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Corsendonk Christmas Ale.

January 26, 2010

Santa was nice to me this year and delivered an 8-pack+glass of a special Belgian beer, Corsendonk Christmas Ale. Not only do I love Belgian beer (but who doesn’t), but I also collect beer glasses, so getting a beer+accompanying glass was quite a treat! Now, I had never heard of this beer before, but I found out later that it was picked up at a small local liquor store not really known for a great beer selection. I must have walked past this gift set a hundred times.

The glass is a traditional globe-shaped glass with the beers name and a star that just might represent the Star of Bethlehem. I’m reaching this hypothesis due to the fact that this star only appears on Corsendonk’s Christmas Ale and none of their other products. Nice touch if you ask me. The glass is very sturdy and has a gold rim around the lip, classy. I love how Belgian breweries have a glass for every beer. The foil capped bottle gives little extra info except for listing the style as a “dark ale.” A little post drink research shows that the original Corsendonk was brewed by Monks centuries ago in the town of Oud-Turnhout. The brewery was founded in 1398, but beers are now brewed elsewhere. Currently four other beers are brewed under the name along with Corsendonk Cheese.

It seems that my gift set had been sitting in the store for quite some time, so this review will be based on a beer that is slightly past its prime, sadly. However, I’m confidant I won’t be disappointed.  Also, in an attempt to upgrade the photography on this blog I have downloaded a few new iPhone apps that can add filters and effects to photos.  Let me know if you like the new look!


Beer: Christmas Ale

Brewery: Brouwerij Corsendonk, Belgium

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

ABV: 8.5%

Serving: 8.5 oz. bottle pour into Corsendonk Christmas Ale globe glass.


Corsendonk Christmas Ale pours dark brown and very hazy into the required Corsendonk globe glass. Due to the age of the bottle there are lots of good-sized floaties bobbing and awaying about. A brown head fizzes up and then fizzes out leaving nothing to protect the aromas of the brew. Oh old age, how you ruin everything, even beer.

The nose on Corsendonk is predominantly spicy with a very strong alcohol character. The 8.5% ABV is loud and proud on this dark Belgian. It is almost a bourbon, woody, alcohol aroma. It smells twice as heavy as the numbers would suggest. I’m also picking up on notes of dark fruit, maybe figs or warm apple pie. It has a musty character as well, but I’m convinced this is due to the age of the beer. I imagine this odor has developed as it sat in our town’s local macro-store collecting dust as unknowing beer drinkers passed it by. However, it does give it character.

A swirl and a sip…The malt character is only slightly sweet and darkly toasted. It’s not roast, but more like nearly-burnt toast if such a distinction can be made. A nuttiness is present and mixes with the alcohol flavors nicely. More old must character invades, but I still feel it is out of place and a fresh Corsendonk Christmas Ale would be without this quality. If I’m reading the bottle right it reads 24/09/05 meaning this thing could be at least 4 years old. An ABV of 8.5% should age fairly well, but 5 years is still pushing it. I have 12% imperial stouts that instruct to not age more than 5 years. So, unfortunately this beer has probably lost most of its freshness. The flavors are there, but they have weakened with old age and have further detiriorated thanks to poor store lighting and temperature. As the beer warms in the glass the must fades and a glimmer into this brew’s glorious past appears. I can almost picture myself on a cold Christmas Eve at the Priory of Corsendonk sipping this beer as the snow falls outside and monks are busy tinkering with brewing equipment.

The mouth is medium and only a little bit watery. A light dry finish is pleasant and prepares the mouth to re-hydrate itself. The alcohol warms the belly and adds a great nuance to the finish. This beer is highly drinkable and enjoyable. The high alcohol makes this one a slow beer, but that just means you get to enjoy it all the longer.

Over all I am very pleased with this beer. Its unfortunate that this beer was a year or two past it’s prime, but that still doesn’t strip it void of character. Get past the must, let the beer warm a bit, and prepare to enjoy another treat from Belgium. Cheers!


Appearance: 3.5/5

Aroma: 3.8/5

Flavor: 3.9/5

Mouthfeel: 3.8/5

Drinkability: 3.8/5

Overall: 3.7/5

Chance of Craft Beer Epiphany: 65%

This is a tasty Belgian stong dark ale that has the potential to open the hearts of minds of people to craft beer. History buffs will listen intently to the history of the Prior while flavor fanatic will rejoice and the blend of flavors and aromas unique to Belgian beers. If this one were fresh I can only predict that it would have an even higher chance of igniting the passion for beer in others.


Brouwerij Corsendonk



  1. I definitely approve of Corsendonk, but I haven’t tried this one yet. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

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