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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Reviews: 679 | Ratings: 2,079
Photo of drabmuh
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Rustico, beer is brown and mostly clear with a thin brown head of tiny bubbles that leaves a lot of lacing on the glass. Carbonation moderate.

Aroma is sweet and clean with minimal yeast esters. Smells good.

Beer is medium in body and sweet up front. The midpalate gives way to a semi-dry finish with some more sweetness and no bitterness, the beer overall is highly drinkable and nice. It falls a little short in the middle of the mouth with the sweetness on either side and dryness at the end. I like this beer and this brewery, they are awesome.

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

Bomber, caged and corked, best before date etched on the bottom of the bottle (sometime in 2012) Pours dark dark brown, initially under a huge head, that slowly recedes , leaving gobs of heavy lace all over the glass. Cola and raisin nose, prickly carbonation, lots of character and cola, dark fruits, yeasty goodness and alcohol all swimming around. Let it warm up, let the flavors open up and savor this flavorful Belgian beauty

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured on-tap and served in a chalice, the beer is a dark, ruby coloring that is hazy, with a clingy, coating, off-white head. Nose of date, cherry, fig, roasted notes, booze, and sour tannins. Flavors are tart and crisp forward, with cherry tones forming a foundation beneath old-world fruit richness of date and fig. Very layered, very rich, and very balanced. Rich cherry and fig aftertaste, with earthy and woody notes. The finish is lingering sweet, with a perfect balance. Great beer!

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Photo of GClarkage
3.73/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12/27/08- Purchased at Hi-Times in Costa Mesa, CA.

Presentation- 750ml bottle, both caged and corked. Poured into my St. Bernardus chalice. 2008 Edition.

Appearance- Deep caramel-brown in color. Yeasty and murky. About a 1.5 inch head which holds up very well. Leaves some small chunks, patches and streak of lace behind.

Smell- Not hugely outgoing, but caramely and notes of dark fruits including rasins and plums. Good nose, but light.

Taste- Damn annoying metallic note at the end of every swallow. Slowly fades a bit after every sip, but still never totally goes away. Loys of caramel and very sweet. Fruits are sweet and chewy with mostly figs and rasins...fruit is held in check and alochol is slightly detected. Sweet, but not really in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation level, lightly chewy and a medium to fuller mouthfeel.

Drinkability- Without the metallic note it's very good. Not quite up to their flagship, but could be almost as good. With the note it's slightly annoying and better than average.

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

The beer pours a cloudy brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich, roasted and crystal malt scent along with a fruity yeast aroma. It's warming to the nose with loads of fruity esters. The taste is good as well. It has a solid malt bill of crystal and roasted malts. It's complex with a warm fruity finish. The alcohol is right up front. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine seasonal. It's full flavored and warming; just what I want in the colder months of the year

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Photo of tempest
3.9/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Farmhouse in Emmaus, PA. Overall, this is a pretty good Belgian, but it's not as complex at the Abt 12. It actually reminds me of Chimay Blue more than Bernardus 12. The flavor comes off like a cinnamon spice caramel apple with toasted toffee and sweet bread. Delicious, but it doesn't reach the depths of a great strong dark ale. Still very easy to drink. Worth a try.

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

Appearance: brown in color with a 2" head that falls pretty quickly. Some spotty lace develops during the session.

Smell: big malt sweetness, brown sugars, and bits of spice.

Taste: huge malt profile, brown sugar, prunes, black plums, some softer spiciness, light alcohol, yeast, and a nice bitterness makes up a full flavored ale.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Lightly crisp to start, smooth at the finish. Relatively short aftertaste with this one.

Drinkability: this one goes down quickly despite the high alcohol levels. A few of these could be consumed in a session, but you will be feeling it quickly.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours brown with a beige head. Lots of extremely small, fine bubbles. The aroma is Belgian yeast as well as dark fruits and candi sugar. The taste pretty much follows the aroma, with lots of caramel malt. The overall flavor is pretty sweet and the alcohol is present and warming. Medium mouthfeel and highly carbonated.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.73/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's time I pop a magnum of fine Belgian beer. On to the beer:

Very bubbly head on top....very heady. The color is dark rbuy brown with some hues of red mixed with the main color. Head retention is very good, and it settles to a creamy lace that's simply attractive to the eye. There's medium firepower in the aroma, yet seems delicate at the same time. Figs, dates, apples, plums....it's good.

