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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.

4,683 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,683
Reviews: 1,614
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.89%
Wants: 2,877
Gots: 1,344 | FT: 104
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren) visit their website

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: 4,683 | Reviews: 1,614 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of lwhcchh
5/5  rDev +8.5%

I had the opportunity to visit l'abbey of Saint Sixtus and their cafe, de Vrede, late in October 2010 with a beer tour group. We tasted all three beers. I waited a few months to review this and add comments just to see if time and more tasting would alter my opinion. It has not.

Everyone in our group had read and heard all the hype for years and quite frankly many in the group, including myself, were doubtful that any beer could live up it to such a reputation. For the record, although the beer by the six-pack is sometimes available for purchase and carryout at the cafe, it was not on the day of our visit. In reality, unless you live in the area or are visiting for a long time, you will probably never be able to buy any of the beer in great quantity. Check our their website to review their order and purchase system. If you are lucky enough and living right, their system allows you to purchase a couple of cases (sometimes more) through their reservation system. We did see an OCCASIONAL bottle for sale in beer stores such as Bier Temple in Brugge and Brussels.
When I see Westvleteren for sale in the U.S. and it has a label on it or a different cap, etc. I wonder who did that? Certainly not the monks. I wonder if it is even the same beer. The individual bottles I saw around Belgium retailed for 14 Euro (close to $20 per bottle).

Now, on to the tasting!

We ordered all three and if memory serves me right, we paid about 3.5 Euro per beer. The beers arrived in bottles and the staff opened and poured each at the table (they weren't going to allow any unopened bottles to leave the premises). Poured into Westvleteren chalices. Naturally, we started with the 6, then the 8 and finally the 12. The 6 and 8 were great beer in their own right but we had come for the 12! Quite frankly we had been tasting beer for two weeks all over Belgium and the Netherlands and had some very fine beers, some well known and others from small artisan local breweries. I love Belgian ales and I doubted that any beer could top my favorites. I was looking and hoping to find fault. I did not. The 12 was pure perfection.

I won't spend my time rehashing what most reviewers have already covered. You already know the color, feel, etc. I will say the smell is heavenly and unlike any I had ever experienced. I wondered if the taste would match. It did. I will concur with those that were amazed at the complexity of the taste (earthy, dark fruits, sweet, etc. ) and how well masked the alcohol was. This beer slowly crept up on us and just covered us. This will be the taste against which I will always measure similar styles of beer. I will be chasing the memory of that taste and the rest of my beer drinking days. It was just different and a notch above everything else. We may have been drunk as we walked out of the cafe, but we all agreed that . . . yes . . . there is a God and he has his hand in this endeavor!

I have had a couple of 12s since that day, both had been aged for a couple of years. Great, but not the same. Perhaps the travel and heat altered it. Fresh is what I will always remember. The monks advocate drinking it fresh and from my experience . . . I have to agree.

lwhcchh, Sep 19, 2011
Photo of EA728
4.78/5  rDev +3.7%

Amazing Quad. Ordered this one online, vastly overpriced, but I had to try it. Quads aren't my personal favorite style, but for a Quad this is definitely the best in my opinion. Very flavorful, with a nice level of sweetness and an interesting level of hops. Alcohol felt well masked. It poured a dark brown with perfect head left on top. Wish this was more readily available, but if I get the chance, I will definitely purchase again. Lives up to the hype.

EA728, Sep 18, 2011
Photo of vecernicek
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Very nice beer, aroma of honey, yeast, clove, bread, schocolad (?) malt, dark fruits and vanilla. Big taste - honey, dark fruit, bread, nice hops, candy sugar, yeast and light earthiness
It is the king of beer. He has a great background. Pity that it can not simply buy

vecernicek, Sep 17, 2011
Photo of smakawhat
4.1/5  rDev -11.1%

Thanks to Jeffo much kindly for the Westvleteren trade. A fresh one here, bottle cap dated 22.09.13. Poured into an official Westvleteren chalice. Smoke and big gas pop upon opening.

