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Advent Calendar Window 24 - Stille Nacht and St Bernardus Christmas Ale

Let us end Christmas on a high. Let us do so because my calculations are poor and patience even worse. Let us rejoice in the coming of the Lord and Saviour and therefore we get crap loads of presents because some preacher was born 2013 years ago. Hark, for a 14-year-old woman has got knocked up and the only defence there is to claim it's because God has impregnated her. And I am a Christian and a Christmas lover before the pitchforks are sharpened.
Today the Advent Calendar comes to an end. I've really enjoyed it this year, where as last year's had become a chore by the end. Family casualties and endless work merriment made some of the posts published late, but I endeavoured and still am glad to keep mine solely Christmas ale exclusive. Last year I vowed never to do such a calendar again. This year I find myself already looking forward to December 1st 2014.
Somehow this year I ended with two beers left come December 24th. Perhaps it is due to the moving around the beers have had to endure or my poor calculations. Either way both beers were absolute beauts: De Dolle's Stille Nacht 12% and St Bernardus Christmas Ale 10%. Both were purchased on a recent visit to Gent so are this year's fresh batch and both I wished to include in this Advent Calendar. The solution: drink and review them both. Hark!
Stille Nacht is a Belgian Strong Blonde Ale that pours light and golden with short head. The beer is perfume sweet on the nose, with a lot of lavender and parma violets mixed together with that hint of irn-bru and tizer I found so much in the Gouden Carolus last year. It's crazy and those sort of flavours carry themselves into the taste. At first, as I stated on untapped, I couldn't decide whether this was enjoyable or not. But as it warms and settles there's further complexity with burnt sugar, cinnamon, physalis, dragon fruit and the merest hint of cardamom. It has quite an oily texture and would perhaps be served better as a dark beer for the style, with a dark fruit malty backbone providing a little balance to that perfumed sweetness. But still a great beer.
St Bernardus Christmas Ale is so similar to the wonderful Gouden Carolus Christmas Ale that I'm not even mad. It's main difference seems to be in a different yeast; and a look on the website shows I'm right. Again there's so much lavender and parma violets on the nose of this dark umber of a beer that's inch thick head settles very quickly. There's so much more though to this beer as you work your way through a 750ml bottle. Chestnut nuttiness, tart berries, pine forest woodiness, frozen red grapes, oak cask sherry, star anise and the rather unrefined finish of my favourite candy: foam bananas. It breeds the word decadent for such a young beer (2013 version) and I understand why so many keep this to age. It's oily mouth feel that provides a bitter and dry texture makes this a perfect addition to the Christmas table. Quintessentially, this was the beer that was made to replace wine at the Christmas dinner. Absolutely superb and an absolute joy to have tried. First class.
Both were purchased at De Hopduvel, November 2013
I would like to thank all those that read these reviews throughout Advent. There will be a round-up review of what I've experienced here after Christmas. Have a terrific Christmas guys and a wonderful New Year.


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