Thursday, 13 December 2012

How to Drink a Westvleteren XII

I have been prompted to write by a line-waiter's observation that, "Only one person I met today had heard of the beer before this week. I heard more than one person ask if it was a dark beer. One person talked about the beer being from a monestery in Amsterdam. All very innocent, and the people were quite nice."

I appreciate if people discover the breadth of flavours beer allows, but if you were fortunate enough to score one of these packs and have no idea how to drink a bottle-conditioned Belgian strong dark ale, may I offer the following to ensure this beer gets the respect it deserves and a proper chance to enliven your experiences?

1) Please don't drink it right away.  The living yeast in these bottles needs to settle for at least 24 hours, if not a week or more.

2) This beer is not meant to be drank ice cold.  Drink it at cellar temperature - 14 or 15 degrees celsius.  This means, perhaps either about 20 minutes in the fridge or out of the fridge for 30 minutes or thereabouts.

3) Please, DO NOT drink it from the bottle!  Pour at a reasonably quick speed at first into a goblet, chalice or wine glass (or the glasses that came with it!) so as to allow a substantial head to develop (which allows expression of the aromas).

4) Slow down towards the end of the pour and watch carefully so as not to pour the yeast into the glass which changes the taste when mixed in.  It is not bad, per se, even if different and drinking the yeast can be a learning experience (you can perhaps add it to your last sip or two just to see).  Though the yeast is remarkably high in B vitamins, it also tends to give one extreme gas!  You have been warned!

5) Sniff it, enjoy it!  Realize this is a unique and special beer, but there are others that are very similar and are at/will be at the LCBO in the near future for a much lower price.  Check out my earlier posts on drinking a beer in a new way to many, and finally...

6) ... consider yourself extremely fortunate.  If you don't like it, sell it, trade it, or gift it to someone who might, but for Darwin's sake please DO NOT down this 10%er with your nose plugged for a good buzz!


  1. Derek, you just ruined my plans of funneling my entire six-pack before you can get here to stop me.

  2. I am drinking one right now. Delicious!