The first thing I taste are figs. After that, I can't taste a whole lot. There's a fair touch of alcohol felt in the beer, even if it is 10% ABV. More figs come out of the dark. There's isn't much in the way of other flavor. Ok, there's some pepper. It's light in the way of those famous dark fruits found in dark colored Belgian beer. Things slowly balance out as it warms, with more maltiness and less spice. On the spot in mouthfeel.

A little too one sided at first, but as it warms, things get better. Still, I'll take an Abt. 12 for Christmas instead of the Chrsitmas beer, how's that for irony?

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

Review from 1/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a dark, ruddy brown amber with a nice one finger light tan head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of sweet malt, dark and dried fruit and Belgian spicing. Flavor follows with strong dark fruits, brown sugar and spicing; somewhat astringent aftertaste. Medium bodied with some creaminess. A very nice Belgian winter warmer from a great brewery.

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

On Tap at Monk's

A- Christmas ale in the tulip holds a very dark brown hue but is slick looking in the liquid. The head is nice and tight with a cinnamon color to it leaving lines of lace.

S- Loads of sweet malt with a nice spicy under lay which come up more with warming. Also getting a lot of dark fruit of many varieties. Some chocolate and caramel remain at a distance. Belgian yeast with a bunch of warming.

T- This is in my top three for christmas ales, a style im not crazy about, but I always seem to go for this one. It's probably because it does not remind me of christmas offerings that much Chocolate, malt sweetners, Belgian candi yeast, alot of dark fruit especially cherry and plum. Some raisins and a bunch of spices str8 off the rack. Now what make's it so special, well it's the balance of these ingredients, it's level. The spices do not get in the way as many winter beers do, here they dance with the other flavors.

M- Silky, smooth, rich, to die for. Another thing that's great about this offering is the absence of alcohol, it's no where in sight. A big above medium bodied with light but bright carb. This one's a winner, it goes down so, so, so easy. This is not a chore in any way.

D- This is a easy one to drink quick. I could do a whole bottle easily and in fact i will because the way my life's been going recently I need to be drunk more, the 10% helps. Im thinking BSDA with a winter warmer twist. This could be my favorite offering from bernardus, either this or the 12, may have to compare.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml
Caged/Corked

Poured into my new St. Bernardus Watou Over Sized Wine Glass, the color is a nice brown/amber color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger plus foamy light tan color, with some nice small islands and sticky lacing around the edges. The nose is malyt, nice touch of yeast, figs, raisins, plums. The taste is sweet, malty/yeasty, nice tones of dark fruit. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden very well with this one. Very drinkable, another awesome brew from St. Bernardus.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best By 09/08/2012, Sampled December 2007
Served only lightly chilled, the beer is clearly well carbonated as even a reasonably careful pour produces a billowing, slightly over-flowing, initially seven-finger thick, lightly browned, tan colored head of foam that slowly recedes while leaving a delicate lacing pattern on the sides of my 30cl Tripel Karmeliet tulip. the beer sits in my glass a burnt, amber tinged, very dark brown color, but shows a brilliantly clear, dark ruby hue when held up to the light. In passing inspection of the nose, aromas of dark fruit and spices mix quite equally. A deeper draught of the nose reveals aromas of raisins, figs, concentrated plum, brown sugar, sweet cola, clove, touches of allspice, a hint of molasses, dark chocolate, light ginger or maybe really galangal and even some cardamom like notes. The aroma ends up being a bit more focused on the dark, caramelized fruit notes with just a backdrop of spice character that leaves no doubt that this is a Belgian yeast strain.

