A Novel Approach - #TheSession 68



This months session is brought to us by Tiffany Adamowski, author of 99 pours. Tiffany wants to hear about novelty beers we have had or encountered. It can be summed up when she says:
I can’t help but wonder if novelty beers are going too far. Or maybe not far enough?
So what is a novelty beer? If you are new to beer geekery then you might think these are few and far between but that would be entirely incorrect. These days it seems that novelty beers are outnumbering the regular line-ups from some breweries. In fact if I was to write about all the weird novelty beers I have had over the years, I would provably be still typing come the November session.

I could talk about many Brewdog beers but they have been done to death. I could talk about a number of US breweries with pumpkin this and blueberry that, again it's been done to death.
Instead, I'm going to pick a beer that, well lets face it, has also been done to death but perhaps not so much be being named a novelty beer. I'm going to talk about a beer that has been for years considered the best beer in the world (not Carlsberg, that's only probably the best).

A beer that is usually the number 1 beer on ratebeer, is currently number 2 on beeradvocate and just has so much bolloxology around it that this mythical beer, this ambrosia that only the worthy may consume, this trappist beer that people will gladly sacrifice their virgin daughters in the hope of getting a taste..... that when do finally get a taste you will often be very surprised by the result.
Some people feel they have accomplished something.
For a beer ticker it might be the ultimate tick.
Others might think it was all worthwhile.
Others might say to themselves "meh, don't know what all the fuss was about".
And then of course there are those that might make a weird face and go back to drinking probably Carlsberg.


The beer of course is none other than Westvleteren 12 brewed by the Saint Sixtus monks in Belgium. Wait hang on, have we got this straight... the beer with a marketing campaign that the big boys could only dream* of coming up with are monks? Well it should not be surprising really, after all the Catholic church has had 2000 years of marketing experience and no brewery can compete with that level of dedication.

Now under normal circumstances, the real reason that Westvleteren 12 is so hard to get is that the monks restrict access to it.

For instance, the only official way to get some is as follows, taken directly from the brewery website.

How does one reserve beer?
  1. See our web page Up-to-date Information for information regarding when reservations will be accepted for which beer and how much beer can be reserved at any one time.
  2. At the time indicated, call us using the beer phone number (+32 (0)70/21.00.45)
  3. Then you can make an appointment (date and time) with the beer phone operator, providing the license plate number of the car which will be used to pick up the order.
    Address of our abbey and beer store is: Donkerstraat 12, B -8640 Westvleteren

To make matters even more difficult, if you want some more:

Attention! From the 1st of December 2011 on it takes at least 60 days before the same automobile can pick up a next order
And that's assuming you live in Belgium, or a surrounding country within reasonable driving distance.

It's then further confounded by making purchasers agree to this:

Westvleteren Trappist is sold only to individual customers. Every customer agrees not to re-sell the beer to any third party.

I went on a search in Belgium for it but was confounded at every turn. Even when I finally found a liqueur store that had it, they would not sell it. It was free if I spent €100 or so in the shop. Since I had to fly home and I had no luggage allowance, there was no way for me to get that much beer home.

Now I am sure that people are looking at the image above and thinking that it looks a lot like a gift pack designed for sale in shops. This is where it gets interesting because that's exactly what it is. A novelty gift pack containing 6 bottles of Westvleteren 12 and two chalice style branded glasses. Normally there is no branding on Westvleteren 12. The only thing that distinguishes it is the cap which says what the beer is and has a different colour depending on the beer. Green for the blonde, blue for Westvleteren 8 and yellow for Westvleteren 12. The bottle itself has no branding and is the same used by many trappist breweries.

Unless you are very new to the beer world, or were working in a remote location for the last year, you will probably know about these Westvleteren 12 bricks. The monks needed a new roof so rather than just ask for donations, they simply made up these novelty gift boxes and sold them for a reasonable profit.

In Ireland, they would set you back €50 which is a reasonable enough price. It makes each bottle €8.30 or 6.33 if we assume each glass is worth €1. Buying directly from the brewery is cheaper of course, a lot cheaper but only if you live a reasonable driving distance, otherwise fuel and other costs will add up quickly.

For many, this was possibly the only way to try the beer. Or perhaps try it again after enjoying it after tracking it down once.
Feeling charitable, I bought two and my plan was to let them age and see how things progress.
I opened my first one on the 25th of September 2012.


