St. Bernardus Abt 12 | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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St. Bernardus Abt 12St. Bernardus Abt 12
9,661 Ratings
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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Ratings: 9,661 |  Reviews: 2,824
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look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: Murky, reddish brown. 2 finger off white head, hangs around surprisingly long for a big ABV beer.

S: Dark fruits, banana, Belgian spice from the yeast, some caramel.

T: Dark fruit, brown sugar, big bready and malty flavors. Very balanced yet very complex.

M: Perfect, as good as it gets for a quad. Great body, perfect amount of carbonation.

O: A great beer, very complex with flavors bouncing all over the place with nothing really taking the leading role, everything works perfectly together from the big bready malt flavors to the alcohol and hop bitterness.

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look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this one side-by-side with an '11 Westvleteren XII - thanks to Mike for cracking his open. I've heard from many people that the Abt 12 is the closest (easiest) thing to get to a Westy XII, so I guess we'll see. The pour is certainly a very similar color - brown, copper and murky, maybe a little bit brighter. Unlike the Westy, the Abt 12 has quite a bit of tiny sediment particles. Another big difference is that the head on the Abt 12 is huge, frothy, and has excellent staying power - looks like the froth on top of a latte or something.

Whoof, I close my eyes and take a whiff, and honestly, I could have easily mistaken this for another pour of the Westy. VERY similar in the aroma. Huge complexity and just a never-ending array of components: grapes, figs, dates, candied plums, Belgian yeast and spices, brown sugar, molasses, sweet licorice, light bready malts.... Where does it end? It only gets more inviting and more perplexing as it warms up and introduced some new aromas; pecans, light herbal-ness, more earthy tones, fruity esters, mild booze aromas... So far, I don't think I could draw any "major" distinctions from the aromas between Abt 12 and Westy XII. And this was after having them directly back-to-back. Given only one, I probably couldn't accurately discern which was which from the nose alone.

At this point, I'm incredibly impressed, and I'm thinking about just copying and pasting my Westy XII review and using it as my Abt 12 review. Just kidding. The mouth feel is similar, though Abt 12 has a bit more of a sharpness from heavier carbonation, as evidenced by the superior head formation. They both share that delectable Belgian-esque creaminess and they are both full-bodied without being too heavy, sticky, or syrupy. I love the silky smoothness that most Belgian quads deliver, and these two beers are no exception.

I'm sitting here swishing Abt 12 around in my palate, and I'm almost as amazed as I was when I first tasted the Westy XII - just a huge romp around of seemingly millions of flavors. Candied and sugary fruits, grapes, plums - sweet and pleasing without being overly sugary or cloying. Licorice, toffee, light molasses, Belgian yeast, mild spice, and sweet breadiness from the malt. I can see why people compare this to Westy XII - it's the EXACT SAME THING. In all seriousness, the flavor profiles are eerily similar, but I did notice that the Abt 12 was a little "sharper" and "brighter" - sharper from the carbonation and brighter in the form of softer fruits - I picked up some more definitive apple skin and white grape notes. The Abt 12 also has a touch more of a hop profile, but maybe that's because the Westy XII was a year older? This gave the Abt 12 a bit more bitter leafiness with the bread, butter, and slightly boozy aftertaste.

Wow... Wow, wow, wow. People weren't lying. The Abt 12 really is ridiculously similar to the Westy 12. When all is said and done, I don't think I could tell the difference if I was blindfolded. You could hand me an Abt 12 in a blank glass, tell me it was Westy XII, and I wouldn't be able to argue. That being said, they are both fantastic beers - pinnacles in brewing, and quintessential beers for the style they both represent. At the end of the day, I must give a slight nudge to the Abt 12 though, given it's relatively low price point and incredible availability.

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St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Beer rating: 4.46 out of 5 with 9,661 ratings
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