Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) - Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)
Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
Ratings: 4,631 | Reviews: 1,612 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by TheBrewo:
4.7/5 rDev +2%
Here it is, the traditional holy mother of the beer kingdom. The fair lady was kind enough to track down a bottle (cap-stamped with 20.12.16) of this for the anniversary of the day I was born, so for such an occasion we crack right into it on a fresh, rested palate. We pour a brew of rich ruby-mahogany into our oversized tasting snifters. It immediately jets up two fingers worth of tight latte colored foam that doesn’t quit. This retains excellently, sifting down and sitting atop the liquid in an eventual creamy, ephemeral film. Thick corded ridges and archipelagos of lacing are left around the glasses. No real haze is noted, but tiny flecks of sediment sit suspended throughout. Carbonation appears to be moderate yet pervasive. The aroma takes you by surprise, with massively sweet booziness and vanilla bean off the bat. These settle as the beer warms, allowing room for the remaining mix of heavy caramel, brown, and burnt wheaty malts, straw, musk, cherry and fig syrups, dried dates, almond oil, melty candied toffies, plum and concord grape fruitiness, dirty dried grass and petal, savory Belgian yeasty steel, smoked tobacco leafiness, perfumed booziness, match head sulfurics, buttercream frosting, peanut butter nuttiness, and gentle buttery diacetyls, to flower through. Our first impression is that the flavoring is almost drowned out by the mouthfeel, which is intensely creamy and thick. As we sip, the taste begins with the bite of fusel booze, brightly sweet caramel and brown maltiness with a buttery brush, wood lacquer, black pepper, astringent plum skins, dried figs and raisins, vanilla and almond extract, and that aromatic, dusty Belgian yeast. The middle peaks with a sweeter cloy of malty fruitiness, with caramel and toffee biscuits, strawberry, pear, and date syrups, chewy burnt granola, wheat flour, toasty walnuts, cooked brown, wheaty, and crystal maltiness, granular white sugar sweetness, and dried cedar lick. Washing through the end is a cleansing bitterness of booze, light cloven phenols, the softest banana esters, licorice, burnt leathers, cereal and caramel grain, continued grapey fruitiness, salted yeastiness, toasty almonds, mild oaky woodiness, vanilla extract, cigar smokiness. The aftertaste breathes of walnut oils, dates and golden raisins, lint and dust, phenolic plastics, tinny and brassy metallics, rum-soaked pound cake, bile acidity, sea salt, heavy alcohols, basement mustiness, bitter booziness, light bourbon-corn essence, continued gentle smoked peatiness, and the final echoes of that warming European yeastiness. The body is thick and chewy, and the carbonation is medium. Slurp, smack, cream, froth, pop, glug, foam, and drag are all intense, complete, and wonderful. The mouth is thickly coated, but dried overtop with a quickly burning layer of thin alcohol that leaves the mouth somewhere between satiated and astringently puckered with chalkiness. The abv is appropriate, and although it drinks back well, you find the desire to want to make it last strong.
Overall, the best thing about this beer is how it handles your expectations of it. You go into it expecting this insane, flavor-bomb of power that will forever change your views and opinions of beers. You don’t really get that. The real magic of this beer is in just how simple and clean the execution of it is. The balance is unsullied, with the booze and the malt bill meeting for a beautiful dance in the center of the room. They just take their recipe and should you how it’s done, without the need for any bells, whistles, or unnecessary flair or novelty. This beer is all about harmony, and doing the right thing at the right time. The nose and the flavoring both embody this mantra naturally and intrinsically, so it comes as an even bigger surprise when the mouthfeel comes crashing in unfettered. It is so thick and creamy, creeping along like molten lava, acting like the perfect delivery vessel for the bold cleanliness of flavoring. This is an exercise is technique, and although some may be disappointed by the flavoring alone not taking them into the clouds, one must sit back and appreciate the art of the craft and what it means to strive for brewing perfection. Hard to track down, but well worth it if you want to taste what a fantastic beer is made from.
03-26-2014 21:26:12 | More by TheBrewo
More User Reviews:
4.78/5 rDev +3.7%
July 24, 2009: Along with the notes below, the cotton candy/confection/powdered sugar flavor is super clean and full of taste. Ester profile shows more grape flavors than I remember. An immaculate beer fit for it's #1 status.
