1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

Not Rated.
Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII)Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

4,706 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,706
Reviews: 1,617
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.89%
Wants: 2,889
Gots: 1,355 | FT: 105
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren) visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
(Yellow Cap)

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-12-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) Alström Bros
Ratings: 4,706 | Reviews: 1,617 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of DrunkinYogi
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

DrunkinYogi, Dec 22, 2012
Photo of smcolw
4.18/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A friend of mine gave me this beer when I visited him in France. As good as it was, I was not as enamored as most reviewers. First, the appearance was pedestrian--little head, no lace. Cloudy, brown color.

The smell is brown sugar, similar to candy. The flavor matches this except that there is notable hop. Not surprisingly, very strong warm alcohol flavor and feel. This is a thick beer with a low level of carbonation.

smcolw, Jan 01, 2009
Photo of Gueuzedude
4.88/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sampled February, 2004; Hop Leaf, Chicago
Total 4.8
An immediate rich, bready aroma wafts from my glass as I pour this beer. This beer is topped by a light brown head that sits atop a brown beer. There are notes of sherry, plum, and raisin (though the raisin is definitely the most dominant aroma) in the nose. The beer smells sweet & rich as well. Well the taste is fairly rich & sweet; there is lots of fig and plum notes, which are joined by a woodiness that is in the taste as well. This beer was an awesome way to finish my great dinner at the Hop Leaf. There is an astringent complexity to this beer that just brings it to a whole other level, and there is a slightly musty character that integrates well with the rest of the flavors. I can fully understand why many consider this a world class beer. I really like how this beer is quite fruity in both the aroma and in the taste. The alcohol is very well hidden here, I can't really detect it at all. The rich sweetness is very conducive to being an after dinner drink. This beer is like a rich, dark, sweet traditional German bread. What makes this beer so good is that it is extremely well integrated; absolutely world class.

Cap Best By Date November 2007; Sampled February 2009
Total 4.1
4/4/4/5/4
A vigorous pour into my large Tripel Karmeliet tulip produces a two-finger thick, creamy, tan colored head. The beer is a dark, concentrated amber color that when held up to the light shows that I poured quite a bit of the sediment from the bottom of the bottle into my glass, but is also a hazy, bright cherry color. The aroma smells of spices and fruit with a rich, caramelized maltiness to the finish. Aromas of fig cake, brandy soaked fruit cake, some marzipan, clove, dried cherries, white pepper, candied ginger form the bright aromatic notes. There is a nice backbone here of must and damp earth, as well as some toasted malt character that provides a biscuit malt aromatics. Some higher alcohols provide a bit of spiciness as well as some warming character to the tail end of each draught of the nose. This has quite a rich nose to it, both the fruit and spices accentuate the perceived sweetness of the aroma.

Up front this beer is a bit lighter than I expected, as it rolls across my tongue though it starts to pick up a viscous richness and heft, though it still maintains the drinkability that I like to have in a strong Belgian ale. The beer has a definite sweetness (though not as much as the aroma might have suggested), but finishes with a spiciness that helps to dry the palate out. The beer is a bit carbonated still after the vigorous pour and it provides a prickly carbonation as it rolls across the tongue. fruit notes of prunes, musty figs and raisin are brought out by a touch of tartness as well as the sweetness in this beer. There is a definite mustiness to this beer, it is oxidation character that it has picked up over the years, and it mixes nicely with the spiciness in the finish. Speaking of which, the spiciness provides notes similar to white pepper, clove, a nutmeg like bite, some woody ginger and a touch of menthol in the long finish as well as some bitter cocoa. This definitely gets more complex as it warms up from the high 40°F (~8°C) that it started out at. The alcohol in the finish combines with the fruitiness to reminds me of Brandy.

Well I had a bug dive bomb this beer, so it must have though there was something worth drinking in my glass (one of my dogs got a tasty, Westy soaked morsel because of that). While this beer is quite good, I am quite disappointed in some ways. I haven't had this in a couple years, and I am thinking I need to try a fresher version to see if it is more like my memory of having this in Belgium and at the Hop Leaf (where I had it last).

