Friday, 11 December 2015

#300: Is West Best?

For the 300th post on The Drunken Destrier I've decided to put up a beer I enjoyed a few weeks ago on a whim, standing as I was in front the old cupboard sunken into the wall in front of my desk in my home studio, just above the cluster of fermenters because, obviously, this room is also the brewery.

The beer is Westvleteren 12, and it is the penultimate bottle from the famed 6-pack brick released a few years ago to much a hubbub. The BBE reads 16/11/14, so this bottle is almost a whole year out of date, and surely horrible muck. A Google tells me that this means the beer was bottled on the same date in 2011, which makes sense considering the bricks arrived in Ireland in early 2012. As such, this is a 4 year old version of the beer previously assessed here.

This grown up pours a clear enough red-brown with care but sports a wicked chunky and creamy head that lasts forever. Pungent, tart raisin and apple, coated in toffee and soaked in booze, wafts from the glass immediately; this isn't the toned down subtlety I'd expected, being just as intense as the fresh version. The texture is rich, deep and chewy beyond belief, and oozes dark fruit and brown sugar. It's not all dark sweetness though; though it takes on a tawny port-like aspect there's a spike of almost tannic acid that only serves to shine a light on those beautiful depths. This is the sort of beer I love, though I confess I can't be certain the age has immeasurably improved things, the only difference I can immediately think of being the lack of any harsh alcoholic heat, though there wasn't very much of that to begin with.
Incidentally, I don't think this is the best beer in the world (as it was once considered) or possibly even the best in the style; such a notion seems silly in any case.

Still, it certainly hasn't depreciated in quality over time, and it remains a gorgeous, complex and thoroughly enjoyable glass of beer.

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