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:
2,079
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
16.23%
 
 
Wants:
179
Gots:
416
For Trade:
6
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User Reviews
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Reviews: 679 | Ratings: 2,079
Photo of andrenaline
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Madd props to joemcgrath27 for sharing this gem with me.

A - Pours a ruby red colours, finger of light bubbly head with solid retention and sporadic lacing.

S - Quite complex with musty caramel, cloves and an ABV sweetness alongside spices including a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon.

T - A very tasty, and unique, offering with a bit of a grape/port-ish characteristics. The dark musty fruits also come through with some sweet caramel and toffee.

M - Medium bodied ale that goes down smooth and finishes with a touch of dryness. No complaints here.

O - Super glad I had an opportunity to taste this one, and I would highly recommend anyone in a festive mood grab a bottle and share the experience with a fellow BA. Tons of flavours and the high ABV goes nearly undetected making for a fantastic experience. Cheers for the beer Joe!

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Photo of david131
4.67/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- A deep, dark leathery brown liquid with a bit of murkiness to it. When held to a light, there are some ruby highlights at the edges. The creamy light brown head is thick and has excellent retention.

S- Brown sugar, vanilla, plums, gingerbread, and bubblegum. Very aromatic, unique, and inviting.

T- Same as the aroma. Sweet and malty with a nice fruity finish.

M- Exceedingly creamy and smooth with a good amount of carbonation to keep things lively.

D- Very drinkable considering the alcohol content. Very well made. World class.

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Photo of BMoney575
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 3-11-11

Pours a very dark and mostly opaque deep red/brown color. Very foamy, with a huge tan head that lasts forever. Very pleasant and interesting.

Smell is pungent booze and Belgian kick, aromas of banana and clove dominate. Not overly complex, but enjoyable.

Taste is just where the smell leads you, flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and banana at the very end. Slightly disappointing in its simplicity, but still tasty.

Mouthfeel is good, thick and creamy, with lots of carbonation to keep it light.

Drinkability is good, the booze is not as pronounced as I expected.

Overall, an interesting beer that's well worth picking up.

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

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #47 (Dec 2010):

Sizable head drops down to a latte-like foam; this ale is nearly black in color as well. Candied fruit, plum pudding, hint of broth, burnt sugar and mulling spices scream X-mas to the nose. Carbonation smoothes the palate, silky with a delicate but thick medium body. Malt character is on the dry side for the most part; a smattering of caramel is in the middle. A bit hoppy with a side of phenols, all of which go herbal. Alcohol is pretty tame for 10 percent--it warms but does not rake the taste buds too much. Fruity, spicy and yeasty with hints of dark sugar and some earthy yeast in the drying finish. Super complex, yet still a sipper. This ale is waiting to be thrown at a rich holiday meal.

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Photo of JamisonM
4.72/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 bottle 750 ml bottle corked and caged served in a snifter

A: 3 fingers of head, tan head with the body being a nice mahogany pretty dark, hazy as well.

S: Dark Cherry with some of that spicy Belgian Yeast sweet notes but also some more vinus notes smells great!

T: Oh my my that is good! Tons of dark fruits Cherry Plum Fig and dates notes come all flying at you at once. nice complex flavors and very flavorful! Alcohol is masked well.

M: Mouth is med and carbonation is high

D: super drinkable and enjoyable

Overall: A great beer I wish I would have bought more and now its all sold out! I am getting at least 2 bottles next year! This is one of the very best Christmas/winter seasonal's I have had! I highly recommend this one!

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Photo of searsclone
4.04/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had to use a corkscrew to get the bottle open, date on bottom of bottle is 19/08/12, reviewed in late January 2011. Poured into 2 New Belgium globe glasses. A ridiculous amount of tan head. Copper golden color with a huge amount of sediment. You can really tell that this one is alive.

Smells like raisins and brown sugar, and as it warms, fruitcake.

Taste of raisins, fruit, burnt sugar, burnt apricots and a vanilla finish. Alcohol is well hidden. As it warms, and I read some of the other reviews, I get a bit of a tobacco finish. Also, something that I can't figure out, maybe smoke or burnt toast?

Mouthfeel is lighter and cleaner than expected.

The 75 cl bottle is perfect size for two people.

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

Poured from 750ml bottle into a heavy chalice glass. A- Murky caramel/orange hue, huge amounts of off-white frothy head that is effervescent and mostly sustaining, splatters of lacing S- Nose is dark fruits, sweet belgian candy, alcohol, green apples, and spices T- Initial taste is dark fruits followed by spritzy spices, peppermint, and bananas, finishes with sweetness and alcohol warming M- Full-bodied, thick chewy texture, amped-up carbonation D- Smooth and balanced strong ale, milder spice flavors and lively carbonation contribute to a unique taste profile, very easy. One of my top winter brews.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.26/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured on tap giving off a very nice opaque dark brown nut quality body. Good looking tan cream head almost as well.

Smell is a one trick pony. This is an all out banana syrup bomb, not even starch smelling just like faint Dairy Queen banana topping. I am not a fan of bananas so this makes for a not enjoyable smell and review for me (keep that in mind). Taffy notes as well, and with brown sugar notes and mild butter.