I have actually had the beer before. I tried it alongside St Barnardus 12 with a result you can probably guess but how does this beer compare to the one I had before? I don't know how old that one was but it was certainly a lot better than the new one. In fact if I was a conspiracy theorist, I would say that it's a different beer. In fact it struck me more like St Barnardus 12 than Westvleteren 12. I might have to do another side by side. Could it possibly be that they contracted the beer to to St Barnardus again? Just for the bricks. There is no mention of that and it's probably not the case. Here is what I thought of the beer when drinking the latest incarnation. It pours a deep ruby red with a an effervescent off white foamy head. On taking a sniff I got slight dark fruit, lemon sherbet and some grape. A little disappointing actually. Then on tasting it came off as boozy sherry like. It's very fizzy but also has a creamy mouthfeel. Dark fruit and chocolate in the middle with a boozy finish.
That's hardly the most complex description of a beer. It was consumed at room temperature, what was between 16c and 18c. I remember it being a lot more complex and less fizzy the last time so I wonder is it just that these bottles are too young? 
Has anyone else opened their bricks and tried the beer?

Here is a little tidbit of info. I was told this so I can't confirm but apparently Ireland got the same allotment of Westvleteren 12 as the USA. If true, think about that. A country of 4.6 million versus a country of nearly 315 million. That might not be true of course...

Anyway that's the novelty beer I have picked for today. Happy beer blogging Friday everyone and thanks to Tiffany for hosting the topic.



* And dream is all they would ever do because there is no money to be made in doing so.

