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Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

YOUR RATING = None |
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:
2,077
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
16.23%
 
 
Wants:
178
Gots:
413
For Trade:
6
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 679 | Ratings: 2,077
Photo of scruffwhor
4.11/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The perfect looking Belgian brew, deep, murky brown with dark ruby highlights and a great, thick retaining head. The only thing that its look is lacking is the bubbling. The aroma is very Belgian and awesome in that sense, but not very Christmasy. Makes me think of figs and sweet bread. The taste is very pretty sweet and complex. Lots of brown sugar with some with a few spices. Hints of clove and cinnamon. But just not as seasonal as expected.

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

Clear, coppery red hue with burnt orange edges and a billowing, fluffy cap of beige foam. Great head retention with chunky clumps of foam sticking to the glass at first, then some spotty lacing later. Great aroma - figs and prunes, apple, cinnamon, bready and yeasty, floral hops, bubblegum, pear, and mild medicinal alcohol. Sweet with some warm alcohol up front, dried fruit in the middle, with bread crust towards the end. It finished with a flash of gingerbread and lingering peppery alcohol. Medium to full bodied with very high carbonation. Palate coating with a bit of slickness and warmth. A great winter warmer with pleasing fruity notes. I'm betting this will age gracefully.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750mL corked and caged bottle poured into a tulip.

(A)- Pours a dark burnt sienna color. Produced a giant head of fluffy tan colored froth. Great retention and tons of lace.

(S)- Rich bits of dark fruits, yeasty lemon and banana, and a clay-like earth. Very subtle bits of spices.

(T)- Same like the smell was. Though, a much sharper yeast presence than the smell led me to believe, but has the same great dark fruits: plum, cassis, grape, and raisin.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. A bit heavy in the yeast department, so it really gets a bit earthier and drier than expected.

(D)- Overall, another solid beer from St. Bernardus. Malty and rich with classic components.

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Photo of avalon07
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had a brownish color and a thick consistency. There was a half inch of creamy head and excellent lacing.

S: A very spicy, malty aroma. Actually does remind me of Christmas.

T: Taste is well done and full of spices: Ginger, cumin, malt, orange and Belgian yeast. Flavorful.

M: Well-carbonated beer that goes down easy. Full-bodied.

D: This is a solid effort from St. Bernardus, a brewery that seems incapable of making a bad beer.

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Photo of Viggo
3.65/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle, Lexx picked this one up.

Pours a cloudy orange/brown, big and loose off white head forms, settles to a thin layer, leaves behind some decent lace. Smell is caramel, cinnamon, bread, yeast, apples, alcohol, pretty rich aroma, nice. Taste is raisins, caramel, spices, bread, quite sweet, apples and spice in the finish, touch of brown sugar. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with high carbonation. Overly sweet, carbonation was a little too high, made it kind of prickly. Overall okay but I was expecting more from this. Thanks Lexx!

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

Dark mahogany body. Thick crop of beige head. It sticks around forever, though it does diminish ever so slightly creating a rocky landscape on top of the nectar. Very inviting nose. Subtly, yet very pleasing to the sense of smell. Doughy yeastiness with bready malts and cinnamon spiciness blend to give the warm aroma of comfort. Biscuity malt base serves nicely for the layers of complexity on top. Spice tones intermingle with fruits and candy. Light alcoholic tones are present to create a little warmth. Body is light-medium and the carbonation lends an ever so sublte effervescence to the whole experience. This is quite enjoyable and I'm not exactly surprised being that it comes from my favorite Belgian Brewery.

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Photo of rfgetz
3.95/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark copper brown with an small, dense off-white head. Clumpy retention, minimal lacing. Smell is of dark fruit (fig, prune, raisin) with mulling spice background. Taste is sweet dark fruit (fig, prune, raisin, date) with a mulling spice background. Velvety smooth on the palate with only a minimal alcohol burn. Very nice holiday brew with a full flavor profile without going overboard on any particular ingrediant.

