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

1,806 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: 1,806 | Ratings: 6,043
Photo of HumuloneRed
4.7/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a dark crimson in color with a great off white head and silky lacing.

Bread dough, tobacco, leather and prune in the nose.

Tobacco, cookie dough, plum, leather, and raisin in the flavor.

Very complex, creamy texture and finish.
Very well made beer.

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

Poured a beautiful deep rich brown with a huge white slightly tan head that just does not want to recede. Smells of sharp hops. First taste is unbelievably smooth, balanced, hoppy, and slightly bitter. Did the Monks who brewed this take a vow of celibacy? I'm glad they did. The 10.2% ABV is very well hidden. This puppy lives up to its hype.

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Photo of DrDogbeer
4.35/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally! Sampled this fine beer with a friend last night. Poured into my chimay goblet. Poured a hazy brownish with red hues. Light cream colored head with good retention. Looks a bit murky. Smells are tough to describe. I get bready, yeasty, musty. Not old musty, but almost stale. Aromas get better as beer warms. Taste is wow! This is really 12%? I get a nice malty kidk right off the bat with tons of different flavors around my mouth. i swear I feel taste buds going crazy on the roof of my mouth even! Vanilla, clove, bready flavors are abundant. I want to savor this beer, but it really is too good and too easy to drink. Good thing I have 3 more!

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Photo of SurlyDuff
4.82/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Two glorius bottles from my good chum in England.

One I am reviewing now, the other I will cellar for as long as I can hold out resisting.

Pulled out of the fridge 10 minutes ago. Poured into matching Westvleteren goblet.

Silky smooth beige head that falls to a whispy lacing. Dark brown in color, with the faintest highlights through the light murk.

Tea in the nose at first. It's still a tad cooler in temperature than I would prefer it, but not bad. Honey and aromatic lemon and floral notes.

Smooth! One of the most interesting textures in a beer that i've had. A coating of carbonation hits the tounge, and rolls around the mouth, opening up my tastebuds for the flavors to follow. Alcohol soaked raisins, figs, barley, and yeast in the opening. THen a spicy honey caramel finsish. It leaves a dry, yet sticky taste in the mouth. A real treat.

The mouthfeel, as smooth as it is, makes this one incredibly drinkable. I've been sipping at this my whole review and as it warms up, it gains complexity and depth.

I wouldn't put this one necessarily above some other trappist beers that I've had, but the accessibility makes this the rare treat. The mere fact that the quanities and availability are limited, makes me not at all surprised this is 'the' BA favorite.

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Photo of TheBCrew
4.2/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz. bottle "Belgian-poured" into a tulip glass by the very knowledgeable bartender. Murky, brown appearance with a thick tan head that dissipates slowly leaving lacing. Aroma of dates, prunes, caramel and malts. Very complex flavor including hints of prunes, brown sugar, hazelnut and malt. Finishes slightly sweet. Served at room temperature, it could have used to been cooled slightly (the bottle indicated 54-58 degrees F). Heavy mouthfeel, meant for sipping. Good drinkability regardless, but at $12 a bottle it is unlikely that I'll be getting this very often. I would echo the sentiments that this is not the "Best Beer in the World" but that is quite an expectation to live up to.

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Photo of Squelch
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this as a valentines day present from my wife. I need to preface my review by stating that I really do not like doubles and trippels, however, I had to try this one due to its reviews on this site. I don't know the vintage of the bottle I have.

Appearance: Pours cloudy amber brownish with a huge long lasting tan head.

Smell: Smells of malts and caramel. No hop aroma

Taste: Tastes almost wineish. I taste cherry flavors as well as some roasted or caramel flavors which I have not tasted before. Acoholic flavors also present in the finish

Mouthfeel: Very heavy beer. Alcoholic in the back of the throat. Pleasant on the palate.

