St. Bernardus Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
706 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:
706
Ratings:
2,187
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
9.31%
 
 
Wants:
187
Gots:
445
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 706 | Ratings: 2,187
Photo of GDBEERMAN
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into Waton Tulip.
A: A very foamy head, pours a three finger height and holds throughout. The body is a deep brown hue and has a thick haze and a steady stream of carbonation. The lacing is a thick coat of sticky lace.
S: The aroma is a bit on the lighter side for the style. The note of a Belgian yeasty clove. The note of a tripel on the front and a low level of complexity is found.
T/M: The front shows a note of dark fruits and a bit of a domination of fig. A bold taste that is on the higher end of a medium bodied intensity. The mouthfeel is a clean and crisp taste that is a classic Belgian taste. The finish is a bit on the sweet side, that shows a hint at the abv in this brew.
D: This is a great winter brew that shows classic style notes and a sweet winter warmer. While I would only visit this brew once a season, I would still highly recommend it.

 874 characters

Photo of BobZ
4.62/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle of the 2009 vintage (Aged a year in my cellar) poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Rich dark brown with a 1/2" head that dissipates to about a 1/16". Very nice lacing throughout the beer.

Smell: Like the Abt. 12, dark fruit, Belgian yeast, and a hint of spice. Much more spice than the Abt. 12 for sure.

Taste: Excellent, a spicier version of the Abt. 12. Again, the dark fruit, the spice, the Belgian yeast. Just a delicious Christmas beer.

Mouthfeel: Very, very, smooth. Which is surprising as it is highly carbonated (the cork "shot" out and it gushed).

Drinkability: Great flavor, smooth, ABV very well masked, an easy drinking beer.

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Photo of allforbetterbeer
4.29/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage into a chimay chalice.

Pours with plentiful carbonation forming a nearly everlasting off white head of billowy Belgian-classic head. Looks dark brown in low light but shows a misty autumn tinged rusty glow when held to light.

Smells light a true classic BSDA. Rich and layered malts coming off the foamy head Brings to mind platters of bread and cracked barley cereal. Yeasty esters are present but not out of control. A hint of banana and clove and a touch of classic Belgian yeasty herbal bite.

The flavor is like a multiple course dinner. Explosive carbonation blows up the initial yeasty esters on the palate. This is great, and is followed by some nice spices that make me think of holiday tea. Cinnamon perhaps? I am finding these to be very subtle, and take a 3rd row jump seat to the massive and poised nature of this big Belgian. After the spices comes the warm dark bready notes of the malts. There is a bit of dried fruit here as well, but it is held firmly down by the yeasty bite of a "relatively" young quad.

There is very little "heat", but a fair amount of bite from the strong estery yeast presence. The feel is on the dry side and not at all heavy because of all the carbonation.

This is excellent stuff as I would expect from this brewery. Why have I never tasted it before? I have three more bottles to cellar and I expect them to improve. Hopefully after a year or so the spices will integrate a bit, and as they fade after more years I hope to see some development of the dark fruit, leather, tobacco favors that can show up in the great quads as they age. Maybe the spices will be able to last till then too, time will tell.

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

Poured into chalice glass.

A - Poured dark mahogany non-transparent color with huge head that slowly dissipated leaving significant lacing around the glass.

S - Mostly dark fruits and spices with bready yeast and malts.

T - Dark fruits predominate, figs, raisins, cherries with banana, bready yeast and lots of spices.

M - Medium bodied with high carbonation.

O - Great Christmas Ale with ABV very well hidden. I highly recommend it.

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Photo of Magpie14
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: deep brown with ruby hues shining though, spotty creamed off-white lacing. Served in a snifter...

S: spiced plums and cherries, sweet malts tones with raisins

T: creamy and rich with a spiced maltiness. Chocolate covered cherries, reminiscent of a port wine. Has a dash of cinnamon and cloves with poof of yeast/bread. Makes for a real nice winter warmer at the fireplace. On the sweeter side of life, but yet, well rounded.

M: creamy to the tilt, wonderful feel and amazingly soft on the tongue. Goes down real easy and can get ya in trouble if your not careful

D: one of the smoother beers and nicest christmas ales I have had. It was complimenting the cool brisk day we had and warmed me up real nice and fuzzy like. Try it and love it!

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

Poured from 750ml bottle into Orval chalice.

A. 1 finger head. Decent head retention. Little big of lacing. Dark ruby brown color.

S. Smell is pretty complex. Dark fruit, yeast, sour cherries, spices, brown sugar, clove, raisins, plums.

T. Taste is delicous. Easiest way for me to describe the taste of this beer is a slight weaker spiced up version of Abt 12. Yeast, dark fruit, raisins, pepper, anise. Very delicous sweet and spicy taste.

