JoeMcPhee (9426) - Toronto, ON, Ontario, CANADA - JUL 12, 2006
Rating #2000... Another thank you to my GF for getting these for me. I’ve been staring at this bottle for six weeks, and now I’m going to drink it... profound, no? Hazy deep brown beer, orange highlights, yellow-tan head. Very lacy and sticky. Aroma of spices and mint over a massive malty aroma. Orange rind, plums and dried cherries. Beautiful rich spicy yeast with overtones of clove, cardamon and cinnamon. flavour is amazing, sweet caramel, toast, and a rye-like mintiness up front with a lingering burnt sugar toastiness toward the end. Fantastic jammy fruity flavour as well with plums, raisins, and dried cherries. Honey dipped almonds. Very warming finish. Lingering sweet toastiness and clovey phenolics. Lace sticks all over the chalice. As it warms even more malty sweetness comes to the fore. Lingering peppery flavour and herbal woodiness helps to counter all of the sweetness. Brown sugar and toffee flavours are also noticible. Luxurious palate, wheaty body. I gave the top score to the Extra 8, but this is first rate. puzzl (3258) - New York, New York, USA - JUL 10, 2006
I want to say this beer is a victim of the hype, but then I look at all the top raters and all but one give it 4.4+, so then I feel a little stupid. I try another sip, try to dig deeper, but still come up blank. Great? Sure. World Class? Absolutely. Number 1??? But I digress...sliffy (2040) - Columbus, Ohio, USA - JUL 9, 2006
For a start, let me say that this is my 500th rating, after a bit more than a year on the site; a milestone I thought I would never reach (I tend to get bored of things pretty quick), and certainly not this fast. Suddenly, 1000 seems very close.
Only 20 ratings ago, I had no idea what I would choose for the big 500. Probably one the Speedways sitting in my basement. But, lo-and-behold, my fellow ratebeerian Hopscotch started a goofy contest which held the top prize of a Westy 12. #1. The Big Numero Uno. Hyped so fiercly that mail-order shops in Belgium manage to sell it for $25+ a bottle. Yikes! After all sorts of complications at the end of the contest, my hard work paid off (and believe me, looking through hundreds of pages of pictures of half-naked hot celebs to get a positive ID is HARD WORK!). Suddenly, #500 seemed like a clear choice (though I almost caved and drank it for #492 the day I got it).
Now, on to the beer. I couldn’t have been more excited for this brew. The blank bottle and elegant cap just add to the allure. Of course... the best beer in the world is so small, odd, ridiculous, that it doesn’t even have a label! I warmed the brew with my hands for a good 10 minutes, bringing it to around I believe 50F, popped it and poured it into my brand new, virgin Gouden Carolus challice. The pour was a beautiful thick brown, with a foamy biege head and enough solid crap to form a nice beige base. First smell was pretty bland, though as it warmed, I picked up strong bread (reminds me of Dulle Teve), cherry, fig, alcohol and chocolate. The flavor is more exciting, very smooth and relaxing, distinctly bready, with late licorice, more fig... and a big alcohol burn. Most mention that they see no alcohol, but I am getting quite a kick. I guess now would be the time to mention that this bottle is supposedly only 4 months old (feb 2006), if the article about a Westy vertical on this site is to believed -- the cap is dated 15.02.09. Many have said before that this beer is strongest after years in the cellar, and this tasting has lead me to believe that. Now I just need another bottle.
So, hyped or not?? I’ll certainly throw it out there that I think your average beer taster wouldn’t at all rate this higher than Roch 10, St.B 12, if it were a blind tasting, and provided they didn’t already have the flavor profile locked in memory. Certainly, the three are distinct, but this just doesn’t have the otherworldy prowess that it’s taken on on the site. So, yes, I think this beer has been hyped out of existence. Maybe for the truely discerning palates, it offers something above and beyond pretty much anything else out there. Or maybe, by the time its 3 or more years old, it’s developed in to the beast it is rumored to be. But, for now, well, it’s just another solid beer.
That, and I think I’m going to cry, because my glass is nearly empty.
Bottle: My second go ’round with this beer. And one that I absolutely refused to rate on memory. Pours a dark brown with a bit of haze, big off white head. Aroma was yeasty, floral, and fruity. Just a bit of alcohol was noticeable. Flavor, caramel, sweet and floral, with a beutiful fruity undertone to it. The finish is softly bitter with some more fruits. And just a touch of warming as it lingers in the mouth. Medium bodied with nice lacing.
While drinking this I couldn’t stop grinning at how good this was. I had it once before about 8 months ago right as I was really getting started on this site. I loved it then. Some of the beers I had earlier on though just don’t hold up anymore, but my god does this one keep it’s spot. If I could I would sip on this stuff for every waking moment, it is just so amazingly drinkable. IPAndy (120) - minneapolis, Minnesota, USA - JUL 9, 2006
Poured with little head, murky brown. Has a spicy aroma with noticeable alcohol. I was kind of surprised by how prevalent the alcohol was in this beer. It really threw the balance off for me. Taste is good though- much more german hefe tasting than other belgians in that I detected clove spice and a bit of banana. Also plum/raisin and apple. Quite sweet, but spicy hop finish balances that nicely. I’m glad that my friend was able to get one of these while studying in France. kepano (278) - Los Angeles, California, USA - JUL 8, 2006
UPDATED: OCT 24, 2008 There’s nothing supernatural about beer. You might say the monks of St. Sixtus harbor a metaphysical relationship through this beer, yet in itself it is but the sum of a very tangible - though nonetheless complex - brewing process. I suppose that may seem obvious, but I only fully understood the implications after drinking the Westvleteren 12. In some way I have always believed that one day I would drink a beer that couldn’t be described in comparative terms, a beer that in the words of Hegel would aufheben. The reverie can never be utterly anulled, but certainly dimmed as it has by the disillusion of drinking such a strong candidate. Don’t get me wrong, the Westvleteren Abt is an exceptional brew, but the fact that I can pinpoint its shifting nuances with precision leaves me with a sense of control that could not exist in my utopian nectar.
