St. Bernardus Abt 12 | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

2,762 Reviews
St. Bernardus Abt 12St. Bernardus Abt 12

Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Style: Quadrupel (Quad)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-14-2001

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Reviews: 2,762 | Ratings: 9,392
Photo of shbobdb
2/5  rDev -54.8%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

I had high expectations for this beer, I mean, it is one of the most lauded Quads.

What a worthless beer! Let's break down the stats on this guys:

It looks awesome! A deep garnet with a dishwater head that just won't quite! No matter how long you let it sit, the head just won't go away. No matter how much my moustache releases oils that cause lesser heads to fail. Too bad it's all downhill from there.

It smells like curacao oranges. Why in the world would I want beer to smell like oranges?

And the taste? Nasty yeast gets into a terrible trainwreck with curacao oranges, toffee, and chocolate. Terrible.

The mouthfeel is easily the worst part of this beer. The excessive use of sugar leads to a paper thin body -- so what do they do to compensate? Equally excessive use of crystal malts. Sticky sugars mingling with thinner-than-water body. Terrible.

Drinkability? I could barely finish choking down my 8 ounces of it. I'm just glad that my girlfriend was able to take care of the rest of the 750.


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Photo of Beersmuggler
2/5  rDev -54.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I was not a fan of this one at all. I am not a huge fan of quadruples so I should not have been surprised that I did not like this. I would not recommend it.

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Photo of JDV
2.38/5  rDev -46.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.5

Very underwhelmed by this. Smell was decent yet somewhat faint. Smells of light chocolately roastiness, a touch of belgium yeast and metal, and mostly of raisins. The second this hits my tongue the ridiculously high carbonation basically turns the beer into foam. Feels like champagne in the mouth. Taste is a touch dark fruit, roasty, raisiny, light but standard belgium yeast character and caramel. Honestly, the mouthfeel was the worst part of it. Fizziest beer I've had in nearly 500 beers. Alcohol is hidden well, but I'd be happy to never drink this again.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
2.39/5  rDev -45.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Mocha brown with a small frothy head. Specks of lacing line the glass.

S - Dates and molasses malt, but alcohol dominants the nose.

T - Molasses malt with a slight diacetyl. As with the smell, the alcohol dominants the taste. It is lacking in depth, for a 10% abv, it really should have masked its alcohol better than this.

M - Best part of the beer, absurdly smooth and a little thin. Slightly drying, but tolerable.

D - If alcohol flavor doesn't bother you too much, than this is a drinkable beer. But it is very lacking all around. A big disappointment. Rocheforte 10 is much better, and I didn't even like that too much.

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Photo of ntalexan
2.46/5  rDev -44.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

-Color: Medium Brown. Not quite as dark as a porter or stout. A very slight red tint, almost makes it a maroon color. Has a fizzy head that persists throughout the entire session.

-Nose: Definitely get the sweeter Belgian yeast notes on the aroma. Bananas and milk chocolate.

-Flavor: Immediately you get the malt and yeast backbone of this beer. You get the bananas as the nose suggested you would, and what I surmised would be the case given my past experience with Belgians. Also get some nuttyness from the malt, hazelnuts which kinda lends it to the chocolate I got on the bouquet. Toasty bread and Allspice notes in there as well. Finishing with a slight bitterness from the hops. My favorite part of this brew is its super smooth mouth-feel.

-Rating: 2.5/5: Not as boozy as I expected from a beer with a 10% ABV. Especially with my past experience with high ABV Belgians. Still has the fruitiness that I’m pretty sure comes with the Belgian yeast and I’m still not a fan. All in all it’s a pretty balanced beer. A quality that I value above almost anything and I wouldn’t steer anyone away from it.


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Photo of hustlesworth
2.58/5  rDev -41.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

A- pours a deep dark chestnut brown with some orange-ish gold highlights. many many chunks of yeast floating around in this one. bottle says best before 18 11 13. there are some specks of yeast in the floamy beige head as well, densely structured bubbles redece down to about 1/4in and hold firm. some nice waves of lace adhere to the glass. active carbonation doesn't allow those chunks of yeast to settle.

S- dark fruity and sweetly tart, prune, black plum, raisin, fig, date, clove, nutmeg, apple cider, milk chocolate, brown sugar, damp wood, pinneapple alcohol scent, cedar, and orange. spicy and acidic. alcohol vapors give this strong quad an intense bouquet and i'm feeling more at ease with the relatively off-putting appearance.

