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

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1,819 Reviews
Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII)Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII)

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)
Belgium | website

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: 1,819 | Ratings: 6,076
Photo of birderbeerer
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Deep chestnut brown with thin but solid head. Pours thick and slow.

Rich aroma of figs, chocolate, bread (breads really), raisins, currants.

Taste is as complex and dark as you'd expect from a quad and matches the aroma. It's drier and less sweet than some quads. Very creamy and thick. It finishes clean and dry. Every sip is a little different--one of the great qualities of the most complicated beers.

Hard to beat.

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Photo of brew3crew
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had a chance to share this with an amazing woman, Lauren195. Cheers Lauren!

Bottle Cap dated 29.08.10

A- nice medium brown color. Clear once the sediment settled

S-caramel/chocolate sweetness to the smell

T- Wow. if this one doesn't live up to the hype then I don't know what ever will. A lot like it smells with a little bit of alcohol (very Mellow) and some yeast to it

M-Medium body, smooth and rich

O-Wow. This is amazing.

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Photo of GRBrew
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The setting probably had a lot to do with how much I love this beer. I drank it from the bottle on a square in Bruge during my honeymoon. It was not the ideal way to drink it but it was amazing none the less. Luckily I have one more in my cellar. I just need a reason to drink it.

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Photo of squaremile
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally got to try this thanks to DJ Breezy. The most notable things for me were the sugary, sour apply jolly rancher part of the nose and flavor profile, the complexity that gave new flavors with each sip (dark fruits, apple, pear), and a level of smoothness that is unmatched. Exceptionally complex and smooth.

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Photo of ElGallo
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to chowdahead for bringing a bottle back from the abbey. You da man! (Gosh I miss the 90s)

11.2 oz. bottle poured into a Westvleteren goblet (of course). Bottled at the abbey in May or early June 2010.

The nose is fantastic. I must have spent several minutes just taking the aroma in before my first sip. I love Rochefort 10, but this one takes it up a notch - marvelous velvet brown complexity as it comes up in temp. Tasty wee bits of sediment floating around without a care in the world. I wish I could have enjoyed you all day, but all good things must come to the end of the bottle and into my belly.

This beer is worth the hype and is a must have on any beer lover's Bucket List of fine beers. Thank you monks, you hath done well.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally, Westy 12. Poured from a bottle into a Chimay glass (its the only Trappist glass that I own). Beer was brown, mostly clear until the mud at the bottom of the glass came out, this was avoidable, i know how to pour. The head was diffuse but present and the carbonation was slow but steady, continuously replenishing the thin head. The smell was amazing. Beautiful yeasty and sweet smell. The taste and mouthfeel were out of this world. It was smooth, I could have drank the whole thing in a few minutes but I savored it for as long as possible. Taste was sweet and pleasant. More yeast, no aftertaste. A perfect beer. I wish I could have ti year round.

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Photo of atsprings
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Many thanks to afatty for the in-person trade. Poured into a Corsendonk tulip a hazy, murky brown with a nice light tan head that lasts as a thin layer that leaves slight lacing on the glass. The aroma is an incredible blend of sweet fruits, brown sugar, clove, spices and numerous other aromas that just add up to spectacular. The taste is more of the same, just about everything you look for in a beer all melded perfectly into one. The beer is medium bodied with decent alcohol presence, but with a taste that good, you barely notice. This one certainly lives up to the hype, and thanks to afatty's generosity, I look forward to trying it again!

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Photo of GallowsThief
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Received from my friend Thijs (Brabander), one of the most generous BA’s I know. My thanks. Poured out of a 33 ml bottle into my tulip.

A – Poured out a brown with reddish hues. Luxurious looking creamy one finger tan head. Sticky lacing.

S – Classic Belgian aroma to start. Yeast. Lots of floral qualities. Spiciness. Rum. Dark fruit.

T - Nice dark fruit to start off with plums and raisins included. A nice grape flavor comes along. Some caramel and brown sugar lend some sweetness. Towards the finish you get a spicy, peppery quality along with just a touch of warming effect from the alcohol.

M – Medium bodied with medium to high carbonation. Incredibly smooth drinker. This beer just coats your palate with flavors.

