St. Bernardus Abt 12

By on July 7, 2008 @ 6 PM (7 Comments)

Currently the 29th best beer in the world overall at, the St. Bernardus Abt 12 is a very interesting Abbey ale. This is another in our father and son Thursday night beer reviews and for this one we used a goblet, as recommended. This is a quadrupel and the bottle is 11.2 oz with a 10.5% ABV. We got a beer temperature of 56 F.

The initial pour gave us an average one inch frothy light brown head that dissipated slowly and laced a good amount in the process. The carbonation is soft and the body color was an opaque brown.

The initial aromas were numerous in sheer quantity: Roasted malts, nutty, light floral, light alcohol, brown sugar, cola, sherry, smoke, spices and dark fruits galore – dates, plums, prunes and raisins. The dark fruits really jump out in the aroma. What’s really surprising is the lack of coffee and chocolate notes that we’ve usually found in these types of beers that tend to dominate the top of the Rate Beer 100.

The tastes echo a lot of the aromas – brown sugar, prominent alcohol, cola, spices, soy sauce, sherry and once again dark fruits galore – dates, plums, prunes, raisins and now some dark cherry. It’s got a terrific, creamy mouthfeel and the body laces a good amount in the glass as the beer level disappears. The spices in the taste are quite nice and bring some pepperiness to the equation. The alcohol isn’t too bold in the smell but is quite noticeable in the taste. The initial flavor notes strike with a moderate sweet, moderate bitter and light saltiness. The finish is long in duration and the finish notes hit with a moderate sweet, heavy bitter, light sour and moderate saltiness. On our malt to hop scale it comes in almost balanced, just ever so slightly on the malty side.

Though it’s a bit too string to be repeatable it’s very drinkable, has a good balance and harmony to it, is memorable and even has a wow factor to it. We could definitely see ourselves buying it again. All told it’s a solid and respectable beer that is very unique and is justifiably the showcase beer in the St. Bernardus lineup. Personally we miss the chocolate and coffee notes of some of the other top strong beers, but for this style, it probably can’t be beat. If you love dark fruits prepare to meet your new favorite beer.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 Rating: 8 out of 10 (?)

7 Comments (Add Your Comments)

  1. Matt says:

    You have to remember the style of this beer. An abbey quadrupel is not going to have chocolate or coffee flavors. Belgians just don’t have those flavors. Dark fruit is par for the style. So you can’t hold it against them that they don’t have chocolate or coffee flavor, when it’s not part of that style. Those flavors you’ll find in stouts. Cheers!

  2. John says:

    We agree with you 100% Matt – for the style we don’t feel it can be beat. We don’t hold it against it, we just personally like the chocolate and coffee tones in our “top” beers. All said though – rating it an 8 out of 10 doesn’t do it any injustice!

  3. Dave Crost says:

    The good Saint has just released his Christmas Ale….great graphic of St. Bernardus in a Santa hat with snow flying….oh yes, this should be a great fireplace beer during the holidays when work’s a distant memory.

  4. Tyler says:

    I’m a beer lover. I constantly seek out and try new and different unique beers. I’ve sampled all varieties; dark, pale, lager, stout, pumpkin, light, dark, brown, ale, summer, winter, micro, import, domestic, local, and home, and self brewed. St. Bernardus Abt 12 is the final stop in my beer journey. I’ve found my favorite beer. Sweet, yet not too sweet. Strong, yet not too strong. Full bodied, yet not chalky. Complex, but understandable. I’ve introduced this beer to numerous beer lovers, and they love it too. It is simply the best beer. Hands down. I’m glad I sample so many bad beers before coming across this, just so that I would know what a truly remarkable beer was. Why this beer is not more widely known????? Clearly, they need to step up the marketing.

  5. Jim says:

    Giggle at no chocolate in a belgian quad. What the hell at Young’s chocolate stout being rated the same as a St Bernardus Abt 12. HEE HAW! This site is embarrassing, to say the least.

  6. John says:

    Jim – at the time we tried this it was one of our first Belgian Quads so we weren’t quite sure what to expect going in with the style. I’m sure there was a point in your life you weren’t familiar with Belgian Quads either, but I doubt you’d admit that.

    As our beer palates have evolved of course we’ve come to know what to expect from the styles we do. Regardless, there are styles we haven’t done and we’ll likely be shocked the first time we try them too. The point of our surprise was that such a highly rated beer didn’t have the same notes that all the other top ones we’d done had – coffee and chocolate. We liked it regardless and it opened our minds up a bit to what can make a beer good.

    As for our rating scale – it’s a matter of what we like, not what clowns named Jim like. Your comments are a classic example of why people hate wine snobs – the elitist, arrogant attitude. Most good beer drinkers are more laid back than that, but you my friend are the exception to the rule. Why don’t you go hang out with your Pinot Noir lovers and leave the beer drinking to people with a little less pretension?

  7. Jason says:

    I’m definitely a newb when it comes to beer terminology. I know I’ve tried a few stouts, IPAs, lagers and pilzs. For some reason, I can’t get past the bitterness of stouts and have only found a few IPAs that I like.

    I tried this beer over the weekend and was very impressed! The smoothness and balance of sweet and alcohol were perfect for my tastes. I’ve tried Leffe Blonde a few times and found it to be just too sweet.

    But, like I said, I’m primarily an Irish Whiskey drinker vacationing in Beer land.

    Cool website! Keep up the good work. I found it by searching for the name of the beer; I was trying to find the brewing process and my wife already threw away the bottle.

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