tjthresh (1873) - Greenfield, Indiana, USA - JUL 7, 2006
Westvleteren is no epigone and their Abt warrants careful scrutiny, beginning with its beautiful black velvet robe that radiates a clear crimson hue in the light. The praline pillow-like head evolves gracefully and slips through the lips with a delicate creamy touch. Wondrous scents of banana and dark sugars are immediately apparent. Rich caramel and molasses develop and with each sniff appears a refining shade: chocolate, coffee, fig, plum, red wine, licorice. The complexity is ever increasing and builds a rustic profile highlighted by hints of dust, soil, wood and apple that evolve with warming to reveal buttery raspberries, cinnamon, honey and progressively sweeter and fruitier tonalities. The first sip is equally enticing and coats the tongue in a slightly burnt chocolate bitterness that slowly unveils a sweet pear flavor, not unlike a bite of Poire Belle-Hélène. A soupçon of black pepper enhances the nutty coffee and dark malts which gradually smoothen to reveal raisins and cherries. The finish is surprisingly hoppy, far more than most Belgian brewers allow, but this touch is not unwelcome and adds a certain identity to an almost excessively well balanced beer. My specimen was just a few weeks old, but I’ll be aging the rest of my bottles to observe this beer’s evolution. Perhaps its maturation will yield what I so deeply pursue.
Re-rate: As my bottles age I am beginning to understand the mystique behind Westvleteren’s Abt. Between three and five years of age this is a beer that truly radiates perfection. I had to increase my rating.
UPDATED: JUN 5, 2007 So I’m on vacation over the 4th of July, and I finally got a chance to stop by my pal’s place. My pal just happens to be BBB63. We had a couple of beers then Mike says something like, "I think its time for number one." At first, I had know idea what the hell he was talking about. Well, I finally figured it out, I shat myself, that we opened it up. Boy what a great beer. Poured with no head. Looks like brandy. Actually even has some signs of legs. Toffee and brandy aromas. Alcohol. Fruity and estery. The flavor left me speechless. Man, what a flavor. Raisin, cherry, gosh. Any description I could conjure up would not do this beer justice. How can the monks be so selfish. decaturstevo (6244) - decatur, Tennessee, USA - JUL 6, 2006
Thanks to kp again for the opportunity to sample this beer. My pour was close to the bottom and was a slightly hazy brown pour. An aroma of fruit but lighter yeast than I expected. I couldn’t detect alcohol in the aroma. A flavor of frruit that sorta changes the longer youi wait. After you drink it down the flavor still continues to change in your mouth. I couild taste the alcohol in the finish a little. As I’ve said before I like that. A most excellent beer. nolankowal (938) - Columbus, Ohio, USA - JUL 4, 2006
Bottle provided by xproudfoot, many thanks again Chris! Pours a rusty-brown color with a somewhat fizzy light tan head that dissapates to a nice film over the top. Aroma of raisin, alcohol, bread perhaps a bit of banana. The flovor get a good deal of the raisin, alchohol, clove, and perhaps some cherry, chocolate. It’s very dark and boozey, like a refined dessert where the sweetness is limited and balanced. It still has a nice light fruity quality over the tounge with a good punch of booze in the middle with a fairly sweet finish. Despite its large amount of carbonation, it is still quite smooth throughout the whole experience. It may not have the biggest flavors or original flavors, I think this one is all about balance and just making one damn fine beer. thebaldwizard (1207) - Ohio, USA - JUL 3, 2006
UPDATED: FEB 3, 2007 "I was a little let down after all the build up and the difficulty in obtaining this beer. The Westy 12 poured a very nice dark brown color with a minimal head. The aroma was of dark fruits and herbs. The mouthfeel is spot on and definitely the best part of the beer. The tastes were dark and interesting. I got a good bite when it first hit my mouth that gave way to a very strong herbal taste(almost tobacco). The finish was sweeter and smooth. It had some of that herbal aftertaste as well. I thought this was a great belgian, but I honestly would prefer St. Bernardus 12 or Rochefort 8. " biggcb (464) - Harleysville, Pennsylvania, USA - JUL 3, 2006
Bottle. This completes my Westvleteren threesome. This is also my 200th rating. Again, poured ever so gently into my new Westy glass. Color is a very dark and opaque brown. Thin tan head. Aroma is malty with a bit of fruity sweetness (dark fruits & grapes). Flavor consists mostly of maslt, fruits, maybe a little vanilla and some alcohol. Very nice mouthfeel. Very rich. Complex, but perhaps not to the degree I had expected. I may be scoffed at, but I liked the 8 better. I am very happy I was able to finally try this one, but given the insane price I paid for it, I do not see me trying this one again anytime soon.