As you may already know, the Belgians have a reputation for making good beer. Having unintentionally ignored anything coming out of Belgium in this blog for a good few months, I felt it was time to venture back to it. While in the store, I saw one I've been wanting to try for a while, St. Bernardus' Abt. 12, and picked it up.
First of all, some notes on this beer. It's brewed at an abbey in Belgium in a town called Watou. Abt. 12 is their take on the Quadrupel (Quad) style meaning that is the strongest beer traditionally brewed in Belgium (higher in alcohol than both the Dubbel and Trippel). The "Abt." in the title (according to the Alstrom Brothers of Beeradvocate) means that this beer is the highest rank the brewery makes. In addition, beeradvocate says that St. Bernardus uses the same water and hops as another famous brewery in Begium, Westvleteren (makers of the #1 rated beer in the world, Westvleteren 12). Since Westvleteren 12 is impossibly hard to come by, this may be the closest I get to trying the best beer in the world for now.
St. Bernardus Abt. 12 pours a deep, dark brown color with a ton of haze. The head is big and tan and foams up in the glass nicely before settling down to a nice foam cap. Earthy malts dominate the smell, but there are a ton of more subtle smells to this beer as well. I picked up hints of brown sugar, cinnamon, bubblegum, yeast and a little marzipan.
The taste is also malt-dominated, but a ton of spices make the flavor really pop. There's just enough carbonation in this beer to complement the range of flavors. There's just the slightest hint of hops, which helps to balance the malts. The aftertaste is smooth and bready and the mouthfeel is creamy and unbelievably smooth. This is an incredible beer and way too easy to drink at 10%. I feel like I could drink this all day, but I know that probably wouldn't be a great idea.
Final Grade: A+