#342 Westvleteren – 12

Name: 12
Brewery: Westvleteren Abdij St. Sixtus (Westvleteren, Belgium)
Style: Quadrupel
ABV: 10.2%
Source: The Beer Store

I’ve been sitting at my laptop for 10 minutes now, trying to think of a way to give this beer the grand entrance it deserves. Should I employ the dreaded caps lock? Exclamation marks? A video entry with me weeping into the camera as I describe it? Or should I simply remind you that it is The Best Beer In The World? 

I sound a little facicious perhaps, but this is actually the Holy Grail of Trappist, hell, of all beers, and I was very lucky to be given a glass of it. It’s the top rated beer by a sizable margin on Ratebeer, and is number two (after Pliny the Younger) on Beer Advocate. It’s also really expensive by the time it gets to New Zealand – $66 from The Beer Store – because the monks only make enough to get by on and don’t supply it wholesale to anyone. The only place you’re supposed to be able to buy it (except it isn’t, because people onsell), is direct from the abbey for about $2.50 NZD a bottle.

I’d intended to have a Westy 12 on a more significant day than this – like last Thursday when I got my Learner Licence – but when a free Westy comes along you don’t say “Thanks but can I learn the give way rules first?” you say, “10am is a great time for beer!”

Me, my Grandma and my Dad split the bottle, and Grandma took the first sip. I hadn’t told her anything about it because I wanted to get at least one hype-free opinion, so I was relieved when she said:

“I know I don’t know anything, but that is just ab-so-lute-ly gorgeous.”

I’d really struggle to define this beer – it wasn’t thick and intense like most quads are, but much more understated and elegant. It smelled of caramel, raisins, brown sugar earthy wet wood – or at least it evoked the idea of those things. In the mouth it was cleaner and dryer than I was expecting, smooth but with a lively carbonation that tingled on the tongue like sherbert. The warm malty flavours (sorry I can’t be too specific) expanded in the mouth, finishing with a dry but not at all bitter finish.

It was a lovely, classy drop, and easily my favorite quad so far, but I can’t honestly say it blew me away. People say the Westvleteren 8 (which I think I enjoyed more) has better sea-legs, so it’s probable that the 12 lost a lot of flavour in the passage to NZ. The other obvious possibility is that there’s an Emporor’s New Clothes situation surrounding the Westy, but I couldn’t really know until I’ve tried it fresh.

And now that I’ve blogged the best beer in the world, I feel it’s only fair that I try to find the worst. Anyone know where I can find a bottle of this?

Published in: on July 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. whooarr! $66 bucks eh? Sounds like a super nice drop though.

  2. it is an amazing beer, I have only had a few sips myself… I have also tried the worst beer in the world, Old E, is dirty, malt liquor is the devil, and may have been created by “the man” to keep the black man down…. that is only a theory though

  3. Options for worst beer: DoBro. Or The Mill sells a Bear Beer that someone once bought me as a joke. I drank half a can and gifted the rest of the 6-pack to a local homeless person and felt terrible for worsening their day.

    • I have drunk an embarrassing amount of Bear Beer. I know it tastes terrible, but the name + miniature can = more than I can resist.

  4. I was given a bottle of this for teaching a beer class. Best payment EVER. I’ll be making the Monastery trip this fall when I’m in Belgium.

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