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St. Bernardus Abt 12 - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
99
world-class

7,697 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,697
Reviews: 2,528
rAvg: 4.47
pDev: 9.4%
Wants: 467
Gots: 1,231 | FT: 36
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of St. Bernardus Abt 12 Alström Bros
Ratings: 7,697 | Reviews: 2,528 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of LittleCreature
4.45/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance - 4.5
Pours a loose two fingers of beige head over an opaque dark brown body. Good head retention and lacing.

Smell - 4.5
Cocoa, subtle raisins and cherries, cloves and a little pepper at the end.

Taste - 4.5
Rich, malty, spicy, boozy and really, really good. Tastes of cocoa, pepper, liquor soaked pudding with raisins, cloves, faint pear and woodiness in the boozy finish.

Mouthfeel - 5.0
A truly lush mouthfeel, fine and lively carbonation, goes down far too easily for one so strong, alcohol is warming.

Drinkability - 4.0
More than two would be an excess, the only thing that detracts from drinkability is the alcohol, which is more evident than in some strong Belgian ales.

OVERALL - 4.5
This is a strong, boozy beer, so don't make the mistake I did and pour it too cold. The closer it got to room temperature, the better it tasted, finishing with a flavour that is closer to Westvleteren 12 than anything else I have tried (although better balanced, as it is considerably less sweet than the Westy). A great beer.

LittleCreature, Mar 17, 2009
Photo of droomyster
4.88/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a hazy dark ruby red with a big, billowing tan head. Smells like rootbeer (I'm not kidding), with those dark fruits like figs and plums and a powerful sweetness riding on the ethers. If I could give its taste a "10" I would. It's one layer of dark fruitiness upon another, each one revealing something different as its rich body slowly expands into a fine bubbly mass that fills the mouth. If there is any better beer out there (like a Westy 12), it cannot possibly be better by much and probably is not a better value. For my money, this is the crème de la crème.

droomyster, Mar 16, 2009
Photo of tai4ji2x
4.22/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

gave this another try at cellar temp from the start. another undated 750ml bottle poured into tulip.

additional spice and light phenols detected in the aroma. vanilla and even cocoa hints.

dried fruit flavor this time has more dates. maybe licorice. grassy, off-dry finish.

i think i can bump up smell and drinkability scores 4.0 -> 4.5

feel is still a bit thinner than i'd like, so no change. taste is good, but still just not as robust and satisfying as i hope for in a quad.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>
OLD REVIEW 02-18-2008

750ml corked bottle poured into duvel tulip

nearly opaque reddish cola, with lots of soapy off-white head that shrinks from 4 fingers to a constant 3mm layer, decent lacing. can create curtains of micro bubbles along the edge every time you tilt the glass.

spicy aroma, dried fruit, caramel or molasses. a few whiffs of alcohol. in some instances, i detect a nutty character.

flavor of dried fruit is sort of like raisins, then hint of cinnamon, caramel, and gentle hop bitterness. some herbal notes from hops as well. aftertaste seems to have trace of sourness.

slightly thin but also slightly syrupy. can become fluffy when rolled on tongue. faint astringency.

decent, but don't know if i'd drink again given the price.

tai4ji2x, Mar 15, 2009
Photo of mnj21655
4.45/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 Fl oz. bottle. Best by 12 07 11 poured into a Duvel tulip

Pours a dark reddish brown with a huge 2+ fingers of dense moussy light tan head that recedes very slowly and leaves copious amounts of lacing. Aroma is quite good, lots of malt and some dark fruity esters. The malt presence has lots of Munich and is bready with some slight caramel. Moderate dark fruity esters include some raisins and figs. Alcohol aroma are low in intensity and quite soft. Flavor is quite similar to the aroma. Overall this beer is quite malty but still moderately dry. The alcohol provides a balance to the strong malt profile. Fruity esters are more prominent here than in the aroma and lean a bit more towards figs and maybe some dried cherries. Mouthfeel is good, medium bodied, moderately high carbonation and some smooth alcohol warmth. Drinkability is pretty darn good, the high ABV is well masked, the flavors are complex and meld together quite well, and the beer is properly attenuated. This beer is deserving of its lofty reputation and is quite enjoyable.

mnj21655, Mar 15, 2009
Photo of mugglesandhops
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My wife got me a 750ml bottle and a 4 pack of this deliciousness for Valentines day this year. The 750 to drink now and the 4 pack to save.

