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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.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

5,019 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,019
Reviews: 1,634
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 3,025
Gots: 1,480 | FT: 107
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)
View: Beers (3) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,019 | Reviews: 1,634 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Lukafer
4.68/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I have to give a shout out to Jdefont for busting this out, thanks for making my going away tasting epic! Reviewed from notes.

Pours a little murky, medium brown with a lot of carb., off-white head. Smells are dark fruits, a lot of yeast, slight funk and a hint of booze, smells really great. Taste some dark fruits, figs, a lot of yeast, slight funk again, a touch of hops and grapeskin. Mouthfeel is perfect amount of carb., smooth, feels great. Drinkability is very good, I understand why everyone wants to try this beer. Is this the greatest beer I've ever had? No, but it is definitely a great one, and one I would love to drink again. Soon. Very soon.

Photo of BedetheVenerable
4.43/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

HUGE thank-you to frissianwits for this one...the generosity blew me away.

Presentation: Classic Westy 330ml brown pop top with no label; cap says 27.05.13

Appearance: Murky walnut beer with a light beige cap with good retention.

Smell: Spicy, sweet, and beguiling...there are a host of different spices here, but everything is so well-integrated I'm having a tough time pulling them all out...I do get a definite hit of cinnamon sugar, however. There's lots of fruit as well, and more light fruit (apricot, maybe?) than I was expecting...some very light booze as well, and I'm getting sugared dates now as this warms a bit.

Taste: This courses across the palate, constantly changing and showing a new side. It starts out with burnt caramel, toasty malts (like an amped-up Munich Dunkel), some light minerality, and some dark fruit...cotton candy makes its presence known as well, as well as various sweet baking spices...there's a bit more bitterness than I was expecting, though there's no real hop flavor. The bitterness is actually just a bit stronger than I'd like. Eventually apple and other light fruit make their way forward, as well as mild alcohol as this warms. In a word, complex.

Mouthfeel: Fairly high carbonation levels, but remarkably light for the high abv, which keeps the drinkability...

Drinkability: High...though it's so complex, it begs to be mused over...so complex you just want another taste, and it'd be easy to drink more than the 1-2 of these that you could have without starting to get goofy

Conclusion: Was it the earth-shattering, worldview-changing epiphany I was awaiting? No. But I don't think a beer that's this hyped could *ever* meet expectations. That being said, it was by FAR the best Belgian Strong Dark Ale/Quadrupel I've ever had. I think if the bitterness had been just slightly less, this would have been an A+. Better than Chimay's Blue and Rochefort's 10 w/out question (though those are both delicious beers; I haven't tried Achel's Extra yet, so I can't comment on it). I would love (someday) to have 3-4 of these so I could drink 1 a year or so and see how they change. I broke this open to celebrate passing my MA defense that day; again, thanks to frissianwits, I cannot think of a better way to have celebrated.

Photo of notdan
4.78/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Drank in Brussels on my recent trip around Europe. Found a package at De Bier Tempel that included one 12, one 8, two blondes, and a glass.

Pours into the Westy glass as a dark, ruby-tinged brown with an extremely persistent beige head (seemed to last the entire time I was drinking the beer).

Aroma was very nice, though could have been slightly stronger. Brown sugar, molasses, spicy clove/yeast. A touch of dark fruit, maybe even some citrus.

Taste is pretty amazing. Chocolate was the first thing I noticed, then brown sugar, caramel, and sweet, cherry-like molasses. A hint of something medicinal, then a slight earthiness came in as the beer progressed towards a mildly bitter finish to balance it out. Not a hint of alcohol. Just awesome.

Smooth, full-bodied mouthfeel with enough carbonation.

Overall, this compares closely to the other favourite quads (Rochefort, St. Bernardus, etc.), but the thing that elevates it just above is the drinkability. Considering my bottle was quite fresh, I was very surprised how little alcohol I could detect.

