Beer of the Week: Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII)
After sampling this week’s featured beer last night, I’m still reeling from beer afterglow this morning. Upon first sip, I can immediately taste why Westvleteren XII is often regarded as the best beer in the world. Brewed since 1838 at the abbey of Saint Sixtus in Belgium, it has never been available for sale in the United States. Running about $85 for a six-pack, it was well worth the price. You’ll be hard pressed to find it now, as this was a one-time-only retail release – most of the 150 stores nationwide that were selected to sell it ran out within minutes. All I can say is I’m extremely grateful for a good beer friend that was able to acquire some and share it with me.
Just for the record, “Trappist” can only be applied to beer brewed by Trappist monks in their monastery. Among all Belgian beers only six are allowed to use the name of Trappist – Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle and Westvleteren.
Appearance: Pours hazy, barely opaque chestnut color. Minimal head in this particular pour but was sharing with a friend. It has very fine bubbles that retain around the edges of the glass.
Smell: Just the right hint of sweet with dark fruits, raisins, plums, maybe some cherry, caramel and subtle malts.
Taste: At first sip it is clear why this was a highly renowned beer. It is complex, but perfectly balanced with just the right combination of sweet flavors that taste of dark fruits like fig or plums. There is caramel, brown sugar and a very subtle hint of spiciness at the end. There’s a pleasant warmth from the alcohol as it’s consumed.
Mouthfeel: Moderate in body, very smooth and creamy on the palate, the oxidation sits on the tongue. The fine bubbles round out the mouth feel with perfectly balanced carbonation.
Overall: Most anyone should be able to taste why this is one of the top beers in the world. It is complex yet perfectly balanced, has excellent flavor, and overall is one of the best beers I’ve ever tried. The drinkability is off the charts and I really wish I could say I had more than just the one bottle that I tried. I think it’s absolutely worth every penny and if I ever make it over to Belgium I’ll be making my way over to the Abbey of Saint Sixtus.
Tasty Mug Rating: 5 / 5
Style: Quadrupel (Quad)
Original Gravity: Unknown
Availability: Year-round but only available by reservation at the Abbey in Belgium (except for the one-time-only release in the U.S.)
Food Pairings: Buttery cheeses such as Brie, Gouda, Havarti, or sharp such as Blue and Cheddar; beef, smoked meats
Glassware: Snifter, Tulip, Goblet (or Chalice)
Aging: Can be cellared for long periods, under the proper conditions