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 BeerNemesis
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. 750ml. Dec. 2009 vintage

Appearance:
Rich reddish-brown color with a 1 finger tan head. Cloudy body with some sediment. Mild carbonation, mediocre lacing.

Aroma:
Raisins and figs were prominent. Brown sugar, spices and a malty backbone were also there.

Taste:
Deep malty flavor, with raisins being prominent. Other fruity flavors (figs and pears maybe) were present. There was some alcohol burn, but altogether I didn't find it disturbing in the least. Semi-sweet finish.

Mouthfeel & Drinkability:
Smooth, dry, well carbonated and a medium body. Great drinkability. When served at around 55 degrees, you get a lot of complexity that isn't present at colder temperatures. As it warmed, I really started to enjoy and appreciate it more. The raisin flavor really opens up as the temperature rises.

Notes: I noticed many comments saying that there is not much flavor to the Christmas Ale. I disagree. It is very flavorful, if a little one-sided (in the raisin and fruity aspects). Perhaps they didn't let it warm...

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Photo of whoneeds8
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a murky brown into a Westmalle Chalace. Very good lacing all the way down the glass. Smell was very typical of a Bernardus Dark Ale. Taste was very complex, however I didn't like the initial mouthfeel of high carbonation. It was ticking my taste buds too much. It mellowed after sitting for a little while.

I might go buy another bottle to let age in the cellar to find out how well this ages for next year.

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Photo of AmericanGothic
4.36/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a corked and caged 750 ml bottle into a Unibroue tulip.

A: Pours a cloudy, medium brown color with two fingers of billowy, pale tan head. Exceptional retention and lace, vigorous carbonation.

S: Sweet, stewed figs and cherries, cinnamon and cardamom.

T: Much like the smell, except more intense. Spicy figs and cherries, also a little banana and prune. Sweetness is fairly low but not absent. Peppery spice floats over the other flavors and gives them something to play off of. As the beer warms, cinnamon and brown sugar joins the flavor profile. Still later, some dark berry notes. Very complex.

M: Full bodied, but the carbonation keeps it afloat. Faintly astringent.

O: This is a very tasty beer. The most interesting thing is the way the fruity and peppery esters separate from each other, makes for a very pleasant beer. I will need to have this again before the holidays are through, probably more than once.

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

St. Bernardus Christmas pours a deep burgundy brown with a generous ecru head of creamy foam which leaves nice sheets of sticky lacing.

The aroma has a nice spicy yeast scent bound in dark malty fruits... raisins, plums, apricots and also brandied pears.

The taste has a nice spiciness to it, cloves and cardamon with a full dark fruit flavor including dark cherries, grapes, plums and their dried counterparts raisins and prunes. Orchard fruits also make an appearance like sun warmed ripe pears. Alcohol is nicely integrated in the matrix of complex fruit flavors and is noticed mostly as a pleasant warmness. The finish is dryer than expected given the strong sweetish fruit and malt flavors.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, medium and creamy, slightly chalky and finishes smooth.

This is a very tasty Holiday treat that I can easily look forward to every year. It is a slow drinking beer but savoring it's complex flavors is no problem! Every Belgian beer I try just leads me want to try another.

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Photo of MartzMimic
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at McNellie's OKC. Pours a reddish brown with a fantastically creamy head that hangs around for a long time. Thick, substantial lacing on the glass. It's a bit cold, and I imagine the temperature is keeping the aroma subdued. There's some breadiness and a bit of spice. Lots of dark fruit and spices on the tongue, much like a fruitcake. Sweet toffee on the end, but not a huge aftertaste. It's very creamy, but not overly thick. This is one of the better Christmas beers that I've tried, and I'll certainly choose this one again.

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Photo of bosco7
4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big frothy head sits a top a dark brown beer. Head retention is superb.

Cola, apple, cherry, almond, acetic, spicy phenolics, and cocoa powder in the nose.

Tastes much better than it smells. I was a little worried that this would be thin and cola-ish. Starts big and full of toffee flavors then moves into chocolate, cherry, almond, cola, roasted malt, macerated plum, vanilla, and baked raisin (think the raisins in an oatmeal raisin cookie that get a little crunchy). Black pepper, nutmeg, and more almond in the finish. Hop character is earthy.

Carbonation is high but with a couple swirls it becomes less prickly and lets the body of the beer shine. This was quite the treat. So complex and drinkable: a perfect winter companion.

