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Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) - Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)

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Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII)Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII)

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5,190 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,190
Reviews: 1,664
rAvg: 4.6
pDev: 9.13%
Wants: 3,136
Gots: 1,596 | FT: 117
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren) visit their website

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-12-2001

(Yellow Cap)
View: Beers (3) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,190 | Reviews: 1,664 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of roger617
4.54/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into snifter. Acquired this in a trade, and crazy excited to dive in.

A: Deep brown with over 1 finger of off white head that reduces fairly quickly and leaves a little lacing. Love the color on this one, it's almost got a red hue, making it look like rich mahagony.
S: Very sweet, with wafting aromas of dark fruits. Plums, apricot, persimmon.
T: At first taste I wasn't too keen on this beer. After my palate adjusted (I'd been drinking water for over an hour, without having eaten anything in over 2 hours) all the flavors opened up. This is super sweet with such a rich complex balance of flavor. Leaves a sweet lingering aftertaste that just continues to bring more flavors as I exhale after each breath.
M: A high level of carbonation, and silky smooth.
O: This beer has to be the epitomy of the style. So flavorful, complex and balanced. Definitely a beer than any craft enthusiast needs to seek out at least once.

Photo of CaptinRedBeard
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Thijs for sending me this. Cheers to a great BA.

A: It pours into my Chimay goblet a cloudy dark amber/brown color. With one finger of tight, spotty, off white head that remains for some time. As I slowly drink it down, persistent lacing covers the side of the glass

A: The floral Belgian yeast is noticeable immediately. Followed by some caramel malt aroma, and dark fruits. Notably, raisins, figs and plums.

T: The flavors here are so complex that it is hard for me to discern, break down and describe the individual flavors. What a wonderful yeast strain used here. The flavors of the dark fruits do come through nicely. The plums and raisins blend effortlessly with the flavors from the malt and yeast. This is possibly the most well balanced beer that I have ever had. No one flavor really jumps out apart from the rest. Everything just blends together perfectly.

M: Fairly highly carbonated. More than I was expecting actually. None the less, this is no detractor here. It has a wonderful smooth, medium body on the palette.

D: The alcohol is nearly unoticeable at first, but comes out a bit as the beer warms. I could literally drink this every day and never get tired of it. It really is too bad that alas, I only have one bottle. This is the very definition of a world class beer. I will certainly be seeking out more of it.

Photo of Franziskaner
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Deep brown in color with not much light seeping through. Easily an inch of tightly packed creamy beige foam is visible. I detect the aroma of dark candy sugar and dark malt. The flavor is a nice blend of dark malt and candy sugar. Light notes of caramel and molasses are also noticeable.
The mouth is exceptionally velvety smooth, creamy,and bone dry.

Photo of tempest
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A year after trading with Leftmindedrighty, I finally decided to crack this baby open.

It's pours a dark, slightly hazy brown with a thin tan head. The aroma has a hint of cardboard, but otherwise its smooth, Belgian chocolate with a hint of fruit. The flavors going on in the beer are nuts. I'm blown away by the complexity. Just running down the list of flavors in my notes I got: chocolate (lots of it), grassy/herbal hops, caramel, candi sugar, medjool dates (really sweet dates), and cola. Everything is very smooth and one flavor melts into the next.

I tried to be skeptical, but this truly is divine beer. I had this back to back with the St. Bernardus 12, but there's not much comparison. The Bernardus is lighter in color and thus has more fruity flavors than chocolate. I love Bernardus, but if Westy 12's were just as available, it'd be my go-to.

Photo of Antilochus
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well, this is the one, apparently. Too bad I had to enjoy it while listening to tacky American 80s music... only in Belgium, at my personal adventure...


Served at Cambrinus in Brugge, in a branded Trappist Westvleteren chalice. Best before 17/10/10.

Intense milky black-brown. Coffee mottled offwhite tan head. Mossy in texture. Effervescent. Unbelievably good retention that's impossible to deny. Great! On the nose: plums, ripe apples, sour cherries, diacetyl, apple juice, hint of yeasty funk. Chocolate, coffee, cane sugar, rye bread, port wine. Raisins, dates. (the point in my notes where I write an expletive).

