Thursday, December 25, 2008

Corsendonk Christmas Ale (2008)

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (736) - Albany, New York, USA - FEB 23, 2010

2013 edition pictured
One of my favorite experiences as a beer critic is drinking an American take on a niche foreign style and then trying the real thing and seeing what the difference is. Recently, I enjoyed Saranac Belgian Ale, but having tried Corsendonk Christmas Ale I can now understand where they were coming from. Not that one is superior to the other, but I just appreciate each on its own.


For some reason, Corsendonk Christmas Ale poured to a monstrous layer of head which I had to let sit for a few minutes before I could pour the rest of the bottle into my glass and then let it sit again. The head eventually calmed down to an off-white, foamy, almost rocky shape which lingered throughout the life of the beer and left some lacing on the glass.

The beer itself has a clear, dark maroon or mahogany color with only a little bit of noticeable carbonation. The aroma reminded me of an authentic German hefeweizen with a strong mix of spices as well as hints of sweeter notes and some citrus, although clove was detectable in the nose alone.


My first thought upon trying Corsendonk Christmas Ale was how familiar this beer tasted. Although its style is quite different from the German hefeweizen, that was the first thing that came to mind upon drinking it. This beer is definitely not an unfiltered wheat brew, but in terms of flavor it is similar.

Clove, fruit and spice are the most predominate tastes with perhaps some chocolate and caramel malts playing a significant role in this beer’s flavor. But unlike a hefeweizen, Christmas Ale has a much softer, milder mouth-feel in that it’s not an assault on the palate. This is a very inviting, warming, enjoyable flavor that maintains its strength throughout the life of the drink.


As vivid as the flavor is, Corsendonk’s finish is quite smooth. This is a perfect compliment to its gentle mouth-feel. I found the beer actually softened as it warmed and surprisingly, the alcohol was not noticeable in the taste or the finish.


I’m not a fan of overly-potent beers and will always raise an eyebrow at a brew that has an alcohol by volume percentage of six or higher. However, Corsendonk Christmas Ale is one of the few exceptions I’ve encountered as its potency of 8.5% ABV is barely noticeable. In terms of actual weight it does not feel like a very heavy brew. I drank two bottles within an hour and they satisfied me, but did not overwhelm.


My only caveat about Corsendonk Christmas Ale might be that it would have had a richer, well-balanced taste sans clove. Regardless, this beer is very tasty and unique in and of itself. Topped off by a smooth finish and surprisingly light weight this is definitely a very impressive brew.

Grade: 9/10

NOTE: Read and watch my review of the 2013 edition here:

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