St. Bernardus Abt 12 Belgian Abbey Ale - Oal Aged - 11% ABV
I like big beers and I cannot lie .... now let's see you get that out of your head.
Now where was I? Oh yeah, big beers. If you have read our blog at any time in the past you are surely aware that we love big beers. Huge beers. Massive beers. Belgian quadrupels are those kind of beers. Rich, thick and powerful. The very pinnacle of huge beers. And which beers are bigger than the Belgian quads? Beers that have been aged in booze barrels, that's which beers. So what if you age a Belgian quad in a booze barrel?
Shortly after the Second World War, the Trappist Monastery of St. Sixtus in Westvleteren licensed the St. Bernardus Abbey to comercialize their beers. The brew master from Westvleteren, Mathieu Szafranski became a partner in the brewery and brought along the recipes, the knowledge and the St. Sixtus yeast strain and founded the Brewery St. Bernard. Their beers are considered to be amongst the finest in the world and their quad is rated by the Snobs to be in the top 5 best beers that we have ever tasted. Early last year they announced that they would be releasing an oak barrel aged version, and that news had us drooling with anticipation. Could it possibly be as good as we hoped? Yes, oh yes.
Have you ever tried Calvados? Calvados is an apple cider brandy distilled from brandy made from specially grown and selected apples. It is not uncommon for a Calvados producer to use over 100 specific varieties of apples. The fruit is havested and pressed into a juice that is fermented into a dry cider. It is then distilled and aged for at least 2 years in oak casks. It is, in a word, sublime.
The creative geniuses at St. Bernardus decided to create this heaven inspired brew by aging their already nearly perfect quad in emptied Calvados barrels for 6 months creating something magical.
The beer pours slightly cloudy dark brown with a surprising white head. The smell, oh the smell, is rich with apples, dates and sugars and a bit of alcohol ethers in the background. We were a bit surprised that the smell of the brandy didn't bury the smell of the beer, but we must remember that the beer is quite hearty on it's own and stood up nicely. The flavor is so amazingly complex and wonderful. We should have known that brewmasters like those at St. Bernardus would let their wonderful beer be overpowered by the barrell aging. They have achieved a balance that is quite nearly perfect. The apples from the brandy are there along with the dark fruits from the beer. Silky and rich. Unbelievably delicious.
We are going to recommend that you search for this beer and find it. Buy as many bottles as you can and horde them like your crazy aunt hordes cats. Drink a few, age a few. Do not miss out on this.
Brouwerij St. Bernardus, NV
8978 Watou (Belgium)