So, this is the daddy of all daddyies; the penacle of all fermented malty beverages; the beer that carries the biggest kahunas; the most elusive and sought-after beer of all. Can a beer possibly live up to it's legendary status? Yes in fact, it can. A very deep, strong, agressive berry and candied aroma swells from the bottle, even before the pour. The beer pours neatly into the chalice with a rising pillow of foam that brings out more dark berries, dehydrated fruits, and tart, warming alcohols. Very mouth-watering and inviting. That first sip brings a lot of that rich berry flavor (blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, and a hint of grapes) that shines above a seriously malt base. Pecans, almonds, and graham cracker flavors display the malts well. Dehydrated / candied fruits (cherries, pineapples, dates and figs) meld with a sweet rum-like alcohol flavor and makes this beer some of the better flavors ever placed into my mouth. The body shows all of the firm-ness, viscity, and creaminess needed for a perfect-five beer, but the alcohols and berry-vineous flavors slice through it, making it waver just a bit. The berry flavor lingers on and on... I can still taste it from last night. It is easy to see why this beer so easily seduces even the most seasoned beer enthusiest, but I have to ask it to reluctantly step aside of this grand pedistal for its little brother, Westvleteren Dubbel.
01-23-2008 19:29:40 | More by BEERchitect
4.3/5 rDev -6.7%
The time has finally come to put a splash of beer in my BA mug and what better beer than Westvleteren 12? I've had two of these in my cellar for about six months now and have been saving them for a special occasion. Something tells me that the contents have held up just fine. 'Best by' date on the yellow cap is 01.07.06.
The pour generates the typically massive Belgian head and I can see small chunks entering my chalice when the bottle is about 2/3 empty. Extremely murky chestnut brown; the beer looks like strong, unfiltered apple cider. The ecru colored cap has barely fallen in the three minutes since the pour. I'm expecting a huge amount of Belgian lace, but it hasn't yet had the chance to form since the head is so obstinate.
The aroma is more subdued than expected, but to be fair, I'm trying to assess it through a still thick cap of foam. What I do appreciate is brown malty, fruity and toasted nutty. I also pick up whiffs of Belgian yeast and alcohol.
The flavor profile is complex to say the least. It's comprised of loads of caramel malt, molasses, licorice, and dark, dried fruits (raisins, dates and prunes). Candied pecans and modestly funky yeast make appearances, as does the aforementioned alcohol. There are also darker contributors such as coffee and chocolate. Simply an amazing collection of seemingly unlimited flavors. The mouthfeel is big and firm, chewy even, but stops short of full or heavy.
Westvleteren 12 is world-class, no doubt about it. I can appreciate this beer (I think), I respect this beer, I even like this beer a lot. I just don't love this beer. Call me a hophead, call me an unrefined simpleton, call me what you will, but that's how I feel at this juncture in my journey. That doesn't mean that Westvleteren 12 is anything less than incredible. Everyone should have the chance to sample it at least once.
06-06-2004 17:52:12 | More by BuckeyeNation
3.98/5 rDev -13.7%
At long last I was finally able to snag the great Westy 12,pours a deep brown with a suprisingly thin head that was gone pretty quickly not leaving anything behind.Whoa the aromas are just incredibly complex and rich,some almond and raisin almost a cinnamon bun type aroma to it,just awesome.Flavors are more mellow than expected,I get some star anice and raisin up front with some mellow orange tinge in the lngering finish.I like the "12"better than the "8" but I have had some better Quads but still a pleasure to drink for sure.
04-24-2005 19:23:41 | More by oberon
4.63/5 rDev +0.4%
My second Westy ever! Also at the Kulminator.
Appearance: Like the 8, this beer poured a super drak brown and was accompanied by a huge, appetizing tan head. While it looked like alot of beers....worth a scoing of 4....i had to give it a 4.5 based on my anticipation. It just looked so good, i couldn't wait!
Smell: Although the nose had sweet chocolatey notes as well as spicey hints to it, i found that it was much more mild and subtle then i had anticipated.
Taste: Here we go!!! Wow. A wonderfuly rich beer with sweet and complex flavours throughout. Hints of chocolate and caramel. Spices of cinamon and nutmeg, maybe even a hint of molasses. Soem dark fruitiness and even some light woody notes towards the mildly bitter finish which also had a refined, port-like quality to it.
Mouthfeel: Rich, creamy, complex...very warming and fullfilling. Tastes linger nicely and change even after you're done your sip.
Drinkability: It doesn't get much better than this! A world class beer. This one goes into my top 10 for sure. If i could only find more, i would buy them all.
11-03-2003 14:34:25 | More by Popsinc
4.85/5 rDev +5.2%
Appearance Thick, dark brown with live carbonation and a monster head that went down slowly and puddled at the end.
Smell Big, sweet, buttery malts lead this one off. This is followed by an array of fruity smells that are very rich and thick. Sharp, heavy maple and molasses bring up the rear of this BSDA, giving it a wonderful bouquet indeed.
Taste This is exceptional. The rich buttery malt base is there, laden with alcohol. Behind that are the fruits. They are dark and extremely ripe. The overripe apricots, dark cherries, and figs all seem to be smashed together (well blended) and covered in sugars of all types, especially brown and raw.
