ChadPolenz (1847) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - DEC 17, 2011
I split a 750ml corked and caged bottle with a friend. We poured it into tulip glasses.
italianjohn (3228) - Penndel, Pennsylvania, USA - DEC 17, 2011
Appearance: Very dark brown/maroon/mahogany hue. Opaque but plenty of visible carbonation sticks to the side of the glass. Forms a large, white, foamy head which laces and retains quite well.
Smell: Strong banana and clove aroma. More so than anything else, actually. Some general spice to the nose as well as hints of alcohol.
Taste: Belgian quads and "strong dark ales," especially Trappist and abbey brews, tend to have a natural spicy/peppery taste and sensation to them. I think the idea behind St. Bernardus Christmas Ale was to capitalize on that foundation and make it even stronger. The result is a beer that is both effervescent and spicy as can be without actually adding any additional spices to it.
As soon as the beer hits the tongue, the entire mouth is engulfed in classic Belgian spice. Perhaps "spice" isn’t the appropriate description since I can’t pick out any flavors akin to ginger, cinnamon, etc. Rather, it’s closer to table black pepper, but in liquid form. The beer seems to swell up and occupy the mouth with a foamy texture and intense peppery sensation. Once you get used to it you begin to taste the classic Belgian flavors of dark fruit, and confectionary (especially caramel) sweetness Alcohol imparts a subtle warmth on the aftertaste, but otherwise it’s remarkably clean although slightly dry. Tasty and satisfy to be sure, but nothing in the ballpark of genuinely amazing. Perhaps a vintage would be, though.
Mouthfeel: Extremely intense with massive effervescence and a sensation of living foam.
Drinkability: While St. Bernardus Christmas Ale may be a commendable brew for its palate and relative complexity, it must be penalized for its very low drinkability. It’s beers like this I point to as an example of just how zesty and spastic a Belgian yeast strain can be. The carbonation gets stuck in the throat after ever swig, regardless of whether it’s a big gulp or a gentle sip. The 10% ABV is well utilized as there’s only a minor warming sensation and taste, but after one serving you definitely feel it all. You also feel quite full.
Deep plum pour thin off white bubbly beige head sticky striped lacing .... aroma of dark fruits plums, figs .... taste is of dark fruits (plums and figs) with some spices and caramel malts that flows into the backbone .... mouthfeel is soft and very fresh ..... only slight warming in the finish but abv is hidden well .... amazing brew nice to see it on tap oldrtybastrd (5003) - Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA - DEC 16, 2011
Pours a nice dark reddish amber color. Aromas of fruit, and some other hints, maybe some spices, maybe caramel. Flavor is a bittersweet, malty, and a hint of hops with a nice bittersweet finish.
craftycarl21 (2339) - Seattle, Washington, USA - DEC 15, 2011
Draught at Churchkey. Deep mahogany pour. Prevalent notes are of cider, plum, fig, apple skin and fruit, and beautiful sweet bosc pear. Rich, decadent mouthfeel, but it still goes down quite smoothly. Absolutely luscious. rougeau13 (3157) - Richmond, Texas, USA - DEC 15, 2011
Hazy reddish-brown with a small beige head that quickly dissipates. Aroma of figs, raisins, other sweet fruits, caramel, candy, spice and yeast. The flavor is sweet fruit and malts, with a bit of spice and a mild bitterness. The alcohol is very well hidden. Full bodied with low carbonation and a very mild dryness to the finish. Awesome.
Chalsk (1104) - North Caldwell, New Jersey, USA - DEC 14, 2011
On the First Day of Christmas 2011 the beer gods gave to me... This special Christmas Ale. Pours a brownish dark red color with a super thick creamy off white foam head. Aroma of caramel, dark fruit, and spice. A creamy velvety caramel taste with spice, dark fruit, and perhaps a hint of chocolate on the finish. Perfect body, perfect finish. Damn tasty. ddemmingjr (800) - Chagrin Falls, Ohio, USA - DEC 11, 2011
cork popped off immediately after undoing metal casing. hope I’m not dealing with skunked beer... pours hazy, cranberry, dark brown, huge tan, fluffy three finger head in my Duvel glass. nose- fermented cherries, esters, cola, Belgian yeast, caramel malts. through taste- yeast, vanilla, fermented cherries, spice and a bit of a cream soda aftertaste. slightly dry and medium finish. a fireside beer for sure. nice. MadIndian (2743) - Levittown, Pennsylvania, USA - DEC 11, 2011
On draft at Issacs.
Thick, dark brown pour with aromas of cinnamon, belgian spice, bread and rye. Flavors match the aroma , but with a clove and dark fruit finish. Very good. 50belair (3680) - Florida, USA - DEC 10, 2011
On tap at the District. Murky chocolate pour with an off white head. Caramel malt and chocolate aromas. Malty with light chocolate and dark fruit notes.. olio (10470) - Tampere, FINLAND - DEC 9, 2011
75 cl bottle. BBE 17.09.2015
Pours murky red-brown colour with medium head. Aroma of strong spices, lots of berries, ripe and dried fruits, belgian yeast, caramel malts and mild plum notes. Flavour of spices, caramel malts, yeast, cherries, ripe fruits, earth, mild berries and distant toffee notes. A bit disappointing but still decent christmas beer.