A great appearance consisting of a creamy off tan/white head that has peaks and valleys. Whipped up meringue like topping. Body is a nice dark ruby red and some chestnut/walnut dark brown with a see through quality but dark to actually see through. Lacing while drinking is exceptional consisting of scatters waves of foam while drinking. Once again like their blonde, an amazing appearance.

Nose though is almost non existent. Closed and muted a subtle hint of alcohol heat over top a juicy grape. Nose opens up after a couple of sips more so slightly. Hints of grainy ripping husk sense too after opening, perhaps some raisin/dates sense.

Taste though, is an example I think of why lots of people cellar this beer. A very noticeable and overpowering hot alcohol heat that sits on top of a juicy grape palate. Alcohol masks much of the malt and fruit component but does bring interesting play. Much of the boozy feels like a junipery gin with classic botanicals and so forth. Texture is solid even creamy to some extent giving that juicy feeling. There is a tannic quality to this like the 8 but more like a nut than barrel/wood with a teeth coating chew.

Overall man I wish this wasn't so hot. It feels like a typical hot young wine that needs to age maybe that will make it better? Would love to age this and try it again some day in the future.

smakawhat, Sep 16, 2011
Photo of alpinebryant
4.65/5  rDev +0.9%

Review 500! with an epicly famous beer.
16.06.13 bottle dating

A: Pours a very healthy head into a tulip with heavy lacing. Dark muddy brown in color with tiny visible bubbles coming to the top of the glass.

S: There is a lot of bubblegum mixing with figs, dates, prunes, and plums. A dry belgian yeast aroma with caramelized sugars.

T: First sip was a little more bitter than I had expected. There is a deep fig taste with plenty of bittering characteristics, a dry tongue buckling presence of either oak barrels or a large dosing of bittering hops. There are caramelized sugars all over mixing nicely with a dark belgian candied sugar presence.

M: Perfect mouthfeel really. There is a medium body with a mild carbonation. Slick rolling mouthfeel that stayed consistent.

O: It lived up to its name. Glad to try this before hitting up Belgium in a few weeks. I will be sure to take notes of all the other great beers I am trying out there.

alpinebryant, Sep 16, 2011
Photo of alohaspicoli
4.97/5  rDev +7.8%

Poured from the bottle into a tulip. Date on the cap reads 06.07.14.

A: Darker brown w/some red. Has a creamy/smooth, 1-finger head that's an off-white or cream color.

S: Great blend of subtle sweetness. Dark fruit. Definitely getting fig.

T: Again, subtle sweetness that's VERY smooth and unbelievably well-balanced. Some bitterness and alcohol in the finish but not much. I did my best to savor this bottle but at the same time, I know I could put down a lot if an abundant supply was in front of me.

M: Carbonation is there but it's not very noticeable (the perfect amount, IMO). I wouldn't say it's thick although I am leaning in that direction.

O: Wasn't sure what I'd think after reading so much about it, but this definitely lives up to its reputation IMO. The overall balance is unreal and it was a complete pleasure to drink in almost every way. It is going to be a total challenge to save my 2nd bottle.

alohaspicoli, Sep 15, 2011
Photo of MbpBugeye
4.35/5  rDev -5.6%

Thanks goes out to AleWatcher for this bottle, and Nrbw23 for the Westvleteren chalice. Shared with my girlfriend.

Best by 10.03.13

I've never seen a quad with a head like this, wow. Its very rocky and airy, but also very frothy. The froth is a dirty sand color. It leaves loose, torn off lacing all over the place. The beer got quite muddy after I added the bottom on the bottle. The bottle was perfectly settled, until my girlfriend knocked it over right before I was about to open it. Oh well. I got a few chunks in the thick head. The color is a nice purple-brown with plenty of red hues as well.

This stuff smells very good, but perhaps just short of exceptional in the ranks of all the amazing Belgian quads; Pannepot, Rochefort 10, St Bernardus 12 etc. There is a very familiar, comforting quality to this aroma. Bread pudding smells make up the bulk of this bouquet. It seems laced with cinnamon-sugar and rum, lots of spiced rum. Rum soaked dates and figs build a venerable middle. There are also notions of sourdough and/or a crusty dark bread.

