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

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1,815 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: 1,815 | Ratings: 6,070
Photo of jdavolos88
4.95/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Oh so rare, oh so delicious. This tall, dark and handsome long-neck left me sated. I really have nothing bad to say about this beer except the obvious, availability/distribution, but that is kind of what makes it fun with beers like this.

First reaction, pop the cap, smells like barn doors just swung open and the combination of decadent material with hay had me at hello. This may sound like a terrible description, but it was the happiest I have ever been to be overtaken with the smell of a farm.

This beer hit like a delicious piece of bread lightly buttered and rich in organic material. Totally satisfied, worth the wait and price. I am tired of being laughed when I call around to find it, however.

Best Trappist, best Belgian, incredible drink.

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Photo of ddarden
4.55/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle dated best before April 2, 2007

I poured this gem into a tulip glass and it produced a wonderful off white head with tight carbonation. It is deep reddish brown and cloudy with yeast particles floating around. The head drops down to about a 1/4" from a 1 1/2". A small head remains through the rest of the beer and leaves a little bit of lacing.

The first smell is of strong Belgian yeast and dark fermented fruits. Plums and cherries seem to accent the sweet smell coming from this anticipated beer. Alcohol also seems to be in the aroma.

My first taste of the beer is complex and hard to describe: Dark malts, chocolate, espresso, and a grainy cherry. Also an unexpected dry grassy, bitterness at the end. The alcohol is very well hidden in this fabled beer. This is a very creamy tasting beer

The mouthfeel is nice and full. It coats your tongue like a fine wine. This is a very creamy tasting beer. Also the carbonation is wonderful. The drinkability of this beer is excellent for something with such a high abv. I hate to say this, but I like the Westvleteren 8 a little better than the 12. That said, this is truly one of the best beers in the world.

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

Presentation: 33cl bottle, poured into my 12oz chalice

Appearance - very dark brown, with a long lasting fluffy tan head.

I wouldn't say anything about the aroma and taste that a hundred others haven't already said, so I'll dispense with that, other than to say that it truly is an incredible flavor. But I do want to say how incredibly drinkable this beer is. I was amazed at how little alcohol presence this beer had. It was so smooth and so easy to drink. The alcohol warmed the back of my throat a bit, but that didn't last.

I tried very hard not to let the status of this beer influence my rating, and I feel as though I've succeeded. I didn't expect the beer to be the best I've ever had, I just expected it to be good, and I wasn't disappointed. I will have to say that at this point, Westvleteren 12 is my favorite beer. I won't go so far as to say it's the best in the world, just my favorite, which makes sense as this style is my current favorite. But that doesn't mean it will always be.

This is a truly exceptional beer, regardless of its status.

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Photo of fingolfin72
4.57/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The color is deep mahogany with a fine, palamino-colored head which dissipates to lacy remnants fairly soon.

The nose is somewhat restrained, but it contains sugar, oranges, banana, and croissants.

The palate is smooth with an abundance of flavor. I get toffee, brown sugar, banana, nutmeg, chocolate, quinine and fresh grapes.

The finish is long. The bitterness, reminiscent of quinine or campari, becomes slightly more prominent as the sip of beer fades. It does not, however, overexpress itself.

This beer has extraordinary balance and complexity. It does not hit you over the head; it just states itself perfectly with nothing out of place. I equate it with Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame.

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Photo of djeffbee
4.4/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A big thank you to Mike from Quotations who GAVE us a bottle to ush in the New Year.... 2009 edition.

Shared with some of my lifelong friends in goblets...

A - handsome deep ruby, clear until the bottle became slighlty disturbed which led to some magical yeasty chunks. No head, thick, no lacing. (new sample had a monster head with heavy lacing)

S - caramel, raisiny, figs, slightly winey yet sweet (new sample - not winey)

T - sweet caramel, slight winey sour - just like the aroma. In my mind I was trying to compare this against a Rochefort 10 or SB12, but this was way different. (new sample did not have any sourness)

M - smooth, syrupy, low carbonation, but left a tingling on my tongue.

D - wish I could have more, will call this drinkable, availability is a slight problem, but very drinkable.

I was very excited to share this with my bests... Great beer - yes, best in the world - no, at least not this sample. Would like to assess this further with more samples.

UPDATE: Freshie from Belgium (thanks Riggsy), and much, much better. The mouthfeel, much much more in the line of what was expected!

Forgive spelling/grammar - from my iPhone.

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

Poured into my Orval chalice.

A - Translucent dark brown-amber with a white-ish head that diminishes. Not much lacing.

S - Dark dried fruits, candi sugar, and some yeast present. Not a huge smell, but gorgeous overall.

T - YUM. Normally I hate raisins, but I get the point of them from drinking the notes in this brew. Caramel, molasses, yeast, and of course malt. It's everything you'd want from a candy store sans chocolate.