Drinkability: Drinkable beer, moreso than other strong belgium beers I have tried. Great beer but it is not the "Best in the world"

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Photo of BoitSansSoif
4.67/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had the honor of sampling this popular item the other night as I was guided through my first beer brewing experience by a very generous friend who shared his last bottle of this liquid gold. Poured a rich chestnut-brown w/ruby-amber edges where light permeated through. Head thin and light beige. The aroma was complex, but dominated by chocolate character and various toasted malts, with lighter scents of a bouquet of spices and light herbs, light esters, and warming alcohol. The taste was exceptional--chocolate malt, molasses and candy sugar, an exotic blend of rich spices, and a strong finish of cocoa and alcohol rounded out by bitter hops. There was also an inexplicable bite at the back of the midpalate that was actually quite pleasant, but I don't know what it was. Very light carbonation, rich body that consistently delivers throughout the palate, and harmonious balance between a very dry texture and the sweet and spice flavors forge a powerful result.

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Photo of grandq
4.58/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Popping the top as my beerthday present to me. Pours a deep dark hazy bubbly brown, the color of honey fresh from a comb around the edges. The initial smell is...beer - fairly straightforward malty, slightly musty scent with a couple bolder notes of clove and cinamon around backing up the basics. The fairly simple nose belies the rich, complex flavors that greet the tongue. A fairly neutral, caramel malt starts things off, then the taste gets big. I can't even begin to chart the unfolding of the various flavors that appear, but its big on deep red, not overly sweet bing cherries, dark but not terribly bitter chocolate, crisp but not too bright macintosh apples, along with some prickly pear, clove, cinamon, raisin, course ground white pepper... and on and on. Balance is the key word here. Roling this around on the tongue, I'm faintly picking up the mineral bitterness I'd noticed and somewhat faulted in the Westy 8, but here its quite well hidden. And so is the alcohol, which adds some depth to the flavors but sneaks in like ninja. I suppose silent like a monk would be more apropos, but ninja sounds more dramatic, and like the alcohol content, ass kicking.

The mouthfeel is thick and chewy yet still pretty heavily carbonated, keeping things paradoxically light. My tounge's feeling a little dry after a bit, but I'll man up and soldier on, poor me. For a quad, holy crap this is quaffable. Just wonderfully balanced and subtly flavorful.

Is this a world class beer? Absolutely. Is it the best thing I've ever tasted? I certainly enjoyed it a great deal, but I'm afraid the answer is no, there are other things more pleasing to my palate. But who cares about the hype, it's a lovely drink and I'm pleased as punch, or I guess pleased as really good beer, to be drinking it. Thanks to pimpp for the inadvertent birthday present

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

Picked up four bottles from JonPol the AJ's beer guy in early February 2008 for $20/bottle. Happy birthday to me! The yellow cap date is 18.12.10.

Been saving this up for the right time so with this being a blustury 60 degree day in Phoenix I figured to need a warmer upper :)

Beer poured a burgundy color with a tan long lasting one finger head. Nose is wonderful, of bananas, dark fruits, and chocolate. Taste is what i was anticipating, perfection! Started with sweet malts accentuated by bananas, blended with a hint of cherry chocolate, finishing with a perfectly blended dry hop. Mouthfeel is perfect as well. The medium bodied brew glided seemlessly from the front to the back of my tounge. Drinkability is perfect as well. There is not a trace of alcohol that is noticeable from start to finish. I had to admit I was a bit skeptical coming in but in the end I have to say this is the best beer I have had to date!

Sampling same batch as of 2-27-10(#3 of 4): Nose is complex as it was two years ago - bananas, dark fruits dominate. Taste is more wine like, detecting less of the banana yeast notes and getting more hints of red wine and hints of chocolate. It is sweeter but definitely not cloying. The mouthfeel is still velvety smooth and still perfectly drinkable - no alcohol detected.

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

After taking a break from reviewing beers, I figured I'd get back on board with one of the "Crown Jewels" of this site. This was my reward after a 20 mile training run for my next marathon. The beer was sampled In De Vrede across the road from the Sint-Sixtusabdij...

Appearance: Brown in color, about a half inch off-white head that does dissipate relatively quickly, but leaves an impeccable lace on the glass. Ruby tones are brought out by the light.

