Name: St. Bernardus Abt 12
Brewery: Brouwerij St. Bernardus
Country of Origin: Belgium
City & State: Watou / Belgium
Style: Quadrupel (Quad)
Alcohol Content (ABV): 10.5%
First Brewed: 1946
A very dark brown beer that leaves a noticeable lacing in the glass. It has notes of banana, chocolate, candi sugar, and dark fruits. The mouthfeel is very full and creamy.
This beer uses the same recipe as the Westvleteren, and is apparently made by the same people. Or should I say… the same monks. From what I hear, the Westvleteren is only available at the abbey. Well, we just ordered two bottles on eBay. The beer is on the list. We will drink one and cellar the other for a later date. Anyway, Sheryl went to the store earlier tonight and grabbed a bottle of the St. Bernardus Abt 12. I had this beer once… on draft at a bar in Chicago. I might have been drunk that night… but I don’t remember this beer being that impressive. But tonight I am focused and ready to give this quad a go. Time to stop talking and start drinking!
In the Glass: I don’t remember this beer being so dark. It pours a dark brown, almost like liquid chocolate in the glass. When pouring I poured for a head, and a head it has. It’s thick, tan, and leaves a nice healthy lace on the site of the glass. This beer has a lot of expectations, so I am excited to see what she tastes like.
Nose: There is a LOT going on in the nose. It has subtle sweetness with some earthy dirt notes peaking through. It smells like a typical quad, but I haven’t had a lot of quads so I am not an expert by any means. I can’t get over how earthy this smells after a second sniff.
Flavor: The flavor is pretty complex. Now, I will warn you… it won’t knock you off your chair. I mean, it’s 10.5%… so it might, but the flavor won’t. It has a very smooth flavor and you would never know it had that much alcohol. The earthy overtones continue on the palate, and the sweetness peaks through at the end. It sticks around into the aftertaste, but isn’t a barleywine sort of sweet.
Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is nice. It isn’t very carbonated, and goes down smooth. I wonder if this beer tastes better in Belgium. Maybe I will order one when we are in Belgium this fall. Man, imagine the beers we will drink. Anyway, the mouthfeel is nothing short of nice, and while this isn’t the best beer I have had, I find it hard to believe that the BeerAdvocate “bros” gave this a 100. On that scale, an 85 would make more sense.
Aftertaste: The aftertaste is subtly sweet, but the sweetness doesn’t last for long. It quickly fades and leaves the palate begging for more. As much as this beer doesn’t impress, it does leave for an enjoyable beer that you could easily chug. With the complexity of the nose and the different flavors across the palate, I could see a typical beer drinker not liking this. But thinking about the history of the beer, and what this beer is modeled after, it’s hard not to appreciate it.
This is my second time trying this, and before we started drinking we ordered two bottles of the Westvleteren. Apparently this is impossible to get, but we got two bottles for $60. They are on the way! I will be excited to compare the two. I am sure the Westvleteren tastes better at the monastery, but still. The beer is good, but it’s not great. I would have a hard time rating this anything higher than a 3. Sorry guys, but the beer is just OK. Not worth the hype. It seems to be readily available, too.
I wonder what cheese would go with this beer…
St. Bernardus Abt 12 – The bottle says: “NA”
So today has been interesting, and I am going to tell a long story that leads up to the story of this beer we are drinking. See, Ricky and I are trying to book a trip to Europe next month. One of the countries we are planning to visit is Belgium, for a few reasons. One was going to be to visit the Westvleteren brewery. Until we discovered exactly how far away from Brussels it is. Yeah… not really the time for that. Boo. Which is too bad, because we were looking forward to getting some Westvleteren 12, rumored to be the “best beer in the world”, and also on our 1001 Bottles list. So – skipping ahead – I did a bit of beer browsing when I was at a local supermarket today and came across a bottle of St. Bernardus 12, the beer we are drinking tonight. Ricky and I have tried it once before, and we knew it was on the list. It is also made by some of the same people that used to make Westvleteren 12, so it is our consolation prize for not making it to Westvleteren. However, we just managed to snag a bottle of it from somewhere else. I mean, we have our ways… we have to get all these 1001 beers somehow! But I digress… on to this glass of St. Bernardus 12 sitting in front of me.
The beer pours out a dark, thick reddish brown. There’s actually a lot of red to it, kind of a dark ruby copper color. It had a lot of head when poured out, but that has pretty quickly dissipated. The smell… well, there’s not a lot of smell, but some. It smells wet and gingery to me. That’s the best way I can think of to describe it. Let’s see how it tastes.
This beer has a rich, spicy taste. It doesn’t hit you all that powerfully with the first sip. Let’s take another one. Yeah, it tastes spicy to me… not like hot spicy, but flavorful. It’s a rich, flavorful beer. The spices aren’t overwhelming, though. All in all, it’s a good balance, not too overwhelming. This is a pretty good beer, one to enjoy on a special occasion, even. Since it is much easier to obtain than the Westvleteren and is rumored to be about as good – I think I might buy some more soon!