Can't say whether or not it's the best beer I've ever tried, but it certainly ranks in the top few.

Photo of Gorefiendus
4.38/5  rDev -5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

'07 Bottle

A: Pours a dirty brown, like mixing dirt and water in a cup, with a tannish head that just won't quit.

S: Dark fruits. Old, dusty raisins.

T: Caramel, raisins, and deliciousness, with a hint of metal on the back end.

M: Perfect mouthfeel, like a cream soda.

D: Easy drinking but a sipper for sure.

I'm really glad i got to try this. Thanks to a very generous BA.

Photo of herbg
4.9/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

We picked up three cases of 12 at the St. Sixtus Abbey. The head stays until the last drop, even if it is an hour later. The taste is very complex and almost indescribable. Three of us shared one that I brought back to the states. Each of us had different impressions. It has hints of spice, sweetness, caramel, and very rich mouthfeel. Even my wife, who does not like any beers other than lambics and flanders red, really liked it a lot. I guess I should not have let her taste it. Less for me.

Photo of honestdave
4.83/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is my 25th review on BA. I was fortunate to have this Belgian Quad at a perfect summer afternoon pool party & cookout at Zombob's. He was kind enough to share his only bottle of Westy 12 that he acquired during his European vacation. His family was able to visit the Abbey during their trip.

We are all excited to pop open the planets best beer and indulge. The bottle is perfectly chilled in my cooler as Bob brings out the Westvleteren tasting glasses. We open the single bottle and portion between the glasses. An awesome creamy head sits on top of the clear brown nectar. The smell is sweet and fresh. Smells like the freshest of bakery bread. A light spicy aroma also comes through. This first sip is wonderfully balanced between honey, light malt, and spice. It is so easy to drink that we actually finish the beer too soon in my opinion. It would have been nice to allow it to warm and get the full aroma and subtle flavors. The heavy alcohol is well hidden; but I soon find out it's full potency - as we had several other beers prior to the Westy. The smoothness of this beer is incredible.

This was a real treat to enjoy and review this unique beer. There is so much mystique behind this plain brown bottle with the gold cap. I can only imagine what it would have been to enjoy all three styles at Sint-Sixtus Abbey. I appreciate the generosity of our friends wanting to share this awesome beer with us. Thanks Zombob!

Photo of devilben02
4.38/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Tasting the legend at last. The beer out of the unassuming bottle is likewise humble in appearance, being generally raisin-colored and surprisingly not overly dark, but there is an inviting, creamy head that quietly disappears to a thin cap that lasts for the duration.

The aroma is truly unique and alluring. Initial scents of fresh, juicy grapes turn to raisins, prunes, and yeast that are more expected for the style. The flavor is likewise interesting and complex, albeit restrained, with a subtle combination of plums, raisins, brown sugar, and surely plenty of other components that I can't identify individually but muddle together to create the delicate, dry, fruity sweetness that seems to change in small ways with every sip. The specific characteristics within this pleasant jumble of flavors are further concealed by the super-fine carbonation, which gives the beer a texture that is energetic at first, but creamier after a few minutes.

The one big knock I have against this beer is the alcohol presence. For as hyped as this beer is, I found it to be boozier than I was expecting (contrary to what many others have commented). This booziness would be more understandable if the flavors were more potent, but then again it seems that this beer is meant to tantalize the taste buds rather than punish them. I can only imagine that if I had been more patient and given the alcohol heat some more time in the "cellar" to calm, allowing the subtlety of the flavors to truly shine, I would have seen this beer as the world-class stuff it is known to be. As it stands, however, it is still a unique, complex, enjoyable beer that suffers a bit from its potency.