O – Incredibly tasty brew. More complexity then my palate can even fathom. Taste is out of this world. Lived up to the hype for me. Always on the prowl for more.

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Photo of dcmchew
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Finally got my hands of Westy XII. Best before 16.11.14 on the cap.
Dark brown in color, with some copper notes. Not a huge beige head, but sticks around for a long time. You can hear a lot of aggressive carbonation at first, but it seems to settle rather fast.
Rich smell, with dark malts, raisin, brown sugar, figs, red grapes (with a musty component, enhanced by the subtle alcohol), nuts and faint dark spices. Don't expect a strong smell that you get from popping the bottle, you have to give this one a big close sniff, but the elements are really well balanced.
Taste knocks it out of the park. Wow. Toffee and caramel, with a nice citrus feel right on its tail, but also juicy cherries, berries, plums, grapes (strong alcohol makes it feel like a sherry or a brandy). Malts are pretty quiet, way in the back, but with a decent enough roastiness and a rich taste of multi-cereal bread (ryebread maybe?). Spicy, hints of vanilla, anise, faint nutmeg and cinnamon. Mildly bitter finish with some hops peaking through.
Full body, low carbonation. There's a big complexity here, starting off crisp, then sweet, alcohol tends to dry the mouth a bit afterwards, then there's a roasted bitterness... it's really a lot going on. Malts linger in the aftertaste, would have enjoyed some fruitiness to stick around too. Not boozy.
I'm gonna stop now and just enjoy this perfect beer. Yes, "perfect" should suffice.

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Photo of Tschnab
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have reached the pinnacle of beers...

A- pours a dark ruby with a one inch head that fades into an active film of offwhite carbonation.

S- Smells of candy sugar, raisons, belgian yeast, cherries, yadayada. Just amazing.

T- Even better than the smell; woody, sweet cherries, rum-soaked raisons, warm alcohol esthers, and belgian yeast converge to make an incredibly drinkable beer despite its abv, easily the best Belgian beer I have ever seen.

O- This beer is incredible. Believe the hype.

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Photo of siradmiralnelson
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

After a long wait and lots of anticipation, here it is. The best beer in the world and the highest rated beer of my favorite style. Thanks to Kendall for hooking this up. 33cl bottle poured into Westvleteren Chalice.

A. Pours a pretty well carbonated 2+ finger head. Good retention. Thick lacing. Colr is dark brown with some amber hues.

S. Very complex and rich smell. Luscious dark fruit smell, raisins, figs, and quite a bit of grape. Nice caramel malt base underneath. St. B so far for me has been the best smelling quad, I have had. I think I have to say that I give a slight edge to Westy 12. This is really a delicous smelling quad.

T. Wow. Great dark fruit flavor just like the aroma. Raisins, figs, and quite a bit of grape. Has really all the flavor qualities that I think make the great quads. Very complex flavor. Nice caramel base, and some candi sugar sweetness. Very interested to see what time does to this beer, as in my opinion it is pretty damn good right now.

M. Full bodied. Drinks pretty sweet but finishes fairly dry. Medium carbonation. Nice mouthfeel.

O. Having had Rochefort 10 and St. B in the last week in preparation to try the Westy 12, I am basing a lot of my review on how Westy 12 compares to those excellent beers. In all honesty I think Westy 12 is an amazing beer. For me there is quite a few similarities to St. B Abt 12. I think the Westy 12 is just a bit better overall. Very complex aroma and taste. Nice carbonated full bodied mouthfeel. Is this the best beer in the world? That is hard to say, as one of the best beers in my favorite style, I would have to say it is certainly in contention.

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Photo of VncentLIFE
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pour is a murky brown, muddy. nice patterns in the rings of head.

Smell has a bit of dry grains, hints of dried plums, and somehow a bit of belgian funk. not real sure where it came from, but i like it. Strong Belgian yeast esters.

The taste isnt as strong as I was expecting, but so well balanced. Strong plum and raisins (mostly raisins). Well balanced with dry grains and sweet dark fruits.

Its got every flavor from a quad, but all in balance. I see why its so highly rated.