This stuff is quite sweet, but when done right, that's something I don't mind. The front of the initial sip was pure prune, raisin and fig. There is a lovely vanilla creaminess to the middle of this beer that I did not expect, but welcome heartily. All the way through there is a lot of spice and spicy rum-like alcohol. Honey-roasted/caramelized nuts come to mind as the beer warms. The dregs of the beer unlock a very nice candied banana taste, but the dregs also open up a rougher, more alcoholic, almost medicinal finish.

There is a lot of carbonation, as to be expected from a beer that hissed so loudly upon opening and poured with such an immediate head. The carbonation is very fluffy, soft, smooth and pleasant, however. Even through a higher level of carbonation, this beer's thick body still is perceived as full. This beer is sweet, so its slightly sticky on the lips, but not enough to cause discomfort.

This, perhaps, was the beer I have been most excited for from day one on BA. I never really hunted it, I knew it would always be there. Leave it to AleWatcher to make it happen for me when I wasn't even trying. This ended up being one of my favorite beers of what is probably my favorite style. I'll have to get more than one bottle of this soon.

MbpBugeye, Sep 14, 2011
Photo of jascox2
4.9/5  rDev +6.3%

Served in a belgium strong ale Westvleteren goblet style glass at the actual brewery cafe. Reduced the smell point due to any volatiles may have been missed.

A - Pours a dark brown/red color, average carbonation, nice creamy stable head, lacing is sporadic on the glass wall.

S - Very complex, in order of effect, toffee, raisins, fig.

T - The taste is so balanced, Toffee, with a yeasty bready background. Bitterness supports the malt, without any components such as resin/ harshness being apparent.

M - Medium body, well rounded, with a smooth carbonation. Tiny, tiny bubbles. No cloying affect. Wonderful.

Overall - terrific, its a shame this is so hard for people to try. Its also a factor to bear in mind when trying to objectively review this beer.

jascox2, Sep 11, 2011
Photo of oline73
4.88/5  rDev +5.9%

Poured from a bottle into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a clear dark reddish amber with a finger of very smooth off white head. A layer of head remains on top of the pour.

Smell: Sweet with dark fruit notes and some brown sugar/molasses hints. Mild Belgian spice. Everything blends together perfectly.

Taste: Sweet but not in a cloying way. Extremely smooth. Some Belgian spice with hints of brown sugar and dark fruit. There is a slight bitterness in the finish along with the sweetness. Hardly any alcohol taste at all.

Mouthfeel: Body is just on the thick side with smooth tingly carbonation and a slight dryness in the finish.

Overall: Just an amazing beer. Everything blends together perfectly. Kind of reminds me of a super smooth barleywine. I definitely want to have more in the future.

oline73, Sep 11, 2011
Photo of meatyard
4.78/5  rDev +3.7%

Bottle cap is dated 09/08/09 so this bottle is 5 years old. One of the last few that I have left from the original case.

Pours with a murky brown/amber with a short-lived 1-finger tan head that falls to a partial cover without much lace.

The aroma is rich with dark fruits and candied sugar; it's very enticing and just smells warm and inviting.

The taste is a lot more of these tasty, dark fruits and candied sugar. It's noticeably sweet which could be a problem yet isn't in this beer. All of the flavors are still there but have mellowed quite nicely and, surprisingly so, I am able to detect just a hint of alcohol.

Mouthfeel is smooth and medium tending toward full with barely there carbonation that doesn't affect the taste adversely.

Overall: I have had about 15 bottles from this case over the past 5 years. I tried to space them out while giving/sharing the others. I hope this has diminished the hype/rarity factor so that I am not too swayed by those factors. So, even at 5 years this is a wonderful, tasty beer. I may have liked it better at 3 years or even fresh but it has held up well. For those who like Rochefort 10 or any other quads this is a beer that you must try. It may not live up to the hype, for some, but it's worth the try. Even my cat loved the drop I put on the table for her. I guess it's nearly impossible to do but I wish a USA company could replicate this beer.

meatyard, Sep 10, 2011
Photo of jmarsh123
4.58/5  rDev -0.7%

Pours a murky brown with an eggshell off-white head that eventually thins out in a nice thin layer.