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

Bottle opened on 12.7.12

A - Pours a deep brown with a ruby hilights. A huge foamy light tan head with amazing retention forms.

S - Spices, raisins, figs, light fruit, cola.

T - Similar, spices are more up-front and dominating.

D - Great carbonation and a medium to light body.

O - Belgian Abbey with Christmas Spices.

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Photo of tbeckett
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from Harvest Wines. From notes.

A - Poured a dark reddy brown colour with good carbonation and a lovely, thick one finger of light brown head. Great thick lace and one finger of retention. Looked lovely the whole way.

S - Vinous, dark fruit, yeast, sweet dark fruit.

T - Yeast, dark fruit, sweet. Pretty nice. The vinous element is subtle but nice and clearly there but tucked away behind that fruity sweetness. Little to no spice.

M - Medium carbonation and a full body with good feeling for the carbonation.

O/D - Lovely stuff. Rich and malty. I can imagine loving this with snow coming down. Good stuff. Tad sweet perhaps.

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

750mL bottle poured into a St. Bernardus chalice

Pours a russet brown with reddish highlights and a chilled haze. A tight, fluffy tan head rose and receded quickly to leave a collar around the edges of the beer. Faint rings of lace left hanging around.

Very broad range of aromas. Cinnamon, dark fruits, molasses, booze, strong belgian yeast, brown sugar, anise, and grassy hops. The yeast kind of dominates, but the spices and dark fruit rise to the occasion and balance it out.

The fruits and spice shine through with a kick ass doughy, yeast flavor that holds real strong. A bit of cocoa powder, molasses, and hops round out the palate.

The carbonation seemed to be a little high. Full bodied. Really coats the mouth and bubbles off.

Drinkability was slightly above par. Nothing hindering. A good version of the style and always nice to
get another St. Bernardus offering in the mix.

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Photo of claspada
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aromas are sweet and spicy with dark fruits, including raisins, prunes, and figs. AS it warms you can detect more the the complex maltiness highlighted by molasses and some burnt brown sugar.
The taste begins with a solid dark maltiness including dark crystals and roasted malts. As it warms you get more of the complex dark fruitness once again highlighted by dates, raisins and prunes. Further sampling allows you to detect more of the spicy Belgian yeast flavors.
The mouthfeel nice with a solid full body and pleasantly well carbonated. Overall this is a fine holiday sipper best enjoyed with your family and/or friends. My uncle and I thoughly enjoyed this while the family rushed to the kitchen for the desserts, we already had ours in our glasses...

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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 jrallen34
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Saw this on tap at Local Option last night, couldn't pass the chance to finally tick a top Belgian...Dark brown pour, but a really deep hue that I like. The head is light tan, creamy with good retention and lacing...Finally a Christmas beer aroma that doesn't overpower the senses. Dark fruits with spice, but spice is an accent not the center of the beer. The taste is the same, dark fruits with spice.

Worth trying, great winter Christmas beer.

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

A - Pours a dark brown, raisin color with a very thick, creamy, toffee colored head that doesn't go away - very thick, frothy lacing.

S - Belgian spice, banana, bready, yeasty, some chocolate aroma.

T - Raisins, figs, prunes, chocolate, bananas, clove, roasted sweet caramel/toffee malt, some alcohol presence, lingering mild chocolate bitterness.

M - Big full body, viscous, slippery, light carbonation turns to a creamy finish.

O - Outstanding beer.

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

A new beer to try from St. Bernardus, I planned to wait until closer to Christmas-time but couldn't hold out. We poured it into St. Bernardus glasses and drank it near a Christmas tree in any case.

The beer was dark brown with a thick head, but lacked the floaties from ABT 12 and the creaminess in the foam that ABT 12 provides. Still looked OK, just closer ot the Prior 8 in appearance. The aroma was the signature yeastie fruitiness, but with a hint of spice I haven't noticed in the sibling beers. This spice came through in the flavor as a peppery note, a little biting, I'm not sure how to record it except "cracked pepper". Very nice, definitely you'd know in a blind taste test who made it, but you'd also know it was a little different. Highly recommended, along with all their other beers.

