I was recently fortunate enough to share a bottle of Westvleteren 12 with a close friend. Known as Westy to beer nuts like me, it is often called the rarest beer in the world since you can only purchase it in two places – the brewery itself and a store across the street.
Like many fine Belgian ales, it is produced in a monastic setting – in this case in far western Belgium near the French border. It is so rare in part because the monks have consistently refused to produce more beer than they need to fund the monastery – they are not interested in business cases, brand equity, and YOY growth. Kind of refreshing.
So, is the beer worth all the hype? Well yes and no. It IS most certainly an excellent beer – balanced, clean, and elegant with that raisiny taste often associated with high quality, mature dubbels. That said – I certainly would not pay $120+ for an 11oz bottle ( the one we drank was a gift). If you want an idea of what Westy tastes like but don’t want to pay, purchase any high quality Belgian dubbel (I suggest Ommegang Abbey) and lay it down in your cellar for a few years. Cheers!