St. Bernardus Abt 12 | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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St. Bernardus Abt 12St. Bernardus Abt 12
9,766 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: 9,766 |  Reviews: 2,833
Photo of unklesyd
4.7/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The best ever!
I don't think that there is much to say about this one that hasn't been said before. The only reasons for the knocks in apperance and smell are these:

The yeast was so prevalant that it kind of looked like a lava-lamp at times. While this was pretty in its own way, it wasn't what I thought it should look like. The color and head were, however, simply fantastic!

Terrific aroma, but a bit too subtle, even in the goblet.

Oh well, I'll hit this up again... and again!

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Photo of bceaglejoe
4.9/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Poured a very dark grape color into an oversized wine glass. A two-finger thick off-white head bloomed immediately, and then it settled down slightly. But retention was very good. It was very thick and frothy, showing off a moderate amount of carbonation. On the nose, I caught scents of licorice, but the real dominant smell was a sugary, wine-like grape. I could tell right away that there was a slightly higher alcohol content.

Tasting: Gosh, it sure is hard to describe all the flavors that I experienced! On the front of my tongue, there were flavors of dark grapes and sugars. Across the middle, significant malt sweetness, paired with a miniscule kick of alcoholic warmth, came across. On the back, as I drank, I thought I tasted a bit of dark chocolate, but then it dissipated to a wine-like flavor. I was thoroughly impressed by the complexities of this beer. It is as if this is on a different plane of fermented beverage existence. This was a medium-bodied beer with great viscosity and a full flavor. It wasn't as carbonated as the head suggested. In fact, it was even a little bit chewy. Again, I've never encountered anything like this before. I would certainly want to have another, but the alcohol content (double that of your "average" beer) deters me.

This beer certainly lived up to all of my expectations, and then some. It was a perfect way for me to close out my senior year of college. I would love to try this on tap sometime, since there is a place near me that has it...

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Photo of mentor
4.6/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Okay, I reviewed this beer early on while I was developing my review skills. My score for it then came out at 4.9 and I've been interested in seeing if the beers holds true. Mind you, I just had a Pater 6, so my tastebuds should be primed. The number on the back of this bottle reads 271009. Oops, into the glass went all the sediment. Oh well, it's an abbey ale. Obtained from John's Grocery(Iowa City...and they kept it in a fridge) in May 2005 and consumed about a week later. Pours a 2 finger light brown particulated head over a dark brown particulated liquid. Smells of candi-sugar, alcohol, and chocolate. The alcohol is strong in i) a burning of the nose sense and ii) a volitility aspect that is different and that I can't quite describe. Taste is alcohol with chocolate beneath and a nice nutty finish. Whoa, buddy, this is quite a doozie. The alcohol stands of notice throughout, with a constantly changing and interesting background of malt, spice, and fruit. If the alcohol is the ever-present orchestra, the background is a stage-play of many phenomenal different scenes brought on stage. What the heck is that intriguing spice? It has a pepper and licorice quality about it, but isn't quite either. I've tasted it before, but can't put my finger on it...anise?...but I think more. The end is quite chocolatey, almost fudge-like, but the initial sugar sweet comes to a stark dry finish. Thick mouthfeel and moderately carbonated (a touch more than I would have liked). Nice lacing inside the glass. Really delightful. As the beer warmed, the chocolate became a persistent flavor that rivaled the alcohol. Chocolate carries so many flavors well that this beer was *much* better warm. I recommend drinking this beer between cellar and room temperature.

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Photo of mynie
4.55/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Smaller capped bottle pours wonderfully into a chalice. Whoa. This is a fantastic sight. It's not black, it's more of a dark brown, but it's completely opaque. Pretty.

Deep smell of ripe fruit, like a good tripel. Raisins and plums and some apricots.

Zip upfront, hot like pepper, moving into a creamy middle of roasted malt, earth, white spices, cloves, ending fresh and fiery with an explosion of fruit and redwine grapes. Exceptional as can be.

This is a wonderful, wonderful beer.


It's 2:25 in the afternoon the day after drinking four 11.2 ounce bottles, and I still have a headache. Take it easy with this stuff.

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Photo of maek228
4.3/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Decanted out of a 750ml corked bottle.

Appearance: A dark mahogany with a brown hue. Thick finger and a half head formed. A layer of foam laid on top of the beer the whole way down, and was quite thick.

Smell: Mostly alcohol, with hints of raisins and plum.

