St. Bernardus Abt 12 - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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St. Bernardus Abt 12St. Bernardus Abt 12

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8,447 Ratings

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Ratings: 8,447
Reviews: 2,662
rAvg: 4.47
pDev: 9.4%
Wants: 617
Gots: 1,824 | FT: 49
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their 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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 8,447 | Reviews: 2,662
Photo of Paddez
4.84/5  rDev +8.3%
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!

Photo of twelvsies
4.32/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

Photo of Manos
4.35/5  rDev -2.7%
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 (
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.


Photo of horndecker
4.97/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Small brown 33cl bottle. I poured it into a Westmalle chalice. I figured it wouldn't mind. I've had this a number of times before, but am only now reviewing it for the first time.

A huge fluffy capuccino colored head, reminds me of the pillows of yeast overflowing a fermenting cask....the finest of bubbles, clumpy lace clinging to the glass. A deep walnut hue, not too cloudy. Beautiful.

First whiff is cocoa, almonds, sweet malts, walnuts?, hints of lime, turkish taffy, barbecue sauce?, yowzah!, chocolate. HOLD IT! Need time to assimilate.

The taste is sweet fruits, roasted malts and lots of chocolate. Luscious creamy mouthfeel, full bodied, milky, hint of diacetyl. It warms the back of your throat. Alcohol is apparent but very well placed behind the toasty sweetness.

Absolutely wonderful. Dangerously drinkable. I always wait for the end of the evening to partake of one of these, since seconds might have unforseen thirds.

Photo of brentk56
4.53/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a dark caramel brown hazy color with a creamy head and lots of lacing

Smell: Ripe dark fruits and bananas; brown sugar and alcohol

Taste: Starts out somewhat sweet and clove-like and is followed by a bit of hoppy bitterness and alcoholic warmth; some chocolate and cherry flavors, mid-palate; bitter rum raisin finish

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied but light and fizzy on the tongue

Drinkability: A wonderful sipper by the fire

Photo of dauss
4.73/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: very beautiful belgian style silk screened 750ml. Lots of information like alcohol, storing temp, serving temp, story about the brewery, and the best before date stamped on the top.Says it can be stored for up to 15 years. Serve and store at 52F-56F.

Appearance: Dark and clear ruby amber. Large tan head that doesn't even fade. Tons of lacing.

Nose: Full of caramel and sugary sweetness. dark alcohol soaked fruits, also port like, and the alcohol burns the nose a little.

Taste: Very carbonated, loads of sweet maltiness, dark fruits, strong phenolic taste in the end. Alcohol bitterness with a dry finish.

Notes: Its like liquid love, I need to stock up on this one.

Photo of Shultzerdugen
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

11.2 oz. bottle with best before date of 20-07-09 poured into my DT tulip.

Opaque mahogany with a massive, rocky, tan head. Head slowly goes down covering the glass with clingy bubbles.

Sweet and malty sniffer. Esters bringing out fruit smells like tart apple and cherry. Nutty bread. Oh, so sweet!

This beer gets amazing as it warms. Not to say it wasn't great when I started, but I'm starting to wish I had the whole beer at this temperature. Somewhere between 45 and 50 F when I started, this beer turns into bliss around 55 F. Those sneaky monks with their candied sugars made a bohemeth of a beer. Malt and hops both aggressive, then subtle vibes of unending complexity. Vanilla, cookie dough, alchohol, all sorts of spices; a monster of a beer.

I had this long ago when it was St. Sixtus, and I remember the St. Sixtus being better, but that doesn't seem possible. I've tried to be constructive, but this beer won me over. I feel spoiled drinking it. Hoo-wah!

Photo of baiser
4.3/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful hazy brown body, with mahogany red highlights, and a creamy head, gorgeous lacing. Aromas of cloves, spices, fruit and malt. Taste was amazing. Cloves, rich sugar, dark fruits, tremendous malt backbone, and hops to balance. Alcohol is hidden behind the sweetness and phenols. Smooth and full bodied, creamy as anything I've ever had. Great beer to sip after dinner.

Photo of WesWes
4.27/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a deep dark brown/black color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a nice malty scent with a fruity Belgian yeast aroma. It boasts of pale and crystal malts; very complex. The taste is good. It has a very smooth and rich malty flavor that goes down easy and finishes warm and fruity. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a very enjoyable brew with loads of flavor and aroma; a good drinker.

