The Westvleteren 12 is a top-fermented trappist beer, brewed by Brasserie de l’Abbaye Saint Sixtus in Westvleteren, Belgium.
The smallest Trappist abbey is located in the Flanders (Between Ypres and Poperinge) and its name, according to beer expert Mickael Jackson, represents what we need to live. Westvleteren was first brewed in 1830 and is one of the eight trappist beers in the world. For lovers of brewed treasures, it is the beer everybody talks about these last years, ironically to the misfortune of the monks living and working in the abbey.
In fact, this brewery is the only one producing trappist beers but never increases its capacity of production. The latter is set at 5000 hectoliters (1320 gallons) per year, which is nothing compared to the 100 000 hectoliters (26.400) of beer yearly produced by the Trappist Brasserie Chimay.
Until 2005 this was not a problem, but then it was chosen as the best beer in the world above more than 30.000 beers from every continent… This small Sistine Abbey from Vleteren is now at the heart of a storm where people, driven by curiosity, greed, madness and thirst are fighting over this exceptional product.
The monks, despite this new fame and the huge amount of new fans coming from everywhere in the world, refused to increase their capacity of production, cycle of production or even their mode of life, which sets an important imbalance between supply and demand. Westvleteren 12 is considered as the best beer in the world, therefore arousing interest among the numerous beer lovers around the world.
Talking about the tasting, Westvleteren 12 pours a dark brown colour and lies on a yeast bed that must not be poured in order to keep the beer from being cloudy. Its thin beige head doesn’t leave much lacing, but remains on for about 2 mm.
It challenges the nose with complex, sweet and rich aromas and features a deep liquorish and flavored character. One could sense notes of fruit such as grapes, plum, citrus fruits, caramelized malt, vanilla… I don't have enough space to list all the ingredients, and the recipe is different according to the person who tries to find what’s in this amazing beer.
In the mouth, the beer sticks to the lips because of its high sugar content. It tastes quite sweet, one can sense rich and round yeast flavors that could also be interpreted in many ways from a person to another, from a palate to another…
People do agree on one thing: Westvleteren 12 is a complex beer. Complex because of its taste and aromas. It is also a much coveted beer since the Abbaye de Saint Sixtus is hard to reach and does not provide an easy supplying, one needs to be extremely patient to buy its beers directly from there.
It is definitely a pleasant beer for strong beers enthusiasts, even if some of them would reproach its lack of balance, but once again, it depends on the person tasting.
Dark brown topped by non persistent thin beige head
Sugary, liquorish, caramelized malt, vanilla, ...
Sugar, yeast, light bitterness, caramel