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St. Bernardus Abt 12 - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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

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BA SCORE
99
world-class

7,848 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,848
Reviews: 2,541
rAvg: 4.47
pDev: 9.4%
Wants: 495
Gots: 1,301 | FT: 34
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-14-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,848 | Reviews: 2,541 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MrHassellYaHurd
4.55/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours into a tulip as a nearly opaque orange/brown with a huge tan head that shrinks to a centimeter-thick cap. Tons of visible carbonation.

The nose is sweet with hints of green apples and a hint of dusty yeast.

The taste is immediately very thick and malty with intense apple and banana flavors as well as a brief alcoholic warming. Sweet hard candies and a sharp tartness are in there as well. Silky-smooth mouthfeel and intense but fine carbonation give an amazing tactile dimension to this brew. Fantastic drinkability.

Photo of SDHoffers
4.3/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This has to be one of the most balanced quads I've ever had. There is nothing offensive about this beer. The look is coppery but not thick. The nose is small with hints of sweetness like dried fruits but doesn't play the starring role. I actually think the drinkability is the real winner on this one. Since nothing is standing out as the main influence here it's hard to pick it apart. The high alcohol would be the only catalyst here because I'd be expecting it to go down a little hot but it doesn't. I had this on tap one time at our place and it lasted 12 hours. Definitely one I will get again when it becomes available.

Photo of sullenbee
4.72/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter - healthy head, lots of lacing. Dissipated to a small spotty layer. Cloudy, mahogany.

Fruity aroma, and yeasty. Getting a strong apple scent, swirling it brought back the head that had previously dissipated. Nice. Bit of raisin bread pudding, sweet and warm, with some spiciness.

Taste is sweet, but with a slight fruity tartness. A smidge of vanilla. Very well balanced.

Mouthfeel is slightly carbonated, but not to excess. A delight to my senses. I want more.

I expected far more of an alcohol burn for the ABV. This is an incredibly drinkable, tasty beer. Obviously world class. Beer really exploded with more flavors as it warmed. I wish I had the vocab to really give it justice.

On the bottle - "Bringing Heavenly Nectar Within Reach." Indeed. This one rates on my personal beer scale as nectar of the gods. There is something about the Belgians that really get to my heart. (Future husband, if you are out there, take note. I've just given a hint to one of the keys to my heart, and it isn't flowers)

Photo of Chico1985
4.74/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I put this brew off for too long, finally decided to pop open my 750ml on a beautiful Saturday afternoon with no distractions and music-a-pumpin'.

Pour is beautiful, dark blood red with huge 3-finger off-white head on each pour. Head shrinks over time but never comes close to disappearing and leaves great, thick lacing. A bit of sediment.

Smells more fruity than I expected, I'm getting apple, plum, brown sugar, some booze. Smell is much more potent once the head dies down a bit.

Taste is so excellent, dark fruits aplenty mix wonderfully with a generous amount of brown sugar/caramel richness. If I had to pick other particulars, I'd say raisin, plum and sugar cookie. With the flavors I've listed here, you might think this is overly sweet, but it definitely is not. Everything is balanced wonderfully here. Every sip gets better and better. The booze taste is surprisingly VERY well-hidden, it is slight but only adds to the overall taste and leaves a great warming feeling in your face and stomach. The aftertaste is amazing, the yeast really starts to show through and the brown sugar/caramel element is to die for.

The mouthfeel is quite carbonated, but extremely luscious and creamy. Swishing this in around in my mouth is pure bliss. I have a glass of water standing by and I haven't taken one sip, I want this taste to cover my tongue forever.

I personally think this drinks extremely easy, especially compared to other quads I have tried. This is definitely an entirely different beast than the Rochefort 10, more fruity, I have to say I prefer this. Easily the best Belgian I've had so far. A beer that, like most rich Belgians, definitely deserves to be drank respectfully and to be drank in the right mood and environment. If it's true that this is the closest beer to Westy 12, than that has been hyped about 20 times more in my mind. I will be buying a 4-pack of this to age for sure.

*** edit -- 5/4/13

Opened up a 2010 bottle that is a little over 3 years old at this point. Huge dark fruit (red grape & raisin) overtakes other flavors a little bit but still quite excellent and opens more with warmth. Mouthfeel maybe has thinned out a little too but still amply carbonated. Great beer.

