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Jan 27, 2010 08:40 AM

Westvleteren 12

I'm trying to find out is this really worth the effort. Westy is consistantly considered the best beer possibly in the world. What I want to know is, is it because of the exclusivity and how it is near impossible for us commoners to get it, or is it really that good. My guess is that if it was available in bars/distributors across the country, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, it may be good, but not quite the holy grail. There was a time when Coors wasn't readily available and that was something people thought they must have. Anyway....I'd love to have some, but that will probably never happen. Has anyone every had this magical stuff, and is it really that good? (Oh and if there is a way to get it, let me know!)

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  1. why do you think you never get to drink it? a lot of people get it by trading. the hardest beers to get are probably different versions of Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter.

    yeah it's good but so is Rochefort, and St. Bernadus etc ect. you must drink it once if you can find it. i drink it all the time as i have access to it and yes it's still nice every time. but Närke is my favourite though.

    1. First off I forgive you for comparing Westy 12 to Coors... :D I get the point you were trying to make even if it did give me the willies there for a minute.

      Secondly, is it worth the hype? Not sure. It sure gets a LOT of freaking hype. Is it the best beer Ive ever tasted? Yes. Is it worth paying $60 for a six pack just to try it? Probably. I did and I found it stunningly good. And I too was dubious and skeptical and ready to write it off to over hyped under supplied sillyness. But it amazed me in that I wasnt able to ascertain a single flaw in the beverage. I would put it a step above St. Bernadus or Rochefort and I love those as well. Not head and shoulders above but definitely in first place.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Insidious Rex

        To the OP-
        There is a good point in there about ordering more than one bottle. If you can get a sixer for $60 I'd definitely say to go for it. Anyway, I think that with trying something this highly hyped your first experience with it will be most likely be slanted by that anticipation one way or the other. At least if you have a few in reserve you can always revisit it to get a better feel for it on its own terms.

        As to the beer- it's damned good, top level stuff, as complex as it is smooth and easy to drink, and worth a bit of effort even if you only do it once.

        1. re: Insidious Rex

          If you can get $60 six packs of Westy 12, I'll give you $90 for them. :-)

          1. re: LStaff

            You used to be able to go on the Belgian (or maybe the Dutch) version of ebay and find relative deals on those beers compared to the regular ebay listings. I took a quick look today and I dont see them anymore. The last time I bought some Westy was about a year and a half ago so this may reflect further jump in demand unfortunately...

            I really want to try the Six and the Eight as well which Ive never had. But I figure I may as well save up for a trip to Belgium to experience it fresh and from the source rather than eating up my savings buying bottles of the stuff at ridiculous prices. Do they still offer the Abbey Beer Trail vacation tours?

            1. re: Insidious Rex

              The 6 and 8 are good, but not in the same league as the 12. I wouldn't go to any great lengths for either of those two, honestly.

              1. re: Josh

                Um, completey different beer styles between the 6 and 12 - imo can't be compared - its a matter of subjectivity to which style you prefer. Those hoppyish golden belgian ales (pre american IPA influence) are my favorite type of belgian beer.

                Fresh, the 6 blew me away - not so fresh - eh.

                1. re: LStaff

                  By "the 6" I assume you're referring to what Westvleteren actually calls the "blond" (spelled on both Westvleteren's website and the green bottle caps themselves without the e at the end). They used to make a 6 (with a red cap) which was a somewhat different beer than the current blond but they no longer produce it.

                  As for drinking the blond, yes indeed it's best to drink it fresh. I found it very enjoyable while overseas, but brought some back home to the US with me and sat on it longer than I expected. When I finally got around to drinking it, the beer had changed quite a bit and wasn't nearly as enjoyable.

                  1. re: Whisper

                    wunderbar! did you actually get to drink it? my own red cap

                  2. re: LStaff

                    I wasn't comparing the two to each other, except in the sense that as golden ales went I didn't think the 6 was radically superior to others I'd had.

          2. It's absolutely worth the money and effort. It is a stunning and flawless beer. I had it in a tasting alongside all the other trappist beers, and it clearly stood out.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Josh

              One thing to keep in mind is that (I'm assuming you are located in North America) most likely you won't know how the beer has been handled and stored before it gets to you. I've been fortunate enough to enjoy Westvleteren everywhere from In De Vrede (across the street from the abbey) to Kulminator in Antwerp where I had some aged bottles, to places in Amsterdam, to bottles I purchased and brought back home in my luggage.

