Food, Beer, and Travel

a dump from the mind of Jon Piper

Westvleteren 8

Posted by jwpiper on January 1, 2009

Now, had I been smart about this, I would have recorded an independent review each time I drank this beer from purchase time on, but I wasn’t. I was inspired by a Trappist Dubbel (Westmalle and Westvleteren) tasting we had at the Pirozzi’s last night. I only got a few sips of the Westy 8, and it left me yearning for more. And since I’ve never recorded a complete review for this beer, I thought I should remedy that. My wife and I will share a 330ml bottle just below cellar temperature split between Westvleteren chalice glasses. The cap indicates, with a faded 20.12.09, that it’s just over 2 years old.

Appearance
5
Not 100% opaque dark brown pour with a hint of caramel and amber. 165ml pour builds a 1.5cm head which turns to the prototypical lace. Each sip leaves some lace on the back of the glass – playing with which is half the fun of drinking these beers… ok, maybe not.
Smell
5
Smells like caramel and mollasses, and raisins, and dates, and figs. Very rich aroma which invites you to take a sip. A swirl generates mustier and yeasty smells.
Taste
4.5
The taste is incredible. A very powerful combination of the smell. The yeast is more prominent on the flavor profile than the aroma and contributes sweet biscuity flavors. This is definitely a rich, sweet beer, but there is just a hint of bitterness which balances. At times there’s just a hint of alcohol warmth. Further into the glass, the hops come forward and carry some acidic flavors which adds to the complexity of this offering. The finish carries all the flavors: rich, sweet, tart, and yeasty. Last night, when drinking this immediately after Westmalle Dubbel, I was ready to give this a 5, but tonight with more focus and a cleaner palate, I’m pinning it at a 4.5 – closer to a 4.75. Many times when drinking this beer with a year or more of age on it, I thought it has to be better than Westveleteren 12. Tonight, I can imagine otherwise. The flavors are not as rich, dark fruity, sweet, or chocolatey.
Mouthfeel
5
The mouthfeel is perfect – smooth, effervescent, still quite carbonated, thick but not sticky.
Drinkability
5
I could drink this non-stop. Less alcohol than the Westvleteren 12, and as such easier drinking. Not quite as inviting as the 12, but this is a sipper which keeps me sipping. Again, this is one of those beers which you sip out of respect not necessity.
Overall
4.8
Umm, incredible. Thinner than the 12. More complex than I remember a fresh 8 being.
Price
€30/24-bottle case (€1.25/330ml) + travel to and from the abbey and the pain and hassle of checking a couple of cases. A definite value.

We’ll see if a 12 pops out of the cellar for a comparison. To end my internal debate once and for all: is an aged Westvleteren 8 better than a fresh Westvleteren 12?

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3 Responses to “Westvleteren 8”

  1. […] from Belgium with a 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 […]

  2. […] (RSS) « Westvleteren 8 Aventinus […]

  3. […] So, that’s what I do. It’s not too much of a hassle and if you’ve got the time and will be in or around Belgium anyway, I’d say it’s 100% worth it to pick up some Westvleteren 12 or Westvleteren 8. […]

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