Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.
St. Bernardus Abt 12St. Bernardus Abt 12

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,684 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,684
Hads: 8,923
Avg: 4.42
pDev: 17.42%
Wants: 691
Gots: 2,189 | FT: 51
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Belgium | website

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) | 10.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-14-2001

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (11) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of St. Bernardus Abt 12 Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,684 | Hads: 8,923
Photo of ElGordo
4.55/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've been keeping this in the back of my fridge for a special occasion, and I figured finishing my master's thesis is just the time. I remember when I first tasted this beer I thought it was maybe the best I'd ever had, and I'm not disappointed this time.
Popping the cap from the 11oz bottle releases a flutter of banana-y Belgian yeast aroma. Poured into my Duvel tulip, the beer has a sizeable, one-inch tan head that sticks around for a while. Body is a slightly cloudy, deep mahogany color. Nose is dominated by sweet malt and alcohol, with notes of brown sugar, yeast, and a hint of stone fruit. Palate is very nice - sweet malt is dominant, with notes of clove, allspice, and a very subtle hoppiness. The finish is dominated by warmth from the alcohol, but tempered by a lingering sweetness from the malt. Rich, creamy, warm mouthfeel is as close to perfection as you can get. This beer is an absolute pleasure to drink, even if it takes over an hour to get to the bottom of the glass.

 994 characters

Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had only seen this beer in the 11oz bottle; needless to say when I came across a corked 750 I was all over it. St. Bernardus looks to be hand painted, same design as the other bottle, but you can feel the detail of his bald-ass head.

At first there was a fait amount of carbonation, as the beer settled a 1/8-inch head remained. Uniform lacing as a backdrop to wonderfully rich dark brown velvet.
Malt, grapes, citrus, a wonderful finish. For me tastes and smells are everything I have come to enjoy in this style. Tasty alcohol, accented by its wonderful characteristics. A beer worthy of its rating. Get yourself some.

 626 characters

Photo of Litterbean
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I love the look of this beer. Extremely brown and intimidating, with a whispy head that leaves fluffy lace. There is a very noticeable amount of carbonation.

Of course, there is that yeast smell right up front. A plentiful array of fruit in the nose, with spicy deep aroma which pulls through.

The first think you notice about the taste is the warming sensation you get from the liberal amount of alcohol. This is one beer that will knock you down. Very fruity. I detect prunes and other sun-dried fruits. Citric hops in the background. Medicinal qualities abound. Very dry finish, and the carbonation keeps your tongue feeling refreshed. After every sip I would salivate and it would keep my mouth well lubed. Immensely complex and it is obvious care was taken in making this baby. Not entirely drinkable because you are forced to sip this, and one bottle should be enough for a night. Not a session brew, but not meant to be. This was a perfect compliment to my last day of classes for the year.

 1,004 characters

Photo of Gaisgeil
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy and deep amber brown in color with a fluffy and massive tan head with great retention. Nose is spicy and heavily alcoholic; powerful. Taste is spicy, slightly peppery with many layers of fruit flavors, raisins, figs and bananas. Alcohol is quite apparent with a bit of carbonation as well. Quite a nice hop bite as well balancing the sweetness out quite nicely.

A very well put together brew, certainly a benchmark for the style in many ways.


 471 characters

Photo of troutmask96
4.36/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fantasic experience with this highly-touted Belgian. Pours a monster head that lingers all night. Smell is of alcohol and grains. Taste is of cloves and chocolate. Extremely sweet, almost cola-like. I made the mistake of mixing this in the middle of session brews and woke up with one hell of a headache! Sip this baby by itself, and you're in for quite a treat, indeed...

 372 characters

Photo of gimmehead
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a raisin brown with a frothy off-white head that diminishes to form a skim coat, and some yeasty floaters. Smells of tart fruity esters, candy sweetness, apples and plums, bready, vinous alcohol notes. Tastes much the same. Initially very malty and sweet, becoming more fruity and vinous in character. Lots of bready banana yeast, sugary sweet mixed with a spicy hop bite, and a lingering vinous alcohol aftertaste. Medium thick, moderate carbonation. This is what I envision a quad to be: sweetness, estery, spicy, vinous character and noticeable alcohol. A nearly perfect brew.

 585 characters

Photo of oberon
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with some deep red hue with a big creamy head leaving nice sheets of lace behind,aromas of dark sweet cherries and some smoke along with a some spice very appetizing.Silky smooth mouthfeel, creamy and not to heavy goes down with ease,what can you say complex and great some spiced cherries and spice along with some raisin with a faint smokiness the alcolhol shows itself more as it warms.Just an awesome beer have sampled many times was great to aquire a bottle,worthy of its high marks awesome.

