Westvleteren 12 is a world classic beer and one that’s often lauded as the “best beer in the world.” It’s also one of the hardest beers to get since it’s only available at the Abbey’s gift shop and cafe or through the monastery’s special release days. To get in on one of the release days, you have to call the brewery’s number and get your name and license plate on the list. I’ve been out to the cafe, In De Vrede, several times and have picked up several 6-packs of all 3 beers over the years. On the last trip, I decided to add the 12 to my cellaring program.
The 12 is a quadrupel style beer. Unless you’ve acquired on of the special releases with the big XII label, the bottles are unadorned with the only difference between beers being the caps. The caps come in 3 different colors: 12 is gold; 8 is blue, and the Blond is green. The brewery prints the “best by” date on the cap. If you subtract 3 years, you can find out the bottling date. I acquired this 6-pack on October 18th, 2016 directly from the cafe’s gift shop. Basically, the 6-pack was purchased about 6 weeks after bottling; the amount of time it took for the beer to bottle condition and carbonate. It was tasted less than a month later. With this beer, I’ll open one every 8 months. If I’ve timed it correctly, I should open the last bottle within a month or so of the cap date.
Bottle no. 1 – Tasted on November 22nd, 2016
Appearance: Brown, tan head, great retention.
Aroma: Chocolate, spicy, woody, nutty, roasty, toffee, tobacco.
Taste: Spicy, dark chocolate, and a little boozy.
Overall Impression: This is a virtually fresh bottle and came with the rich, bold flavors you’d associate with the style. It was pretty aggressive and full flavored. Westvleteren is a much try beer, and one that people rarely get to try fresh since they get it via more circuitous methods than directly from the abbey. I’ve had it at various age levels but never attempted to track its development over time.
Availability: In Belgium, at the Monastery (De Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren). VERY RARE.
Bottled: August 31st, 2016 with a Best By Date of August 31st, 2019.
If you’d like to learn more about the Trappist Monasteries and Breweries, you can read The Brewing Monks for more information.
You can read more about the abbey at my Westvleteren page.