1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

7,436 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,436
Reviews: 2,503
rAvg: 4.47
pDev: 9.4%
Wants: 430
Gots: 1,126 | 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: 7,436 | Reviews: 2,503 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of gmcfarre
4.55/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As I found myself in Iowa City this weekend, I decided to stop into John's Grocery and pick up some choice brews. This was the most anticipated, so much so that I even bought the St. Bernardus Chalice for proper consumption. Here we go...

A - Deep dark opaque brown w/ solid 1 inch head. Leaves thick sheets of lacing on glass that seem to build up on top of each other, then slowly work back down into the head. Beautiful.

S- Not quite what I expected. Kindof a citrusy, vinegar and alcohol smell going on here. I'm getting worried...

T- And my worries were assuaged by the richness and complexity of the taste. Full of dark malt with loads of sweetness. The alcohol adds a nice warming spiciness to the beer. Never have I had a beer where the smell and taste were so completely different.

M- Very creamy, nice crispness on the tongue from the carbonation.

D- Certainly a sipper and one to enjoy. Alcohol makes its presence felt after a bottle, but not overpoweringly so. But hey, that's part of the fun of drinking isn't it?

gmcfarre, Feb 08, 2006
Photo of kbnooshay
3.88/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The bottle kicks ass, the label is screenprinted on showing a happy monk dude. I Popped this one open causing a loud explosion. Lots of pressure I guess. This poured a gorgous hazy burgundian brown with a nice creamy tan head. The head looks like a root beer float, lots of craters and variation in bubble size. Kinda cool. Good lacing. The aroma is fruity w/light alcohol presence. The flavor is tangy and yeasty. This beer does kick your ass via alcohol but it lacks the flavor that I would think it would need to have to justify the stellar rankings it has gotten. The mouthfeel is pretty great though, very smooth. Moderately drinkable.

kbnooshay, Feb 08, 2006
Photo of Orrshow
4.58/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – Pours a very dark brown color with an almost maroon like haze to it. Head is light and there is lots of it despite an easy going pour. The head rose above the top of the glass and made a strange formation. Bubbles from the bottom of the glass were rising to the top quite actively. Once it calmed down there was a bubbly lacing left on the glass.

Smell – Smell is complex. It’s hard to pick out what I’m smelling. Definitely smells of spice, dark fruits, and Belgian yeast. The strong alcohol scent is there as well.

Taste – The alcohol makes itself known almost instantly, but not in a bad way. The fruity flavor of this beer is wonderful. Tastes of currants or something of the sort. Spice and black licorice also come about. I can’t think of anything but a perfect five for this category.

Mouthfeel – There is a lot of carbonation in this beer. Hits hard but suits the beer and its style. The body on this beer is great as well and it goes down oh so smooth.

Drinkability – Definitely a sipping beer. This one is powerful in every way but still makes you want more.

Orrshow, Feb 07, 2006
Photo of assurbanipaul
3.48/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a medium amber with a tall meringue-like head with a lot of staying power. Nose is sweet malt, candy sugar and mild yeast. The very definition of Belgian lace covers the sides of the chalice.

Taste is sweet, roasty malt. Brown sugar, bready, heavily yeasted, lending some characteristic fruity, estery flavors. Some indeterminate spices, raisins, some smoky musty element that is not altogether welcome. The alcohol flavors are masked well but still detectable. Improves as it warms but almost, almost one-dimensional, especially for a Belgian ale.

Mouthfeel is smooth, full-bodied, near syrupy. Borderline cloying, which definitely hurts its drinkability. Is this a good Belgian ale? Yes. Is this a Westvleteren 12 clone, as popularly believed? Hardly. Is this deserving of such a high ranking here? I don't think so.

assurbanipaul, Feb 06, 2006
Photo of TerryW
2.98/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I'm afraid I'n not as enamoured of this beer as most folks seem to be. Each of the St. Bernardus beers come across to me as underperformers in their various categories, just hinting at what they should be without really delivering.

What disappointed me most about this one was how thin bodied it was. It relied too much on the punch of 12% alcohol and cheated on other aspects of character.

Drinkable, but still just a half-hearted effort.

TerryW, Feb 05, 2006
Photo of bearrunner44
4.9/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Dark, muddy-brown color. Cloudy to the extreme. Big, fluffy, off-white head completely fills the glass.

Smell- Tangy; full of yeasty aromas and hints of prunes & sour apple. The malt character is full, rich and bready.

Taste & Mouthfeel- Supple, smooth mouthfeel. Full-bodied, but the carbonation lends a delicately light feel. Incredible complexity. Sticky, sweet malt is the first thing to hit the taste buds. A wave of soft, sour flavor takes over soon after. Mellow and sweet. The finish is somewhat estery, with tart prune and clove flavors finding their way into the mix. The warming presence of alcohol becomes pretty obvious in the finish, but by then the beer has already cast its spell. Simply delicious.

