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

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
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:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 62 |  Reviews: 46
Photo of kojevergas
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown glass bottle with no label and the distinctive Red Westvleteren cap served into a goblet at Akkurat in Stockholm, Sweden, in July 2011. Vintage was 1996, making it roughly fifteen years old. Cost was a brutal 295 SEK (~43 USD at the time). They had to fetch this from the cellar for me, and it was opened pretty carefully. Served fairly cool but not too cold.

Reviewed from detailed notes.

A: Pours a half finger head of brilliant beautiful cream, good thickness, and bad retention for the ABV. The head is white in colour, while the beer is a very appealing dark ruby-black. I can't wait to dive in.

Sm: Cherry, raspberry, strawberry - all light fruit hop esters (as opposed to 'dark' fruit like in the other three Westvleteren beers I've tried). It's a very excellent fruit aroma all around. Refreshing, and evocative of fruli or framboise summer beers. I didn't expect the fruits to smell as bright and pleasant as they do. Amazing, pleasant, and perfect. Incredibly subtle; I think the age has done the aroma well.

T: Creamy foundation with bright fruit ester hops atop. Everything from the nose is present; lots of strawberry dominates. There's a bit of a water note, no doubt from the aging. Structurally, each act is quite brief but impressively flavorful. The climax is bright ester laden. It's brilliantly balanced, ignoring the water (which is easy to do). It's beautifully artfully constructed. Complex and wonderful.

Mf: Masterfully complementary of the flavours of the body. It's a bit vinegary/watery after the climax, but that's not the brewer's fault. It's delicately soft, subtly creamy, and incredibly well suited to the complexity of the taste. Very carefully crafted indeed.

Dr: The obscene price is to be expected. No alcohol comes through. It's a wonderful beer but sadly it seems to be getting steadily worse with time; it probably peaked five years ago. Drink it while you can, because soon it will be shite vinegar (see La Trappe Amber). I've given is a score based on its full character as is now, but I suspect at its peak it was an A- or even an A. Either way, it's fantastic.

[Note that I gave it a B+ at time of review, prior to the new number system coming in. A B+ at that time was 3.76-4.00.]

 2,245 characters

Photo of Beertracker
5/5  rDev +20.2%

Photo of davod23
5/5  rDev +20.2%

Photo of sideshowe
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -15.9%

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 BeerAndBourbon
4.12/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

1986 vintage. Thanks Cam!

A. Pours brown with amber with just a touch of a head.

S. Smells of raisin, hints of caramel/toffee

T. Raisin is the most prominent. The toffee is not as prominent as in the nose.

M. Very thin with low level of carbonation.

D. Delicious, but definitely suffers a bit from the age. Can't believe I got to try this one. Awesome!

 357 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

 352 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!

 381 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 trappistlover
4.28/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(11.2 oz bottle courtesy of Alpar!) I’m still very humbled that he included this in our last trade! Many, many thanks for sending one of my major whales. Pours cloudy caramel with an off-white head (I got the bottom of the bottle). Aroma has candied sugar, caramel and some port-like notes. Taste is sweet reminiscent of tootsie roll/chocolate. Thin bodied with oily texture. The finish was quite smooth. This beer held up marvelously for its age

 448 characters

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!

 478 characters

Photo of AgentZero
3.63/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Closed out our Epic Chicago Tasting with this one. Provided by me, nothing like being shit-faced at 2 am after 36 beers and then doing one of these rarities for the hell of it.

A - A reddish-brown color, pretty opaque, with a small white head. The head had surpringly decent retention, and faded to a partial cap. Some spot and chunks left on the sides.

S - Carmel, dark fruits, and the usual belgian notes, although this one (for obvious reasons) had a bit of oxidation in there. Surpringly sweet smelling and good for something thi old.

T - Fruity, belgian yeast, little bit of candied sugar, additional dark fruits, and a healthy dose of caramel complete a sweet pallate. The oxidation adds a little souring effect, and there is a little bit of chalk, but it is not horrible. A couple of others who had sampled this before stated this was a much better bottle. Good to hear.

