St. Bernardus ABT 12 Abbey Ale

I had two Belgian ales recently that were both good, but they weren't what I wanted to get from these things. I want an abbey ale that brings back the goodness of the best of the bunch. This one has a downright comical picture of a monk... and having known a few monks, this is exactly the kind of thing they would pick for the front of their beer.

The color is a deep, deep brown with a dense center that doesn't let light through at all. The head is big and frothy, but it's not dense. The bubbles are big, but they have staying power. Eventually, the head dissipates to a thick enough uneven pillow across the top of the beer. The aroma is oak, thin bread, and a stronger kind of astringent smell. It's unlike previous Trappist Ales, but I'm still looking forward to it.

First sip is de-freaking-licious. It's all dark fruit and raisin (as these beers tend to be) with breads and caramel backing it up. It's smooth and sweet. It's rich and flavorful. It's Fred and Barney. I don't know if it's at quite the right temperature yet (which is 52-56 degrees Fahrenheit according to the bottle) but it is already pretty damn good.

Tip-in is light carbonation tingle with biscuits, dark fruits, and raisins. The middle is a delicious wood added to the tip-in and some more fresh bread is thrown in. The finish arrives with a sudden bitter-tart wave and then it trails off with an echo of the rest of the flavor

Bottom Line: This is the equal of Chimay Première. And that is high praise.



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