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St. Bernardus Abt 12 | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

2,716 Reviews
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St. Bernardus Abt 12St. Bernardus Abt 12

Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Belgium | website

Style: Quadrupel (Quad)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-14-2001

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Reviews: 2,716 | Ratings: 9,145
Photo of Cwrw
4.1/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one is hard to approach without high expectations. St Bernardus, the jolly monk(and why not??) holding a chalice glass of the stuff on the label seems to exude glee, and the beer seems to as well. Abt 12, or the blue cap bottle, states simply in English on the back "Bottle fermented beer." This bottle poured with a medium head, making it able to pour the full bottle without having to wait for the foam to settle. I was expecting a denser head however, because it did not pour very creamily: more large bubbles than small. The head is a very lightish brown colour, and seemed comfortable and stable as a thin but full topping to the beer. The beer itself is an almost impenetrable ruby-dark brown, appearing near ebony from most angles. Lacing is excellent, leaving thin sheets around the glass that dissipate into islands. The aroma is not very assertive, but when coaxed it is quite delectable. Very sublte dark malting along with black currants and prunes. The sweetness is readily evident in the form of raisins and green apple peel like St Bernardus Tripel. Red wine and red grapes; blueberry; licorice and leather; pears and green apples; and spicy, rummy pepper that tickles the nose. This could almost pass at times for merlot or cabernet wine. A distinct creaminess asserts itself through the whole drink. The aroma is delicious, but not unlike anything I have had before; certainly nothing to make it exceptional for me personally. The taste is full of big flavours: spicy alcohol, rich malts, dark fruits and wine. The front of the tongue senses the red wine taste, tannic and dry. The middle draws out some of the toasted malts, and the finish leaves a balanced nuttiness, equal parts dry and sweet. The carbonation was a little high, and the bottle started to overflow when I popped the cap; not sure why. They have been sitting in my cellar for 2 weeks upright. Far too foamy in the mouth, this bottle. The mouthfeel is still quite thick and lingering however. Drinkability, with the balanced sweetness and small amount of alcohol in the taste, is extremely hight for a gravity such as this. I paired it with brie and 3-year aged cheddar. The brie is mostly overpowered by the beer, but the sharp taste of the aged cheddar could compete and added to the enjoyment and complexity of the beer. I fear these bottles may be a tad defective somehow; not totally, but I think the beer is not at its peak quality-wise. If it IS, though, I have tasted this beer's equal and find it good but not sensational or unique.

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

Came in a 330 ml brown long neck Euro bottle as part of a 4 pack. So this is the famous Abt 12, I was happy to lay eyes on it locally.

Poured into a Karmeliet tulip glass, which induced a massive sticky light tan head, 4 fingers at least, with impressive retention. The appearance of the body is an opaque mahogany, bordering on black. Fruity vinuous notes on the nose, green grapes, sherry, fresh currants, with hints of the orchard in the way of peaches and plums and golden delicious apples. The aroma of thick malt can be found resting comfortably below all of this in the form of English toffee. It's all quite a wonderful combination, very light and refreshing aroma for a deep dark 10%abv Belgian.

The flavour doesn't disappoint either. It starts out with that chewy toffee malt, and then gets a direct infusion of raisins, prunes, green grapes and apples, the alcohol very apparent by the middle, converting the flavour and mouthfeel into a more vinuous sherry towards the dry finish, with a mouth puckering aftertaste from the dryness. It's a nice little trip this quadruple takes you on, not too long and not too much to see that you can't take it all in without craning your neck back and forth the whole way, it lets you enjoy it all at a comfortable, leisurely pace.

The mouthfeel starts out thick and chewy, but starts to thin out towards the very dry finish, leaving a sticky residue over the palate as a calling card.

Very fine stuff, I shall be investing in more, but only one at a time for me in a sitting, there's enough within a lone bottle to keep me satiated for the time being. The sign of a fine ale, you know you'd like another one, but it leaves you satisfied enough that you don't need it right now.

