Last week, Nicole and I got together with our friend Jen who had just gotten back from a trip to Belgium. Even though Jen admits she is not a beer person (yet), she had the appreciation for the Belgian art of brewing and visited several Trappist breweries while she was there.
She brought some beer back with her, and it was our good fortune that she was willing to share some Trappist Westvleteren 8 with us. She even brought back a couple of glasses from the brewery, so we could drink the beer in its own glass.
Westvleteren beer is only sold at the abbey in Belgium and is in such short supply that you actually have to make a reservation to come in and buy it. Jen told us that their 12 (quadrupel) is so sought after that it took her friend that she was traveling with over four months to get an appointment to buy some.
Jen was able to sample some 12 at a local pub and said it was the best beer she’d ever had in her life. Unfortunately, she couldn’t bring any home, but the 8, a dubbel, was no small consolation prize.
The 8 was a beautiful beer, hazy ruby with a tan head with big bubbles on top after the pour. The aroma was wonderfully complex: sweet and caramel malt at first, with dark fruit, raisin, prunes and cherry coming in after you collect yourself.
The taste was as equally delightful an experience as the aroma. At first, I tasted sweet bread. After the initial sweet rush, the spiced fruit kicked in with a lot of raisin and cherry. For such a sweet and fruity beginning, the finish was quite dry and a little tart.
Talk about a beer that is a true experience to drink. Tasty and aromatic, it really hits all the senses. Excellent, excellent beer. My thanks go out to Jen for allowing me the honor of drinking one of her beers straight outta Belgium. I really need to get that country on my travel calendar. I think a beer tour is in order.