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

Served on-tap over in NY state.

Appearance is deep red-brown, some lacing going on. Its` nose has raisins, yeast, candy, brown sugar and figs. A very robust smelling beer. Taking a sip of this strong dark ale and I taste spices from the winter season such as cinnamon and clove, along with some more dark fruits. MF leans towards full, the alcohol does not really hide. Sip this one and enjoy on a cold winter day.

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Photo of drpimento
4.44/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served with a smallish, cream colored head and lots of lace. Color is a cloudy brown amber. Aroma is super malty, vineous, yeast, caramel, toffee, fruit. Flavor's very similar to nose with toffee, caramel, malt, yeast, carbonic tang all in the fore! Body and carbonation are faultless. Finish is malt, carmel, toffee and a touch of fruit while of average length. Luscious beer!

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Photo of glid02
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap at the Brick Store in Atlanta.

Pours a slightly hazy brown color with ruby highlights. The head is one-finger of tan frothy goodness that sticks around for a while before dissipating into a thin, even layer across the top. Lacing is very good.

Smells of both light and dark fruits with an earthy sweet aroma. There's also a bit of spice in there - cinnamon or nutmeg.

Tastes very good. Somewhere between a trippel and a dubbel with a bit of spice. Pear and fig flavors meld seamlessly with hints of cinnamon and a slight touch of yeast. The dark fruit flavors seem to linger a bit longer than the light fruits. The alcohol is not a factor save for a nice warming sensation.

Mouthfeel is great. Smooth with subdued carbonation that coats the mouth.

Drinkability is great. The high ABV is not a factor except for making it a bad idea to drink too many of these. Really an easy brew to quaff.

Overall this is a very good beer that everyone should try this time of the year.

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Photo of Jwale73
4.01/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've been waiting to try this beer for a while but got totally shut out last year. 750ml corked and caged bottle served in my St. Bernardus chalice. Be careful opening this one - once I removed the cage the cork fired like a shotgun blast and ricocheted off the ceiling. Pours a deep plum color with a slightly hazy clarity. Head starts off as a fluffy, two inch, cream-colored cloud of foam. As the head recedes into a quarter inch cap, delicate, textured spots and strands of lacing are revealed and exhibit excellent adhesion. This beer looks exquisite in its proper glassware. Nose expresses dark fruits with a slightly vinous character, Belgian yeast and some nutty notes (perhaps hazelnut). Taste follows nose - flavor profile is pretty standard for the style in my opinion; however, there's a trace of ethanol that overshadows things a bit, making it difficult to tease out the subtleties. I also get a little wet cardboard towards the finish, but it dissipates quickly. Mouthfeel is light-medium with a slightly prickly carbonation, as well as a bit of gassiness. Overall, a very solid Belgian Strong Dark; however, perhaps a little young. I would probably sit on this vintage for a couple more years.

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

750 mL corked and caged bottle, with 10.02.16 printed on cage, I assume a best by date, probably 5 years out.

appears a murky dark brown, with thick foamy head that settles into a 1/4" covering of fine tiny bubbles. great lacing.

sweet and spicy herbal aroma. fruity, plum-like notes. taste is not as sweet, but rich and malty. the winter spices are fairly muted. medium body, extremely smooth carbonation. goes down easy.

Definitely one of the finer Christmas beer offerings.

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Photo of champ103
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark mahogany color. A large beige head forms with great retention. Plenty of sticky lace is left behind. This looks beautiful in my St. Bernardus chalice.
S: At first, cinnamon and nutmeg hits the nose. Some other peppery spices as well. Dark fruits of figs, plums, and raisins come next. A doughy yeast aroma that I find in many Belgian beers. Complex and wonderful.
T: Cinnamon is upfront again. Lots of dark fruit that follow the nose. Some sweet and malty caramel. A light burnt wood flavor. Dough and yeast.
M/D: A full body that is a bit dry. A light snap of carbonation, but a good creaminess follows. This is exceptionally smooth and easy to drink for the high ABV. Something to sip and savor.