Taste: Wasn't blown away at first, but as it warmed up...why I began to warm up to the beer, so to speak. The beer itself is rich, with midly sweet malts, tart esthers, banana, raisin, plum, and alcohol mesh together seamlessly. Well, to be honest the alcohol stands a bit more than the rest but I can forgive that quite easily.

Mouthfeel: Mild to thick bodied. Slightly creamy and chewy

Drinkability: I drank that bottle down with ease and was ready for a 2nd

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Photo of daedalus
4.58/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a bottle with a freshness date stamped 12.08.09.

The beer poured a cola-brown speckled with plenty of yeast and sediment into a Westmalle chalice. When held to the light, amber hues appear through the translucent brown. Though the frothy head dissapates slowly, it never disappears entirely and a thin layer remains until the last few sips.

The smell is of green apples and sweet bread with a faint alcoholic presence.

Taste is oh-so smooth for such a high ABV. The sweet bready flavor from the nose reappears along with candied dark fruits. The spice from the yeast is noticable near the back of the mouth and during the swallow. Clove resonates throughout. Slight carbonation lends to an excellent mouthfeel.

Quite drinkable for containing such a high amount of alcohol.

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Photo of pootz
3.68/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

330ml bottle. Thanks Sammy...finally got around to quaffing this bad boy. Pours murky in my goblet... redish- brown highlights when held to the light...lots of sediment in suspension and on the bottom of the bottle. Fat meringue like tan head, which lasts until the last gulp....excellent lacing. Light carbonation... aroma of dark fruits, rum, wine, alcohol and bready malts. Effervescent up front, followed with a complex array of flavors...dried dark fruits, nuts, red grape wine and spicey yeast.... Long finish bread dough, yeasty, almonds and rum in the after taste. As the ale warms in the goblet the malts become cookie dough sweet, spicer and more intoxicating...what a whallop...all ale should be like this.

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Photo of ElGordo
4.55/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've been keeping this in the back of my fridge for a special occasion, and I figured finishing my master's thesis is just the time. I remember when I first tasted this beer I thought it was maybe the best I'd ever had, and I'm not disappointed this time.
Popping the cap from the 11oz bottle releases a flutter of banana-y Belgian yeast aroma. Poured into my Duvel tulip, the beer has a sizeable, one-inch tan head that sticks around for a while. Body is a slightly cloudy, deep mahogany color. Nose is dominated by sweet malt and alcohol, with notes of brown sugar, yeast, and a hint of stone fruit. Palate is very nice - sweet malt is dominant, with notes of clove, allspice, and a very subtle hoppiness. The finish is dominated by warmth from the alcohol, but tempered by a lingering sweetness from the malt. Rich, creamy, warm mouthfeel is as close to perfection as you can get. This beer is an absolute pleasure to drink, even if it takes over an hour to get to the bottom of the glass.

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Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
4.8/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had only seen this beer in the 11oz bottle; needless to say when I came across a corked 750 I was all over it. St. Bernardus looks to be hand painted, same design as the other bottle, but you can feel the detail of his bald-ass head.

At first there was a fait amount of carbonation, as the beer settled a 1/8-inch head remained. Uniform lacing as a backdrop to wonderfully rich dark brown velvet.
Malt, grapes, citrus, a wonderful finish. For me tastes and smells are everything I have come to enjoy in this style. Tasty alcohol, accented by its wonderful characteristics. A beer worthy of its rating. Get yourself some.

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Photo of Litterbean
4.18/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I love the look of this beer. Extremely brown and intimidating, with a whispy head that leaves fluffy lace. There is a very noticeable amount of carbonation.

Of course, there is that yeast smell right up front. A plentiful array of fruit in the nose, with spicy deep aroma which pulls through.

The first think you notice about the taste is the warming sensation you get from the liberal amount of alcohol. This is one beer that will knock you down. Very fruity. I detect prunes and other sun-dried fruits. Citric hops in the background. Medicinal qualities abound. Very dry finish, and the carbonation keeps your tongue feeling refreshed. After every sip I would salivate and it would keep my mouth well lubed. Immensely complex and it is obvious care was taken in making this baby. Not entirely drinkable because you are forced to sip this, and one bottle should be enough for a night. Not a session brew, but not meant to be. This was a perfect compliment to my last day of classes for the year.

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Photo of Gaisgeil
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy and deep amber brown in color with a fluffy and massive tan head with great retention. Nose is spicy and heavily alcoholic; powerful. Taste is spicy, slightly peppery with many layers of fruit flavors, raisins, figs and bananas. Alcohol is quite apparent with a bit of carbonation as well. Quite a nice hop bite as well balancing the sweetness out quite nicely.

