Brewery: St. Bernardus Christmas Ale
City: Watou, Belgium
Beer: Christmas Ale
Style: Belgin Strong Ale
Notes: sweet, spicy, velvety, dark fruits, cinnamon
The St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is the youngest descendant of this infamous family of Abbey Ales. This seasonal ale is ripe for the holiday season. The long winter nights are perfect to enjoy this beer that’s sure to warm your disposition and make you wish winter lasted all year. The St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is very similar to the beer we wrote about for the 8th Beer of Christmas, De Ranke’s Noir De Dottignies.
I was fortunate enough to enjoy this beer on tap at La Trappe, a Belgian beer bar in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. This is a cozy restaurant with a beer list longer than Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and strictly cooks their fries in duck fat. If you’re looking for a place in San Francisco to enjoy beer-food pairings, this is it.
This beer pours a cloudy dark-reddish brown in traditional Belgian style. The beer produces a nice dense, creamy tan head; a perfect layer of icing to cap this beer. The lacing was fairly prominent and the head maintained very small bubbles throughout the course of the beer.
The aroma of this beer was very nice providing strong hints of licorice, dark fruits and a familiar cola flavor. Unlike the Dottignies, any flavor of alcohol was unpronounced. There was also a subtly nice nutmeg and chocolate flavor.
This beer was very delicious and had a lot going on. The Christmas Ale was sweet and spicy with flavors of figs, cinnamon and some mild-mannered chocolate. There was also a sharper fruity flavor that could be apple. Overall the beer was full-bodied and malty. I loved the velvety mouth feel that warmed me up instantly and made me recognize that this was definitely a well crafted beer. The beer was mildly carbonated which made the flavors very well balanced and rounded. The beer finished slightly dry which accounts for a thorough dosing of bittering hops. Overall, this beer was awesome and I would order it again in a heartbeat if I saw it on tap.
Where can I get this beer?
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale should be available at any Belgian beer bar or specialty beer store. I’ve also passed by a few bottles in Whole Foods. As I mentioned, I happened to find this one on tap at La Trappe. I’d also recommend looking for these beers at The Trappist in Oakland, Mill Valley Beer Works in North Bay and Monk’s Kettle and City Beer Store in San Francisco. Enjoy!
Even though its Christmas Eve tomorrow, make sure to check out the 11th Beer of Christmas!