This is a great winter brew. Highly recommended, and something I will have more of.

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Photo of cbutova
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes that I took a few nights ago. Pours a hazy dark copper-brown color with a gigantic creamy head that would not go away. The head is so creamy that I could almost skim it off and eat it. Medium lacing is left on my glass. Smell is huge fruit and spices. There are yeasty/bread-like notes and a tiny bit of alcohol. I get cloves, coriander and pine in the nose as well. The smell is a bit too spicy to me. The taste is also very fruity. Dark fruits like raisins attack the mouth. Nutmeg, coriander and cloves also assault the palette. There is also a huge yeast taste but no alcohol, impressive for 10%ABV. The taste is a little over the top for me in fruits and spices. The mouthfeel is a bit watery to me. Not what I expected from the huge creamy head. Lighter body than I would want for a pretty big beer. A huge coat of spicy fruit is left on a warm tongue. As far as DB, drinking a lot of this would be tough. I am very happy that I halved the bottle because the spices become extremely powerful after even one pint. The alcohol also starts to get pretty hot as it warms up.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a 10 oz chalice glass

Appearance – The beer was served a deep mahogany colored brew with a decent haze and a thick one finger head. The head faded holds on for some time, eventually fading to give a decent level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma was heaviest of dark fruit aromas of plum, raisin and some fig. Mixed with these aromas is a very subtle spice (cinnamon and nutmeg) aroma as well as a yeast aroma and a little bit of banana.

Taste – The taste begins with the dark sweet fruits that were detected in the nose. The raisin and prune character of the taste are soon joined by a yeasty taste as well as a spice flavor. While the spice starts off on the weaker side it soon grows stronger with flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg becoming more potent. Flavors of a banana nature and some bready tastes then come to the tongue. These flavors all mingle together to in the end , with the advent of some alcohol taste, leave a warming fruity spiced taste to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel –The body of the beer is quite creamy with a carbonation level that is rather moderate. The creamy body is fantastic as it baths the tongue in the fruit, bready, and warming alcohol flavors of the brew. The carbonation seems to add just the right excitement to the mouthfeel to complement the spice tastes. Overall rather pleasant.

Overall – Quite tasty of fruit, warming and just the right amount of spice. A delicious winter warmer.

 1,450 characters

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

750ml bottle, split

appearance: served in the seldom-used de koninck chalice, garnet-mahogany body, big creamy beige lace. nice

smell: dark belgian sugar, dark fruit, holiday spice

taste: big dark fruit, clove, banana, dark fruit soaked in booze, some holiday spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cherry, brown sugar, crystallized dates. Another nice classic from St. Bernies.

mouthfeel: rich and full, boozy finish

overall: nice

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a growler into a 25cL St. Bernardus goblet.

A: A creamy head appears, shot through with bubbles. The beer is dark, ruddy brown, turning translucent when backlit. Beautiful lacing all down the sides.

S: Banana pudding. Cloves. Light yeast and other fruits.

T: A tad tart. Figgy fruit. Lightish and spicy -- cloves and possible fennel. It definitely improves as it warms, opening up other fruits, but staying somewhat sour. Aftertaste is drying and not the best part of the taste.

M: Smooth but watery; it feels like apple juice. Some carbonation keeping things lively.

D: A very enjoyable beer, but not the best Christmas ale, BSDA, or St. Bernardus.

EDIT: After two days in the fridge, the character of this beer changed drastically. Obviously, it became less carbonated and more sticky, but, more dramatically, the sourness disappeared completely to be replaced by maraschino cherries and a cough syrup flavour. The smell is different too -- cherries, christmas cake, and plum pudding.

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