T- sweet, chocolatey, fruity, nutty... malty. some grassy hop flavor but this one tastes well, flat. as far as i know this bottle had been handled properly but i expected far more from the saint. i can't appreciate the richness of flavor i get from other quads so near to my heart. this one seems 2-dimensional. chocolate, brown sugar, some prune, date, and fig, a little black pepper and an earthy woody nutty flavor and a touch of smokiness. finishes a bit metallic and on the water side but with some floral alcohol taste. finishes neither dry nor cloying with an odd bitterness.

MF- again somewhat boring. carbonation is present but dissipates quickly. texture is nothing to rejoice over. i can feel chunks of yeast when i sip and they stick in my throat when i swallow making for an unpleasant experience. a bit sticky on the lips.

D- i'm convinced that this bottle has seen better days as the retialer that i purchased it from has a questionable reputation. i assumed that i couldn't go wrong with such a high abv brew but i guess i was mistaken. sadly i have to dump this one due to the yeast chunkys. i will be in pittsburgh next month and i WILL stop by the sharp edge, the best belgian beer bar i've ever heard of, and a reputable source, and try this one again hopefully on tap, and certainly re-review. sadness from watou to alliance. sincerely, james.

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Photo of SteveoNY
2.59/5  rDev -41.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Presentation: 25.4 oz bottle, very nice label and cork.

Appearance: thick frothy tan head, cloudy brown amber color with alot of sediment particles lingering aroud. glass full of lace.

Smell: fruity malt sweetness.

Taste: the "bros say it the best" Clove is certain to be the first flavour you taste as it rides the wave of sweetness, big brown sugar flavour with some cake like malty qualities. Some buttery and phenolic flavours shoot to the palate in the middle to make it a bit juicy. Some earth and carob flavours in the mix. Alcohol is a little evident, it hiding under the sweetness right behind the fruity flavour that soon flare into esters and mild solvent flavours. Finishes sweet and warming.
(I say smokey orange peel sour yeasty alcohol flavor)

Mouthfeel: smooth slightly creamy good carbonation.

Drinkability: I could sip it all night but would probably throw up. the curiosity of the flavor leaves you wanting more, but the 10.5 % says hold up..think about what your doing hours from now.

Notes: I wouldnt recommend this to a belgian rookie. not really worth the price in my opinion.

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Photo of rastaman
2.73/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

i'll have to be a real bastard here and disagree with everyone, i just thought it was too strong for its own good, the alcohol showed way to much. Quite simplitic for such a malty strong brew, i'm glad i tried it, and i'm sorry for the low rating, but thats just how i felt about it, it was a bit sickly i think.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
2.78/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours a nice finger width head that falls thin, but doesn't dissapear and leaves a beautiful lacing behind. Color is amber to black.

Heavy roasted malts with slight burnt sugar and a slight fowery hops that do a good job of bringing out the fruit flavors.

Light, hard to taste and watery. Spicy sweet with a slight peppermint and burnt sugar flavors. This was a little dissaponting, I should've rated the one bottle I've ever had.

Mouthfeel is smooth and nice.

I wouldn't have this on tap ever again unless I saw them tap the keg myself.

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Photo of Spica66
2.78/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 750 into tulip with Fr. Ian.

A: Light, root beer-brown with lots of yeast particles. Excellent head formation. The head dissipates to ring of carbonation around the edge of the beer that never goes away through the whole glass. Very tiny bubbles. This beer is a lot lighter in color than the other two Quads we have had.

S: Not really much going on even as it warmed. If anything, I thought it smelled slightly of some sort of chemical, but I could not place it. I expected much more yeast aroma, but it never showed.

T: Bland. Not really anything to report. It was not bad, it just was a very bland tasting beer with a slight sharpness to it.

M: Wonderful balance of body and carbonation the whole glass. I suspect that most people might expect a slightly thicker body on a Quad, but I am not an expert, so I will say that for me it felt fine.

D: With nothing of any strong note to offend and INCREDIBLY WELL HIDDEN 10.5%, drinkability is good.

After having had Westy 12, Rochefort 10 and this beer, my days of buying/trading for Quads is over.

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Photo of jhu1995
2.85/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Overall, I thought this beer was a bit underwhelming and not worthy of its high regard. I know I am in the minority but this beer just did not agree with me.

It started out great, with a dark brown color and fluffy tan head. Smelled great, with lots of dried fruit aromas, mostly raisin and prunes.