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Photo of wilkowski
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Shared two bottles with two good friends on Saturday (16 Mar 2013)

A: Deep brown with a thin lacing that hangs around.

S: Incomparable. The first glass was poured a few feet away from me and I could smell the aroma from there. Beautiful warm yeasty bread, rich dark fruits, plum, malt and more malt. Soft is the best word I have. I wish I could keep my nose in a glass of this all day long.

T: Follows the aroma. Complex, gorgeous, bold, but also well balanced. Heavenly.

M: Mouthfeel is great. Good, slightly high carbonation.

O: The best beer in the world? I'm surprised to say "yes".

We lined up two bottles of St Bernardus Abt 12 afterwards for comparison. Extremely similar but the Westy is noticeably better in almost every respect. Prior to this, the St. Bernardus Abt 12 was probably my favorite beer and I was blown away by how good the Westvleteren 12 was. I did not expect it to live up to the reputation, but it did and I'm happy to cross this off the bucket list.

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Photo of peensteen
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours dark mahogany with vibrant ruby red tones showing in the light, tight sticky white head and nice lace showing along the glass. Smells of subtle alcohol, fig, brown sugar, yeast, plum, raisin, cherry, faint leathery notes, dark fruit. Nose is stunning on this one. Tastes of yeast, dark fruit, alcohol, toffee, vanilla, fig, plum, raisin, dark sugar and something almost oak like that are behind the vanilla notes. Every sip of this opens up something new or complimentary. Medium to full mouthfeel that is smooth as silk with a delicate, light carbonation. Dangerously drinkable, ABV is hidden well and its so very tasty and flavorful. Does it live up to it's hype? it certainly comes close. Maybe the best I've ever had and absolutely in my top 3. Thanks to Volo for doing a side by side of all three Westy's that was an amazing idea!

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Photo of Alpar
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Got this gem from Trappistlover as an extra! Huge thanks Dave.

A: Big fluffy off white head accompanied by some sediment. An exceptional brown with a ruby hue. Lots of "floaties." Heads

S: Strong port wine, not sure if my nose is off but that is what I am getting. Bready with lots of dark fruits. I think that is where the port wine is coming from...

T: Oh my word! This is far more than I expected. Big bread and fruit just like the smell. There are definitely some spices, not sure what it is though? Not getting much alcohol but this bottle has a little age on it. More robust flavors of bread and plum arise as it warms. Fantastic.

O: I love this beer and will most likely be ISO more, a great treat. Glad I got to try this!

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Photo of jeffaz02t
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Nice silky lace to contrast with the dark brown of the beer.

S: Complicated smells... Raisins, plumbs seem to dominate, then there are other smells that come to me every few sips.

T: Very malty. Very very malty. There is also a spicyness that compliments the alcohol. There is also a nice honey flavor in this one. It finishes dry with a hint of yeast.

M: Nice, smooth.

D: This is a good end of the night, sip for an hour and a half kind of beer. Very complicated...

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Photo of Ranz
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Cap is dated 13.12.15

In an oversized goblet, it poured a quarter-inch head that dissipated quickly. The color is a rich opaque brown with some sediment floating near the top.

Aromas of overripe plums, figs, dates, and maybe even apricot. The alcohol is present on the nose, too, along with a major sugar character. It's rich but not overpowering. Absolutely lovely.

Wow, this is the quad to beat. Rich fig, molasses, and carmelized brown sugar. It's hitting all of the right notes.

The mouthfeel is luxurious: stilly lightly carbonated with some creamy juiciness. I'm not sure how else to describe it. The alcohol has just the slightest singe, but it's extremely drinkable.

I have my brother-in-law and his sergeant to thank for this, and I'm so grateful for the experience. This is truly world-class, and one of the top three best beers I have ever enjoyed.

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Photo of LittleCreature
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served by the barman at In de Vrede.

Appearance - 4.5
Poured a finger of beige head that quickly reduced to a thin layer. The body is completely opaque, black with reddish brown where the light hits it. Left little lacing.

Smell - 5.0
Not as powerful as some beers of this strength, but oh so pleasant. The sweet aroma includes golden syrup, toffee, cocoa, raisins, stewed apple and a little spice.

