Review #25 Westvleteran 12 94/100
I first sampled the Westvleteran range back in 2014 on a trip to Brugge and fortunately managed to take a few bottles of the 12 back to England with me. Over time I drank a few but saved one which I have cracked open tonight. Hopefully the extra two years in the bottle has done it good. Like a lot of beer enthusiasts, the Westy 12 was the holy grail for me, I thought it would ruin beer for me, but it didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I was hugely impressed, but had built it up too much. There are better beers out there and with widespread availability. Anyway, let’s get to it…
Out of the bottle and into the glass the Westvleteran 12 pours a viscous, crude oil like liquid, with lacing so intense it temporarily seems to stain the glass, with an off-white, cola like head emerging from the tar below. My aged bottle seemed to have lost a bit of its carbonation as the head didn’t hang around too long.
On the nose we’ve got plenty of seriously bold aromas – coal tar, charcoal, star anise, burnt sugar, barbecued meat, liquor laced oak. With the bold aromas subsiding, letting though some delicate notes of fresh pine and herbs.
On the palate it’s hugely complex, plum brandy, overripe bananas, tinned peaches, rich cacao, coffee, raisins, pine nuts, almonds, chai, molasses, leather, tobacco, dates, old navy rum, an array of ester like flavours with a slight mustiness. Some of the flavours that come out of this beer remind me of a luxuriously, rich and sweet baklava. Finishing up with a slight hop bitterness, very aromatic with a wisp of eucalyptus.
Great beer, if I could get my hands on a crate I would do so in an instant, however, don’t get too hung up on it. If you want the Westvleteran Experience, go get yourself a St Bernardus Abt 12. In my opinion, it is almost the same thing.