M - This is honestly my favorite part of the beer. Lively carbonation gives it a unique sort of creaminess unlike any other beer I've had, period. It honestly feels perfect.

D - Each sip unfolds new themes and flavors. Like any good work of art, one's appreciation deepens as you delve further into it. Wonderful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of HopBacchus
4.82/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

One beer to rule them all
One beer to find them
One bring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
(not quite, but.... it was damn good)

I am in Belgium at my computer sipping as i rate this beer

A: The beer pours a ruddy brown color with a medium sized foamy head that dissipated more quickly than expected, mild lacing.

S: It smells well... like heaven. Absurd amounts of smoky rich malts and vanilla tingle the nostrils. One can detect spices and citrus; perhaps even molasses?

T: Wonderful, a perfect balance of yeast and overpowering malts engulf my taste buds caressing each section of my tongue. Hops levels are low and overpowered by the rich malts.

M: Average at best. Upon first sipping, it stung my tongue to the point where it almost overwhelmed the otherwise perfect flavor. Over carbonated i would say. However its body was perfect after the carbonation sting subsided. Felt like I was drinking some sort of evil IPA.

D: Minus the carbonation, amazing the malts and flavor are absolutely perfect this is a beer that would suit any meal or weather.

Overall this was an excellent beer. I can see why it is the best in the world. I personally would not give it such a grand title because of its less than steller lacing and mouth feel however this is truly a great beer that i found myself in awe of.

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Photo of fightingirishcmk
4.67/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Gold capped bottle with a best before date of 8/29/10.
A: Pours a deep reddish brown with an enormous head. The froth is off white in color and dissipated slowly. Lacing was beautiful on the glass. Slight amounts of sediment were poured in.

S: Molasses and fruit such as figs was present, also some raisin and bubblegum were detectable.

T: Simply put, delicious. Malt, plums, and a vast array of other various dark sugared tastes were a delight to the palate.

M: Moderately warming, with a somewhat lighter consistency than what I expected. Feels great in your mouth and going down.

D: Will I find myself craving this beer at many different occasions? Yes. However, some points taken off due to its rarity and inability to be a session beer

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Photo of steadydose
4.67/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured 3/5 of bottle into a goblet. Creamy 1/4 inch of head. Lots of small bubbles. Dark rustic brown w/ red highlights around the edges w/ sediment floating around. Second pour gives a nice tan head w/ red tinge on side, small fine bubbles. Some lacing is left on glass.

S:Sweet aroma, banana, bread, chocolate, raisin all melded together. As beer warms up, smell is fantastic. My favorite thing about this beer is the smell.

T:Can't quite pick up lots of individual characteristics, but as a whole the taste is pleasant/complex. Hints of rum alcohol w/ a long finish accented w/ a touch of bitterness. 30 min after, a chocolate taste is more pronounced, doughy, vanilla, raisin bread, banana.

M: Luxurious, high amount of tight carbonation, creamy mouthfeel. Spreads the flavor of around the palate and gives beer a good body. Amazing!

D: Great beer! Has a nice warming effect. Perfect beer to drink while relaxing.

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Photo of KCHopHead
4.18/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had the 3 bottles in order Blond, 12 then 8. Split the bottle 3 ways for a tasting.

A - Not sure if it was the weather but I didn't get a lot of lacing or head from this beer. What head it did have formed the larger bubbles that some Belgian yeasts help produce. This was very transparent for being so dark. I got some crazy floaties from the yeast sediment. No problem with me though.

S - I smelled the alcohol there but a lot of fruitiness was there as well.

T - The balance was great on this beer. Not as good as the 8, but still well done. I remember there being a ton of left over sugar taste. I'm still not sure how to get that raisin taste in my homebrew but I'm sure the yeast and fermentation temp plays a big role. The alcohol was present but not overwhelming for a 10% beer.

M/D - Very good carbonation. I would have like to have this on tap at my home.

I think I built this up too much in my head. It is definitely not on the top of this hophead's list, but still an amazing beer that I would highly recomend.

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Photo of Hallu
4.11/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm not a big fan of Trappiste beers I must admit. I love ones with a hint of acidity like Karmeliet, or complex ones like Rochefort 12. So I wasn't expecting that much. After all, the best beer in the world title came from a lot of hype and rarity.

On the smell, it's shocking how it smells exactly like a doppelbock. Cloves, caramel, banana. Nothing similar to a trappiste. I'm missing the dark fruit notes from a Rochefort for example. On the taste, it's disappointing. It's like an amped up Chimay (so too sweet for me), but it doesn't surprise. My friends who like Trappiste beers absolutely loved it, but the lack of surprise and the sweetness disappointed me. Rochefort manages to stay on a drier note and is complex, interesting. This one is more like a british beer, meaning it's balanced and simple. Because it's rare, online bottleshops sells this 10 € for the 33 cl. But a case is around 40 € at the Abbey, so less than 2 € a beer... It's not more expensive than other trappiste beers (less, even). I think the monks know they do a good beer, but they don't believe it's better than what the other abbeys do. And this is to me absolutely true.