Photo of zwalk8
4.88/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I recently took a trip to Sint Sixtus Abbey and had a few of the Wesvleteren 12 at the cafe. Served in one of the nicest beer glasses of the trappist beers, the dark brown beer looks almost like coke. An average amount of head colored light brown sat on top of the beer but dwindled after a few sips. I do not know how long the beer at the cafe has been aged (or if at all). It has a most enjoyable complex taste. Fruity and sweeter initially fading to lightly sweet, deep caramel malt flavor bordering on a malt liquor type taste. Very smooth and finishing with a crispness that leaves the mouth just slightly dry dry. Truly excellent beer.

Photo of pauljmccain
4.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted at the Gollem, Amsterdam. Great place.
Poured into a generic goblet.

A: Dark brown with reds appearing in the light. Not the darkest quad. Creamy 2-3 finger head, a tan color, but doesn't last very long. Looks great.

S: A mix of fruits, very dark and distinct, but not overpowering. You can certainly smell the caramel.

T: This is where this brew makes its name. It's hard to imagine that it's 10.2% ABV, as unlike Rochefort, there is no alcohol taste at the end. Very smooth with fruity, sweet flavors, shadowed by dark spices and the caramel coming through. Overall, perfect.

M: A very nice feel. Was surprisingly lighter than I expected, though I could have still done with a little more carbonation. Very smooth.

D: Perfectly balanced flavors, perfect taste. A little heavy for top drinkability marks, but it is not a weak point of this beer.

Photo of PrinceDarren
4.88/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The reason this beer is so highly rated is because it is so very drinkable. On a scale of 1 to 5 this gets a 10 for drinkability.

We tried Westy 12 along with a Westy 8 and a Rochefort 10 so we could have an appropriate comparison. Taste-wise, this is very similar to the Rochefort 10 with the exception that the Westy 12 is less profound, and less "in-your-face". The alcohol is very well hidden. It made the Rochefort 10 seem almost like an extreme beer with too much alcohol presence and too much power on the palate by comparison.

Westvleteren 12 pours a dark, reddish-brown with very little head. The aroma is moderate with a touch of spice. First impression was that there was no defineable characteristic that jumps out at you that explains why this beer is so highly regarded. It is soft and very well-balanced with a creamy, light mouthfeel. As it warms in the glass, the tastes of fig and soy sauce come alive on the tongue. The finish is pleasant and reveals a touch of nutmeg.

That is the secret to this beer's success. It is moderately flavorful and complex while still being soft and gently balanced.

I agree with other reviewers that the alcohol is well-masked and I think that is the reason why this is the highest rated beer on the site. While I have occasionally struggled to get through a whole bottle of the similarly structured Rochefort 10, the Westvleteren 12 is a kinder, gentler quadrupel that I could see myself drinking all day long.

Photo of MarkFy
4.33/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle dated 01.12.12

A: pours a murky amber brown with a thin tan head that diminishes over time.

S: raisins, figs, some barn oats

T: raisins and figs dominate with candied fruit, slightest metallic finish.

M: Carbonation is near perfect with a nice creamy balance.

D: Fair to good, that metallic finish is getting to me a little bit, but overall the alcohol is hidden quite well.

Glad I got to try this one, being the top dog and all but it is definitely not my #1. Very good though and would not pass it up if I saw it, but I can easily get Abt. 12 and Rochfort 10 and think they are on par with this guy.

Photo of SFLpunk
4.53/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Did a tasting called "My Four Quads" - Westvleteren 12, St. Bernardus Abt 12, Rochefort 10 & Koningshoeven Quadrupel.

Cap dated: 17.11.12
Pours a murky reddish brown with some khaki head that recedes quickly. Complex hues, reminds me of cherry wood.

Nose: Figs and dates, dried oats and old barnboards. Forest floor, dry leaves. I want to say musty, but it's not like mold or attic, it's like an old hay barn. Something right off the bat like fruitcake or preserved citrus.

Palate: Rich and creamy right off the bat. "Rum raisin" per Carl Crafts. Pound cake, tanned leather, figs (both fresh and dried). Complex and tasty. The finish has creeping astringency from the hops. No hop flavor to speak of, but a drying finish. I'm actually kinda parched. Some tin or metallic note way out on the finish.