Gueuzedude, Feb 09, 2004
Photo of MarkyMOD
4.75/5  rDev +3%

MarkyMOD, Apr 22, 2014
Photo of XmnwildX12
3.75/5  rDev -18.7%

XmnwildX12, Dec 13, 2013
Photo of Halcyondays
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Halcyondays, Nov 17, 2011
Photo of BlackHaddock
4.65/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finaly got round to opening a bottle of this stuff (had 5 bottles for a number of years), lets see what all the fuss is about.

Poured into a Westvleteren chalice, it looked fairly limp compared to it's 8% brother, wispy head on top of a moody looking dark browny/red body. I tried not to let any sediment out the bottle, but a little managed to leap past me into the chalice, I'll drink the remainder of the bottle (a fifth) with most of the sediment at the end of the review. I am reviewing live as I drink this evening.

The nose is rich red fruits, dried on a bed of dark chocolate and aged with fine English Oak, this is a smell not to mess with.

The taste is fantastic, add some carbonisation and a heap of alcohol to the aforementioned aromas and you're half way there: I found a gargantuan amount of flavours and I now see why beery people clamour for this brew so much. Sweeter than I thought it would be (shared half a glass at the brewery bar when I bought the beer, don't remember the sweetness), but that doesn't detract from the tasting I'm currently having, which I'm really enjoying.

The 10.2% only become evident as the mouth dries, so well is the body and mouthfeel, a truely great beer, certainly now in my top 10, only the appearance letting it down.

BlackHaddock, Oct 13, 2011
Photo of beernads
5/5  rDev +8.5%

beernads, Feb 17, 2013
Photo of kojevergas
4.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had the esteemed pleasure of having this beer on my trip to Belgium; first a one year old version at me mate's house in Ghent, then straight out of the bottle at the abbey when I picked up 48 bottles of blond, then a two year old version at me mate's house. While having the two year old, me mate brought out yet another bottle of the one year old so we could compare them. I figured aged beers were for snobby pretentious little bastards, but I was proven wrong upon tasting the difference betwixt the two. Touche. I didn't actually review the version straight from the abbey, but I've included my reviews of both the one year old and the two year old below. I know I'm a lucky bastard, for the record. Obviously, both were from the bottle, served into a proper Westy goblet. I tasted the aged versions in Ghent, but I don't recall the altitude there. Note the two year aged review is less specific because I knew I'd already reviewed the one year.

A(1yr): Two finger head of amazing cream and thickness. A dark black colour with an amber bottom. Very appealing. Excellent retention. I let the beer sit for a bit so that it would be the correct temperature; it was fetched from a refrigerator.

A(2yr): Two finger head of lovely cream and thickness. Dark amber colour.

Sm(1yr): Cream. Very subtle spices and esters. Esters are seemingly dominated by raspberry. Some nutty hops. Exquisitely subtle. Balanced. A light strength scent overall, but then me nose is broken.

Sm(2yr): Dark fruit. Cream. Hops. Complex.

T(1yr): Beautiful body of nut, spice, and especially tamed fruit, which bleeds - nay - allows itself into the finish. Perfectly balanced. Fruit hangs on the finish, joined by a symphony of cream. Cream is also present on the open. A perfect injection of bitterness is present just before the climax.

T(2yr): Dark fruit, hoppy body build. Amazing. Incredibly complex. Balanced perfectly. Built perfectly. Fuck me that's delightful.

Mf(1yr): Perfectly creamy, smooth, and wet yet dry. Teases an orgasm from the tongue. Amazing.

Mf(2yr): Silky. Soft and smooth. Amazing. Delicate and incredible.

Dr(1yr): I would down this repeatedly if given the chance and budget (and I did, at In Da Vrede). If you have a last meal, this ought to be a candidate for the drink. Makes you close your eyes to savour the taste. Believe the hype; this is the best beer I've had so far. The best retention I've ever seen.

Dr(2yr): Fecking brilliant-like. Hides its ABV absurdly well.

Note that the numeric review values correspond to the two year.

kojevergas, Apr 09, 2011
Photo of Gavage
4.58/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pulled out my new Maudite glass and poured it. Nice dark amber that sported a thin but lasting head. Very yeasty nose that was pleasant to smell. First taste was new to the tastbuds, almost velvety (not velveeta !) on the tongue. Great aftertaste. I bought the bottle for a mere $6.99 since it has been talked about so on the site. Worth every penny, and I will need to return to the only place I have seen it in NJ and buy some more. Lasting impression that I termed "great Belgian on steroids" to my wife. Her comments were different and interesting. She likes it also.

