Corsendonk Christmas Ale | Brouwerij Corsendonk

BA SCORE
92
outstanding
606 Reviews
Corsendonk Christmas AleCorsendonk Christmas Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Corsendonk
Belgium
corsendonk.com

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by stirgy on 11-22-2001

BEER STATS
Reviews:
606
Ratings:
1,208
Avg:
4.13
pDev:
10.41%
 
 
Wants:
90
Gots:
189
For Trade:
1
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Reviews: 606 | Ratings: 1,208
Photo of nick_perry
3.17/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Cloudy brown color with a tan head. Smells strongly like ginger ale. Taste matches somewhat, along with notes of yeast, coriander, and dark fruits. A bit different than an American winter seasonal, but I like it nonetheless, and certainly find it interesting.

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
3.76/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

11.2 oz; sale Total Wine.

It has a beautiful appearance, very nice lacing, head that remains, and a nice caramel color.

Reasonably nice aroma: Yeasty and fruity.

There is nothing about the taste that stands out, and too spicy for my tastes.

Mouth-feel: not bad, nice carbonation, medium body, on the dry side.

Overall, this is not what I am looking for in a Belgian dark strong. It was a bit disappointing.

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Photo of KevCan
4.64/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bought a gift pack, including 6 8.5-oz bottles and a glass, from Total Wine in Arlington, VA. Poured into the gift glass!

Look: Dark brown, massive head, and phenomenal lacing.

Smell: Classic Belgian dark ale: heavy malt, fruitcake, dark fruit, yeast. Smells like a Belgian quadruple.

Taste: Very flavorful, yet refreshing. Raisin, dark bread, yeast. Extremely drinkable.

Feel: Medium-minus body, high carbonation.

Overall: Outstanding all around.

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Photo of captaincoffee
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy brown with big billowing khaki head that leaves spidery lace all over. Nose is malty and musty with dark fruits and a touch of orange peel. Taste is rich without being cloying. Syrupy fruits, malt, some raisin. Spice is subdued for the style, which is a good thing. However, it isn't as complex as some Belgians in the same range. Overall, a very enjoyable beer that didn't go too weird.

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Photo of m_hall
4.54/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a corked Magnum bottle (cork is stamped "Lot 153") into a tulip glass. Pours a clear, dark garnet red, topped by a three-finger tall khaki head that falls to a thin film. Lacing is spotty.

Aromas are dominated by fruits- plum, black cherries, raspberry, vinous grape, some citrus peel, along with molasses. There's also a bright spiciness (coriander) and alcohol tang present too that lend a bit of contrast.

Flavors are contrasting but balanced: sweetness from the malts, molasses, raisin, apricot, along with notes of dried cherry and orange peel bringing a nicely offsetting tartness at the same time. Both the fruits and the citric tones open up nicely as the beer warms. These flavors meld very well and seem to go back and forth as they progress into a long, somewhat drying finish that adds subtle Christmas spices and an herbal hop bitterness.

Mouth-feel is moderately heavy, and very smooth. Alcohol is present but well controlled, subtly warming. Carbonation is fairly low, just enough to add some tingle.

Of the Christmas Ales I've tried, this one is the least overbearing with it's use of seasonal spices, using them as a supporting element to an already fine Belgian Dark Ale rather than as a gimmick. Really, even though this is a "seasonal" ale, this is an all-around outstanding Dark Ale that would be very enjoyable anytime. In addition, the fairly high alcohol and wonderfully complex flavors make this one a great candidate for cellaring (the bottle lists the Best Before date on my bottle at 07/09/19), so I may look to see if I can pick up another bottle for a vertical tasting down the road. All around, an excellent beer and a must-try if you're a fan of Christmas beers or dark ales in general.

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Photo of Dinglehacker
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter. Surprisingly low head for a Belgian. Thin ring, stray lace. Deep dark brown.

Nose of sour fruit, toffee, molasses, and nuts. Underlying sweetness.

Similar taste, sour fruit becomes raisin, which dominates an otherwise varied palette.

Pretty smooth feel, carbonation is there, but balanced out.

A remarkably complex Christmas dark. A joy to drink and even just to smell. Fans of brown ale, dubbels and winter warmers would prob like this, too.

