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People always get their panties in a bunch when anything, especially beer, is claimed to be the best. Some jamoke will inevitably say how some beer brewed by young virgin Swedes deep in the forests of what-have-you beats everything hands-down. Well, prepare to get your panties bunched big time, because I’m about to describe my experience drinking what many call the best beer in the world: Westvleteren 12.
To start, it’s brewed by Trappist monks, which sounds far more gangster than it actually is. What are Trappists? In short, they’re a bunch of hooded catholic dudes who seal themselves off from the world to worship their Trap God and brew beer until they die. Their monasteries are called “Trap Houses,” which hip-hop has since adopted to describe places where gangsters cook up crack.
Actually, much of what was said in that last paragraph is false except for the monks brewing beer part.
Anyways, this shit is exclusive. There are only two places in the world where you can buy the beer, they don’t ship it anywhere, and it can’t be resold. You either need to go to Belgium to purchase it, find someone to do that for you, or buy it illegally. I don’t know any Belgians and prefer to stay in North America, so my only option was the latter.
Two months and thirty bucks later, I found myself in a Canadian alley with a pimply German boy who held an unmarked bottle and goblet. I was reluctant to give him my money since there was no proof the bottle even had beer in it, Westvleteren 12 or not.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know if I can buy that. There’s no label; how do I know it’s the real deal?” I said.
“No, no,” German boy replied. “Just… you’ll know when you taste it,” he replied. The shaky reverence in his voice couldn’t have been faked. This shit was the real McCoy.
Back in my room, I prepared myself for the Westvleteren 12. I chilled the glass and beer, then I pulled the beer out and let it warm to about 40 degrees. I gave thanks to the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, did some golf stretches, and popped it open.
I poured so there was no foam; the beer filled the goblet to the rim. I watched.
This shit wasn’t no Heineken.
It had a caramelly smell and color. It fizzed like champagne. The flavor was nothing like your typical beer. Despite being over 10% alcohol, Westvleteren had no strong taste of it. Rather, it was sweet and yeasty. Imagine toasted banana bread that got you buzzed.
Unlike the swill we’re all familiar with, each sip of Westvleteren was pleasant and didn’t need to be washed down by another. Soon the drink was gone, replaced by a warm buzz. The momentary feeling of indulgence was replaced by an emptiness and desire for more, for which there was none. Was that it?
I’m not going to hype this shit up. It was a good beer and interesting experience, but I’m going to go out on a limb and offend some of you.
Overall, this shit was too weird, and I’d venture too foreign, to be appreciated by average beer-drinking men like myself. The flavors were very different. It’s made with caramel. The alcohol content is more like wine. It’s meant to be served relatively warm, and from a glass that looks straight out of Hogwarts. The experience of drinking a cold one out of a thirty and sipping from a Belgian goblet are night and day.
Much of what we cherish beer for cannot be applied to Westvleteren. There’s no way I’d play pong with it, or drink one at a barbeque. Its flavors were deep, complex, and long-lasting — meant to be paid attention to, not chugged. Drinking Westvleteren 12 is a sit-down affair.
So to sum up the review: meh..
Image via Shutterstock