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

Appearance: Pours a deep mahogony color with a rich and foamy tan head on top. As the head settles it becomes more creamy and looks almost like it has a thin skin on top. The head leaves excellent lacing on the sides.

Smell: Rich malty aroma with fruit scents of grape and green apple followed by a light alcohol smell. There are some caramel and toffee scents hiding in the buttery maltiness as well.

Taste: As I took my first sip my reaction was an out-loud exclamation to my wife that went something like, "Holy shit this is a good beer." I didn't expect garbage, but I also didn't expect something this good. Oh how I love pleasant surprises. The beer is terribly complex with massive fruitiness, sweetness, and kick ass maltiness. The fruits are very much like the nose with grapes and green apple but there is also a more berry-like character to the fruitiness. Black berries or raspberry seeds and even some cherries. The sweetness blends well with the malty. Caramel, toffee, and a bit of burnt brown sugar pour over a tangy and toasty malt. The maltiness is sweet and lightly floral with a distinct nuttiness (almond, walnut) and woody flavor. More dry grass and earthy bark and dry lemon tree leaves. The ending and aftertaste are sweet with the alcohol flavor and warmth showing up. The alcohol is not strong or burning, but light and it contributes a bit of candy-like sweetness to the aftertaste. That is a very well hidden 10%.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly smooth for such a full bodied beer. Sandy and comfortable. It leaves a light dryness in my mouth particularly on my gums.

Drinkability: Fabulous. Really, it's that good. I thought this beer may have been over hyped but that is not at all the case. This is a truly magnificent beer. There are no offensive or weird flavors. All of the flavors work well together making this a remarkably drinkable beer. All around this is a wonderful beer.

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Photo of ommegangpbr
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Time to revisit this magical monk.
From a 33cL bottle poured into a chalice (I think it's cool when you can fit an entire bottle into a glass).
This is the first time I've ever seen little yeast specs floating on top of the head... maybe this is because it's the first time I've poured an entire bottle of a sedimenty beverage into a glass. It looks really cool, as if someone sprinkled cinnamon or clove onto the head.
Frills of bubbles slide up the glass... little yeast floaties are hangin out doing their thing in the beer itself. Has all the head and lacing you could ask of such a brew.
Mysterious and noble in appearance.
I'd like for flowers in the garden to smell like this does... creamy and fruity.
A bit of a sharp roasted malt bite and hops bite on impact. So, so deep and complex in flavor
The alcohol is well used here... not concealed but used as part of a harmony.
Luxurious mouthfeel.
A model citizen of the style.
World class and kick ass.

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Photo of Wonka
4.97/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1PT 9.4 FL. OZ.
10% ALC./VOL.

20 10 09 on the cork cap

Cork released easily with an impressive pop.

Appearance – clear brown body with a light steady stream of rising carbonation; massive rocky light tan head that breaks down slowly but always provides containment to the brew below; lace is chunky and sheetlike in segments; as quads go, this is a great presentation

Smell – malty, spicy, grapes, raisin, reasonable zip of alcohol

Taste – yeast and alcohol jump out early; alcohol remains throughout and provides a reminder of the product’s strength later; nutty; red grape; fruity and at times sugary sweet; hops are severely repressed; wine/yeast aftertaste

Mouthfeel – beautifully full for most of the feel with a slight drop at times near the end; smooth rolling open with an occasional, nice crisp accent to close; at times its evenly full; on the mark

Drinkability – so smooth for its size; for a quad, I have yet to run into any more drinkable

If you are settling in for the 25.4 oz., set away some time for an immense sensory experience. As quads go, this is my favorite, hands down.

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

Had this one on-tap at David Copperfield's in Manhattan. Nice one, Keith!

My sample poured with a half-inch of head that dissapated quickly.

The aroma was unique - plums, raisins, caramel malt, and just a faint hint of alcohol.

The taste! Wow! What an impressive melody of esters, phenolics... clove, spice, fruit, caramel, and just a little bit of hops...

The mouthfeel was outstanding too. Creamy and rich, but not too full-bodied to be cloying. Nice.