Taste - 5.0
What does one expect when drinking the world's greatest beer? It doesn't blow my head off, and it isn't outrageously complex, but it does taste damn good. Alcohol is smooth and warming, and it is much sweeter than the other Westvleterens. Flavours of caramel, stewed red apple, burnt sugar, mixed spice and cocoa. The finish is pleasantly bitter (although not quite enough to call it perfectly balanced) and slightly dry.

Mouthfeel - 4.5
Amazingly smooth, fine carbonation, although perhaps a little flatter than desirable.

Drinkability - 4.5
Very easy to drink for one so strong, but the sweetness meant that I was not longing for a second (but I had one anyway!).

Alright, let's get the obvious questions out of the way:
Q. Is Westvleteren 12 the perfect beer?
A. No. If it were perfect I would have scored it a 5. To me it has one definite flaw, and a couple of minor flaws. First, it is definitely too sweet. Deliciously sweet I might add, but ultimately it is a beer that is best suited to drinking one on its own, or serving with dessert. As mentioned, the beer is also a little flatter that I would like, but for the style this is acceptable.
Q. Is Westvleteren 12 the best beer in the world?
A. Possibly, although my gut feeling is that there are probably a couple of beers in the American micro brewing scene that are better.
Q. Is it the best beer I have tried?
A. Yes. Not by a huge margin mind you, but no beer I have tasted before has had quite the wow factor, or delicious richness of flavour that the Westy has.
Q. If I have one bottle of Westvleteren 12, should I drink it now or let it age for a few years?
A. Either. I have now tried the beer both fresh, and after 5 years in the Kulminator cellar. Overall I would say the cellared version was the more complex, better tasting beer, but it had lost much of its carbonation. Whichever way you choose to drink it, it is a fantastic beer.

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Photo of JamieDuncan
4.93/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My beer guru had someone pick this up and he was gracious enough to share. This one definitely lived up to the hype. I suppose that maybe now I know what the style is meant to taste. Very little to complain about, clean, tasty and smooth. I really want to go back through some of the other beers I gave great ratings to and compare.

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Photo of rand
4.93/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

From 330 mL bottle to Westvleteren chalice.

A: Mahogany in color, the beer pours less viscous than expected and forms a small, wispy head. Leaves almost no lacing.

S: The nose is comprised of distinct notes of maple and toffee, toasty sweetbread and alcohol. Esters are readily apparent, as notes of holiday spice linger in the boozy bouquet.

T: Malt-forward, caramel and toffee notes leap to the front of the palate. The sweet overtone reveals distinct banana esters and cherry-ish phenols. The candy-like profile is kept in check by ample hop presence and spicy alcohol, as subtle notes of cinnamon and clove work to dry the palate. Remarkably, the beer finishes relatively short and clean, leaving a touch of cherry and caramel lingering.

M: Much more chewy and viscous than the beer appears, but the ample carbonation scrubs the palate clean between sips.

It seems there are a lot of beers in the top of the list that've climbed by inertia (especially the top beer). This isn't one of them. A couple hundred years of trial and error, coupled by the fact that the brewers don't make a least monetarily speaking, makes this one of the most interesting and satisfying experiences you can have imbibing a brew.

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Photo of danostrat
4.93/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-complex dry fruit.

S-mellow spice blended with earthy dry fruit.

T-perfect balance of sweet fruit, wood, mild pepper; spice taste changing with each sip.

M-nice warm pleasant.

Served in a chalice at In De Vrede, across the street from the abbey. It killed me that no beer was available for takeaway this day, but 4.80 euro a glass was a nice consolation prize. Without a side-by-side comparison I can't say that this is the best beer in the world, but it's easily in the top three that I've ever tasted.
The head and lacing maintained throughout. The color against the light was thick and dark with a lovely glow. Each sip brought out an ever-changing taste.
Compared side by side with the 5 and the 8, this was easily my favorite, and I happily ordered a second round. Well worth the trip!

