St Bernardus Abt 12 Abbey Ale Beer Review
Thumbs UP or Down: Down (unfortunately)
Overall Rating: 2
Blend: Abbey Ale
Brewery: St Bernardus
In the most remote corner of West Flanders, in the middle of “Le Plat Pays”, in the heart of the hop area in West Flanders, a beer is made that fancies most of the beer lovers.
In this poetry village, called Watou, time is apparently passing by slower than in the rest of the country. Life over there is different, quieter; where people live in accordance with nature, where tradition and values are honoured as if they stand the tooth of ages. This is the case of the beer brewery for instance.
Due to the anti clerical policy in the beginning of the past century, the Catsberg Abbey Community, located in the northern part of France, decided to move to Watou, a small village only a couple of kilometres further away but located in Belgium. They transformed a farm into the “Refuge Notre Dame de St.Bernard” with the production of Abbey cheese as main production. With the yield of the sales, they financed the Abbey activities.
In the early thirties, the attitude versus the Clerical in France got better and in 1934, the Abbey community decided to dispose of the Belgian annex and to bring back all activities to France.
Mr. Evarist Deconinck took over the cheese factory and built a first building at the Trappistenweg in Watou where the cheese was further developed and commercialised. This first building was later transformed into the present private rooms but the traces of the cheese factory are still visible and incorporated in this living room.
Shortly after the Second World War, the Trappist Monastery St. Sixtus decided to stop to commercialise their beer as they wanted to call upon non-residents.
An agreement was made : inside the walls of the Trappist Monastery there would brew only beer for their own consumption, for sales to the public at the gates of the Monastery and also for a few taverns whom where connected to the Monastery. Mr. Deconinck on the other hand would brew and commercialise the Trappist Beers under licence (for a period of 30 years)
Next to the cheese factory, a new brewery was constructed and Mr. Deconinck started to brew the Sixtus beers with the help of the Masterbrewer of Westvleteren, who brought along his wisdom, knowledge and the original recipes.
In the beginning of the 60’s, the sun-in-law of Mr. Deconinck, Mr. Claus stepped into the brewery and negotiations started to renew the license. This was finalised in 1962, again for a period of 30 years (until 1992)
In 1992, the agreement came to an end because the Trappist Monasteries (5 in Belgium and 1 in the Netherlands) decided that the qualification ‘Trappistenbier’ could only be given to beers brewed inside the walls of the Trappist Monastery.
Therefore, since 1992 the beers brewed at the Trappistenweg 23 in Watou are commercialised under a new brand name ‘ StBernardus’ (referring to the Refuge de Notre Dame de StBernard – cfr. supra).
At this point in time we also enlarged our range of beers by adding a blond beer, StBernardus Tripel to the existing Pater 6 – Prior 8 – Abt 12.
Recently 3 more beers where added to our range :
• Watou Tripel, in collaboration with cheese factory Belgomilk, with whom we still have very good contacts
• StBernardus Witbier; a wheat beer created by the legendary Pierre Celis, the Godfather of Witbier and founder of Hoegaarden. The recipe of the wheat goes back to the glory days of the real Belgian Witbier.
• Grottenbier, another beer that has Pierre Celis’ signature all over. Mr. Celis created this dark, aromatic beer with bottle conditioning was pointed out as one of the 10 best beers of the world by Beer Guru Michael Jackson.
How the brewery describes the beer: The absolute top quality in the hierarchy of the St. Bernardus beers. It is also the beer with the highest alcohol content (10.50 %).
A dark ivory coloured beer with a high fermentation.
The show piece of the brewery.
Thanks to its soft and unconditionally genuine aroma, the beer can be smoothly tasted.
The Abt has a very fruity flavour.
Water, pumped up from a depth of 150 meter is the basis of all St. Bernardus beers. This water is not only the purest but has also a historical background. Scientists have proved that the water that is pumped up now, is originating from rainfall from the time of Jeanne d’Arc.
The water seeped to Watou through a pervious stratum of sand from the St. Omer area in France.
After brewing, the beer is maturing in a natural way and subsequently bottled unfiltered.
By adding sugar and yeast, the beer gets a second fermentation in the bottle,
carbonating the beer in a natural way.
This gives the beer a beautiful and large froth.
Price: $6 / 11.2oz bottle
Would I Buy Again: No
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