Friday, May 29, 2015

The legendary Westvleteren Trappist abbey

 Best beer in the world?  It's very fine, but the highest elevations (is Everest higher than K2) require more sensitive instruments than my taste buds and nose.  I drove our rented Citroen out there Wednesday (May 27), blowing a half hour going back and forth from the village of Westvleteren looking for signs to the abbey.
Must have been coming from the wrong direction.  When I finally found the monks' retail side, expecting some dusty little cafe at the end of the one lane road, there it sat: a modern building, probably seats 300 if the weather is good for the outdoor tables, a big parking lot with several tour buses and a hundred cars.  When a fair number of the sippers left the cafe to get on the bus, it sounded to me they were speaking German (Dutch and Flemish are close).
A sign near the entrance advised that the monks of St. Sixtus were not selling any beer in bottles to go this day.  They bottle all their production and the servers behind the bar were busy popping the caps off bottles of WestV 8 and 12.  I had bought a bottle of 12 in Bruges for 12 euros and I guess that's the one I'll bring back to Bellingham.  I may put it up for auction in some fundraiser, but gosh I had to taste a bit of this best-in-the-world ale.  So I got in line and had a glass here.  Oh, yum!

At 10.5% abv, I suppose this dark malty brew is more like a quadrupel than a dubbel.  It has a nice aroma--but I have sniffed more intense and complex aromas--the lambic-laced Henrik Strasse in Bruges most recently, and I would say Fremont and Wander have created some fine aromas with bourbon barrels in Washington lately.  Front-of-tongue is certainly great, a number of spices so it's hard to single one out, coriander of course.  And the mouthfeel has a good linger time.
  Well, I went to the shrine and I felt rewarded but not sanctified.

(Visited 05-27-15)

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