Good morning and welcome back to Feature Beer Friday! I've been featuring a lot of local beers recently, which I'm not ashamed of at all because there are plenty worth featuring, but today I'm headed across the pond to Belgium. Belgium has always been one of the world leaders when it comes to beer due to their distinctive Belgian-styled ales. The small country is littered with small breweries (often associated with monasteries) putting out excellent beers. Belgian ales were really one of my first introductions to the world past macro lagers, as even before the craft scene blew up in Louisiana these options were readily available. One excellent example of a non-Trappist Belgian brewery is St. Bernardus, known for a wide range of styles and their distinctive Witbier. Today's offering though, is their Abt 12, one of their three "core" beers and the strongest of the bunch.
|St. Bernardus Abt 12|
This beer is a 10% abv Belgian-style Quad, which is sometimes referred to as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale. Typically Belgian ales start at their enkel or "single" which is the lightest offering and usually drank by the monks themselves. After that is a dubbel which is a little stronger and darker, the tripel which is stronger still although typically lighter in color and more floral, and the quadrupel which is dark like the dubbel and even stronger. The Abt 12 is one of the most popular and well regarded versions of the quadrupel style.
The beer pours a brown color reminiscent of a coca cola with a very bubbly off-white head. The aroma is fruity, dominated mostly by sweeter plum flavors but also some grape and a little bit of floral hoppiness. It's extremely pleasing and inviting, and I can't wait to get in a sip. The mouthfeel is a little thinner than I remember from my early days of beer appreciation, but the flavors are still full and complex, with some rock candy sweetness, fruity esters from the yeast, and a floral bitter balance from the hops. This was a fresh bottle of Abt 12, but I'd imagine the sweet and fruity flavors would be enhanced with age while the hoppy notes fade. This beer has earned a reputation as one of the best in the world, and it does not disappoint.
St. Bernardus Abt 12 should be pretty easy to find around Baton Rouge, either in a corked & caged 750 ml bottle, a 4-pack of 11.2 oz. bottles, or in a gift set along with the dubbel, tripel and a glass like you see pictured above. I know it's "on trend" to fill the beer fridge with all hazy IPA these days, but here's an outstanding chance of pace. Cheers!