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Photo of Mpollard
4.93/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just my opinion...I have seen the reviews of this beer fall after the sale of the gift packs in the US. I must say that those who rushed into drinking one right away missed out. I know it must have been very difficult to wait however, to let this beer ripen for a few years one would find a more earthy, well balanced flavor, without the alcohol burn at the end. I love this beer, just opened a bottle dated 14/12/14 which I bought at the Abby in 2011 and based it against one bought last month. The favors of the fruits are more pronounced/distinctive throughout. If you have any left, store it properly and let it sit for a few years, then review it again.

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Photo of baos
4.93/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle into large snifter

A: Heavy brown color with a nice creamy-tan head sweet lacing and nice head retention considering the alcohol content.

S: Very sweet: caramel, Belgian candi, molasses, and raisins with other dried fruits, i.e. plums.

T: Sweet lots of dried fruits, heavy wheat malts, Belgian candi-goodness.

M: Full bodied. One of the best I have ever had in this repects.

O: A plus plus. Try one on for size!

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Photo of Roman5150
4.93/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle into Westvleteren 12 Tulip, dated 5.10.14

Purchased from Het Beste Biertje in Málaga, Spain (drank 2 there, and 1 to take away)

Appearance: Cloudy dark mahogany brown with a decent amount of sediment, 1 finger highly carbonated white head, intricate lacing

Smell: Lot's of breadiness initially, followed by the typical trappist dark fruit notes. Also getting a lot of figs, plums, raisins, apple, and biscuity notes. Belgian yeast is highly pungent, you can smell the sweetness. Also some wood/oak smell.

Taste: Follows the nose with huge dark (almost overripe) fruit flavors off the bat, which slowly fades into a plethora of biscuity, bready notes. Roasted malt backbone is rather dark and sweet, and there's a lot of raisin and sherry presence mid-palate. Probably the lightest quad i've ever had, alcohol is distincly hidden, more so than a St. Bernardus ABT 12 or Rochefort 10. The lingering aftertaste is very sweet and leaves some wood, oaky notes in your mouth. This is one of the few beers that actually tastes better once it warms, all the flavors come out full force.

Mouthfeel: HIgh carbonation, medium to light bodied, especially for a quad

Overall: I'll try to keep this short: It lives up to the hype. Honestly I had the mindset that there really couldn't be a much better quad than a Rochefort 10 or a St. Bernardus ABT 12, but all hype aside, this is the better beer. I would love to do a blind test just to make sure... This one is so much lighter in feel but without sacrificing flavor or anything for that matter. It seems to emphasize the bready, biscuity characteristics instead of being dark fruit dominant like other quads. And I guess you can attribute it to the stellar brewing craftsmanship of the monks, but the alcohol in this is even less apparent, you could almost think you were drinking a trippel. Throughly impressed, waiting to try my 3rd one, and hopefully the other's once I make it out to Belgium again.

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Photo of joaopmgoncalves
4.93/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So the day finally came. It's the 24th of April, one day before celebrating the Liberty Day in Portugal. Westvleteren XII is, until this date, my white wale. Since my first days here in BA, Westy 12 has been my first moonshot, my only European moon shot that comes today to an end.

So I used my Russian River keychain to open up this bottle and pour it to a Leffe glass.

A: The body is dark, coppery to brown hues but a bit crystalline. The head is white with some retention on the the smallest possible iteration and has some great lacing.

S: The aroma is composed with belgian yeast, raisins, blueberries and some alcohol due to the 10.20% ABV. If it wasn't for the alcohol, this aroma would be just perfect.

T: The taste is just perfect with the great taste of this belgian yeast, the dark roasted malts, the prominent raisins and the blueberries. But again, alchohol strikes again because it should, indeed, be a bit more hidden in all these flavors.

M: The body is very high, high carbonation that gives this velvety touch to the beer. If you look at the top of the glass, it seems that the yeast is still alive by creating small areas of activity but it's just the beautiful carbonation making its work.

O: The wait is over. And I'm very happy about this. By the end of this beer, I can say that this is not the perfect beer but it's by far the best quad I've had, which is a very subtle and hard style to make. Or probably is just the romantic side of a successful hunt speaking. I'm very happy at the moment and I feel like the spirit of craft beer is blooming inside of me. :) Thank you all you BAs!

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Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) from Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)
100 out of 100 based on 1,819 ratings.
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