M - Full bodied, slightly less carbonation than I would like, but it is old. Smooth and syrupy, little gritty.

D - Pretty good beer, would have loved to try it in its heyday, but just happy I got to have it.

 1,090 characters

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!

 495 characters

Photo of Brabander
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Yes my friends, this was a hell of a beer! I visited the abbey a month ago. I had an appointment with the guys from the Sierra Nevada brewerie who were allowed to visit the abbey. I was invited to go with them which was a great honour.

Because i was there first, the SN guys had to come from Brugge, i asked for brother Michael. He and i have very good contact since the last couple of months. He was also the one who asked me to stop the shipping of parcels to the states (which i did).

He asked me if i needed some beer! My answer was of course YES PLEASE!! He took me to the storage room which was packed with westy crates, sheer heaven. I humbly asked for four crates of the 12 and one crate of the blond. He took the crates and i paid him.

After that something incredibly nice happened. He told me he had a gift for me and he gave me a sixpack with three extra8 bottle and three special redcaps. They had never left the abbey!!!

I was superexited and all i had for him was a lost bottle of La Trappe bockbeer i had in the car.

After a very nice tour in the abbey i ended the day with a visit to Urbain, the Struise brouwers. He got two bottles of the sixpack from me as a thank you for all the good work he is doing for us beerlovers. And the other four bottles were consumed last sunday with my BA buddy's Jeff, Erik and Sietse.

Now the beer! Poured in the glass the beer looked stunning for its age. Spicy with a light sourness but very good to drink. A bit of oxidation but my oh my, what a treat!

Thanks brother Michael for this wonderfull gift!

 1,564 characters

Photo of Jeffo
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The old, retired Westvleteren 6 - Red Cap. This is one of those beers you hear about in fairy tales, myths and ledgends, but don't really believe it exists. Well, thanks to Brabander and the monks at St. Sixtus, we got to see it with our own eyes.

Part of an amazingly fun tasting at Babander's place last night, which included five Westvleteren beers, two of which have long been retired. The tasting included the 12, 8, blond, Special 6 - red cap, as well as the Extra - light blue cap, which isn't even listed on the site. Thanks heaps for the fun filled day Thijs!

From a bottle into a small tulip.
Vintage: Early 90's.
Note: Reviewed this as an aged beer.

APPEARANCE: Pours a medium sized, off-white head with pretty good retention. Reddish-brown in color, cloudy, with medium carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a decent wisp, leaving some decent lacing down the glass. For almost twenty years, it looks wonderful still.

SMELL: Touch of caramel malt, with some fruity notes in there. Mostly red fruits; raspberries are apparent. Some spicy yeast aromas, as well as off, sour notes unfortunately. Oxidization is definitely starting to play a role, though it is still holding up.

TASTE: Caramel malt and red fruit again. Some spicy notes, such as coriander and thyme, along with the yeasty flavors. Definitely starting to sour as well, but it's not too far along yet. Aftertaste is bold and lingering, with spicy, yeasty notes and some sour tones from the oxidization.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Lighter on the palate, though still nice and creamy, goes down fine and finishes relatively dry. Has held up really well here.

OVERALL: At this point the beer is starting to oxidize, and it is most likely quite different than it was ten years ago, let alone when it was first brewed. If you've got a bottle, I'd suggest opening it sooner rather than later. That said, this was a real treat, and probably the most exciting experience I've had in the world of beer. Besides the fact that this is one of the rarest beers that is still somewhat attainable, it is also one of the better aged beers of this ABV that I've had. Twenty years at 6.2% is no joke, and despite the effects of age, this one held up pretty well indeed. It was the hit of the tasting and everyone had positive things to say about it. Definitely still worth tracking down and drinking if you're interested in aged beer. I'm very glad to have had the chance to try it while it is still possible. Thanks again Thijs, for the beer experience of a lifetime.