The carbonation provides a prickly, lightening effect to what is really a medium full beer. It does not drink as heavy as the 10% alcohol might suggest, but is certainly has that Belgian lightness that is in many of the better made strong beers from their. The beer is definitely sweet, which accentuates the quite noticeable dark fruit character; caramelized plums, figs, raisins and even some apple flavors are individually noticeable. The beer finishes with a mix of spiciness and warming alcohol that is a touch pepper-like, with some spicy ginger, toasty brandy & rum, and some turpene driven phenolic clove / cardamom notes. Bread like malt notes reminiscent of toasted bread, hints of browned-whole-grain bread, touches of rye, caramelized-dark German bread, biscuit malt and roasted / broiled / concentrated figs.

The second pour has just as voluminous a head as the first, and the beer, a little more chilled now, tastes even a bit lighter than it did initially. The ample carbonation focuses the flavors more on the peppery spice notes, while softening the rich fruitiness that is there after it has mellowed. This is certainly a contemplative brew; I could wish for a bit more malt complexity in the flavor (at times the alcohol and spiciness can be a little too much), but the nose really is quite intriguing. While I certainly enjoy the lightness / heft of this brew as is, it seems to be missing a bit of richness that could add a bit more balance (these are not necessarily opposing characters though as some richness could be added without making this beer feel heavier).

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson, AZ

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.82/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

750 shared with a work buddy... 2014 bottling.. Pours a deep walnut but still shows good clarity, khaki head sticks around forever with nice lacing. Toasty with a bit of spice cake essence.. Not as rich as some of the other Quads but still very respectable.. Very high carbonation IMO, pretty burpy.. With warmth, the spices bloom a little more than I appreciate.. Nothing wrong with it, I just prefer the Abt 12 better.

4.25/4/3.75/3.5/3.75

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served ontap into its brand named chalice.

Appears a hazed murky brown, obviously some yeast is there in suspension. Aroma is light and primarily malty with some banana aroma from the yeast. Great belgian ale flavors. Some dark fruits, downplayed spice with light touches of allspice and cinnamon. Some citrus is also noted, possibly from the hops. Brown sugar, burnt caramel. A really nice and well rounded belgian ale. Medium to high level of carbonation with a more-ish finish. I really liked this one. St. Bernardus brews some tasty beers.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.29/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

25.4 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark sepia brown, with a full, off-white/tan head, that stays robust throughout the whole glass, leaving excellent, thick lacing. A sight to behold.

S: Smells mainly of dark malt, sugar, molasses, and gingerbread.

T: The taste is a complex cornucopia of dark flavours. Heavy brown sugar is mixed with prune and fig, which in turn meets cinnamon, nutmeg, and all-spice to create a truly fantastic taste experience, one of the best BSDA's I have ever had. This was close, not quite a 5, if 4.75 was an option, I'd probably give it that, a fantastic flavour overall.

M: Thick and rich, smooth, phenolic, a great warming wintertime brew.

D: I think I have found the ultimate beer to pair with pumpkin pie in this one. Full of rich, complex, dark flavours, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is a world-class Yule beer made by one of the best producers in Belgium. I really liked this beer.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
4.73/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At last I’ve had an on-tap Christmas Ale that I could review (the other times I’ve drank it I didn’t really have reviewing opportunities). This time however was different: the lovely Red Rose bar in Brugge being the venue. 33cl for Euro 4.00, worth every cent.

Poured into a St Bernardus goblet it looked the business in every way: Jet black with a deep beige crown of tight bubbles sat on top. The head stayed and gave waves of lacing as I wolfed the brew down.

The smell was of dark, rich, candied fruits with a good measure of caramel and malts thrown in.

The taste always blows me away, creamy, rich and hearty in every way, yet it’s so mellow the 10%ABV does not show at all; this is a dangerous brew and so, so easy on the palate it just slides down the throat at an alarming rate. A brew to savour, but very difficult not to quaff at pace and order another, and another, and another. Whatever spices they use just enhance the flavours from the mash tun and helps to turn the brew from excellent to superb.

A true classic and a beer I’ll never tire of drinking (if I’ve got the next day off).

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Photo of stevoj
4.6/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Schwing! Sitting around on Christmas Eve and sipping this beauty. Nice sour smell of dried fruit and molasses, dark, dark brown with oily skin of a head.Flavor repats the fruit theme with a little sweetness, alcohol isn’t noticed until its on its way down your throat. Really, really good!