Verdict- This isn't a beer, it's an experience.

bearrunner44, Feb 05, 2006
Photo of brouwerijman
4.65/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

An excellent strong Belgian ale best tasted with Bernadine, wife of brewer and propietor of the B&B connected to the brewery in Watou, Belgium. She serves a speculous-fudge with the Abt 12 that matches perfectly.

The alcohol is slightly high for my personal taste, but is balanced by the fantastic malt character. Like many strong Belgian ales, this beer is will hopped to balance the heavy malt.

brouwerijman, Feb 04, 2006
Photo of nickss
4.72/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have had this brew several times before, and have always loved it, but just have never got around to reviewing it. Well here it is... lets see if this brew holds up under scrutiny.

Let me first say that this is one of the most active beers I've ever seen. I poured this brew VERY gently, and the head still takes up over half my glass. That being said, the color is a nice ruddy ruby brown... almost opaque, but just barely transparent. As I mentioned, huge head... big and rocky and cream-colored.... monstrous gobs of lace.... a thing of beauty. Large chunks of sediment are battered around by the rising carbonation before settling to the bottom.

There is a musty nuttiness to the aroma... very interesting. Along with that, dark fruit, some pear, perhaps some fig. Malty backbone... barely perceptibe alcohol.

Wow.. a truly unique beer. I think that was my first thought last time I tried this brew as well. Wildly complex... I could sit and think about this beer for hours.... but I wont. The alcohol comes out a bit more in the flavour, but not in an offensive way. A surpising amount of citrus, but then again, it seems as if every drop on the palate brings about a new, previously unnoticed taste. Nutty, malty, and yeasty. What a gorgeous flavour.

Crisp, but moderately thick at the same time. I expected it to be much more astringent and bitter on the tongue after I saw what happened when I was pouring it, but it is surprisingly subdued on the palate. Quite nice.

Perhaps THE most drinkable 10% brew I have ever tasted. While the alcohol is noticeable, it only serves to add to the experience. Unlike many imperial stouts, there is not a significant amount of thickness to the liquid to impair drinkability. All in all... a experience.... an absolutely amazing beer.... and here's the kicker... I'm not even particularly fond of Belgians.

nickss, Feb 03, 2006
Photo of phisig137
4.7/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer was poured from a corked 750 into a tulip, showing a hazy dark brown, amber color, letting very little light through. Although this bottle has sat still for 24 hours, there seems to be a good amount of sediment presnet in the pour, almost as if it is unfiltered. Head is moderate, but dissipates fairly quickly, leaving a good amount of lacing. The aroma at first is dominated by sweet flowers, honeysuckles, and brown sugar.

The palate of this beer displays some amazing complexity, mixing flavors of brown sugar, pineaple, maple, caramel all in a thick, syrupy beautiful beer. The flavors coat your mouth, and linger for a long time, allowing you to savor and discover all the complexities of the flavor profile.

Simply, one of my favorite beers. I've heard a rumor that St. Bernardus brews recipes that were sold to them from Westvleteren, and not having tasted them, I could believe it. This beer is flat out phenomenal. If I could change anything about it, I wouldn't.

phisig137, Feb 01, 2006
Photo of masikon
4.28/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a creamy brown with a nice lingering head, smell is malty and sweet with some slight funkiness and a decent amount of alcohol coming through. Taste is fairly full bodied for a belgian with malty richness and suggestions of plums. Mouthfeel is very nice, not too much carbonation and enough body to make this a great sipper. Alcohol comes through in a peppery finish which makes this a beer to respect, just one bottle and I can definitely feel this one. Overall a really world class brew, definitely one that is worthy of it's reputation.

masikon, Jan 30, 2006
Photo of CDBeerDisappear
4.33/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark murky brown with tons of creamy head that lasts until the last sip.

S - Rich and fruity, complex aroma of raisins, currants, plums and port.

T - Toasted sweet malt flavor intertwined with dark fruit richness and a luxuriant port essence.

M - Very thick and glutinous with subtle carbonation that balances the viscous feel of the ale on the tongue.

D - A very drinkable brew. I am exceedingly partial to Belgian ales and this one is impressive.