              The ones I found most enjoyable were the ones I had in Europe, while the ones I've had so far which I brought back myself just weren't quite the same, and I have been very careful storing them. So again, the Westvleteren you may be tasting might not be quite the same experience as if you had it overseas.

              Aside from that, I'll say this: I'm no beer expert but I have had the pleasure of sampling hundreds of beers of many different styles both here in America and in a number of countries in Europe. Both Westvleteren beers are at the top of my list as "best" I've ever had. By "best' I mean they were the most enjoyable. Yes, the Rochefort 10 and St Bernardus Abt 12 are similar to the Westvleteren 12. However in my opinion while they are excellent beers there IS a difference between them and the Westvleteren. I have even done back to back tastings and every time the Westvleteren comes out on top (although I actually prefer the Westvleteren 8 slightly over the 12). The taste in the Westvleterens seems more complex, especially as it warms, and integrates the alcohol better. It also has the most silky mouthfeel I've ever noticed in a beer. Like liquid velvet.

              So while I love the Westvleteren beers would I pay the crazy prices people ask on ebay etc? Maybe once if I'd never had it before, but on a regular basis no. The Rochefort and St Bernardus offerings are excellent beers, usually not too difficult to find here in America, and at a fraction of the price you'd have to pay for a Westvleteren. If you ever go to Belgium however, do yourself a favor and make a trip to the abbey. It's in a beautiful area out in the middle of nowhere and you can buy the beer at a reasonable price.

              1. re: Whisper

                Aged Westy 12 is quite interesting, but I prefer them fresh. The blonde is really good fresh too - I would rather drink this on the regular if it was available, but the 12 gets all the attention from beer geeks.

                1. re: Whisper

                  I wouldn't buy Westy 12 on eBay. I had it at a pub where the owner and a travel agent jointly organize trips to Belgium to tour breweries. Westvleteren makes 3 beers, incidentally.

              2. Funny story about Westvletern husband (then fiance) had a bottle (procured through a trade) of this in the fridge amongst his homebrews (none of which, of course, had labels or marked bottles, etc). Normally I don't open or serve anything unless it has been specified for "anytime" drinkability. But a friend of his stopped by, and as he wasn't yet home from work, I served a beer, and unwittingly served the Westyletern 12. Now, the friend, who is also into beer, complimented it as a good home brew, but didn't rave and jump up and down about how amazing it was and how my husband was sure to go onto fame and glory for his mad brewing skills.

                Suffice to say, hubby was devastated and upset, and shocked and amazed that his friend really thought he could brew something that good. He was pretty angry at me, and pointed out that the bottle had a cap with writing on it (which it did) and it was an embossed bottle, which he doesn't put homebrew in. Tiny details I very easily overlooked, obviously. But, he admitted to me, of course, that something that special and rare should have been clearly marked not
                -for-drinking or have been placed elsewhere. He was so upset he went on the beeradvocate boards and told the story, hoping for some sympathy...and many offered it, but there were also comments like"Man, my wife knows better than to serve yadda yadda"...or, "So have you called off the wedding yet?" and I believe even some references to physical violence. I was pretty appalled. It's just beer, people! And I was super sorry, as it was.

                Someone on the boards who had ready access to it felt sorry for him and sent him two bottles, so he still got his bottle. And we have much clearer communication now about what is available for drinking and what isn't. We can laugh about it now. The best beer in the world? Humph. Personally, I prefer some of his homebrew because I see what goes into it!

                13 Replies
                1. re: EmilyE

                  Funny story EmilyE
                  I agree with the comments about Westy 12. I paid $100 for 6 and wouldn't do that again but I didn't regret doing it once. One of my big thrills was surprising a few friends with bottles. You should see the look on a beer lover's face when you hand them a Westy 12 and say "enjoy!"
                  I had two, let my wife have one and gave three away.

                  1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                    I think it's important to keep in mind how the beer may have been handled. A mishandled Westy 12 may be underwhelming, but a properly cared-for bottle should be outstanding.

