De Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren is one of the Trappist Monasteries that brews beer and is allowed to use the Trappist logo. Although they don’t use labels, their bottle cap contains the legally protected word “Trappist.” By far, there brewing operations are the smallest of any of the Trappist monasteries, brewing only enough to meet their financial needs. Westvleteren XII is probably one of the rarest and most sought after beers in the world. Basically, you can only get the beers when the Monastery announces they have a batch for sale. You have to have your name on their list. Then, You have to drive to the Monastery to pick up the beer. It’s not supposed to be resold, but inevitably people do exactly that. You can read the complicated rules on the link to their brewery page I provided at the beginning of this post.
Well, recently Westvleteren announced they were doing a large, one-time, world-wide release of the XII to raise a large amount of much needed money for a larger renovation. You can find out more at the blog that their importer, Shelton Brothers, setup for this project. The Westvleteren XII will be released on 12/12/12.
While the XII is the most famous, they also brew 2 other beers: 8 and Blond. When I was in Belgium, I found a store in Bruxelles just off the Grand Place that had an amazing selection of beers that included all 3 Westvleteren beers. I bought several of each. Of course, I paid an exorbitant amount. They were charging even more than the bar down the street, which I’d just enjoyed a XII at 15 minutes prior. The entire store was tourist priced, but when you see Westie (as it’s known), you buy it. When it comes to Westie, it’s always a “seller’s market.” I had been given a bottle of the XII for teaching a beer class by someone who had brought a case back with them. Needless to say, it lived up to the hype. When I saw that Westvleteren was doing a release, I was very excited.
In light of that release, I decided to review the blond and 8 leading up to the big day. Here is my review of the blond (The 8 review is posted here). The blond would be their “pater” beer or house beer. This would be the beer made specifically for the monks to consume on a daily basis. The 10+% ABV XII would be a bit much to be drinking everyday as your staple beer (Although I’d like to try that out).
Appearance: Pale straw-yellow with a white, fluffy head and excellent retention. It’s more than hazy but not quite cloudy.
Aroma: Spicy clove, banana, floral, citrus zest.
Taste: Floral, spicy, touch of malt. A very soft and creamy mouthfeel with excellent effervescence.
Overall Impression: This has all the “Belgian” blond flavor you want with out the higher alcohol level. This is a great tasting, everyday drinking beer. Super flavorful and balanced without being extreme. This would be a beer I’d always keep on hand if it were possible to do so. Outstanding.
Availability: Belgium, at the monastery. Occasionally at some stores. VERY RARE. If you see it, buy it. You’ll thank me.