Smell is yeast with some raisin and plum.

Initial taste is very forward with brown sugar some fig, nut, vanilla and fresh baked bread also make an appearance. Finishes with a little nutty bready sweetness with some bitterness.

Very creamy and smooth. Excellent.

Finally got to try one of these top rated beers and it doesn't disappoint. The velvety smooth mouthfeel is probably the highlight, but the taste is very balanced and complex.

jmarsh123, Sep 10, 2011
Photo of rarbring
4.2/5  rDev -8.9%

A clouded brown brew, an off-white small head leaving little lacing but very good curtains.

The smell is whipped eggs with sugar, sherry, Parmesan and canned fruit.

The smell is sweet, caramelized peaches, boiled sausages, almonds and cheese.

Little carbonation, soft pleasant and oily texture, a good body.

Very complex, many aromas, many dimensions. Must be examined more times.

rarbring, Sep 06, 2011
Photo of korguy123
4.93/5  rDev +6.9%

Westvletern 12 thanks to Jeffo!
Cap date 22.09.13

A- Totally opaque muddy brown pour. Three finger fluffy egg shell head slowly recedes to finger width cap that doesn't look like it's going anywhere. Lacing is excellent.

S- Juicy apples, cherries, plums, figs sour dough bread with hints of grapes and slight yeast notes. Brown sugar and vanilla with cinnamon as it opens further.

T- Brown sugar, vanilla, figs and plums. Apples and grapes. Fresh baked bread. Subtle chocolate and leather notes.

M- Medium to full bodied, subtle carbonation makes this creamy and smooth feeling.

O- Excellent quad, alcohol is invisible unlike the Rochefort 10 and St. Bernadus ABT.

korguy123, Sep 06, 2011
Photo of heebes
4.45/5  rDev -3.5%

Review #200!

Bottle from Against the Grain, unknown dating.

Served in a Rochefort goblet, pours a dark brown colour with a thin tan bubbly head. Leaves a thin layer of lacing down the glassware.
Nose is very balanced; brown sugar, pear, apples, sweet malts, Belgian yeast.
Taste remains sweet, and is well rounded. Malt body highlighted by apple accents, light fruits and the distinct yeast strain. More brown sugar and grapes follow into the finish.
High carbonation and medium bodied mouthfeel.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with this Trappist concoction, figured the hype wouldn't live up to itself seeing as its not a preferred style of mine. However I must admit it was worth its price tag, albeit once...a must try. Top of its style for me, beats St. Bernardus 12 and Rochefort 10 personally. Not something I would care to drink regularly thankfully given its rarity, and no where near best beer in the world.
But thats just me.

heebes, Sep 05, 2011
Photo of Mar02x
4.78/5  rDev +3.7%

What is there to say about the best beer in the world. In the end of March I got the Westvleteren 12, as a gift from my parents. This opened a hole new beer world for me. Before I have never heard of such rare and special beer. I always thought, and still do, that beer is there to share and enjoy. Therefore beer must be widely available.
After this introduction to very special beers, my learning ladder looked like a speedway and as a result I am now on BA. Because special beers need to be shared.

OK enough chitchat;

A-Nice dark brown, hazy fluid with nice head that disappears slowly.

S- Wood, wine and peat

T- A very nice beer with nut flavors, some vanilla. A bit sweet in balance with the bitterness.

M- Creamy not sticky, just enough, carbonation slowly explodes in your mouth.

O- A good beer, but worlds best??? I don't think one can say there is only one best beer in the world.

Due to the availability issues, I would rather drink Trappistes Rochefort 10 and St. Bernardus 12.

Today (13-09-2011) I tasted a Westy 12 once more at the 'Vrede' next to the monastery Sint-Sixtus. What a great beer!! We discovered (my buddy Ed and I) that when this beer is served, not to cold but say around 17-18 degrees Celcius, it is absolutely World Class. Nothing comes close. You can drink this beer anytime of the day and take any kind of meal with it, it will hold.

