When you are aware of the greatness of a beer that is created 5.994 km away you patiently wait for the day you either travel to get it or have a Beer Saint friend do the leg work and be kind enough to share it.
Last night was the latter and wow did Westvleteren ever live up to all the rumors.
Let's back it up a bit and before I get into this beer specifically let me explain what trappist beers are all about. Trappist is the name given to those who worship and belong to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, which is a religious order within the Roman Catholic religion. The name given to nuns following the religion is Trappistines. Trappists follow the Rule of St Benedict, and live by the rules that guide them to live a monastic life. There are Trappist monasteries all over the world and the name ‘Trappist’ comes from the name La Trappe Abbey in Normandy, France. Almost all Trappist monasteries produced (and some still do) goods of all kinds, including cheeses, bread, clothing and of course, beer like Westvleteren. Their beers are renowned for there uniqueness and contain live yeast and residual sugars and age beautifully.
The name ‘Trappist’ is legally protected and should only be used if it meets these certain requirements; Trappist beer must be brewed by monks belonging to the abbey and must be brewed within or in the vicinity of an abbey. The abbey allowed to sell Trappist have no profit, the proceeds are paid to the livelihood of the monks and the upkeep of the abbey. The surplus is donated to charity.
Currently there are 11 Trappist beers which can carry the logo “Authentic Trappist Product”. Chimay, Engelszell, Rochefort, Westvleteren, La Trappe, Tre Fontane, Achel, Spencer, Zundert, Westmalle, Orval. Other products such as cheese and wine or food can also wear this logo. (Take the time to check out the beauty of all those sites it really adds to the experience of a trappist beer)
Westvleteren XII is a beautiful and popular Belgian beer that since it first went on sale has become one of the most sought after beers in the world and has often been referred to as ‘the best beer in the world’. Westvleteren is produced by Trappist monks in the grounds of the beautiful Saint Sixtus Abbey in the Vleteren region of Belgium, . The Westvleteren beer has even stood up to review from the world’s most renowned beer critics, being labelled a beer of true quality and distinction.
It pours out of its uniquely simple bottle a dark brown and has a thin tan head that lingers and visible yeast still floating throughout the glass. The nose was beautiful from the beginning with a ton of sweet, candied fruit, toffee, mild alcohol and a general richness. Flavor was outstanding with some nuttiness, raisin, toffee, hints of coconut and caramel and a yeasty aroma and taste.
It lingered kindly in my mouth as I chose not to rush to each sip and enjoy.
It is a quad ringing in at 10% abv and for a big beer it drinks so smooth and though sweet it is balanced by being met with a touch of complementing bitterness.
A glorious trip to Belgium and the brewery! They limit their productions to around 60,000 cases per year of Westvleteren XII, which has remained unchanged since the mid-1940s. The beer is also sold in the café opposite the brewery by the bottle. Buyers of Westvleteren 12 are limited two cases per car and purchasers are able to pre-book an order via the brewery’s ‘beerphone’, and only one order is allowed to be placed every 60 days per licence plate and telephone number., and only one or two cases at a time depending on which of the beers you are buying. *info from www.westvleterenbeers.com
A Beer Saint. A friend who has done the trip and is kind enough to carefully transport back more than one bottle to share with you on a special or everyday occasion.
Online. In the past it has been extremely difficult to attain the beer some can now purchase online here.
Cheers to my friends Matt & Vicki to a night that will go down in my highlights of beer drinking history book!