CDBeerDisappear, Jan 30, 2006
Photo of sabrills70
3.88/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml silkcreened corked bottle. Pours a mahogony brown with a 1 finger head, OK longevity and good lace. Deep caramel and sugar aromas with dried dark fruit slight hop spicy aromas. Deep caramel and brown sugar taste but with a touch of roasted malt and drited dark fruit flavors. Decent hop flavors and bitterness but fades quickly into a alcohol presence. Carbonation is a bit high which reduces the drinkability. A decent quad that Im sure will be much better with a year in the cellar - I think I will buy another and try.

sabrills70, Jan 29, 2006
Photo of bennetj17
4.13/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The head is a half inch thick, it's tan looking and almost appears gray also. It dissipates pretty fast though, the color is a deep plum and there is lots of floating sediment throughout. The smell is fruity with aromas of rasins and bananas, spice and alcohol. The taste is sweet initially, then becomes a little more tart after a few seconds, with more rasiny fruit notes. The malt flavor is complex and it tastes dry. The finish is not bitter but somewhat spicy and with moderate alcohol flavor. The mouthfeel is excellent, zesty bubbles, not overly thick, incredibly smooth. A solid Quadrupel, many will love it.

bennetj17, Jan 27, 2006
Photo of acrawf6
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First off, this is one of my absolute favorite beers. I should have reviewed a long time ago. Its soo freakin good!

Pours out a deep cloudy dark leathery brown. Some light gets through, which shows its cloudyness. Nice 1 1/2 inch head rises from the glass. Thick lacing.

Smells so very good. sweet spiced fruits come up first, i get apple, a little banana (with cloves), and slight raison. Its a little lighter than what i remembered, but great. A very nice sweet smell too i might add.

Taste. Sensational. again, sweet but has a little amount of tartness i dont remember, and almost doenst seem like it belongs. I get dried plums at first. As it sits on my tongue i get a white wine, or better yet a champagne taste and mouthfeel to it. Alcohol is slightly present, but is masked very well. I love the complexity of this beer. As it warms, more and more flavors come out. Roasted malts come through.

Mouthfeel is great. Good carbonation. Excellent balance. So full, and yet so slick on my tongue.

Overall, just one of the finest beers around. I could have this all day long (well, until i pass out) and not get tire of the complexities. However, i dont feel this bottle represents what i have had before (or maybe its just me tonight). Great stuff.

acrawf6, Jan 27, 2006
Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.38/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 11.2oz bottle into a St Berny chalice. Dark cocoa colored beer with a one finger sized head that leaves pretty quickly and leaves generous lacing. Not much light penetrates this beer. Little bits of yeasties floating on top.

Smell is quite nice. Yeast, very bubble gummy. Lots of dark caramel. Nice.

Up front is a sweet taste with some big malty flavors. Alcohol is quite subdued but present.

Nice big body on this one and great drinkability. I think I could have about 3 of these and feel alright. Nice beer.

SaCkErZ9, Jan 27, 2006
Photo of Franchise
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, this is my second time having this beer and it was just as I remembered so delicious so smooth. This quad pours a dark ruby brown and leaves a thin tan lace that sticks to the glass and stays with the brew. The aromas is fruity esters, alcohal soaked dark fruit, caramel, brown sugar, very complex and literally makes you salivate. The taste is so complex, it starts dry and tangy with a slight vinos presence but more actually to rum or brandy. It then sweetens on your palate with a carmal malt feeling that then again brings you to more of a dark plum feel on the palate. Fantastic brew I would pair this beer with a fresh fruit plate to compliment the fruit in the beer.

Franchise, Jan 25, 2006
Photo of aforbes10
3.4/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Drank this last night as one of our samplers from our inaugural South Bend Coalition of the Drinking meeting. Was really looking forward to it because of how highly it is rated on the site.

Good looking beer. pours like brandy almost but with some small head. looks sticky and reddish brown. Smells like alcohol at first, then kind of like corny malt liquorish. First couple of sips burn with the alcohol and you feel it diffuse into your tongue. then there was a fairly complex mishmash of flavors including prunes, malt, not-quite-ripe apples, and ethanol. I didnt actually think this lived up to its hype very well. too harsh and more than one would knock me on my ass. maybe it would be better cellared for a while but i'm not sure im going to give it that chance.

aforbes10, Jan 25, 2006
Photo of babyhobbes
4.15/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

So, I just had this earlier this evening on-tap and thought I'd have a bottle tonight to compare. Why? Because I can. My bottle was generously given to me by my bro, he is the man! I so wish he had been here for the on-tap experience. Ah, there will be other times.

Appearance is wonderful. This beer is dark amber,a kind of ruby brown with a hugh light cream colored head in the St. Bernardus chalice. Maybe the head is a bit larger than normal...as I was excited and pouring a bit fast. Head is sticking around...and leaving loads of lacing along the glass. Every sip reminds me of the missing beer.

Taste is not nearly as good as the on-tap version. I taste alcohol. Bitter alcohol. If I hadn't just had this in the bar I definitely wouldn't be as put off by it. Other than that, there is a malty sweetness, with cherry and raisins obvious.

Smell is the best part of the bottled version. The fruity qualities are apparent from a mile away. There is a slight sweet odor of bananas, cherries and raisins. (I really get a raisin feeling from this beer.) There is a malt odor and a very, very slight tinge of alcohol. The smell is vital for this beer and I think the tap version suffers somewhat in retrospect.

