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

1,854 Reviews
Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII)Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII)

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

Style: Quadrupel (Quad)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
(Yellow Cap)

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-12-2001

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Reviews: 1,854 | Ratings: 6,255
Photo of connecticutpoet
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The result of a wonderful trade with GClarkage... poured into the accompanying St. Bernardus chalice. A lovely brown, slightly hazy ale with a one finger head that eventually settled to a one-eighth inch layer of foam that never went away. Lots of lace on the glass.

Lots of anticipation for this one... had to work hard to make a personal goal before I rewarded myself with this one. So I was ready and eager.

The aroma was of sweet plums, raisins, dates, and other dark fruits, dark malt, and a hint of brown sugar. Many layered and complex.

Taste... heaven in a glass. I wanted to compare this to St. Bernardus Abt 12, but the two beers are so distinctive I couldn't. It was a thing unto itself. Dark malt, a hint of spiciness, chocolate, caramel, and a blast of alcohol at the end that was not overpowering and not out of place. Wow.

Mouthfeel was smooth and creamy. Not like your average drinkin' brewski. Wonderful and sliky.

Drinkability was excellent... I could do several and not get tired of them (although I might not be able to see straight at the end).

I tried to find fault with this beer, I really did... it was almost like a challenge, rating the #1 beer in the world. But I couldn't.

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Photo of neonbrown82
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer was every bit as awesome as I was hoping, and thus much better than I was expecting. Very appropriate for my 500th review on BA. Thanks to dogfooddog once again for the trade. This is a 3 year sample, and a much fresher review will be forthcoming.

The beer pours to a nice dark reddish brown. Decent frothy head that doesn't quite stay around for too long, but it laces to the glass fairly well.

The smell is great. Very complex. Sweet and nutty with lots of fruit and berry esters. Nice roasted barley flavor as well. The taste is just as great and equally complex. Very smooth. Mouthwatering bubblegummy, cotton candy sweetness. The sweetness is not cloying, but just right. Has a great roasty nuttiness that pairs brilliantly with the sweetness. The alcohol is no more detectable than it is in the blue cap, which is not at all. Awesome. I can't wait to compare the fresher version to see if this is still the case.

Body is full and creamy. Residual sugars stay in the mouth forever, punishing you with the fact that you probably can't drink another bottle right then and there. Awesome through and through. I can't wait to go to Belgium myself. This beer is every bit deserving of a 5.0 rating. That being said, I think Rochefort 10 is every bit as brilliant as this, much cheaper, and readily available here in Iowa. That simply cannot be beat, number one rated beer or not.

edit: I just had the fresher ~6 month version of this beer tonight (8/24/06). I did the Rochefort vs. Westy challenge, and the Westy prevailed on all fronts. My roommate and I were even biased towards the Rochefort. Had a much cleaner flavor and finish. Not quite as roasty. Lots of bubblegum esters. Phenomenal. I want more.

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Photo of digita7693
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Well what can I say... Had this at the café next to the abbey and have since enjoyed several bottles at home.

color is dark amber, almost looks black, depending on the light
smell is wonderful, fruity and caramel
taste, perfection. you can hardly taste the alcohol behind the rush of flavors, fruits (raisins, figs) slight gingerbread taste, sweet caramel. but not overpoweringly sweet, just enough

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

A: poured from a 330 mL bottle into a chalice at the In De Ve Vrede cafe, dark red brown with a short white head that lingers leaving good lacing, clear

S: wine, raisins, brown sugar, yeast, stone fruits, cherries, figs

T: leather, tobacco, cherry, raisins, figs, dark breads

M: slightly creamy, fills the mouth and coats the tongue

O: an amazing beer in a fantastic setting

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

I was GIVEN a bottle of this by a great guy at work. I shared it with some great friends at a great bar. None of that matters to this fact: this beer is INCREDIBLE.

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

Thanks to juicestam for his round the world odyssey that led to this 3-way all Westy tasting.

Here it is. The Big Kahuna. The one and only. The number one beer in the world, or is it?

Appearance: Dark , dark brown body. Solid finger of white head. Nice lacing. Just picture perfect. Wish I had taken a picture.

Nose: Stronger than 8, much more spice. Sweet/spice combo that really makes an impression.

Taste: Spicy strength, but restrained. Dark fruit and caramel/molasses. This defines complexity. A relatively simple initial sip turns into so much more.

