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St. Bernardus Abt 12 | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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2,739 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: 2,739 | Ratings: 9,260
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Glazed persimmon orange with a fine sprinkling of yeast drifting downward against the tide of uprushing carbonation. The wheat toast colored crown is a firmly creamy, rocky, sticky masterpiece of the sort that only Belgians seem able to create. What a fantastic way to start.

Does Brouwerij St. Bernardus (and do other Belgian breweries) recognize the quadrupel style, or do they consider Abt 12 to be a high-ABV dubbel? The silk-screened label on the 750 indicates that this ale is 'brewed in the classic Dubbel style'.

The aroma isn't as dark as some... or as dark as expected. There's more steely caramel, earth and toast than anything even remotely resembling chocolate or roasted malt. It's also more medium fruity than dark fruity. A wonderful clove-and-pepper yeast-derived spiciness pulls it all together in beautiful fashion.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 easily deserves its reputation as one of the world's finest beers. It delivers the same seamless quality, mind-boggling complexity and compulsive drinkability as the rest of their outstanding lineup. Along with Brouwerij Het Anker, these guys are my favorite Belgian brewery.

This flagship ale really does taste more like a BSDA or a big dubbel than most quadrupels. Specifics include well-toasted brown bread, steely caramel, unsweet figs, earthy tobacco, ground clove and black pepper. What was a solid 4.5 during the first few ounces is now a much-deserved 5.0 as the middle of the bottle is breached.

Warming brings greater flavor intensity, several more flavor facets, and a more complete melding of flavors. We're now talking 'gold standard' for the style. My tongue registers the ABV as 8.5% while my brain is beginning to feel the Full Monty. Time to start sipping rather than greedily gulping.

This big bottle must be fairly fresh (estimated age is barely more than one year) because a surprising amount of hop bitterness is still present. Sweeter would be fine, but I like it just the way it is. Aging this beauty for 15 years, as the label suggests is possible, doesn't seem like such a great idea.

The body/mouthfeel isn't far from perfection. It's lighter than most triple-digit ABV ales, but heavier probably wouldn't have worked as well. The smooth-edged creaminess can't be faulted. Nor can the ideal amount and well-integrated feel of the carbonation.

Abt 12 is a true classic that deserves mention whenever the topic turns to the best beers on the planet. Even though Tripel is the finest ale that St. Bernardus has to offer, this big brew isn't far behind. It's also better (and more widely available) than either Trappistes Rochefort 10 or Westveleteren 12.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.3/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Best Before: 12 07 12.

Appearance: Pours a near opaque, dark brown body with a full, cascading, and lasting, ivory-colored head. Sea foam lacing on the way down.

Smell: Aromatic blend of stewed, spiced fruit, liqueur, and chopped up chocolate cookies and candy bars.

Taste: First and foremost, it's fruity, tasting of golden raisins, plum juice, and candied figs. Then you get some maltiness, mainly dark chocolate and nutty caramel. Hit of dark candi sugar. Not really much in the way of hops here. Touch of clove and nutmeg. Sip of creme de cocoa. Maybe a bit of fresh, oily orange zest. Finishes malty, sweet, and rather warming.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Moderately carbonated.

Drinkability: Paired very well with some Pinback mp3's (particularly "Tripoli" and "Seville"). Full of flavor, rich complexities, and yet it's easily accessible and generally readily available from coast to coast. What's not the like? Although, I will say, I dug that 'Special Edition' a bit more. That's just me, though!

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.48/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap 1/7/07 at Track 84 in Warwick, RI, served in a goblet.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a short beige head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of yeast, roasted malt, chocolate and a touch of dark fruits.

T: Taste is very-well balanced with flavors of yeast, chocolate, caramelized malt and dark fruits. No one flavor takes dominance. There is a slight hops bitterness in the background. The high ABV is extremely well-hidden.

M: Very smooth, medium body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is clean.