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Photo of flagmantho
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer on-tap in a tulip at Special Brews in Lynnwood.

Appearance: cloudy, chocolatey brown with a thick finger of creamy tan foam and a nice lace. The lace stays on the glass forever. Beautiful!

Smell: sweet malt with a great dark-fruit aroma. Rich and enticing.

Taste: rich, lustrous malt with a great chocolate, raisin and dark fruit flavor: plum, cherry, dates. A little bit of alcohol warmth throughout. Absolutely delicious!

Mouthfeel: rich body with a good level of carbonation and a wonderful silky smoothness. Awesome!

Overall: delicious, lovely, drinkable treat. I can't believe I've never had it until now.

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Photo of John_M
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Max's yesterday.

The beer pours a very dark brown amber color with excellent head retention and lacing. On the nose I get some cola and cherry, some sweet ice tea, along with some underlying spice. The flavors on the palate generally replicate the nose, and the beer has a moderately sweet, soft, creamy mouthfeel. Abv. is very well disguised, though one senses that it's up there. Still, this beer is ridiculously easy to drink and my 10 ounce goblet was gone far too quickly.

A very nice beer. Not all that different from the regular abt 12, but quite delicious nonetheless. Don't see any previous reviews of this beer on draft, so I'm assuming this may be the first year for this beer to be released in that format. Good stuff.

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

One of the nicest Christmas beers I had this year. I'm really glad that St. Bernardus decided to make and bottle this brew. It is still a little sharp, I think a little time in the bottle will smooth out the edges. Nevertheless, it is still delicious now. Pours a beautiful dark brown with a batter like head- big, thick, and creamy and which leaves excellent lacing. Aromas of sweet malt, banana, alcohol, and cookie dough. Well carbonated with flavors of pffefernuse- black pepper, clove, cinnamon, coriander, and cookie dough. Not overly sweet, in fact there is a dry somewhat astringent bitterness throughout that nicely offsets the spice cookie flavors. Delicious! Mouthfeel is carbonated, full, spicy, and creamy. Drinkability should improve with a few more months in the cellar. A great addition to the Belgian winter repertoire.

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Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The cork flew out of the top as I was on my last twist of the cage. Thank goodness it only left a small battle scar in TomDecapolis' ceiling...
Appears a hazy dark amber with a soapy head of light tan foam that slowly fades out. Spotty lacing clings to the sides of the glass.
Smell is of raisins, plums, cocoa, anise, nutmeg, caramel, and brown sugar.
Taste echoes the aromas with the trademark Saint Bernie yeast pulling through with a touch of holiday spicing to make it complete.
Mouthfeel is medium full and lingering of raisins, fig newtons, fennel, sweet nougat, caramel, and pine needels.

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

Will pour a five+ finger cream head that fades very slowly, leaving some lace. Deep, opaque brown color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Nose is Belgian yeast and flavor is sweet Belgian yeast and spice, nice Christmas ale. Higher ABV is hidden. $11.20 for a 750ml caged & corked bottle from Tully's Beer & Wine Wells, Me.

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Photo of corby112
4.22/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on-tap at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, PA.

Pours a dark ruby/ chestnut brown with thick, slightly beige head. Pleasant aroma consisting of cherries, dark fruits, chocolate, cinnamon spice and alcohol. Very smooth drinking and surprising amount of fruit. Cherries, plum, sugar cane, dark berries and peppery cinnamon taste. Dry finish with a nice alcohol warmth. A very nice balance of maltiness, spiciness, fruit and alcohol. Very tasty!

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

From the corked, caged 750 ml. bottle. Sampled on December 6, 2013.

It has a brown-ruby red with decent clarity and a fluffy, long-lasting beige head.

Loads of character on the aroma including bready roasted malts, dark fruit, mild spice, Belgian sugar, and a touch of alcohol.

The body falls into the medium range. It starts light but seems to get heavier.

Like the aroma, the taste is alive with toasty malts, dark fruit, molasses, and raisins but it ends with a big lingering hop bite at the finish. Some alcohol burn.

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