One of the casualties of last month's quiet period was that I missed the chance to "live blog" my one and possible only encounter with TRAPPIST WESTVLETEREN 8. I had it on a Tuesday for no good reason, "just 'cuz". Time was I'd have gathered the family around, said a blessing, taken 100 photos and then tweeted like an imbecile for an hour, but honestly, this isn't quite the head-slappin' rarity I thought it was. I spent a weekend in Brussels two months ago, and as I scoured the city in search of beer to bring home in my suitcase, I stumbled across multiple shops with all three Westvleteren beers for sale - even a couple of tacky tourist shops that didn't solely specialize in beer. Weren't Westys supposed to be impossible to find unless you bribed a monk, or went to the monastery and pretended to pray or something?
Sure, the Westys I found were a little more pricey than other ales, but that's what happens when you're in hot pursuit of "the best beer(s) in the world". I drank a Trappist Westvleteren 12 with glee while I was in Brussels, and chose to buy a Westvleteren 8 and take it home. This picture you see here - I didn't take it - and no, I've still not had that blonde, though I could have easily grabbed a couple of those as well, and maybe now I'm a little bummed that I didn't. Now Brussels is under lockdown thanks to the murderous goons from ISIS, and the Molenbeek neighborhood where I went to see the RWS Bruxelles soccer team play is now shorthand for seething, teeming hotbed of international jihad.
TRAPPIST WESTVLETEREN 8 is what you'd likely call their "abbey dubbel", and it has all the hallmarks of one of the greats: the rich brown maltiness, the flaky yeast sediment, the dark fruit and toffee tastes, spicyness - the whole nine yards. It's just better. These guys yield sweetness like a weapon - as with the 12, you get the feeling you're drinking something first-class and nearly dessert-like, and you know that a case of these would be a real pound-packer. There are those that even prefer this to the 12, just as I think that Trappist Rochefort 8 is superior to its higher-ABV brother Rochefort 10. I'm not going to take sides on that one, and even so, I doubt I'll get enough experience with either to really become a connoisseur. Yet if you get the chance, whether you grab this at the monastery or at a Brussels flea market, I highly encourage you to do so. 9/10.