What makes the Special Edition so special, besides the 60 years? The alcohol was bumped up to 11 percent, and brewmaster Bert Van Hecke tweaked the original recipe by using local hops from the famous hop-growing area of Poperinge, Belgium, as well as black, amber, Munich and pale malts. The mere 0.5 percent alcohol increase is noticeable, as is the hop profile, but the rest is very subtle and retains much of what many have come to love with the original Abt 12. The Special Edition is also housed in a very classy sleeve for an already classy 750ml silk-screened bottle.
Pours fizzy, creating a beige/eggshell-colored foamy head that’s dense imageand wonderfully laced, sticking to the glass and also retaining magnificentlyin fact, the lacing stays until the end. Beneath, a deep brown brew with rich tawny hues. This beer has some serious legs. Complex aromas: soft and powdery on the nose, with aromas of malt, chocolate chip cookie dough and a deep-rooted fruitiness, notes of plum skins, spicy phenols and a soft bready yeast character.
This quad is insanely fluffy-smooth on the palate, with an even, full-body and semi-sharp carbonation edge that knocks the silky bliss down for a moment. The softness returns as a mildly sweet malt profile, with dried raisins, powdery dark chocolate, sweet cherries soaked in alcohol and a slight tartness of strawberries. Hop character coats with a leafy feel on the palate, yielding a delicate noble hop bitterness, as well as a touch of cheesiness and pithiness. This melds with spicy phenols, which lends a slight medicinal flavor that wanders within the spicy alcohol and heat. Finish is very dry, with residual yeast and crackery lingers.