A- Pored a murky redish brown color, nice head that faded and left a bubbly layer over the beer.

S- As soon as I popped this thing the whole room filled up with the smell of this beer. Cherries, prunes, fig. After pouring it the smells became more prominent.

T- Cherries, ripe fruit, grape skin, slight alcohol burn in the end, very sweet.

M- Medium to full bodied, chewy, very active feeling on the palette.

D- I am going to age a few bottles of this to see how it mellows out but its still great fresh.

mugglesandhops, Mar 13, 2009
Photo of bwd110
4.63/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Stubby 11.2oz bottle poured into over-sized tulip.

A - Reddish, deep mahogany brown, lush tan head - easily 2" thick. Head retention is great, full lacing throughout.

S - Wonderful. banana, green apple, plum and assorted other dark fruit esters. I get so overwhelmed by olfactory hues... Some malty sweet smells and some wood esters as well

T - Fruit notes in the smell hit you up front with a huge dose of malt sweetness. Definitely some woody caramel at the end with a nice alchohol zap at the end. Lets you know this brew means business at 10.5%. The beer is amazingly complex and so beautifully balanced.

M - Big creamy body with great carbonation

D - I would never get tired pulling this one out. Definitely a sipper, but with the abv that is a good thing.

What else is there to say that so many others haven't? Outstanding example of the style, in fact, in my top 5 all time brews. Magnificent.

bwd110, Mar 13, 2009
Photo of Arbitrator
4.83/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Chilled bottle into a glass, courtesy of Uwftke26.

A: Pours a murky mahogany with reddish / gold tint when held to the light. Slow and generous carbonation up the sides of the glass. Unfortunately, this was a gusher when opened, so it poured with several inches of fluffy cream-colored head that left sticky lacing down the glass as it receded. The final appearance is half an inch of thick foam patches filming on top of the drink, and substantial lacing down the glass.

S: Caramel malt, brown sugar, molasses. Fruity and slightly sour Belgian yeast produces hints of candied apples, raisins, plums, and apricot. Spices include clove and cinnamon. Quite a rich nose. No alcohol detected, and at 10% that's a hell of an accomplishment.

T: Follows the nose, but mixes up the order. The initial taste is a spicy groundwork of clove and cinnamon. A sweet backbone of caramel malt, brown sugar, and molasses follows. Then a complex sweet and sour fruit mixture of apple, plum, apricot, and raisin enters the picture, with a slight bready malt touch. As the beer warms, I detect hints of vanilla and cream. Superbly complex. I've had very few beers that match this.

M: Full-bodied and just higher than medium carbonation, which works against the style. A small warming effect from the alcohol, but nothing too offensive. I've been told that this beer benefits from being laid down for a few years, and after trying it, that's my initial instinct, too. It's good young and it has the potential to age well.

D: Very high. I don't know if I'd get a bomber of this, because it would put me on my ass. But I'd love to have a few more singles, and I'll search around for them. This is undoubtedly one of the most complex and delicious brews I've ever had, and I will sing its praises. Outstanding.

Arbitrator, Mar 11, 2009
Photo of KBoudreau66
4.38/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark mahogany color with two fingers of caramel colored head that will dissipate to a thin head that lasts throughout. I noticed a lot of yeast sediment in this pour. It will leave some off white lacing down the entire glass.

It has so many smells to it that I'm sure I won't be able to point out all of them but here goes. Smells of sweet caramel malts, brown sugar, molasses, fruity raisins and alcohol.

This brew is full bodied and silky smooth. It has strong sweet malt flavors, brown sugar, raisins and will wash down a little bit dry due to the high ABV.

This is a great beer to sip on, very creamy and pleasant. My only complaint is that the ABV in this particular quadrupel is lower than rochefort 10, but the alcohol flavor is still more prevalent and not as well hidden. Still an excellent brew.