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Photo of Vixie
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A nice looking ruby red beer with a decent sized tan head. The head does dissipate fairly quickly for a Belgian beer, leaving some lacing on the glass.

Smell is fruity, with citrus and spice notes.

Nice and fruity up front, cherries, orange, and raisin come to mind. There is a bit of a warming spice to this, mainly cloves and pepper. Also can taste hints of Belgian candy sugar, and leaves a bit of heat at the finish.

The feel is a bit sharp, making itself felt, then smooths out going down.

Definitely a nice beer here. There's a lot of flavor, and it all mixes well. The warming makes it great for a cold day, and the spices seem to fit the holiday season. This is one I would like to have more of.

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Photo of Bruno74200
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Clear brown colour with a good white head. Rye bread and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon), clove, light tartness. Not overly sweet. This beer is very balanced. 8.5% ABV? Don't seem to be, not boozy at all. Very smooth and chewy.
A good beer but not the best Christmas ale.

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Photo of puck1225
4.24/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this on draft poured into a snifter while celebrating Christmas in Erie, PA. A beautiful mahogany brown with a thin head but great lacing. Warm spice smell that give the impression of sweet candy. Well carbonated with licorice, sweet spice, cloves, and candied orange. Very nice beer.

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Photo of drmeto
3.64/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

L:
-pours a hazy ruby red with a medium,foamy,beige head
-low carbonation visible
S:
-Earthy,Plums,Rose Hip,Sweet,cooked Potatoes,Cherries
T:
-fruit Syrup.Earthy,Raisins,cooked Potatoes,Figs,Plums
F:
-medium to high carbonation
-light to medium body
-faint Alcohol noticeable
O:
A solid Winter Ale.

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Photo of Cavanaghty
4.24/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Reddish brown with a thick beige head.

Smell: Citrus and cloves, hint of fruity notes.

Mouthfeel/ Taste: Smooth medium bodied. Taste of citrus, cloves, with Malts.

Overall: Excellent beer! I can see why they call it a Christmas Ale, perfect for this time of year.

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Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
4.41/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a snifter glass.

Look is a dark brownish red with a thin white head.

Smell is like a spiced imperial brown.

Taste is a dry roasty brown spiced beer.

Absolutely delicious. Merry Christmas.

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Photo of mothmanscott
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a murky but hazy cola brown with sediment. The pour produces a tall, 3 finger, long lasting, tan head that leaves a frosty, webby coating of lace as it recedes. Aroma is fresh cut pumpernickel, spice, yeast, fig/raisin, anise/licorice, Bakers cocoa, toffee, a little banana & faint cherry. Alcohol is well hidden for a 10% ABV. Even so the smell becomes slightly vinous as the brew warms. Taste is dark bread, molasses & faint caramel malt, earthy Belgian yeast, prune/raisin, spice, anise/licorice, cocoa, a little banana & thin hints of white fruit & cherry. Finishes dry & spicy with a shortlived, drawing bitterness. Afrertaste is a rapidly diminishing dark bread, molasses, dark fruit, alcohol & light bitterness. Alcohol is much more assertive in the mouth than the nose but remains subdued for an 8.5 ABV. Mouthfeel is heavy bodied with high carbonation, alive in the mouth, grainy & prickly, lightly chewy, dry & complex. Very good but somewhat lacking when compared to St. Bernardus Christmas Ale.

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Photo of KMillard
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Chimay goblet glass. Nice tight head, lacing, dark, but Amber in the light. Smell very close to the taste. Comparing to the similar Chimay darkest beer, this beer has strong fruit smell and taste, but sophisticated fruit. Raisins, figs, dates. A Nestle Chunky bar minus the chocolate. The high alcohol content is not apparent. This is however a very thick and complex ale. If you enjoy dark, complex beers, this is most worthy. Merry Christmas!

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Photo of Radcpa
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aged for six months. Dark brown appearance with two finger white head that dedicates quickly. Nice fruity aroma. Taste is very smooth fruity with out any alcohol aftertaste.