My favorite of the 4.

Photo of alleykatking
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Many thanks go out to jdefont for bringing this to our tasting last night. Justin you made a lot of people happy with this one. Review from notes.

A- Pours a dark reddish brown color. Red hues show up when held to the light. Two finger light tan that had good retention to it. Left nice streaky lacing as I sipped this one down.

S- Dark fruits dominate the nose but not overtake it. Raisin and figs are the dark fruits. A nice fresh baked bready aroma in the middle of this that kind of threw me off. LIght spicing along with brown sugar in this beer. Overall a good smelling beer not the best I've smelled in the style though.

T- Dark fruits come up first on the palate. Figs and raisin along with a light cherry note to it. This dies down due to a light spicing in the beer. The middle of this comes through with a interesting bready malt. There is a light sweetness from candi sugar I would say with some yeasty notes in the tail end of the taste. A light but apparent alcohol flavor comes through at the very end washing away all flavor.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation was dead on with this beer. Velvety smooth overall. Some light dark fruits with a bready goodness left on the palate. Light alcohol and some sweetness in the aftertaste. The flavors were blended amazing yet each flavor was individual. Clean tasting overall.

D- This beer is an amazing drinker. Although, I don't see the hype with the all 5's, I do feel the drinkability should be a 5. The alcohol is very well hidden and the beer overall is very smooth. I would recommend this beer to everyone who hasn't tried it.

Photo of AgentZero
4.13/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have the honor of being the 900th reviewer of this beer. Groovy.

A - A dark reddish-brown, basically a mahogany color with a very nice looking brown head. I always find that impressive in a non-stout.

S - I get a ton of raisins on this, by far the overwhelming scent. After that it's brown sugar, currants, maybe some figs. A little bit of earthy tone in there. This is definitely a dark-fruit smelling beer.

T - Holy raisins Batman! Huge raisin taste and some nice fig compliment. Some other dark fruit comes in, as well as some mild earth tones. Honestly, I get no alcohol on this, very velvety.

M - Velvety, full bodied, great natural carbonation for such a thick brew.

D - Hard to believe it's over 10%, Rochefort has a much stronger alcohol taste. This is quite drinkable and sweet. While it may not be my favorite beer, I can understand why it would be the concensus #1 beer over all. A lot of universal appeal, and the mystique of the Westverleten monks helps I'm sure. However, is it blasphemous to say I like Rochefort 10 better?

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.85/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Split a single bottle with my roommates, Zach and Jorge, in honor of their graduation from college. Congrats guys!

Best before February 1, 2012 (listed as 01.02.12 on cap).

Poured into a Chimay goblet.

Appearance: Poured out flat: no head, no bubbles, no signs of carbonation. Bummer. I hope it wasn't meant to be like this. Though I was very careful to leave the end contents in the bottle, the body is still loaded with sediment (as was the Westy 8 we had right before this). Gorgeous color: ruby-amber through the center and orange-yellow around the edges. Looks oily when swirled. No lacing.

Smell: Red apple, cinnamon, figs, dark currants, and lemony and berry-like esters. Very balanced and very complex. I also get cherry cola, molasses, and brown sugar. Very nicely done.

Taste: Red apple, cherry lemonade, and molasses upfront; earth and leather in the finish. Caramel also plays a pretty big role in the flavor profile.

Mouthfeel: Flat, syrupy, and full. Finishes dry and earthy. The lack of carbonation really shows through in the mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Tastes and smells nice, but the lack of carbonation ruined it for me. I hope I got a bad bottle. Otherwise, I can't understand how this is ranked so high.

Photo of FreshHawk
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Dark chestnut with garnet red hues and an above average sized, creamy, smooth, tight foamy head. Good retention that finally rests into a nice, creamy, smooth layer of lace.