KBoudreau66, Mar 11, 2009
Photo of BigFrank71
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from draft in the proper ST Bernardus glass. A rich tan foam great pour perfect head. The smell was fantastic a sweet carmel smell nice dark color like a belgian dubble. The taste was very nice nice carbonation taste hazel nuts carmel hints of spices great mouth feel all around smooth after taste. A very good beer to enjoy. I have since had many of these but no more then 3 at a sitting with the ABV at 10.5% it can bite you. but highly recommend this wonderful beer.

BigFrank71, Mar 06, 2009
Photo of SShelly
4.63/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at barbarella in silverlake.

Strong malt and dark fruit in the nose.

Malty and intense with dark fruit, a hint of bubblegum, lots of warm alcohol, but not overwhelming. I drink this bottled fairly regulary and am very happy to see it on tap.

An amazing standby that I think gets overlooked a little do to mass production. at $4 a 16 oz. pour during happy hour I will be back for another glass.

SShelly, Mar 06, 2009
Photo of indiapaleale
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The ol' SB 12. How I do love thee...

Had this on tap tonight at the Dirty Truth, its sort of a night cap after a good meal type of beer for me.

Pours a very rich, mahogany/amber color with a very thick and pretty white head. Man, the head just looks so tight and creamy its almost unreal.

Smell is lots of dark fresh and baked fruit. Its very sweet smelling, like candied apples, caramel, sugar cane, brown sugar and maybe some sweet cherries as well. Very intense.

Taste is equally as fruity, like a mouthful of sweet, alcoholic stewed fruit. Wow, so intense and flavorful. I'd like to say I sipped the 12 oz of this chalice worthy beer but it was tough not to take sizeable gulps. Very delicious stuff.

This is a flawless quad in my opinion. All the good stuff is there and its very drinkable for 10.5%.

indiapaleale, Mar 06, 2009
Photo of BarrelO
3.98/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle poured into a goblet. I have to say, I have some terrible luck with bottles of this beer. I feel like I get a gusher 75% of the time. So I pop the cap and...crap, there it goes. I barely manage to keep it from gushing all over the counter.

A: Given the above, it should come as no surprise that there's a gigantic head. It fades after a while, but traces remain to the end. Body is dark brown with barely any light getting through. Good amount of lacing.

S: Mainly dark fruits. Also a big-time blast of spicy Belgian yeast.

T: All about sweet dark fruits. Yeast is more subdued than the nose would indicate. Some alcohol burn as well.

M: Nice and creamy with good carbonation.

D: If you like dark fruits, this is absolutely the beer for you. Truth be told, though, the sweetness does become a bit cloying after a while. Not even close to a session beer, but a pretty damn good nightcap.

BarrelO, Mar 06, 2009
Photo of thirdeye11
4.83/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Poured from a 750ml corked and caged bottle into a Duvel tulip glass.

A: This beer pours a beautiful dark brown color with yeasty sediment all throughout the beer. Pours a 2+ finger head which recedes slowly; retains nice lacing throughout the entire drinking session.

S: This beer has a complex smell profile. Dark fruits abound in the nose, brown sugar in the back of the nose, very sweet smells here. Swirling the glass intensifies the awesome smell and revives a good bit of head at any time while I drink this. No alcohol detectable in the smell at all.

T: This beer is astoundingly good. Probably the best beer I have ever had. I have gone back to St. Bernardus Abt 12 many times, and am never disappointed. Taste reminds me of what a really good soda should be. Lots of nice dark fruit flavors, very hidden alcohol profile. I would never have known this is 10%+ unless I paid attention. Not too sweet, malty, hoppy or anything. This beer is perfectly balanced with no one component overpowering the other. The yeast is also amazing as I get bready notes occasionally. The complexity still surprises me every time I drink it because with each drink there is a different taste. The flavors only get better as this beer warms to its ideal temperature in the 55+ degree range. Make sure you hold your hand on as much of the glass as possible to get this to the right temperature.

M: The carbonation, viscosity, and overall mouthfeel of this beer is amazing. The only way I could think to improve it would be to maybe make it only slightly creamier, but without changing the flavor profile (something I am completely against) I'm not sure how it would be accomplished. Still nothing is perfect.

