Trappist Westvleteren Special 6 | Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)

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Trappist Westvleteren Special 6Trappist Westvleteren Special 6
62 Ratings
Trappist Westvleteren Special 6Trappist Westvleteren Special 6

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)

Style: Belgian Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
(Red Cap)

Added by TheLongBeachBum on 03-31-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 62 |  Reviews: 46
Photo of davod23
5/5  rDev +20.2%

Photo of Beertracker
5/5  rDev +20.2%

Photo of BeerBaron
5/5  rDev +20.2%

Photo of basica
4.97/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Trappist Westvleteren 6 (VINTAGE 1998) (Rating 10/10) - 6.2 ABV - 28 September 2007

This one is none other than my toughest find in the world of beers; not only is it the revered Westvleteren, it is a Westvleteren Special 6 from 1998 which is its last year of brew. A mighty THANK YOU to one of my Belgian beer friend, Christelle, for getting this for me. I know that
folks have yearned for this much sought after red cap and I myself had went through much before finally getting to Christelle who managed to get me 2 bottles straight from the Kulminator in Antwerp and have it shipped thousands of miles to Singapore into my very arms! It's a true godsend and now with the rambling out of the way, lets get down to reviewing this great beer. The bottle was capped tight and I had some trouble cracking it open; when I did an immediately vinous aroma flows out; I poured it carefully into my Abdij St Sixtus chalice. The Special 6 pours out a dark brown color with a thick head with good retention; a good looking bouquet. The smell was like some sort of a pie or sweet pastry with a good amount of breadiness; lot's of sweetness packed in it. Of course aged vinous aromas with dark fruits also form part of the aroma; a very good and sweet smelling beer. It is now all set for me to take my first sip. It has a strong taste of aged dark fruits which includes plums, dates, raisins, berries with a light bready malt backing. The sweet pie like nature was only very subtle. The finish was dry, slightly bitter, and it leaves strong vinous dark fruity, floral and sweet malty aromas on the nose; very nice. The after taste started off with strong dark fruit tastes ranging from dates, plums to raisins and a slight bit of pie or pastry sweetness; some malts on the nose and palates too. Also on the nose as the after taste lingers is a nice everlasting fruity floral aroma. The after taste then then becomes more of grapes and raisins with the familar aged vinous tastes; a very lasting after taste which concludes like a fruity tasting candy. The mouthfeel was slightly creamy and the body was between medium to full but what surprised me was how well the carbonation held up over the years and was still at such a
good level. It was generally light and refreshing and definitely very smooth drinking as I drank up the last few mouthful. The taste of the Westvleteren Special 6 was generally reminiscent of most well-aged Belgian Dark Ales; I am not sure if the very well aged 1984 La Trappe Dubbel which threw me off was better than this but both are great beers for sure. I went to great lengths to get this beer and probably I am very slightly disappointed as I intended that this is going to be my top beer but I believe it is still under the blue and gold cap slightly; though I rate it very well on BA. However it is within my top 3 beers and I still have 1 more bottle. I will try to have Christelle get me a few more bottles of this wonderous brew.

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Photo of wyllder
4.97/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled in 1998.

Sampled at the Kulminator in Antwerpen.

Pours a hazy medium brown with a bumpy tan head that disippates after the first few sips.

The nose is incredible. Imagine opening the oven door to remove a loaf of dark fruitbread with nuts, cherries, raisins, and plums. It's warm, dark, fruity and beautiful in its complexity.

The taste follows the nose, comingling dark fruits and yeasty esthers all while maintaining an incredible mouthfeel.

Too bad the monk's stopped brewing this. One local I spoke to in Brugge voiced the opinion the monks had stopped production on this out of a desire to avoid increasing demand. I'm not sure if this theory holds any truth, but I could certainly see why people would have been wanting this delicious beer.


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Photo of francisweizen
4.97/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1997 vintage, sampled at the Kulminator in Antwerpen. Wow, what an awesome dead beer. Make this again you monks! This is a dark, slightly hazy brown colour with an ample head of tan foam. Aromas are strong and forceful. They consist of a multitude of berries, and other dark fruits, slight alcohol, deep malts, and nice herbal/medicinal hops. The taste is very fruity, creamy, and malty with a nice hoppy finish. The mouthfeel is quite creamy and really rather exceptional...and the drinkability is perfect as well. The blonde is pretty damn good, but why they *replaced* this with it, I will never know...they should start making this one again. It's like a session version of the 8 (which I also love)

 703 characters

Photo of eric5bellies
4.95/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Drank at Kulminator, Antwerp 98 vintage from a st sixtus chalice

A - Pours a nice deep mahogany colour with a an off white two fingered head that stays the distance, amazing

S - Port, toasted bread and raisins. Very pronounced.

