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St. Bernardus Abt 12 - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

7,368 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,368
Reviews: 2,498
rAvg: 4.47
pDev: 9.4%
Wants: 420
Gots: 1,100 | FT: 36
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: 7,368 | Reviews: 2,498 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cerevisiaephilus
4.65/5  rDev +4%

Had this tonight at Monk's in Philly. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My favorite out of the five I tried and judging by the marks, my favorite beer of all those I've reviewed on this site. While a very strong tasting beer, one that I thought was still quite smooth. Some nice chocolate notes, spicy fruityness, like the dankest raisins you can imagine. The alcohol was quite obvious, but certainly did not dominate the profile. Something I will seek out from now on.

EDIT 12/19: Had this a couple times since this review and have to say that I'm not as impressed. I was a little drunk when I had it last, first time too at Monks...so maybe its too be expected I inflated the score. So I knocked the taste down to 4.5.

cerevisiaephilus, Dec 30, 2003
Photo of rkhaze
4.88/5  rDev +9.2%

This beer pours amber with red hues. Copiosly thick light beige head that got rocky as it dissapated, which took a while. Lots of fruit in the nose with some brown sugar and rum. Almost a kicked up juicy fruit/bubblegum smell. That obligatory Belgian yeast smell was there as well.
Huge bready malt flavors. Red (prunes, raisins) and other sticky sweet fruits. Balanced by the slightly tart yeast. Alcohol was hidden extremely well.
Rich, full, round velvety smooth mouthfeel that seemed lighter due to great balance and carbonation. Wicked drinkable for a 10% beer. Outstanding!

rkhaze, Dec 25, 2003
Photo of rdrummer
4.4/5  rDev -1.6%

I have been anticipating trying this one since my beer-loving friends rave about it. They were right. This is one of the good ones, pouring a cloudy amber to hazy brown brew with a lot of off-white head. The lacing is pronounced and long lived. The surprise was that it blew the cork out of the bottle when I removed the twist-wire. The first beer that I have seen do this. It is a peppy beer with lots of malt, hops, and grain in the aroma. There are hints of clove and malt in the taste, which is outstanding. This looks, tastes, feels like a true Abbey. It is creamy and rich in the mouth, and I could drink this for a long time. The high alcohol level isn't noticeable until the bottle is gone.

rdrummer, Dec 21, 2003
Photo of BeerResearcher
4.25/5  rDev -4.9%

My goodness, this is one big abbey!
It pours a dark chocolate brown with a full beige/tan head and some spotty and webby lace. The aroma has an over all leathery quality. It has a smell reminiscent of a horse stall (a clean one). Malt, hops, yeast and a faint alcohol fuminess round out the aroma department. There's a candy sweetness within the herbal malt body. Ripe banana, prunes, oranges and a nice clovey spiciness mingle and dance upon the taste buds. A little chocolate and brandied candy appears as it warms.
The extremely happy smiling monk on the slightly crookedly placed label should serve as sign of things to come.

BeerResearcher, Dec 20, 2003
Photo of Gavage
4.38/5  rDev -2%

Pours a hazy brown color with a thin head that lasted through half of the session. Lacing developed. Aroma was of malt, caramel, yeast, and fruit tones.

This was a full flavored ale, as malt, caramel, and fruit flavors were strong. Smooth creaminess on the tongue when you first sip it, then the carbonation level caused a crisp finish. Medium bodied and alcohol levels were well hidden, making this extremely drinkable. One of the top Belgian ales I have tried.

Gavage, Dec 15, 2003
Photo of GreenCard
4.47/5  rDev 0%

Appearance: dark brown, almost opaque, a medium-sized layer of khaki foam that slowly flattens out, some temporary lace

Aroma: deeply malty and caramelly, clove, pruney fruitiness, touch of roast and sherry, faint wisp of hops, alcohol, raisins

Flavor: rich Belgian maltiness, caramel, balanced sweetness, raisins, spearminty hop flavor, some sherry notes, peppery alcohol, sweetich finish w/ an unctuous caramel aftertaste, just a hint of bitterness

Mouthfeel: soft, medium-full body, prickly carbonation, lots of alcohol warmth but no burn

Overall Impression: This beer deserves all the raves it gets. One of those beers that can get you really excited about abbey/Trappist ales (THIS is what it's all about!). Haven't tried Westy 12 (the beer upon which this one is based) yet, but it's coming up soon.

My favorites are still Rochefort 8 and 10, though.

