Brewed by Brouwerij St Bernadus · Watou · Belgium
Read more www.sintbernardus.be
So finally the time has come to get with one those talked about, critically acclaimed and standard setting brews. It’s been compared by some as the little brother of trappist brewed Westvleteren 12. Some even claiming the St Bernadus Abt 12 stays closer to the original recipe than Westvleteren 12 does. Belgian beer and Travel has written an article that might shed some further light on the topic.
The battle has been raging for ever as to which one of these ales is the top quad of them all. Anyway it’s an epic and legendary brew sitting in front of me this evening at Belgobaren. I’ve had it at least once before, let’s see what kind of effect it has on me this time.
The waitress pours a dark sienna color into a Sint Bernardus-branded chalice, producing half a finger of off-white head. The head settles leaving a thin lid of creamy and fizzy foam. Some yeast lees remaining at the base of the bottle, though only appropriate a bottle conditioned ale.
Whenever I see this bottle I’m always fascinated with the merry looking monk character on the label, it’s like he’s thinking “Aha, I know the recipe to this and you don’t” pointing a gentle finger my way. I read somewhere that he lately lost his head cap. Where did that go?
A nose dominated by maltiness, mainly caramel. A tart dark fruity sweetness. Aromas include bigarreau cherries and unripe plums. Jolly friend Johan wants to define the aroma as Grandma’s good old apple pie but I would stretch it as far as saying apples.There’s a musty sort of stale cellar/barrel quality to it, get’s me thinking of port wine.
A fruit and berry cocktail, but has more of a mature and ripe character this time, including bigarreau cherries, plums, apples and pears. In the sweetness there’s bitter almonds and marzipan. I pick up some faint chocolate in the sugar as well. Some alcohol coming through but in that warming and pleasant Belgian way.
Incredibly everlasting effervescing but moderate carbonation creating a flavor explosion. The flavors just keep coming on and on again with the help of the carbonation. It’s a medium body with a creamy and smooth liquid. Very mild bitterness remain in aftertaste together with a yeasty and smelly cheese profile.
Overall impression 9/10
This is all you dream and hope for in a Quad really. An extremely complex yet surprisingly clean and crisp abbey ale. The flavors are just perfectly balanced, not overtaking each other but a gently transitioning from one flavor to another. The body and mouthfeel not at all cloying or sticky like you might expect with such a sugary sweet brew. Actions speak louder than words, so my advice to you is, drink it!
Next time I go for Belgian I got try Westvleteren 12 and see what the monks bring to the table.
Total Score 45/50
Outstanding – World-class example of style.
Simultaneous pouring capacity on display.