D: Very tasty, goes down ridiculously easy which will make the ABV catch up to you in a hurry. This is a very good beer. At the time that I am writing this review, the beer is #15 on the Best of BA. Believe the hype.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.63/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First had: on tap at Eulogy, Philly, PA

Most enthusiasts know and love this beer, as do I. Many said enthusiasts also prefer this beer to such heavy hitters as Rochefort 10 and Westvleteren 12. Well, it's certainly more obtainable than the latter, and cheaper than the former, but as far as being better, I supposed that's a matter of personal taste.

Pours--preferably into a chalice, and more preferably into a signature chalice--a deep carameled mahogany color with a firm, creamy half inch of ivory head that retains through the session, and leaves beautiful lacing. When you see a beer presented like this, it's just...this is what beer is supposed to look like. This is craftmanship. Aroma is rich with dark sugars, dark fruits, and spicy Belgian yeast. Taste of toasted bread, with lots of brown sugar up front, along with dark dried fruits--raisins, figs, plums--caramel, tobacco, almond, subtle hop spiciness, and an ubiquitous alcohol bite. Not heavy, but full-bodied, and highly drinkable.

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

Poured a deep brown with a huge head and laced up the whole bottle. Smell was very complex. Malty, berry, fruity smell. A tiny bit of alcohol, very strong smell. Taste was the smae, Very very complex, every sip gave a different flavor it seemed, simply wonderful. Very drinkable too. This was my first try of this wonderful brew and I must say it completly lived up to the hype. This was really really wonderful to drink, and really seemed to get better each time I sipped!

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Photo of Slatetank
4.67/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this bottle up at Capone's, decanted the corked and caged brown 750ml into a goblet.
A - A deep caramel brown with a medium tan head that has good retention.

S - Malty w/ a sweet dry scent and supple soft fruit odors.

M - A snap of carbonation w/ a spicy yeast note and slightly dry nutty textures.

T - A great smooth caramel and toasted malt taste combines w/ a candy-like nutty taste. A dry effortless nuance of dates and vanilla flavor that hints at candy sugar. The abv is well masked and the subtle sweetness makes you want to sip at it. The smooth dry malt combines w/ a subtle fusel alcohol tinge as it warms with a fig-like sweetness. The flavor is very subdued, yet well balanced and interesting.

D - An fantastic quad, that is highly drinkable for the 10% that it is. Soft, smooth and light in body, never cloying. Wonderful in every sense, a true taste delight.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The pour is a cloudy dark mahogany color without much head to speak of.

S: Good but not great aromas of sweet malt, caramel, and yeast. There might be a touch of alcohol as well.

T: I was a bit let down by the aroma, but the flavor does quite well to redeem itself. A slight warming feel of alcohol goes well with some dark fruits and sweet, caramel malt. The yeast is not as quite prominent as many other Belgian beers.

M: Even with the high level of carbonation, the body is still quite full.

D: The alcohol makes itself known more in terms of the subtle warmth it provides the beer but isn't aggressive by any means. The flavors are sweet but balanced and are helped out by the carbonation.

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Photo of russpowell
4.56/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Date of 26 08 10. Pours burgundy/chestnut (a hazy red when held to the light) with 2+ fingers of pillowy tan colored head. Great lacing & head retention

S: Fruitty & bready with hints of chocolate

T: Fruitty, cakey with hints of plum liquor up front. Raisins & chocolate follow. Oaky dryness, leather and a hint of fruitcake settle in as this warms. Earthy grainyness and hops are there as well. Cinamon, apple pie, warming boozeyness. a tinge of tobacco, figs, dates, bitterness & dryness all show up in the finish. Super complex & satisfying

MF: Medium/heavy bodied, vinous & slightly carbonated

Drinks too easy. I believe this would shine with beef or Christmas pudding. At $3 for a 300ml bottle, a steal!

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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. http://www.specialtybeer.com

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

Best before 08-09-16

A: Pours a cloudy mahogany to dark brown in color with ruby highlights and a huge two finger tall beige head. The head has great retention continuing to be over a finger tall for a long time and never completely going away. Significant lacing is observed.

