Monday, 27 August 2012

Westvleteren Abdij St. Sixtus Westvleteren 12

Good afternoon all. Last week I took a trip out to Brussels with a friend to sample some culture and, more importantly, some great beers, where I was able to pick up the subject of today's post. As the opportunity has now presented itself perfectly, here are a few photos to demonstrate just some of the bottles that we got through during the 2.5 days we were there....

I would've put more in this post but Blogger's formatting options left a lot to be desired with the overall layout of the pictures. From Cantillon Fou' Foune to La Rulles Triple, we sampled some great offerings in our short time there and even had the time to walk through a giant steel cube and see some statues urinating in front of crowds of tourists. Suffice to say I'd happily go back, and it's definitely inspired me to make some more beer-related trips abroad in the future. Segueing back into today's review, the beer in question has garnered a lot of reverence over the last few years due to its prominent lack of availability and some impressive sales tactics from the brewers. Considered by many to be the best beer in the world, it's Westvleteren 12, a Quad from Westvleteren Abdij St. Sixtus (Westvleteren, Belgium). This particular bottle was part of a gift pack that was released to drum up funds for the renovation of the abbey, so I didn't have to cycle through the Belgian countryside to obtain some (although it's still on my to-do list for the future). As a result of the massive hype surrounding this beer I was incredibly eager to try some, and so cracked open a bottle last night with nervous anticipation and a notepad to record this momentous occasion. Review after the pic....

Westvleteren 12 (10.2% ABV) pours a ruby-tinged nut brown colour with a thick off-white head that settles to a patchy covering over the surface of the beer. The aroma is surprisingly subtle yet very well balanced, with characteristic Belgian phenols, light spice, dark fruits (blackcurrant, raspberry), marzipan, candy sugar and some acetone in the background. The marzipan character is immediately apparent on the nose and is supported by the raspberry and blackcurrant, whilst the awareness of the alcohol is light and so doesn't deliver the aromas into the olfactories significantly. Oddly enough, when the aromas coalesce it's very reminiscent of plasticine, but this is just a quick observation and not a consistent aspect of the aroma. The taste delivers similar aspects as the aroma, with dark fruits, candy sugar, candy floss and some phenols. The alcohol is much more noticeable in the taste than on the nose, delivering a satisfying burn to the back of the throat during drinking that doesn't linger on in the finish. Only a slight dryness exists after drinking, with no bitterness or tartness despite the complex array of flavours. There are some burnt sugar notes in the aftertaste, accompanied by raspberry and similar dark fruits. Generally the taste is equally as subtle as the aroma, with the main sense expressed being the alcohol whilst the other flavours are reserved. Towards the end of drinking some marzipan comes through, and the dark fruits combine with the alcohol to create a fortified wine/port flavour. The mouthfeel is thick and the beer is moderately carbonated. Overall, this is a great example of a Quad that, although not quite as amazing as its reputation suggests, still delivers some well-balanced flavours with a decent alcoholic kick. At the time of writing I would probably choose other examples of Quads (De Struise Pannepot or Sint Amatus 12, St Bernardus Abt 12, Trappistes Rochefort 10) over this one, but I would love to try it again in a few years to see how it has changed and if I would revise this opinion. Fortunately for me I've got another 5 bottles to do just that! Definitely recommended if you can get hold of some.

Until next time....


  1. Replies
    1. It was indeed, but as I can't envision myself taking a trip like that again for a while it was completely worth it