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Photo of Marraybay
3.3/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Amber red with exceedingly generous head; nice glass presentation. Fruity and vinous in the nose and registers the same on the palate. Sweet and syrupy; effervescent. A bit of a balance issue for me in that I felt some citrus and or bitterness was needed as a counterpunch to the sweetness. Also a bit of a metallic note toward the finish that I find unappealing. Fairly big beer at +8, but not overwhelmingly so. Interesting beer, but as someone who isn't a great fan of the style, I probably wouldn't revisit.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.67/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I know I've reviewed this before and just haven't gotten around to typing up my notes, but I was in the mood for a Belgian and nabbed this at a Whole Paycheck in Manhattan for $10.99 USD to revisit. 'Tis the season, anyway...

BOTTLE: Seasonal label art depicting a wintry night, a star, and a Christmas tree. Has an odd twist-wire cap over a cork (sort of a wire cage and cap without the cap; instead there's a metal clamp). Best before: 07/09/19. 750ml format. Brown glass. Imported by St. Killian Importing Co.

8.50% ABV. "Dark ale refermented in bottle."

Served cold into stemware and allowed to come to temperature over the course of consumption.

HEAD: Occupies half the glass with its lively pale khaki colour fluffy, mushrooming out of the rim. Creamy and soft as can be, with a nice complexion and a light consistency. Retention is excellent - ~10+ minutes.

BODY: Deep dark sanguine with an enchanting glow. No yeast is visible within, but it's really too dark to see anyway (some might mistake it for black when viewed from a distance).

It's a classic appearance for a Belgian dark ale. I'm excited to try it.

AROMA: Dark fruit is instantly noticeable, with notes of dark cherry, plum, date, prune, and faint fig. Spicy Belgian yeast is obvious, with notes of fennel, licorice, anise, and possibly coriander coming through. Slightly jammy, with a natural fruit syrup aroma. I can tell there's some dark malt sweetness, but the aromatic focus stays squarely on the dark fruits and yeast, evoking a nice mulled drink. Possibly some candi sugar too.

Aromatic intensity is average, letting the subtle notes entice without beating you about the head with big bold aromas. Cherry dominates. I'm looking forward to the first sip.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Yeasty spices marry well with dark fruit in this well-balanced yet complex and subtle brew, with the licorice/fennel/anise family of spices edging out coriander and subtle cacao (or maybe it's cassia?) for the title. A dark malt backbone provides enough sweetness and body, but this brew is almost refreshing it's so approachable. On the light side of medium-bodied, with none of its 8.50% ABV noticeable whatsoever.

Dark fruit is given as much emphasis as the spices, with dark cherry leading the pack trailed by dates, prunes, and possibly fig; plum didn't quite make the cut as far as I can tell. A candi sugar like flavour lends complexity without taking the balance too far towards the sweet end of the spectrum. Raisin imbues this already lively estery Belgian ale with further classic Belgian dark ale flavour.

When prompted to find dried orange rind, I do find it buried in there, but I won't pretend I'd pick it up in a blind tasting.

Subtlety is what works here; each note is vivid enough to contribute without overwhelming the rest of the brew as a whole.

No overt hop flavours. No off-flavours/faults. No booze.

Depth of flavour could be improved, but it's nice as-is. Flavour duration and intensity are style appropriate (which is to say moderate).

Not an oily, gushed, hot, harsh, astringent, rough, or (horribly) syrupy brew. It does have a thick filling presence on the palate, bringing the weight needed to sustain its many flavours. Bready.

The mouthfeel doesn't accentuate specific notes per se, though its slightly syrupy feel coupled with its thickness helps play to the dark fruit a bit more. Smooth and wet, though I think a slightly more powdery dry feel might be interesting. Carbonation is near perfect; bottle reconditioning was the right move.

OVERALL: I'm pissed at myself I didn't find the orange peel until it was pointed out to me, but I digress (it seems so obvious once you know to look for it).

It's not the *best( Belgian dark ale out there, but it's easily one of the best 50. Remarkable balance, an emphasis on subtle delicate flavours (instead of big bold extremes that drown out everything else), and an enjoyable melange of decadent dark fruits and dry spices make this a winning beer with high drinkability for the style. So much easier to drink than the vast majority of American expressions of the style, Corsendonk is a brew I'll enjoy getting through a full 750ml of myself and it'll be hard to go back to shelling out $15+ for American-brewed bombers of beers that are usually nothing special knowing this sits on shelves for $10.99 even as an import in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in the U.S. At Belgian prices, you'd be an idiot not to buy it.