T - Wow, this beer has held up amazingly well, the yeast and raisins are very evident still with a little port like flavours as well. The finish is so smooth and not boozy at all.

M - the carbonation is almost all there with the body medium. Smoothness is impressive.

O - Although this beer is 13 years old I'm amazed at how well it has held up. So much flavours and complexity still exists in this beer. It's a privalidge to taste masterpieces like this and although a little past it's best I cannot mark it down because it has truly lasted the test of time and for a beer that is only 6.2% that is quite remarkable.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.92/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1996 vintage purchased from the Cracked Kettle in Amsterdam online.

Red cap, says 26 6 98

A big whaff of yeast hits my nosebuds when I popped the cap. It pours a hazy to cloudy rust colour with about a 1 finger head of foam. Tilting my glass, the lacing is superb!

The smell has a strong yeasty nose with also strong notes of candy sugar, spice(pepper), and an overall earthy nose. Some tartness here as well.

The taste starts off very yeasty and tart with a mild flavour of white pepper, and when I say tart, I don't mean in your face sourness, no, it's much more subtle than that and goes superbly with the yeasty tones that dominate this brew. The candy sugar sweetness is also subtle but at just the right level for my palate. Wow. There's a lot of fruitiness here as well with some flavours of grapes and plums.

I just poured the rest of the bottle and it turns a dark cloudy brown. Usually, the best to be found in a Belgian Ale shows up in that final pour. I can't say that anything improved with that last tastes the same...brilliant! And..I'm not just saying that because of its rarity or the cost to me getting it. It's just bloody amazing.

Btw, head retention=first class. Lacing dropped off a bit after the first pour. Taste and drinkability=off the charts. Mouthfeel=on the light side but worked extremely well.

Bottom line: Would I seek this out again? It's expensive as hell and isn't always available, even from the Cracked Kettle, but the answer is...yes!

 1,491 characters

Photo of TurdFurgison
4.87/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tried at the Kulminator in Antwerp. Bottled in 1998, there can't be too many of these left anywhere.

Leen (co-owner of Kulminator) poured this into a St. Sixtus goblet. It had an enormous tan-white head which was pillowy, sticky, and durable. The beer itself was light brown, murky but light passed through. It looked and smelled appetizing, with yeasty bready aromas.

Probably the best part was the creamy texture which complimented the fig-like fruity flavors. I don't know what this tasted like fresh, but 8 years later it's really good. Similar to the Westvleteren 8, but different in a way I can't describe very well. I prefer this to the 8.

Get it while it's still around.

 688 characters

Photo of brew3crew
4.85/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle courtesy of urbancaver. Wow!this is actually happening

A-earthy red color with no head whatsoever. Looks like a nice port

S-very sweet with a nice bit of malt

T-this is unreal. Sooo smooth aand delicious. Maybe a little bit of sweet cherries. I wan to drink all of this. Damn.

M-medium body and smooth

O-holy crap. This is a wonderful beer. Wish they made more of this!

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Photo of PopeJonPaul
4.76/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Circa 1997, pulled magically out of the air (actually out of Amsterdam I think) by Felonious Phil. The best smelling beer ever. Smelled like pumpkin-apple cake. I could have just kept smelling this beer forever. Appearance was a cloudy, bottom-of-the-lake brown. Taste was like a bunch of great desserts all mixed together; blueberry cheesecake, pumpkin pie, caramel mousse, apple fruit tart. Silky, silky smooth wih a sweet finish. This is the definition of dessert beer. I think one of those naughty monks sold his soul to come up with this. So sad to find out it is made no more.

 582 characters

Photo of digita7693
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%

Photo of EPICAC
4.72/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

My friend and I each had a bottle of this at Bierhuis Kulminator in Antwerp. My friend spotted some unlabeled bottles with red caps on the shelf behind the bar. He asked about them and was told that they were bottles of Westvleteren 6 from 1998, the last year that it was produced. We ordered two bottles, which were served in Abdij St. Sixtus goblets at cellar temperature.

Appearance: Pours a hazy dark-brown with ruby tints. A one-inch beige head fades to a quarter-inch layer leaving sheets of lace.

Smell: Smells aged. Notes of tart cherries, dark fruit and light toffee maltiness. Has the characteristic vinous aroma of an aged beer. Smells amazing.

Taste: Sweet with some malty caramel notes and fruity notes of dates and raisins, not too sweet though. Light peppery spice and a nice amount of hoppy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, low carbonation.

Drinkability: Mellow, but flavorful.

Overall: It's amazing how well this beer has held up, very delicious. I feel very lucky to have had one.

 1,019 characters

Photo of brdc
4.68/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks TurdFurgison for this one. 1998 bottling if I am not mistaken.

