Name: St. Bernardus Christmas Ale
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Brewery: Brouwerij Sint Bernardus website
How served: 750ml Corked & caged bottle poured into a St. Bernardus Chalice.
I paired this beer with: An assortment of food at our neighborhoods 17th annually tractor Christmas parade.
Tasted on: Saturday December 19, 2009.
Note: A great Christmas beer. A must have beer for the Christmas season and one of my favorites since they first started brewing this beer a few year ago .
On the label: “Bringing heavenly nectar within reach” “St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is the youngest descendant in the illustrious family of delicious Abbey Ales brewed by brewery St. Bernardus since 1946. This specialty ale of 10% alc./vol. is characterized by its deep dark color with a creamy, thick head, and a full, almost velvety mouthful with a fruity nose. It’s a seasonal ale, brewed annually for the Holiday Season. The long winter nights are perfect moments to savor this ale, with family and friends, and to enjoy its unique, complex taste. “
From their website: History
In the most remote corner of West Flanders, in the middle of “Le Plat Pays”, in the heart of the hop area in West Flanders, a beer is made that fancies most of the beer lovers.
In this poetry village, called Watou, time is apparently passing by slower than in the rest of the country. Life over there is different, quieter; where people live in accordance with nature, where tradition and values are honoured as if they stand the tooth of ages. This is the case of the beer brewery for instance.
Due to the anti clerical policy in the beginning of the past century, the Catsberg Abbey Community, located in the northern part of France, decided to move to Watou, a small village only a couple of kilometres further away but located in Belgium. They transformed a farm into the “Refuge Notre Dame de St.Bernard” with the production of Abbey cheese as main production. With the yield of the sales, they financed the Abbey activities.
In the early thirties, the attitude versus the Clerical in France got better and in 1934, the Abbey community decided to dispose of the Belgian annex and to bring back all activities to France.
Mr. Evarist Deconinck took over the cheese factory and built a first building at the Trappistenweg in Watou where the cheese was further developed and commercialised. This first building was later transformed into the present private rooms but the traces of the cheese factory are still visible and incorporated in this living room.
Shortly after the Second World War, the Trappist Monastery St. Sixtus decided to stop to commercialise their beer as they wanted to call upon non-residents.
An agreement was made : inside the walls of the Trappist Monastery there would brew only beer for their own consumption, for sales to the public at the gates of the Monastery and also for a few taverns whom where connected to the Monastery. Mr. Deconinck on the other hand would brew and commercialise the Trappist Beers under licence (for a period of 30 years)
Next to the cheese factory, a new brewery was constructed and Mr. Deconinck started to brew the Sixtus beers with the help of the Masterbrewer of Westvleteren, who brought along his wisdom, knowledge and the original recipes.
In the beginning of the 60’s, the sun-in-law of Mr. Deconinck, Mr. Claus stepped into the brewery and negotiations started to renew the license. This was finalised in 1962, again for a period of 30 years (until 1992)
In 1992, the agreement came to an end because the Trappist Monasteries (5 in Belgium and 1 in the Netherlands) decided that the qualification ‘Trappistenbier’ could only be given to beers brewed inside the walls of the Trappist Monastery.
Therefore, since 1992 the beers brewed at the Trappistenweg 23 in Watou are commercialised under a new brand name ‘ StBernardus’ (referring to the Refuge de Notre Dame de StBernard – cfr. supra).
This is the 24th of my daily Christmas beer, on my quest for a Christmas beer a day from Thanksgiving to Christmas. There are now only 5 more beers until Christmas!