Mar02x, Sep 04, 2011
Photo of afksports
3.73/5  rDev -19.1%

I opened a 2006 bottle the other day with my girlfriend before she began an internship. Special woman, special beer, random day of the week.

Recent studies suggest that our perceptions have a lot to do with how we taste. Rarity, for example, has something to do with a positive reaction. Same with group pre-approval. So opening the A+ "best in the world" beer from BeerAdvocate, I suppose my expectations were already through the roof.

Sadly, they were let down. The appearance was dark, reddish at the seams, with good head and lacing even after five years in the bottle. But it's a bit too ruddy, and appears like it hasn't completely held together. The smell is pure, complex, and holds dates, raisins, caramel, candy, roastiness and smoke. It doesn't appeal strongly to my palate, but it's all there.

The taste is more of the same. Dates: dried and sugared. Sweet, with a yeasty alcohol finish. In the mouth it's relatively thick despite the age, and there's no doubting it's complexity. That said, I look forward to trying one fresh, because Rochefort 10 blew this out of the water.

Or maybe that's just my perception...

afksports, Sep 03, 2011
Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.83/5  rDev +4.8%

BA review #500 and brewery review #200. Thanks to BrianTheBrewer for this one (and thanks to Jeffo for trading me another one to cellar).

Poured in to Duvel tulip.
Bottle date on the cap was 3/12/11.

A - Poured a very murky dark brown colour with a small amount of khaki coloured head that disappeared quickly and left good lacing behind on the glass.

S - A very interesting nose. Lots of fruit - raisins, figs, pear and apple come through. Sweet caramel, brown sugar and a slight sticky candy scent round out the nose.

T - Similar to the nose. Apple, pear, plum, raisin and fig contribute a spectrum of fruit flavours to this beer. They are complimented by a sweetness with hints of dark caramel and brown sugar. The alcohol is slightly noticeable as well but is generally well hidden. The sweetness in this beer is perfect, which is something that I don't get very often. It is just enough to be noticeable yet not enough to dominate the palate, which makes this beer all the more complex. The apple flavour is really noticeable at times but without dominating either. Incredibly delicious and complex.

M - Medium body. Smooth and somewhat chewy. Light carbonation.

O - Absolutely lived up the they hype for me. Belgian ales are typically not one of my preferred styles and this is the first one I have had that I would drink every day if it was available. Truly remarkable.

TheSevenDuffs, Sep 02, 2011
Photo of doopydoogle
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Words cannot describe. Rich, complex, and delicious. The epitome of ultimate beerdom! Cherry, yeast, bread, full bodied, beautiful color, and packs quite a punch. Sampled at the Trappist Tasting @ The Moan and Dove, Amherst, MA. At that point I was quite libashed, so apologies for a less specific review. Try it if you can!

doopydoogle, Aug 31, 2011
Photo of Soonami
3.9/5  rDev -15.4%

Thanks to Rich (phillybeer7779) for sharing a bottle of Westy 12 with me and the gang, one of the beers I've most looked forward to trying.

A little ripe, dried fig flavor nice malty sweetness, and a bit of bitter alcohol. There are other flavors of sweet stone fruit (cherries and dried peaches) in the beer and aroma. Clove-like phenols and toasty bread are more highly expressed when the beer warms.

This beer is a bit underwhelming, and maybe it was the age, but I found that I've liked St. Bernardus 12 and a couple other Quads I've had in the past better.

Soonami, Aug 28, 2011
Photo of zeff80
4.97/5  rDev +7.8%

Thanks to Ryan for sharing this.

A - Poured out a slightly cloudy, burgundy color with a two-finger head of pillowy, off-white foam. The head was long lasting and left sudsy trails of lace down the sides of the glass.

S - Hard to explain how fantastic this aroma was. Everything was perfectly balanced - plum, fig, raisin, yeastiness, caramel, toffee. Nothing was strong or overpowered the other aromas. It was just perfect.