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Photo of Reed415
4.3/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a cloudy brown color with a very lasting head

S - Belgian, alcohol, tons of fruit

T - Tons of different fruit flavors, alcohol warmth, malt, sweeter than expected

M - Full bodied, Lots of carbonation

D - Very outstanding beer, but not my favorite quad

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

Just had at In de Vrede today. The beer is pretty fresh and has a bit of heat. Might be better aged a bit (says the beer can age up to 20 years). Nice dark color, more amber than black. Lots of raisin, fig, caramel flavors. Very heavy bread smells, almost like going to a bakery. Might write a follow up review since we snagged a few gift packs at the abbey at 2pm.

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Photo of BrewsforBreakfast
4.67/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

My buddy went to Belgium and worked for about a week to get the monks to answer the phone so he could buy a case. This was the last beer from that case. What a treat.

A - A deep tobacco brown. Lots of floating sediment. Big cream head leaving some lacing.

S - One of the best smelling beers I have ever had. It was very hard to discern aromas because there were so many. Unlike anything I had ever smelled before. Dark fruits, brown sugar, caramel were what I smelled the most.

T - Didn't taste much that much like the smell, but like something entirely wonderful that I wasn't expecting. A tinge of heat from the booze but so many married flavors in there make the beer go down way too fast. I almost need to drink 2 or 3 more to pick it all out. Prunes, plums, yeast, raisins, brown sugar were what I was able to pick out.

M - Good carbonation, which I expected. Wasn't expecting that much sediment, but it never bothered me a bit. Creamy but not too thick.

O - A bucket list beer. It's like art. I was truly fortunate to have the opportunity to try one. It's magic. Would pay an $ amount for another bottle that my wife would never agree to.

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Photo of mcb4538
4.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a burgundy color with a thin layer of head that doesn't dissolve quickly. Smells a decent amount of cherries and of some booziness. The first taste warms up the mouth. As the heat recedes the flavors present themselves. Cherries, currants, and slight oakiness.  A complex beer but simple in its enjoyment. Glad I took this journey. Pretentiousness aside, the Westy was well worth it.  Great beer!

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

Same procedure as the 8, a 330ml bottle at cellar temperature split between Westvleteren chalice glasses. The date printed clearly on the bottle is 13.08.11, which corresponds to a dramatic pickup on one of my last visits to Belgium. Being only 4 months old, I'll call this one relatively fresh.

5. A more vigorous head builds upon pouring - about 2.5cm after pouring half a bottle. The head is slightly more tan than the 8. The beer color is also darker brown, but with caramel-amber notes around the edges.

5. The smell is dramatically different than the 8. Much, much more rich fruity aromas with caramel undertones. I also get some cherries and pears. Amazing.

5. Wow - the debate is settled. They are different beers, but fresh Westvleteren 12 is better and much more complex than 2 year old Westvleteren 8. There is so much going on here, much of which I doubt I can identify. Again, figs and raisins; caramel and dark sugars. A hint of chocolate in the finish. Much more hops than in the 8 with a flowery sweet profile. The bitterness is there in the perfect amount to balance the powerful malts. The finish also carries yeasty notes that are hard to name with everything else that's going on. The flavor lasts for about 20-30 minutes after the last sip.

5. Very smooth and silky feel. The carbonation is incredibly soft, but present. My wife calls is velvety. This is a pinnacle and makes all other 5's I've given seem like 4.5's for the moment. There is an alcohol warmth on the palate which the breath carries if it's been a while since the last sip, but this is dominated with the complex flavors.

5. This beer is even easier to drink than the 8. I've sat at In de Vrede for hours enjoying this brew, entirely paralyzed from ordering the blond or the 8.

So, if the 8 is incredible, it's tough to conjure a a word for this beer. Definitely the best beer I've ever had. I wanted it to be hype the first time I went, but this beer has a way of surprising me with how good it is every time I drink it. One of the most transcendent of man's concoctions.

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Photo of krunchie
4.69/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Got mine as a gift, bought in a beer shop in Brussels. Served in a Riedel glass at 15.6C (60F)

A: Pours an almost pitch black liquid with a thick, slightly beige fluffy head. Nice head retention. The beer almost looks like a Bordeaux around the edges of the glass and leaves an outstanding lacing. Viscous and creamy

S: Satisfying alcohol nose. Port wine, red grapes, dates and a slight belgian yeast aroma. Spicy; pepper and clove. Slitghly acidic dark malt and brown sugar. Extremely smooth and beautiful smell! I could smell this for ages and be a very happy man....

