Reviews and events

12 Beers of Xmas – St. Bernardus Abt 12

Finally, a night in, just me and the wife for the first time in a week. Scary film on, beer opened.

Tonight, I’ve got for a big bottle of St Bernardus Abt 12. Brewing at the St Bernardus site in Watou has a relatively recent, yet interesting history. The premises were originally a Monastic Cheese factory left vacant by Monks returning to France following the end of unfavourable attitudes to Monasticism there, and brewing began in Watou following a decision by the Trappist Monks of Westvleteren to licence beer production under their name. The Westvleteren agreement came to an end in 1992, but production of the same recipes continued under the St Bernardus name.

So, with Westvleteren beer being frequently mentioned as amongst the best in the world, how does their near neighbours’ Quadrupel taste? The beer pours dark and stormy, with a lively head that soon dissipates to a bubbly froth. Spicy on the tongue with a tingly, dry finish, it has a dandelion and burdock sweetness but ¬†also a boozy, warm aftertaste. Not having been able to access any Westvleteren, I can’t make a comparison, but St Bernardus beer reaches near the peak of brewing greatness.

St Bernardus’ motto is “Heavenly Nectar within Reach”, and as opposed to Westvleteren and other hard to get but highly regarded beer, their range is within reach of most of us. One of the strengths of a beer that is to be considered truly great is that it should be obtainable. We’ve all had one off tastes of a fantastic, mind blowing brew that we’ve never had another chance to try, and while the legend and memory of that beer is to be cherished and reminisced over, a sign of true greatness is something that stands out after repeat tasting, time after time.

For me, this is one of those beers.