GreenCard, Dec 10, 2003
Photo of SixpointJMH
4.1/5  rDev -8.3%

i had been a bit turned off to this style after sampling a bottle of trappistes rochefort 10, but found the st. bernardus 12 to be a much more refreshing and enjoyable example of it and can't wait to try a few more. this one poured with a slightly frothy off-white head and had a cloudy ruby colour to it. the smell was quite good but not overly complex, with malt, hop, butter, and caramel being the most prominent that i can recall. the taste was equally good, with a tart caramel buttery feel to it along with a sour fruity (cherry) taste. this one has enhanced fruit flavouring as well as it warms. there's a nice little carbonation bite at the finish of an otherwise smooth drink. a solid brew.

SixpointJMH, Dec 06, 2003
Photo of byrd
4.03/5  rDev -9.8%

Bubbly fizzy light tan head that lasts a while. Dark reddish copper color. Spicy malt aroma with vinous and cherry notes mixed in. This is a very peppery dubbel with considerable carbonation that gives a bit of a bite on the tongue. Clove and other spices I can’t place are also present. Malt notes are apparent at the start, but sweetness is minimal. Finishes with citrusy hops notes that linger in the aftertaste with the pepper notes. Mouthfeel is medium and somewhat fluffy from the carbonation. Quite a dry finish that is fairly tart. Somewhat warming on the way down.

This one improves immensely as it warms. Spice notes become more subdued, malts become more pronounced, fruitiness picks up, and all the flavors begin to meld together wonderfully. The mouthfeel becomes increasingly smooth. Malt sweetness reveals notes of bread, honey, and dark sugar. Spiciness is still present, but does not seem as excessive as it does when cold.

I typically keep my beers in the fridge and let them sit out for 5-10 minutes before opening the bottle. Evidently, I was a little over eager and opened this one while it was still a bit too cold. I was quite surprised by the changes (for the better) in flavor as Abt 12 warmed.

byrd, Dec 01, 2003
Photo of Crosling
4.58/5  rDev +2.5%

A fine looking beer. Pours out a dark brown with a fine vuluptious tan head which at a closer glance seems to have some spices or something hidden in the head! Cool!

The nose was full of alcohol, raisins, plums, honey, dark cherries, other dark fruits, bananas and cloves. A very nice nose!

The flavor is so complex. Massive amounts of dark fruits, apples, sweetness, a little chocolate and as it warmed the alcohol started to come out.

Overall, an incredible beer that is one notch below the Rochefort 10 but I will still drink hundreds of bottles of this beer when I am in Belgium this summer!

Crosling, Nov 30, 2003
Photo of HardTarget
4.33/5  rDev -3.1%

Aroma: Powdery caramelized banana smell I associate with the style. I feel, rather than smell some alcohol, with a slight burn.
Appearance: Deep brown only showing ruby edges when backlit. There is a creamy sandy colored head on top of a steady stream of carbonation. I’ve been waiting for a few minutes for the head to die down, but it just looks like it’s settling in and compacting into an enduring fixture. Left a rocky lace.
Flavor: A mild and gentle blend of a world of flavors. Apples, spices, raisins, yeast, grapes, nuts, malt, slate, & pepper, and that’s just what I’m able to pick out. I think there is more in there. One thing I don’t taste is alcohol, which is a bit scary.
Mouthfeel: Silk. Has a light-medium body with a bit of an alcohol burn in the aftertaste.
Overall Impression: Thinking this would go very well with a roast, or a beef meal. Its flavor is pronounced, but not overwhelming. The spices are reminiscent of Unibroue’s blend. Drinkability is impaired only by the alcoholic kick that has clouded my wits after the first goblet. This is truly worthy of the top 50 spot it holds, a classic brew. One to go to school on.

HardTarget, Nov 29, 2003
Photo of putnam
5/5  rDev +11.9%

Tawny port, raisin wine, Indonesian spices, black berries, black plums, black figs, vanilla, hazelnuts, walnuts, pepper, pork fat, slate, creosote, oak, brown sugar, etc. etc.

The texture is viscous and glossy like crushed velvet. It could use some time to temper the elemental crush of flavors and aromas. Think what this beer could be!

