Monday, December 1, 2008

Part 2 Of A Good Friday Night: The Westvleteren Series

After finishing off the Masala Mama it was time to get down to business and get to the Westvleteren blonde, 8 (dubbel), and 12 (quad) that I've been holding onto for close to a year. If you're new to beer, the Westvleteren 12 is routinely ranked as the #1 beer in the world by major beer rating sites, and the 8 is usually around the top 5. If you indeed haven't heard of these beers I urge you to research this brewery because the lore surrounding it is quite remarkable.

Anyway, we went through the beers and I took a few notes on each one. To be honest I couldn't really describe them very well. It's either because they were over my head, or because they were a lot more simple than I thought they would be. I'm still not sure. I must confess I don't regularly drink dubbels and quadrupels, much less Belgian beer which I have kinda strayed away from in the last year or so.

The first, of course, was the Blonde (5.8% ABV). It poured very clear, pale straw yellow, and was super lively in the glass with tons of bubbles streaming from every inch of the new Brewer's Art goblets that Brian gave me. The smell was very lagerish with light fruit and a very light earthiness. I really enjoyed the smell on such a light bodied beer. The taste was somewhat weak in characteristic. Reminded me in certain ways of a macro lager with moderate bitterness. I couldn't really detect much else beyond that. Overall very light, effervescent and grainy. It's a Belgain blonde ale. We wanted to think there should be some sort of crazy flavor to it because of the Westvleteren 12 reputation but we had to remember beer is beer, and to not think this should be some unique, earth shattering rendition of a Belgian blonde. It was ok, I wouldn't really seek it out again.

Next up was the 8, their dubbel (8.0% ABV). It poured a somewhat clear dark brown with reddish highlights and an off-white foamy head that looked as if it could have built up as much as we wanted it to. The smell was really one dimensional. The best I could describe it was being like grape candy, like the Alexander the Grape otter pops. The taste was like grape sugar. As sweet and fruity as it was it was also pretty dry. I just didn't find this beer to be anything great. It didn't seem like it had a whole lot going on in it, other than grape of course.

Lastly was the 12, their quadrupel (10.2% ABV). This beer poured a very similar color to the 8, brownish with red highlights when viewed in the light. The smell however was a little different. Black currant was dominant here (which is similar to grape to me anyway), and again I couldn't get much past that one dominant characteristic. The taste was a little but more full in terms of malt. Dark fruit and an ever so lightly roasted malt. I don't mind thinking that maybe my palate is not mature/experienced enough to detect the nuances here. There wasn't a whole lot I could say about this beer but I knew for sure it went down really easy. This one I liked quite a bit.

We obviously talked about the beers quite a bit as we were tasting them but it'll be interesting to see what Brian's final verdict was when he gets around to writing up his experience with these beers.


Beer Svenjolly said...


Do you think the muted flavor of the 8 may have had something to do with the fact that you had the Masala first? IPA's can pretty much wipe out any chance of really tasting delicate beers. Of course, I don't know how long you waited in between those beers or what kind of palate cleansers you had, either.

Steve said...

I don't think that the 8 was muted. It had tons of flavor, just only one flavor- Grape.

On the other hand, the blonde was pretty muted/bland to me. We had the Masala at around 4:30pm, finished probably around 5:30 and the Westvleterens over an hour later Had some Pizza in between.

Rational Realist said...

I have never tried Westvleteren, but always thought that its cachet had more to do with its exclusivity than its taste. Seemed like you proved this, but of course I would not turn down the chance to try its offerings.