Surprisingly light palate with carbonation, sweetish on the tongue with moderate alcoholic/yeasty bitterness. Chocolate malt. Mouth-coating. Something in the background I'm not getting... nuts - definitely. Slightly salty. Tropical fruit?! Cookie dough, coffee cake - caramel. Malt whisky. Well hidden abv.

Is this the best? I don't know. I started my adventure in legality about one year ago and I've already enjoyed what is commonly regarded as "the greatest beer on earth". No matter - breweries change and I have no doubt that within my lifetime W-12 will be unseated, hopefully for the better. In the meantime... I'll keep on coming back for this stuff.

Photo of mmager
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: pours a maroon brown with copper highlights at the edges. A bit cloudy, some small sediment particles even with an extremely careful pour. Thin slightly off-white head, only a few millimeters, which goes down a bit a first but then lingers for quite a while.

S: Initially bready/yeasty smell is most apparent. Light phenols. A hint of alcohol, but not boozy smelling at all. Very subtle hints of fruit, possibly bruised apple? Full rounded malt character and just a hint of grape as it warms up a bit more.

T: Not the typical heavy dark fruit of most quads. Instead an initial rich bready flavor. Rich caramel follows as it warms up a little bit, then transitions to almost a tart flavor. A little bit of spicy bitterness on the (long) finish. Malt notes also last long into this extended finish.

M. Extremely full but not heavy or coating. Carbonation level is nice to balance. Some warming alcohol on the finish but very subdued, not at all harsh.

D: For its strength, quite good. The alcohol content is very very subtle. I would almost prefer that it be a bit more apparent, in fact. The aroma is lovely, but I wouldn't mind a bit more warming in the mouth.

Photo of SadMachine
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes from 9/5/14

'08 Vintage
A- Pours a maroon/brown color with ruby hues when held to the light. A small tan head recedes to a collar that leaves some lacing.

S- The aroma is bursting with sweet over-ripe dark fruits. Masses of prunes, nice touches of raisin and fig, bubble gum Belgian candy sugar. Dried/candied pineapple is also prevalent. Slightly spicy, with hints of clove and cinnamon.

T- The flavor follows the aroma closely, with prunes and raisins in the forefront. The candy sugar and candied fruits then take over in a very sweet mid-palate. It finishes with spices (cloves and cinnamon), and lots of dryness.

M- The mouth feel is medium bodied, lightly carbonated, and very dry.

O- This is definitely the best quad I have had. It is not my favorite style, but I could drink this a lot!

Photo of psiweaver
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this today at Westvleteren's Cafe served in their glassware thanks to Yapi who took me out to see the abbey.

Pours a brilliant rich brown with some reddish tinge to it with a soft 1" off white light brown head.

smell of honey and candi sugar and some dark fruits with some alchoholic burn in there. nice yeasty smell as well.

taste has a good amount of candi sugar with some nice rich fruits a bit of bread and some burn to it. There is a bit of vanilla in here as well. This would really improve with some aging and I can clearly see the potential.

great mouthfeel very smooth and viscous

easy to drink, much to easy to drink.

Photo of callmemickey
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Saved this brew for when my fiancee found out if/where she would be working during her second summer of law school / after graduation. Today was the day. Woo hoo!

A: Dark, reddish-brown body. Lighter along the edges. Large, frothy egg-shell head. Good retention. Dense coating of lacing.

S: Raisin, caramel, brown sugar, grape skins, figs. Complex and pungent, yet remarkably subtle.

T: Much like the nose, there are lots of subtle undercurrents of various dark fruits. Figs, raisins and cherries are prominent. Somewhat less sugar and caramel than is represented in the nose. The grape skin quality has trickled off and been replaced with a more boozier flavor. As the beer warms the flavors really pop out.

M: Somewhat thinner than expected for a quad. Perhaps its the booze thinning it out? Regardless, there is a nice lively carbonation up front and a good, clean finish.

