So this weekend was spent in the beautiful old town of Gent, with a couple of friends, as we went to pick up a supply of what’s supposedly the best beer in the world: Westvleteren 12. The results you can see above.
For those who are not beer geeks, Westvleteren is a socalled Trappist beer: beer brewed by Trappist monks within the monastry itself to pay for the upkeep of the monastry, with any remaining profit going to charitable works. What makes Westvleteren unique amongst the eight existing Trappist breweries is that it’s only sold at the abbey itself and brewed in limited quantities. To get it, you first need to make an appointment a couple of weeks in advance, then show up by car to pick up your two crates of 24 bottles. You can’t choose the beer they’re selling and you have to wait at least two months before you can buy them again.
All of which has imparted a certain mystique to the beer, as most beer geeks, especially those outside Europe, will have had little to no chance to drink it. Personally I quite like both the 12 and the 8 as I sampled them this weekend, sitting in the restaurant across the monastry, but I’m not sure how much its reputation reflects its own intrinsic qualities and how much it has to do with its rarity.
But getting it was a good excuse for a trip to a beautiful city and spent a couple of days boozing in its bars with friends who appreciate good beer. Not to mention that it also gave me the opportunity to visit an old friend for the first time and admire his beautiful, well kept house and perfect family…