St. Bernardus Abt 12 | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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2,734 Reviews
St. Bernardus Abt 12St. Bernardus Abt 12

Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Belgium | website

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: 2,734 | Ratings: 9,238
Photo of Optimat0r
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

appearance - so dark amber its brown...a deep brown almost completely impenetrable by light. minimal foaming.

taste - heavy malts, ended with a perfect fruityness, a hint of cinnemon...extremely complex but not so rich that its overboard. one of the best tasting beers you will ever come across, goes amazing with food. i didnt give it a 5 because of the inevitable occasional hint of alcohol taste that comes through every now and then.

drinkability - unbelieveable, incredible especially considering its 10% alcohol. mouthfeel is the best ive had. tastes amazing through a range of temperatures, great alone or with food, i intend to keep some of this around whenever i can, is perfect in nice 5 oz servings, taste never falters, could sip it all day despite its abv.

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Photo of Bugsey
4.6/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An amazing beer to savor.
Fantastic complex tastes mix, including: clove, raisin, prunes, and toffee and carmel.
Carbonization is slightly high (higher than the Rochefort 10, for example), but this is refreshing, not bothersome.

Slightly expensive. I think I paid about $16 for a four pack.

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Photo of AlexF
5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark hazy brown. Chocolate, brownies brown. Deep! With a LOT of yeast floating. A nice beige head is also persisting throughout the session, with wonderful lacing. Perfect appearance for a rich quadrupel.

A sugary odour of brownies, dark fruits and hints of caramel suggest that this beer will be heavy, real heavy.

No disapointment. This beer rocks! Layers of dark ripe fruits, generic sugary dessert (cookie or brownies again), with a touch of... magic? This is real good.

This is the best quadrupel i've tasted, by far.

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Photo of kurtissellen
3.86/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From an aggressive pour into an oversize wine glass produced a massive +3 fingers worth of head and almost when over the top of the glass. Good amount of lacing with head receding but never completely going away leaving a sort of foam island in the center of the glass. Dark black chocolate color and smelled of doughy yeast. Tasted dark roasted malts, cinnamon, cloves, and a little amount of sweetness. Alcohol was present but never overwhelming. Very attractive looking beer when first poured.

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Photo of Hellabeerguzzler
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Golden Crust. Couldn't believe it. Used to be hard to find in any container. I loved the bottles but adore the draft!
L: Tranlucent brown with caramel head. Looks beautiful.
S: Bready, some tanginess, maybe some mild spices but not overpowering at all.
T: This was my "5". The aroma combines with the taste to produce a beer that's so thoroughly simple, yet complex at the same time. I enjoyed this beer the first time with a steak, potato, and some fresh-baked bread and I was in heaven 2.0 - It's flavor is a mixture of some natural sweetness from raisins, maybe dates, cinamin, and maybe a touch of clove. It's yeasty malt and just goes does well and given the high ABV, is just delightful.
F: It's not overly effervescent but not flat by any means. It's heavy, yet light, and the only reason I marked it down a half a point is that it is a little hot. No so much that it was unpleasantly so, just that I could feel it.

O: Overall a word-class Belgian beer worthy of recognition. Not so much that anything heavily stands out, but rather that is so good withOUT anything standing out. It's even better with the right food so watch your pairings. Don't go trying to drink this with you sushi or something ridiculous. This is a hearty, delicious meal in bottle as it is and deserves to be paired with a meat and potatoes (or brown rice of pilaf) meal - or if it's not mealtime, stick to the best cheese, quality sourdough breads and pretzels, and maybe some figs or other dried fruits. In other words, don't do anything to wreck your palate because you don't want to miss a single chug of this fine drink to any pickles, citrus, or wasabi.

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Photo of arturorg
4/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served into a Westmalle chalice

A: beautiful brown almost like an ice tea with a 1 inch frothy head beige in color, high carbonation with a bubbly lace.

S: Sweet brown sugar, some grape aroma, alcohol, fruity (banana?), i got an weird faint smell of condensed milk.

T: Sweet bitterness, astringent, warming (not rochefort warming), ripe fruit.

Overall very good beer but not what I expected, will give a try again, felt a little bit flat in flavor.

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Photo of Blackwolf
5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle into an oversized wine glass.