Photo of philbe311
4.3/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Two full fingers of a rich fluffy slightly off-white head comprised of medium sized bubbles... Very solid retention gives way to a rich creamy lacing... Some quick fast paced carbonation can be seen rising along the sides of the glass at the very tippie top glass... An even inviting aubergine coloring... A glimmer of light sleaks in through the top... A decent amount of lacing clings to the sides of the glass along with a bit of sticky film...

S - A quick whiff a yeast... Loaded with sweet grape juice to start that quickly blends with other dark fruits... Raisins... Plums... Fig... Some subtle bready malts... Hints of cola and vanilla... Complex, but

T - Dark fruits dominate... Raisins... Grapes... Plum... Perhaps even a touch of blueberries... Vanilla... A touch of wood... Slightly nutty... A very very vague spiciness...

M - Medium bodied... Lush and creamy to start... Solid carbonation... Dry finish with a touch of alcoholic warmth... Remarkably smooth all the way around...

D - It should come as no surprise that this is a world class quad offering... Easy drinking... No real complaints, though the alcohol sticks a little more than I would have expected hindering drinkability ever so slightly...

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

Mahogany brown with a nice smooth tan head that stayed with me the entire time.

Roasted caramel malts, bread, yeast, dark fruits and a bit of vanilla

a lot like it smells but I will say that I got a bit of a taste of metal from this bottle that I do not remember in the past that I was not as big a fan of.

Smooth and medium to full bodied. I loved the feel and could drink this all day.

For me this is a great nightcap and I will continue to enjoy it regularly.

Photo of Lldeegan
4.68/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep hazel and produces a dense, khaki head that leaves chunky lacing all around my Chimay goblet.
This beer smells of rich malt, dark fruit, mostly fig and raisin, followed by a bready aroma and fruity esters from the yeast. Other notes are of dark cherry, banana, ripe fruit skin, and clove.
The first sip is prickly carbonation from the bottle conditioning, but quickly turns into a creamy sweet malt bomb that then displays dark fruit on the palate, followed up by a dry cocoa powder that plays nicely with a warming alcohol finish.
There is lively carbonation up front but it maintains a creamy mouthfeel and full body.
In my opinion, this is a great dinner or dessert beer. Super delicious!

Photo of DNICE555
4.43/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cracked open a bottle with soupedupdiesel on our Monday off. Put mine in a chalice. Poured the rest in soup's mug because he is a beast.

Popped the cork and gave a gentle pour into my chalice... Wow. Tilting the glass and pouring as gently as I could the head exploded. A rich creamy off white fluffy head. Looks beautiful. I couldn't believe the amount of head on this beer for a 10 percent ABV ale. The most impressive I've seen to date. Lots of good carbonation as well. The body is a deep hazy brown. This beer is beautiful. All sorts of fruit in the aroma. The tasty is a sweet grainy sensation. The alcohol was a bit warming so it did take me a little longer to drink. Quite an amazing beer.

Photo of ritzkiss
4.25/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

For the first time in 46 days, I can click "Review this Beer" and imbibe in my favorite brews. My choice for 1st beer back, St. Bernie 12.

11.2 oz bottle pours a nice dark cola color with an abundance of spice-flecked foam: very bubbly, has great retention and leaves lacing down my Chimay chalice. Fair bit of sediment floats to the bottom of the glass.

Bready nose with an underlaying of sweet dark fruits, a hint of cola, and light spicing.

Taste blows the nose out of the water. A sharp entry with a load of spicing (cloves) and an earthy, bready base. Touch of cocoa, dark fruits, a hint of booze in the finish. Rich caramel sweetness comes through in the finish as well. Nice, drying finish with a bit of alcohol warming on the way down. Perhaps a little too bubble for me, though without it I can see it could become a little syrupy.

A really excellent world-class quad (pretty sure we all know that going in) whose key words I would choose: spicy, earthy, and warming. Not sure I would grab more than one at a time. This beer makes me think it would enjoy some time in the cellar, could see this being mind-blowing.

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

A: Dark mahogany hue with a big creamy head that leaves sizable lace ringlets in its wake.

S: Enticing aromas of Belgian yeast, bread, Abbey ale, subtle fruit, alcohol.