D: Incredible. I tried to savor this guy, but I couldn't put the glass down for long. All in all, it lived up to the hype. If the body was a bit more substantial, this would have been even better.

Now, the question is: when do I drink my two remaining bottles???

Photo of jckp64
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours cloudy amber with a light head. The aroma is dark fruits and malty. Flavor is very malty, with a sweet finish. Overall a very good belgium quad. Not really sure if it deserves the number 1 overall beer, but thats maybe because it's not my favorite style.

Photo of allengarvin
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to 1759dallas for the bottle. Best before 15-02-09 according to the crown cap. Served up in a Trappiste Rochefort chalice. Dark ruby-brown color, topped by a lovely off-white head of foam. Rich, malty-caramel aroma laden with ripe, fruity overtones. Big sweet malt flavor bursts out on initial tasting, followed by dark honey esters (with notes of raisin and plum) and enough bitterness to keep it all firmly in check. Finishes with delightful lingering maltiness. Surprisingly light-bodied for the strength.

What I really like about this is how lightly drinkable it is for a 10% trappist... it dances on the tongue in a way that I've not experienced before in an Abbey quadruple. Quite amazing.

Photo of BigMike
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Review # 250

Big thanks to Chris from The Blue Dog for sharing his case of Westy 12. Thanks to him I was able to try what many consider the #1 beer in the world.

A super slow pour produced about a 4 finger head. The beer is a murky brown iced tea color with a huge fluffy beige head that's going nowhere anytime soon.
The nose is lots of spice, lots of sticky dark fruits, figs, raisin, plums and sugary molasses. A bit of alcohol also.
Flavor is just like the nose. The dark fruits, the spice and caramel and candied figs go along nicely with the Belgian yeast.
The mouthfeel is where this thing really shine. Light and fluffy, smooth and creamy and oh so soft on the palate. Very impressive.
Best beer in the world? In my opinion no. But I can definitely see why it gets all the accolades it does. It's an amazing beer and would love to drink as much of this as possible.

*From notes taken on 6-28-10

Photo of imscotty
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This bottle has a 'best by' date of 8-11-14. I think I have cellared it for about one year now.

A: Pours with a full frothy head that slowly settles down. Strong lacing. Color is deep amber. Well carbonated.

S: Malty, deep caramel, hay and alcohol

T: Taste is very malty, but not sweet. Lots of complex flavors. Caramel, plum, hay, yeast, alcohol. The taste is surprisingly dry. It has a long bitter aftertaste that dominates but is very pleasant. The taste is not overpowering but it dances on the tongue for a surprisingly long time.

M: Medium bodied, well carbonated. The mix of flavors seems to stimulate the entire mouth (Yeh, I know that sounds funny but that is the effect).

O: A great beer that defines the style. Best beer in the world? I think it is unfair to compare styles but there are other beers that I prefer. Best beer in this style? Maybe, but I have not tried them all yet (but I am working on it). Either way, this is a great beer that is worth seeking out. I hope to try it on tap someday.

Photo of hansavijaticar
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of treyrab
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to CamuMahubah for this one!

Poured into a chalice...

A: Dark raisin in color with ruby hues when held up to light. Rich, foamy head that leaves lacing the whole way down! Quite a sight!

S: So much here! Raisins, dates, Belgian candi sugar, Belgian yeast, caramel, many dark fruits. The smell is so complex!

T: The taste is just as complex, mainly of dark fruits and tons of Belgian candi sugar! The alcohol is hidden very well, though it is noticeable...might need some age

M,D: The mouthfeel is minorly thick, but I could drink this all day!

Overall, one of the best Belgian's I have had, though it does not top much others by far

Photo of csmiley
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours dark murky brown in color. The light tan head was massive and stuck around for a while. As expected, lacing was phenomenal. This is quite an attractive brew.

S - Caramel and dark bread are prominent in the aroma. Some fruitiness shows up as a backing aroma. Mostly prune and fig is what I picked up. Some sweeter spices and alcohol round out the flavor.

