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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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7,381 Ratings

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Ratings: 7,381
Reviews: 2,499
rAvg: 4.47
pDev: 9.4%
Wants: 422
Gots: 1,104 | FT: 36
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website

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: 7,381 | Reviews: 2,499 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of echdk3
4.05/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 11,2oz bottle into a snifter

A_Extremely dark brown-black opaque color, thick tan head made completely of frothy bubbles

S_Burnt malts and fresh baked homemade biscuits, slight hoppy-dank aroma

T_Not balanced at all but in a great way. Spicy caramel and charcoal taste. Absolutely wonderful and rewarding spicy caramel aftertaste that appears after the beer has gone and is just as strong as it was when the beer was still on the pallet. The alcohol is there for sure

M_Somewhat heavy bodied and lightly carbonated. I expected it to be even heavier and chewier

D_Pleasing but not overwhelming flavors and aromas make this beer unoffensive and easy to enjoy, but the 10,5ABV might be a bit prohibitive. I can definitely feel the alcohol's kick but the beer is nonetheless overall easy to down

echdk3, Nov 30, 2008
Photo of jkendrick
3.83/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Hazy brown color with thick billowy off-white head. Carbonation bubbles streaming up from the bottom of the glass. There is great retention and lacing. The re-pour produced a HUGE head, but it settled more quickly.

Aroma: Malty, bready and fruity with hints of clove.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with nice, light carbonation.

Taste: Sweet and malty with clove flavor predominating. I also taste plum fruitiness and a bit of tobacco. The alcohol is there and warms the belly. It is very dry with just a touch of bitterness in the finish.

Overall impression: This is a very nice sipping beer. I had trouble identifying the aroma and taste that seemed most prevalent, but after reading some reviews that mention cloves, I broke out a bottle of cloves from our spice cabinet and sure enough, that's what it is. I enjoyed it, but I enjoy other quads more.

jkendrick, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of Halcyondays
4.05/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330 mL bottle,

A: Pours a dark red brown with a full off-white head, quite a gusher at first. Good head retention, limited lacing.

S: A lot of dark fruit and sugar.

T: Sweet malt and candi sugar notes start out. Fig juice, green seedless grapes, and a fair amount of ethanol are in there too. Light coffee note at the end.

M: Sweet start with a dry finish. Very smooth, low carbonation actually in the finished product for the gusher it is.

D: Very drinkable for it's strength; this is a good beer. Is it top 25 for me? No, but it's a brew I'd drink any time.

Halcyondays, Nov 27, 2008
Photo of seangroves
3.2/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a dark brown with a thick light-brown white head that is about 2 fingers. Appears cloudy with some particles floating around.

Smell is a mix of malt with a citrusy hoppiness to it with a tail end of yeast. Smells very balanced.

Slightly malty with a very strong taste coming from the yeast and hops of slight bitterness but mostly fruity, close to a banana-like taste.

Feel is medium body with a bit of a higher degree of carbonation yet very smooth for the most part.

Overall this is a beer that is quite smooth and has an interesting taste derived from the yeasts used. I'm unsure if I'd drink another.

seangroves, Nov 27, 2008
Photo of chrism86
4.47/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Upon opening this was a gusher! Had to leave for a good 10 mins before i was able to get a decent pour. No matter, i was more than happy to wait!

Eventually poured a murky brown with mahogany highlights and a substantial tan coloured head. Aromas of caramel, chocolate, coffee and dark fruits. There was also some hints of nuts and woodiness. The palate was excellently balanced and smooth, despite drinking at room temp. Chocolate and coffee notes were most prevalent. The mid palate brought some sweetness with honey, caramel and dark fruits. The finish displays some earthy hop spice and yeasty dryness. The rather high ABV never crossed my mind, impeccable balance!

chrism86, Nov 25, 2008
Photo of rjlemos
4.65/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sipped from a 330ml bottle, just a few moments ago. Dark brown with a huge rocky head.
Smell of sweet bread, dark fruits, yeast. No hops or toasted malts.
Complex flavor. Sweet, sour, toasted malts, bitter, fruity, alcoholic. Balanced. Flavor of raisins, plums and dates. Balanced but very warming alcohol. Strong taste of toasted malts.
Very nice beer, very smooth and easy-sipping quad, the best from St Bernardus, but not the 4th best beer of Belgium.

rjlemos, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of CHADMC3
4.1/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A frothy and intensely carbonated ivory head erupts from even a slow pour of this chestnut brown quad, giving way to a thick sticky lacing existing throughout the beer.

Aromas of dark fruit such as fig and cherries joins the yeast, sugar, and phenol alcohol follow up. The figs, cherries, and raisins become more pronounced as the temperature increases in the glass.

Again sweet dark fruits and spice dominate the flavor with a slight phenol aftertaste to accompany the roasted malt.