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Photo of BeRanger
3.27/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours kind of a murky brown with about 2-3 fingers of white head that stayed for quite some time.

S - The smell was nice, plentiful spices and yeast. Seemed rich of cinnamon, plum and other sweet smells.

T - Taste the cinnamon, plums and other spices/sweet flavors. Unfortunately for me the taste was ruined by the extremely high carbonation. It was too much to handle.

M - Medium body with extremely high carbonation.

O - I was pretty disappointed with this bottle as I felt the carbonation was extremely high compared to what it should be. I have one more bottle in my cellar that I hope to enjoy sometime in the near future. If it's less carbonated, I intend to possibly change the review. I liked the flavors that were coming through however.

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Photo of PlutonowyManiek
3.78/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Weak head. On the surface danced just fine bubbles.
Bouquet is clear cloves, orange, spices evocative of winter.
Taste is very dry, plums and all the characteristics of aroma reminiscent of mulled wine, is also bulky and heavy, and of course alcohol, which is incredibly warming up.
Alcohol (10%) in beer is well hidden. St. Bernardus Christmas Ale enchants bitterness which is dry, seasoned.
This beer is a "fat", rich, yet easy to drink, saturation of more than average.
Highly recommend for winter evenings by the fireplace with a good book.

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Photo of Spineypanda
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark thick liquid with a nice dark and thin head.
Smells of spices and some ginger as well as the smells you get from the Abt 12.
Tastes really nice, like gingerbread and has a good strong abbey ale taste to it that blends nicely.
It is a shame this was the last one in my store, otherwise I would buy another :).

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

750 mL bottle poured into a Chimay goblet.
Best by 07/08/2012. 2007 vintage?

Pours a deep orange-tinted chestnut brown, murky and flecked with sediment, even after a gentle pour. Topped by a large and growing foamy ecru head, also flecked with sediment. Multiple rings of lacing left behind.

Rich and spicy nose, bit on yeasty fruit. Aromas of green apples, nutmeg, unripe pears, green bananas, faintly, a touch of candied nuts, and just a whiff of alcohol. Rich and dense and packed, but somehow remains subtle-ish.

On the palate this beer proves to be a continuation of the nose broadly, though some of the specifics differ. Apple note takes on the characteristics of a spiced, aged cider, but still shows some green apple tartness. There's a touch of bright citrus right up front that's gone almost as soon as it appears. More nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon, which seems to bring with it a powdery texture (a phenomenon I've found often with beers that taste like cinnamon). Quite big and strong and just a little rough around the edges. Fades smoothly and quite quickly into mild toasted malt and a lingering spicy nuttiness.

Lots of small bubbles of carbonation that turn out prickly and somewhat unpleasant. Medium-full bodied, somewhat firm. Very tasty, but unfortunately not a beer style that I seem to like.

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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 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 caddybuyer
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a caged and corked 750 on Christmas afternoon at cellar temperature. I bought this bottle last year so there is at least a year of age in this one. Looking forward to trying it.

A real foamer, this bottle.

A-Deep garnet brown with ruby highlights when held to light. Moderate clarity with a fair amount of sediment. Rocky, creamy tan head that doesn't budge even a few minutes after pouring. Amazing this head. Like whipped cream.

S-Sweet malts and dark fruits. Not a terribly pungent nose, but what I am getting is very aromatic. Hints of chocolate, and candied fruits underscored by Belgian yeast.

T-Dark fruits, marachino cherries, sweet malty yeast, and warming alcohol. I have not had a regular Abt 12 in a long time, but not sure how different this is than that. I don't recall the sweet dark cherry flavor that pervades this beer, so I'd say this holiday offering is a bit different. I'm liking it a bit better as well, but I'm a sucker for flavorful holiday brews. No holiday spices of note here, maybe just a hint of cinnamon. Call this liquid rum soaked fruitcake. YUM!

M-Creamy, silky smooth, a bit sticky, this is the perfect mouthfeel without being overpowered by efferevescence as so many of these Belgians tend to be. Spot on.

D-Drinkability? Well, I cracked this 750, and I'm damn well going to finish up this fine brew, but this one is a treat to be savored.

This is the first time I have ever tried this. Bought another earlier in this season to age for next year, now I am interested in cracking it open to see how it compares to the aged version. For some reason, these go on deep discount after Santa arrives. Heading to the beer store tomorrow to see what is left.

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

Pours dark red-brown with one fingered off-white head in St. Bernardus chalice. Good lacing along sides of glass.