Aroma: Very sweet smell, hints of caramel and the spiciness of the yeast. Alcohol comes through a bit, its volatility serves to bring out even more aromas (toffee, cherries, and slight smoke).

Flavor & Mouthfeel: Body is lighter than I've experienced for a quad (and that's a very good thing) and more bitter than typical of Belgians in general. Bitterness balances the malt and sweet caramel tastes. Again, cherries come through a bit in the taste, as well as a smoky, burnt toffee character.

Drinkability: For its strength (10.2%), it is remarkably drinkable, I could have sat there the rest of the day and had glass after glass to replenish lost calories from the run.

If you see this available where you are, grab it without hesitation. I recommend going to Belgium, though and experiencing it in its homeland (plus there's about 1000 other breweries to try beers from over there).

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

Slender brown bottle, no label, date printed on cap.

a: A murky chestnut body, big off-white head, superior retention. Body turns ruby when held to the light.

s: Hard for me to nail down the aromas. I get notes of fruit, yeast, malt and alcohol. A bit musky. A vague description I know, but its the best I can do. It smells like a delicious quad.

t: Like Shrek, this beer has many layers. A very complex flavor profile. I can taste licorice, caramel malt, nuttiness, raisins, funky belgian yeast, alcohol, feel like I could go on and on with noticeable flavors, but I won't. Terrific balance. This beer is packed with nearly limitless flavors. The variety is mind-numbing. Every sip I take, I want to take another sip to decipher the flavor I had just detected. Had to stop myself and slow down. I'm picking up some molasses now. Cherries too?

m: Very dry. Leaves a slight puckering bitterness in the tongue. An affect of the yeast? The carbonation and body suit the beer perfectly.

d: I am convinced I could drink a case of this beer and notice something new with each bottle. A joy to drink. I am not the biggest quad guy, more a function of income than preference. But despite my naivete, I can't help but notice the excellence of this brew. Never have I had the pleasure of a beer with half as much complexity. This beer receives a lot of love on this site. This review will not alter that trend. It is a tremendous offering, the definition of what a quad should be. Oh yeah and at 10.2% it sure goes down easy.

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

Pours a deep chestnut brown with plenty of tan yeast chunks. Off white head is slight and dissipates rather quickly.

Aroma is an amazing array of sweet malt and alcohol soaked dark and citrus fruit.

Taste is sweet caramel malt, and toffee up front. Generous fruit character - especially tangerine. Finish is mildy bitter with chocolate and an earthy, nutty character. A very mild yeast aspect.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Full and round.

Flavor is rich, and so smooth and unified. Alcohol is almost completely concealed. A wonderfully tasty treat.

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

Poured a deep dark brown with lots of carbonation bubbles sticking up and down the glass. A light bit of tan head quickly was gone.

Smell was full and sweet with a subtle fruits, sweet malts, and a funky spicy yeast quality all coming through.

Flavor is sweet and light with a great mixture of fruity notes, spices, and a lightly citrusy and minty bit of hops bringing it into perfect balance.

Mouthfeel is silky and creamy with a nice bit of heat and good carbonation.

Overall this is an outstanding beer, I have drank it on several occasions with some other world class beers to compare it to. I have a tough time saying its the best beer I have ever had, but have just as difficult time saying it isn't. I think it deserves a perfect score, I can't imagine a single thing here you could improve on.

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

Jcone17 and I traded (big props to user: BobMexico) for two Westy 12's and two Westy 8's. The Westy 12 being the better of the two. Review:

A - poured into a goblet and I gave it some air as to produce a nice thick head, about an inch thick. The head was foamy and the color was that of sand. The head dissipated some but stuck around for the duration, with very slight lacing. The beer is dark and cloudy and has a chocolaty look to it.

S - the smell was confusing, ranging from bitter fruits (raisins) to mild fruits (banana) to chocolate to yeast. Although, I was more anxious to drink this beer rather than concentrate on the smell, but to the best of my recollection, those were the smells I remember.