S - Wonderful mix of dark fruit (raisin, date, a bit of cherry, and lots of other dark fruit). Strong amount of spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, pepper, allspice, coriander, etc.) paired with some warming alcohol. Also a good amount of dark caramel malt.

T - Similar to the nose. Well balanced and complex, and hard to fully describe so I'll just say wow. Strong amount of spice (similar to the nose) along with a touch of warming alcohol that compliments the spice. Dark fruit mixes in well with raisin being the strongest, but others making a showing. Has a good amount of candi sugar, Belgian sweetness along with the dark fruit. Also has a good amount of dark, sweet, caramel, and slightly bready malt. Wonderful mix of sweet, spice, fruit, etc.

M - Medium body with a perfect amount of carbonation. Wasn't quite as thick as I was expecting, but it works well with the taste. Incredibly smooth and creamy.

D - So easy to drink with the smooth and creaminess and the well balanced flavors. Would gladly drink another.

Notes: Best before 24/03/13. Wonderful beer that lived up to the hype for me. Well balanced and complex. Really an enjoyable beer that I would gladly drink again. A touch lighter than what I was expecting, but it worked well. Very tasty beer, with all the hype I can see how it might fall short for a number of people, but all in all I think most people would gladly drink another.

Photo of thetomG
4.68/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Received this in a trade with TheBeerSommelier (thank you SO MUCH!) and decided to crack one open in honor of the US v England world cup match today (figured the good vibes this beer will generate in me will travel down to down South Africa to help out our boys in blue!)

Pours an absolutely gorgeous hazy deep amber with beautiful thick foamy head that lingers... and lingers... and lingers leavinng sticky lacing on whatever bit of glass it comes in contact with.

It seems to be PERFECTLY carbonated as the head just sticks around throughout the entire session, each time I take a sip the little finger of foam comes right back as bubbles continually flutter up from the bottom of the glass - truly a sight to behold.

Aromas of dark fruit and malt with a flavor that is similar but with MORE of everything. Beautifully balanced - no one flavor taking precedence over another. This is a truly GREAT beer and one that I will drink again ANY chance I get. I could go on... and on... and on... but I've got to get back to drinking this!!!

ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!!

Photo of dougofthefuture
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This bottle is fairly fresh - many thanks to Brabander for sending these out! Dated drink by 27.10.12, and poured into a Chimay goblet at about 50 degrees. Today we are celebrating the official beginning of summer for my wife, the English teacher and Belgian beer lover.

A - The bottle had some dried sediment near the cap, but the pour remained sediment-free. Slowly decanted, it left a 3 finger head with an off-white color. Tons of lacing. Deep mahogany body. I can't imagine any better here.

S - Divine. Dark fruit dominates - raisin, plum, balanced with a healthy dose of unidentified warm spice aroma.

T&M - Hype aside, this is an amazing beer on all levels. I tried to leave taste at 4.5, but as it warms it gets even better. This beer is warming without being hot, robust while remaining airy, and sweet with a long dry finish. There is a slight tannic note at the end that I could imagine might mellow with time. I wish I had a chance to try this with varying degrees of age.

D - Oh no!!! It is almost gone... This is the worst part by far... So good and so drinkable. I wish these monks were closer.

Photo of drink1121
4.88/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2003 with the label that was illegally distributed in the US. Celebrating the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Championship win.

A - pours a deep mohagany with a light tan head and some lacing. I would like a little more head on this off of the pour, but its a 2003, so that needs to be taken into consideration

S- Major raisins off from the start and alll the way through. I get some light oaky-vanilla and cherries at the end.

T- raisins again, but not as much a the smell. more vanilla and tobacco at the end. lots going on here and they blend very very well. very, very light alcohol kick at the end, but a pleasant one.

m- smooothh and creamy with perfect carbonation. slightly light on the mouthfeel and a tiny hot at the end, but great overall.

d- i could drink this beer until i was blue in the face. my oh my, this is not my favorite beer ever, but probably the best beer i have ever had. lived up to the hype for sure

Photo of DmanGTR
4.78/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Busted this one out too at our private hotel tasting after Flossmoor Friday on 4/23/10. Thank you very much Brabander. Review from notes.