Mouthfeel: Here's where it really glows. Tingly spice, slightly numbing, like cloves. Slick and frothy.

Drinkability: Deceptive and tantalizing. Easy to drink. Is this 10%? I can't tell, but I know I want more...

It is #1 for a reason. Please try it if you can.

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

Enjoyed several of these during my time in Bruges and Antwerp, including a magnificent 2004 edition from Kulminator's cellar. With a little age, even more light is shed on the absolute perfection in the way the wondrous flavors of this beer of gods blend together in creating a taste of the heavens.

Pours a murky, alive, dark chocolate malt brown with a fluffy, cloudy, pillowy extremely light tan head that sits on top of this wonder as a heavenly cloud sits above the wonders of life below. Close your eyes and inhale the deep, succulent, full, chocolaty, creamy, soul of bread aroma and you can feel the beers aura inviting you to taste it's otherworldly pleasure.

The feeling as it flows through your mouth and makes contact with the taste buds, immaculate. This beer is alive! As you become one with its glory you not only taste, but feel the incredible deep full roasted blend of complex bready chocolate sweet dried fruit goodness that balance in creating the ultimate beer flavor.

This beer is unlike any other that I have experienced. It has the incredible balance and smoothness that makes the Rochefort 10 so special, but it's flavor - complexity similar to the Bernardus Abt, but blends and is alive in a way which can't be done justice through comparison. The individual aspects of this beer are reminiscent of those that make other great beers exactly that, but the way in which they all come together in a harmonious revelation is what ultimately makes this beer unmatched.

All hail the king in his golden crown.

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

The best thing about this beer is it goes through several different changes during the process of drinking it and all of them are great. The pour was a dark brown but not black. The nose came out with dates, caramel, leafs, and strong yeast. The texture was some what like champagne. Tasted way lighter then it looked. I almost could not taste the alcohol at all. When it started to warm up I started getting a heavy tobacco taste, would have even been good with a cigar or what ever it is you put in your pipe. Also some strong licorice flavors. The malt is perfect and not heavy at all. Not sure of the date of mine but I would love to try one of these that as quite of bit of age on it.

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Photo of rex_4539
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L: Dark brown/red color, 3-4 finger off-white head, medium carbonation.

S: Great aroma, classic quad.

T: The best beer I have ever tasted. It lived up to the hype! Extremely drinkable, not boozy at all despite 10.20% ABV.

F: Smooth, balanced. Perfect.

O: So much has been said about this beer and it is all true. The best beer in the world indeed.

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Photo of dalion037
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Where are these monks hiding the alcohol? This beer was deliciously complex and balanced that I could not taste the 10.2% alcohol until I was working on a nice buzz. There is nothing I could say about this beer that has not been said before so all I want to add is, if you haven't had one get one. You won't be disappointed even if you pay $20 a bottle like I did. (I would have paid $50 if I knew it was so damn good.)

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

I finally got a Westvleteren 12 the other day. I have been wanting one for years. A buddy of mine was able to get some on a trip to Belgium and a six pack arrived on my doorstep a few days later labeled "yeast sample".

I immediately made a run to Binny's to get some other Quads to prepare my palate and set up a blind tasting. I was told Trappistes Rochefort 10 was a great comparable so that's the one we chose to face off with the Westy. Unfortunately, the Westy 12 completely demolished the Rochefort. I was truly hoping the Rochefort would win since it's so readily available.

So, here are the details: Westvleteren 12 is a moderately deep amber, very clear (much more than the relatively cloudy Rochefort). Smell is boozy, raisins, maybe a little banana. Rochefort is more of a caramel scent. The taste of the Westy will initially throw you, striking you as overly bitter at first. As other reviewers have pointed out, you may not like this one on the first taste but it will quickly win you over. It has an extremely complex flavor. I would not say this is a "fruity" beer but there are fruit notes, along with wood and maybe even a little smoke. The finish is warm but not boozy. Perfect beer. If you are lucky enough to get some, do it justice: serve it around 60F in a perfectly clean glass, pour it carefully to avoid the sediment, have a clean palate, etc. I must say I cannot disagree that this is possibly the best beer in the world.

