Home > Quadrupel, Tripel/Abbey Tripel > St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

Rating: 3.8

My fourth beer from the St. Bernardus brewery now, this one follows on from their Witbier, Tripel and Abt 12 offerings, all three of which I first reviewed here back in January of 2014. This one is a winter seasonal from the brewery that appears to have been introduced in late 2006, proving itself to be quite a popular beer since then. Currently ranked as the 18th best Quadrupel on the BeerAdvocate website as well as the 24th best Belgian Strong Ale on RateBeer, this one doesn’t quite rank as high as the Abt 12 does but it should still prove to be an excellent beer. One of the newest beers from St. Bernardus, this is one that I picked up from a local bottle shop just before Christmas but ended up waiting until the start of 2017 before cracking it open while on holiday in Ireland. Given that all three previous beers from the brewery have been excellent, this was definitely a beer I was looking forward to and hopefully it won’t take me another three years before I get my hands on something new from them again. A final things worth nothing about this offering, it will actually be the 1500th beer that I’ll have reviewed here so I’m glad it’s a good one.

st-bernardus-christmas-ale

Appearance (5/5): Quite a dark looking beer with a traditional quadrupel like appearance to it, it was a deep mahogany with some red tinges and an opaque body. The head was quite an impressive, one and a half centimetre one that was bubbly before turning foamy and holding well over the opening minute or so. There was plenty lacing on the sides of the glass which was unexpected and the beer is great looking one.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a lively nose but one that took a while to open up initially, there was some darker fruits and sugars coming through but they weren’t as strong as expected really. There was some figs and plums alongside a few subtle hops before the darker malts started to appear nearer the middle. Some bread malts and sweet caramel notes showed towards the end and the nose was pleasant enough but I was definitely expecting more from it.
Taste (7/10): Thankfully things improved a little come the taste and the beer started to come through a little stronger at this point with some caramel and sweet malts alongside a combination of darker fruits that included the figs and plum from the nose as well as some dates and apricot. Towards the middle touches of clove, brown sugar and yeast began coming through and there was even a hint of banana too before a little spice brought things to a close; a definite improvement on the nose with being spectacular.
Palate (4/5): An interesting beer but one that definitely wasn’t quite as strong as you would expect from a Belgian quadrupel coming in at 10%. The beer had quite a nice taste and the nose wasn’t too bad either but both seemed a little subdued and lacking at times, however it wasn’t a weak offering at least. There was fine carbonation to the beer and it had quite a crisp, lively feel with more dryness as you got closer to the end but overall the balance was good and some warming, boozy touches seen things out.

Overall (14/20): While this one was an interesting and drinkable beer, it was quite a disappointment when compared to the previous three offering I’ve tried from the brewery and it was definitely lacking something compared to most other quadrupels I’ve tried too. The beer opened a lot weaker than expected with a lighter, sweeter taste that didn’t seem like a 10% beer in the early going. There was good carbonation and the darker fruits were nice but they seemed fleeting and could have been stronger, especially with the nose. It was a relatively easy beer to drink though with a subtle tang and okay balance but it was a little underwhelming at times and easily the worst of the brewery’s beers that I’ve tried so far.

Brewed In: Watou, West Flanders, Belgium
Brewery: St. Bernardus Brouwerij
First Brewed: 2006
Type: Abbey Quadrupel
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £5.00

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