A - Deep ruby red, huge foamy off white head. Wonderful retention and lacing all over. Lovely deep ruby in the light. 5.0

S - Lots of biscuit and caramel, hint of raisins. Hint of fig and very light alcohol in the nose. This is pretty damn near perfect. 5.0

T - This is hands down one of the best tasting quadrupels/BSDA's I've ever had. Wonderful balance between the sweetness and the caramel, candi sugar, figs, and biscuity yeast. Lightest bit of bittering in the finish but just enough to complement the flavors. 4.5

M - Excellent, rich and bubbly carbonation. Moderately dry finish but excellent indeed. Effing A man. 5.0

D - Impeccable. Fanf***ingtastic. No alcohol detected in the finish, but a very distant warmth returns. 5.0

Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.78/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Notes from a tasting in 10/08

Bottle ordered and consumed at In De Vrede, the abbey cafe.

Poured in to a Westvleteren goblet, opaque brown with a frothy tan head that left fine lace on the glass. Lots of dark fruit in the nose, ripe currant, dark cherries, run-soaked raisins...yes, it smells boozy. Some breadiness too.

In the mouth, the first thing you notice is the alcohol. Having this beer fresh, at the source, has its advantages and its drawbacks and the heat of this beer when so young is one of the drawbacks. But once you get past the alcohol up front, there is a wonder of flavors. A rich maltiness, velvety smooth and all the dark fruit comes through. Raisin, currant, plum and dark cherry, underpinned with sweet spice, a breadiness and sweet finish that is promptly made clean by the strong alcohol. A velvety mouthfeel though. It's pretty damn good.

A beer that lives up to the hype. The only drwaback was drinking it so young; I would imagine that having this with 6-18 more months of age on it would make it heavenly. As it is, the heat of the alcohol is the only flaw.

Photo of hoppymcgee
4.22/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thanks to capra12 for sharing this beer at a tasting on 5/29/10. Poured approx. 2oz. from a 12oz. bottle into a small snifter.

A: Murky brown, carbonation sits on top of the beer beautifully.

S: Sweet malts, fresh baked bread, brown sugar.

T: Licorice, wheat, irish soda bread.

M: The best feature of this beer. Perfect carbonation.

D: Drinks very smooth, but is a little hot.

Overall, always happy to try Westy 12 - now I know to age it a little.

Photo of miketizzy28
4.97/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I got this beer by driving to Sint Sixtusabdij in April 2009; my third trip to the Abbey. Having made the hours long adventure several times from my temporary home in Heidelberg, Germany, Westvleteren beer has a place in my heart like no other. It is only fitting that my first review is it's highly regarded "12."

From the many times I've drank this lovely brew, I know that this is a beer quite susceptible to a "wow!" reaction, and I usually leave it at that. For this review I will attempt to break it down, although my palate, inexperienced in the art of beer review, may prove inadequate to the task.

Served in a Westvleteren goblet slightly below room temp.

Appearance: As I crack the bottle it exudes a characteristic mist. In the goblet, the beer is dark brown, although not 100% opaque. It has a luxurious 1 inch head, which settles a bit with some silky lacing, especially along the sipping side of the goblet.

Smell: Sweet, with hints of coffee, nuts and alcohol blended into a coherent whole. My wife detects grapes or apple; a second wiff, I can't pick out grapes but maybe a hint of cloves, similar to that in a spiced cider. Ultimately, smells like it tastes- amazing

Taste: First sip I detect rich coffee and malt overtones with caramel sweetness resolving into a distinct but not unpleasant alcohol aftertaste. It has a completeness/coherence that I find with very few beers and which makes it difficult to pick out individual flavors. Subsequent sips resolve into a sort of candy with an alcoholic bite, and a slight walnut aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: The head is substantial in the first sip. Once the head dies down, the liquid reveals a pleasant heaviness. Swishing small sips, the liquid resolves itself into a silky luxurious foam. Larger sips retain their silkiness in the liquid.