Taste is actually solid with a nice simple carbonation and sour chew quality. Banana syrup but not too thick body leaving a good finish.
Strangely enough, I am not a fan of this flavor but this is a well put together brew. I wouldn't want this again, but I can see the reasons why people would have this beer again no problem.

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Photo of mdunman
3.18/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Opaque brown color that pours a very thick light tan head that stays around til the very end.

S: Wine like aroma, smell of red grapes and alcohol.

T: Starts with a fairly sweet grape flavor then progresses to a mild wine like taste, grapes and alcohol, with spices around the edges and finishes with a merlot like dryness.

M: Feels like a champagne, loaded with carbonation and gives a bit of sizzle across the whole of the mouth.

Not a typical Christmas Ale by any means. Very original sensation from start to finish, but this wasn't my kind of beer. And at $11 for a 750mL bottle, I don't think I'll be picking one up next year.

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Photo of bucklemyshoe
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Notes from Christmas day 2010:

#12 - 12 beers of Christmas. 750 mL bottle at 45 degrees into a St. Bernardus chalice.

A: It pours a mostly opaque ruby red color with an enticing two-finger, off-white head that becomes a bit rocky but laces well.

S: Intense spicy banana notes, cherries, candi sugar, nutmeg, and cinammon.

T: It appears to be an excellent blending of the Belgian Stong Dark Ale with holiday spices; banana that lingers throughout, candied plums and figs, candi sugar, cinammon, and nutmeg all show through.

M: It has a relatively thick body with a syrupy feel and finishing stickiness.

D: This is terrific and definitely the best abbey-style Christmas ale.

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Photo of Kadonny
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a corked and caged 750 bottle into a snifter glass.

A: A medium murky brownish color with a one finger off white head. Minimal glass lacing.

S: Sweet fruits, holiday spices, nutmeg, cinnamon and some yeasty notes.

T: Great fruity flavors with cherry, apple, fig, date, candied fruit (fruitcake), nutmeg, some cinnamon and slight clove. The candy fruit lasts through for the sweetness with some slight musty yeasty flavors. Finish is long and sweet, but not overly so. Very enjoyable.

M: Almost perfect. Medium body, not overly alcoholic, not cloying sweet, just enjoyable.

D: High, unfortunately the 750 went down real easy.

Overall a real nice Christmas Ale that I will surely pick up each year from now on. Not a superstar, but just a really solid enjoyable beer....like I expected anything else from St. Bernardus.

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

A: Poured into a Duvel tulip. Body is medium brown in color with a 2-finger light tan head.

S: Very nice - dried fruits, especially figs. Also roasted chestnuts, holiday spices (cinnamon & nutmeg) and fruitcake-type scents. Smells like the holidays.

T: First impression: spice, fruit and malt. Taste of brown sugar and hazelnuts, also brown bread. Holiday spices (allspice, cinnamon) show up, as well as a generally earthy taste. Dark fruits evident as well (figs come to mind again). Some heat at the finish and down the gulley.

M: Nice fizziness; call it medium in heft.

D: Very good. A nice holiday offering, though I wasn't blown away by it.

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Photo of dgilks
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fairly standard hazy brown colour with some red tint. Moderate tan head with decent head retention.

Bready, caramelised malts with noticeable sweetness. There are some dark fruits as well as classic winter spice.

Rich and fruity. Plenty of banana and stone fruit. Spice cake. Balanced and tasty but still missing that something I find in Rochefort and others.

Medium-full body with moderate carbonation. Good.

A nice beer with plenty of flavour. Balanced with just enough dryness to make it drinkable.

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

On draft at kraftworks.

A- comes to me with a small cap of tan head that settles quickly leaving just a few spots of lace. Hazy murky dark brown red in color.

S- candied fruits and a subtle sherry note. Light fall spice that reminds me of christmas go figure. Cloves and nutmeg with some fried orange peel.

T- dark roasted malts bring in some light coffee and chocolate then the long and slow roll into candied dark fruits, cloves, a touch of cinnamon. Apple skins and apple brandy.

M- just about medium in body with a lightish carb that let's you really feel the brew and almost makes it feel a bit more substantial before its perks its head and washes it all away.

D- killer killer stuff. I love it what else can I say. one of if not the best xmas brew ever.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
4.16/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours hazy brown with a small head.
Nose shows doughy yeast, golden syrup, caramel, figs, raisins, cinnamon and a little alcohol. Pretty much Christmas pudding in a glass.
Similarly rich and sweet flavours, the alcohol is a little too much but otherwise very nice.
Carbonation seems a little too high for these flavours.

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Photo of BeerLover99
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: deep chestnut body, khaki finger head, fantastic lacing.

S: aroma of figs, dates, bread, spices, and yeast.

T: sweet figs, dates, bread, and malt.

M: medium/heavy body,
smooth/chewy/bubbly balance good mouthfeel

D: The 10% ABV is hidden rather well in this beer, but still a big sipper.
Great beer to share with friends are the holidays.