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

Bottle carried back from the monastery and cellared for 1 1/2 years. Pours a completely opaque, very dark brown with a dense, rocky head that leaves nice lacing on the sides of the glass. Smells of candied fruits, plums and raisins with a orange note in the background and a dusky, rich aroma throughout. Taste? A 5 doesn't do it justice. Fruits up front, mellowing into an incredibly smooth malt, followed by nice tannins and then a sharp but mellow aftertaste. It has a nice warming alcohol finish but nothing harsh anywhere in this beer. The mouthfeel is oily and chewy, dense and spectacular. The drinkability is only limited by the availability. We bought a case of this in Belgium and went through it like shit through my dog after he's gotten into the trash. I hate to just jump on the bandwagon but this really does live up to its reputation. This is quite possibly the best beer I've ever had and is just a testament to what brewing can be. Hallelujah!

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

I only got to try about 1/4 of a bottle of this exceptional beer but it has definitely lived up to it's reputation. Amazingly enough a bartender at a bar me and a friend frequently attend and joined a beer club at got a bottle from a friend who had been to Belgium recently. He was kind enough to share it with us and give us a each about a quarter of the bottle. I would definitely like to try this again but I savored each mouth-full of the little I tried.

A: Dark brown and somewhat opaque. Small head but difficult to judge what the head would be like on a full pour from the small amount sampled.

S: Fruity, malty, and sweet notes rose out of the glass with each smell. Even after the initial smell and taste complex and intense scents still shined through.

T: Amazingly complex. Fruity, sweet, and malty with yeast flavors coming through. Apparently the bottle we tried was extremely fresh and strong flavors really pushed through and popped. Flavors of this beer lingered long after it was finished and I hoped they would have lingered even longer.

M: Fairly high carbonation but still very smooth. Each sip was savored and taken very slow in order to get as much as I could out of the small sample and the texture was perfect for a quad.

O: Overall I would say this may have been one of the best beers I have ever tasted. I wish I could have had a full bottle of it but from what I had it was outstanding. I feel as though there is much more to experience from this beer because it is just so complex. If I ever get the opportunity I will definitely try this again and hopefully unlock more of the complex secrets this beer offers.

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Photo of ygtbsm94
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Presentation: This is the absolute best Trappist beer I've tried out of the six brewed in Belgium. 33cl brown bottle fresh from Saint-Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren, Belgium. Freshness code has 13/08/08 on the yellow bottle cap and no label; 10.2% ABV.

Appearance: Smooth creamy off-white head with very tiny lacey bubbles which settles to a thin layer after warming. Color is Dark brown

Smell: Very aromatic. Fantastic malt aroma, along with different kinds of sweet fruit.

Taste: The flavor hits as soon as it enters the mouth. The velvety carmel complex flavor with little to medium carbonation is something savor. All these flavors throughout tasting are just incredible. Its amazing how this beer keeps its complexity and taste throughout the duration of tasting even as the beer warms.

Notes: I usually just read the ratings and don't post reviews. However, I felt I had to submit something for this beer; but I must say of all the beers I have tried so far, nothing has compared.

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Photo of kmo1030
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

well this is it... i'm finally cracking the westy 12 i got in belgium...
this beer pours a garnet brown with a moderate light tan head, that drops to a film.
the aroma is a slightly vinous soft caramel coated grape. there are many other furits in there: pear, raspberry, a very nice juicy plum, prune, soft black cherry. i also find chocolate combined with a cereal quality, almost like the smell of special k. its also got a powdery crackery yeast characteristic.
the taste contains a rich malty caramel backed by a plethora of other complexities. the half dozen fruits from the aroma are there, leaning toward the darker earthy side of the spectrum. they remain light and not in your face though, showing a magnificent level of restraint. beyond those you find bits a pieces of chocolate, corriander, hints of clove, graham, hints of vanilla (resembling oak), an almost pecan pie type flavor, with soft light brown sugar. the 11% abv is masked in a near supernatural way... there is no trace. rounded out with it's soft powdery yeast. impeccably balanced.
the body is fullish medium, with soft moderate carbonation, that facilitates this beer gliding down your throat. slightly dry.
exceptional drinkability, balanced and beautiful, this beer is a work of art and the pinnacle of it's style. intially i had a few of the ratings at less than five, but as the bottom of the glass approaches you start to realize exactly what you have in front of you, nothing less than brewing perfection.

this is everything it's advertised to be.