T: Fabulous beer. This has been a "go to" beer for me for many years. It sounds appealing any time of day, any time of year. Extremely well crafted, this beer opens up as it warms and tastes incredible. As far as quads, this is second only to Westvleteren 12, in my humble opinion.

M: Very smooth with just the right carbonation. Slight alcohol finish.

D: Highly recommended. A world class beer.

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

Pours a plum / eggplant color, all most opaque. The head is off white, dense, and falls to a nice top and ring. No real lacing, just lots of bubbles that cling and slowly fall. This is just beautiful when I hold it to the light.

Fruity, sweet , nutty, and spicy. This beer has a very complex aroma. Raisins, plum, cherry, fig, caramel, toasted pecans, toffee, vanilla, and clove. Smells like toast and jam or a good danish. Inviting!

The taste is like the nose. Sweet dry/ripe fruits, spice, nuts, with toasted bread. The alcohol doesn't play into the flavor but does dry out the finish.

Not too heavy, not to light. There is a nice does of carbonation / flavors explode and dance on my tongue. It has a dry finish.

Warming and delicious, this is for sipping, but each sip begs another. This beer is about as good as it gets. IMO

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

St. Bernardus "Abt. 12". 750 ml. 2009 vintage.

Appearance:
This hazy beverage falls somewhere between a muddy brown and faded purple. The off-white head spills foam over the edge of the chalice as it mushrooms upwards magnificently. The glass is coated in lacing.

Aroma:
A spike of cloves, the dense and pleasant fog of malt sweetness, and dark, sun-dried fruits is what it's all about. Roasted malts, nutty, some light floral notes, the pungent waft of light alcohol, brown sugar, a spritz of cola, the smallest hint of sherry, spices and dark fruits galore - dates, plums, prunes and raisins. The dark fruits wallow in my nose, tripping over each other and filling me with a hazy sense of comfort.

Taste:
Clove is first, riding the wave of toasty malt and deep brown sugar. The dark fruit lurks beneath the surface -- plums, raisins, dates, prunes, and suddenly cherry too. Carob flavors -- so much light chocolate powder, subtly hide in the background, while the alcohol takes heart about halfway through the sip. Overall, it's earthy, brooding, fruity, dark, chalky sweet, and spicy too. The finish is smooth and warming, and leaves the taste of dark fruit and mild solvent flavors mingling in my mouth. Quite well balanced -- though a bit on the malty side, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Mouthfeel:
It's all buttery, smooth, creamy and a whole host of other thick and pleasing words. The fruitiness is brooding and palpable -- almost squishy. The carbonation itself takes on a smoothness that is uncharacteristic of it's bite and vibrance. I really felt I was drinking something substantial, and the varied textures made beautiful music in my mouth.

Drinkability:
While the alcohol is evident -- and it really starts to seep in mid sip -- I found it was really well hidden towards the end. The peak in alcoholic punch quickly softens, leaving a happy warming feel. While it's obviously not a beverage to be taken lightly, I had no problem enjoying it in bulk.

Notes:
I'm very pleased with St. Bernardus as a whole after drinking this. I've had the Christmas Ale and their Tripel, and each one was beautifully crafted. The same goes for Abt. 12. Oh, one more thing: I'm not sure if this was a fluke, but the cork was incredibly difficult to dislodge. It took a prolonged and herculean effort to pop it, but I must say that it was worth the time and effort.

On the label:
I find myself pleased by the aesthetics of the label featuring a jovial monk drinking deep from a chalice. On the back of the label it says:

Brewery St. Bernardus was founded in 1946 in Watou, Province of West Flanders in Belgium.

These exceptional quality ales are brewed by using only the finest malts, local grown hops, yeast and artesian water pumped from a depth of 500 feet.

After the brewing process these traditional ales are matured in tanks for three months before being bottle conditioned.

The result is a naturally carbonated "living ale", which can be aged for up to 15 years and will satisfy the taste of even the most discriminating connoisseurs.

"Bringing heavenly nectar within reach"

Abt. 12 - abbey ale brewed in the classic "Dubbel" style of of Belgium's best Abbey Ales. Serve this noble and wonderfully balanced brown ale at 52-56°F in a goblet glass to best enjoy its delicate bouquet.

Photo of steelerguy
4.47/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a mahogany like liquid caramel. High tan head that is quite creamy, lasting, and leaves lace. Moderate carbonation helps keep the head around as you drink.