M. Medium/full bodied. Medium carbonation. Has some lingering sweetness.

D. A very nice seasonal holiday beer. Can't imagine drinking anything better on Xmas. The abv is well hidden.

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Photo of kitch
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 330ml bottle with a best before date of 30th July 2018, poured into a Chimay goblet glass.

Appearance: It poured a dark brown colour with a two finger creamy puffy beige head that dissipated slowly to a nice half finger puffy cap that gives nice curtain like lacing.

Aroma: Nice dark fruit cherry, plum, prunes and raisin with hints of apple, banana and spice pepper.

Taste: Much like the aromas, there’s candied sugar, apricot, cherry, fig, plum and hints of banana. Caramel and toffee comes out as it warms. The alcohol is there but does not affect the taste and is slightly stronger when warm.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, medium bodied with mid to high carbonation.

Overall: Not quite Abt 12 but it is still a great beer from this Trappist brewery that I would buy again next year.

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Photo of mooseo
4.6/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle into snifter.

A - Dark brown with ruby highlights. A titanic off white head sticks around until the end.

S - Banana, dark fruit, plum, bready malt. Traces of herbal spice and alcohol.

T - Dried dark fruit, fig, plum, banana, Belgian yeast. Bready malt provides a solid backbone. Sweet and complex. Alcohol is surprisingly muted.

M - Silky and creamy. Full bodied, high carbonation. Warming alcohol.

O - A delicious quad. This beer evolves as it warms, bringing out more flavor and complexity. Perfect to wind down with on a cold winter day.

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Photo of nickhiller
3.94/5  rDev -6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: thick, groggy and opaque chocolate brown. A crazy 2 1/2 finger tan head with unbelievable retention and great lacing.

S: musty, funky, yeasty. The acidity is immediately apparent. It smells a little bit like vomit (just being honest). Some cherry, dark fruits and banana in the background.

T: syrupy malt, Belgian yeast, finish carries some strong dark fruits--cherries, plums, blackberries-- and dried fruits--prunes, raisins,

M: medium bodied with sharp carbonation reflecting the aforementioned head. Finish is warm and soothing.

D: for me, the appearance is the best thing about this beer. I've never seen a beer as opaque, a head as thick with such good retention and carbonation as unrelenting. The beer itself is good but in a I've-definitely-tasted-this-type-of-thing-before kind of way. I'm feeling that ABV though, warming on a cold winter day, a great feeling.

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Photo of TheQuietMan22
4.12/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured into a tulip. The cork practically jumped out with a little effort, and there was a loud and authoritative POP! I thought the beer would start overflowing, but it stayed calm. The color is a dark, ruby. Just as another reviewer reported, a massive head of dense, tan head developed after a gentle pour. It dissipated very slowly to leave a billowy lacing and trails along the glass.

Smell: Lots of dark fruit and sharp spice. Bready yeast, green apples, plum, figs, cloves, and pepper. It has a noticeable alcohol edge to it, which reminds me of brandy.

Taste: Mirrors the smell with the dark fruit and spice. The plum and figs create the backbone, and it is supported by the clove and pepper spice. Bready yeast, caramel malt, and green apple emerge after the beer has warmed. The alcohol is very noticeable, though not distracting; it fades as the beer warms, but provides a nice warming feeling with each sip, which is very appreciable in the winter.

Drinkability: Frankly, it justifies the price. And then some. This is a very tasty and potent holiday beer. It makes an ideal stocking stuffer.

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Photo of Hopdaemon39
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Acme in Rochester. Unfortunately it was not poured into the proper vessel (it was poured into a strange pint type glass). The appearance rating suffered- it pours a deep mahogany with lots of head and good lacing.

Smells very sweet- ALMOST like alcohol but sweeter and with a little spice. Very pleasant.

Tastes rich and malty. It is a very sweet beer with the appropriate spices- maybe a little cinnamon and nutmeg. Also a little taste of yeast.

Mouthfeel is incredible- this is an amazingly refreshing beer for how sweet it is and how alcoholic it is. It is medium to full bodied with light to medium carbonation.

This a definitely a beer worth drinking again and again if you can find it and want to shell out the bucks.

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Photo of theopholis
3.89/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750mL bottle.

Appearance- Body is a failry cloudy, medium brown with shades of red/orange when held to the light. I was careful with the bottle, so I shouldn't have gotten any sediment. Oh well...