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

Split two ways and poured into my chalice. Great two finger creamy light brown head with good retention and lacing. Aromas of light brown sugar, molasses, caramel, toffee, dates, plums, and cherries. Taste just like it smells with a dominant dark fruit taste. Creamy mouthfeel and smooth. Best beer I have tasted. Couldn't find a single flaw

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


Thanks to Josh from Vintage Wine and Beer for the birthday hookup, very cool my friend.

Two months I have stared at the bottle with the gold cap, almost frightened to open it. Afraid of the effect it would have on me. I mean, Belgian Quads are my favorite and this is widely known not only as the pinnicle of that genre, but of beer in general. Well, its Super Sunday, and the hated, cheating Patriots are on their way to a SB victory, this Steeler fan needs something to make me smile.

A--A little lighter than the Rochefort but similar lacing and retention. Carbonation seems to be very prevelent in this brew. Pretty sweet.

S--I smell a very complex and remarkable beer. Cherries seem to be most noticeable. Definitely candied sugars are there. So much going on with this brew.

T--Wow. Hard not to be let down by this considering the rarity and considerable notoriety. However, it holds up very well. Little metallic due to the relative freshness of the beer. This is still one terrific beer. This is a really complex beer, so many flavors and I love it.

M--Silky smooth.

D--Well, what can you say, it is Westvletaren. Unfortunately, you are about as likely to win the lottery than to have this beer at your disposal. $450 a case?? That makes it pretty tough. IF I could have this beer regularly, I would. Though I have to say it will definitely hit you with its whopping ABV. A question any Belgian fan needs to ask is how does this brew compare to its most celebrated cousins, Rochefort 10 and St Bernardus ABT 12? It holds up quite nicely. Know this, this is the best beer in the world, hands down. I dont know what is more depressing, that the Pats will likely win today or that my goblet is almost gone.

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Photo of Raiden805
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was one of THE best Belgian Quads I've ever had. I tried a Rocherfort 10, and the spectrum of balance and flavor doesn't compare to the slightest. But the price different would make some people beg to differ.

The pour was pretty epic, it was out of the bottle, I purchased a 6 pack. I bought their brick box, so I received the two chalices to go along with the tasting. It pours a very dark caramel color, and even if you put it up to the light, you're not seeing through it lol.

I had my first smell, and I smelt oakey smells. Definitely an ingredient to this brew. It was aged for 2 years in a Belgian cellar before I received it, so it really had a chance to ferment. The expiration was 2014. There wasn't too much of a head for very long, but it had a little bit of lacing on the top.

Since it had aged for 2 years, it wasn't as carbonated as I had hoped for. But I wasn't expecting it to be honest, as it IS a Belgian Quad.

I had a lot of hype leading up until my first sip, and I believe it held its own. The first sip, I got was oakey, and VERY malty/bitter, with a hard winey after taste because of the 10.2% ABV that comes along with the beer.

Presentation was great, all brown bottle with Westvleteren XII on the front, with a trappist ring. Proving it is still a competitive world class beer. Great opportunity and it has really gave me a great outlook on Belgian beers.

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

sampled a bottle that has been stashed away since 2002. to the person who let me sample this, you are truly a (beer) good among men. thank you so much for sharing this with me.

pours pale brown with ruby highlights. a thin layer of very fine dense head on top that lingers and pops back up with a gentle swirl.

aroma is awesome. i almost can't find all the right words to describe it, there is so much depth there. dried fruit, like dates or currants more so than raisin. a little alcohol in the end. slightly spicy with a nice earthyness.

taste is spectacular. all the elements of the aroma are here and more. nice malty background. toasted rye bread. currant and dates again. moderate sweetness. a little alcohol warmth. superb balance between all aspects of the beer, mellowed and meshed together to perfection. wow.

mouthfeel is great. out of the bottle it was too cold and came across a bit thin, but letting it sit for a while to warm really brought out its true self. a bit thicker than i thought it would be.

drinkability is great. i could easily drink this with dessert every day if it was available. a truly wonderful beer.

i can't call any category on this beer anything other than exceptional. wonderful beer that i can happily give a solid 5 review.

i almost don't want to remove it from my 'wants' list so that i can have it again, but feel it's more important that anyone who would have potentially hooked me up sends it on to someone who has never tried it.

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

5 for all... 100% perfect??? Is it possible...