T - Again, so much balance. A perfect marriage of flavors. Dark dried fruits - fig, plum and raisin. Sweet maltiness with caramle, toffee and some molasses. A touch of yeasty spiciness.

M - So smooth! Medium bodied and crisp.

O - This is fantastic. Lives up to the hype. It was like a fantastic dessert or a flavorful steak that melts in your mouth.

zeff80, Aug 28, 2011
Photo of impending
4.95/5  rDev +7.4%

Into a tulip, it looks fine. simply dark

Held to the nose the scent is a siren song. Reluctant to sip as the scent may diminish. Quad defining.

The flavor justifies existence. Aftertaste lasts forever, till it doesn't.

The medium bodied mouthfeel is caressed by creamy goodness.

impending, Aug 27, 2011
Photo of sarro
4.7/5  rDev +2%

2006 bottle shared by Weisguy.
Pours a super syrupy brown with nearly zero head on a careful pour. Smells very bready along with nuts and dark fruit. The taste is delicate brown sugar malt with several layers of sweetness. I pickup lots of belgian dark sugar and it reminds me a bit of a well aged barleywine, but not as thick or heavy. The mouthfeel is slick and a tad syrupy with a nice medium carbonation. Mild alchohol finish on it, but I loved it.
Leaps and bounds better than the first Westy 12 I had that was full of sediment and aged on its side.

sarro, Aug 23, 2011
Photo of Azurescens
4.7/5  rDev +2%

330mL bottle with best by date 24.03.13 printed on cap, poured into Trois Pistoles goblet, reviewed on 8/15/11.

A: Pours a dark brown with tan head that leaves some lacing around glass. Clear and maroon when held to the light.

S: Aroma is wonderful, sweet dark malt, brown sugar and molasses, dark fruit, herbs and spices with a hint of spicy alcohol. Everything that I want in a quad.

T: Wow, so flavorful and absolutely delicious. Layers upon layers of flavor. Starts sweet with dark malt, brown sugar and some molasses, followed by candied fruit with herbs and spices, a slight hint of alcohol and more brown sugar in the end followed by a long lingering melody of all the aforementioned flavors.

M: Super smooth, somewhat creamy medium body with some tingling from the carbonation, finishes on the sweeter side.

O: So delicious and drinkable, could easily drink this every night for the rest of my life. Definitely the best quad that has crossed my taste buds. Simply incredible, wish this glass would last forever.

Azurescens, Aug 16, 2011
Photo of seanyfo
3.63/5  rDev -21.3%

33cl bottle poured into Grimbergen chalice

Best Before date 04 December 2010

A- Dark mahogany body with a lot of sediment. 2 finger creamy head with average retention and minimal lacing.

S- Toasted almonds, a little dark fruit, some rose petal sweetness and a touch of wholemeal bread. Overall aromas are subtle

T- Malt forward again. Wholemeal bread qualities come through again supported by a sweet malt backbone. No real suggestion of alcohol heat, very smooth.

M- Creamy with medium carbonation, full body. Very smooth considering abv

D- Appearance wise not amazing, Flavour/aromas are subdued i guess with age. Mouthfeel retains a lovely creaminess and full mouthfeel. Overall, not a beer i would say has enhanced with age. Certainly no developing complexties. Eventhough not drinking this beer before, i cant help but feel its lost some former glory. Would love to try fresh!

seanyfo, Aug 13, 2011
Photo of seeswo
4.35/5  rDev -5.6%

Bottle split with a buddy. Didn't catch the date, but it was about 3 years out.

Pours a hazy brownish copper with a tan head. The nose is slightly caramel and bready with dark fruits and plum. The taste is big, bready, yeasty plum with a touch of banana and other dark fruits and slightly caramel malts. Very smooth flavor with a very subtle complexity. Blink and you miss it. Good carbonation, good body. Overall, this is a very good beer, but it did not top the 25 year old Extra 8. Maybe worth trying once, then grab a Rochefort 10 given the relative difference in ease of acquisition.

seeswo, Aug 12, 2011
Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) from Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)
100 out of 100 based on 4,683 ratings.