Gavage, Jul 26, 2003
Photo of GClarkage
4.75/5  rDev +3%

GClarkage, Jul 07, 2014
Photo of oriolesfan4
4/5  rDev -13.2%

oriolesfan4, Mar 03, 2013
Photo of InspectorBob
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

InspectorBob, Nov 28, 2011
Photo of imperialking
5/5  rDev +8.5%

imperialking, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of woodychandler
4.05/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I felt EXTREMELY privileged to share a bottle with some CouchSurfing friends of mine in late-July 2010 while staying with them in Pittsburgh. I attended their wedding a couple of years ago and they received some bottles as a wedding present and held them for one of my visits. My Facebook page shows us drinking this beer on a hot, humid night as took the best notes possible.

I was (hopefully) getting smarter as I went along. I only gently poured a little better than half of the bottle after it foamed continually once the cap was popped. Its color was a deep brown with good clarity, excepting a slight sludge in the well of the glass. Nose was really rich with a good bit of alcohol heat accompanying notes of fudge, anise and licorice. The mouthfeel was REALLY hot, medium-to-full, and filled my mouth with caramel, burnt brown sugar and molasses. It was MUCH sweetr than any of us expected. Finish had a sugary, malty heat that seemed to linger, killing the other underlying flavors. I also poured the lees separately, and they turned out to be comparable to the taste of the beer initially without the heat, perhaps even a bit sweeter.

I am not discounting how good this beer was, especially in the face of so many horrible CANQuest (TM) beers, but neither did I hear the singing of angels or have any sort of religious experience.

woodychandler, Dec 18, 2010
Photo of corby112
4.95/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

24.09.11 stamped on the cap. I think that means bottled in 08 but I'm not sure.

Pours a very dark chestnut brown/plum color with slight murky cooper brown edges and a one finger frothy beige head that slowly fades into a thin lasting cap. Sporadic spots of lace left behind.

Spicy, estery aroma with lots of vinous dark fruit, zesty pepper and earthy hops. Very complex nose with lots of plum, grape, raisin, fig, date and dark cherry. This is complimented by a nice roasted malt presence with hints of chocolate and caramel and subtle earthy pine. Peppery with coriander and cardamom as well as hints of yeast/bread, phenol and licorice. This beer smells exceptional.

Medium bodied with a perfect balance of sweet, vinous dark fruit, eatery yeast, zesty spice, earthy hops, roasted malt and sweet alcohol. Soft carbonation up front with a heavy spice profile. Lots of zesty pepper and coriander that lingers throughout over the complex body into a sweet yet dry finish. This is quickly countered by a delicious dark fruit presence with hints of plum, grape, dark cherry, fig and raisin. The sweetness from the yeast is complimented perfectly by a prominent malt character. Fuller bodied than other beers in the style with a slightly roasted character giving off hints of chocolate, toffee and caramel. In addition to all of these flavors, there is a subtle earthy hop presence that adds more depth, balance and complexity. It's not overpowering, providing just enough bitterness to balance things out a bit. Toward the end of the swallow there is some sweet alcohol phenols and subtle heat but the ABV is excellently masked with little to no warmth in the finish. This beer is dangerously drinkable at 10.2%.

Overall, this beer incredibly complex, delicious and extremely quaffable. The best example of the style that I've tried and one of the best beers I've ever drank.

corby112, Feb 23, 2011
Photo of weeare138
4.97/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

'05 bottle...
Appears a deep mahogany color with a beautiful 1/2" beige head that slowly fades out. Scattered lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of candy sugar, raisins, brown sugar, and some black grapes.
Taste is of sweet brown sugar, rich malt, vanilla, raisins, nuts, and dark fruits.
Mouthfeel is lingering with chewy, malty sweetness, lip numbing stickiness, but very much balanced with the malt and hops melding together for a superb finish.
The ABV is well hidden.
I had this next to a 15 year old bottle of Westy 12 and while the older bottle was more complex(and mildly oxidized), the fresher bottle's flavors and mouthfeel outdid the elder bottle.