Smell is characteristically Belgian. Lots of banana, clove and other ripe fruits.

Taste is heavy with banana, clove, plums and other ripe fruits. Light bitterness in the finish to balance it out. Very nice.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with heavy carbonation.

Overall this was excellent. Merry Crimus!!

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Photo of Liverpool08
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby red with a deliciuos fluffy mocha colored head. Has the sweet malty/funky aroma of a good Abbey ale. The first sip is YUMMY! Malty, smooth, and creamy, with ahint of cinnamon at the end. Each sip is even better than the first. More malty smoothnes with hints of dried fruits and nutmeg. A great ale for Christmas. I will be looking for this one every December!

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Photo of crnipeter
3.12/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sybaritic monk with Santa's cap smiles from the label inviting you to join him so why not listen to his call? 750 ml into Rochefort chalice.

Coppery brown with light tan head that quickly dissipates. Not impressed.
I'd expected a quad enhanced with spices but I was wrong. This beer should be labeled x-mas Grottenbier as the aroma profile strongly resembles that of a grotten: Unascertainable spices blended with sweet cocoa and alcohol, lots of alcohol. Flavors correspond to the aromas with addition of slightly hoppy finish. Alcohol is overpowering. I could swear this is merely an alcoholic build-up of a Grottenbier. Prickly on the palate with more body and not as dry as its less potent brother. I've been deluded by the smiling monk.
Sint Bernardus is one of my favorite breweries for its Pater (6), Prior (8) and Abott (12) line. However, those beers are legacy of tight cooperation between the brewery and local monastery and could be classified as descendants of Westvleteren. Unfortunately the rest of Bernardus offerings does not meet the high standards set by the pious brothers 6,8 and 12.

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

Very enjoyable beer. Very dark mahogany appearance, a little sweet perhaps, but very drinkable. Bought a 4 pack at Total Wine, may get another before they're gone for the season.

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Photo of cbarrett4
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from tap at Henry's 12th street. Medium head settling to a nice lace. Dark brown hue. Packed with dark malty goodness, and holiday spices, nutmeg, molasses, brown sugar. Yum. Rich flavors of dark malts and said molasses, spices. Medium weight, almost smells and tastes like it needs more body. Smooth, low tannins, very easy on the finish. Good brew, but expect more from this brewery and at this price.

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Photo of Hunter
3.83/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark, nut brown ale with minimal carbonation and lacing. Head was thin and vanished quickly.

Smell: Apples, raisins, mild spice, some alcoholic undertones. Lighter than I expected.

Taste: The high alcohol % comes through on the tongue; Spiced fruit, anise, smoky malt.

Mouthfeel: Nice balance between clean and cloying. the beer stays on the palate after the swallow, but not in an oppressive way.

Overall: A good winter warmer, and worth your time.

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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 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 Travlr
3.95/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Amber brown, with a thin light tan head and a scant malty aroma. Full mouth, light chocolate start progressing to caramel with some spice. Sweet, but not too overly so. i'd like to try this one after laying it down for 3 or 4 years - hopefully will become more complex.

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Photo of ISmith87
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - 4 - Dark red/brown mahogany colored beer that has a nice frothy off white head that leaves a nice lumpy lacing.
S - 4 - Dark fruits, plums, cinnamon, spices, belgian yeast, breadiness, bananas.
T - 4.25 - Dark fruits, plums, cherries, cinnamon. Definite belgian yeast with a nice breadiness to it.
M - 4 - Medium mouthfeel. Alc covered completely. Aftertaste is nice fruity cherry banana belgian awesomeness.
O - 4 - Good belgian beer. Nice and fruity. I'd have it again.

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Photo of HoppyBastard
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a corked bottle 1 pint 9.4 ounce into a Shaker pint glass.

APPEARANCE: pours a clear dark brown color with two-finger tan head after a careful pour, excellent retention, highly carbonated, significant lacing on the glass.

SMELL: sweet malt, pears, bread, faint spice maybe Nutmeg?

TASTE: the taste follows the nose, initially sweet then bread and pears with faint spice taste of cinnamon and a little Belgian funk, the 10% alcohol is noticeable but well disguised.

PALATE: this is a sticky beer with higher carbonation.

OVERALL: this is an excellent beer, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The higher alcohol content would prevent me from having it often but it's great to have on a special occasion like Christmas. This beer would most certainly appeal to anyone who enjoys the Belgian Quad style.

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