Despite an tall pour, there was no head whatsoever. Just a few bubbles on top. the bubbles to leave a very tight ring as you drink down.

Smell- Fruity (with lots of lighter fruits), much lighter smelling than it looks. Some pleasant notes of bubble gum, sour cherry, some unidentifiable spice. Very inviting.

Taste- Wow. Very flavorful. A spicy, malt sweetness, with a mouth full of hops that weren't in the nose assaults your taste buds. this is definitely a sipping beer. Nice blend of cook cherries, cinnamon, with an odd hop flavor on the back of the tongue. Like they used a weak hop tea, but a lot of it. Sweet up front then mildly bitter and hoppy. A hint of phenolic heat. The very last sensation you get is a subtle mix of alcohol and tannins in the nasal passages as it slides down the gullet.

Mouthfeel- Medium body (for the style). Despite the lack of head, it does have some decent carbonation, but not very lively. This is a bottle conditioned beer, which could explain the lack of head and effervescence.

Drinkability- Quite good. I will probably pick up a couple of bottles and save them for next year. Give them a couple of good shakes to get the yeast going again.

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Photo of Casey10
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a great brew have had a couple of times saved this one from 2 years ago just ot see how it ages.

Not as carbinated as freash but nicely mellowed dark, small wispy head.

Abv is well hidden, be carefull.

Can definately make out the belgain candy sugar the nice warm bready taste.

Definately worth having with a bit of age on it.

A must try and a great winter warmer.

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

Poured on New Years Eve 2009 from a 750 bottle

A - Pours a deep root beer reddish brown with a light tan head that turns into a skim coat. Nice lacing.
S - Sweetness from the heavy malt are apparent then comes the deep dark fruit odors. Raisins , figs maybe a slight spice note as well as some yeast.
T - As with the smell I get the sweet Malt up front with the dark ripe fruit. A tough of hops on the finish a little dry and spicy.
M/F - Full bodied. A bit sticky but smooth as hell.
D - This is a sipper. Quite sweet so limiting to one would probably be wise.

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Photo of zdk9
3.76/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours black with amber to chocolate brown highlights. The head is initially about a fingers worth of tight white bubbles that change into swirls and eddies on the surface of the beer and small amounts of spidery lacing.

S- I'm getting raw alcohol, a small amount of ripe banana. I wish I could take out some brighter flavors or some malt, but I'm finding the alcohol to be somewhat oppressive on my nose.

T- I can appreciate the complexity of the taste of this beer. Theres alcohol again, but here the malt does claim its own space, with dark gingercake notes. The banana is present, joined by some rumraisins. Overall sweet and alcoholic.

M- The carbonation is at just the right level for this one, which leaves enough syrup on my tongue to enjoy for a bit. I do wish the alcohol were more hidden, but I can't decide how much to fault a 10% beer for that.

D- At first I didn't really get this beer- it seemed to be a high alcohol Belgian w/ lots of banana. But after reviewing it I began to enjoy the complexity of the taste and mouthfeel more. While I wouldn't rate it as my favorite Holiday beer it is certainly good, and probably were I in a colder climate during January I would like it even more (I bet it's great in front a fire as the label advertises.

 1,267 characters

Photo of BarrelO
2.51/5  rDev -40.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

750ml bottle poured into a goblet.

A: Brown body with the typical giant Belgian head.

S: Dark fruits and spices.

T: Similar to the aroma. Not overly phenolic, but still cloying. I don't know, it just didn't click for me.

M: Reasonably light with good carbonation.

D: I like more plum and bready flavors in my quads, and they're totally absent in this one. Drain pour.

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Photo of Hoppsbabo
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Quadrupel in appearance. The head looking like recently activated yeast.
S: Smells like regular St Bernardus Abt 12.
T: Extremely phenolic, loads of nail varnish, bubblegum and bready yeast. This just tastes like regular Abt 12. Perhaps a little drier.
O: It's a slightly dry Abt 12. Not great. Not a fan of St Bernardus on the whole. Overrated.

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Photo of robbyc1
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big looking belgian with a massive amount of head, my first look more to come.

Nice fruity nose with yeasty esters, some bubblegum, dark fruit wafts from the glass.

It tastes like the nose with a bit hit of not overdone sweetness at the end, very complex, spicy, with intriguing aftertaste.

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Photo of thegodfather2701
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a murky dark brown with a wonderful billowy and thick off white head that seems like it could last for days and creates a nice cascading on the glass.

S-Typical Belgian spiciness up front with some clove, then some brown sugar, molasses, and a touch of dark fruits. Very malty as expected, it smells delicious.