Edit 11/25/06: I just popped a 3 year old bottle received in a trade from prop13. This one seemed near flawless. I had it side by side with a Rochefort 10 and it slightly edged out the Rochefort by a hair with it's smoothness, gentle hopping, and a boozy brandy-esque enjoyability. Heaven in a bottle.

weeare138, Jun 16, 2006
Photo of yourefragile
1/5  rDev -78.3%

yourefragile, Jan 08, 2013
Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.78/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Here it is. What, by many accounts, is the best beer in the entire world. Purchased at Bier Tempel in Brussels, along with the 8 and the Blond. Carried to Bruges until I realised I didn't have a bottle opener. After I attempted to prise off the cap with the edge of the table and the toilet-roll dispenser in the hotel room, my girlfriend became bemused and went out to buy me a bottle opener.

To the big question, however: can a beer this hyped live up to its expectations?

Freshness date of 20/04/14 stamped on the cap.

Pours a murky red brown, deeply coloured with amazingly fine carbonation feeding a modest, but amazingly fine-bubbled head. Lacing is thick and creamy, like uncooked meringue. Body is light, but slick looking, holding some of that fine carbonation when tilted. The bead is what makes this beer look so very refined. It's an absolutely lovely lookjng brew.

Nose is fine and light, tantalisingly giving off its aromas of spicy esters, fruity tannins and portlike booze. Slight tingle of lemon acidity to it as well. To be perfectly honest, though, its a lot less robust than I expected. The characters are very pleasant, and nicely balanced, but I've had beers with similar characters that have been fuller and more intoxicating. I'm not saying the subtlety here is bad. Just surprising.

Taste is lovely, however. Broad and long, giving wonderful complexity over the tongue, and developing as time passes along its length. Characters of raisins, tea leaf, red grapes, banana skin, rosemary, vanilla, cherry brandy, with a boozy and mildly astringent finish that you think is there to clean it up, but in fact just adds its own subtle complexity. Feel is sublime, just so smooth and supple and slick and thinly creamy. Now I understand the lack of body. Any more, and you'd look at overwhelming the subtle complexities.

I don't think I've had a better Belgian. This is top of the style easily, and it does easily warrant such an impressive place in the beer ethos. But, no, it's not the best beer in the world. The best beer in the world is still out there somewhere, tantalising me with its mythical presence. Some day, I will find it.

And unless I want to think that it's all downhill from here, I have to believe that until the end of my beer-drinking days.

lacqueredmouse, Jul 20, 2011
Photo of orangesol
4.64/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

THE beer. Finally got another one in a recent trade. I decided to open it with a friend of mine and tonight just happened to be that night. Bottle poured into a chalice.

A - Pours murky brown with a start white one and a half finger head leaving small wisps of lacing down the glass.

S - Smells of dark fruits; like figs, prunes, and raisins; mixes with the sweet malt, chewy belgian yeast, and some damp earth. The alcohol creeps in as it comes to room temperature.

T - Starts off with a sweet mix of dark fruits and candied sugar slowly giving way a mix of bready malts, spicy belgian yeast, caramel, toffee, molasses, and some chocolatey sweetness. The alcohol begins to rear its head as the ale comes to room temperature, drying the pallet. The finish is a mix of sugary sweetness and light heat from the alcohol. Amazingly balanced overall.

M - Medium-Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. So damn smooth with a little bit of chewiness. The alcohol does become a bit tiresome over the course of the glass.

O - This is still one of my favorite beers of all time. From the dark, complex, flavors to the soft, velvety, feel you would be hard pressed to find a better quad. I can't wait for my next encounter with this amazing beer.

orangesol, Aug 03, 2011
Photo of tempest
4.6/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

tempest, Apr 19, 2008
Photo of barleywinefiend
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a dark cola brown with a small head. Had some sediment in the bottom

S: Nose smelled of figs, caramel, brown sugar and grapes.