A pretty drinkable brew... just a faint twinge of alcohol in the aftertaste. What a classic.

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

Pulled this puppy out of the cellar and right into a tulip.

It is a beuatiful brown with a tan head that hangs out before becoming spotty. Smells of dark dried fruit and malt sweetness. It has a lovely taste that livens the tongue, close to an earthyness that makes the fruit all the nicer, slightly dry finish that is enhanced by the bold carbonation. A creamy dream of a treat that is worth the time to get to know.

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Photo of JackTheRipper
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Bottle art is fantastic, I'd love to have a pint and some cheese with that monk on the label. Pours a light-mocking hazy brown color-I actually put my very bright LED flashlight behind the chalice and saw not a speck of light come through. Head is a creamy tan layer of dense foam with a neat ring of yeast (I think) on top, looks like a ring of cinammon-cool. Head lasts and lasts and leaves lacing that just won't quit.

S: Malty, rum soaked raisins, dark molasses, brown sugar. Tons of stuff going on in the nose, very appealing.

T: Sweet with a hot alcohol bite. Wine-like, rummy fruits. Spicy from the alcohol, sorto a peppery warmth. Yum.

M: Alcohol warmth is pretty high but doesn't seem to detract from this one. Big and chewy. Low feel of carbonation.

D&N: Wonderful beer. Really should try this one if you find it.

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

Brewery story and ingredient description on the back of the bottle reinforces the fact that you're drinking a super quality brew and just makes you feel good.

Gorgeous pour. Foggy, dark tannish-amber body. Heavy, thick, billowing head. Big Belgian lace here. A significant amount of small yeast particles floating around. Just a wonderful appearance.

Big yeasty and fruity aroma as soon as I popped the cork. Very nice. Upon a closer nose examination I detect green apple, berries, rum cake, and faint raw alcohol.

Taste is earthy with fruit flavors. Grape, raisin, cherry, banana, clove spice. Finish is a short maltiness and much cleaner than expected. Maybe the slightest lingering hop bitterness.

A very delicate, yet lively carbonation. Airy.

This beer definitely deserves the outstanding status it has received.

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Photo of ericsdawson
4.13/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

pours out a dark caramel color, tan colored head composed of slightly larger bubbles. one of the prettiest beers i've seen. some sediment at the bottom of the glass. not much head retention, decent lace. aroma not as strong as expected, mainly fruits and alcohol. the taste is quite a bit stronger than the smell and it threw me off. the presense of alcohol is a little too heavy. i also picked up a slight metalic taste. the alcohol warms the belly, but it wasn't quite as smooth as i had hoped. i let the bottle sit out for about 35-40 minutes before drinking but since it was a 750, it probably wasn't quite warm enough at the beggining.

definately a fine brew, however i was a little disapointed. i think my expectations may have been built up from such a high rating. if i had 10 dollars and could find it again, i would consider giving it another chance.

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Photo of DrJay
4.22/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy orange/brown with a decent stand of tan head. Complex aroma consisting of light maltiness, warm alcohol, grassy and citrusy hops, and white wine fruitiness. Bitterness was on the low side, but plenty of grassy hops were present in the flavour, along with a good malt character. Alcohol warmth and a peppery spiciness appeared at the dry finish. Medium body with moderately high carbonation. This beer was definitely aided by warming up a bit. Though it didn't start out poorly, it did become much more pleasant towards the end of the glass. Thanks Viggo.

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Photo of whartontallboy
4.43/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark reddish brown into my new St. Bernardus glass. Huge foamy head slightly tan-brown that holds for over half an hour. The amount of lace this one leaves is ridiculous; it's just huge sheets of lace that make the glass completely opaque. It's fantastic.

Smell is complex with hints of rum-soaked raisins, alcohol, and fresh fruits.
A little bit of clove in there as well, but just faint.

Taste is rich with dark fruit flavors with the same rum-soaked raisins and the very thick brown sugar flavors. The dark fruits come through as a sort of plum and currant flavor that is very pleasant. So much going on here, and it's just a sweet enough.