A very well put together brew, certainly a benchmark for the style in many ways.


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Photo of troutmask96
4.36/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fantasic experience with this highly-touted Belgian. Pours a monster head that lingers all night. Smell is of alcohol and grains. Taste is of cloves and chocolate. Extremely sweet, almost cola-like. I made the mistake of mixing this in the middle of session brews and woke up with one hell of a headache! Sip this baby by itself, and you're in for quite a treat, indeed...

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Photo of gimmehead
4.82/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a raisin brown with a frothy off-white head that diminishes to form a skim coat, and some yeasty floaters. Smells of tart fruity esters, candy sweetness, apples and plums, bready, vinous alcohol notes. Tastes much the same. Initially very malty and sweet, becoming more fruity and vinous in character. Lots of bready banana yeast, sugary sweet mixed with a spicy hop bite, and a lingering vinous alcohol aftertaste. Medium thick, moderate carbonation. This is what I envision a quad to be: sweetness, estery, spicy, vinous character and noticeable alcohol. A nearly perfect brew.

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Photo of oberon
4.45/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with some deep red hue with a big creamy head leaving nice sheets of lace behind,aromas of dark sweet cherries and some smoke along with a some spice very appetizing.Silky smooth mouthfeel, creamy and not to heavy goes down with ease,what can you say complex and great some spiced cherries and spice along with some raisin with a faint smokiness the alcolhol shows itself more as it warms.Just an awesome beer have sampled many times was great to aquire a bottle,worthy of its high marks awesome.

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Photo of Truh
4.42/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Gave up all of my worldly goods with this one on 5/13/2004. 12-oz. bottle poured in an Allagash snifter.

Thin, cream head with a constant burst and replacement plan going on. Mahogany, warm brown hue but it could not be seen through. Big malt nose with peat moss and other earthy tones, bread crust. Scrumptious balance of hops and malt, though I tasted more of the latter than the former, and a serious alcohol hit of heat. Crisp and slightly tart mouth feel. Truly a great offering, this is one I would gladly have again and again.

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Photo of alexgash
4.87/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

500th review time. I wanted to celebrate with a little something special, so I pulled this out of my meager "cellar." Anyway, on to the beer!

Dark, shoe leather brown that looks muddy, dotted with some clumps of unavoidable sediment. Two rocky fingers of thick, sandy brown head. Excellent lacing. Nose is made up of ripe, vinous fruits, rock candy, yeast, delicate alcohol, sugar cookie sweetness, oh and some tropical, estery fruits. Very complex and unbelievably inviting.

Taste opens up with some almost tart, vinous fruit notes. Warmig alcohol throughout (but not boozy). Ripened tropical fruits meld with yeast, leather, chocolate, and some roasted bitterness. Banana bitterness swells into the finish. Finish is long, warming, and full of encore performances from all the previous flavors. Very nice.

Full-bodied, with a velvety smooth mouthfeel. Never gets cloying. A wonderful beer!

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Photo of gotbeer
4.57/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a deep brown color with mild carbonation.

The taste is spicy with lots of complexity. Lots of fruit flavors hit your mouth- fig, banana, and plum flavors come out. Wonderful aftertaste, and the complexity and flavor hides the ABV although it can be noticed. This is a truly great beer that I may not be worthy of. I prefer it to any Belgian beer that I have had to date (pretty much everything but Westy at this point). I would highly recommend it to others.

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Photo of lou91
4.41/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow what a beautiful beer! It poured perfectly into a chalice with a thick silky head that looked like a cappuccino and once the sediment poured out it looked like cinnamon on top. The head glistened and had a subtle sound believe it or not. Dark brown color and a wonderful nose make all your senses go crazy. You must let this beer warm to fully appreciate its depth and range of flavors. Chocolate malt, honey and subtle spices in a silky seductive package. I paired it with a blue cheese and this beer cleaned my palate perfectly. It is like a bolder Rochefort 10, which does not mean better – just stronger flavors. Excellent.

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Photo of AlexJ
4.8/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I appropriately end my St. Bernardus tasting with the mighty 12. It flows like music into my antique green glass goblet, a red-tinged chestnut color, wearing a veil of haze.

Succulant dark and sticky fruits and yeasty spice explode from the goblet. It is a symphony of luscious malty sweets and warming alcohol goodness. Very promising.

