St. Bernardus Abt 12, one of the finer abbey ales I’ve ever had. My first experience with it was last weekend at the Belgian Beer Fest hosted by The Muddy Pig in St. Paul, and I knew I had to try it again. So I hunted around at my usual craft beer haunts, with no luck. Then I found it hiding in the back shelf of a liquor store I hardly ever frequent, known primarily for its wine selection. But, turns out, they also have a ton of great beers. It’s a little out of the way for me, but I may add it to my list of libation locales. Needless to say, I purchased more than one bottle, and brought them over to a friend’s house for a birthday celebration.

This is where my Friday evening took an ugly turn. After enjoying several different beers, including the St. Bernardus bombers, I decided I needed a breath of fresh air. Now, my friend has this beautiful downtown condo, the kind of industrial style/exposed ductwork/polished concrete floor/granite countertop pad that you’d expect to find in the bustling Warehouse District of Minneapolis. I made my way over to the patio, a very nice outdoor lounging area providing a picturesque view of the surrounding downtown area.

However, instead of quietly slipping outside to take in the night air, I turned to the doorway, and proceeded to walk completely through the sliding screen door. And I’m not talking about gently bumping into the screen door and innocently pushing it off its hinges. I’m talking something like a running back grabbing the rock on the 2 yard line and plowing his way through a seam in the line to score, shoulder down with a full head of steam. The door violently ejected from its track, flying halfway across the patio. The noise was other-worldly. I stood there with my entire beer spilled all over my head and shirt. The now destroyed screen door lay precariously teetering on the edge of my friend’s patio table, my left foot now through the three foot rip I had made in the mesh screen. The entire party of 30+ people stopped in horror, staring at the trainwreck that had just then become my evening. My eyes bulged out at the damage I had created, a feeling of dread and shame quickly coming over me like a wave.

But everyone began to racously laugh their asses off. It was a classic moment, one for the books.  

I tried defending my case to anyone who would listen, saying that the backdrop of inky black night against the black mesh camouflaged the screen door, making it appear that the patio portal was wide open. But nobody bought it. And they knew why. St. Bernardus Abt 12. An intoxicatingly delicious beer. Everything a complex quad should be. The kind of beer that’ll have you intelligently engaging in sophisticated political conversations one minute, and destroying your friend’s property value the next. Thanks St. Bernardus Abt 12. You have given my friends one more reason to poke good-natured fun at me for my clumsy mishaps. I will now forever be known by my newly earned nickname — “Kool-Aid”. Ohhhh yeah.  

Rating: A

There’s some things that drive me crazy.

People ending sentences with prepositions. My dog taking a shit on my nice white basement carpet. And loads of people ordering rum and Cokes or Mojitos at a bar that’s in the midst of a Belgian Beer Festival.

Such was the case at the Muddy Pig in St. Paul. Do these people not understand they’re in the presence of Beer Perfection? Or do they really think that their Jack and Coke with a lime can somehow compete with the likes of Furthermore Fatty Boombalatty? Or Popperings Hommel Bier? I don’t think so.

Aside from the local morons who clearly weren’t at the Muddy Pig to honor some of Belgium’s finest ales, it was a good night. And you know it was a good night when someone else drives you home, which was the case in my situation. I was even able to convince my driver to make a Run For the Border so I could get my fix of beef and potato burritos and hard shell tacos to sop up the Belgian goodness. Thanks hon.

So on to the beer…I can’t even begin to tell you what I had. It was like a fugue state of being…I nearly forgot who I was as my brain was catapulted into sensory overload of fantastic Belgian yeasts, hops and malt. It was an absolute epitome of what I wish my every weekend evening entailed. I can safely say I had nearly eveything on the Muddy Pig’s list of more than 40 Belgians on draught. The list included Saisons, Dubbels, Tripels, Quads, Abbeys, and Wits. And I can remember almost none of it, other than the vague sense that the comprehensive list of ales I imbibed made me feel very happy to be alive and in St. Paul at that very moment. It was one fantastic beer after another. My hats off to the individual who organized this celebration of high quality craft beers. And even greater thanks to the bartender who walked away from me as I attempted to offer him money for my round of beers. It just made my night that much sweeter.

The only downside to the evening was that every beer was served in 4 ounce sampler glasses. So instead of truly enjoying the nose of a nice Two Brothers Oh Brother! Triple, St. Bernardus Abt 12, or Ommegang Rare Vos, I was forced to take it from the equivalent of a baby’s sippy cup. What was this crap? I want to experience my beers for what they are truly worth, not tipple with training wheels. Maybe they were afraid folks like me would drink their imperial pints or chalices of 9% ABV beer too quickly. And well they should. Because instead of whining about the vessel these Belgians were presented in, my friends and I set forth to knock back as many as we possibly could in as little time as possible.

Even after enjoying a nice meal of mushroom gnocci with pine nuts to create that all-important base for alcohol consumption, I was feeling it after only a few. But I pressed on…for how could a collective 16 ounces of beer give me a buzz like that? It was the equivalent of ordering a sack of sliders from White Castle…they’re too small to fill me up, keep ’em coming!

As the evening came to an end, and friends slowly made their way out of the bar, I sat and pondered what a great night we’d all had. Because man this was good stuff. And what made it better was enjoying it with people that truly appreciated it for what it was…a fantastic menagerie of beers most of us wouldn’t see again the rest of our lives living here in the Twin Cities.

Yes folks. Another Belgian review.

St. Feuillien’s Triple is a connoisseur’s beer par excellence. OK, I stole that from the web site. But it’s still pretty damn good. They also make a blonde, brown and “cuvee de noel” which appears to be some type of blended holiday brew. They’ve been brewing since 1125. You may be asking yourself, “what was happening in world history in 1125 AD?” Well, according to my friend Wikipedia, not much. Except some very respectable beer making. As the story goes, an Irish  monk by the name of Feuillien came to Europe to convert lost souls in the 7th century. Unfortunately, our hero stuck his neck out a little too far, and was martyred and beheaded in what is now the town of Le Roeulx. In his honor, the monks constructed a chapel on the very site of his martyrdom, which later also served as a brewery. That’s one hell of a grave marker.   

With that, I give you St. Feuillien Triple.

750 ml bottle, corked with a No 1540 imprinted (is that the batch number?). 8.5% ABV, but it’s well hidden. Poured with a beautiful thick white head that lasted throughout, fantastic lacing. Golden amber color, almost like a nice cider or apple juice. The smell is great. Scent of tart apples, and very subtle bananas. It’s a sweet tasting ale, but not cloying as some describe it. Maybe the Belgian candi sugar helps impart some of this. Overall, a “mellow” triple as it is accurately stated on the bottle. If I had to compare this to Chimay Cinq Cents, it’s not actually fair, since it is after all Chimay we’re talking about. But a very solid and well-balanced triple. I’d definitely have another.

Rating: B+