 515 characters

Photo of Truh
4.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Gave up all of my worldly goods with this one on 5/13/2004. 12-oz. bottle poured in an Allagash snifter.

Thin, cream head with a constant burst and replacement plan going on. Mahogany, warm brown hue but it could not be seen through. Big malt nose with peat moss and other earthy tones, bread crust. Scrumptious balance of hops and malt, though I tasted more of the latter than the former, and a serious alcohol hit of heat. Crisp and slightly tart mouth feel. Truly a great offering, this is one I would gladly have again and again.

 536 characters

Photo of alexgash
4.87/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

500th review time. I wanted to celebrate with a little something special, so I pulled this out of my meager "cellar." Anyway, on to the beer!

Dark, shoe leather brown that looks muddy, dotted with some clumps of unavoidable sediment. Two rocky fingers of thick, sandy brown head. Excellent lacing. Nose is made up of ripe, vinous fruits, rock candy, yeast, delicate alcohol, sugar cookie sweetness, oh and some tropical, estery fruits. Very complex and unbelievably inviting.

Taste opens up with some almost tart, vinous fruit notes. Warmig alcohol throughout (but not boozy). Ripened tropical fruits meld with yeast, leather, chocolate, and some roasted bitterness. Banana bitterness swells into the finish. Finish is long, warming, and full of encore performances from all the previous flavors. Very nice.

Full-bodied, with a velvety smooth mouthfeel. Never gets cloying. A wonderful beer!

 902 characters

Photo of gotbeer
4.57/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a deep brown color with mild carbonation.

The taste is spicy with lots of complexity. Lots of fruit flavors hit your mouth- fig, banana, and plum flavors come out. Wonderful aftertaste, and the complexity and flavor hides the ABV although it can be noticed. This is a truly great beer that I may not be worthy of. I prefer it to any Belgian beer that I have had to date (pretty much everything but Westy at this point). I would highly recommend it to others.

 478 characters

Photo of lou91
4.41/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow what a beautiful beer! It poured perfectly into a chalice with a thick silky head that looked like a cappuccino and once the sediment poured out it looked like cinnamon on top. The head glistened and had a subtle sound believe it or not. Dark brown color and a wonderful nose make all your senses go crazy. You must let this beer warm to fully appreciate its depth and range of flavors. Chocolate malt, honey and subtle spices in a silky seductive package. I paired it with a blue cheese and this beer cleaned my palate perfectly. It is like a bolder Rochefort 10, which does not mean better – just stronger flavors. Excellent.

 632 characters

Photo of AlexJ
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I appropriately end my St. Bernardus tasting with the mighty 12. It flows like music into my antique green glass goblet, a red-tinged chestnut color, wearing a veil of haze.

Succulant dark and sticky fruits and yeasty spice explode from the goblet. It is a symphony of luscious malty sweets and warming alcohol goodness. Very promising.

One sip and I'm addicted to this beer for life! There are layers of fruits to pull apart; plum, green melon, figs, banana, dark cherries, and more. It's delightfully yeasty, with raw dough and all the accompanying spice. There's a nibble of artfully added hops toward the end. It's sweet and fruity while maintaining it's dignity.

The mouthfeel is medium big, with a very creamy, full texture. It's ever so gently carbonated and really feels like velvet in my mouth. I lick my goblet clean when I am finished, it's that good!

Note: after trying the St. Bernardus 6, 8, tripel, and Abt 12, I am thouroughly impressed and enamored with this beer. Absolutely top notch in every respect, and impossible to pick a favorite. Thanks again Gabe for sharing.

 1,099 characters

Photo of maltedmilk
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I’m down to the last drop, so I better get this done.

This beer pours a cloudy dark brown in my chimay glass. There are uneven bubbles, decent carbonation. I would say a medium head wiith lots of lacing on the glass.

The smells are very sweet and fruity. There is a definite alcohol presence.

This beer is a pleasure, sweet with slight touch of bitterness and a butt kicking alcohol content.

Do I hear angels singing? Maybe.

As I’ve been warned, drink it at the appropriate temperature.

It makes a difference.

 530 characters

Photo of Pingotas
4.95/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A consistent brew bottle-to-bottle, irrespective of size. Prefer this at about 55 degrees. Interestingly, the warmer samplings produced my most lasting impressions.

