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St. Bernardus Abt 12

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St. Bernardus Abt 12 beer St. Bernardus Abt 12

The Brewery

Brouwerij St. Bernardus
Trappistenweg 23
B-8978 Watou
West Flanders

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Beer Style

Belgian Dark Abbey Beer (Quadrupel)

The Beer

The St. Bernardus Abt 12 is the flagship brew from the range of abbey beers put out by this Watou brewery. This beer is a something of a runaway success, and accounts for more than half of the total brewery output.

It's by no means a coincidence that the Abt 12 is often compared to the iconic Westvleteren 12 (XII) from the nearby Sint-Sixtus Trappist abbey. The reason? Until 1992 the Sint-Sixtus Trappist beers were brewed, under licence, by none-other than St. Bernardus. And up to this day, the St. Bernardus abbey beers are brewed using the Sint-Sixtus house yeast.

The St. Bernardus brews are distinctive, nonetheless. The brewers here make full use of the slightly salty, but soft, water originating from the local well. Westvleteren's brewery, by contrast, simply uses water supplied by the local town.

The Abt 12 is a classic Belgian dark quadrupel, with an alcohol content of over 10% ABV. It has been brewed here since 1946, on the basis of the original recipe compiled by the Westvleteren monks.

And the story behind its name? The Abt, or Abbot, is the highest-ranking monk in the abbey; so perhaps it's no surprise that the brewery sees the Abt 12 as the highest-ranking amongst abbey beers. Due respect must be paid.

A less well-known fact: the laughing monk on the label has been known to give a saucy wink. But when can you catch it? Well, it's reckoned that the winking monk can be spotted on every 1000th bottle that rolls of the production line in the bottling plant.


10% ABV


Top fermentation with re-fermentation in the bottle. The original proprietary yeast from the Sint-Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren is used in the main fermentation. The re-fermentation is done using a different yeast.


The St. Bernardus Abt 12 is brewed with water from the local well, barley malts, Kent Golding aroma hops, Hallertau Magnum bitter hops, candy sugar and yeast.

Colour & Transparency

A deep-golden brown colour with a frothy collar of café crème.

Serving Temperature

8°C – 14°C / 46°F - 57°F

Serving Glass

Served in the traditional St. Bernardus chalice, designed especially for abbey beers.

Character, Tastes & Aromas

The St. Bernardus Abt 12 has a somewhat surprising aroma of honey and frangipane. The roast malts allow touches of caramel and chocolate to come to the fore. This is a balanced beer, with plenty of body, where the hops make themselves felt, without taking over the show. This beer also gives that characteristic, slightly salty impression, owing to the well-water used in its brewing.


In the kitchen, this beer forms a perfect combination with classic stews, such as a rabbit and prune casserole. Blue cheeses of the Roquefort type also make for an ideal pairing, and don’t overlook chocolate for an unexpected but very successful combination. For example, a sip with a ‘chocolat-moelleux’, with those red fruits at its centre, provides a perfect contrast to the richness of the chocolate and the refreshing taste of the fruit.

Keeping and Storage

Can be stored in the bottle for 60 months. On tap, the recommended storage time is 12 months. Some beer-lovers like to store this beer for longer but, as always, doing so is really down to your own personal preference.


Bottle ✔       On Tap

St. Bernardus Abt 12 is available bottled (33cl, 75cl, magnum, methusalem) and on tap (20L). This brewery’s beers find their way around the world thanks to its strong export activities. The Abt 12 is a popular beer in Belgium, so won’t be hard to find in plenty of beer-oriented cafés. It is also widely distributed in supermarkets and local stores.

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