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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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8,120 Ratings

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Ratings: 8,120
Reviews: 2,591
rAvg: 4.47
pDev: 9.4%
Wants: 539
Gots: 1,567 | FT: 45
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: 8,120 | Reviews: 2,591 | Display Reviews Only:
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
4.65/5  rDev +4%
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
4.65/5  rDev +4%
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
4.7/5  rDev +5.1%
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
3.92/5  rDev -12.3%
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
4.55/5  rDev +1.8%
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
4.82/5  rDev +7.8%
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
4.75/5  rDev +6.3%
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
3.95/5  rDev -11.6%
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
4.1/5  rDev -8.3%
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
4.72/5  rDev +5.6%
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
4.37/5  rDev -2.2%
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
4.42/5  rDev -1.1%
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
4.3/5  rDev -3.8%
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
4.53/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

Photo of popery
4.89/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A great beer with a wonderful Belgian flavor.

OK. The appearance took a hit here for reasons unrelated to a normal tasting of this beer. The bottle exploded when I uncapped it, and I lost about half of it. The head looked oddly uneven after I frantically poured the bubbling brew into my tulip and dissipated undoubtedly more quickly than it normally would have, or so I assume.

It's spicy and bready and incredible. There's a lot of aroma, sweet caramel and spiced nuts. The flavors adds in raisins and smoke. There's a lot of carbonation sizzling the flavors throughout the mouth. I could drink this beer for a long period of time, like a fortnight or so.

Photo of BeerSox
4.28/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml corked/caged bottle into snifter.

Deep mahogany hue that glows when held up to the light. A thick light tan one finger head that lasts forever, leaving a thick pillowy cap and a thick wall along the glass. Lacing coats the entire glass when it's empty.

Very strong fruit aromas with a little bit of earthy yeast. Some phenols come through.

Creamy fruit flavors mix with some spicy phenols. Very smooth throughout. Full bodied with spritzy carbonation. The light fruit flavors linger for a while.

A pretty good quad, some say it's better than Westvleteren 12, the so called Holy Grail of beers. Complex flavors, including fruit with a little bit of spice, along with a smooth creaminess. Recommended.

Photo of itcomesnpints
4.75/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown with a ruby tinge. Huge tan foamy head. Lacing.

Smell right out of the fridge is about a 3. But after you wait about a half hour it gets tremendously better. Dark fruits, warm whiskey.

Taste becomes exceptional. Chianti, brown sugar, molasses, cognac, plum.

The alcohol makes a very smooth presence. Not much on the tongue, but lots in the stomach. Medium-full body gives it a wonderfully smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

One hell of a beer. Easily ranks in my top 5 Belgians.

Photo of marcpal
4.52/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a goblet.

Followed a couple IPAs so took some getting used to but a flavorful complex quad.

A: Fine appearance. Bulky, frothy creamy head on top of a deep brown body.

S: Sweet burnt fruit and spices. Belgian flavor right up front and the hops come out more in the aroma than appears in the up front taste.

T: Malts, roasted nuts, and rum soaked raisins. Ultra complex- spicy and chocolate sweet with a pinpoint balance. Bit of any oxymoron but it tastes strong without having the feel of the alcohol.

M: Thick and malty. Light carbonation adds to the alcohol burn some but it is warming in a very good way right down the throat. This is the perfect feel for a quad.

D: This is a legit quad. Has everything that a beer on this level should have and you would ask for. A sipper to sit back and enjoy, on par with the best of em.

Photo of notown
4.15/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer poured a nice deep brown with a big off-white head. Huge yeasty, bready aroma with a slight fruity.

Beer is smooth which supprised me a bit because if its high alchohol content. It started with a fruity note, which lingered and I detected subtle clove flavors giving way to a nice malty flavor. It finished with a slight alchohol warmth and sharpness in the finish.

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

Deep copper amber with a nice creamy head that falls very slowly to a ring. It leaves some lacing down the glass. Great, seductive smell. Grape and bubble gum, candy sugar. Nice bready yeast, lightly toasted scents. Good spice. Taste is also great. Again, some bubble gum and still grape, not as present as the smell. Nice spicy flavors with clove seeming apparent. Mouthfeel is very nice. Creamy, silky, almost perfect aside from a little much of a tingle on the tongue at times. Only a hint of heat at times. Very drinkable beer. In the top ranks for style, with ease.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
99 out of 100 based on 8,120 ratings.