St. Bernardus Abt 12 | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

9,561 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: 9,561 |  Reviews: 2,803
Photo of taez555
4/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a HUGE firm very fine white/beige head. The head itself took several minutes to die down to the point where I could even start to taste it. It did however give me time to admire the dark brown almost ruby colored body.

The smell was very sweet and fruity. With banana and clove smells that almost reminded me of some german heffeweizens.

The taste of this beer was very nice. A rather full bodied thick beer, with a lot of up front bitterness followed by some beautiful raisin, plum and even chocolate tones. From start to finish it just passes over the tongue in one smooth motion. The alcohol was a bit more present than I expected, but not overshadowing in any way. Very well balanced. Maybe only a touch to bitter , but otherwise very well done.

It finished very soft, with some lingering bitterness and spice.

To be perfectly honest I found this beer to be a very middle of the road belgian. A well crafted work of art, but just a little too subtle and bitter in it's taste for me.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.87/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The jovial monk on the label seems the perfect host, holding his chalice aloft, and, after drinking down this deliriously delectable ale, who can argue his happiness? Not I, not I!!

Color is a dark russet brown, and head is enormous, majestic, utterly awesome!

Aroma hits you right off: earthy, nutty, and not merely deep, but cavernous. Incredibly complex, and utterly gorgeous: cocoa,plum, port wine, medicine, and a very apparent alcoholic character, plus anise, pepper, and more, so much more!

On first sip, I can't help but think that "complexity" is a shallow term with which to circumscribe the many aspects of this amazing brew. So much to contend with, so much going on!
I need to take a breath and reel from the feeling, and seek relief from the rush! Extraordinary!

Integration is perfect: there are hops aplenty, and massive malt, but nothing sticks out above or beyond, it all joins forces to create this amazing masterpiece.

Was this only 10%? Oh, they must be happy monks, indeed!

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Photo of pio
4.22/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this beer is awesome. pours a dark brown with an orange tint. it starts with a huge head that was beautiful, it held down through the brew and was it's smallest at about an eigth inch and it made a really neat looking ying-yang starfish looking swirl when i roused it up. it left a lace on the glass like a wreath. my lord the aroma on this one is indeed exceptional! i liken it to liliacs, daiseys and rosewater but overall it's a very complex aroma. now on to the taste and mouthfeel and wow does this beer ever stop impressing me? no it does not. the flavors of lemons, brown sugar, ripe red delicious apple skins, carmelized friuts and a neat pumpkin back flavor. the mouthfeel was very consistant and was essential in tasting. there was a plesant alcohol flavor in the mouthfeel too. a nice burp like a little encore. this beer was great to drink and if it weren't so damn rich i could drink it all day and night, stick to one and drink it for a long time. this is special. thanks, as always, for reading my review.

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

Bear with me. I struggle with the jargon. This beer is a real treat.

Pours a beautiful carbonated head. Nice dark reddish brown.

Smells good but can't quantify. Maybe banana or citrus.

Tastes so good I hope I can describe. Figs, banana, citrus. Don't hurry 15 minutes later your mouth is still full of flavor. I love the carbonated bite. This is one of the Best Belgians you will try. Alcohol is not overwhelming until you have finished. One will give you a nice buzz.

I have trouble describing the experience of drinking this beer but I know this is an exceptional beer. I like the label also. Do not pass up the Tripel(green label) That is a good one also.

Addendum: I have tried all the heavyweights available in the US. Westy, Trappist Rocquefort. This is the 5 out of the bunch. P.S. This is the only 5 I have given any beer.

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Photo of ChrisBowers
4.78/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I can't say enough good things about Abt 12. While not a true trappist Abbey ale, it does not disappoint. In fact, it is one of my favorites of the Abbey incarnation. It pours a deep burgundy hue with an excellent head and hints of rasins, figs and a fine lace upon settling. Its just one of those beers you could take a sip of and let it sit in your mouth for 30 seconds before swallowing. Excellent balance, given its heavy alcohol content. Just the right amount of malt. When tasting a Westie Abbey alongside of Abt 12, I actually found the Abt 12 to be more enjoyable. Definately give this one a look the next time you're at your favorite shop. You can't miss the smiling monk!

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Photo of nomad
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a very darkened ruby color with great clarity and hue. The carbonation made a pockmarked thick frothy head, was nice to peer at.

Had some lace that fell fairly fast. Nose was very fruity-malty (grape, dark chocolate), and had a spice that seemed like coconut but darker. A slightly medicinal tone as well, and on whirl of the liquid I picked up an alcohol scent of a wine type.