D: Due to the intense flavors it is definitely a sipper, but one that I can enjoy several glasses of in one evening and never ever get tired of it. I'm not sure exactly what drinkability means, but I assume it means you can drink a lot of them. I can, but I am also limited not only by the intense flavors, but the alcohol content. Regardless I can sip this beer all night.

Overall, St. Bernardus Abt 12 is one of the beers that got me into the position I am today with enjoying new and unique beers. The guy who first told me to buy a single 11oz of it in California (Sean from the Pizza Port Bottle Shop) probably has no clue the maelstrom he unleashed upon me when he recommended this beer, but this is the one that started it all for me. Despite all of that, it is still hands down my favorite beer in the world. I highly recommend this to anyone who has not tried it.

thirdeye11, Mar 05, 2009
Photo of paytoplay
3.83/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very complex brew, could see this aging for years and years. Sweetness for me is always too much. Though herb complexity, anis, winter warmer spice is lingering. Super long finish I figure is from the sweetness. Yes very complex. With years if the sugars come down I could see this being a perfect beer.

paytoplay, Mar 04, 2009
Photo of Naugled
3.1/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle served in chalice

A: murky brown, thick brown head that quickly dissipated to a thin white head.

S: Musty up front aroma, malt and dried fruit secondary

T: Old musty flavor, dried fruit, prunes, raisons, sweet malty flavors, some backgound hop flavor, but not well balanced, hotness is very apparent as it warms, almost too much.

M: rich and creamy

D: delicious but not drinkable past one.

Naugled, Mar 04, 2009
Photo of everetends
4.3/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle I bought quite a while back in a brewery mix pack, but somehow I forgot about the ABT 12. Well, tonight is the night. Served up in my St. Bernardus goblet.

A: Pours a really rich and deep dark mahogony brown. This is more dark brown than it has red hues, but the red is there barely. THe head is really beautiful. A really rich and frothy light tan head with just a slight pink hue to it, rests easily on top at almost a full finger. I have been nursing this for a while and then head just has great retention. The lace is on the glass and has a good amount of stick to it, but the foam is just too heavy. It slowly slides back down into the glass, furthering the lasting head. Just a great looking beer.

S: Smell is real nice with some boozy wood at first. There is a really nice malty presece that comes out almost at the same place the yeast does. Then comes some nice plum and raisin scents. There is also an earthiness that comes out with the fruits as well. Very nice.

T: Taste is just damned good. That malty goodness is just barely sweet while mingling with the belgian yeast. The boozy wood is here in the flavor as well but it is not as bad as the nse lets on. Lot of fruit going on here. Plum, raisin, dark grape, apple skins. There is also a slight flavor of some nuts roasted in brown sugar. So good.

M: Light side of full in body, but this beer has some weight to it. Has a really nice silky smoothness to it, creamy. ABV comes out a bit with a slight heat on the palate, throat and stomach but it works very nicely with the flavors going on here. After taste is mostly of some wood with some boozy apple and plum. Carbonation is damn near perfect for this brew.

D: There is no doubt that this beer is amazing and lives up to its place on the top 100 brews. It does have a heaviness to it and it does sit a bit heavy in the stomach though. I wouldn't go as far as saying I would stop here, but I would definitely stop at a 750 of this. The flavor, look, aroma and feel are all on point, but you still have to remember this is a big beer. With all that said, damned good and will drink again anytime I have the chance.

everetends, Mar 01, 2009
Photo of jaxon53
4.83/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's been quite a while since I've had one of these, so I figured it was time to revisit. What a great beer it is. Served at cellar temperature, in a Westy chalice, from a stubby 11.2 ounce brown bottle.

Appearance: Abt 12 pours out a deep mohagony brown color I guess you would say, but looks a fiery burnt orange when held to a light. A rather easy pour yielded a massive, thick off-white head that was about three fingers high. Maybe the most perfect head I've seen on a beer. Head settled very slowly into a thick, creamy mass of foam that was about three quarters of an inch thick. Each sip left a thick ring of lace behind on the glass. What a beautiful beer.