T: I mean, really, WOW. VERY good beer. Once again, I get port wine and a great warming alcohol thing. Dates and figs. Perfectly balanced, some noble hop-like aromas in the finish and slightly dry bitterness. Very smooth on the palate. I'd never guess it was over 10% ABV thanks to the expceptionally soothing mouthfeel. Very spicy, exotically peppery and bitter orange peel in the finish. All flavors I pick up are perfectly balanced to one another, none of them are dominant in a bad way. Chocolate, molasses, brown sugar - sweet but not too sweet. That's how we like it!

M/D: Very creamy and full-bodied, yet exceptionally drinkable for the style. Smooth and warming with perfect CO2. I expected a bigger head though. Without a doubt a winner nonetheless! Hit the perfect serving temp smack down IMHO.

Probably one of the best beers in the world, regardless of the hype. Fantastic, and very unique, flavor. Too bad I don't have more... :'(

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Photo of JonBeer
4.73/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

wonderful, but I gotta say I did this side by side by side with Rochefort 10 and St. Bernardus 12 (could not tell a difference from SB12, yes I know why...) and Rochefort 10 wins my vote for the best of the 3. All great, just personal preference...

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

I picked up a bottle of this fine stuff yesterday. The cap had a computer-generated date of 14.01.06 marked on it, and the beer was $8.79.

The beer poured a nice deep brown color with hints of dark red. A two-finger head -- a light/medium tan -- from the pour settled into a 1/4" ring that clung to the glass for a while and finished off at about 1/8". The flavor was big and complex, and I noted roasted almonds/walnuts, some high-cocoa dark chocolate (i.e. Lindt 85%), some coffee (particularly the sweet Thai-style ice coffee), and some savory, dried fruits -- mostly raisins/figs/dates. The alcohol was never overpowering.

The mouthfeel was fantastic. light to moderate on the carbonation, warm, and sweet, which really opened up the senses to the huge flavors. I also noted a medium to long finish.

To sum it up, this is a phenomenal beer. I really enjoyed it on its own (several hours after a meal), and I plan to drink it that way again to really take advantage of its complexity and craftsmanship. The cost is a factor, but the overall experience is worth the price of admission. I will definitely buy this beer again.

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Photo of satowns
4.03/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rich ruby brown color. short lasting single finger of tan foam recedes to liquid and then just hangs out to provide great lacing.

High alcohol fusels and sweet wine in the aroma.

Extremely savory. rich toasted wheat bread. caramel malt.

very full body. nice and chewy! medium carbonation and subtle creaminess.

A great beer all around.

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Photo of phirleh
4.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This was my first beer off 2009, I had it at the stroke of midnight. It was sent to me by a friend in the states. I tried to keep an open mind and not get sucked into the previous hype about this beer, but was it ever justified. Poured dark and thick with an off white head in a Westy glass. Carbonation reminded me of the pricklyness of a Westmalle and the taste was roasted and sugary. What an incredible, complex beer. I'm glad I had the opportunity to try it.

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Photo of Shinck14
4.44/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Reviews after a blind tasting including Abt 12 and Rochefort 10.

This was my favorite of the three. This was just so incredibly smooth and easy to drink. It was everything i hoped for with all the hype around it. Can't wait to see how this one ages with the other two bottles i have.

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Photo of Afterburner
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Dark, cloudy brown. Thick, resilient, creamy head. Takes forever to retire.

Smell: Raisins and malt dominate the aroma. Faint yeast bite. Faint hints of licorice and toffee. Has that lovely Trappist Beer aroma that first hooked me into being a beer geek.

Taste: Holy sheetz. My my my. Hits the tongue like a chilled caramel latté, transforms to toffee and chocolate and malt mid palate. Mid-palate also brings out the Belgian candy sugar flavors. The finish trots out a noticable hop bitterness. Noticable alcohol texture.

Mouthfeel: Perfection. The bead is neither too large nor too small. The beer is creamy without being cloying, bubbly without being fizzy.

Drinkability: As with most of the really interesting beers, this one isn't one you can pound down one after the other. This is a sipping beer.

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Photo of Ianhockey91
4/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not my favorte beer out there, but to say its a great beer is an understatement. A nice mohogany color which light does shine through, with a tannish head, which doesnt last long but does leave a good amount of lace. Smells, well some spices, some prunes or raisins maybe, and some faint sweet citrus. A lot of malt hits the toungue right away followed by some dry fruits (maybe those prunes or raisins i smelled) with a spice/ hop subtlety at the end, paired with some alchohol. Only one word desribes the mouthfeel.... velvet, it is rich and smooth. Great beer all around, expensive but worth it.

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Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) from Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)
100 out of 100 based on 1,815 ratings.
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