Drinkability: Great overall. Despite the clear presence of the high (10.2%) ABV, I would feel comfortable (as I have on several occasions) drinking several of these in one sitting, although as it shows its effects promptly it's not always a good idea : ) Low diminishing returns; the last sip is almost as great as the first.

Overall, with an unrivaled coherence, great mouthfeel, and a taste unlike any other Belgian ales I've tried (and I've tried quite a few) Westvleteren 12 is in a class all its own and is one of my favorite beers. In fact, the 8 may be the only other beer that really comes close.

Photo of AgentMunky
4.88/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from an unlabeled bottle into a St. Bernardus goblet. The barkeep retrieved the bottle from a cabinet under the bar in an out-of-the-way establishment in Brussels to which I was directed in my search.

A: Dark chestnut, assuming a ruby hue in the light. The colour lightens considerably as it is drunk. A large, appealing head dissipates rather quickly. Little to no noticeable carbonation. Nice tracing on the top complements a delicate lacing left in the beer's wake.

S: Surprisingly unassuming smell. Definite notes of alcoholic fruits, but faintly. Maybe a touch of malt. Honestly, at this point I began doubting the alleged excellence. However, the smell grew on me over time as I became accustomed to the taste.

T: Indescribable. Any doubts I may have had were washed away in an unexpected blast of ecstasy. This beer is damn tasty and complex as hell. Dark fruits assail you, and sharp spices dance across tongue similar to carbonation. Malt follows in force, but the sweetness isn't overwhelming due to the crazy balancing spiciness. (What is this flavour[s]!? Vaguely reminiscent of hops, but as distinctive as it is elusive.) Aftertaste is dry and ever-so-slightly bitter, again alluding to a hop character buried under the fruity maltiness.

M: Punchy alcoholic sweetness butts heads with the aforementioned spice(s), resulting in an extraordinarily complex, but enjoyable, mouthfeel. Tingly and strong, full-bodied and almost nutty. Perhaps not exceptional in and of itself, but as part of the package...

D: Again, the alcohol content isn't shy about showing itself, and the punchiness is considerable. But still, this beer is utterly fantastic, and one I will return to again and again as long as I have the money and opportunity. Worth the trip to Belgium.

Photo of sweemzander
4.88/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

11.2oz. bottle poured into a tulip. 16-02-13 printed on the cap.

(A)- Pours a dark brown; almost a reddish purple color that produced a huge cream colored fluffy yet bubbly head with unbelievable retention; I still have a good layer of foam with the last sip! It left behind all kinds of lacing here and there all the way down.

(S)- Some ripe dark fruits of primarily plum with bits of banana, lemon, clove, and clay. Has a light biscuit-like grain in the background. Rather earthy too with clay mentioned before and dry yeast.

(T)- A rich body of ripe dark fruits, but is mostly overshadowed by a richness of dense wheat/biscuit grain and a lemon/banana/almost roasted sweetness. One of the richer quads I have had.

(M)- A rather fizzy carbonation level that creates a party in the mouth. Has a good balance of rich earth, dark fruits, and biscuit. Rather dry too, but sweet and a little bitter at the same time. An absolute delight that goes down smooth, and actually hides the ABV extremely well.

(D)- I can definitely see how this has received such high reviews, but does it deserve the No.1 spot? I am not sure. What I am sure of though is that this is a perfect example of the style and yet adds another level of richness into the mix. An absolute joy to drink; it only got better and better after each sip. No matter what position this is in, its just plainly one of the finest belgains I have had the pleasure of consuming.

Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) from Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)
100 out of 100 based on 5,019 ratings.