The taste was disappointing. Thought the caramel malt flavor dominated too much and did not notice any fruitiness or sweetness to the flavor. Stronger alcohol presence but that was somewhat expected, given the ABV.

Thought it was full-bodied and somewhat silky on the tongue, but the drinkability was awful. I could not finish it. I enjoyed Rochefort 10 much more than this beer.

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Photo of benito
2.87/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I'm not sure why this is categorized as a Quad, as its flavors sit squarely in the world of Dubbels. Anyhow, I should point out that Dubbels are probably my least favorite style of beer (with the notable exception of Goose Island's Pere Jacques...mmm). For whatever reason I struggle with the mix of fruity sweet and miscellania, so take my review with a grain of salt.

This is a brownish, amber brew with a small head and good lacing. The bouquet and flavor both are dominated by flouride like flavors--call it bubblegum or mint--and in both cases, the sweetness is backed up by a nice salty dryness. In the bouquet, this is mostly a sea-water quality and in taste, more of a alcohol flavor. The mouthfeel is soapy--sweet and then dry, though bubbly and effervescent throughout. Unfortunately, it doesn't do much to aid a rather thin body and flimsy length. I honestly don't care for this beer that much, though again, I recognize that as a quirk of my palate and some sort of strange prejudice against this style.

This is certainly not in my Top 100 beers, but for folks who dig dubbels, I would recommend this, maybe even highly.

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Photo of mdvatab
2.89/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from 350ml bottle into Chimay chalice
Best before: 231115

Aroma: Spicy yeast, black licorice, and some phenols. Aroma was not as prominent or complex as I'd anticipated...

Appearance: Very foamy, persistent, light tan head. Hazy, translucent, amber-brown body.

Flavor: A noticeable metallic twang appears at first. Dry malty sweetness w/ an almost minty quality. Light apple cider. Interesting flavor profile, but not exactly what I was expecting for the style.

Mouthfeel: Medium body w/ high CO2. Peppery alcohol warmth thru the finish in the mouth and throat. Alcohol creates a bit of a sharp, drying feeling on the tongue.

Overall: I tried this one next to a Trappistes Rochefort 10 to compare the two, and this one definitely lost out. I was expecting slightly different, yet excellent, interpretations of the same style, but this one let me down a bit. I'm suspecting possible issues as a result of poor storage during & after transportation, so I'll give this one another try sometime, and will report back.

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Photo of clvand0
2.93/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This beer pours a murky brown like many of the other Belgian strongs. The aroma was very malty with hints of caramel - almost like brandy. The flavor was fairly smooth for the level of alcohol, but too strong in my opinion. For the abv and price for the taste, I'd go with one of the other Belgians.

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Photo of iconoklaztor
2.98/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a massive head that never seems to want to go away. Sadly after 15 min it still remains. I want to drink this damn beer. The smell was pretty much alcohol. I wasnt to impressed with this brew. I was expecting more but I just didnt find it.

Overall, I wouldn't get this again unless it was on sale.

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Photo of TerryW
2.98/5  rDev -32.6%
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.

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Photo of iridius
2.99/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

Okay, I've had it but didn't remember much so, alas I had to try it again and pay attention this time. First of all it poured super foamy, probably user error. It smells pleasant, but honestly doesn't have a strong odor, looks darker than I remember. $5 for one 12 Oz bottle was a bit much, but I got 3 others just in case :) Tastes a little too much like tree bark to me. I'm sure there's a fancy way to say that, but I don't know it. Taste is the most important thing to me, so that brings it down overall quite a bit. Sort of seems kike it doesnt want to melt with my tastebids like my favorite beers do, now its tasting a little metallic. Sorry, that's the second super high rated beer this week that I wouldn't buy again, unless of course I forget again.

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Photo of GreenWBush
2.99/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Bottled 2004, aged roughly two years in my cellar.

Gorgeous appearance. At least something hasn't changed.

I was worried about this beer from the moment I cracked it. The nose was filled with slight suggestions of age and vinegar. This beer deteriorated from the most well-balanced and fully-integrated slice of dessert-rich heaven to a boozy, candied mess.

Perhaps I caught this beer at an unfortunate point of age. As it stands now, I will never age this one again and I promise to drink it by the chalice, fresh and unwithered.

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Photo of Murchmac
3.02/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thus my treks into belgians continue.

I can get into it, but not that much. The champagne like fizziness holds me back from liking most belgians.