Poured into a goblet, I am already amazed by the fact the deep ruby colored beer with golden highlights has a reasonably thick light tan head that holds very well, and leaves some nice lacing.
Aroma is mostly of dark fruits, but has yeasty notes, caramel, cardamom, coriander, other unidentifiable smells, all blending quite well, and still quite noticeable.
Velvety on the palate, mostly sweet maltiness, earthy notes, caramel, dark fruits, figs, cardamom again. Still finishes dry.
It is amazing how well this has been maintained, with such a low ABV. Belgian monks really know their stuff.

 666 characters

Photo of pwoods
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to WeeHeavySD on RB for sharing this gem while I was in San Diego.

330ml unmarked brown bottle with a red cap poured into a chalice. Vintage 1996.

Pours a light brownish amber color with plenty of light coming through. Still plenty of head with decent retention and some lacing. Smells great. I would easily be able to tell this is a Westy if it was in a blind tasting... as paytoplay put it, "it has that Westvleteren stamp on it". Very well put. Pleasant caramel and light dark fruitiness. No alcohol. Nice soft yeast. Body is medium full and rich. Drinks very easily. Really an awesome beer and I can't believe it's held up.

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Photo of ggaughan
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (from 1996) at Akkurat in Stokholm. I had been searching for this beer for awhile and it took a trip to Sweden to find it. Beer poured a deep amber color with a slight haze in the body but fairly clear. The aroma was earthy and a bit scotchy. The taste was sweet, almost port like. This beer appears to have held up very well as there was still a malty character to the beer but no real hop presence as expected. Overall a damn find beer that is worth the cost to me.

 474 characters

Photo of hanlonrn
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of fewa
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cap dates 18-05-98. Poured into a westvleteren glass. The beer pours a brown color with a nice light-brown head. Smell: some red wine notes, red fruits (mainly cherries), sweet plums and some wooden hints. Taste: Sour fruits combined with sweet plums, rasins and roasted malts with some wooden aftertaste. Hints of clove as well. Mouthfeel is medium, with nice medium-high carbonation. Overall, great beer, still in perfect condition. A must try for every true westvleteren fan!

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Photo of Lee45102
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of rvdoorn
4.46/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Probably the rarest beer in the world. I am so happy I can try this unique Trappist beer. Cap says 28-08-98, meaning this should be a 95 or 96 vintage. This must be the "big bang" in terms of taste and flavor of my beer evening with PapaEugene. Carefully opened the bottle with the opener, since I want to keep the cap. Surprisingly, a lot of gas escaped from the bottle when I opened it, even some beer wanted to come out. Wow, I had lots and lots of vintage beers before, but this is truly unique for a 14 year old beer! Poured into a westvleteren glass. The beer pours light-brown-orange-amber-color with a beautiful thick (!!!) light-brown head, which changed into a very nice and sticky lacing. This beer is so lively....

Smell: A bit sour, red wine, tart, red fruits (cherries) and nicely woody. It really reminds me a bit of a kriek (cantillon) or a Flemish old brown ale.

Taste: Red, sour fruits combined with tasty roasted malts. Also here the wood is present, together with some hints of clove. This beer is really pleasantly sour, extremely well balanced with the sweetness of the roasted malts. The aftertaste is medium-bitter and not dry at all. Wait, what do I taste if I roll the beer in my mouth, swallow and inhale some extra air...liquorish, clear liquorish. What an unexpected surprise.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thick bodied and medium carbonation (but for a vintage, high carbonation, unique). The oxidation in the glass is very high though, because the carbonation is almost gone after several minutes.

Overall: This was a truly unique experience. This beer is so different from all the other Westvleteren beers! So full of taste, and this for a vintage of only 6.2 ABV! But, I have to say, that I think this beer has passed its top. It is good, very good, but I think it would be magnificent fresh. What a pity I will never be able to try this one fresh. But I suggest, if you still have a bottle of this rare beer, drink it as soon as possible, and don't wait to long with it.

 1,998 characters

Photo of BenBreeg
4.45/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of claaark13
4.4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks for having a birthday Cam, that was nice of you.
Poured into a Delirium snifter. Thanks THIJS for being the root of this bottle, and thanks to the "one" that gave it to Cam.

A - Ruby, light lacing with bubbles. The lacing is nice, especially with consideration that it is 25 years old. It actually looks nice as it is if the age isn't considered.

S - Malts....yeah, malts....light breadiness and a little bit of sweetness. The aroma is quite potent for the age. Slight amount of dark fruits. I'd say that the fruits are like a small amount of fresh cherries. Not artificial cherries, but some fresh black cherries. Maybe it is the sweetness mixed with the bready malts, who really knows? Very nice no matter how you slice it.

T - Muted breadiness, then some missing flavors in the middle, then a very dry finish. The middle is a slight cherry on top of muted bread. The end is almost like taking a bit of a green apple but without any sourness. The middle is just missing some flavor that I think would be more evident in a 90's version of this beer.