S - Complex malt aroma. Sweet caramel, raisins, bananas, with a Belgian spiciness.

T - The complex aroma continues on in the mouth. Starts sweet and spicy, then it is all ripe fruit, ends with some phenols and alcohol.

M - Tingles the tongue, warms the mouth, and although you get lots of sweet fruit and malt in the taste, it finishes nice and dry.

D - It is damn near magical that they have hidden a 10% ABV (according to my bottle, not 10.5%) in this beer. It is so flavorful and balanced, the alcohol warms and tingles but is not harsh in any way. A great beer that should be sipped or it will sneak up on you quick...and it is hard to sip!

Photo of Beerenauslese
4.8/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark but translucent brown into my St. Bernardus glass with an initial ample head that quickly dissipates into a fine ring of foam.

Lovely nose with complex aromas of raisins and other fruit, chocolate, ginger and other spices. I am in the bakery here.

Taste is wonderful, sweet at first but finishes dry and crisp. This is one of the great Belgian beer taste sensations. Lots of complexity, with flavors of coffee, chocolate, ginger, cola, hops, pepper, and salty finish. Defies complete identification.

Mouthfeel is medium body, very creamy with good carbonation.

This is a beer I'll drink until it is clear I shuddah stopped. Addictive.

Photo of ekmoody
4.22/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep beautiful brown with a fairly thick foamy head that dissipated somewhat quickly.

Aroma is quite fruity and sweet, maybe a hint of spice.

Taste is similar to the smell, this beer is very good. Nice and sweet with some nice malts and with a back note that is a bit spicy, but certainly not overpowering. I definitely wouldn't have guessed the 10.5% abv if someone had given this to me without telling me what it is.

Lightly carbonated, this is not as a heavy of a beer as the abv made me think it would be. Very enjoyable, one of the best Belgian beers I've tried.

Photo of bengtaaron
4.72/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My first review and my only quad yet -- and what a hell of a way to start...

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a sort of bordeaux glass (it was the best I could do).

A: Color is a turbid ruby with a bit of sediment throughout. The head crops up a beautiful one-finger beige and quickly dissipates with minimal lacing.

S: Dark fruit -- particularly raisin/fig, brown sugar, and clove. A swirl or two reveals sweet bread and candied apple.

T: Pleasantly warm alcohol mingles with dark fruit, malt, and clove before balancing out with a lusciously sweet (not overpowering) finish.

M: Medium and creamy with just the right amount of carbonation. Very pleasant.

D: This beer reminds me of my other spirited love: Absinthe. You can get blissfully lost in the complexities of smell and taste without realizing (or caring!) about the high ABV. Don't get me wrong -- this brew is delicious enough to drink all night; but the sweetness, the ABV, and most importantly, the complex depth, make this a beer that commands appreciation and respectful moderation. Excess would just feel decadent.

Overall, a true treat and a relatively accessible precedent for the world of beer.

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

Look: Brown color, cloudy, massive tan head with uber good retention & lacing

Smell: Fruity, sweet malt, clove

Taste: Up Front: Clove, brown sugar. Finish: Sweet malt

Mouthfeel: Medium body and well carbonated, a little sticky

Drinkability: Creamy, smooth & decadent

Overall Impression: This is my new favorite Quad. Absolutely yumiliscious!!!

Photo of baseballrock
4.35/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

a - Dark brown, mahoganey hue. the head is super thick with tons of retention.

s - sweet malts, with some spice notes. A sweet bread aroma.

t - sweet malty flavors. The thick heavy flavors dominate, the finish has a crisp bitterness. It has a definite warming alcohol continues to cheer the spirit as the brew warms to room temperature.

m - full and complex as hell.

d - easy to sip for a 10% beer.

Photo of hopsbreath
4.05/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter glass at about 55 degrees. Little bits of yeast were poured in the glass as well as the liquid and maybe clouded up the otherwise clear brown coloring. The head was almost overflowing and tan with quickly dissipating bubbles. There was just a touch of lacing and looked good.

Smelled like burnt sugar, sugar cookies and maybe a little rum.

Taste was sweet and WHOAH...ALCOHOL! Lots of rich sugars and a little grape danced around with this one.

Mouthfeel was a little thin. Maybe this was a little watery for my preference but not bad at all.