Smell: A great nose as well. A huge, thick, malty aroma that smelled quite sweet. Hints of raisin and plum stand out. Touches of wood and peppery spice are also noted. A slight Belgian yeast shows itself as well. Very fruity and earthy. Just a tiny bit of booze in the nose.

Taste: Definitely a bit of a fruity flavor out front. Raisins with a bit of rum com to mind. A slight plum flavor pairs up nicely with the raisin. Noticing a caramel flavor deep in the background with a touch of wood. Finishes with a smooth booziness, and a little spice. Quite complex in my opinion.

Mouthfeel: Beautiful, full bodied mouthfeel on this brew. Slightly thick and perfectly carbonated.

Drinkability:This beer is, in my opinion, is a sipper. It is quite drinkable overall, but the alcohol in will get you.

jaxon53, Feb 28, 2009
Photo of n0315
4.78/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a very nice brown with a cream-like colored head, with wonderful staying power. Large smell of malts, and a few other things I can't put my finger on. First taste on this was so good, I started wondering why I have not been drinking more quad. Just simply amazing. Soft on the mouth feel, and goes down nice and smooth. A touch of sweetness at the end makes this brew just that much better. Outstanding brew. Simply outstanding.

n0315, Feb 27, 2009
Photo of Foxtrot
4.63/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I thought I would get this beer to break in my new chalice

Poured a hazy cloudy brown with ample lacing, good head retention, and an ivory color head.

Aromas range from yeast to ripened fruit and caramel malt and brown sugar sweetness.

Taste of this beer made me think one word "polished". It is extremely well made with flavors of clove, and brown sugar with grains and dark fruits followed by a creamy smooth finish.

Good medium body mouthfeel with exquisite carbonation feels great on the tongue.

I would have ranked the drinkability higher, if it didn't hide its alcohol so well.

Foxtrot, Feb 27, 2009
Photo of cvaypai
4.4/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into chimay goblet.

Appearance - Light coffee colored brown, thick cannot see through. Little bit of head that laces and stays.

Smell - All I can really smell is the alcohol, maybe a bit of oak, not sure.

Taste - Exceptional for its abv. Hides the alcohol soo well. Really good quad, tastes of pine, caramel and raisin. Really smooth.

Mouthfeel - Very good, not too carbonated, very smooth on the tongue.

Drinkability - Very good, can't believe I was able to pick it up for only 1.99 too. What a steal, could drink probably till I was drunk haha.

All and all I would say I like this better than Rochefort 10, I can't say if its better than the Westy 12 since I haven't had but I am sure it is probably right up there. What a steal at 1.99. Will buy again.

cvaypai, Feb 27, 2009
Photo of basscram
4.43/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer is my #1. How come I never reviewed it before now? Maybe I was seduced!

This beer poured from a caged and corked 25oz bottle is a dark golden brown, like ice cold tea from a pitcher. sparkly white bubbles dance as the goblet glass is filled that I drink from. Head is a wet froth, not creamy. goes away slowly but not so slow as to keep you from drinking it.

The head is about an inch thick or less. Smells like caramel malt to me. Its just the right sweetness too. A dark kinda sweet but an aroma of a tiny bit of bitter. Thats how it smells to me. There is another smell I cannot describe, but it is the only beer I know of with this smell.

The head of the beer once again, has a slight sweet irony light taste to it. First cool sip is has the sweet prunish alcohol hit to it. As it dashes over the tongue, it absorbs all the alcohol and the taste comes through. As my tongue becomes used to the higher alcohol content, and well, as before, the tastes come. A few more sips and I taste some rum cake taste, if that explains it. not quite a carrot cake taste.

If I let the beer sit under my tongue, it froths up... cause it wants to be swallowed I guess! It does that though.
Lacing is exceptionally thick this time. When it warms, is when you can really enjoy it. Kinda tastes like a tad bit of brown sugar and angel cake sometimes. The alcohol becomes more grain tasting. but is not intense as when it was cold. Also I may add, there is a caramelish taste that I taste slightly.

