Food, Beer, and Travel

a dump from the mind of Jon Piper

Westvleteren 12

Posted by jwpiper on January 1, 2009

Out comes the Westvleteren 12 after hearing its named maligned in my previous post, Westvleteren 8. Same procedure as the 8, a 330ml bottle at cellar temperature split between Westvleteren chalice glasses. The date printed clearly on the bottle is 13.08.11, which corresponds to a dramatic pickup on one of my last visits to Belgium. Being only 4 months old, I’ll call this one relatively fresh.

A more vigorous head builds upon pouring – about 2.5cm after pouring half a bottle. The head is slightly more tan than the 8. The beer color is also darker brown, but with caramel-amber notes around the edges.
The smell is dramatically different than the 8. Much, much more rich fruity aromas with caramel undertones. I also get some cherries and pears. Amazing.
Wow – the debate is settled. They are different beers, but fresh Westvleteren 12 is better and much more complex than 2 year old Westvleteren 8. There is so much going on here, much of which I doubt I can identify. Again, figs and raisins; caramel and dark sugars. A hint of chocolate in the finish. Much more hops than in the 8 with a flowery sweet profile. The bitterness is there in the perfect amount to balance the powerful malts. The finish also carries yeasty notes that are hard to name with everything else that’s going on. The flavor lasts for about 20-30 minutes after the last sip.
Very smooth and silky feel. The carbonation is incredibly soft, but present. My wife calls is velvety. This is a pinnacle and makes all other 5’s I’ve given seem like 4.5’s for the moment. There is an alcohol warmth on the palate which the breath carries if it’s been a while since the last sip, but this is dominated with the complex flavors.
This beer is even easier to drink than the 8. I’ve sat at In de Vrede for hours enjoying this brew, entirely paralyzed from ordering the blond or the 8.
So, if the 8 is incredible, it’s tough to conjure to a word for this beer. Definitely the best beer I’ve ever had. I wanted it to be hype the first time I went, but this beer has a way of surprising me with how good it is every time I drink it. One of the most transcendent of man’s concoctions.
€36/24-bottle case (€1.5/330ml) + travel to and from the abbey and the pain and hassle of checking a couple of cases. An incredible value if you’re in Belgium.

For the record, this is the first beer I’ve given all 5/5 ratings. And this is after 3 years of drinking the beer – not a fluke and not hype as far as I’m concerned.


3 Responses to “Westvleteren 12”

  1. […] set of fresh Westvleteren 12. A series of innocent events (described here: Westvleteren 8 and here: Westvleteren 12) drove me to perform the comparison of these two beers which I intended those months […]

  2. […] a local brewer is cocky enough to evoke Westvleteren 12 in the name of their beer, you’ve got to give it a try. Picked up from Rozi’s Wine in […]

  3. […] and will be in or around Belgium anyway, I’d say it’s 100% worth it to pick up some Westvleteren 12 or Westvleteren […]

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