Monday, 31 December 2012

#110: St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

This is the penultimate winter seasonal beer in my collection (for now), and the very last Christmas beer. It's the one I had pictured in my mind when I first thought of trying a 'Christmas beer', and as such, the one I've been looking forward to most.

This is because it's brewed by Brouwerij St. Bernardus, one of my favourite brewers, responsible for the gorgeous Abt 12 and Prior 8 among others. I was hoping for (and kind of expecting) an Abt 12 with spice, and I wasn't very much disappointed.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale pours as dark as the Quad of the range, with a big, long lasting, creamy off-white head. Dark fruit dominates the aroma, all the usual suspects of figs, plums, raisins and the like, with just a hint of green and red apple too. There's spice alright, but it's limited to clove as far as I can tell, with the rest of the beer's 'spicy' aroma more akin to Belgian yeast. The taste is perfect, as far as a Christmas beer goes. Clove is joined by vanilla, toffee and tiny hints of cinnamon as decorations to the already rich and powerful dark fruit tree. The 10% alcohol produces a lovely warming sensation, and I suspect is also responsible for the way in which the beer totally coats the inside of the mouth, allowing for a nice lingering aftertaste. It's a sweet beer, but sweet in strictly malt and fruit sense, as it totally avoids being a cloying sugarbomb like some other beers.

I enjoyed this much more than any of the other winter or Christmas beers so far, so I would certainly recommend it. I must also say, however, that I don't think I'd reach for this over an Abt 12. Which is important, seeing as the difference is quite minimal, despite being almost twice the price. Still though, worth a go if it's around in the New Year.

Speaking of which, being the last day of the year, you'll probably see a few Golden Pints doing the rounds on the beer blogosphere. When I started this blog in April, I was excited to compile a similar list, but like a football league table at Christmas, nothing is final, not yet. As such, I'll leave that sort of thing until I've actually been doing this for a year, in April. In the meantime, just Google the Golden Pint  and you'll find seemingly infinite results, or head on over to The Beer Nut to have a look at his.
No, not just because this blog gets name-dropped, but because 8 Degrees Ochtoberfest would also be my pick of the year.

Thanks for bearing with me through this often mind-numbingly repetitive process of 'reviewing' beers, and enjoy the New Year festivities, if that's what you're into.

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