Well, that sums it up. I love this beer but better in the bottle than on tap. My tastes. Good to the last drop. Will always be my favorite and as my tastes grow, I will be able to taste more in this.

basscram, Feb 24, 2009
Photo of ThatWineGuy
4.03/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got the second pour from a well-aged bottle, it appeared chestnut brown to me with suspended yeast particles. Mocha head was one finger in my Chimay goblet with low carbonation and a stagnant centre of large bubbles just hanging out. The diminishing head could be reproduced with a swirl that would just cover the surface area, carbonation on the low side.

The aroma was distinct but hard to describe: patent leather, brussel sprouts, mild tobacco.
The taste was semi-sweet, semi-bitter, pine, sour dark fruit, caramel malt. The finish was long and distinctive, a bit tart with sour fruit and dry. The problem with evaluating a beer like this is that we're so seldom able to fidn them in these parts, it's hard to know what to compare it to. Having enjoyed the St. Bernardus 8 the other night, I have to confess that I enjoyed that much more than this. The mouthfeel here was, for lack of kinder words, somewhat lacquer-like and cleansing and that took away from a more impressive rating overall. Mind you, I'm well aware of the reputation of this brew and I'd love to try it again ... but if I said it knocked my socks off, I'd be stretching the truth quite a bit - good plus some, but not outstanding on this night, at least not for me.

ThatWineGuy, Feb 24, 2009
Photo of biegaman
4.7/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dry plum that turns a vivid, lustrous black cherry when held up to the light - you wouldn't expect such dazzle from a beer that otherwise appears so conservative. The beer really changes its place on the light spectrum when back lit, it jumps at least a full octave brighter. Its surface is mildewed with a firm but feathery hat of off-white ostrich fur. Curiously, it opts not to leave any markings down the side of the glass. Still, the beer looks luscious.

Give me a couple minutes to collect my thoughts about this aroma... and exhale. At its base it's bready and yeasty but it's coated with layers of dimension. Listed least to most prominent: herbal cooking spices, mostly clove but hints of black pepper, cinnamon and ginger as well; secondly, dried fruits (prunes, raisins) doused in brown sugar and caramelized under a scorching hot flame; lastly, the most rich and soothing note of pure bourbon vanilla.

The taste of whole grain bread, toasted and smeared with some sort of prune, raisin or currant jam is hearty and delicious. This taste resembles an Hors d'age Armagnac - it exhibits flavours of ripe, dried and preserved fruits (orange, prune, apricot, apple, pear), spices (vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon, mint, pepper), nuts (almond, hazelnut, brasil nut) as well as dried flowers, watery honey, tobacco, leather and oak. It is layered with flavour.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 drinks like it's been slowly matured in oak casks for years. It drinks velvety smooth but with a tremendously rich texture. It shows no indication of its strength. The flavours have mellowed and blended together so intricately that pin-pointing precisely what you're drinking can be difficult. It has a dimension not often achieved unless allowed to evolve in a barrel. Perhaps this is merely the work of a pure and ancient yeast strain?

In my mind, there is no doubt this is the Armagnac of Belgium: its colour is striking, its bouquet intensely aromatic, its flavours endless and personally subjective, its disposition elegant, smooth, and refined and its story is one rooted in the geography, culture, and history of where it's made. I'm no expert on French brandies or spirits, but I know my beer, and there are few that I'd put ahead of this for meal pairings or after-dinner digestifs.

biegaman, Feb 23, 2009
Photo of squaremile
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Memorable Qualities: I prefer this in the bottle than on tap, where it seems to lose some of the intensity of the nose. I feel like I can always count on St. B to deliver the dark fruit alcoholic yeasty stew that makes me wish I lived in the Belgian countryside with monks stirring open wooden vats. I want to swim in this. Best quad/abt I've ever had. Perfect.

squaremile, Feb 22, 2009
Photo of JeffV
4.6/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

You could build a sky scraper out of the foam on this beer.

Eh. Not amazing (compared to the rest of this beer). I get a little mollasses.

Good God this taste amazing. Westvlet...suck it.

Great mouthfeel.

Exceedingly drinkable...for the style. The 10% alcohol is there though.

JeffV, Feb 22, 2009
St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
99 out of 100 based on 7,697 ratings.