S: The smell is of sweet malts, Belgian yeast, and dark fruits - black cherry, date, plum, and raisin. There are subtle hints of spices and caramel/toffee/molasses.

T: Lots of dark fruits - date, plum, raisin, and black cherry - upfront with the malt body and sweetness. That is followed by the candi sugar and a caramel/toffee flavor. The finish of the beer has some spices/pepper, hints of noble hops, and just the most subtle hint of alcohol heat.

M: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Slight dryness in the finish.

O: A wonderful beer with a very nice complexity of flavor and balance. I shouldn't be surprised as I have been impressed with every beer I have had from St. Bernardus. Another one of those beers that I continue to drink and appreciate over many years. The alcohol is well hidden considering the ABV but this is a sipping beer.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a St. Bernardus chalice.

Pours a very dark brown, with lighter walnut tinges along the edges. The finger-thick head half dies, leaving a lovely creamy remainder that laces very well. The aroma is sweet and tangy, with a nice, effervescent fruitiness dominating. The taste corroborates the nose, with those fruits coming back with a sweet vengeance (those lovely malts!), including a hint of molasses/maple syrup all the way in the back. The body is a heavy medium, but does not sit poorly; rather it stands at attention, saluting, declaring itself, but not overpowering.

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Photo of orangesol
4.13/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on-tap at Shady McGrady's into a snifter.

A - Pours deep brown with a thick cap of one finger tall white head, dissipating down to a light film, leaving thin webs of lacing down the glass.

S - Very strong smell overall. Hints of sweet malt, dry yeast, strong booze, dark fruits, and a touch of caramel sweetness. The booze is ever present and seems to only get stronger as the beer begins to warm.

T - Now we are talking. Still plenty of warming alcohol but it is tempered with hints of sweet malts, dark fruits, dry Belgian yeast, and some light spice. Finish is a mix of sweetness and warming booze. Very nice beer overall, just a touch too boozy for my liking.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Sweet, boozy, feel with most of it lingering throughout the finish.

D - Pretty good. I like quad's, and this one is no different, but they really wear on me over the course of the glass. The combo of high price, $8 for this snifter...ouch!, and the strong booze really bring the drinkability down.

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

A big thanks to DmanGTR for sending this in my very first trade! Now consuming it for my one year anniversary on BA!

750 ml bottle poured into a DFH signature glass

A: Pours a ruby/brown color, slightly hazy with one finger of off white head. Great retention, lasting for the entire time I drank this beer. Left some very pretty lacing down the sides.

S: Lots of dark fruits, some cherries, plums, and some bruised apples. Also a little bit of vanilla and a little bit of spice.

T: Nice darker fruit flavor, raisins, a little bit of cherry, some yeast, and a little bit of spice. As it warms an apple flavor develops.

M: Medium bodied, but slightly lighter than expected. Nice carbonation.

O: Really good beer, very impressed. This is my first quad and I think it will be a style that I seek out more. Really easy drinking.

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Photo of smcolw
3.53/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy with LOTS of suspended yeast clumps. Some light shines through. Nice head with good lace after each sip.

Earthy and slightly sweet aroma. Low level of Belgian yeast and hop.

Rich and creamy, the alcohol is ever-present. A little oily in the body. The aftertaste reminds me of a swallow of brandy. The flavor has some hard-stone fruit tones, such as plum and cherry.

The story of this beer is the alcohol, which I find distracting. IMHO, the dilemma with Quads is that they are made extreme without placing stronger flavors in the brew (like darker malts or more hops). So, I find these to be a little too one-dimensional.

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Photo of billab914
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into my Westvleteren chalice. Gushed a little as I opened it but was able to get it into the glass in time. Poured brown in color with a frothy and bubbly off-white head. Excellent head retention and moderate lacing.