Great drinkability exists in the medium body with generous carbonation and dryness of the beer.

This just keeps getting better as it warms with more character coming through leaving you craving another sip.

CHADMC3, Nov 23, 2008
Photo of sprucetip
4.35/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 750ml bottle into Midnight Sun goblet.

Thick tan head with good retention and some lacing. Medium amber, but with ruby highlights when held to light. Also very clear but with some yeast chunks (no fault in my opinion) even from the first pour.

A rich, malty, sweet aroma with a touch of alcohol hits the nose first. A faint hint of something spicy appears, and a gentle but penetrating sweetness persists. Pleasant but not overwhelming.

Complex flavors are very nicely balanced. Sweetness on the tip of the tongue comes first, but it is gentle even as it lingers and blends with the yeasty and dark fruit flavors. A slightly bitter dryness at the finish points to some modest hopping and fermented candy sugar. Some mild spices are present too. The sweetness balances throughout.

Very well carbonated, modest warming. Feels slightly viscous at first, briefly, then finishes dry.

To me, this is a dangerously drinkable ale for such a big (10%) and precious ale. It is definitely full bodied, but goes down rather easily.

This sample reminded me of how I recalled it in my fonder memories, where it is one of the world's greats. Not all samples have left me feeling that way, and this satisfied. Not sure if it is me, or the beer, that causes this dissonance. It happens with other beers as well.

sprucetip, Nov 19, 2008
Photo of DefenCorps
4.28/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle decanted into my St. Bernardus chalice at near-cellar temp. I've had this beer a good number of times on tap but this is probably the first time out of the bottle, this beer's a year and a month old at this point.

A: Pours a crystal clear crimson with a solid 1" light tan head. Head retention is outstanding and is dense and dimpled. Incredible amounts of carbonation is visible when held against the light. Excellent.

S: Incredibly rich with a ton of dark fruit - figs, plums, over-ripe apricots - as well as a rich rum-like aroma. Dark brown sugar, floral honey notes (minus the sweetness). As I let this sit a bit, I almost get a hint of a nut-like aroma. Pouring the yeast and dregs adds another layer of complexity to this beer.Wonderful stuff

T: On the palate, this beer has a lot of rich malt complexity with a lot of dark fruit character. It opens up with a dark, unrefined sugar flavor with figs and plums as well as a sweet rum taste. Pretty darned light in body, this beer dries up on the finish, leaving a fruity sweetness. This beer is rather boozy, though, with the alcohol apparent towards the finish

M: Like every other St. B beer I've had, this beer is simply spectacular on the palate - flavorful yet light, wonderfully carbonated and an excellent finish. The alcohol heat does take a bit away from this beer, though

D: You really can't go wrong with this beer, it's quite wonderful and easy to drink

**Edit 27 Jan 2013**
This 11.2oz bottle has a best-by date of 18 Oct 2012. That puts this at just over 63 months of age.

The nose is fresh, bready and vibrant, lacking in the alcoholic brashness that fresh bottles have. Mildly spicy with clove and nutmeg, toffee, a little bit of brown sugar, cotton candy, a touch of yeast... so complex. The palate shows a little bit of oxidation (the good kind) with mildly jammy cherries, raisins and plums, along with toasted bread, bread yeast, a little bit of burnt sugar/toffee/ candi sugar. The mid-palate carries some of the spice character, with the nutmeg working quite nicely with the fruit. Drying on the finish with just a little sweetness, this beer is medium-light in body, has a marvelous creamy carbonation and is a joy on the palate. The blend of alcohol and toffee/ candi sugar on the finish brings to mind almonds. Masterfully integrated, this beer is ridiculously good.

DefenCorps, Nov 17, 2008
Photo of hwwty4
4.15/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured an 11.2oz bottle into my Chimay chalice. This beer pours a raisin brown with a 2 inch head that leaves just minimal lacing. The aroma is dark fruit with prunes, raisins, and brown sugar. The flavor follows suits with raisin and dates in the forefront with brown sugar, barley, and just a bit of cherry. Also there is just a hint of spiciness to it, probably from the Belgian yeast strains. The 10.5% alcohol really comes through, especially as it warms. The mouthfeel is full and leaves a nice boozy sensation on the palate. The colder this beer is, the less drinkable it is. As it warms, it really shows its true colors. It becomes a very drinkable quad, but it's still a bit on the boozy side for me.

hwwty4, Nov 15, 2008
Photo of reezun
4.83/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on a snifter from an 11.2 oz. brown bottle.

Appearance: Beautiful, rich, cloudy, dark brown with a slightly creamy light brown head. Very little lacing left behind on a snifter.

Smell: Sweet, fruity aroma from the esters with a smoky quality from the malts. Floral and citrus notes.

Taste: A balanced combination of ever slight bitterness and sweetness from fermentation, sort of like molasses. The fruit comes in in the end, along with a warmth from the high alcohol content.