Photo of blitz134
4.58/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Dingy caramel in color with a very lumpy light tan head floating on top. Aroma is dominated mainly by sweet malts with hints of alcohol sweetness. Cherries and dark fruits come to mind as I inhale this brew for a little longer. Taste is again slightly sweet but a bit tart at the same time. I pick up mostly light cherries and a mixing of other fruits in the flavor. This beer is so complicated its hard to really pick out anything specific. There is a slight citrus nature as well, possibly from the hops. The alcohol is barely detectable in the flavor but is definately warming on the way down. Mouthfeel is absolutely delectible. It coats the mouth perfectly making this beer fufilling but refreshing at the same time.

This is an awesomely constructed beer, which is all about balance and perfection, which it nearly achieves.

Photo of Boto
4.97/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

33cl. bottle: I finally got around to trying one of these. It pours a cloudy, brown color. There was some off-white head to it, which died down fairly rapidly. The aroma was not quite as strong as I would have expected. Very pleasant, but a hair lighter. The aroma is rich and complicated. There are many kinds of fruits in the mix, but the complexity is making it hard for determining individual notes. The taste is superb. A complicated sweetness, with a tart underlying flavor. Fruits, caramel, heaven. Superb.

Photo of connecticutpoet
4.87/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This was a deep reddish amber, not-quite-brown ale with a huge head... a full siz inches at first pour. It was amazing, just like the Prior 8.

The aroma was noticeable as soon as I popped the cork... a strong blast of malts and liquor, bourbon and rum. As it sat, I picked out a whopping complex of fruity esters and cloves.

Then came the taste... DAYUM!!! Rich malt, slightly musty, with hints of caramel, rum, oodles of spices, and a very light hoppiness with such a smooth creamy mouthfeel it just slid right down my throat. Barely a hint of alcohol, despite its high ABV. Well worth the $6.99 I laid down for it.

Easily the best Belgian I have had. Tremendous! One I will certainly go back to for special occasions.

Photo of ypsifly
4.6/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a rich mahogany with a thick beige head that stays around for a long time.

Smells of banannas, bread, clove like spices with a trace of alcohol in the end.

The tastes match the aroma with the clove being a bit more pronounced. It reminds me of Aventinus, but nowhere near as much clove. Just the right amount of carbonation and the mouthfeel coats the taste buds without feeling syrupy.

This is a very delicious and highly drinkable beer. At $8.99 for a 750ml bottle an excellent value. I plan to stock up on this one.

Photo of pentathlete
4.65/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From Capital Ale House in Richmond, VA. This was served in a 10 oz stemmed glass. I am assuming that it was poured from an 11.2 oz bottle with an ounce retained for the house(!)

Foamy head with plenty of lace, though the glass was a tad too small to appreciate it. Smell was a jumble of malt, fruit, some alcohol. I had just had dinner and felt a little unprepared for this brew. It's dark blackish purple cloudy appearance was loaded with carbonation. It was a business dinner, it was expensed, just relax and enjoy.

The Abt 12 has the mouthfeel that I want from a beer. Full, coats the mouth in flavors that appear in both appropriate and surprising ways. Sweetness without cloying, alcohol without burning, fruits without any medicinal taste, and creamy.

The snow was falling and I had a forty mile drive remaining. Do I order my third and continue talking shop? No, better to be safe and enjoy this beer another day. Bottles will be added to my stash. This is a don't miss class act.

Find it, buy it, enjoy it. Treat it with respect.

Photo of goodbyeohio
4.75/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

from a 750 into a oversized chalice

appears quite dark brown with a retentive, tight head that leaves even but thin lacing. appealing to look at.

aroma is very fruity, detecting bananas, apples, plums, and some spice. malt is evident but not overpowering. so similar to the westy 12 in look and smell.

enters the mouth with a peppy dose of fizz on the tongue, followed by a numbing alcohol sensation on the tongue that erupts with dark, rich flavors. plums and caramel are smooth here, and the brew continues toward the stomach with a mild warming which reminds you that you are INDEED in the presence of greatness.

probably my 10-20th bottle lifetime of this stuff and i will not stop consuming it. never tried it (or westy 12) aged significantly, and that will be my next step in its appreciation. look forward to it.

