This is the 2nd of 2 Westvleteren 8 bottles I acquired on my 2012 trip to Belgium. It’s been resting nicely in my temperature controlled Vinotemp cooler just waiting for the right occasion. I decided to bust this guy out to help celebrate the 2nd anniversary of my blog! I started my blog in 2012 and acquired this bottle in 2012, so I thought the synchronicity would work out nicely. I reviewed the first bottle on December 17, 2012 (That review).
De Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren or Westvleteren for short, is probably one of the most sought after of the Trappist beers, and the least available due to their volume and practices. They don’t to brew a ton of beer, just enough to pay for their abbey’s upkeep. They also wish to protect their privacy so they do as little to commercialize their beer as possible. Basically, you can buy the beer at the Abbey on select days or at their cafe across the way from the monastery. There are various places you can buy it at in Belgium or online, but I’m not sure how they get their stock or if that method of acquisition ventures into the “grey market.”
Westvleteren 8 is the middle tier of the abbey’s current lineup. They have a Blond “patersbier” or “single” that is a relatively new recipe. The 8 would fit in, approximately, in the “Dubbel” or Abbey Double style range. The XII or 12 is a quad. They used to brew a 6 which was a lighter brown ale similar to Rochefort 6. St. Bernardus still brews the old 6 recipe. They also used to brew a 4, which was a lighter blond ale. St. Bernardus has revived this old recipe on a limited basis this year.
According to the best information I can find, the “best by” date on top of the cap is 3 years from the bottling date on Westvleteren 8 & 12. So according to the date this particular bottle was bottled on April 6, 2011.
Appearance: Light haze, brown. Tan head. Great Retention.
Aroma: Clove, Cinnamon, Chocolate, tea, dates, toffee, burnt toast. Spicy!
Taste: Brown sugar, toffee, burnt toast, black tea, milk chocolate. Spicy with a peppery finish.
Overall Impression: I just reviewed my tasting notes from the first bottle I had and they’re very similar! This beer hardly tasted 3 years old at all. It didn’t have any of the really oxidized “aging” flavors you might expect. It’s definitely continued to develop and has gotten SUPER spicy. The yeast has really been working to make this beer special. I wish I had more from the same vintage so I could continue to see how it would develop. I think it’s got quite a bit more time left in it before it starts declining. Truly an outstanding Belgian Trappist beer! While Westvleteren 12 gets the hype, the 8 is equally worth your time. It’s a phenomenally good beer.
Availability: In Belgium, at the Monastery (De Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren). VERY RARE. If you’re going to be in Belgium, you can view the Abbey’s policies on how to buy beer from them.
Note: Best by date of 06/04/2014 (April 4, 2014)
You can read more about the abbey at my Westvleteren page.
You can also learn more about singles, doubles, triples, & quads at this Q & Ale topic.