A- Beautiful, beautiful and I mean BEAUTIFUL beer, and nothing short of that. It poured a very deep mahogany color into the glass, light can barely pass through it. A creamy chocolate to then a semi-light khaki frothy head sits on top of this wonderful quad. The retention is beautiful also, it just won't give up. A decent lacing stares back at you from the side of your glass. Just perfect.

S- Smell and taste are pretty hand and hand with my tastings, but smell is usually the first factor to entice me into a deep ale. The second my nose hit this monumental beer I was hit with a notes of pear, a deep spice and a yeasty/breadiness. It sucked me in almost immediately! Very strong!

T- Yum, and more yum! Fruity, hints of fig... apply pear-ish notes and again the breadiness. There is a a little kick of alcohol in this ale, but a well balanced taste. It finishes with a banana drive and leaves you wanting much more.

MF- Just thick enough but creamy/chewy. An intense mouth feel but a good intense for lack of better words. This quad sits around your palate just long enough to leave you wating for more.

O- 5.0! Just amazing!!! I was hesitant towards grabbing this beer, I don't know why... But this wonderful concoction of smell, taste, look and feel just blew me away! I would recommend this to many, if you see it.... BUY IT! It is just an astounding, well crafted beer that can not disappoint anyone. St. Bernardus is easily making their way into my favorite breweries. LOVE IT! <3

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Photo of Morpheus
4.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It was with eager anticipation that I tried this landmark beer. There is no denying that it is representative of 'quads', and as such it becomes the benchmark in comparisons (as placebos are to clinical trials -- Yet, this ain't no sugar pill!)

First, I selected a tulip glass and poured at around 45°F (I prefer a little on the cooler side, as it can warm a little as I sip) It pours with a beautiful foam in a deep brownish-gold, exhibiting a gentle cloudiness of particulate yeast.

Next, I inhale through my mouth first, as to not overwhelm the olfactory senses - faint yeast and malt as to be expected, yet not overpowering. Confirmed with nasal inhalation, and I am pleased at the level of balance, as this is a beer of diligent attention to brewing details.

Foreplay over, we progress to the act of tasting. Notes of a light bitterness, moderate tones of malt, all in a well-balanced exhibition of flavor. I search my mind for ideal food pairings: Wild elk or moose would be appropriate. I think smoked salmon would also provide a pleasing contrast.

Time for cuddles, I mean kudos. This is not my favorite style, and I have previously been disappointed by the offerings of St. Bernardus, yet I am impressed by this product. For my tastes, it is not for down time after work, or as a thirst quencher. This is one to crack open to accompany a wonderful meal.

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Photo of AussieAbroad
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A - A deep, dark brown appearance that poured two fingers of creamy, off white head. There is plenty of retention and lacing, and appears very well carbonated.

S - A complex mix of cloves, dark ripened fruits with notes of raisins, and definite sweet malts.

T & M - Carbonation and cloves greet the palate, before the middle transitions to notes of dark, ripened fruits and brown sugar. The finish is sweet, and warming courtesy of the 10% ABV, but balanced extremely well.

O - Complex, boozy and incredibly balanced. This brew is well deserving of its reputation. This beer is an indulgence, an excellent all night sipper or night cap, and quite possible the best beer I've had. A classic that I'll go back to again, and again!.

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Photo of LMO1190
4.44/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

NIce dark copper color on pour. About 1 finger of head that disappears fast.

Smells like what a quad should. Lot's of dark fruit, plums , bubble gum. very nice.

Taste= very carbonated, plums, very malty. not overly sweet. you can't really taste the booze for being 10 percent.

This beer is a classic for a reason. it is the host HAD QUAD in this site. I personally think I would prefer the Trois Pistoles from Unibroue. But is this is still a superior brew. Cheers!!!!!!

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Photo of lifeboyq
5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a St Bernardus chalice. Dark mahogany, not fined beer with deep chestnut tones. Monster cream head typical of the strong carbonation in Belgian offerings. Smell is of caramel malts, unrefined sugar and that all too familiar peculiarity of a belgian yeast phenols with bready overtones. The beer tastes like figs and dates and caramel and toffee, bready, sweet and again that all too hard to put your finger on delicious belgian pecularity. Incredibly complex, incredibly deep that improves as it warms. One of the top few beers of the world. Most closely resembles the Westy of any other offering. Absolutely amazing. In my eyes, as close to perfection in a beer as you can get. This is so good it hurts. Lip smacking good. One of the finest examples of the most complex tasting beer class, Belgian Quads.