Photo of MediocreatBest
3.54/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

as i watched it fall from bottle to glass it was brown, but it sits a very dark deep brown, almost black in the glass. the greatest highlight of this beer for me was watching the head sit a good thumbs liength above the top of the glass with out any of it running down the sides, it jsut sat there happy as could be, pillowing above the glass, providing quite a sight. it has a murky brown color as it lessens in the glass and more light is allowed to pass through. i smell grass, malty sweetness, pepper, alcohol, and pears. tastespeppery, wet horsblanket taste that is oh so popular this year, wiht an aftertaste of booze and pepper. bubbly at first which seems to fade somewhat quickly perhaps i swirled it in the glass to many times. also hints of fruit (peas, current, depnding on the sip) and grassy ntoes blending together with the horse blanket taste. surprisingly light in the mouth, and very drinkable, but as i have been rereading some of my reviews lately, i think everything is drinkable, it seems that i would almost always take another. but this doesnt lend much in the way of the 10% abv, or overbearing tastes of some belgians.

Photo of Erniek
4.83/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this ale on tap at The Map Room in Chicago recently. What I anticipated before hand was enhanced two fold after tasting this brew. It was served in the proper brewery glass and had such a nice head on it that I had to look at it for a while before finally lifting the glass for a sip. Presentation is really important to fulfilling desire and I think that this was one of the best looking beers I have had served to me ever. When I took that first sip I knew that this was something to be savored for a while. Nice rounded malt sweetness and smooth strength. Creamy sweet soft and chewy. Nice lingering aftertaste, like sucking on a piece of candy. WOW.

Photo of bruachan
4.4/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

from arrowine

damn purdy deep mahogany with fine, fluffy head that falls but leaves some lacing behind

very pungent. dried fruit and bready yeast with some spice (clove?)

i couldn't really put my finger on what hit me first. something fruity, but not tropical. some more of the same spice (again, clove i think). very smooth and creamy. nicely warming from the unkahol, but it isn't at all offensive

not quite thick, but definitely a quad in texture. babybutt smooth

no problem drinking several of these. not even a little

Photo of mobyfann
4.05/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Paid $13.99 for the 4-piece sampler with 'sniffer' glass...

The beer pours a dark brown color, like a belgain strong dark ale, with a medium sized white head, very good retention and a few nice lacing effects. The aromas are everywhere with this one, smells like a nice mixed bag of malts, with a few spice and fruit touches as well.

The taste is medium-body, tastes very sweet like brown sugar. The malt tastes are everywhere as well and the spice is less so in the taste. The slight alcohol taste actually feels good in this case, especially during the winter, which is the best time to drink strong belgians with stouts and porters. The mouthfeel is quite fascinating, for as heavy the alcohol is in this one, the body is moderate and the palette has no issues. The delivery is almost perfect but the sweet brown sugary taste affects the delivery. The drinkability is very solid, at 10% it's amazing compared to Gulden Draak, however I could not see myself drinking more than one of these in any one session.

Final Thought: Belgian ales are still new to me, but through time I may appreciate them more, and review this one again. Big ups to the Prior 8 from this brewery.

Photo of paterlodie
4.4/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Humm alway's a good beer and my closer for tonight. Had quiet some different styles today but quadruppel is always something else. Presance is more then ok and head is overwelming staying long. Smell of ripe fruit( apricot) and flowers do you remind that this is from near westvleteren. Nice combination of everything that your tung& nose can detect in this brew. Sweetfruity, fullmalty and a subtile bitter seem to dominate so. Just to say, what a mouthfull there is in every tiny litle sip. One of the better beers you can get in Belgium, one thats in my cellar permantly however once in a while a botle gets renewed, what a pleasance!

Photo of mkopera24
4.7/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a pretty strong Belgian Ale. The lacing on this is excellent. A very dark brown. When held up to the light, it barely passes through. Very dark. The smell has hints of green apple. Very sweet smelling. The taste contained a variety of flavors. At first a malty nutty taste. The aftertaste contained hints of bannanas. Very foamy feeling in your mouth. Quite filling. Very good try for anyone interested in trying some of the best of the best. Would highly recommend.

Photo of Citadel82
4.52/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a wonderful sipper, like a very complex cabernet this brew has so much depth and complexity.