Mouthfeel Full in the body and extremely smooth and buttery. This one defines creaminess at its best. The carbonation is very live and fluffy.
Drinkability This is truly a BSDA classic that lives up to the hype. It will always be towards the top of the ratings list.
Comments With almost zero availability here in Seattle, I was thrilled when I got this one from OldFrothingSlosh in the Christmas Beer Exchange coordinated by Richard, Mr. Big Dog himself. Thanks to the giving spirit of the BA community for giving me the opportunity to try this most excellent Trappist Ale.
12-26-2003 00:06:59 | More by RoyalT
4.72/5 rDev +2.4%
Dates and Anise fill out this perfectly rounded and balanced brew that is the color of blood and prune juice with a lovely yeast loaded off white head. Drinking this one was such a thrill and I largely agree with the hype. This is undoubtedly one of the top ten beers I have ever tasted. It is so wonderfully warming and gets richer and more pleasurable with each taste. Well worth a trip to Belgium in my book even if you can get it black market style at the punk bar down the street. Couldn't ask for a more perfect brew for my 200th review.
02-02-2006 22:39:09 | More by DaPeculierDane
4.58/5 rDev -0.7%
Acquired one bottle from '12 (thanks to cneville) and one bottle from '11 (from Mike) and did a side-by-side with the '11 Westy and a St. Bernardus Abt 12 - just to see what all the fuss is about. Westy pours a murky, dark brown color that accumulates deep at the bottom with light only passing through near the top of the beer, giving it a lighter, copper color. A beige, creamy head forms but remains small, even with an aggressive pour, though it can be coaxed out easily by swirling the glass. So far, so good.
The aroma was beautiful, and in all honesty, simply everything that a Belgian strong ale should be. Raisins, figs, dates - all lightly sugar coated and soaked with a mild boozy flavor. Sweet, smooth brown sugar, faint roses, lightly toasted nuts, toffee malt, and another complex layer of booze that gets a bit stronger as the beer warms up, until it reaches a slightly phenol-like presence. Earthy and dark, fruity esters abound, along with light hints of spices and Belgian yeasty warmth. It all remains wrapped in an array of sugary and savory aromas - the nose on this is one of the most perplexing things I've come across. Just SO MANY THINGS going on, yet it all mingles so strangely well.
A heavily bread and caramel malt backbone leads the way as I take my first sip. I don't have much time to linger with that, however, because my palate is immediately thrust into a flavor profile more stunning than the aroma. Candied grapes, figs, dates, and more dark, juicy, overripe fruits. Sweet red licorice, light booze, honey, calm, earth and fruit esters, mild clove and warming spices, Belgian yeast... I could go on and on. Truth is, the flavor profile on this bad boy is truly an enigma - so many things happening and there's no way you're going to capture all of them with mere words. Some heavy bread and almost rye-like flavors in the aftertaste, buttery and smooth. Somewhat on the heavy side without being thick or syrupy; silky and smooth on the palate, very creamy and not sticky at all - decent carbonation, even for nearly two years of age.
So, is this the "best beer in the world" ? No. Well, in my opinion, anyway. BUT - I can definitely see why some people might agree with that, and I can definitely say that it deserves to be in the discussion. Even though it doesn't necessary top my list, it's certainly one of the best and most well crafted beers I've had, and no doubt a benchmark example of the style. If you love beer, do yourself a favor and seek one of these out. It was really an amazing beer, and the experience of enjoying it for yourself (or with a friend) is excellent.
02-27-2013 13:08:25 | More by tectactoe
4.7/5 rDev +2%
A: A deep reddish brown color, nearly opaque. A nice looking beige head of about 3 cm with good retention leaves plenty of lacings.
S: A deep and rich smell. Plenty of fruity aromas (cherries, plums, overripe strawberries), raisins, wet wood. The malty backbone is thick and "dark" and is accompanied by a prominent spicy aroma. A hint of yeast. The alcohol is noticeable, but very integrated with the rest of the aromas. A great smell.
T: The taste is nothing but fantastic. A noble and rich malty backbone and semi-sweet cherries converge with a prominent, but not very strong, taste of alcohol. At this point, the beer is quite reminiscent of a fine liqueur. Hints of chocolate and coffee. Raisins adds another sweet component. Earthy yeast and spices balance the massive sweetness. Faint nutty aromas, and perhaps just a minimal hint of tartness. In the finish, the alcohol is very noticeable and has a sweet and warming character. But the alcohol is very well integrated and suits the beer nicely. The finish is slightly bitter with notes of spices, iron and grass.
M: Full-bodied with a velvety smooth texture. The rather high level of carbonation is well suited for the overall character.