Taste was fruity (darkly so) and malty (akin to dark syrup). Had a soft spice like a roasted coconut mixed with an earthy yeast flavor. A little chewy with a soft mouthfeel, but extremely drinkable. It left a very yummy but peculiar hops flavor – not the bitter, graprefuity type, but more like a salad greens taste (mesclun, arugula). Long finish that tasted like how soft choose lingers. Also gave off a damn yummy burp! Overall, smooth but large maltiness with a subtle though not small stance on the palette.

Simple but effective - an excellent dark and malty beer with that great Belgian bent to it.

EDIT: Okay, many months later and this beer has become my favorite "big and darker" Belgian. Amazing value for the price.

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Photo of bditty187
4.89/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Murky, brownish-red hue, a long lasting finger’s worth of tan head, some unorganized lace. Wonderful nose… banana, rum, raisin, prunes, sugary candy, and alcohol; complex and inviting. A heavenly quaff, the first sips race its joy straight to the brain yet simultaneously warming the belly. Ultra complex palate… The alcohol seems to be a tasty blend of wine & rum with passionate dark, rich fruits mixed with the subtly spicy peppery hints. Then for good measure, well placed bubble gum notes. The malt foundation is perfect. The abv is concealed in the taste… not so much with the warming effect though. I find the mouthfeel to be almost ideal… just a tad thin at times, no complaints though. The drinkability is phenomenal for the potency and complexity of this beer. An absolute gem of a beer, it is worthy of its World Class reputation.

For $3.50 an 11.2 oz. bottle it is a steal. And as VENOM (and others) note, this is supposedly the same recipe as Westvleteran Abt 12.

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

Pours out with a white head that settles over hazy reddish-brown liquid. The nose is spicy, with notes of chocolate and light hints of dark fruits & a "horse blanket" aroma. Mouthfeel is effervescent, with notes of nuts, chocolate, fruitiness and a healthy amount of hops. The finish drys out to a perfect balance of hoppiness and malt sweetness...the high alcohol in this beer is hardly noticeable until late finish. A remarkable beer, you find it!

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Photo of shirfan
4.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Muddy, translucent mahogany-brown, this had a pillowy floater of a head that took forever to level off...and still kept a good 1/8 inch at all times, with excellent lacing.

Aroma is a bit musty and warm, notes of baked fruit, malt, and alcohol.

Very striking is the "melts in your mouth" feel of this beer, almost perfect carbonation. A high level of sweetness without feeling sticky or cloying, rounded out by the not especially discreet alcohol. However, this doesn't taste rough in the least.

Taste starts sweet, malty, and warming. A complex body, notes of raisins, pears, candy apples, and hearty malt. A perfectly clean but sweet finish, with a bit of a kick mingled in.

There's a reason the monk on the label is smiling broadly; even aware of the high ABV, I'm feeling this going to my head 2/3 of the way through a single bottle. Very, very nice on a dark rainy night; this will be a regular selection on my too-infrequent trips to Premier Gourmet.

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Photo of StevieW
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle. Foamer. Murky brown with burgundy hints. Prodigious (did I just say that ?) head. Foamy and rich, covered the side of the glass completely. The head stayed in little clumps on the surface.
Initial smell were plums, figs, and earthiness combined with a super malty candy sweetness. Smells smoothed out to a mellow carmel candy sweetness and some fig undertones. Overall very pleasant and supersmooth.
First taste was a combination of the above mentioned carmel sweetness but with a hot shocking alcohol presence. I thought for a couple minutes I had over estimated this beer, or maybe expected more. As the beer settled the candied sweetness took over, nearly syrupy but falls short of that. Lots of figgy, rum soaked raisins, and malty sweetness dominate the taste. Sticky sweet but not overwhelming. Touch of cotton candy dryness then finishes. Tastes melt together better as the beer sits a while. Medium bodied, perfectly carbonated. Overall alot of good flavors that eventually come out and blend perfectly.
Worthy of it's high rating and very enjoyable.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.37/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

IMHO this is the best of the St. Bernardus line if beers. Apparantly this beer is brewed with the same ingredients as Westvleteren 12 and while this beer is not as good as Westie 12 it is very tasty. This beer pours a dark brown colour into my Westvleteren Chalice. It has an immense head and a wonderful aroma of figs, dark fruits, alcohol, sugar, various spice and multiple malts. This tasted like more of the same. Super Complex! The alcohol helped tame down the sweetness that I am not too fond of in the St. Bernardus line of beers and so this abt 12 was really the best of the bunch. This had a very thick and creamy mouthfeel and a high drinkability as well.
Very Nice!