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Photo of Graham21
4.26/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a very dark amber carmel red color which is cloudy. The head is very pretty, its a light nutty color;very light tan. head was one finger high then reduced to a beautiful lacing. the foam stuck to the glass.
The nose is very fruity and malty, a little dissapointing. As far as the flavor went i picked up on malts, fruits/citrus, nuts, alchol, and hot cinnamon flaovr, the beer is full bodied and leaves your mouth with a buttery lard feeling after drinking. The alchol is present to say the least and it warms your whole body up. I enjoyed this beer alot. "Two Thumbs Way Up"

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Photo of Pballa4lyfe
3.81/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- dark, brownish/purple with thick white head

S- sugary, somewhat cranberrish

T- very syrupy and sugar, definitely yeasty as well

M- carbonated, but ironically is very smooth

D- very drinkable, hides the alcohol well

i'm not a huge belgian fan, but this is definitely a unique beer...its good and worth a try

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Photo of withliterature
3.97/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- dark purplish, little to no head dissappearing to a thin white lace; clear with no Belgian-like cloudiness

S- bananas, fruity sweetness, figs

T- fruity start, dry finish that disappears from the palate quickly; relatively high carbonation; yeasty taste, but the filtering seems to have removed all the sediment

M- thin, disappears quickly with carbonation; not sticky

D- very strong but very pleasant; carbonation adds sharpness bit fades the taste fast; one glass is enough, though

I wouldn't say this is the best example of a Belgian; very original and not all that characteristic of the style in general. Glad I tried it, but I have to say not as awesome as it's cracked up to be online.

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Photo of Jerico
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - dark, murky coffee color with a gigantic fluffy head that is in no hurry to disappear.

S - raisins, figs, brown sugar and maybe a touch of coffee.

T/M/D - heavenly, very smooth, slightly sweet and somewhat heavy. The fruit taste is there but hangs out in the bacjground and lets your taste buds look for it a bit. This beer pulls together extremely well. One of my all-time favorites!

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Photo of chrisafari
4.03/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Yard-House in Irvine, california. Pours dark brown, deep reddish amber with small white head. Slight aroma of hops with powerful sense of spice and alcohol. Flavor of spice, pepper and sweet plums. Finishes with a slight ting of alcohol. Very enjoyable!

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Photo of slk22
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours cola brown with heavy turbidity and a large cream-colored head. Beautiful and very inviting. Aroma jumps right out of the glass. Huge complexity here, but I am clearly getting raisins, plum, cherry, amaretto, fresh-baked bread, and a hint of alcohol. Flavor is complex as well. Sweet and fruity up front with unripe cherry, amaretto, and caramel malt. Alcohol is definitely noticeable at the beginning and in the finish, but not offensive, and gives an immediate warming feeling that is quite pleasant. I'm not a big fan of alcohol flavor, but this is quite enjoyable. Carbonation is high tickling the tongue and body is medium. Overall, a delicious beer. I would have several if not for the high ABV.

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Photo of McD0uche
4.23/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a tulip glass:

A: Now, I'm not sure if I poured this wrong, but the head billows to 3 fingers thick--and the thing stays there for a good couple minutes. The beer itself is a dark velvety brown. As the head recedes, it's apparent how sticky this beer is. The lacing is pronounced.

S: Silty, earthy malts and fruits, including pears, apples, maybe some banana. The medley smells awesome and invites me in.

T: A fruity plum, sweet licorice flavor. Yum. It melts in my mouth, and has a nice boozy aftertaste. Overall really delicious.

M: Dry, crispy, and warming. I guess the "melts in my mouth" comment should go here.

O: I'm not a big fan of Belgians overall, and hadn't really had a Quad I could say I liked. This stuff has completely shaken my perspective, in a very good way. I'm surprised this stuff was sitting on an obscure shelf in my local liquor store.

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Photo of HarrySTruman
4.14/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge, fluffy head with big bubbles caps a dark brown and cloudy liquid. Heavy lacing all the way down the snifter. Looks wonderful and inviting.

Smells of belgian yeast, much like many triples and quads from belgium.