Pours with a thick head, lacing present.

Cant smell anything but sourness.

Taste bready, sweet, acid.

Aftertaste, short, curt.

I have no idea.

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Photo of PatrickJR
3.02/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Re-review, original posted below.

Poured from a 750ml bottle into red wine glass. Bottle lists the ABV at 10%.

A - Cloudy brown with some orange and amber on the edges. Three fingers of light tan head rise with moderate retention before falling to a persistent 1/8 inch cap. Minimal lacing.

S - Lots of dark fruit in the nose; plums and raisins stand out most with a touch of overripe berries. Vanilla peeks through also atop dark, sweet bread. Rather soft overall and lacks a bit of the punch I would expect, but still lovely.

T - I'm on my fourth glass of this, the brew is probably 5 degrees shy of room temperature, and I'm just not finding much in flavor. I've given it a fair shot. Early palate yeilds vanilla-laced dark bread with nutty accents. This doesn't last nearly as long as I'd like, and the sweetness is swept away by chalky, medicinal flavors. Dark fruit, specifically raisin, try to break through this phenolic onslaught but it's too little too late. A growing and frankly disgusting bitterness grows late palate while an underlying vinous character makes a cameo. Abt 12 finishes quite bitter and medicinal with a moderate kick of alcohol. Unpleasant aftertaste of crushed aspirin.

M - This is just unacceptable. I've poured the beer harder and harder each glass, and it's still ridiculously carbonated. Doubtless the huge carbonation is muting sweet, bready, fruity flavors and ramping up all the bitterness and phenols. Body is medium bodied at best, more consistent with a dubbel than a quad. The mouthfeel really inhibits this beer from lingering on the palate and brings out its worst while restraining the beauty that the nose would suggest.

D - I really hate to be so harsh on this vaunted beer. I've become a big fan of Belgian and Belgian style stuff in the almost year since I originally reviewed Abt 12, and I hoped to approach it with a more refined and experienced palate and fully enjoy what others often laud. I guess this beer just isn't for me. I'm not even sure if I can get through the last glass or two left in the bottle. Somewhere between the emphasis on the medicinal bitterness (the worst kind of bitterness in a beer, in my opinion) and the absurd carbonation, the brew misses the mark in the worst way. I have no doubt it all (mostly) comes down to the carbonation; the aroma suggests a wonderful beer but it just doesn't deliver. If this is as close as I can get (easily) to Westvleteren 12, I think I can continue my journey with even more happiness than before.


Original review from 06.04.08

Poured from 750ml bottle into red wine glass.

A - 4.0 - Hazy brown with 2 finger off-white head. Decent retention, settled to thin collar, expected considering high ABV.

S - 5.0 - Marvelous. A deep foundation of dark freshly baked bread runs underneath. Overtones of brown sugar with some dark fruit, followed by phenols and the obvious alcohol.

T - 4.5 - Starts off with a caramel plus phenol taste followed by a very predominant vinous character. Less like wine and more like actual grape juice. Grapey character dominates mid palate and leads to a sharp yeast component late palate followed by an obvious alcohol burn.

M - 4.0 - Medium bodied and moderately carbonated. Would've prefered this slightly heavier and slightly more carbonated.

D - 4.5 -T hough the alcohol is noticable, it's still hidden quite well. Price is the ulimate deterant.

Overall: 4.45; A

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Photo of NJpadreFan
3.03/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

St. Bernardus Abt 12

Appearance- dark brown with no head and alot of carbonation.
Smell- fruit. Raisins, prunes, figs, cherries.
Taste- alcohol and fruit with a drowned out flavor of hops.
Mouthfeel- burns from the alcohol. Medicinal.

Overall- not a good one here! Too much alcohol ruins it. Too sweet as well!

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Photo of Brew33
3.03/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Corked and Caged 750ml bottle.

I've had this beer multiple times and I've always thought it was a below average Quad. I received this bottle as a gift for Xmas.

The cork was under extreme pressure so I could tell right away this beer was going to be over carbonated and I was right. It pours a towering, tan-tinged, 4 inch head into my Duvel tulip. After letting the foam settle a little I take a huge whiff expecting that figgy, spicy, malty delight that this style is known for but instead I get very little aroma. You can actually smell the Co2 from the bottle. Very weak aroma. After you let this beer breath for 30 minutes the flavor is okay. Dark malts, slightly metallic flavors, rather dry for the style. Not much in the way of residual sugars. Yeasty to be sure. Slightly phenolic and spicy at the end.