The aroma has a sweet, malty, caramel, chocolate, dark fruit aroma to it. Very nice and complex, not too dark for the style either. A little yeast flavors round out the nose.

The taste is full dark fruit and malty sweet goodness. It has some notes of caramel, brown sugar, chocolate, figs, plums and bread. Very nice and complex tasting, probably the best of the style I've had so far.

The mouthfeel is on the thicker side and carbonation is moderate to below average. Drinkability is good, it's a great tasting beer for the style and abv. Overall an excellent beer and one worth all of it's praise.

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Photo of InspectorBob
4.55/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this into my SA glass. A dark brownish color with about two fingers of an off white head that laced my glass throughtout. Tasted to me of dark fruits,raisins/plums. Has nice carbonation with a smooth drinkability with some alcohol on the finish. Overall this is a very good beer. I must try this on draft next time I'm in Olde City....

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Photo of mdfb79
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a - Pours a darker brown color with 2 fingers of an off white foam with decent retention and moderate carbonation.

s - Smells of yeast, some sweet fruits and malts, maybe a little alcohol.

t - Tastes of sweet malts, some apples/fruit, bread, yeast, and a tiny bit of alcohol which becomes more apparent in the aftertaste.

m - I would say a medium body that is smooth and not very carbonated.

d - Overall I thought this was a very good Belgian quad. It smelled and tasted great, and was a very nice, smooth balance between sweeter malts and bread/yeast. Would love to have this again, the only thing aganist it might be that the 10.5% ABV will limit the amount you'd have in one night.

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

After picking up my first bottle from Vintage Cellar, I called them back due to the fact when I cracked the last bottle it was completely flat without carbonation. So, I called them back and let them now and they shipped out another without a problem, good customer service down there. Appearance: Lucious semi gelatinous tan colored head placed ontop of deep ruby brown cloudy body the lacing is layered in thick patches excellent appearance head is unrelenting lasts great retention. Aroma: Apple, raisin, ginger bread dough, layers of candied sugar plum brandy like tones with the alcohol layers this is excellent. Taste hasn't evolved too much since the last time I tasted but this is most definitely an experience. Mouthfeel: Creamier than before with an even smooth carbonation this one is silky in texture and devine going down.

Appearance: Pours a murky mahogany amber brown tone wih the lightest trickling bubbles of a head thin layer of bubbles on top with absolutely no lacing at all here, on top of that when I popped the cap no air released from the bottle interesting. Aroma: Ambrosia enticing spices, blends of fruit juice, alcohol infused figs, this beer is definitely out there some anise tones with a peppery finish just the most unique smell I have ever come across with all the complexity it still holds the candy like smell of wow, complex. Taste: A warming spiced up alcoholic flavor with trickles of leaves a thick dark roasted malt aftertaste on my tongue this beer is complex creamy flavor hard to describe must be experienced I guess, not sure if I love it but it's good. Mouthfeel: Is think lacking any much carbonation redefines beer I guess but overall an experience to be had, I must find some Westy 12 now but this beer is interesting. Drinkability: Challenging to the senses I am dragging just trying to figure this one out, it goes down incredibly smooth I have no idea what the abv is but I'm sure it's capable of rattling the skull.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.53/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark mahogany hue with a big creamy head that leaves sizable lace ringlets in its wake.

S: Enticing aromas of Belgian yeast, bread, Abbey ale, subtle fruit, alcohol.

T: Fabulous beer. This has been a "go to" beer for me for many years. It sounds appealing any time of day, any time of year. Extremely well crafted, this beer opens up as it warms and tastes incredible. As far as quads, this is second only to Westvleteren 12, in my humble opinion.

M: Very smooth with just the right carbonation. Slight alcohol finish.

D: Highly recommended. A world class beer.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.39/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A half finger's worth of light-tan head with decent retention. Color was a deep brown with ruby highlights. Nose was dried dark fruits (prunes, raisins, blackberries). Mouthfeel was full with some heat and a fruity sweetness. Finish was juicy, sweet, raisiny. Why did I let The Chauffeur talk me into this? Too good to be true.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.15/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Out of an 11.2 ounce bottle.