One sip and I'm addicted to this beer for life! There are layers of fruits to pull apart; plum, green melon, figs, banana, dark cherries, and more. It's delightfully yeasty, with raw dough and all the accompanying spice. There's a nibble of artfully added hops toward the end. It's sweet and fruity while maintaining it's dignity.

The mouthfeel is medium big, with a very creamy, full texture. It's ever so gently carbonated and really feels like velvet in my mouth. I lick my goblet clean when I am finished, it's that good!

Note: after trying the St. Bernardus 6, 8, tripel, and Abt 12, I am thouroughly impressed and enamored with this beer. Absolutely top notch in every respect, and impossible to pick a favorite. Thanks again Gabe for sharing.

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Photo of maltedmilk
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I’m down to the last drop, so I better get this done.

This beer pours a cloudy dark brown in my chimay glass. There are uneven bubbles, decent carbonation. I would say a medium head wiith lots of lacing on the glass.

The smells are very sweet and fruity. There is a definite alcohol presence.

This beer is a pleasure, sweet with slight touch of bitterness and a butt kicking alcohol content.

Do I hear angels singing? Maybe.

As I’ve been warned, drink it at the appropriate temperature.

It makes a difference.

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Photo of Pingotas
4.95/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A consistent brew bottle-to-bottle, irrespective of size. Prefer this at about 55 degrees. Interestingly, the warmer samplings produced my most lasting impressions.

Turbid (In fact, nearly translucent) heady brown liquid poured hesitantly into the glass. The head rises ambitiously with a very fine, pleasant bubbliness.

The velvety taste is sensational. What makes this brew memorable is the yeasty flavor of freshly-baked dough. The blending of malty sweetness and distant hops allows the delicate flavors of plum pudding to persist long after the beer has been consumed.

A winner in my book, and perhaps my overall favorite ale.

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Photo of Globetrotter
4.42/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased in Antwerp and hand-delivered to Moscow (thanks Marjut and Michael), this intriguing little 33cl brown bottle has a blue and gold label featuring a happy monk holding up a chalice full of the good stuff. No ingredient information. Best before 12/02/09 (after five years, I wonder how much worse it would be on December 3?), I opened it on 3/23/05.

Cloudy hue somewhere between copper and burgundy, under a one finger beige head that settles quickly at first, then lingers as very thick film across the top of the liquid for a very long time. I see a few strands of lace, but the head is not very sticky and lacks a bit in body. The nose is just right - not overpowering and not mild. Fruit is the main impression, with yeast and barley backing that up. The mouth is very well carbonated and slightly viscous - not heavy, but there is a coating sensation on the tongue. The taste is sublime, smooth bready malt, a touch of fruity twang, a hint of hoppy bitterness. The alcohol is well concealed, but not invisible. We've got great balance here in a beer that cannot be enjoyed in quantity on a given night, but can be enjoyed on many given nights.

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Photo of mschofield
3.83/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dark plum red, topped with a two finger marshmallowy tan head, leaves a puffy sheet of lacing.
Dark malt, plum and raisin in the sweet taste.
Fruity and spicy taste, with toast, caramel, herbs, tea, and raisins. Lip tingling and sweet.
Fully bodied, drinkability was only on the average side.

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Photo of jmc44
4.92/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Simply put, this is an excellent beer.

Poured into a goblet, dark amber color with a slighty off-white head. Smells of fruits, spice, and hints of cocoa and vanilla.

Tastes... well, heavenly, with a hint of fruits followed by a bit of spice.

The high alcohol content does not hurt this beer; you will not even realize you are drinking alcohol. This is a very drinkable beer that everyone needs to try.

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Photo of NiceGuyMike
4.85/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This may seem lame, but I say see Todd Alström's review. After reading Todd's review I had an idea in my as to what this would taste. I never thought it would come true. This is more than beer, it is an event, a meal and wondrous.

I cannot say it any better than Todd, but I'll try.

I poured slowly so no head speak of. At first it smelled like alcohol and a bit sweet but make no mistake, it is a beer. After the first sip I was attached with a spicy flavor. The spicy flavor mellows quickly but not before a sharp alcohol kick finishing with and a warm buttery candy like flavor. All the while bubbles remind you what you're drinking.

Never have I ever had such an aftertaste. This is a drink, a meal and a dessert all in one. Sitting here writing this review I am reminded of a bakery the smell is so inviting.

Points off for drinkability and mouthfeel only because of the excessive alcohol. Other than that, I cannot imagine anything more exceptional.

Correction on the head: the second pour produced a very nice head.

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St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Beer rating: 4.46 out of 5 with 9,766 ratings