The mouthfeel could be a little thicker, I think, but that's the only thing I'd change about this one, and it's very nice as it is. Drinkability is a little low due to the high ABV, but this one is so easy to sip that it could sneak up on you. Quite a nice beer, and one that's definitely worth trying.

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Photo of grapemaster
4.06/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The tale of the Quadrupel is one not told enough. The Bernardus Abt 12 is definitely a fine member of the family. With a dark caramel color, large bubbles and good lacing, it was certainly something to look at. The smell was faint with traces of fruits and alcohol. The taste was similar, with the alcohol maybe coming through a little strong though... covering up some of the delicious citrus. Overall, a good beer. I strongly recommend drinking at the proper temp of 50-55, because the flavor certainly improved as it warmed.

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Photo of Jacobob10
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The anticipation of having this beer was through the roof. It had been sitting in my fridge for about a week before I decided to dive into it after a night of homebrewing. It was my reward to myself for finishing my first batch of homebrew, and it did not disappoint.

Deep, ruby and brown color with a perfect, thick, frothy head. I waited about 2 minutes and then poured the last few drops from the bottle which literally sat on top of the head and stained it brown at it trickled thru. Outstanding.

This is one of the best smelling beers, if not the best, that I have ever come across. Chocolate malts, berries, caramel to name a few. I literally went around my apartment to each of my roommate's rooms and made them take a whiff of it. Of course, each of them went, "mmmm" and then proceeded to grab it out of my hands and take a sip.

Of course, the taste was nothing short of amazing. All of the aromas in the aforementioned paragraph were represented in the flavor, so no need to repeat. Great, creamy mouthfeel from this full-bodied beer and the 10% ABV goes completely unnoticed.

A truly exceptional beer, world class by all means. It was hard to find any fault in this beer. Definitely worth the $4 I paid for the bottle and something I will never hesitate to pick up again. Cheers.

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Photo of ITK4ever
4.58/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Again, the Belgians are never short on balance. Everything is balanced about this beer. From the pour, to the deep, rich color, to the exciting, malty nose, and the taste....orgasmic. Top ten indeed and the cool thing about Belgian beer...it gets better as you drink it but once the glass is finished, you're pissed off because it's gone. These beers are like a woman with PMS...you run the gamut of emotions with each one.

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Photo of Viggo
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a very cloudy orange/brown, looks kind of like iced tea, with a thick generous head and lots of lace. Smells very citrusy, a little alcohol is present, little bit of malt, a fruity white wine sort of aroma, very pleasant. The taste is grassy, some alcohol notes, sweet up front with a currant taste, and a spicy finish. This is one beer that has to be at least cellar temperature. It because very noticably better as it warmed up further. Very full creamy mouthfeel, smooth with high carbonation, world class ale.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Presentation: Drank from an 11.2 oz bottle, poured into Watou brewery chalice. Bottle has a drawing of a balding monk with a very good beer in his hand.

Appearance: In my limited experience, this sets the standard for strong dark ales. A deep orange-brown color, almost completely opaque. The head never really disappears from the top of the beer.

Smell: This beer smells better than the smell of any other beer which my nose has smelled. Smells like fresh bread, with strong malty tones.

Taste: This is possibly the best-tasting beer I've tried to date. If I go fat and bald from drinking this beer, it's worth the price. God bless the monks from Westvleteren, who apparently created the recipe for this beer. God bless also the brewers at Watou who make this intense stuff. The beer is full-bodied, and leaves a coating in your mouth (a good thing). I'm not that good at picking out individual flavors, but I can taste sweet fruity flavors (plums, grapes, and bananas) with malt (chocolate and bread). I poured this below the temperature recommended on the bottle (52-56°F), and I think the taste becomes more intense as the liquid warms.

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Photo of JackStraw22
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle labled Sept. 2007. Drank from the St. Bernardus goblet.

