St. Bernardus Abt 12 - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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St. Bernardus Abt 12St. Bernardus Abt 12

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7,876 Ratings

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Ratings: 7,876
Reviews: 2,546
rAvg: 4.47
pDev: 9.4%
Wants: 495
Gots: 1,342 | FT: 34
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: 7,876 | Reviews: 2,546 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.38/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: poured a deep reddish brown, with an off white head about an inch thick. head is not very dense and recedes slowly.

S: apples, spicy smelling, alcohol is well hidden, its hard to pick out a lot of things but all together it smells like a quad all around. very nice.

T: the apple taste follows from the smell, but the booze is a lot more pronounced, interesting sweet tastes, nice almost chocolate, but not quite, spicy yeast notes really start to pop out. alcohol is smooth but very present.

M: warm from the alcohol, this goes down like a fine bourbon, interesting. very little carbonation, but what is there is very balanced and doesn't detract from the feel.

D: one of these is enough for anyone, lots of booze, lots of beer. this is a balanced well crafted beer, but its not a session beer at all. this is a monster of a beer, and it is delicious, but, in small doses.

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

Poured this from a bottle into a snifter. It pours a deep brown and is opaque when held to the light. A off-white head quickly forms reaching almost 2 inches but dissipates reasonably quickly to a thin lace.
The scent that initially caught me was bananas mixed with spices and turns to a mixture of sweetness. It is quite pleasant. You can definitely tell there is alcohol in the aroma.
The first drink gives heavy alcohol notes which quickly turn sweet. It is hard to put my finger on the exact taste because it blends so smoothly. Medium/high carbonation makes the flavors blend quickly and go down nicely.
The carbonation is something that caught me a little when it comes to feel. The flavors blend nicely but the carbonation is a little more than I'm used to. However, it is also what makes this flavor blend so well and makes the drinkability high. I will definitely drink this beer again.

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

Appearance was medium to dark brown and opaque. When I went to pour, I was overwhelmed by the carbonation. The head rose to the top of the glass like a bullet out of a gun and I was lucky it didn't spill over the top of my glass. Then, the foam sort of sat there, immovable and simmering away at a painfully slow speed. It was frustrating but a very good sign of freshness and quality at the same time. Healthy amount of lacing remained along the side of the beer glass long after drinking as well.

I could actually smell the alcohol in this one. It reminded my nose of something earthy and underground; dried fruits. As the beer mellowed and warmed to room temperature with time, it seemed to me to start smelling sweeter and reminded me increasingly of a dark chocolate perfumed with malts. Also, the light smell of alcohol subsided after a while which I really liked.

The alcohol hit me hard at first. It's well masked and never overwhelms but it was pretty clear to me without any prior knowledge that this brew was going to pack a punch. Tremendous amounts of yeast and brown sugar permeate the taste of this one. I pick up on raisins. It's light on hop bitterness but the taste of the alcohol and the complexity of the aftertaste were enough to satisfy my IBU craving. The aftertaste is something of wonder. Two minutes after a sip I still tasted this brew. The strong alcoholic front kind of disappeared in those long moments and I was left to marvel at other fragments of flavoring that hide under the surface: caramel, pine, molasses, brown sugar.

The alcohol hit me right away but the taste when combined with the heavy mouthfeel gave the entire experience a warming quality. This would be a great beer to have to warm up to on a cold day.

Certainly not a session brew. At $3.50 a bottle where it was purchased, this is something of a rare treat. If sipped slowly and treated with respect much like some fine sparkling wine (or perhaps a cobra), the drinkability is rather high I think. Once I became familiar with this style and knew what to expect, the alcoholic taste didn't bother me. It's something I needed to sort of grow into.

Final Thoughts:
Certain beers I know aren't going to let me down even though I've never had them before. St. Bernardus has earned that reputation for me. I've tried several of their other offerings before and been blown away each time. There may be better Belgian Quads out there but I personally am yet to encounter one better than this. It's exciting that this is one of few Belgian brews that is available near me.

Although, as alcoholic and strong as it is, I'm not entirely certain if I could stomach it every day. Or every week for that matter. Sometimes, I'm simply in the mood for something more accessible and easier to relax to. The lingering aftertaste combined with the power and complexity of this brew make it something very special though. It lived up to its high rating and hype in my humble opinion.

Also, I drank mine in just under twenty minutes. Maybe I'm a lightweight but I felt tipsy and had a little bit of headache after. Note to self: remember to sip the deliciousness next time.

Photo of ColForbinBC
4.58/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Monk's, served in a tulip

Pours a murky, chestnut brown with an off-white, cap that plunges towards the rim of the glass. Really does look beautiful in a tulip.

Lots of aromas here, very broad. Raisins, figs, apples, cherries, brown sugar, honey, toffee and caramel. They all kind of blend together for a sweet, yet mysterious smell.

Caramel with raisins and figs make up the majority of the body. The cherries and apples rush in early and the toffee and brown sugar take over late.

Medium bodied and perfectly stealth carbonation. Very smooth and easy going.

A definite sipper at 10% but it drinks like a 7%. One of the best examples of the style.

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

On tap at the Trappist in Oakland.

A: Well, the Trappist's manner of beer presentation makes any beer look good. This was poured in a wide St. Bernardus glass, and looked great. Dark brown/amber with a fair amount of lacing.

S: Smells sweet, with lots of dark fruit and spice.

T: More of the same. Very well balanced, with lots of depth. Fantastic.

Mouthfeel: medium to thick, with good carbonation.

D: Notwithstanding the ABV, this can easily be consumed in large quantities. An awesome quad that will cause me to re-evaluate how good I think other quads are in the future.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
99 out of 100 based on 7,876 ratings.