Turbid (In fact, nearly translucent) heady brown liquid poured hesitantly into the glass. The head rises ambitiously with a very fine, pleasant bubbliness.

The velvety taste is sensational. What makes this brew memorable is the yeasty flavor of freshly-baked dough. The blending of malty sweetness and distant hops allows the delicate flavors of plum pudding to persist long after the beer has been consumed.

A winner in my book, and perhaps my overall favorite ale.

 640 characters

Photo of Globetrotter
4.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased in Antwerp and hand-delivered to Moscow (thanks Marjut and Michael), this intriguing little 33cl brown bottle has a blue and gold label featuring a happy monk holding up a chalice full of the good stuff. No ingredient information. Best before 12/02/09 (after five years, I wonder how much worse it would be on December 3?), I opened it on 3/23/05.

Cloudy hue somewhere between copper and burgundy, under a one finger beige head that settles quickly at first, then lingers as very thick film across the top of the liquid for a very long time. I see a few strands of lace, but the head is not very sticky and lacks a bit in body. The nose is just right - not overpowering and not mild. Fruit is the main impression, with yeast and barley backing that up. The mouth is very well carbonated and slightly viscous - not heavy, but there is a coating sensation on the tongue. The taste is sublime, smooth bready malt, a touch of fruity twang, a hint of hoppy bitterness. The alcohol is well concealed, but not invisible. We've got great balance here in a beer that cannot be enjoyed in quantity on a given night, but can be enjoyed on many given nights.

 1,159 characters

Photo of mschofield
3.83/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dark plum red, topped with a two finger marshmallowy tan head, leaves a puffy sheet of lacing.
Dark malt, plum and raisin in the sweet taste.
Fruity and spicy taste, with toast, caramel, herbs, tea, and raisins. Lip tingling and sweet.
Fully bodied, drinkability was only on the average side.

 303 characters

Photo of jmc44
4.92/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Simply put, this is an excellent beer.

Poured into a goblet, dark amber color with a slighty off-white head. Smells of fruits, spice, and hints of cocoa and vanilla.

Tastes... well, heavenly, with a hint of fruits followed by a bit of spice.

The high alcohol content does not hurt this beer; you will not even realize you are drinking alcohol. This is a very drinkable beer that everyone needs to try.

 411 characters

Photo of NiceGuyMike
4.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This may seem lame, but I say see Todd Alström's review. After reading Todd's review I had an idea in my as to what this would taste. I never thought it would come true. This is more than beer, it is an event, a meal and wondrous.

I cannot say it any better than Todd, but I'll try.

I poured slowly so no head speak of. At first it smelled like alcohol and a bit sweet but make no mistake, it is a beer. After the first sip I was attached with a spicy flavor. The spicy flavor mellows quickly but not before a sharp alcohol kick finishing with and a warm buttery candy like flavor. All the while bubbles remind you what you're drinking.

Never have I ever had such an aftertaste. This is a drink, a meal and a dessert all in one. Sitting here writing this review I am reminded of a bakery the smell is so inviting.

Points off for drinkability and mouthfeel only because of the excessive alcohol. Other than that, I cannot imagine anything more exceptional.

Correction on the head: the second pour produced a very nice head.

 1,040 characters

Photo of isubsmith
4.58/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a St. Bernardus glass.

Appearance: Giant white foamy creamy head. Dark brown/orange body. Very hazy. Lots of lace.

Nose: Fruity, malty nose

Taste: Initially sweet/malty. Middle is very creamy and smooth. Sweet, alcohol finish. Very warming finish.

Drinkability: One of my favorite beers. I could drink this all night long... at least until the alcohol caught up with me. An awesome beer.

 412 characters

Photo of tatterdash
4.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark magohany with a large foamy tan head that looks amazing and laces very well. Aroma or cherries, banana, dark fruits, very good. Taste was a sweet roasted malt and fruits, with some alcohol (tastefully) in the finish, also some smokiness and hops in the finish, a very complex finish. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel, lots of carbonation and the alcohol gets a little strong as it warms. This is very drinkable, but it is gonna hit me.

 445 characters

Photo of waughbrew
4.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks very intriguing - a dirty dark brown with a large off-white head with good retention and lacing. Smells of musty yeast, cloves, dark fruits, and sweet choclates. The aroma is incredibly alive. Flavor is huge on the special B type raisiny burnt caramel molasses. Big cloves, some banana. Finishes surprisingly bitter with some hop leafiness. Alcohol is present in the perfect amount to complement the other flavors. The feel of the brew was the major bummer for me. I found it to be a biting, harsh carbonation that combined with the bitter finish of the brew to make it a bit less than stellar. Overall a complex and enjoyable beer.