Despite the big warming alcohol kick, this was very easy to drink. Probably the thin mouthfeel that did it but I could definitely go for another one!

Photo of turnstile
4.63/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Cellared and then chilled to the recommended serving temperature on the bottle. Poured into a fold-rimmed St. Bernardus goblet - the only way to imbibe this brew.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy chocolate brown with a bubbly 1/2 inch beige head that lingers for a minute or two before it dissipates. Finishes with a film on the surface. Visible yeast sediment is suspended in the brew. Lacing was minimal.

Smell: Complex - ripe fruit and sweet malts. Predominantly aromas of green apple and grapes. No noticeable hop aromas and overall pretty clean.

Taste: Very sweet and earthy with slight souring. Green apple appears and adds tartness. The alcohol struggles against everything else going on here - surprising for such a high ABV.

Mouthfeel: Light carbonation. Rich with a smooth and full body.

Drinkability: One of the most inviting brews I've ever tasted. I approached the Abt 12 like a sipper, but it disappeared quicker than I anticipated, primarily because of a well-hidden ABV and smoothness on the palate.

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

A- Dark body with amber highlights and a rocky off-white head.

S- Lots of sweet malt, dark fruits and a faint alcohol.

T- Big malt note up front with dark fruits and Belgian sugars. Malt is kept in check with a little funk from the Belgian yeast. A warming alcohol is there as well.

M- Full and smooth feel with a nice carbonation.

D- An amazing Quad to sip or pair with a funky cheese.

Photo of tuckevalastin
4.33/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark reddish orange. Cloudy with a large foamy tan head.

S: Some sweet fruitiness as well as toasty malt. A very earthy feel.

T: Dark fruits are most noticable and work well with some spiciness. A bit of brown sugar/chocolate sweetness. The alcohol comes through but doesn't overpower.

M: Medium bodied with lots of cabonation. A bit spice and the alcohol is apparent.

D: Pretty drinkable for 10%

Overall this is a great belgian that is thankfully not too hard to find

Photo of Popkas
4.08/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from 2008 pulled out of the cellar.
Pour is a deep brown with hints of cherry (reminds me of my kitchen cabinets...) with a large frothy head that is well retained. Floaters abound. Smell is of candied sugar and prunes. There is a bite on the tongue followed by a sweetness with dark fruit. Can't put y finger on it, but the finish is the least enjoyable part of the beer so far. The body is medium to full and smooth with a creamy feel to it. Drinkability is decent but not great due to the finish that is not agreable to my taste.

Photo of adam42381
4.55/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 11.2 oz. bottle (dated 26 05 14) into a Chimay goblet.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown with reddish tint. Has a 1-2 finger off-white foamy head which dissipates fairly quickly. Decent amount of sediment floating around. Minimal lacing.

Smell: Strong smell of raisins and dried fruit. Very sweet malty aroma. Smells absolutely delicious.

Taste: Complex flavor which combines the sweetness of dried fruit and roasted malt with a nice bit of spice. Strong alcohol flavor is apparent throughout. Very nice warming finish with just a hint of bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with a high amount of carbonation and a distinct alcohol bite.

Drinkability: Excellent drinkability; however, you don't want to drink too many because the high ABV will catch up to you.

Overall: An excellent beer all around. For the price of $4.49 a bottle, I'll definitely be buying more. I would highly recommend seeking this one out. This is just a great beer.

Photo of Flashsp2
4.4/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

St Bernardus 12 33cl into an oversized pinot noir glass (dated 08 05 13).

Murky brown with red highlights and a giant light beige head that is super fluffy and luxurious looking. The pour was very gentle as to not disturb the sediment, but the head was still jumbo sized, with a good amount of stick, and left a nice pancake of head all the way through.

The aroma is overwhelming even while pouring, it just rolls out of the glass even from a foot away. Sweet malts, chewy vinous ripe fruits, tobacco leaf, and bready yeast. Some banana as it warms.

Taste is immense of dark dried fruits, raisins and ripe plums, clove, spicy and peppery alcohol warmth. Some dry yeast on the finish, and did I mention some alcohol as well. The hops give a little bitter kick at the end.

Mouthfeel is typical of something on this level, carbonation is high, body is moderate, and it all comes together in a gourmet-style and beautifully put together beer. Yummy stuff, could probably drink all day, and then some.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
99 out of 100 based on 7,848 ratings.