Update: 24 hours later I ate the thumb-sized foamscicle that had formed at the top of the bottle. It was amazing! I am therefore upgrading the drinkability score from 4.5 to 5.0. No beer, in my experience, has produced such pleasure with so little weight for so long after it was opened. Bravo!

putnam, Nov 28, 2003
Photo of dmarch
4.03/5  rDev -9.8%

The poor mans westy. Pours a deep garnet color with a gorgeous white head. Very warming beer. The alcohol is apparent, but enjoyable. Mostly raisins in the taste, a little plum. Very fruity. Supposedly the same recipe as westy 12, but if I had a choice, I would go with the westy. But then again, I am a poor man.

dmarch, Nov 17, 2003
Photo of grynder33
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%

Poured a dark brownish color, an aroma that was very complex Abbey type malts and the smell of well kept but old monastery wine casks thick chewy mouthfeel and the taste ,so many things going on here, fig , cherry , chocolate, banana, all perfectly blended and the alcohol does sneak up on you. Plan on storing a couple to see if this wonderful gets even better.

grynder33, Nov 16, 2003
Photo of Darkale
4.88/5  rDev +9.2%

Dark brown body, pocked and cratered tan head. Aroma is yeasty and bready, quite sharp with faint sweetness.

Very chewy and thick in the mouth. Sweet -- like walking into a cave of sugar and yelling "Hello," it seems to reverberate in your mouth. All of this is balanced by hops burn, which combines with the sweetness to form a burning dessert. As is the case with the best beers in the world, this beer grabs you by the hand when it is cold and takes you on a journey, changing (improving!) as it warms.

A very fine Belgian -- top notch, and deserving of its reputation as one of the best beers in the world. This is one of my "oh my" beers... the beers that I can't help saying "oh, my" after I've taken a sip.

Darkale, Nov 12, 2003
Photo of Sixpack595
4.47/5  rDev 0%

Very dark red, almost black with a healthy tan head. Sweet with brown sugar, raisins, cherries, clove, and a bit of bready malt. Improves as it goes, and it starts very well. Clean and well balanced with a spicy hop and alcohol finish. Very nice, well made beer. Definitly will be getting a second look.

Sixpack595, Nov 12, 2003
Photo of moulefrite
5/5  rDev +11.9%

To date the best beer I've tasted. Pours a mammoth/iceburg of a head-perfect lace which covers at least 75% of the glass and takes a good five minutes to retreat. The color is that of dark cocoa with some ruby hues. Gobs of cocoa on the nose. Wonderful sweet raisin and prune aromas bathed in brown sugar and butter. Damn inticing! Sweet on the nose, yet with a snappy acidity to keep focus. A dream of a brew to taste!! Full bodied, rich and malty with waves of tangy bitter chocolate, cocoa powder, sauteed prune in brown butter, exotic spice-ineffable?-vanilla, cinnamon, mollases-hard to put down! Add the perfect balance and the fact that the alcohol is so well integrated and I think I've found a perfect brew. Can't ask for any more. Not a complaint-I could sip this into eternity.

moulefrite, Nov 11, 2003
Photo of faernt
4.68/5  rDev +4.7%

I started out pouring this into a chalice. It hissed at me. I carefully poured it but The head rose so quickly that I had to stop with some still left in the bottle. How civilized...the remaining amount had the yeast in it....which I swirled and drank. This "yeast hit" was not the slightest bitter but clovy and pruny....very tasty.
My nose must be wired wrong because I get very little aroma from this one but hey what a taste. Without smell the taste wouldn't be so unique. The head subsides but remains lumpy and I mean that in a good way.
The mouthfeel is silk....Just drink this one. I will get more. This is a celebratory beer. I understand now what it would be like to have walked all day to a monastery and have slaked my thirst on a safe liquid that came from God.

faernt, Nov 11, 2003
Photo of BeefyMee
4/5  rDev -10.5%

Paid 3.99 for an 11.2 oz bottle. 1,2,3 and 5 are notched on the bottom of the label. I'm not quite sure what that means.

Very dark with a light tan head. Smell is not too impressive and kind of fruity. This one is all about taste to me. There's a creaminess that is appealing, to say the least. The alcohol tingles on the tongue and warms your insides on the way down. Despite this, the beer does not have an overpowering alcohol taste. It is nicely balanced and one I'd like to have on hand more often if I could afford it.

BeefyMee, Nov 10, 2003
Photo of freed
4.72/5  rDev +5.6%

All my recycling paid off today. 80 bottles = 1 bottle of St. Bernardus. Seems like there's a discrepancy, but after the first sip, I'm happy with the trade.

