Total Score: 9.4/10
Well this is it – the granddaddy of beers: Westvleteren XII. 5 years ago to the day when I joined BeerAdvocate this was the number 1 beer in the world, since then it has been overtaken by barrel-aged beers (and a whole lot of hyperbole) but this is the one I have always wanted. Now that I have it warming up to 12 Celsius on my kitchen bench I find myself reflecting back over the last 5 years and 649 beer reviews: I’ve had a great time, it has been a real pleasure to taste so many fantastic brews and I’ve quite enjoyed writing every one of the 240,000+ words on the subject, as I hope many have enjoyed reading them. Well it’s time now to see what the monks of Sint-Sixtus can do.
Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Chimay chalice.
A: Presents with a cloudy caramel brown and nice dense 2 centimetre off-white head that slowly tapers back to a still dense half centimetre blanket on top. I’ve always loved the look of a decent Quad and this one is no exception – top marks. 10/10.
S: Sweet dark fruits (plum, prune, date) with a splash of brandy and some nice bready yeast tones. It’s not quite as complex as expected, but it is nonetheless a moreish Quad aroma. 8/10.
T: Sublime flavour profile – begins with the above noted dark fruits, touch of brandy, some mid palate bread and burnt sugar notes follow through to a hint of cracked pepper and an apothecary of herb characters – it’s difficult to pick an individual herb but if I had to I would say wormwood. This is a flavour profile that commands respect (although so does the MUCH cheaper St. Bernardus Abt 12). 10/10.
M: Medium to heavy bodied with a mid to light, dense carbonation. A touch of stickiness means you get a nice Quad sheen coating your tastebuds. 10/10.
D: Was it as good as I was expecting? No. Still it is one of the greatest Quadrupels I’ve managed to lay my hands on, and I’ve had a few Quadrupels now. Compared to its brethren St. Bernardus Abt 12 and Trappistes Rochefort 10 though it’s not worth the price or trouble you go through accruing it, and I suspect if it was a bit more available that it might not be so hyped, but there you go it is and St. Bernardus Abt 12 is my Quad of choice overall. As Westy XII warmed up even more a wild cherry note became present, how complex can a beer get? This guy. 9/10.
Food match: Obvious choice is cheese made by the sisters of Abbaye de Belval which uses Westvleteren beer to refine it, and other Trappist cheeses would work well.