guessed it to be so smooth. The Abby ales are rising to the top of my favorites list.

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Photo of Gehrig
4.8/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed on tap at the classic Crane Alley in Urbana, IL after finishing the Christmas shopping this afternoon.

One and one-half fingers of caramel-colored froth top a cloudy ruby-amber body; ample lacing on the St. Bernardus glass (yes, they have a few at Crane Alley), good duration, and lovely color give this a terrific appearance. Wonderful, fruity smells, vinous with some orange peel, some spice (cinnamon and ginger), and a bit of chocolate. Very sweet nose, very good.

Magnificent, smooth taste, heavy on the sweet fruit--maraschino cherries, grape, orange--but, from cranberry and dried fruit such as date and raisin emerging in the second half, with a distinctly sour finish that adroitly balances Christmas Ale and forestalls any cloying. Some semi-sweet chocolate peeks through the dense layers of fruit. Creamy smooth mouthfeel, making this all too easy on the palate. So impressive is how well the high ABV (10.0%) is masked. It was only in the second glass, which I immediately ordered after dousing the first, that I felt it and, by then, it was remarkably easy to accept.

Outstanding BSDA and winter beer, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale filled me with Christmas cheer all day long. What a tremendous find, and kudos to Crane Alley for finding a place for it in their typically stellar lineup of wares.

First rate.

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Photo of kensuthe
4.78/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark brown 750ml bottle with the St. Bernardus monk in a Christmas hat with snow in the background over a green shield. Poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. Topped with an inch thick, fluffy tan head that stuck around and clung to the sides of the glass on the way down. Rich, dark brown beer with small carbonation trailing up the sides of the glass.

Smell: Belgian yeast, figs, raisins, other fruits, cinnamon, nutmeg, other spices, slight alcohol tinge, and bread are all in the aroma. A very appealing smell to compliment a very pleasing head.

Taste & Mouthfeel: The taste of Belgian yeast, a combination of tartness and sweetness from the various fruit components, and a slight holiday spiciness all blend together to produce a cheerful, satisfying taste. The aftertaste has a slight alcohol flavoring, with a mellow blended sugar, spice, and fruit tone. The carbonation makes the beer feel like silk in your mouth, and it is pleasant and light when swallowed.

Drinkability: You might think that a moderate alcohol content mixed with a slightly high amount of carbonation would make this beer less drinkable, but the flavors and smells combine with these factors to make a highly, highly drinkable beer. Sit back on a cold night and relax with this beer, and let it warm you up from within and make you think about happy times.

The only thing bad I have to say about this beer is that I didn't buy enough, so now my wife and I will have to wait until next year for more.

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Photo of Trombone69
4.76/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This is a delicious brew. A very well disguised 10% ABV. I will definitely be looking to pick up some more of this. As my buddy said, "Have you ever had anything from St. Bernardus that wasn't great?" Nope. Truly a great one.

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St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,101 ratings.
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