For a 10% Belgian Quad this beer is VERY thin. Highly attenuated, no heft on the tongue. The bordering on ridiculous level of carbonation really damages this beer. It mutes the aroma and destroys the mouthfeel. Not in the same class as Westy 12 or Rochefort 10.

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Photo of Naugled
3.1/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle served in chalice

A: murky brown, thick brown head that quickly dissipated to a thin white head.

S: Musty up front aroma, malt and dried fruit secondary

T: Old musty flavor, dried fruit, prunes, raisons, sweet malty flavors, some backgound hop flavor, but not well balanced, hotness is very apparent as it warms, almost too much.

M: rich and creamy

D: delicious but not drinkable past one.

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3.13/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Looks interesting in the glass ... like dirty pond water with that gross foam on top that's like dead skin cells and algae. Dark brown that is too cloudy to see through. Hints of light round the edges and the top is coated with a layer just thicker than lace. Head faded quickly from two good fingers to the thick edged lace.

Smell is good and very aromatic. It's sitting next to my monitor .. about three feet from me and notes keep sliding up my nostrils. On closer examination ... real fruit, apricot, cherry, dried peaches, some mellow spices round out this portfolio.

Strong alcohol slams the tongue and I don't know if it recovers. Fruits for sure, again the apricot and cherry but with little or no sweetness like the smell. Caramel, licorice, spices (like cumin or something on those lines) interesting culmination.

Heavy with lots of pop on the tongue. I couldn't quite grasp this beer.

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Photo of rickyleepotts
3.15/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer uses the same recipe as the Westvleteren, and is apparently made by the same people. Or should I say… the same monks. From what I hear, the Westvleteren is only available at the abbey. Well, we just ordered two bottles on eBay. The beer is on the list. We will drink one and cellar the other for a later date. Anyway, Sheryl went to the store earlier tonight and grabbed a bottle of the St. Bernardus Abt 12. I had this beer once… on draft at a bar in Chicago. I might have been drunk that night… but I don’t remember this beer being that impressive. But tonight I am focused and ready to give this quad a go. Time to stop talking and start drinking!

In the Glass: I don’t remember this beer being so dark. It pours a dark brown, almost like liquid chocolate in the glass. When pouring I poured for a head, and a head it has. It’s thick, tan, and leaves a nice healthy lace on the site of the glass. This beer has a lot of expectations, so I am excited to see what she tastes like.

Nose: There is a LOT going on in the nose. It has subtle sweetness with some earthy dirt notes peaking through. It smells like a typical quad, but I haven’t had a lot of quads so I am not an expert by any means. I can’t get over how earthy this smells after a second sniff.

Flavor: The flavor is pretty complex. Now, I will warn you… it won’t knock you off your chair. I mean, it’s 10.5%… so it might, but the flavor won’t. It has a very smooth flavor and you would never know it had that much alcohol. The earthy overtones continue on the palate, and the sweetness peaks through at the end. It sticks around into the aftertaste, but isn’t a barleywine sort of sweet.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is nice. It isn’t very carbonated, and goes down smooth. I wonder if this beer tastes better in Belgium. Maybe I will order one when we are in Belgium this fall. Man, imagine the beers we will drink. Anyway, the mouthfeel is nothing short of nice, and while this isn’t the best beer I have had, I find it hard to believe that the BeerAdvocate “bros” gave this a 100. On that scale, an 85 would make more sense.

Aftertaste: The aftertaste is subtly sweet, but the sweetness doesn’t last for long. It quickly fades and leaves the palate begging for more. As much as this beer doesn’t impress, it does leave for an enjoyable beer that you could easily chug. With the complexity of the nose and the different flavors across the palate, I could see a typical beer drinker not liking this. But thinking about the history of the beer, and what this beer is modeled after, it’s hard not to appreciate it.

This is my second time trying this, and before we started drinking we ordered two bottles of the Westvleteren. Apparently this is impossible to get, but we got two bottles for $60. They are on the way! I will be excited to compare the two. I am sure the Westvleteren tastes better at the monastery, but still. The beer is good, but it’s not great. I would have a hard time rating this anything higher than a 3. Sorry guys, but the beer is just OK. Not worth the hype. It seems to be readily available, too.

I wonder what cheese would go with this beer…

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St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.42 out of 5 based on 9,392 ratings.
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