Pours a murky ruby brown. Mild nose with slight yeast tones. Touch of grapefruit scents. Flavor seems dominated by the alcohol. A bit of brown sugar sweetness. Basically I feel like this is a bucket of overdone sweetness. Feel is so-so. Carbonation seems to high and I feel it interferes with the flavor. Drinkability has to stay at 4. It just seems too much. I tried the Prior 8 right before this and found I liked it much better. I will concede that I may have gotten a weak bottle and I will plan to try it again in the future.

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

Brown, muddy look with beige head. Aroma is intense, with lots of brown sugar but also somehow fresh. Taste is balanced at first, with some spices, dark sugar taste but without the sweetness. It slowly builds up to a bittersweet finish. Quite easy to drink for 10% ABV but the alcohol is a bit present in the taste. Carbonation is on the high side, something I don't really enjoy for high ABV beers. Overall it's a good representation of the style but not really my type of beer.

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Photo of stakem
4.05/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Al's served in a snifter. Pours a murky color of dark puddle water brown. The head appears as a tan film across the top that doesn't last long. Spots of lace cling to the glass. Once the beer warms, it it gains some retention power when the glass is swirled.

The aroma is a mixture of dark sugary sweetness mixed with belgian yeast character like clove. The sugary sweetness of the aroma seems slightly fruity suggesting plums and a touch of chocolate malt before returning to the spiciness of the belgian yeast character. As it warms, it really picks up a young "green" yeast quality that is acceptable but not really all that appealing.

The taste includes the belgian yeast characteristics upfront tasting spicy and quite a bit clove-like. A solid layering of seemingly numbing alcohol is present with both a solvent flavor and warming factor. There is a mild amount of fruity flavor tasting like pear skins that never gets too sweet as it is kept in check by both the alcohol and a bit of hop bitterness that is quite earthy. The major player throughout this experience is the spice of the yeast and it finishes quite dry for how fruity sweet you might think this is based off of the nose.

This is a full bodied offering that is lightly carbonated. Easy drinking for how big the abv is but my guess is this particular offering is quite young considering the young yeasty quality that is quite bold in this brew. For all the praise and glory this beer gets I was not that big of a fan and prefer Rochefort 10 by a wide margin compared to this. I will re-evaluate the previous statement once I get a chance to sit down an enjoy a bottle of Abt 12 that is several years old.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.31/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the House of Brews. Served in a Chimay goblet.

Appearance - A little on the murky side. Brownish red with a nice khaki head on arrival. Retains well and even leaves some lacing.

Smell - Caramel dominates with some dark fruits. An earthy nuttiness separates this from other quads.

Taste - Sweet at first and briefly seems like it won't go anywhere interesting. Nice dark fruit flavor comes through keeping it interesting. That nuttiness comes back in the end.

Mouthfeel - Almost boozy. Not quite as dry as I'd like for a quad. Threatens to be oversweet but never is.

Overall - A great standard to have readily available. It's a shame how often I overlook this in exchange for an inferior beer I've never had.

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Photo of jwc215
4.53/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Yesterday, I had the pint corked bottle. Today I had the 11.2 oz. bottle.
Poured into chalice.
It poured brown with a thick, creamy two-finger off-white head that after a minute or so went to half the size and remained there - just as a great beer's head should do. Wonderful to look at!
This beer has been reviewed so many times - I just want to say what impressed me the most - the spices and fruitiness was very creamy - some of the wonderful tastes were almost lost in the creaminess. It was a wonderful sipping beer - The alcohol warmed the body at the end - This was a great beer - similar to the trappist ales - but creamier, and with a little bite at the end. I don't know - IMO - that it was an all "5" beer - but, very close - if 4.75's could be given - I would have given it that. It was truly a pleasure.

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St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.42 out of 5 based on 9,260 ratings.
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