                    1. re: Josh

                      I guess my issue is, not the price, I'd be willing to pay it (at least once), but rather that I'm getting the real product, in the correct condition. If anyone knows a rather reliable place to get it, let me know. I love ebay, but am very leary of ordering something like this from there.

                      1. re: DapperDave

                        I've heard good things about this resource, but can't vouch for it personally:

                        1. re: Josh

                          Thanks for the tip...I did find this palce when looking online. It is so hard for me to feel confident I'm getting the product stored and handled the way it was meant to be when it has traveled so far....

                          1. re: Josh

                            Has ANYONE used this source? Prices are ridiculous, but if the beer is handled correctly, then i can rationalize it as a one time purchase just to see what all the fuss is about. Please share any experiences with any source for Westy. Thanks!

                            1. re: wagoneer79

                              I ordered from these guys in April 2003 when the price for the Westvleteren 12 was $5.80/bottle with an 8 bottle max. I thought it was a lot of money but definitely worth it. I see the price today is $35/bottle with a 6 bottle max. Note that the international shipping will probably set you back an additional $50.

                              I'd also like to add that this beer should be served and stored at cellar temperatures (45F-50F), and *NOT* in the fridge. Emily's husband's friend was probably unable to appreciate the complex flavors and aromas at such a cold serving temperature.

                              Is it worth it today? Well, if you consider that people are paying in excess of ten thousand dollars today for some of the best wines in the world, by comparison we are extremely lucky that the best beer in the world is attainable for a tiny fraction of that price.

                              I'd recommend you go get a bottle or two each of Rochefort 10 and St. Bernardus 12 and try them. If you don't think those are really great beers, you would only be wasting money ordering some Westvleteren 12's.

                              1. re: mrgeocool

                                I've had the St. Bernardus 12, and found it to be exceptional. Haven't had the Rochefort as of yet.

                                1. re: DapperDave

                                  Well, then, I think you'll agree that the Westvleteren 12 is even better if you go for it. For me, I'm just trying to learn how to brew it myself.

                      2. re: californiabeerandpizza

                        just found picture of my receipt the other day. eur.10.50 for a six pack. and back then one could show up at the source any time and buy as many.

                      3. re: EmilyE

                        Wow... thats almost as horrifying a story as my friends teenage son and his buddies getting into his Scotch collection when they were drunk including a 32 year old Scottish number he valued at $700. Id have been hard pressed not to strangle someone in either case... You are fortunate that your husband was so understanding about it. And hey now you know what you can get him as an anniversary present. ;)

                        1. re: EmilyE

                          >something that special and rare should have been clearly marked not

                          What are you supposed to do, just stare at it? ;-)

                          1. re: LStaff

                            I spent a week in Belgium LY. Westy 12 and Rochefort 10 were by far my favorite beers. Westy is my favorite one..ever to be honest.....the flavor notes are amazing for a beer... It was around 7 euros a bottle in stores in Brussels and Brugge.....but I bought about 8 if that tells you something...and I am by no means rich....

                            money is all relative...I am sure we all drop $40 on dumber things then the worlds best beer

                        2. Hey!

                          I enjoyed having one of these W12 for $34.95 in Toronto, but would reserve future purchases for when I travel. Least I can say I really like the one I tried.

                          Is St Bernardus just as good, well it is a different beer. The 2010 St. Bernie does not taste as good to me as the excellent 2005 St. Bernie. Is Rochefort 10 just as good, same story - batches are slightly different, but I'd say the R10 is probably better overall & a little more 'rustic' like the W12, in a way the SB12 is not. A case or Rochefort 10 - while still SIGHTLY hard to pin down at times - is still an affordable luxury & much more worthwhile in North America that chasing down Westy 12 in quantity.

                          In fact I may just order a case of R10 considering my own advice!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: JonasOftoronto

                            Ya, I just paid a ton of money to have a Westy 12 shipped by Struise Yeast Store. It surprisingly made it to Toronto in just over a week without any state interference. I'll see how it compares to other quads, but I really just paid the premium to get to try it once. I have a dozen of the 2010 St. Bernadus 12 now, but didn't like it as much as I remember from a couple year old bottle at Beer Bistro. I'll let them age a bit and see.

                            1. re: kwjd

                              Almost guarantee the St Bernie 12 which doesn't taste right now but will in six months to a year or so. It will keep past five.