 2,558 characters

Photo of jrallen34
3.57/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

I had this from the bottle into a Westy glass at Akkurat. Very excited to try this! Dated 10 22 2000, so this is a 1995 bottle.

The beer pours with light carbonation a very dead beer showing off its age. Its light clearish brown with hints of amber, almost see through. Light tan head only rises about half a finger and is gone right away, light lacing. There is at least half a centimeter of dark yeast at the bottom.. The aroma is super nice and complex, totally mellowed out over the time. Has really muted the sugar and alcohol that presents in the regular westy. Shows off tons of caramel and dark fruits, its sweet but very nice...The taste is sadly a huge let down, clearly anything 1995 or older is well past its prime. The taste is really muted only shows off a little dark fruit then from there all chalk and alcohol. Its really really bad...The feel actually is pretty good, but could hardly finish a bottle that was split.

This is one of those white whales that is all about the chase. Its past its prime and not worth getting now. Wish I could have had one in its day and give it the proper review it probably deserves.

 1,134 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark amber brown. This seems to be on the tail end of it's life of drinkability, but it still works enough to enjoy. There are tones of chalk on hearty leafy edges. More hearty than I would have guessed. Still after 14 years it's nice. And I don't think the rarity of this one is skewing my judgement.

 315 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.

 640 characters

Photo of PapaEugene
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The highlight of another beertasting with rvdoorn. The retired and aged Westvleteren 6. A 1996 vintage.

A: Lightbrown/orange color with a lightbrown head.

S: My first impression was vintage kriek like Cantillon or Boon. Cherries, woody and some red wine.

T: Roasted malts, red fruits, woody, cloves. Slightly bitter and even some liquorisch in the finish.

M: Medium carbonation but rather fast oxidation. A medium body.

D: A unique beer that probably is over its top. HIghly enjoyable nevertheless.

 503 characters

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 HopHead84
3.61/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1998 vintage. Thanks Masterski. Consumed on 10/10/2009 with Masterski and Overlord. The beer appears dark red with a huge creamy white head.

The nose is very earthy with some bready malt and a clove-like spiciness. There are some mineral notes as well.

The taste is rather funky with a strong earthy presence. I get some mineral, plastic, and spicy clove. The malt is sweet and bready. The finish is very dry with bready malt and a lingering mineral flavor.

 459 characters

Photo of Overlord
3.58/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks, Masterski!

Pours a hazy, orange-ish brown. Surprisingly large off-white head.

Smells. ... funky? Some interesting spices, pepper, and ... cloves? Some malt in there.

Taste-wise, this is clearly at the ass-end of the drinkable spectrum. If you're sitting on these, drink them now.

Spices, pepper, dark, sweet malt, and a bit of a mineral earthy quality to it. As it warms, it sweetens a bit, and the spices fade.

Surprisingly bubbly.

 446 characters

Photo of MasterSki
3.46/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

1998 vintage, served in a goblet.

A - Well, it still looks good - Poured with a finger of off-white foam that dissipated to a solid cap and thick ring. Murky orange-raisin color.

S - The smell is...not what I was expecting. Peppery spice, earthy, wet dog, super vinous, starting to go a little lacto-sour. As it warms a little more of the original flavor comes out with some candy sugar, Belgian yeast, etc.

T - Taste is less funky, with more oxidized Belgian dark character to it. It's actually a little bit bland.

M - Carbonation is still good, feel is quite appropriate to style. Some nice dryness in the finish.

D - I was happy to try 4oz, but this is way past its prime. Still it was interesting, and not all that bad.

 729 characters

Photo of kappldav123
3.58/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The bottle looks really good. No label - which brewery can do that? The beer is quite dark, not much foam. Starts spicy, a little bit woody, also a bit earthy. The finish is almost a bit vapid, for a short moment spicy again. I think the beer is already a bit over its top.

Big thanks to yespr for the bottle!

 310 characters

firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Trappist Westvleteren Special 6 from Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 62 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.