Monday, June 02, 2008

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another

Speaking of beer elitism, I finally ticked one of the major beers-that-any-beer-snob-worth-his-salt must drink at some point, the trappist beer that is only available or purchase directly from the monastery of its making, Westvleteren. You are perhaps aware of the others (in no particular order): Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Achel, and Koenigshoeven (though some folks wouldn't count Koenigshoeven since its in the Netherlands, not Belgium (but it's a Trappist, nonetheless)).

This needn't necesarily speak towards quality; Westvleteren has Holy Grailish status mostly due to the fact that it is not exported. That being said, however, the Westvleteren 12 that I had the privilege to drink last weekend (great big thanks to my friend Derek for acquiring it for me (I believe this particular bottle was bought in some dark alley in Antwerp, rather than from the monastery itself or one of the small number of outlets that carry it)), certainly ranks way up there against the other Trappists. Perhaps most comparable to the Rochefort 10 or Orval (a bottle of Orval thats in good shape (it's been my experience that Orval is inconsistent, at least in the States (an issue of shipping, conditions-of-aging, etc.) - or somewhere in between those two. A mild nose, but complex palette, no sweeter than your average Trappist (for you "average" folks out there, maybe you've had the blue-label Chimay and can use that as a base-line inoffensive Trappist ("inoffensive" is my newest pejorative for beer that is in no way bad, but also nothing special (in the States, see, for example, most of Avery's lineup, or maybe the not-bad Brooklyn beers as well (in Germany, see Beck's or Radeburger)))), but with nice burnt-raisin kind of flavours, good alcohol warmth, a nice layer of grain in there too.

Here's a picture of me taking a picture of the bottle with my CVS single-use disposable camera (thanks to Derek also for supplying the digital pictures):

We were drinking the beer out of cereal bowls, since that was the closest thing my Gastgeberin had to Trappist glasses. I apologize for the prominence of the bag of smoked almonds. and bottle of water.


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