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.
Rochefort 10 is a Belgian Trappist, a strong quad beer that's very highly rated. It sits in the same class of beers as St Bernardus Abt and Westvleteren 12, currently having a perfect 100 score on Ratebeer.com. The monks that brew Rochefort 10 create two other well known Trappists, the Rochefort 8 and Rochefort 6.
The Rochefort brewery is inside the Notre-Dame de Saint Rémy Abbey in the town of Rochefort which is about 120Km from Brussels or about half way to Luxembourg. Amazingly, the brewing of beer started at this abbey in 1595. Like all Trappist monks, they only brew beer to sustain themselves or to donate the proceeds to charitable foundations.
And similar to the brewery of St Bernardus, the water that's used for brewing Rochefort 10 is drawn from the grounds of the abbey. A long time ago there were attempts to mine minerals from the surrounding area and while digging a little stream became exposed, which was called the Tridaine. This little spring provides the water used in brewing Rochefort 10 and is said to contribute significantly to the taste of the beer. Like most quad Trappists, it's possible to store Rochefort 10 for a significant amount of time whereby the tastes only become more complex.
Rochefort 10 has an alcohol content of 11.3%ABV and is characterised by the blue bottle cap and blue "10" logo on the label. It pours a smooth dark brown colour and has a white / beige head that's not too big. Rochefort 10 has a sweet and deep aroma and there are noticeable flavours of dark fruits, molasses, apple and gentle hop spices. The alcohol is well hidden, despite its high alcoholic content. Nevertheless it has a nice warming effect on the body. Having a Rochefort 10 is the perfect ending to an active day spent outside in the cold.
All in all Rochefort 10 is a fantastic beer best drank slowly to appreciate all complex flavours.