Re-Rate 3/15/05: Head was a little soap-sudsy this time, pretty sure it wasn't my glass. Body has a lot of dark red in it with hints of deep purple. Smell hit me as oaky anise with blackberries and cotton candy. Flavor is a plum-wine with a spicy, semi-dry finish reminiscent of some red wines. Perhaps last time I did not allow it to warm sufficiently, because the feel is very smooth and marshmallowy with only that little spicy bite. Very drinkable. A balance between brightness and darkness. Fruity but deep. Light feel but substantial malt and sugar presence.

 1,206 characters

Photo of GeoffRizzo
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Hazy medium brown, more of a tea-color hue with some off-red highlights. A thick, well defined white bubbly head gives way to well formed cloying bubbles that stick with great dedication to the sides of the chalice. Fresh fruit, malts, raisins, traces of alcohol, and some port/wine notes on the nose; very nice. An initial on-slaught of delightful flavorings – plums, raisins, licorise and sweet malts; full bodied and borderline chewy. Further warming evolves figs, grapes and pears; even further into the flavoring reveals a slight hop-based backbone, brown sugar, grapes and even some coffee beans. The ABV at 10% is spot-on, it’s noticeable, but in a good way. Rich and full flavored, a thing of beauty!

 710 characters

Photo of Paddez
4.84/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I know I wasn't impressed when I had this about a year ago. So I thought I'd give it another try yesterday and picked it up at my local supermarket. I must have gotten a bad bottle before, cause man is this stuff tasty!

Appearance: Poured into my rochefort glass. Pours a very dark caramelly, brown brew with a medium sized, tan head that produces some lacing but immediately begins to slowly fade away.
The brew itself is hazy and thick.

Smell: Brown sugar, caramel & chocolate, sweet (slightly over-)ripe fruits (mainly banana but also: apples, plums, cherries, ?), vinous notes, malts. Sweet, delicious and incredibly complex.

Taste: Caramelly sweet and fruity with roasted malts and quite some "gluhwein-aspects" (clove, ginger?, ...). Bitter chocolate and hoppy flavours bring some dry notes to the brew. Drool.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, the beer is smooth and creamy. The carbonation is spot on for this kind of beer. The alcohol warms the throat and stomach, leaving you with a confortable and snuggy feeling.

Drinkabillity: The drinkabillity is great for the high alchol percentage but the complexness and richness of this beer demand a lot of your attention, I think having more than one of these could prove to be an exhausting experience, at least for me.

Final thoughts: This is without a doubt an exceptional beer. As with all quadrupels I've had so far though; the serving temperature is a very delicate thing and could have a great impact on the smell, taste and mouthfeel. Not having had the Westvleteren 12 yet, I'd say this beer is only outclassed by the Rochefort 10 in its style, wich is a little more full, round and bold still. Nevertheless though, this brew is close to perfection and great in its own ways. World Class!

 1,760 characters

Photo of twelvsies
4.32/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I just wanted to say that I had this beer on tap and it doesn't quite stand up to the bottle version, which is unusual. Not quite as creamy and frothy, not the same velvety mouthfeel, not as rich and sweet in flavor and I can taste the alcohol a bit more. It's still a great beer, don't get me wrong. But the bottle conditioned verision of this masterpiece is on a different level.

 381 characters

Photo of Manos
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

If there is a beer to motivate anyone to write something nice,
this is it. My second sampling in as many days, I am noticing how I
value each sip more this second time around. If you notice the thumbs up/down on this one, not much more need be written. No matter; I'll look to
write something of value about the happy friar's buddy...
It did'nt matter that I drank this at the end of a wonderful meal at
Der Braumeister (http://www.beeradvocate.com/beerfly/user_reviews/6298/)
and stealing bites of apple strudel while drinking this, or as a sampling by
itself, this is a true treat. Warming (and yes smelling a bit) like a good coffee, with a touch of sweet
to make you crave more, the dark brown liquid in my cup is leaving me too quickly. Smooth , too smooth, I want to gulp, but NO! Savor...
If I could, I would buy a case; regardless, it always seems that I can't find many happy friars waiting around on the shelves. Do not hesitate
in buying if you can find.

Dammit. I'm preaching to the converted.


 1,031 characters

St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
98 out of 100 based on 2,684 ratings.