A Christmas ale for the ages.

B (3.67) / GOOD

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Photo of MacMalt
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2016 vintage. Poured into tulip glass. It pours a dark ruby color with mahogany hues and one finger of foamy, ecru-colored head and lacing with nice retention. It smells of sweet malt, brown sugar, candied fruit, and a whiff of coffee. The taste is berry-forward with plum, banana, clove, coriander, nutmeg, and pepper. There is also some subtle brown sugar. It finishes with just a touch of bitterness and pepper. It is medium-bodied with lively carbonation and the 8.5% ABV gives it substance without overwhelming. Overall, it's a delightful Christmas Ale that lends a sparkle to the season!

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Photo of Marius
3.75/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

25cl bottle. Dark ruby-brown pour with a tan head that gives way to a sticky lacing.Smells like dried fruit, coffee, chocolate, toffee, red grapes, copper. The taste follows the same notes, bitter-sweet leaning towards sweet, with a medium body, soft carbonation and a sticky sweet aftertaste.

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Photo of dragos
4.84/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This beer is great. It looks dark in the glass, however sometimes you get either some yeast or coagulated proteins which seem to float in the bottle.
The mouth feel is perfect for a Christmas ale, medium to full. Not too full to overload your tongue and mouth but just enough to keep it interesting.
The flavour is superb. It has loads of dark fruit of all kinds. Sip it slowly and try to name everything you taste. I cannot get enough of this. Too bad it is only available during Christmas time.
I recommend this beer fully. Remember, this beer is not about the hops but malts and fermentation which means yeast.

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Photo of Bierliebhaber3
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This Belgian strong dark ale pours a dark brown color with a slight red tint and a thick, foamy tan head. The smell is surprisingly very mild with only hints of caramel malts and some spices. The taste is more appropriate with many of the flavors typical of Belgian beers: banana bread, coriander, cloves, plums, and some spicy snap at the finish. The flavors are certainly present, but they’re still a little more subdued than what I would expect out of a Belgian beer of this color. The alcohol is noticeable, but also a little more subdued than I would guess from an 8.5% beer though it does send a nice warmth through you. The body is medium, which again is a little lighter than I would expect from the color. Not a bad beer by any means, but a little bit disappointing based on how high the rankings are. I would just like some more punch out of it, but it is still a finely crafted beer.

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Photo of gandres
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

11.2 ounce bottle to wine glass
reddish brown, clear, medium tan head quickly head goes away
Nose: malty with a hint of beries drink: berries come out
tasty, medium bitter
lively carbonation
very good beer ok to repeat, look for
Drank: April 30, 2016

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Photo of bushbeer75
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

poured from 11.2 oz. brown bottle - best before 19/08/18

Corsendonk Christmas Ale changed the color of my tulip glass to a dark mahogany producing a generous 2-finger thick tan head. The head held well and eventually formed clingy lacing. The nose was first hit with dark fruits (i.e., plums, raisins) and brown sugar (caramel) followed by nice holiday spices. The taste matches the nose almost perfectly except the spices are more predominate. The mouth feel was crisp, smooth and had a dry finish with light warmth from the alcohol, The body and carbonation is medium .

This [true] Belgian Strong Dark Ale is one nice brew for the holidays - for that matter ANYTIME!

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Photo of Cthulhusquid
4.78/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Three finger white-brown head, very dark brown red-tinged body.

Smell: Dark fruits, marshmallow, weak spices (smells almost like Dr.Pepper), and has a light vinous quality. You can even smell the alcohol a bit, which I didn't like.

Taste: Sweet dark fruits (mainly plum), marshmallow fluff, cinnamon, pepper, and notes of wood and chocolate.

Feel: High carbonation, medium bodied, and has a noticeable alcohol bite.

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Photo of erk0607
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L: Clear, effervescing red-tinged brown with a creamy beige head.

S: Dark, malty

T: Creamy, strong spices though I couldn't say which, malty, like a dark Christmas ale should

F: Slightly foamy on the tongue, not heavy per say, but a sipping beer for sure

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Corsendonk Christmas Ale from Brouwerij Corsendonk
4.13 out of 5 based on 1,208 ratings.
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