T-Dark fruits, mostly raisin up front with some brown sugar, and the slightest hint of milk chocolate. It is very boozy which gives it a sweetness, but much like abt. 12 it coats the mouth beckoning to be savored until the last drop.

M-Rich and creamy with the perfect amount of carbonation.

D-The complexity and high abv. make this a sipper. A single 750 milliliter bottle will be plenty to drink in one sitting.

Overall, I love this beer. It reminds me of the abt. 12 but not quite as luxurious. I am glad I purchased it and may even purchase it again next year. I highly recommend it. It made my Christmas even better than it already was.

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

This offering from St. Bernardus pours a delicious dark brown leaving a thick tan head that is frothy and typical from the previous offerings from St.Bernardus. The aroma is very fruity, plums, figs, dates, brown sugar, sweet earthy spices and dark pitted fruit. There is also a faint sour fruit aspect in the back of this brew but nothing over powering. The taste starts matly, fruit, brown sugar, spiced seasoning, just a fantastic array of flavors and aromas massaging the palate. The finish is slightly tart on the back of the throat, hard to make out any specific christmas spices in this brew but that doesn't matter to me. A quality brew made for sipping at 10% abv the alcohol presence is barely visible well hidden in this beer.

 737 characters

Photo of VirginiaBeerMan
3.89/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the Capital Ale House in Richmond; served in a snifter
Cloudy brown with thin head, nice spice aromas; this is definitely a slow drinking beer, not one to consume in multiples, the 10% ABV is there, but somewhat masked with a nice taste; decent mouthfeel; this is one I would go back to, but not buy in large quantities unless you were serving to people that could appreciate this style.

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Photo of gabedivision
4.06/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 750 ml to a Rochefort chalice

A- Pours dark brown, with a creamy and frothy white head

S- Pungent dark fruits, sweet sugar, some toffee, very rich.

T- Sweet brown sugar, carbonation tingle up front, ,dry sweet dark fruits, alcohol on the finish, a weird metallic after taste that lingerd in my mouth long after the sip.

M- Full bodied, decent amount of carbonation that tingles in the mouth, finishes dry.

O- This beer has everything i want in a quad, except for the taste, they really lost me on it, looks perfect, smells amazing, taste just isnt there for me, not feeling this one St. Bernardus

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

A: Deep brown color with reddish tints. The head is about 1 1/2 fingers, light tan, and has a seemingly infinite retention.

S: Candied fruits, Belgian yeast, alcohol, and sugary malt. Lots of smells going on here, and they all complement one another.

T: Burnt sugar, earthy yeast, a touch of banana, a little bit of a nutmeg hint as well. Herbal hops balance out the end, along with phenols. The alcohol is definitely present, but in a way that plays nicely with the rest of the flavors, bringing a nice, warming sensation to the beer.

M: Creamy, heavy body with a LOT of carbonation.

O: Not a whole lot about this beer says, specifically "Christmas" but there's a lot that says winter. The spices are warm, the alcohol is warm, the beer is thick and sweet and delicious. Honestly, no single part of this beer stands out to me, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

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Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is the first review I've done in quite some time, so why not start with a classic. I've had a lot of Belgian Christmas beers over the years, and this is one of the best. I was lucky to be able to try it on tap, thanks to the guys at #3 Craft Brews here in Cape Coral. The beer is sweeter and less carbonated than the regular 12 (which is one of my absolute favorite beers). A nice seasonal treat, but it would be too sweet for me on a regular basis (in fact, I'm going to have a chocolate chip cookie with it in a little while!).

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Photo of humuloner22
4.46/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Solid brew. Not a Christmas spice beer at all. This beer is crafted to introduce an element of times past for the holidays. Don't get me wrong I like spiced beers from time to time but this beer brings an element to holiday beers that are not the norm and that is a plus. This beer is a "Christmas" beer however, I could see myself drinking it all winter long. Its a solid Belgian style ale.

Color: Dark red, almost like currants, but it also has a dark brown mixed in. Its not clear but it does have a some invitation to light, also when poured this beer has a tremendous head and it actually blew out of the bottle when I opened it, which was done fairly carefully.

Aromas: Wine like, with dark fruits, currants, prunes, raisins and other dark dried fruits.

Taste: Sweet, dark fruits, very close to a barley wine, but it has a regular wine flavor profile going on as well. It is not cloying at all but its like a plumb pudding in a glass. Its very traditional Belgian/ old European flavor profiles here.

Overall: This beer tastes like it comes from an older time and i can respect that. I wouldn't drink it all the time but it was a nice experience and change of pace.

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St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,187 ratings.
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