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Westvleteren 12

Westvleteren XII at In De Vrede
Westvleteren XII at In De Vrede

Westvleteren 12 is one of the most pursued and lauded beers in the world.  Usually, you can only get it at directly from the Abbey at their store In De Vrede or directly from the Monastery’s gates on special release days.  But don’t show up and expect to get a case, you have to call their reservation line and get on the list.  But if you are just going to stop by, you can visit the cafe and pick up a 6-pack of whatever’s available.  The day I visited last fall, they had the Blond and the 12.

Westie 12 is probably the most famous of the Trappist quads; although, It would fall under the BJCP Belgian Strong Dark Ale category; quad isn’t a category.

Appearance: Murky brown, tan head, great retention.

Aroma: Spicy, cinnamon, toffee, chocolate, coffee, hard wood, coriander, brown sugar, maple.

Taste: Chocolate, spice, brown sugar, hard wood, light burnt toast.

Overall Impression:  Westvleteren 12 is a rich and balanced beer with a complex and deep flavorful long finish.  Westvleteren 12 is definitely a beer to be experienced.  Part of the fun of this beer is the limited availability and all you have to do to get it.  I traveled to Belgium, drove to West Flanders, and visited the abbey to get a 6er (you can read about my trip here).  Sure there is a lot of hype surrounding this beer.  It’s a fantastic beer; truly one of the top beers in its category.  Without the hype, this is an amazing, beautiful beer.  Try to approach it as it is, not as you’ve heard about it.  It’ll blow you away.

Availability: In Belgium, at the Monastery (De Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren). VERY RARE.

10.2% ABV

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.

You read about the history of Monastic brewing and the Trappist order at this link.

Notes: Bottled – 03/09/14 (September 3, 2014)/Best by: 03/09/17 (September 3, 2017)/Tasted – March 2, 2015

Cellar Notes: I have several more bottles from this batch and will be bringing them out at regular intervals to track its progression.

5 thoughts on “Westvleteren 12

  1. I remember when it had it’s “limited, one time” release in America. While people were running around trying to get their hands on some, I had an opportunity to stroll right into the local Total Wine and buy some. The only life cost – being 25min late to work.

    But I passed. It just didn’t seem right to just walk in pick this beer up off an end cap. Not after having read people like Michael Jackson romantically talk about the Monastery and the beer.

    Having said all that, a friend of mine did open a bottle at a party. And to this day I’ve never said much about it. I mean, I liked it. But the hype? The situation? Not traveling to Belgium to get it honestly?

    It’s like critiquing the Mona Lisa. People can say what they want about it, but no matter what they say (even that it’s not worth the hype), they’ll never reduce its position in the world of art.

    Same with West 12. It will always be “that beer”.

  2. Well said, Ed. I had the opportunity to try the beer in Belgium for the first time in a 400 year-old tavern. The beer that was released here — while I did purchase two six-packs of it — just is not the same. I still have eight bottles of it left and open one for very special occasions only, but they do not compare to the two I drank in a back-ally bar in Brussels.

  3. I picked up a six pack when it was released to Canada a few years back and still have a few bottles left. I also have had the Westy 8 and 12 at a local Vancouver restaurant also. It does happen but it is exceedingly rare.

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