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Photo of longpondbeerman
4.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From this brightly labeled bottle the Abt 12 poured a dark caramel with just a minimum of light showing through when I held it up to the lamp. There was a big, light tan head, and the heavy carbonation was clearly visible. I noticed immediately a tart (gingery) aroma--with raisens, cloves, and dates mixed in; very intricate. The taste was initially sharper than I expected, perhaps because of the high alcohol content, which was not at all overwhelming; but the complexity I noticed in the smell remained evident in the taste too. The mouthfeel was excellent, with a soft, syrupy consistency--a good ale to sip slowly. I could not drink too many of these puppies at one sitting, but I now understand why the monk on the label has such a broad smile on his face.

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Photo of ElGuapo
4.57/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A deep brown cloudy brew with a big tannish foam on top. Aromas of bread, spice, and roasty malts jump out of the glass. A great whiffing beer. Your nose is in sniffing Heaven as it skips through the array of fine aromas.

This is a wonderful beer. Full of flavor and body. The carbonation is at a perfect level. Spices are a vital part of the flavor of this brew. Roasty malts with light flavors of coffee and caramel come out. You will also pick up yeast and breadiness. The alcohol is almost completely invisible to your taste buds. Balance is incredible. It is an absolute work of art.

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Photo of GreatPondBrewer
4.47/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Damn fine beer no doubt. Poured a dark red with a huge, pillowy off white head with some fine looking bubbles. The smell was full of raisins, cloves and other sweet fruits, perhaps mellon and just a little hint of alcohol. The taste was syrupy, sweet with notes of cherries rolling off my tongue. The carbonations gave an flavorful sensation on the back of my tongue as the nectar flowed down my throat. Great strong ale that hides the alcohol very well.

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Photo of jeffboo
4.28/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An Abbey ale that keeps on giving until the glass is drained (and even then the thick head sits on the bottom,not wanting to leave). This beer was a pleasant surprise from the rare beer store at It poured dark brown with a thick tan head that wasn't going anywhere fast. The aromas of banana,brown sugar,rum,ripe plums and spice was nice. It started out whiskeyish with a malty sweet long finish that seemed a little thin at cellar temp but became creamy smooth as it warmed. More notes of raisin bread with an alcoholic toasty/nuttiness in the finish. A great evening sipper.

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Photo of scottum
4.08/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours out dark dark brown with a beautiful off white head that never dies. This is one of the most complex brews I've ever tasted. There's a party in my mouth! There is a clovelike taste. Sweet and fruity flavors also override my tastebuds. The alcohol taste is also very much there. If a beer could melt in your mouth this one would. Feels really nice going down. I think this may be a bit too much of a beer for me though. Alas. The flavors are a bit overboard in my opinion. I'd like to taste a bottle of this that has been aged a few years.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
3.73/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz amber bottle with a blue label and cap. $4.49 per bottle.

Poured a cloudy brown ("iced tea" brown) with thick, rich, light tan foam that left good lace on the glass. The smell was malty and biscuity with the smell of roasted banana. The taste was good, but the flavor of alcohol was very apparent. Very slightly sweet taste of malt with a hint of fruit and some phenols, with a touch of bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel was warming (the alcohol), creamy and smooth, but with an astringent finish. The drinkability was OK, but the alcohol flavor was too prominent.

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Photo of aracauna
4.33/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Okay, supposedly this is made to the same recipe at Westvleteren 12, but I'm not seeing it. Huge, meringue head is appropriate to the style. Very sticky and I saw caves forming in the head along the sides of the glass as smaller bubbles became large but were unable to move because of the viscosity of the rest of the foam. The body is a very dark brown, cloudy. The nose is earthy, similar to some of the smells of a vegetable garden towards the end of harvest. The first flavor that hit me was cotton candy but this was while I was getting nothing but foam. It also seemed a little hot then. There's a butteriness to it that blends nicely into the chocolate and toffee malts. Ripe bananas over peaches a bit past their prime meld in nicely as well. Very low bitterness and the alcohol is covered extremely well. There's also a slight vinous character to it and there's something there that reminds me of the homemade wine my church uses for Communion. The mouth feel is very slick and creamy. This beer forces you to drink it slowly whether you want to or not. Since I'm enjoying it, I want to do so.