T - Mostly sweet. Caramel, candied suger, brown suger, and molasses come to mind. Dark bread is very present and makes for a nice background to the sweeter flavors. Fruitiness in the taste leans more toward prune and plum. Cinnamon and clove make up the spice profile. Warm alcohol and hints of chocolate finish up the flavor.

M - Medium to full bodied with great carbonation. Finish is sweet and cleaner than expected.

D - Drinkability is good. The high abv does place limits on how many of these that should be consumed at once. There is really nothing bad that can be said about this beer. It excels in every category. Glad I got the chance to try one of these and I'd definitely have another.

Photo of Ryanw702
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of arcman001
4.52/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of OneDropSoup
4.52/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Much love to Shyne for the trade!

Poured into a snifter: About a finger of beige head that dissipates & leaves a wisp across the surface & a loose, bubbly collar. Body is deep ruby amber, hazy, with a few tiny strands of nucleation.

Dark, stewing fruits are up front in the nose: prunes, raisins, even some slightly tart cherries & sweet wine grapes. There's an herbal quality here that reminds me of Orval, even a little floral. Nose evolves subtly with each whiff, into mild baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) to hints of cocoa. The smell is more restrained & not very intense, but complex & pleasing.

Significant herbal flavors at play in the flavor, followed by a vinous sweetness, sweet baked dough, a little hot cinnamon, & drying out near the finish. Ends with a subtle alcoholic jab, then unrolls into a long aftertaste that moves through candied fruits, menthol, even a tiny bit of smokiness. I love a beer with a "second act" after each sip.

Velvety smooth with just a little prick from alcohol. There's some heat, then the cool menthol-like quality. Rolls around on the tongue, this has such a great mouthfeel. Full-bodied but somehow light & airy as well.

This really defied my expectations. What I anticipated was a big, bold flavor profile, this is all about finesse. So complex, but not a slap in the face -- there are a lot of subtle notes & movements, & none of them overpower the others. Well-balanced, silky smooth, & flavorful, this is a great beer.

Photo of sstarcher
4.52/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of Wrex68
4.52/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of flexabull
4.52/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of leftmindedrighty, thanks again!

Cap marked 7.3.10

Been holding this one for a while, I just had a great weekend, and in celebration of that, and the Phillies winning the NL East, I figured this would be a fitting beer.

Pours a dark brown color with a thin off white head.

Aromas are nutty, of booze, oak, and some dark chocolates as well. Very complex and a pleasant to sniff.

Taste starts out with a soft mouthfeel and a crisp finish. Creamy malts, a bit chocolate like, nutty, oaky, and some sweet light cola flavors. Flavors are complex, but soft and meld together really well. It certainly doesn't taste like it's a 10+% ABV beer, only the slightly hint of booze and alcohol warmth. Quite smooth and actually even a little subtle.

Mouthfeel is superb. Thick, full, smooth, and with perfect carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I really enjoyed this one. It's definitely top notch, excellent, and well worth the praise. However... I'll take Rochefort 10 or Pannepot. I liked those 2 just a little bit better than this one.

Photo of Khazadum
4.52/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Well, every time Sunday rolls around I want to join in on that famous NBS thread. I thought to myself... after the day I had, what would top it off? The sole Westy 12 I've ever had! BIG thanks go out to Prufrock for putting this in as an extra in the Blind Beers BIF. Poured into my lovely brandy snifter and reviewed on the spot for all to enjoy.

The moment I began gently pouring this acclaimed brew into my glass I had the sudden urge to scream out "Carbonation ho!" It is extreme the amount of head that gushed forth from a gentle pour. Easily a finger and a half of pure white foam that absorbs the hues from the liquid below. In fact there is a two tier system of bubbles here. One is a gentle brown fading quickly to wedding gown white. You'd think that the body would share a similar coloration as it gives off, but this is not true.

