joe1510 (501) - Illinois, USA - DEC 21, 2007
3.9 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale pours the darkest red imaginable. If this beer is not directly backlit it borders on black. When backlit there’s a mahogany hue with tiny carbonation bubbles rushing to the surface. A one finger beige head formed on the pour that had strong staying power from the massive amount of carbonation. Leaves drink lines after each sip. An excellent looking beer.
Smell is full of candy and spice. Brown sugar, gingerbread cookies, some spicy yeast, cinnamon, and dark bread. This beer really does bring out the smells of Winter and Christmas.
The massive carbonation seems to get in the way of the flavors slightly. It’s good without a doubt but the carbonation has things moving far too quickly. All the aromas mentioned above are present in the flavor as well and meld nicely. Flavor is slightly more spicy with hints of pepper.
The carbonation is a little too much. Does give a nice frothy mouthfeel but pushes the flavors through too quickly. Leaves a nice tingle on the back of the tongue.
This beer goes down easily and is definately enjoyable. That said, two goblets in a sitting is enough for me.
Another beer of the highest quality from St. Bernardus. Of course that’s to be expected. This beer has some really nice Christmas spicing.
GeneralGao (3614) - Iowa City, Iowa, USA - DEC 21, 2007
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
750 ml bottle purchased at John’s Grocery in Iowa City. Poured a cloudy brown color. Head was tall and cocoa colored with decent retention and lacing. Attractive aroma of distinct yeasty bread dough. Smelled a bit like a bakery. Clove and a whiff of banana came out by the by and were accompanied by dark fruits and alcohol. Warm alcohol and lots of bubbles greeted the tongue. Not sweet, but not bone dry, either. Spices and bready malts dominated the flavor as predicted by the aroma. There was plenty of clove and alcohol flavor with a hint of roasty malt and spiced banana bread. Great beer.
MartinT (7317) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - DEC 21, 2007
4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
My Bottom Line:
Festive black pepper seamlessly follows the intelligent dried cocoa, as dates and cherries are amassed to offset the twitching alcohol warming in this, yet another highly successful Belgian Strong Ale from one of the world’s best breweries.
Further Personal Perceptions:
-A heavenly tower of unyielding foam thrones and laces within the chalice atop the mahogany-laced darkest of browns.
-Carbonation is frothy and bubbles initially expansive; a little breathing does wonders for the mouthfeel.
-Its fragrance is at first delicate, but bready yeast develops soon enough to embolden the calculated desserty spices.
-Some roasted malt flakes whirl about serenely.
-The entire flavor profile is entirely balanced and the dessert spicing so wisely integrated.
-Cloves are also perceived in the spiciness, but no real spice stands out.
-The fruitiness seems to be slowly candied throughout the tasting.
-This is complex and highly drinkable for its gravity; what else would you expect from St.Bernardus!
skaughty (627) - Marietta, Georgia, USA - DEC 20, 2007
4.2 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 17/20
Pours like a rusty version of the Abt 12 with course bubbles and a lively head. Aroma is lighter and more unripe than a quad. Actually this is a super dubbel in many ways., with more cherry and fig than roasted chocolate. The palate sizzles with a popping creamy coating and just a touch of nutmeg.
beermatrix (1497) - Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA - DEC 20, 2007
4.6 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
Pours out a dark brown to settle a nearly mat black with a small sense of brownness to its body. Very heavy looking and an impressively tall capping to top it off of light crispy brown foam thats a bit rough and tumbled. Kinda crunchy looking at first but developes into a moderately creamy bubbleness and density as it sits. It keeps well and stretches all sorts of wonderful lacing that looks of wet powdered sugar.
Nice lofty aroma of cookie dough and spice. Crisp yet round with a full on malt tilt of breads and dark fruits. Mostly figgy, touch of raisin, perhaps some dates and molasses covering the big breadyness. Nice yeastyness to it which seems to be adding a root beerish type of hints to its dryness. Slender hops add some grassyness to its spicy complexity which included some anise, cinnamon, mint, and ginger cookies.
Flavors are bold, lasting and carry alot of what the smell leads to with its big maltyness and yeastified balance. Firm grip of dark candish malts leads right in with a nice holiday cake-like dimension of figgyness first, then dark cherry, dates, chocolate covered raisins, and then the peppy spices. Notes of root beer, anise, pepper, carrot cake, and ginger make their way in and out of the malty doughy darkness but linger mostly across its finish with a slender, delicately woven dryness of grassy hops. Pretty damn solid! Perhaps not quite a match to the Abt 12, but damn if its not close!
Feel is big, bold, and beautiful. The girth is massive in the body of this stuff. Heavy yet smooth, crunchy and crisp yet creamy with a whole lotta malts to create an exceedingly thick bread/cake-like structure of body. Not to mention the subtle details of yeasty play, dark fruity tang, perfectly intensed warmness, hoppy dryness, and spice. Which all lasts forever and a day the second it spills on to your palate.
Wow! Great stuff! No big surprise really. St. B knows how to impress and this is perfect for the holidays!
WickerBrew (311) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - DEC 20, 2007
4.6 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 19/20
I really like this, although I am not sure if its better than the Abt 12. Yeasty sweetness and high carbonation is the same, but this brings some nutmeg spiciness to the table. On one hand, it makes for a great winter treat, but on the other I am not sure if I could drink it regularly. ABV is well hidden, and at only $10 a bottle its a steal!
MI2CA (1340) - Noblesville, Indiana, USA - DEC 19, 2007
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
750ml - Pungent aroma lingers across the room. Spicy yeast, bubblegum, chocolate malt, nutmeg and clove. Pours deep transparent garnet with a medium lasting head and great lacing. Flavor matches aroma with a strong alcohol bite, very warming which is ok for a xmas brew. Palate is sticky. A tasty brew perfect for the season.
oh6gdx (19683) - Vasa, FINLAND - DEC 19, 2007
3.4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
Draught. Deep amber colour, mediumsized beige head. Aroma is lots of spices, some yeast and candy. Flavour is really much the same in a good balance. Wellbalanced and hides the alcohol well.
TheEpeeist (3057) - Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, USA - DEC 18, 2007
3.6 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
25.4 oz bottle. Almost clear brown with an off-white froth. Nose is yeasty, funky and light caramel. Taste is a touch hot with light banana and mild spices; nutmeg, cardamon and mace. Not as rich as the 12 but still pretty tasty.
sayravai (4668) - Helsinki, FINLAND - DEC 18, 2007
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
UPDATED: DEC 26, 2007 (Bottled, 0.75l@Home) Very dark ruby with a medium, foamy, lacy and tanned head. Strong aroma of cloves, some cinnamon, and slightly grainy-rye-puddingy malt. Grainy-malty, raisiny and rye-puddingy flavor with a hint of metal. Medium to full-bodied with somewhat foamy carbonation. A reasonably smooth and full, spicy Xmas brew. Not anisey like the Abt (sampled side-by-side) - but slightly more sour and bitter, leaning towards the Grottenbier.
(Draught@Kerstbierfestival 2007, Essen, way too cold) Slightly hazy reddish brown with a smallish, lacy head. Dried fruit in the aroma with caramel and grainy malt. Flavor is much like Abt, but with more malt sweetness. Medium-bodied, slightly sticky palate with low carbonation. Nice. Bottle rating coming up...