St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

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Clint Yeastwood

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HBT Supporter
Dec 19, 2022
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Because I have returned to brewing, I've decided to look around and try a few new factory beers.

Yes. That's my excuse. Don't judge.

I made a Belgian-style tripel once, or what I thought was a tripel. It was spectacular, at least to me. I have been thinking I would like to have more heavy beer recipes. Maybe an Imperial Stout.

When I checked the local Publix, ABC, and the area's Whole Foods clone, I was saddened by the inexplicable scarcity of IPA's.

That was sarcasm, of course. I cannot believe how many IPA's there are. Don't we have enough IPA's? What on Earth is going on? And it seems like most of them are canned! CANS! Like PBR for hipsters. Well, actually, hipsters DO drink PBR, so that's a poor analogy.

I know cans are supposed to be great as long as you keep the aluminum away from your mouth. I'm just complaining because I'm old.

Anyway, the selection, though mind-blowing compared to the last century, was not great. I came home with a Weihanstephaner crystal weiss and some St. Bernardus Christmas ale. They also had Fin du Monde and Delirium Tremens, but I've already had those. Of course, I've also had crystal weiss, too. I just wanted it.

The Christmas ale was pretty interesting. My understanding is that the funky near-stench Belgian beers have is caused by brett. I don't really know. I do know it smelled like an animal that needed a bath in Pine-Sol. Maybe a neglected St. Bernardus. Or a gorilla in heat.

When the smell first hit me, I thought, "I do not like this beer." The strange thing is that I kept drinking it. There is something about it that pulls you in.

I would describe the flavor as sort of like a fruitcake with less fruit and sugar and maybe two years of aging on a basement floor, unwrapped. There was a fair amount of caramel, plus something like old raisins or prunes. The color was like murky onion soup. It sort of reminds me of Newcastle Brown Ale. Maybe if you boiled Newcastle down to half its volume and recarbonated it, you would be close.

The head was pretty robust, but the bubbles were not fine. Sticking my nose in the glass was spectacularly unrewarding. Instead of a smell that serves as a kind of welcoming overture and a hint of things to come, it was more like a razor-wire fence between me and the beer. A barrier that had to be breached in order to get the pleasure of drinking the ale.

I wonder if something like this would be better with a less barbaric yeast, hops with a better aroma, and a little crystal malt. I think the grain bill must be okay. I think hops and yeast that push it in the direction of cloves or allspice would be good.

I guess I'm saying it would be better if it were a different beer.

It was a bargain, though. Only $23 for 4.
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O'man! I had this while I was in Europe. Something about those Christmas ales. I kept the bottle as a souvenir.
This is an interesting thread... I missed the first post, myself, but eleven months until the first response?!?!

It's that some kind of record?

One of my last fermentations concerned me because it was so slow to start, but it's got nothing on this thread! 🤣

Since it's been almost a year, maybe the Christmas Ale is back around... I'll need to look for that.
A year later, I'm trying to get rid of the four-pack. I just poured one.

The stink seems to be gone. I wonder if that's because it sat in the fridge for a year. It's much nicer now. There is a tiny vestige of stink, but not enough to make me choose another brew while staring into the fridge.

Very nice. I need to make something like this. Maybe with Sabro.
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