The World's Greatest Beer - Trappist Brew Taste Test
Many things claim to be the world's best or greatest, but for the most part they don't live up to their moniker. Westvleteren 12, however, truly is the world's greatest beer. The Westvleteren Brewery was founded in MDCCCXXXVIII (1838). The Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in the Belgian municipality of Vleteren in Germany is where the headquarters are located and the Trappist monks from the Catsberg monastery (located in France and founded the St Sixtus monastery in 1831) still brew the beer to this day. In order to qualify as a Trappist beer there are three key components.
#1 - The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbey, by or under control of Trappist monks.
#2 - The brewery, the choices of brewing, and the commercial orientations must obviously depend on the monastic community.
#3 - The economic purpose of the brewery must be directed toward assistance and not toward financial profit.
Trappist breweries are constantly monitored to assure the irreproachable quality of their beers. Out of the 174 Trappist monasteries worldwide, only 7 are deemed worthy enough to have the Authentic Trappist Product logo that indicates a compliance to the various rules of the International Trappist Association. Yes, the International Trappist Association.
It's not easy to obtain a bottle of this Trappist brew as the rules are strict. In the States you have to look to the Black/Grey markets. Over seas not only do you have to order ahead of time by telephone, but your limited to the amount of Westvleteren your able to get. De Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren will take down all of your information including local licence plate number in order to keep you from getting more within the allotted window. Good thing you can get 4 cases at a time per 60 days. When @DOINAGREATJOB told me he had procured a bottle of Westvleteren 12 (a 10.2% ABV introduced in 1940) I knew I was going to instantly want more!
When we popped open the cap I shit you not it smelled like a freshly baked loaf of bread with a mix of plums, raisins and figs. It pours out a dark, murky, reddish- brown color with some yeast sediment swirling around the glass. The taste is incredible! The flavor is not what I expected at first, though I think that owes to just how fresh this bottle is. An older bottle will be more developed than this.
Each bottle cap is stamped with a best before date that really serves as its vintage year. A bottle of this Trappist beer from 1972 has recently sold on eBay for $200.
Once we finished the bottle I immediately broke open my stash of Chimay Rouge Première. Like Westvleteren 12, it too is a Trappist beer (only this one can be found at most party-liquor stores and bars here in SoCal.) The brewery was founded inside Scourmont Abbey, in the Belgian municipality of Chimay in 1862 and not only do they make beer but they also have choice cheeses that are custom aged to perfection.
At this point of the evening I am drunkenly and incoherently rambling about plans for a trip to Europe visiting all of the monasteries and obtaining case after case of the World's Greatest Beer.