D: What to say about this legendary brew? Well, I think it's almost as good as it's reputation say it is. It's just unbelievably tasty with an impressive complex character. This one comes really close to perfection.
07-06-2009 13:52:18 | More by ricke
5/5 rDev +8.5%
Absolutely deserving of the best beer in the world title. Has such an utter depth and complexity it will leave your head spinning. Aesthetics are quite nice with a dark color and a pleasant tan head, but the smell is when you realize something incredibly is coming. Fruits, spices, candy, it just hits you all at once with an intensity even stronger than a Dogfish 120.
On a side note, if at all possible wait to try this beer until you are able to make the pilgrimaged out to the monastery in Belgium. The surrounding country is some of the most peaceful and quiet farmland I've ever seen, and builds up the experience of trying the beer to a whole new level.
06-18-2008 03:48:17 | More by punkindrublic50
4.71/5 rDev +2.2%
AROMA - very refined dried cherry, light and lean malty aroma with a nutty dimension, ever so slight hint of alcohol, a whisp of banana, another aroma which is moderate in intensity and could be diacetyl, caramel malt, or a combination of the two -( pleasant), bass notes of rum-raisin, all coming together to give a wonderful character of warm banana bread, lightly peppery, fresh plum skin, perhaps a faint herbal hop aroma, - this all comes off spectacularly fresh, clean ,and in balance. This is a bouquet which is noticeable upon quaffing but hardly leaps out of the glass. The overall intensity of the aroma is moderately-strong at best and very harmonious. The malt and fermentation elements stand out most and speak no louder than a robust dopplebock might.
APPEARANCE- This is a really beautiful beer. It is stark crystal clear with a gorgeous deep-ruby hue, and modest (less than one finger), but healthy and persistent off-white head. It gently gives up sparkling-wine style carbonation without being foamy or difficult to manage (3.5 volumes?). Wide legs that creep down the glass at a snail's pace.
FLAVOR- A bit simpler than the aroma. Overall impression is a lightly peppery alcohol keeping a creamy caramel/nugat malt base lively on the palate with a soft nut and vanilla finish. Malt character takes on a brown sugar/ light molasses character as sample warms. Fresh cherry, plum, red apple, red grape, and raisin notes tumble across the palate, but you must really focus to corner them. Banana notes in the aroma are nowhere to be found until sample hits room temp. No diacetyl. Barely perceptible hop bitterness that does not linger. Moderately strong peppery/ spicy quality is probably some combo of phenols, alcohol, and possibly hops, but it is not possible to determine where one begins and the other ends. Moderate malts sweetness is a big player in the balance but does not dominate impression.
MOUTHFEEL- medium-full bodied at most with a lively but never fizzy carbonation. The peppery alcohol character does grow to moderate or moderately-strong as you work through the glass, but never gets hot. Really overall a very lithe and graceful beer considering its size. I would never call it thick, slick, sticky or sweet, but would also never call it dry.
OVERALL- This is not only an extraordinarily well-made beer, but really quintessentially "Trappist". I have now sampled beer from every Trappist brewery and I don't know if it is for better or worse that most will try this one last because it makes you realize what the other breweries are aiming at. It has that semi-sweet (never dry, never cloying, but teasing you with moments of both), lightly tangy quality that must surely come from the sugar usage. Like all great strong beers, it is dangerously drinkable and unlike so many US big beers or "extreme" beers, it is not intense in any regard really. The alcohol comes on a bit strong at times, and so it is possible that aging this beer might be wise, but I'd hate to lose the wonderfully fresh malt and ester qualities that really make it sparkle. Belgian and Trappist beer fans would do well to seek this out, but those looking to get their minds blown by an intense beer would do better to spend their time and money pursuing something state-side.
09-24-2013 08:53:24 | More by JudgeRoughneck
4.83/5 rDev +4.8%
A - Pours a very dark brown with some amber highlights in the glass. Fairly thick and didnt let a lot of light through. A nice puffy 1-1/2 finger head.
S - Smells of dark fruits and berries. Grapes, raisins, cherries, vinous red wine and some tobacco. Also a strong caramel malt backbone to balance.
T - Very complex. Up front there's nice bready malt with toffee and rich dark fruits. Then comes some tart green apples and a bit of spice from the yeast. Finishes a bit warming that brings a nice carmel/toffee sweetness and slight tartness that lasts and lasts.
M - Very smooth with good carbonation. The beer just seems to go down.
O - This lived up to the hype for me and was worth the price and hassle to get. I'm very glad I finally got to try this beer. Is it the best beer in the world? It wouldn't be number 1 on my list but it's definitely a world class beer worthy of a high ranking.
05-17-2012 16:39:55 | More by SkiBum22
Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) from Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)
100 out of 100 based on 4,631 ratings.