For the Eleventh Beer of Christmas, found a beer with an alcohol percentage that nearly matched.
While St. Bernardus is an abbey ale, it is not a Trappist beer. But
it carries on the Trappist traditions of brewing even though it comes
from a commercial brewer.
Although a beautiful medium/dark brown, the beer is translucent
rather than transparent as most of the other medium-ish beers have been.
Most commercial beers I’ve drank have tended towards transparent
except for the hefeweizens and some other heavier wheats. The head was
very thick and left a lot of lacing on the glass. The smell was rich
with an apple and yeast smell that reminded me of home-brewed hard
cider. Strong but not unpleasant.
The taste starts off sweet with a strong dose of cloves. Partially
disguised in the flavor, the alcohol sneaks past the cloves for a
brandy-like sharpness and a finish that is both warming (not surprising)
and smooth (surprising).
Would I drink this again? You bet. And I would recommend it time
and again. But if I’m going to buy a big 750ml bottle of strong, dark
ale, I prefer the true Trappist Chimay Grande Reserve.
Brewer: Brouwerij St. Bernardus (Brewery St. Bernardus)
Location: Watou, Belgium
Alcohol Content: 10.5% ABV
Interesting Note: The beer now known as St. Bernardus used to
be a Trappist beer, but the St. Sixtus monastery decided to turn over
brewing to a commercial enterprise which brewed under a “Trappist
license” until 1992 when the Trappist Monasteries agreed to impose
qualifications that required true “Trappisentbiers” to be brewed within a