St. Bernardus Brewery
When it comes to developing and refining my beer selection, I usually avoid picking up entire lines from any one individual brewery. I usually only support the finest of each brewery’s offerings, due to my limited cooler, shelf space, and my ideologies of having only “the best” examples of each style on my shelf. The line of beers from St. Bernardus has broken this mold because of the unbelievable quality in the traditional Belgian beer styles that they produce.
The brewery of St. Bernardus was originally the Trappist Benedictine Monastery of St. Sixtus. They funded all operations of the Monastery through the local sale of the artisanal cheese and beer that could be sold only at the gates of the Monastery. In the late 1930’s the monks abandoned the Monastery and returned to France.
They sold the operation to Evarist Deconinck, who, with the assistance of the brew master from the mythical Westverlatren Trappist Brewery continued to produce and expand the availability of the beer and cheese worldwide. Since the operation was not completely controlled by the monks and the brew wasn’t produced within the original walls of the Monastery (now a building next door), they lost their “Trappist” certification.
The recipes themselves have remained unchanged from the early days and are now labeled as Abby Ales.
Seven Amazing Brews
St. Bernardus makes seven beers, four of which currently available at the Wine Shop. The others are seasonal releases that often don’t last more than a couple of days at the shop. These four historical and award winning recipes are their Triple, Prior 8, Pater 6, and Abt 12.
The pride of the St. Bernardus Brewery has always been the Abt 12. This bottle conditioned Belgian Quadruple weighs in at 10.5% ABV. It’s full of fantastic aromatic malt character with a wonderfully dry fruity finish. It can age gracefully for 10+ years.
The St. Bernardus Tripel sets the standard for all Belgian Strong Golden Ales.
Going through two fermentations at the brewery and one in the bottle, this living Triple balances amazing light malt flavors with an assertive hoppy backbone and floral nose. It pours with a rocky head, leaving the lacey foam to linger on the glass even when your beer is finished. (8% Alc/Vol)
The Prior 8 is the St. Bernardus Dubble style offering. It goes through two fermentations in achieving its 8% ABV, and pours a rich, dark, ruby color, balancing sweet malts with sour/fruity phenols from the unique yeast strain used at the Abbey.
Although a heavier style of beer, its high carbonation gives it a lighter, easy drinking feel.
The Pater 6 has been one of the hardest bottles from the Bernardus collection for me to find.
In the past, I have only been able to enjoy as a part of mixed six pack that were only released around Christmas. At first sip, I knew that I was experiencing an instant classic.
The weakest of all their beers, it still boasts an ABV of 6.7%. The caramel malts and orchard like fruit on the nose add the complex dry finish. While this beer pours a dark red mahogany, it will not overwhelm your pallet.
Great for novices and Beer Geeks
Overall, The St Bernardus Brewery is a wonderful starting point to experience the amazing beer styles produced in Belgium. Approachable to the “big beer” novice, yet complex enough for the hardcore beer nerds.
But don’t just take my word, these guys have cleaned up almost every beer accolade and award available.