Mouthfeel is creamy and thick. There is a buring sensation down the throught and the experience is reminiscent of a decent port.

Drinkability is okay. The buring alcohol is wearing me down as drink this but the smell is so fantastic I just want more. It looks so good in the glass, I want another sip. Yet, each sip brings the burning edge of alcohol. It's so sad and yet so wonderful.

babyhobbes, Jan 25, 2006
Photo of cubedbee
4.72/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

11.2 oz bottle best by 8/8/08 poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. Pours a deep reddish brown with a mammoth off-white head, great retention, wonderful huge curtains of lace. Nose is full of yeast, a nice doughiness, citrus fruits, and a slight peppery spiciness. Taste is a wonderful fruity malt, orange, pear, banana, mango, red apple, raisins--with hints of chocolate, caramel, and almonds, a slight grassy hoppiness--this is a superbly flavorful and complex beer. Full bodied with a medium carbonation and a velvety smooth feel. This is an exceptional beer, one of the best I've ever tasted, rivalling anything produced by any of the Trappist. Well done St. Bernardus.

cubedbee, Jan 22, 2006
Photo of Prufrock
4.15/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle into a Rochefort glass.

murky medium brown. got about a half-inch of off-white head that falls quickly (glass isn't so conducive to anything higher). even so, leaves nice sheets of lacing.

10% abv definitely comes through in the aromas. lots of sweet brown sugar and bready malts as well. fruit aromas in the background, like over-ripe bananas (but in a good way).

alcohol is very well-hidden in the taste; don't really notice until i start feeling it about halfway through the bottle. sugary, doughy malts, fruity esters. buttery, rich mouthfeel with heavy carbonation. incredibly drinkable, great aroma, great taste...mouthfeel is the only weakness for me; a few too many bubbles. fantastic brew from the friendly monk.

Prufrock, Jan 22, 2006
Photo of tgbljb
4.33/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep brownish-red color with much floating sediment. Chunky, foamy, tannish head that left nice lacing on the side of the glass. Smell is enjoyable, being a nice mixture of fruitiness, yeast, and dough-like notes. Taste presents itself with a pleasant fruitiness, that caresses the tiongue in an extraordinary manner. Finish is very smooth for a 10% alcohol beer. Drinkabilty is scary, because this beer is so easy going down. A great beer!

tgbljb, Jan 21, 2006
Photo of beermanbrian
4.97/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours with a huge tan head that leaves tons of lacing as it drops to a foamy cap. Red, brown in color with plenty floaties in the bottle swirling around to give it some character.

Smell is right on. Molasses, dark fruits (cherries, plums, raisins) with just a hint of alcohol to let you know it's in there. Taste is solid think molasses sweetness but is balanced out by the alcohol. Also some yeastiness that gives it some bread like flavors. Just a touch of nuttiness and spicyness.

Supper smooth going down. For a 10% beer it is incredible drinkable. This is damn near perfect. Slight knock on appearance for head retention time. I'm still searching for that perfect beer but this is as close as I've come.

beermanbrian, Jan 21, 2006
Photo of Jredner
4.05/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aroma is quite fruity with notes of sfruit piced cake and spices. Dark brown, but very slightly reddish color. Head is two and half fingers, lasting and mostly creamy though there are some bubbles. Fore is again quite fruity with pear, apple, cherry and plum coming out. There is a very bready malt feel to it and some candy sugar sweetness. Almost tastes like a spiced apple liqour. It does lack in some areas. The flavor intensity isn’t quit as strong as I’d like. You can pick out quite a bit, but it doesn’t dazzle the palate as much as some others.

Jredner, Jan 19, 2006
Photo of ohitsbrad
4.72/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

13 January 2006, Best Before June 2010

Appears very dark brown in colour with a stable medium sized light brown head. Aroma of sweet, chocolatey malts; brown sugar and hints of spices and fruits (oranges). Rich chocolatey nutty malt flavour. Some brown sugar, dried fruit (raisins) and spices are suggested too. Some warming alcohol in the finish but no burn. Mouthfeel is full and coarse. Tasty, satisfying and a little easier to drink than Rochefort 10, although possibly not as complex. All in all, outstanding.

ohitsbrad, Jan 15, 2006
Photo of ppoitras
4.53/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle from pentathlete as part of the OneBox BIF. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed a 1 3/4" light tan head above the clear reddish burgundy brew. Pillowy head lasts and lasts, with heavy airy lacing. Aroma is sweet dark fruit and spices coupling with the malty sweetness. Taste is really exactly as the nose indicated, with a warming alcohol close. Mouthfeel is smooth, and drinkability is nice, although the sweetness and alcohol starts to limit sessions. very nice brew, for sure.

ppoitras, Jan 14, 2006
St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
99 out of 100 based on 7,436 ratings.