Pours a deep jungle wood brown with red shoulders. Buoyant foam crown with tiny black specks intermixed with the brown mocha foam. More sediment on the bottom as well. Lacing up the side of the glass favors one side. Aroma is dank, warm, and fruity. It seems to have aroused the last fruit fly in our house's attention.

First sip, sweet kiss of malt and happy yeast. Free range, evidently. As it warms, more orchard flavors, sweet bready yeast, and here comes that damn fruit fly again. Filling combination of flavors and sensations make me completely forget that I was going to have dinner after this. Wonderful.

freed, Nov 09, 2003
Photo of 86MonteSS
4.72/5  rDev +5.6%

Hallelujah, I love trying beers like this for the first time, as they tend to change the way you think about beer. I could tell just by looking at it in the glass that I was in for a treat. It's brown and merky with a big tan head that damn near jumped out of the bottle. As smell and taste are so well intertwined, I will simply say that the malty, banana-like quality of this beer is the stuff of dreams. As for the drinkability... if I had no self-restraint, I'd finish the bottle in about 3 minutes.

Once again, let it be noted that a label featuring a smiling monk holding a beer designates a truly fantastic brew.

86MonteSS, Nov 06, 2003
Photo of SigEp
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%

Solid, solid, Belgian. Pours ruby to brown in tglass (chalice) forms a nice 3 finger head that sticks around to the bottom. Slightly sweet, though not overly-so for it's type. Yeasty but not overpowering in that regard. Velvety-smooth in the mouth with plum, slight tang of citrus peaking around the end. Truly a great beer; although not the best in it's style, it is competing with the creme-de-la-creme of the beer world, and it definately holds it's own!

SigEp, Nov 05, 2003
Photo of DagFishHead
4.8/5  rDev +7.4%

Appearance: Hazy, dark brown body, with suspended yeast. Gorgeous light-tan pillow of a head with apparently endless retention and the creamiest, richest lace I've ever seen.
Smell: MALT... excellent malt nose, alcohol overwhelms, but this was expected.
Taste: Big strong ale malt, very pleasing yeast support, with a semi-dry wine-like grape/citrus fruit character.
Mouthfeel: Rich, full, creamy. Alcohol warmth is subtle and not at all intrusive. Carbonation level is perfect. Wow this is big.... leaves your whole mouth tingling.
Drinkability: A delicious fire-side sipper! This ale certainly deserves all of the accolades heaped upon it.

DagFishHead, Nov 02, 2003
Photo of philipt
4.83/5  rDev +8.1%

So I finally took the recommendation of the beer shop retailer. I should have have listened months ago.

This was a really great beer. The aroma was very complex, with emphasis on fresh fruit, some spiciness, sweet malt, and hint of alcohol. The flavor is truly great and complex as well. There is definite maltiness, some fruit flavors, spices, and a mild nuttiness. There is the typical Belgian yeast presence, but that's why it's so good. The alcohol is pleasantly hidden.

One of my new favorites.

philipt, Nov 01, 2003
Photo of HappyHourHero
4.88/5  rDev +9.2%

NOOO!!! The head is shooting out of the bottle, all over the table. Well I've got half the bottle in my glass and half still in the bottle. It sure tastes good off the table, I bet it's even better in the glass. Siphoning the head off the top, I ended with a half pint of extra head. What are the little brown flecks in the cream colored head, they look like spices. This stuff leaves lace all over the glass, awesome.
The aroma is of over-ripe plums, a bit of alcohol, and a really deep red wine. The color is dark, ruby brown, only a small amount of light escapes this brew. Wow, this is incredibly smooth. The alcohol smell and the 10% abv had me expecting the worse, but there's nothing to be afraid of. The taste is of dark ripe fruits, balanced by a very light nuttiness and a bit of hops to even it all out. This stuff even makes your burps taste good. I could drink this Abt. 12 daily, time to take out an extra student loan!

HappyHourHero, Nov 01, 2003
Photo of marcobrau
4.1/5  rDev -8.3%

Poured into a beautiful, sort of bowl shaped, St. Bernadus glass. Half the beer in my glass was thick, white foam, but this led to a very smooth,almost thick and extremely creamy mouthfeel. The first sip of this brownish colored abbey style ale is bits of caramel and fruit. There's some green apple in the aroma, which in any other beer, could be considered a flaw. Almost smoky caramel flavors with bits of dark fruit such as figs or plums. Periously drinkable for its strength. A bit more rustic for me than the last time I had this on tap at the Map Room in Chicago.

marcobrau, Oct 30, 2003
St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
99 out of 100 based on 7,368 ratings.