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

Small 330ml bottle, pours a thick cloudy brownish color with a huge frothy and creamy biege lasting head that leaves clingy sheets of lace in my glass, nice malty and sweet yet spicy aroma. Sweet and fruity malty flavors, nice and smooth creamy soft mouthfeel,full body with a lively carbonation, finishes with a pleasant sweet and spicy aftertaste, alcohol very well hidden, I love this one.

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Photo of Sidabeef7
4.57/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The joyous monk on the label says it all. This is another great from the Belgians. It pours with an opaque, amber appearance that is accompanied by smell of fruit and malt. The Abt 12 goes down very smoothly with tastes of ripe fruit and bread. Let me not forget the alcohol which is apparent on the finish and lets itself be known on the way down. Overall, this is a tasty and complex abbey beer that is much easier to come-by (and cheaper) than Westvleteren or Rochefort.

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Photo of jtw5877
4.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First of all, WOW. This stuff is excellent. Pours a deep brown hue with a thick light tan head. Strong maltiness, Caramel and biscuity taste. Complex malt profile that becomes more complex as it warms. I am really starting to love Belgian Beers. I'd recommend this one for anybody who needs a change of pace from hoppier beer.

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Photo of Jason
4.4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: The glass is rimming with lace, hazed brown colour gives the appearance some depth.

Smell: A spike of clove, layers of ripe fruit and malt sweetness are what the aroma is all about.

Taste: 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.

Mouthfeel: Exceedingly smooth with a creamy full body after the smoothness moves through.

Drinkability & Notes: I’d have no problem sipping this all night long. A heavenly abbey ale that goes down as one of the best for me.

Thanks to D & V International for the sample.

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Photo of Bierman9
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My second foray into the St. B's biers... though the label on mine says 10%, not 12. Ahh, whats 2% amongst friends, eh? The 12 has a verrry dark brown color, nearing the point of opaqueness if not already there. Head is tan, very finely-bubbled, creamy, and forms a thin layer over the aforementioned opaque brown liquid. Lacing was just an after-thought, though. Mouthfeel was similar to the Tripel I just imbibed; medium-plus in the body, and it lightly teases the tongue with some fine carbonation. The aroma was not too difficult to discern. Some malt (with a chocolate lean to it?), a suggestion of dark fruit, and perhaps intimations of alcohol. Flavors were hard to pin down, yet I liked them none-the-less! Mild notes of dark fruit; malty sweetness; candi-sugar; a nudge of yeastiness.... and alcohol warmth to boot! Pleasantly pleasing!! Zum Wohl!!

overall: 4.5
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5


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Photo of RBorsato
4.79/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep dark brown, murky chocolate color (dark red, burgundy to light) with a big pillowy head. Leaves large sheets of lace. Fruity raisiney aroma and taste. A flavor I can only simply describe as a double dubbel. Faint alcohol aroma and taste which becomes more prominent as it warms. Seems well balanced but hard to tell due to the strength of flavor. Medium-full body despite high carbonation levels so you know this baby is strong.

Label states: "Abbey Ale" & 10% ABV.

[11.3 oz / 33cl bottle]

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Photo of hyuga
4.95/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Hazy, almost opaque dark brown with the characteristic off-white head of this style. The head stays at a good level. Great aroma! Dark fruits (mostly plum), yeast spiciness, caramelly sweetness, and a good amount of coconut. Alcohol is only very slightly noticeable in the aroma, impressive for a 10% brew. What a taste! This is delicious! It's like doppelbock meets Belgian strong ale. At the front, sweet and spicy with caramel and that special yeast spiciness. Noticeable after that in the middle is a slight coconut character on top of the aforementioned flavors. Dark fruits (raisin, fig, and plum) make up the rest of the full body. Alcohol is not at all detectable in the flavor, but it does eventually show up in another form, numbing your mouth a good deal and making your head spin a bit. Retro-olfaction brings out some bready maltiness. Good amount of carbonation for the mouthfeel; not too much, not too little. I'm definitely reminded of the reasons for this being my favorite beer style. Even the aftertaste leaves you wanting more. This has become one of my favorite beers, #1 or 2 even, if I were to make a list. If you run across this, don't even think of leaving the store without it. It is a bit pricey, but less than a lot of the other Belgians, and definitely worth it. I was informed that this was only recently made available to us here in Arizona. I picked it up in a gift pack. I hope after the gift pack season is over they'll still carry this beer.

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St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.42 out of 5 based on 9,561 ratings.
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