T - similar to the smell, the taste is hard to pinpoint. It's very robust and complex and hides its alcohol extremely well. I know it's sort of redundant, but the initial taste is similar to that of a St. Bernardus .Abt 12, although the Westy 12 masks its alcohol much better and has a broader range of flavors. Not to mislead though, the Westvleteren 12 easily surpasses the St. Berny in flavor. To date, I have not tasted a better beer.

M - the beer is very smooth with a slight dry finish. Again, the most similar comparison is the St. Berny 12, although the Berny has more carbonation feel to it, where as the Westy replaces that with more of an oily feel. It has a perfect brief aftertaste, leaving me wanting more. "The Holy Grail" of beer? Nah, more like "The crack cocaine of beer", I just kept wanting more...

D - I could go on and on about this beer. I had really high expectations for it (how could you not?), and it completely delivered. To my surprise, it exceeded my expectations. Suffice to say, I will constantly be looking to get my hands on more of these...

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

Poured from the traditional labless bottle to a Trappist Westvleteren goblet that was shipped with my 6 pack.

Apperance - beautiful white lacing, dark brown in color

Smell - great nose, a little fruity, and bread like

Taste - Amazing combination of sweet malts, some breadiness, and a little bit of fruit at the finish

This is the best beer I have ever had hands down. It lived up to it's reputation as world's greatest. I have a few more cellared, but will save them until a special occasion. It was truly an honor to drink this beer!

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Photo of Deuane
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After drinking quite a few Westy 12's I finally sat down with one and gave it a serious going over!

A-Deep copper with lots of effervesance. A thick fluffy light tan never reducing head. Copious Lacing.

S-Initial sour notes of green apple, cherries, prune and chocolate. Very complex and difficult to figure out.

T-Lightly sour cherry chocolate notes with lots of dark fruit undetones. A very pleasant drying finish. Again, very complex and difficult to figure out.

M-Medium body with again that dryness.

D-A true brain teaser of a beer...will challange the most adept beer taster. Not my ideal beer but it is SO flavourful and interesting that alone makes it very good.

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Photo of HotHabanero
4.63/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Nice white stabile head. Dark brown colour. Lower carbonation. Aromas of fruits (cherry), buttery malts. Very sweet smelling overall. Flavours of sweet bread, smooth malts, dried fruits (raisins) and roasted elements all perfectly balanced. Full bodied with an oily texture. Finished crisp, with some bitterness and sweetness in the aftertaste. Highly recommended and exceptionally enjoyable.

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Photo of bgramer
4.77/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Many, many thanks to Barefootbrewer for the trade!

I had high expectations for this "holy grail" of beers and once I received this, I put it away and tried to think of when would be the perfect time to drink it. After a combination of my own impatience and some pestering from a couple friends, I decided to put the expectations and hype to the test.

I poured this into a Chimay goblet glass.

The appearance was a brown color with a powerful but thin tan head about one finger thick slowly dissipating to a frothy skim top. It was well carbonated but not overpowering and seemed to settle down after sitting for a while.

I smelled fruits, raisins, spiciness, and sweetness such as caramel and chocolate, and dare I say, nuts of some kind. The mouthfeel was malty and creamy, a bit smoother and not as thick as St Bernardus Abt 12 but that's a good different thing. There seemed to be a slightly dry bitter finish at the very end of each sip. Complexity at it's finest!

Really a solid wonderful beer, and it didn't disappoint.

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Photo of 51mmz0rz
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle date 26.05.10, poured into a 25cl Chimay chalice. Thanks to my good friend Jan for the bottle.

A: Dark redish brown and cloudy with a beautiful pillowy off white head. The head stays for a very long time (in fact it's torture because I'm waiting to drink it) There is excellent lacing as well.

S: Amazingly powerful aroma, I can smell it without putting my nose over the top. Smells almost like an aged spirit, deep complex aroma. Spicyness, and some dark sweetness as is typical of the style. It makes my mouth water.

T: I take my first sip...it just keeps on coming...the complexity of this beer is outstanding. Spice, malt sweetness, balancing bitterness, Dark fruits hit you at the end. Taking a sip is a long experience, and great each time.

