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St. Bernardus Abt 12 - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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St. Bernardus Abt 12St. Bernardus Abt 12

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8,209 Ratings

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Ratings: 8,209
Reviews: 2,612
rAvg: 4.47
pDev: 9.4%
Wants: 559
Gots: 1,635 | FT: 48
Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-14-2001

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (12) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 8,209 | Reviews: 2,612
Photo of scifan
4.38/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown color with a small head. Ruby notes when held up to the light.
smells nice. dark fruit, fig, plum, very sweet.
Taste nice. dark fruit, a little sweet, can hardly detect any alcohol at all. nice complex yeast flavors. a classic that's hard to beat. Good mouthfeel, nice carbonation, and kind of creamy.
This stuff goes down nice not a hint of the 10.5 percent alcohol.

Photo of crazeguy
4.32/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served out of bottle. Nice pop of cork.

A-Dark opaque brown. Thick head that took awhile to fade.

S- Dried fruits and slight hint of alcohol.

T- Dried fruits again, wood like flavor. For the high ABV the actual taste of alcohol is less than expected.

M- Thick and creamy. Leaves a slight coating momentarily on the tounge.

D- Despite the dark color and nature of this beer, it still leaves a light and up lifting flavor. Despite the high ABV it is a smooth sip from start to end. Overall its a great beer but I can only imagine it for special occasions or rarely. Not a session beer by any means. I imagine it'll be a nice treat occasionally.

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

22oz bomber poured into a flower pot.

Pours a dark muddy brown.

Lots of brown sugar, dark fruits, vanilla, burbon. Similar to a Rochefort 10, but I'm not sure which one I like better. I see them both as top notch. I think i'm getting less sweetness in this brew then I remember in the Rochefort 10, but that could just be the signs of a failing memory.

Overall a spot on beer, will be drinking again.

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

Pours a very dark brown, almost like unsweetened tea. Head was robust at first but died down to a surprisingly small crown with little of that characteristic beligan lacing.

Smell is of dark bready malts, some fruits. Not as champagne like as the Westy 12, more dark fruits involved.

Taste is similar to smell, a darker tasting Westy 12. Bread/Belgian yeast is present, alcohol is surprisingly not. I actually prefer this to what I felt was an overly boozy Westy.

Mouth is relatively thin and bubby, exactly like it needs to be.

I hate to keep comparing this to the Westvleteren 12 but it's impossible not to. With that said, I feel that Berny is the superior beer.

Photo of tr4nc3d
3.75/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to "mikereaser" for this one. Acquired in a trade.

Well I have been wanting to try this beer for months now but its not available in my area so Im glad I get to finally try this brew. Its been said its a lot similar to Westveleteren 12 so here goes.

Poured this into my St.Bernardus glass which I have been waiting to use. This pours a light brown color mixed with some hints of orange in there when held to the light. Two finger off-white head that leaves a top layer of bubbles throughout the beer. Some lacing clings to the glass as you keep gobbling down the beer.

Smell is very much like a westy 12. I get yeast, spices, dried fruits, and a faint alcohol smell.

You can definately taste the yeast upfront with a little bitterness which mellows out to a sweet malty taste and finishes again with a spicy bitterness. The booz in this one can be tasted. Once again this reminds me like a Westy 12 which I had a couple times.

Mouthfeel is creamy and high on carbonation. Spicy alcohol taste is there again.

Well overall this definately is a cheaper version of the Westy 12. Drinkability is not high for me and I could not see myself drinking more then one. I dont think I will seek this one out as it did not WOW me.

Photo of whitehouse50
4/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Andy's in a chalice. Pours with a minimal head and is dark color, not brown, but something close to it.

Aromas of sweet fruits and alcohol are present.

Taste is also sweet with a slight tartness to it. One can notice the sweetness probably from the sugar that is added. Alcohol is noticeable. The aftertaste lingers for while.

M & D is overall good. This a full bodied quad that is a sipper. I would only want to have one glass of this in a sitting as this is a big one.

I wonder what some age would do to this one.

Photo of hopstat
4.62/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Apperarance: pours with a nice tan rocky head. deep red/brown color.

Smell: My first impression was the grainy-ness that reminded me of a crisp lager. Dried fruit noted prevail: raisin, prune and a slight caramel that is deep enough to be toffee. banana too.Very nice.

Taste: Dried plum, a hint of green apple, and dark caramel/brown sugar. Aftertaste is caramel turning into toffee, All the while I get a slight hop bitterness that helps balance out all the malty sweetness. This drys out fairly quickly, but following this there is an alcohol warmth that lingers on. I do find the carbonation to be a bit biting, and find myself swirling the beer to try to get some fizz out.