Pours a cloudy brown with a short lived thin head that leaves some lace on my apparently not to clean glass.

Aroma of brown sugar, cloves and a whiff of alcohol

Cloves and spices, malt, cake, dried fruit ,ripe fruit, sugar, alcohol, not neccessarily in that order and not the same from sip to sip. Warmer is better.

Wonderful on the tounge and cheeks, lots of fine carbonation waiting to be roused with a gentle swish of the toungue.

Very drinkable on a cool night when something special is called for.

Photo of Troyone
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I did not think this was a trappist beer; it says "St. Bernardus - Belgium Trappistenwig, 23" on the bottom of the label. Difficult to find this beer, found a 4 pk at Whole Foods.
Pours a dark rich chocolate black and is not translucent with a three inch head that dissipated with lacing around the inside of the glass.
Very evident rich smell of a cookie roasted molasses malt with a perfume resin, slightly lemon, hop aroma.
The taste pronounces the smell with a moderate, slightly cookie, lightly bready, roasted molasses malt; moderate, slightly grapefruity, herb resin hops; a light horseblanket doughy yeast; and hints of the following: tawny port, slight toffee, brown sugar, licorice, and cola into the smooth finish.
Mouthfeel is one of the smoothess medium to full bodied beer I've ever had, the texture has a creamy dry feel, the carbonation is lively and soft, and the hops has a metallic piercing into the finish.
Drinkability is perfect for this type of style, look out for the ten percent.

Photo of neonbrown82
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've had a craving for this beer for quite some time. As I drank this beer I consulted my review, and as it was one of the first beers I reviewed for this site, my palate lacked the sophistication necessary to explain the pure bliss of this beverage. The first time I reviewed this beer I gave it a 4.9, but I believe now that is well deserving of the extra tenth.

The beer poured into my St. Bernardus chalice to a very dark nutty brown color with a massive dimpled foam cap that sticks around throughout the entire glass. This beer necessitates an extra category: sound. Sounds like a bowl of rice krispees, but the carbonation does not produce a harsh mouthfeel.

The smell is very sweet due to a quadruple dose of caramelized malts and fermentable sugars (belgian dark candi sugar, caramel, molasses, honey?). The high alcohol content is also noticable through the smell.

The beer provides an initial taste of all kinds of specialty sugars and spices, and as the liquid is passed from the tip to the mid-section of your tongue, the caramelized malts begin to grab hold of your senses. Finally, the finish shows a tiny bite of low AA noble hops, but just enough to balance out the sweetness.

Seems to be slightly astringent. Some aging would probably do her well, but as I said, I have had a craving for this beer for far too long to wait for a cellared product. The astringency is not overbearing though, nor is the alcohol or the sweetness. The mouthfeel is full and a bit creamy, and the foam is a bit metallic tasting (maybe from the minerals in the well water?)

Very heavenly. I may be a heathen bastard, but I believe that there must be some divine force responsible for this fine beverage. When I drink this beer, I seem to transcend beyond the normal state of drunkenness or sobriety. I only wish I could drink nothing but beers of this quality or higher (I'll have to be the judge of whether Westy is better than this or not, but I really don't see how it can get any better) without taking a huge hit on my pocket book just to drink a beer or two from day to day. It goes without saying that this is very highly drinkable, even though the ABV is quite high. If you haven't ingested this holy nectar, you are a sinner and likely going to hell, regardless if you (like me) don't believe in any religion.

In tradition of the holy bible, I hereby damn John's Grocery in Iowa City for tempting me with this forbidden fruit. Anything as good as a fine Belgian beer has got to be a sin.

Photo of Hhawk06
4.43/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at Redbones, the fine Somerville establishment, very reasonably priced I might add. The body was a dark, caramel brown with little head, perhaps it dissipated as it was filled to the brim. The nose is figgy and/or raisin? Nice. My first thought is wow, what a taste explosion. Then I immediately notice the syrupy, full mouthfeel. This is quite obviously a world class beer. I find there are a bunch of flavors vying for number one here; brandy/raisin/fig/and a candy sweetness. The finish is fantastic, wonderfully quenching with an incredible penetrating sweetness that forever lingers. Tremendous beer, I can see what all the fuss is about.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
99 out of 100 based on 8,447 ratings.