M: The mouthfeel is creamy and huge. One of the best feeling beers I have ever had.

D: I can't think of a time when I would not want to keep drinking this.

This beer stood up to the hype. I'm a fan of the style and this is the holy grail. Now i know it is with good reason.

I tasted this together with St. Bernardus abt 12, and though similar, it beat it hands down.

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Photo of Lothore
4.54/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-Pours a deep, cloudy violet color with little to no head, perhaps because the pour wasn't very aggresive.

S- Smell is amazing. Deep dark fruits, raisins, hints of plum, with a deep yeasty earthiness that is hard to describe. boozy.

T- Taste is extremely balanced and minimal yet overflowing with complexity. Starts off just as in the nose with deep dark fruits, moves into a bit of an acidic bite which mingles with a hop bitterness joined with a spicy flavor. There is a deep breadiness all the way through and booziness at the end which tops it off perfectly.

M- Thick, low on carbonation and fairly dry. Lingers on the palate for a while.

D- I wanted to dislike this beer, I really really did. I told myself I would rate it like any other and try to play down the hype but it just didn't work. The only way I can describe how good this one goes down is the spicy, warming sharpness of the finish of a good big red wine. Because of the price I won't actively seek this one out again but if i'm ever in europe and I see one you can bet that's what i'll be drinking. I usually dislike quads but this one seemed so laid back, it was a delight.

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Photo of Dansting
4.68/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle. Pours a cloudy purplish-brown color with a thick, almond head. Strong lacing. Aroma is fruity (raisins, perhaps) with a nice bit of the Belgian yeast to it. Mouthfeel is smooth and full. Flavor is very complex. It's hard to put a finger on it. There's some caramel, apricot, alcohol, and some toffee to it. Maybe not the best beer I've ever had, but it's right up there.

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Photo of athensbeermaster
4.72/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've been blessed to finally get to try this mythical holy beer! The head was small but had a silky shiny finish to it. Very small bubbles with light lacing at the very top of the glass.
The nose was full of dark fruits like plums,raisins,dates,and a hint of anise.
The taste has so much going on you have to step back and think what is coming at you. Big silky dark malts with soft dark fruits of raisins and plums and caramelized sugar. The mouthfeel is the best I ever had experience in a beer. So silky smooth you don't notice the high abv. except for the warming sensation. The drinkability is good has you can get for 10.2%.
I think it is hard to give a beer a 5 on this when you could only handle drinking one or two at a time in one night. This is for sure the best quadrupel ever! But My heart still remains a hophead. I thank the beer gods for this chance to try this outstanding brew. And thanks to Zack for sharing this beer with me!

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Photo of rye726
4.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Rich burgundy brown color with a very nice tan head. Silky with good lace and excellent longevity.

Complex blend of dark fruits, candy, bready malts, cocoa, floral hops and spicy yeast.

Wow, this is some good stuff. Everything in the nose and more. Buttery malts, dark dried fruits, chocolate, caramel, toffee and Belgian yeast with earthy hops.

Thick and silky, but very drinkable. Perfect carbonation. This is a fantastic example of the style and one of the best beers made.

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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 pwoods
4.58/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz. brown bottle, yellow cap - no label, poured into a snifter. Best before 4.12.10

A: Pours a deep burgundy with zero visibility. Just over 1 finger of light toffee head forms and holds nicely. Bit chunks of lacing to start, then decent patching.

S: Very similar to the 8 but more intense and with a phenolic line. Very clean smelling caramel malts and plenty of boozy dark fruits.

T/M: I'm really diggin' the alcohol in this. Normally I only like an alcohol warming in my beer... when I want something stronger I'll pour some single malt. Not the case here. The alcohol adds such an amazing complexity to everything. The dark fruits pop so much better. The caramel malts are still as great as ever but with an 'adult theme' haha. The mouthfeel is just as perfect as the 8.

D: I don't typically like Belgians too much but the 8 and 12 are definitely worthy. I won't call this my favorite beer but I'd never argue with someone for saying it's theirs.

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Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) from Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)
100 out of 100 based on 1,806 ratings.
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