The body is burgundy melted into ruby red. It reminds me of unfiltered apple cider. You want to call it brown and red at the same time. Brick red isn't right, but it isn't muddy clay either. It is dark enough that light fails to penetrate far into the center. It gets just enough in to divulge the secrets of carbonation, but no further.

This beer is like every other Belgian I have had, fizzier than a pop drink on a warm day. I do not despise this. I look forward to it, actually! Without this, I would have been disappointed, to be quite frank.

After a few minutes, almost all the head is gone except for a nice island of bubbles that is constantly regenerated by the endless supply from below.

Caramel tones sneak by under the stadium-sized apple presence. If I grabbed a truck full of apples, mashed them, and laid them bare into my front room I doubt it could even match the intensity that enters my nostrils. I can actually taste the tartness through my nose. It is strong in bitterness ( Not acetic, but can't tell ) but the strong fruit sweetens the deal to make it quite enjoyable. The ending breath whispers a bready note, but I'm almost positive I'm lying to myself. I wish there were more complexities to note, but maybe I am missing them currently.

Flavor Profile
The very first sip is like a journey from high noon into the depths of a cave. I can only start off by proclaiming this is where the complexities lie.

The entrance-way of this spelunking trip is instantly tart with a good amount of sweetness. It is there not to be a player, but the walkway with which I can traverse between rooms. Without it, there is an overwhelming uncomfortable bitterness instead of tart. That is not the case, thank goodness.

My very first steps ring out with the noise of fruits, tart nature, and crisp flavors. I stand still for a moment and the echo kicks me in the tongue. The finish is falsely clean, because not more than five seconds later I can taste bananas on the back of my tongue. A new challenger squishes its medicinal head free of the at once mildly sweet flavor and drenches me in what can only be a disinfecting alcohol.

These same flavors find new ways to meander around depending on how I sip this. Letting it rest for much longer than previous sips reveals a new layer. It grows crisp little legs that tickle relentlessly all over my tasting centers. Apples, tart notes, and bananas once again but if I let it sit too long, it feels like a giant jackhammer stabs through all flavors and prickles with an intense desire to burn, to own all locations. The alcohol reminds me of every stereotypical tourist flashing his camera endlessly to the point where it is a violent weapon. I enjoy this assault, but maybe because it is a new experience.

Oral Sensations
The body is exactly as it should be. I mean it. This is perfect for this beer. There needs to be no increase or decrease in how it feels flowing in my glass or in my mouth. It is both creamy and crisp. Both tingly and smooth. It has enough presence to linger, but it goes home exactly when it should.

Even though the alcohol is the flock of bats inhabiting this cave, I find it only warming my throat and no where else. It did not light a fire in the pits of my stomach even after halfway through. It is almost a contradiction in this way.

This sneaky little beer, both in its alcohol content and flavors, proves to be quite easy to enjoy. I wanted to hate it. I looked for things to down grade it on. I wish I could treat this with rougher hands, but it is what it is. I truly enjoyed this beer. It not only was a pleasure to enjoy, but I anxiously await another. I could have two in an evening and be satisfied.

The flavors keep coming back in interesting ways, and I do not grow to despise them. I welcome them like an oil lantern after my flashlight lost power.

Photo of gholmes
4.52/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of draheim
4.52/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

330mL bottle (best by 8/29/2010 on the cap) poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. Mahogany brown color with a thin fizzy head that dissipates quickly - nice carbonation continues to rise to the surface.

Aroma is dark fruits, figs, dates, brown sugar, spice, rum, and a hint of molasses. Smells exquisite.

Taste is rich and complex. Sweet dark caramel malt, spice, booze, figs, and raisins. Super smooth, chewy mouthfeel. Fills every taste bud with a complex blend of flavors.

This beer totally lives up to the hype. The only thing I'm disappointed with is the head - but this beer is also 4+ years old, which may account for that. If I try another one I'll make sure to get it fresh.

(Note: This tasting was done side-by-side with Rochefort 10 and I found this beer just ever so slightly more impressive on the aroma and mouthfeel. Otherwise they were very close.)

Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) from Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)
100 out of 100 based on 5,190 ratings.