M - Certainly carbonated. Light, drinkable. Appropriate for what it is. I watched Cam drink the dregs...I bet that was nice.

O - Good, old, enjoyable. There was less of a cobweb/cellar/dust flavor in this one than other +15 year old beers I've had, with few exceptions. I also didn't get as much oxidation as expected. When it comes down to it, this bottle is rare as can be. I'd ONLY pass on it because I know that would give the next person a chance to try it. However, if someone offered me a 90's version of the bottle, I'd go for it. I think the later bottles (90's) are probably more flavorful in the middle.

 1,678 characters

Photo of UGADawgGuy
4.39/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to the legendary generosity of BA Brabander, I had the singular experience of enjoying one of the relatively few remaining bottles of this stuff today. Although there was no date discernible on the slightly rusty bottle cap (or anywhere else), I was told that this beer was probably bottled in 1986, if I remember correctly. That would make it approximately 25 years old at the time I tried it...and it's apparently been stored AT WESTVLETEREN ABBEY the entire time. This is a truly incredible find.

Appearance: Just what I would expect of a Belgian dark ale, minus any hint of carbonation. I have to attribute that to the beer's extended age, and from that standpoint, it's not a big deal. When poured into a generic trappist-style chalice and held up to the light, Special 6 is a uniformly murky mahogany color with an unusually clear, shallow "watery" layer floating at the very top. Again, I'd attribute that to the beer's age and carbonation loss.

Smell: Now we're getting somewhere. I'm a well-known malt aficionado, which means I favor beers on the sweet side of the spectrum. And, man, this beer has that in spades (no doubt due in part to its age). A whiff of this stuff conjures up memories of the first time I ever tried vintage Schneider Aventinus, which is one of my two all-time favorite beers. I get honey, amber-doppelbock-style malt, and faint hints of toffee and Tootsie Rolls. If that sounds bad, ignore it; it's meant to be a compliment. This beer smells GREAT, especially considering its extended age and relatively low ABV. While I do pick up some sherry-like notes, the telltale odor of oxidation is absent -- I guess I got lucky in this regard, based on what I see in other relatively recent reviews.

Taste: Absolutely unique, in my experience...and absolutely flawless. This is on par with the very best foods and beverages I've tried during the course of my lifetime. Sweet-yet-subtle honey, milk chocolate, toffee, and mildly earthy clay are united in a cohesive masterpiece. I've got to be honest -- since this low-ABV beer is as old as it is, I went into this prepared for the scattered, incongruous mess most such beers would be at this point. Instead, I was met with perfection. Incredible.

Mouthfeel: While excusable due to age, Special 6's mouthfeel is sorely lacking in the carbonation necessary to support its flavor. Put simply, this beer is flat, save for a faint rumor of prickliness on the back of the tongue with each swallow. Oh, to have had this beer ten years ago...but, then, its flavor and aroma may very well not have been this coalescent back then, and I know I wouldn't have been ready to appreciate it at age 22. At any rate, the mouthfeel is clearly this beer's weakest suit, 25 years after bottling. This is not a surprise.

Overall: I feel a little bit strange giving a 4.5 overall score to a beer whose mouthfeel merited only a 2.0, but in the greater context of the beer's age and stellar delivery in other areas, I believe it warrants a near-perfect overall score. This beer's flavor alone makes it possibly the best beer I've ever tried, and I can't attribute its lack of carbonation to some flaw in its construction. This is a masterfully crafted beer, as evidenced by its incredibly long shelf life and aging curve at such a low ABV.

If you like malty/sweet beers and can get your hands on a bottle of this stuff, I would recommend doing so at almost any cost. To have what is now one of the most elusive and lesser-known beers from one of the world's most expert breweries has been a once-in-a-lifetime treat, and it's one you should have, too. I owe Brabander big-time for of my all-time finest beer-drinking experiences.

Truly incredible!

 3,727 characters

Photo of Urbancaver
4.39/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bill... You are my hero...

1986 vintage
A gift from the gods

Pours a murky orangeish brown, nice yellowish tint. Some nice white head. Looks pretty phenomenal. Smells incredible. Rich malts, vanilla, amazing nose. Tastes malty, a touch of vanilla. The beer tastes great... The mouthfeel is a bit lacking but man it's tasty. Overall, a very enjoyable

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Photo of Apophis666
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ok, here goes my first review, and what a beer it is!

I had the honour to try the Westy Special 6 at Thijs' (Brabander) beer tasting session.

A very nice looking beer (especially concidering it's age) with more carbonation than I expected.
Smell was slightly sour (oxidization) and a bit spicy.
Taste was somewhat sweet and spicy with a slight sour touch.
Even though oxidization as set in, it was still very drinkable and tasty!

Thank you again Thijs for this once in a lifetime opportunity!

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Trappist Westvleteren Special 6 from Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 62 ratings
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