Westvleteren 12 (or the Westy 12 to its friends) is one of the 10 true Trappist beers and has many times been chosen as "Best Beer in the World" by Ratebeer. Like its Westvleteren 8 and Westvleteren 6 siblings, it's brewed inside the Sint Sixtus abbey in the rural Belgian town of Westvleteren by monks and is one of the rarest and most sought after beers. Apart from being widely regarded as the best beer in the world, it's also been called a "desert island beer". It's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for so many beer geeks, a world class Belgian Trappist beer that doesn't have many peers.
Officially it's only sold by appointment from the abbey and getting an appointment is a difficult task. The maximum amount one can purchase is 2 crates (48 beers and the creates are sold at a very reasonable price considering it's scarcity.
A few years ago on Nov 4th 2011 the monks decided to "allow" the Westvleteren 12 beer to be sold commercially, to fund some necessary repair works in their abbey. In Belgium it was sold through Colruyt and in the US it was distributed by Shelton Brothers. Special packaging was created for the Westvleteren 12 - a type of box with illustration of old heavy stones on it, to reflect the reason why it was being sold (for the renovation works of the abbey). A total of 7760 of these boxes, each containing 6 bottles and two glasses were imported in to the US, where they sold out very quickly.
The Westvleteren 12 beer bottle has no labelling at all and is distinguished from the other Westvleteren beers by the colour of its cap, which is yellow (as opposed to blue or green for the other two Westvleteren beers). This beer can be easily kept for several years and some say storing Westvleteren 12 in the cellar will only improve its taste.
This is a classic Belgian "quadrupel" beer, meaning it's a strong dark ale coming in at 10.2% ABV. Descriptions that appear most in tasting notes include "plums", "dark fruit", "chocolate" and "brown sugar". It has a murky brown color with a creamy and light brown head. It's absolutely a beer with a complex and very special, balanced taste that must be tried at least once by everyone who likes having a beer.
Westvleteren Blonde is a unique Blonde Trappist - it's the younger sister of the two world famous Westvleteren 8 and 12 beers and the only blonde beer brewed by the monks of the Sint Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren. This blonde beer is also less known, and sometimes harder to obtain than the highly publicised quadruple.
This is the beer the monks themselves drink when they are thirsty. This trappist is rumoured to be made up of 3 different varieties of hops, all sourced locally. As with the other Westvleteren beers, the yeast comes from nearby Westmalle. This beer is brewed through top fermentation and is re-fermented in the bottle and is neither pasteurised, filtered nor centrifuged.
It pours a straw coloured yellow and tends to get hazier as it's colder. It's distinguished from the others in that it doesn't keep very long, so make sure you drink it within a year of buying, or at least respect the "expiry" date indicated on the bottle . The Westvleteren Blonde can, and should be served cold - best around 6°C.
This is the newest of the three Westvleteren beers created at Sint Sixtus. It has a big blonde head and quite some carbonisation, certainly more than the other two. A somewhat bitter after taste is easy to detect. It pairs well, like most blonde beers, with chicken and seafood dishes as opposed to red meat dishes.
Common tasting notes include subtle aromas of herbs and yeast, with hints of wheat and light, possibly citrus fruits. It's a very well balanced beer.
All in all the Westvleteren Blond it's a delicious blonde Trappist beer which is easy to drink at any time of the day.