Malt, dark fruits and yeast. With the high ABV, the alcohol is very well hidden. Not too sweet, but a good amount of sugar and even a hint of tartness. Complex flavors but not over done.

Easy drinking for such a big beer. Mouthfeel couldn't be better for a Quad.

Overall this is a great beer. Tastes good, looks great, smells like it should and it's not hard to drink. There are quite a few quads and triples made in NA, but none compare to this beast of a beer. The only knock I have on it is the price, there are some beer that just a little bit weaker than this that are nearly half the price. Maybe even cheaper.

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Photo of MVassar
3.92/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My first experience with this beer was dreadful: three spoiled bottles in a row. All had been refrigerated at the same reputable store, but clearly something was wrong with them.

This tasting of a bottle from a different store was more successful.

Somewhat dirty, cloudy brown with an ample yet short-lived head. Tiny bubbles, minimal lacing.

Plenty of brown bread in the nose, with some sweet malt, a touch of raw sugar, even a hint of banana bread.

Tastes of Christmas spices, malt, and a touch of dark fruit. Not as much depth as I would have hoped, but tasty stuff nonetheless.

Medium to full bodied, creamy texture, with too much carbonation.

Nicely balanced beer. Nothing extraordinary, but certainly quite drinkable.

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Photo of GeeL
4/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

There are better Belgian "12's" out there if you can get your hands on them. If not, this is a solid go-to representation of the style. For that, it should get high scores. I gave solid 4's; which is still straight A's. If they experimented within the style a bit, maybe the scores would be higher.

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Photo of richmof
4.32/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a creamy off-white head and some sediment.

You get the dark fruit and malt on the nose, which follows through and opens up on the palate. Nice nutty chocolate undertones without being too sweet. It is smooth and well balanced with the high ABV in no way dominating, instead counter-balancing the sweetness perfectly.

This is a classic Belgian ale and a rival for any pretender. Its been known to win blind tastings with Westvleteren to boot.

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Photo of WoogityBoogity
4.72/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown color, hazy body. Off-white tan head with high retention.

S - Complex malt and dark fruit esters. Phenolic characters uncharacteristic compared to other Quads. Faint hop aroma.

T - Malt complexity soon overwhelmed by fig and dark fruit palate overload. Phenolic profile of various herbs and spices unique to Abt 12's nostalgia. Well balanced with a dry finish of intense flavors and palate overload.

M - Creamy body with high carbonation. Warming from ABV is subdued by matured palate.

D - What many consider one of the quintessential beers, and quite possibly the closest thing to Westveterlan 12.

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Photo of agomega
4.03/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle served in a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a rich brown color with a huge frothy white head that lingers.

Smell: The primary aroma is spicy European hops. There are also hints of bready malt and a hint of fruity ester aromas.

Taste: Very well balanced flavor with the bready malt and fruity yeast flavors are neutralized by the spicy (clove) hop flavors.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and easy to drink.

Overall: An exceptional and complicated beer. I was surprised to find so much clove in the flavor and aroma, but it is pleasant and works well. An amazing beer.

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Photo of bramsdell
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into imp pint glass. Yeah, it isn't optimal, but I don't have a chalice (yet).

A: Dark brown body that reveals a beautiful dark ruby when held up to light. The head is very large for a beer of this color and, while it does recede, remains at least 1.5cm throughout.

S: Fruity and spicy. I would say that the predominant aroma is the spiciness, but there are very full notes of both raisins and malt. This ups the sweetness of the aroma, overall, making for a great balance for the spicy smell. Finally, there is a bit of boozy bite in the smell, which balances the spice and sweet very well.

T: The order of notes changes. First is the raisin flavors, followed by the malt sweetness. This is a quad, of course it will be sweet, but this is a thick, full sweetness that is fruity and malty in nearly equal parts. The spices are noticed as the sweet flavors begin to reside, providing a bit of a biting contrast to such sweetness. Combine this spiciness with the bit of alcohol at the very back end, and you have a wonderfully balanced beer without any remarkable hop notes.

M: Thick, fully, sweet. It's awesome. It feels like a very light, slightly bubbly, syrup, but in the best of ways. Truly a beer to be sipped and enjoyed.

O: Awesome. Not quite Rochefort 10, but one of the best and most flavorful beers I have encountered.

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St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.42 out of 5 based on 9,238 ratings.
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