Appearance: Cloudy brown/amber body. Huge creamy/tan head w/ lots of feeder bubbles.

Smell: Raisens and dates, brown sugar, yeasty and earthy. Very nice, dominated by sweetness, but I like it. Alcohol makes it's presence known upon warming, almost has a scotch like aroma.

Taste: Wow, unbridled perfection. Nutty, sweet, cheesy..did I mention sweet? The alcohol dances across the top of your mouth until it makes it's way down the throat, warming as it goes. Just hoppy and bitter enough to balance it out. It really starts to show off upon warming.

Drinkability: If I had another, I'd pour it.

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

One delicious brew!

I find this marvelous beer similiar to Rocheforts 10, another of my personal favorites.

This beer pours dark and delicous with a nice richly colored head -- very pleasing to the eye.

The nose is less than I had expected given the color.

Taste and mouthfeel are supperb. I'm not sure that I can generate adequate adjectives the fully describe this delicious liquid.

Suffice it to say that I started with twe bottles, and have ordered 24. This will remain a staple of my collection.


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Photo of BeerandBlues2
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown with an average light brown head with fair lacing and a small dollop remaining in the center as you drink. Aroma is oak nose, caramel malt and yeast mix as well creating a complex invitation to consume. Flavor is warm caramel with alcohol and creamy malt body. Full-bodied and dark palate, very drinkable and warming.

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Photo of ejquin
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this on tap at the map room in Chicago the same night I had a Dark Lord bottle, and honestly I would put this slightly ahead of the Dark Lord.

Deep brown color with a good white head that stayed and laced the entire glass.

Smelled of malt, alcohol and terrific phenols.

The taste was deep and smooth. Lots of malt, and spice. A slight alcohol finish and amazing phenols.

Mouthfeel was perfect. Great level of carbonation and silky smooth.

Overall this beer was as close to perfect for a belgian as you can get. Amazing brew.

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Photo of kegerator
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

very nice brew.
pours out a fairly deep brown with a huge 2 inch frothy creamy head that sticks around and leaves desired lacing.
aroma was chocolatey spicy malts some slight alcohol and caramel with a hint of nut in the background
taste was what the aroma hinted at. nice creamy feel with caramel and spice and a slight warmth from the alcohol.

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

This was probably the most enjoyed beer I have experienced yet. Poured an unusual dark brown with a purple wine-like hue. Noticeable yeast floaties. The smell immediately reminded me of alter wine. The taste was wonderful. Rich dark fruits. Raisin, Plums and sweet grape. Slight alcohol warmth and breadlike yeast flavor. Very rich, smooth feel in the mouth. I drank this in 10 minutes and felt like I was taking my time with it. I just could not help but to keep sipping away almost continuously. I only had one. I will need to track more down!!

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Photo of marburg
4.6/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Re-review: I tasted this side-by-side with Westy 12, and I've been proven to be incorrect. While St. B. beers are still an incredible value, the nuance and subtlety in Westy 12 are much greater. The St. B 12 is almost too sweet at points, and the excessive carbonation becomes aggrevating.

Original Review (1/08/04): Magnificent, of course. Chocolate covered raisins, plum skin, pine tree, chai tea, herbal, vinous, red grape, ohmygod goodness. Dark, deep aroma. Velvety -- a beer truly made for the senses. Rubs the tongue the right way, warms going down, smells delightful... If only it sounded like the ocean or something... I could drink this all day.

Had this with a marinated lamb dish a couple days before Christmas and forgot to review. Everyone at the table was a wine drinker; they were blown away.

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Photo of xgrigorix
4.3/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brown 750 ml bottle, corked & caged. No dates.

Deep chestnut brown. A gentle pour produced a beige coloured head of mamoth proportions. Head retains very well & leaves thick lace on the glass.

Aromas of figs, plums, powdered sugar, & damp earth.

Dark fruits rule here - figs, dates, & plums. Fluffy brown sugar, nuts, and some earthy flavours as well. Very smooth, & enjoyable.

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St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
98 out of 100 based on 2,716 ratings.