T: Taste is good with lots of grapes, figs, caramel raisins. Amazing. Very smooth

M: Mouthfeel was good, ABV was well hidden and it kept this beer very drinkable. A very smooth and silky element

O: Overall I can def see why this is world class. Amazing beer

barleywinefiend, May 29, 2011
Photo of stakem
4.08/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I decided to open one of these on Good Friday. The usual suspects were in attendance for a tasting at my place so why not start it off right with a Westy 12.

Poured from a bottle (just shy of a year old) into a small Westy goblet at cellar temperature. This brew appears a clear amber color with ruby and orange tints around the edges of the glass. A cap of fizzy yellowish tan head forms a finger's worth of head that dissolves to a thin lacing across the top of the brew. A light swirl revives the head and produces some spotty lacework on the glass.

The smell of this brew is sweet with dark fruitiness riddled with candy sugar. It smells of plums, raisins, dates and brown sugar. Just collectively a bunch of deep sweet scents whack the nose. A light touch of fruity alcohol is present and a contrasting strong herbal to almost medicinal hoppy bitterness keeps the sweetness of this brew's smell in check.

The taste of this brew is sweet caramelized sugars tasting reminiscent of plums and raisins. There is a light nuttiness to the malt flavoring and a strong booze flavor that is backed by herbal flavors and modest hoppy bitterness. This initially tasted like the sweetness could get out of control but the alcohol and hoppy bitterness keep it balanced. There is a lingering taste of candy left in the mouth coupled with fusel alcohol and a bit of yeastiness that provides a light spiced aspect like clove.

This is a medium bodied brew that has a lively, prickly level of carbonation. A little young, green yeastiness is present throughout the flavor profile. This is more herbal and bitter than I was expecting with hops being more evident than I would prefer but regardless it is balanced well and enjoyable. I couldn't wait any longer to open this brew and finally give it a try. Unfortunately it did not live up to my expectations, shame on me for opening this too early. Perhaps I will need to acquire a vintage bottle and revisit my review.

stakem, Apr 27, 2011
Photo of wl0307
4.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

It's great that finally I get the chance to try this legendary ale, on my birthday! The BB date of this bottle coincides with my birth-date, albeit in a different year of course: 07/03/10; served cool in a large tulip-shaped wine glass.

A: very dark brown with purple-ish hues, chunks of yeast sediments keep floating in the nectar due to the light fizziness in action, topped with a semi-dirty dark beige froth that settles slowly to a thin blanket to last.
S: intensely malty and estery, witnessing good work of the candy sugar and yeasts; the aroma is full of fat dessert dates, fig jam, sweetened berries/raisins, treacle, and surprisingly light honey-ish note, all elements are rolled into one integrated aroma on top of a rather refreshing touch of relatively light brown malts. Not a wee bit of alc. is detected on the nose, even after several serious swirls. Not terribly complex; or, the complexity reveals itself in the most subtle way.
T: an effortlessly enticing foretaste mixed of oily toffee, caramel, longan-fruit soup, raisins, and brown malts with a touch of toasted nuts comes in full swing, laced by sweetened roasted tea, roasted malts, honey-coated walnuts, then slowly transforming into an remarkably dry & spicy-estery aftertaste where a high level of bitterness of hops flows elegantly & freely vis-à-vis a generally herbally-spicy backbone. Here, my taste buds can still pick up lingering undertones of candy-sugary maltiness, albeit more in terms of aroma than taste; these mildly sweet elements seem to linger as a reminder of the body and depth of a giant malty brew.
M&D: the texture is blissful, incredibly satisfying and rounded, with utterly smooth carbonation to complement a full (but never thick) body... All in all, there's no drama here, no BIG flavours or overpowering elements to dominate the scene; only a brilliantly structured, evolving flavour profile proceeds from one stage to the other just seamlessly. I can't work out how dry and bitter it could smoothly transform into in the rounded finish given the oily malty foretaste, while consistently there's neither any trace of big alc. nor sticky sugary mouthfeel. This might have been the smoothest and harmonious Quadruple that I've had the luck to try - if it could be obtained at a much lower price (I was charged US$18 by the "Belgian Shop"!), I wish to sip one bottle of this ale a month, just to remind myself how blissful and tranquil the beer world can be, without much pretence and loudness.

wl0307, Mar 07, 2009
Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) from Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)
100 out of 100 based on 4,706 ratings.