Mouthfeel: full yet not overbearing. Right on for the style.

Overall: My first time trying this beer, and I am indeed impressed. Wonderful beer. It's got awesome malty and sugary tones and the only thing I wish for is a bit less carbonation.

Photo of fightingirishcmk
4.44/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a reddish brown color with a generous three finger head. The head retention was good, and there was considerable lacing left on the glass. The only downside was the amount of sediment in the glass/bottle. It was a bit too much and was impossible to decant.
S: Raisin, dates, banana, clove, and overall very malty and sweet smelling. An excellent aroma.
T: Provides a great balance of sweet, bitter, and a tiny bit of sourness. Smoky, spicy, with a very well hidden alcohol burn at the end.
M: A bit sticky, but very full bodied with a good amount of carbonation.
D: A real treat. I savored this 4 pack over a span of about 3 months. I didn't look forward to the day it would be gone, but I know I can always pick some up at the store. Excellent availability, excellent taste, and not too heavy body allow this beer to be consumed in almost any season. It is quite drinkable for a quad. I sometimes base the drinkability on whether or not I get cravings for it... I do for this beer.

Photo of taylorhamrick
3.79/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours out a hazy dark brown, with some ruby highlights. The head fluffs up then fades back, leaving very little lacing, but a thin layer of bubbles sits on top for quite a while. A little light and a little less frothy than I like, but still looks good. The smell reminds me a little bit of pipe tobacco, with very earthy, woody notes and some dark fruits, whiffs of alcohol and sugar, like rum and raisins. There's also a bit of dryness mixed in with a kind of bitter chocolate smell. A lot of complexity in the smell, but I'm not sure if it smells as rich as some quads. The taste hardly matches the smell as well as I'd hope. At first there a caramel taste, like a good, clean dubbel, mixed in with a heavy earthy flavor. Then the dryness kicks in. There's also a spiciness, peppery and almost like Indian spices, with warming, almost harsh alcohol. After getting into the drink, I notice a kind of candy sweetness in the finish. It isn't bad, kind of like the cleanest of quads, but it lacks the really enjoyable depth, and the huge spicy, earth (read: tobacco) notes don't bring it to where I expect. The mouthfeel is nice and chewy, but not entirely full. The carbonation is also a bit annoying, it stings the tongue and mouth with every sip. But it is still about what I'd expect. The unobtrusiveness of the beer helps the drinkability, though the alcohol can catch you quickly.

Photo of Nick3
4.82/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 ounce bottle reads a best before date of 26/03/13. Beer poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. A nice 3 finger head is formed which slowly dissipates into thin coat on the beer after a few minutes and a few sips. Beer is dark chocolate brown in color with ample yeast floaties (I did pour the entire bottle into the beer as I enjoy the yeast). Nose is very complex with a mix of dark fruits, chocolate, nutmeg and some spices . . . a very rich and tantalizing aroma; really can't imagine anything better. Taste, I wish I could explain why I rated this a 5.0 but I can't other than to say it's amazingly delicious and complex. It's strong and you can taste the alcohol but it's balanced out nicely by some sweet maltness and a little bitterness in finish. One of my favorite beers out there.

Photo of CMW
4.9/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured into a Bernardus chalice a deep mahogney with a huge off-white head. Retention of this thing is incredible!. Nice lacing down to the last drop.

S - A wonderful mixture of spices, yeast, sweet malt, and dried fruits.

T - This is one complex beer. Sweet malts upfront provide flavors of dried fruits. Apples, bananas, and pears. The heavy yeast reminds me of sweet cinnamon bread. Finishes smooth with little alcohol burn.

M - Very creamy and just perfect on the tongue.

D - If this was a blind taste test, I would have never guessed these are 10.5%. Easily I could have more than one.

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.

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.

Photo of droomyster
4.85/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

Photo of tai4ji2x
4.25/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

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.

Photo of mugglesandhops
4.52/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

Photo of bwd110
4.6/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

Photo of Arbitrator
4.82/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

Photo of KBoudreau66
4.35/5  rDev -2.7%
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.

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.

Photo of SShelly
4.58/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

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%.

Photo of BarrelO
3.96/5  rDev -11.4%
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.

Photo of thirdeye11
4.82/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

Photo of paytoplay
3.82/5  rDev -14.5%
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.

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St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
99 out of 100 based on 8,209 ratings.