Mouthfeel: So light and smooth on the palate. The carbonation feels just perfect.

Drinkability: This beer is unbelievable. I can't get enough.

reezun, Nov 15, 2008
Photo of danielharper
4.47/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark brown, almost black opaque body with a thin white head. Head leaves foam but little lacing along the outside of the glass.

Smell: Sweet Belgian yeast aroma, hints of dark fruits, maybe a touch of citrus. Very complex, very inviting.

Taste: Sweet up-front, mostly from the yeast. Very yeasty overall, very malty. It's a very mellow beer considering the alcohol -- while it has a very complex and distinct flavor, it's difficult to talk about because the flavors are so elusive and unidentifiable. It's a wonderful flavor nonetheless.

Mouthfeel: Thick, chewy, lots of yeast in the glass. Leaves a nice coating to the palate.

Drinkability: You can't even taste the alcohol here. I haven't done a parallel tasting of quads, but this might be my favorite of one of my favorite styles.

danielharper, Nov 13, 2008
Photo of joeysmokedporter
4.68/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a 750 ml bottle in a glass.

A: pours a medium brown color with light highlights, some transparency but mostly hazy; very light tan head with rocky consistency, tight beads, and good lacing.

S: starts with noble hop--floral-spicy aroma; quickly followed by malt and molasses. A bit of candy.

T: wow. grapes, caramel, toffee, bread, figs, and all perfectly balanced with a spicy hop flavor, and finally finishes with dry alcohol. Does not leave a cloying sweet flavor in the
aftertaste that some others in the style do. The complexity is interesting but the best part of the taste of this beer is the balance between the sweet flavors and the hops.

M: feels somewhat fluffy on the tongue; effervescent and well carbonated, which probably lightens the body. The alcohol finish at the end is somewhat puckering but helps to balance the sweet flavors, making them more enjoyable.

D: This has to rank w/ WV 12 for me. I am astounded by the balance of this beer, but moreover how the balance helps me to enjoy the distinctive flavors more, as none are overwhelming. I will definitely pick this up to have around in the future.

joeysmokedporter, Nov 11, 2008
Photo of dasenebler
4.7/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep mahogany brown. Lots of head-- light and creamy. Aroma is not too strong, but you definitely sense the alcohol along with some dark fruit and light roastiness.

Flavor is fantastic-- more bitter and less sweet than I expected. You definitely get the full fruity flavor that is characteristic of these Belgians, with grapes and raisins. Delicious roasted and malty aftertaste, like sweet coffee. Kind of buttery as well, with a thick toffee-like malt character. Very rich. Smooth, creamy and yet slightly syrupy mouthfeel. Fine and lively carbonation. Obvious alcohol and a pleasant warming effect.

This is one of the classic Quads and closesly related to Westy, at least historically speaking, as St. Bernardus used to brew the Westvleteren 12 before 1992.

dasenebler, Nov 10, 2008
Photo of sholland119
4.72/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Half Moon in Kennett Square.

A-Pours a murky deep brown with almost a purple tinge. A thin white head and some nice lacing.

S-Excellent and complex. Brown sugar, raisins, figs and green grapes.

T-Outstanding flavor to match the very appealing nose. Starts out with a nice caramel sweetness, then the brown sugar and sweet dark fruits kick in with a nice background of spice. Alcohol is pretty much completely hidden

M-Rich and creamy, nice carbonation.

D-Outstanding. Smooth, flavorful. My favorite quad.


sholland119, Nov 10, 2008
Photo of antilogic
3.9/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap @ Yardhouse in Irvine (super deal @ happy hour), and in bottle several times. Smooth, creamly almost with big assertive richness. The ABV hits hard but isn't overpowering in the taste.
Ebony in color, fruit and malts, carmel and brown sugar. Complex.

Good beer, no doubt, but I would have to disagree that it stands out as anything incredibly unique. It is the perfect example of its style and is worth drinking, but maybe not worth the hefty cost more than a few times.

antilogic, Nov 10, 2008
Photo of Bung
3.93/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Foggy brown pour, cream head. Malt, raisin, fig, molasses aromas. A little sticky, would prefer more however. Nice that it is not overly carbonated. Tastes solid malts and molasses, similar to the nose. I would consider this rather drinkable for a strong Belgian. Good, but definetely prefer the Rochefort 10. Though I don't prefer many Belgians at all because too many end up being a "white" style Belgian, even when called otherwise.

Bung, Nov 10, 2008
Photo of Yesac
3.95/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours cloudy/dirty brown. Medium off-white head.

S - Typical Belguin, nothing to special. Caramel, brown sugar.

T - Brown sugar, caramel.. there is also a saltyness to it and the carbonation plays into it. Alcohol warming as well. I'm not very impressed with this taste, I'd rather have some other offerings in this category.