VERY GOOD; GRAB A BOTTLE!

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Photo of gpatt55
3.78/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On-Tap @ The Daily Pint

Pours a rich ruddy brown with a nice thin head and fine lacing. Nose is fairly subdued with yeasty/dark bread, chocolate and fruitcake notes. Fairly rich and sweet on the attack but the body isn't as heavy. Compared to the Abt 12 this is less weighty and fairly drinkable. Mouthfeel lacks some weight and richness one would expect from this style. A little more density would help to balance the 10% ABV. Still the pedigree shows with excellent purity in the dark malt/yeasty/toffee flavors. A fine Xmas ale for a winter night but by no means transcendent.

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Photo of arizcards
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a 75cl bottle at Total Wine in early October 2010 for $10.99.

Beer poured a brownish red with a nice off white head initially - 4.0

Nose is wonderful, dark fruits, bread, ripe banana - 4.5

Taste is ripe dark fruit and dark bread - 4.5

Mouthfeel has the classic Belgian yeast strain smoothness traits but it flattens out quickly - 3.5

Drinkability is good. This is a very tasty enjoyable beer that i will try again - 4.0

Re-Review 3-28-2014

Beer poured brown with a nice frothy off white head that is hanging around nicely - 4.5

Nose is dark fruits and hints of holiday spices - 4.0.

Taste is dark fruits and nutmeg - 4.25

Mouthfeel is classic Belgian smoothness, medium body but very smooth - 4.5

Overall this is a very solid brew, not as good as the original ABT but tasty nonetheless - 4.25

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Photo of impending
4.54/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml into a tulip. Pours a deep garnet, back lite it would make a nice ornament. Dense towering head, nice lacing.

Merry Christmas to my nose, a wonderful Noël scent rich with spices atop a classic strong dark.

The taste is wonderful, try it. This is the Noël of the season plus wonderful in July.
quadish
simply superb
cheers
jd

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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 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 wedge
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased in 2009

Pours a dark plum color under a fluffy, light tan head that settles to a creamy ring. Smells of dark, fruity bread...rich berry and fig, caramelized sugar, faint vanilla bean, and warm spices. Juicy dark fruity flavor...more yeastiness than the nose. A rich maltiness lurks beneath the fruit (and a solid helping of booze). Cocoa, pepper, and xmas spices. Wait for it to warm up a little to bring out the best qualities. Slick, plush mouthfeel - warming and lightly bitter. Once this warmed to slightly cooler than room temperature, everything seemed to come together to form a delightful holiday beer.

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

A dark cola brown color with a sizable head of off white foam. Good lacing and retention. Aromas of fruitcake and rum. Bananas and toffee. Good Belgian yeast profile and a bit of sweet alcohol. Taste is much the same with a bit of bready malt at the core. Spiced and toasty. Raisins and figs really push forward here and the alcohol while well integrated is apparent in the finish. Finish is dry and earthy with a bit of fusel booze. Some good bittering. A warming and very complex beer here. Feel is thick and rich with a lightly prickly carbonation. Goes down nicely and the flavors develop nicely as it warms. A sipper for sure but you keep sipping often. Yum.

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Photo of ByTor2112
4.12/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours up a shade of brown that leans towards being mahogany, ruby-reddish. Big foamy head that hangs out for a while but diminishes.
Aroma-Big fat bready-fruity goodness. If the flavor is anything like the aroma, it is going to be sweet.
Mouthfeel-Medium carbonation delivers a very sweet body with some booziness. The alcohol is not too hot, but present. The malt is obviously there but the fruit profiles along with rich bready flavors really dominate with this one. The yeast has chosen to put these to the forefront, and the malt backbone is disguised. Sweet and rich and tasty. The finish reveals a little of the Belgian-yeast-funk, a bit on the tangy side. The fruitiness of the aroma and flavor swings from fig to raisin to cherry to...This was a good one to share with others who are not big beer folks and everyone enjoyed it.

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Photo of philbe311
3.81/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - This one has a head that just doesn't stop... Four plus fingers of airy continually rising light khaki colored head with a slightly rocky top that is audibly fizzy... Excellent retention... Ultimately what is left is a full creamy lace with a mound of foamy head in the center of the glass... The head sits a top a murky medium-to-dark brown colored body... Still for the most part with no discernible carbonation... A good bit of lacing clings to the glass...

S - Belgian yeast and a slight bit of funk to start... Next are a truck load of dark fruit aromas highlighted by dates, raisins, and plums... Bread pudding... Perhaps some tobacco notes...

T - Not as malty as expected... Fig... Raisins... Dark breads... Some Belgian yeast notes... The finish is a unique blend of vanilla and tobacco... A touch of booze on the finish...

M - On the lighter side of full bodied... A delicate carbonated tickle on the tip of the tongue... Sleek and slightly sticky... A tinge of alcohol induced heat... Warming throughout...

D - An easy drinking Belgian Strong Dark Ale which should be no surprise coming from a Trappist brewery... I would gladly enjoy this offering each holiday season...

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Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
93 out of 100 based on 679 ratings.
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