In deed, it is... those monks are crazy... they just made the best beer i ever drink...

dark like the night, smelly like a sweet, the mouthfeel is heavy but it's really drinkable without any doubts... And the taste... incredible... strong toffee, nice sweet bitterness, the alcool is present but it's taste is not too much present, so... it's well balanced for a (very) strong beer... 10.20% damn... those monks knows how life should be... maybe they found the best way to live a good life...

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

I have been waiting for an occasion to finally enjoy this one, and that day has come.

Appearance: Very murky medium to dark body, capped with a big off-whte head that is very sticky and resilient. There is great lacing, and a creamy layer on top of the beer long after the pour.

Smell: Fruity and musty, alcohol and hard candy. Smells sweet and very smooth.

Taste: Maybe not of this world, has a slightly spicy flavor from the alcohol (black pepper), Sweet like pineapple and pear, but the hops are definitely not lost in this one. Everything blends, separates, repeats over and over it seems. This is the best quadrupel I have ever had, most likely best beer in the world.

Drinkability: This beer did not disappoint, start to finish, it lived up to the hype. I wish getting another one would be a little easier.

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

A: pours a dark brown body with tan, off-white head with excellent retention and lacing.
S: yeasty notes with hint of dark fruit and date.
T: sweet, fruity taste; dark fruity notes. Candi sugar and yeast notes in the aftertaste with hints of toffee, burnt caramel, and some honey.
M: incredibly smooth and velvety.
D: excellent M&T combo; couldn't believe this was a quad that's how well balanced and smooth this beer is. Excellent, wish I didn't have to go all the way back to Belgium to get another!

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

I was lucky enough to score this twice. Once with my bed and breakfast owner in Bruges, and once at a bar in Amsterdam, both in June. It was unreal to get my paws on it. The second time I had it, it was aged 3 years, and it made it a little more smooth, but it is just a terrific taste.

It was like a thick texture yet soft feel. I was creamy but not the same like a Guinness. I am caught up in the hype and think this is the best beer in the world. It has carbonation, but not too much. It has a toffee type taste, yet some hints of fruit.

The aftertaste is great. The alcohol was masked wonderfully.

Coiuldn't have enjoyed it more!

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

This may be the best dark beer I have ever had!It has a dark fruit blast that literally places you into euphoria. The ABV is completely hidden which makes this incredible treat that much more drinkable. The carbonation was crisp and the aroma was magnificent. This beats the Roc 10, ABT 12, Pannepot and any other brew I have ever had that even remotely resembles this beer. Just a flat out masterpiece! At one time I argued that ABT 12 was the same beer as history has recorded, well I was wrong its not. I have a good quantity of this brew and its hard for me to age it as I want to drink it all.

Bottom Line: Legendary beer that lives above the hype!

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

Here it is - beer of beers. I raised my tulip to billab914 before enjoying this one. I have to preface this review with a promise that in 2 years, I've only ever given one other perfect rating. I can't say I can think of anything to possibly improve this one, either. A beer that not only lived up to, but exceeded expectations.

There's possibly no prettier beer out there. I mean, perfection in appearance in a glass. Ruby-tinged chestnut brown, with only the slightest clarity that reveals light bubbles running throughout. An exceptionally well-retained 1 1/2-finger off-white, soft, foamy head lies atop the beer, and it leaves behind glass-swathing rings of soft, fluffy lace.

As with the 8, this beer smells nearly too good to drink. Impeccably delicious nose full of candi sugar, figs, spices, perfumey florals, toasted grains, sticky raisins and brandy. It smells like I'm about to drink some fine spirit that's been aging in someone's cellar for decades, and then I realize it's something much better - beer:)

This beer is so delicious that I have to force myself to drink more slowly. Malts are toasted and sweetly caramelly, the combination yielding a nice, robust and buttery toffee flavor. Sweet and sticky fruitiness of figs, raisins and prunes, along with the sugar give a honey-like sweetness that reminds me a little of meads and glaze the palate to prolong the enjoyment. The alcohol peeks out a little from the aftertaste, and it has an overall pleasant warming effect. This beer continues to open up as it warms, and the flavors grow deeper and fuller. Feel is gently carbonated, creating an effervescence that balances the fullness of the flavors and the body with a lightness on the tongue.

Drinkability isn't even worth discussing. I could drink this beer every day and never tire of it. While high in the ABV department, you'd never know by the taste.

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Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) from Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)
4.61 out of 5 based on 6,255 ratings.
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