M - Heavy carbonation, bubbles have a strong effect on the tongue.

D - Smooth, the 10.5% ABV is well hidden.

Yesac, Nov 10, 2008
Photo of aubuc1
4.6/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle dated 04/10/12 (assuming that means best by) poured in to my st bernardus goblet.

Pours a cloudy dark brown with ruby highlights and a one finger tan head.

Smell yeast, grape, apple and plum.

Taste is complex. It starts with a shot of carbonation that shocks the mouth a bit, then a smooth fruity malt kicks in that leaves an almost perfect taste.

Huge mouthfeel from the carbonation tapers as the sip goes on.

10% abv is hardly noticable. Truly a great beer of the world.

aubuc1, Nov 08, 2008
Photo of brandoneast
4.85/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Color is dark pomegranate and brown hues with unbleached linen color foam that dissipates rather swiftly but leaves a wonderful ring. Caramel malt, apple, plum, and sugary molasses dance in the aroma. Sipping the brew brings a lace of candi (rock) sugar to the lips while pear, caramel, dark fruit, cinnamon, and a slight bitterness to the palate.

Some prefer to have Abt 12 after a meal or with a cigar but I think with such a developed and complex flavor profile and carbonation this would also be perfect for those hearty and savory dishes we have come to love this holiday season.

brandoneast, Nov 07, 2008
Photo of hopdog
4.72/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Medium brown in color. Smells of chocolate, molasses and spices. Dark fruit tastes with spices. Alcohol content well hidden. Another long time favorite of mine (years ago I used to have a bottle of St. Sixtus as my night cap beer on the weekend).

Tasted best before 2005 on 4/2/2006. This aroma was awesome. Plums and raisins with breadiness. Tastes of the same. This was by far one of the best aged, if not best, beers in a long time. Increased #s.

hopdog, Nov 06, 2008
Photo of benclimbs
3.9/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is definitely a good beer, it is a solid belgian ale. Complex yeasty, malty nose with a big mouthfeel and a geared finish...yadayada. and if it was done in America i might rate it better. Honestly though, for the style, I feel like westvleteren and rochefort do it so much better that i can't say this beer is fantastic - bottom line in my opinion, is it's worth trying and drinking but don't run out and pay 8 bucks for a bottle of it at your local beer shop if you can get rochefort or even westmalle instead.

benclimbs, Nov 06, 2008
Photo of LordofTime25
3.98/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a murky dark brown with sedaments floating. Had a thin tan head that left a little lacing on glass.

Smells kinda bready with a sweet drak fruit aroma like prunes, dates, raisins.

Tastes very well balanced with a little sweetness from a the dark fruits. Very Complex with a little tangy taste.

Has a medium to thick body that has a clean dry finish with a little to much carbonation for me.

A good beer, but not something I would go out of my way to drink. Not worth the hype in my opinon.

LordofTime25, Nov 05, 2008
Photo of number1bum
4.08/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a mahogany color, quite cloudy and somewhat dense looking, with a fizzy finger and a half of beige head. Although the head is fizzy it's also pretty creamy and retention is exceptional, keeping a full lace and leaving a nice amount of webbing.

Smell is a nice bouquet of sweet malts, fruit and earthy yeast. There is some caramelized malt and candi sugar, lots of dark fruit like plums and figs and dates and raisins. Yeast is earthy and somewhat woodsy, with a bit of anise and clove in there, too.

Taste has all the aforementioned qualities that the smell had. Very earthy and woodsy, with some peat flavor to go with the sweet malts and candi sugar. Also some clove, and lots of dark fruit like the smell. The smell hid the alcohol well but it comes through a bit more in the taste. A bit astringent, too.

Mouthfeel doesn't seem as full as I expected. It's medium bodied, or maybe on the plus side of a medium body, but it's a bit too fizzy and not all that creamy.

This is a very good beer, but I'm a victim of expectations because I'm a touch disappointed. It's not the absolute homerun I expected, but still a very tasty brew that I would certainly have again.

number1bum, Nov 04, 2008
Photo of Pencible
4.75/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This poured a murky dark brown with chunky sediment and tons of tan head. It smelled like lots of earthy caramel malt and sweet yeast, with grassy hops and milk chocolate malt. It tasted like earthy caramel and milk chocolate malts, with sweet yeast, citrus hops and mulled spice. It was fairly thick with some carbonation (although surprisingly little considering how much head was on the pour), and a bittersweet aftertaste with alcohol warming. Overall this was absolutely fantastic. It had great, complex, subtle, and generally delicious flavor. It had an extremely smooth body and hid the alcohol fairly well, making this quite easy to drink and enjoy. I love this beer, and just want more, and can't wait to try some aged for a decade or so.

Pencible, Nov 02, 2008
St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
99 out of 100 based on 7,381 ratings.