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.
This Chimay Tripel is another official Belgian Trappist beer from the monks of the Scourmont Abbey in the town of Chimay, close to the French border in Belgium. The Chimay Tripel is also known as "White Cap Chimay" or the Chimay White. It's distinguished visually from the other Chimay beers by the colour of its white label and cap.
As the name says, this is a Tripel beer and the only Chimay beer of that style. in true Chimay tradition, The 75cl version carries its own name which in this case is "Cinq Cents", meaning five hundred. This Chimay Tripel was, like the others, developed by Father Théodore and this was in 1966, making it the most recently developed beers from this abbey.
Its character can be described as having a pleasing aroma of hops and yeast - it certainly is the most hoppy of all Chimay beers. Its appearance is with a golden color and of a misty or cloudy appearance. It has a relatively fine head.
Chimay Tripel has a subtle bitter aftertaste that's not overpowering, in fact the balance between sweetness and bitterness is striking. There are fruity hints of apples and raisins. The alcohol content of this Chimay Tripel packs in at 8% ABV. This beer is best not stored for too long - consume within the year.
The ideal serving temperature is lower than for its siblings and should be around 6 - 8°C and as always, each beer tastes best in its own glass.
Chimay Blue is one of the Belgian Trappist beers, a dark ale which is brewed by one of the ten official Trappist breweries. It's one of the most common Trappist beers. This Chimay is distinguished from the other by the blue label and blue bottle cap. Chimay Blue is a dark, red-brown coloured beer. It's a strong beer that keeps well over the years (more so than the Chimay Rouge).
It's a true authentic Belgian beer with a delicious fresh yeasty smell that has touches of rosy flowers. It's quite a dry beer with an aroma that's noticeable as soon as the bottle is opened and complements the taste very well. Touches of caramel can also be detected in the Chimay Blue. This Trappist has prominent carbonization and a relatively low bitterness.
This Trappist is best served at a specific temperature of between 10° - 12°C and has a relatively strong 9° ABV. It's best to leave about 1cm of beer in the bottle, although this is of course always a question of taste.
Chimay Blue is available in small bottles of 33cl and also in the "Grande Reserve" variety of 75cl, which is often cellared and kept for a later occasion. Some bars in Belgium have 75cl bottles of Chimay Blue going back to the 1970's. A 150cl (Magnum) and 300cl (Jeroboam) version also exist.
Chimay Blue was originally developed in 1948 by Father Théodore, originally for the specific occasion of Christmas. Due to its success the decision was quickly taken to produce it all year round.
Chimay Rouge is another official Belgian Trappist beer from the monks of the Scourmont Abbey in the town of Chimay, close to the French border in Belgium. Like its name suggests this Chimay Rouge is distinguished from its siblings by a red label and cap. This Trappist beer has a coppery colour and pours with a creamy head.
Chimay Rouge is a "Dubbel" beer (double, like the Westmalle Dubbel and La Trappe doubles), and it has an aroma with touches of sweet fruitiness (mainly apricot) due to the fermentation process. It has a very soft and silky taste with slight touches of bitterness and a pronounced cereal character. Common tasting notes for this beer include nuttiness, banana and vanilla.
Because it's best served a bit colder, it's a great thirst quencher. Alcohol packs in at a 7% ABV, making it the Chimay with the lowest alcohol content. The ideal serving temperature for the Chimay Rouge is similar to the blue one, at a "cellar temperature" of around 10 - 12°C.
Chimay Rouge is available in small 33cl bottles and also in larger 75cl bottles where it bears the name of "Première". If you like Chimay beers, don't forget to check out the Chimay Tripel.
This Chimay has its debut in 1862 and the most recent variety of the recipe was created by Father Théodore after WWII, taking inspiration from the original recipes dating back to the conception of the brewery. Unlike the Chimay Bleu, the Chimay Rouge is best consumed within a year of purchase and ideally in its own glass or chalice.