see nerd) blog — westvleteren

beer bottle tops

My Christmas treat has been in my fridge since February, complements of my last job. My boss presented me with three bottles of Westvleteren, often acknowledged as the best beer in the world. I’m spending this Christmas alone, so I’m sampling them today, from weak to strong.

The blond (5.8%) is absolutely delicious. It has all you’d expect from a good bottled beer, including a firm head. It’s been in my glass for a few minutes, and it is still producing lively bubbles, yet does not taste gassy. The flavour is a tasty hoppy foreground on a gently sweet background, very well balanced. A very good beer.

Now I’ve opened the brown (8%). Again, it has the firm, strongly flavoured head. It’s one of the most intensely flavoured beers I’ve ever had from a bottle. It’s how I remember Czech beer used to be before the fall of the Berlin wall. The flavour is full, well-rounded chocolate, again superbly balanced. The beer demands to be drunk slowly, and not just because of the 8%. Now, I’ll admit browns generally aren’t my favourite, but even so, this one is highly enjoyable, the best I’ve tasted.

I’m saving the final bottle for tomorrow …

… and now it’s tomorrow.

When I open any of the bottles, the beer stays still, under control, but when it’s poured the beer is immediately alive. The gas is perfectly balanced. These beers are very well behaved.

The final brown (10.2%) starts as a sweet concoction, with a distinct hint of chocolate and hops. It’s a strong but good flavour, very well balanced (again). It is very strong beer, but the alcohol doesn’t dominate or spoil the beer at all, unlike most strong beers. It’s a gorgeous, warm drink.

Overall, these are fine beers. Whether they’re worth the difficulty of acquiring for those who live outside western Belgium, that’s a separate question. If you don’t understand that question, read the wiki entry. These as once in a lifetime beers; as such, they are perfect.