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axe,1,piece,1,pier cove porter,1,pilsner,1,pilsner urquell,6,pink killer,1,pints pub,1,pipers gold,1,pisa,1,pliny the elder,2,poachers choice,1,pochs,1,Poechenellekelder,1,politics,3,pond hopper,1,port brewing,1,Port McQuarie,1,porter,1,porterhouse,10,portrush,1,Pot Belly,1,prague,1,preview,1,primator dark,1,prize old ale,1,Proclamation Porter,1,proper job,1,pure gold,1,pure ubu,1,purgatory,1,purity,1,purity brewing company,1,quaff,1,queboid,1,racer 5,1,rader,1,radical brew,1,radikale,1,Raftman,1,Raison D'être,1,rakau,1,random everything ipa,1,random summer sunshine,1,random waffle,1,rant,3,rascal's,1,ratebeer,1,Rauchbier,1,raven,1,Raven Vintage Stout,1,razzamataz,1,rch brewery,1,re-brew,1,reality bytes,1,rebrew,1,recession dinner,1,recipe,1,recycle,1,red ale,1,red eye flight,1,red frog ale,1,red horse,1,red shield,1,redoak,1,revelation cat,1,revolution,1,Reykjavik,1,rhetoric,1,ridgeway,1,Rince Cochon,1,rip tide,1,riptide,1,rising sons,1,road dog,1,roadtrip,1,rochefort,1,Rochefort 10,2,Rodenbach,1,rogue beer,1,róisin,1,rome,1,rooie dop,1,rook and vuur,1,root canal,1,Rosé de Gambrinus,1,rosey nosey,1,round-up,2,roundup,2,ruddles,1,rugby,5,Russian imperial,1,russian river,1,rye river,2,saint bidgets porter,1,saint paul,1,Saint Petersburg,1,saison,2,saison 1900,1,Salthill,1,sam adams,1,Samichlaus,1,samual adams,2,samuel adams,1,samurai rice ale,1,san diego,1,san francisco,2,san sebastian,1,sanda black,1,Santa’s Little Helper,1,saranac,2,sassy red,1,satanic mills,1,saugatuck,2,sawtooth ale,1,scaldy porter,1,Schlapppeseppel,1,Schneider Weisse,3,Schneider Weisse Tap 4,1,scotland,1,second chance,1,Seeing red,4,Seeing red v2,2,seo,1,septemberfest,1,shady pale,1,shandon century stout,2,sharp's,3,sharps,1,shave or dye,1,sheepshagger,1,shephard neame,2,shepherd neame,2,sheridans,1,shipyard,1,shpherd neame,1,Sierra Nevada,10,Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale,2,Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale,2,signal,1,Sigtina,1,singapore ipa. esb amber,1,Single Brew Reserve,1,sink the bismark,1,sixex,1,ska brewing,1,skyrim,1,slaters,1,sloop brewing,1,smithwicks,3,smoke jumper,1,smoked baltic porter,1,smoked porter,1,smooth ryed,1,smuggler,1,snake dog,1,sneck lifter,1,snow eater,1,Sorachi ace,1,Sorachi Ale,1,Sotholmon,1,sour beer,1,South Pacific Pale Ale,1,southern pecan,1,southern tier,2,Southwold Dark Ale,1,spain,2,spaten,1,speakeasy brewery,1,speakeasy payback porter,1,Special London ale,1,spelt saison,1,spindrift,1,Spitting Llama,1,Squealing Pig,1,St Bernardus,1,st bernardus 12,1,st eriks,1,St Idesbald,1,St Lupulin,1,st martin,1,St Peter's Cream Stout,1,st stefanus,1,stag saor,1,starr hill,1,stateline,1,Steen Brugge,1,Steep Trail,1,stella artois,1,steve wellington,1,stevens point,2,stewart brewing,1,stinger,1,stone,1,Stone and wood,1,stone barrel,1,stone brewing company,2,stone ruination ipa,1,stonewell,1,stoneybatter,1,story,1,stout,4,stout face off,1,straffe hendrick,1,Streaky,1,stumptown tart,1,sublimely self righteous ale,1,Sullivan's,1,summer,1,Summer IPA,1,summer lightning,1,summerwine,1,sunburnt Irish red,1,suntory,1,supervalu,1,sur amarillo,1,surrender to the void,1,survey,1,sushi,2,sweden,1,Swedish beer,1,sweetwater,1,sweetwater brewery,1,sydney,6,Syvturys,1,t-shirts,1,T' Pakhuis,1,tactical nuclear penguin,1,tally-ho,1,tangle foot,1,Tankovna,1,Tap X,1,tapster,1,taste test,2,tasting,1,tasting session,1,tawny 05,1,tayberry,1,tea,1,teeling,1,tempest,1,temple bar chocolate festival,1,terrible beer,3,tesco,1,thanks to the big boys,2,the banshee,1,the beast,1,the beer moment,1,The Big Lunch Beer Challenge,1,the black sheep,1,The Brewrey Tap,1,the end of history,1,the fearless,1,the force,1,The Golden Pints Beer Awards 2010,1,The Great divide,3,the haka,1,The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,1,The Late Night Levy,1,The little Brewing Company,1,the lord nelson,1,The Matt Brewing Company,1,the old stand,1,the oslo,4,the perfect publican,1,the rev james,1,The Rogue Hop,1,the salthouse,1,the session,41,the white hag,2,theakston,1,Thieving Bastards,1,thirsty bear,1,Thornbridge,6,three notched,1,thwaites,3,Thwaites double century,1,Tig Bhric,1,Tig Neachtain,1,timothy taylor,1,tis the saison,1,titan ipa,1,To Øl,3,tojo,1,tokyo*,1,tommyknocker,2,Tongerlo,1,toronado,1,torpedo,1,tralee,1,trappist beer,2,Traquair ale,1,Traquair House,1,trashy blonde,1,travel,30,Tripple FFF,1,Trois Pistoles,1,Trouble Brewing,3,truck stop honey,1,tsar,1,tuatara,1,Turbo Yeast Utter Abhorrence from Beyond the Ninth Level of Hades III,1,twiglets,1,twitter,2,two hearted ale,1,Unertl,1,Unibroue,1,untappd,1,Urban Brewing,1,urbock,1,valentins,1,vandeoirsprong,1,Vapeur Cochonne,1,ventnor,1,versa,1,vertical tasting,1,very nutty black,1,vg noster,1,victory,1,Victory Golden Monkey,1,victory hop devil,1,victory hop wallop,1,victory storm king,1,video post,3,viginia,1,vintage ale,1,Vitesse Noir,1,vrienden,1,Waiheke Island,1,wainwright,1,warrior ipa,1,water shortage,1,website,1,Weihenstephan,1,Weihenstephaner,1,Weißenoher,1,Weisser Bock,1,Wellington,1,wells and youngs,1,Wells Banana bread beer,1,West Cork,1,western herd,1,westvleteren 12,2,wetherspoons,1,What Ales Ye?,1,what beer means to me,1,what's the matter lagerboy?,1,wheat beer,4,wheat wacker,1,wheat wine,1,Wheaty Goodness,2,whiplash,1,white gypsy,1,white gypsy vintage,1,White Island Wheaten Ale,1,White rabbit,1,white shield,1,whitewater,1,whychwood,1,wicked elf,1,wicklow brewery,1,wicklow wolf,2,widmer,1,wildcat,1,williams brothers brewery,8,windsor and eton,1,wine,1,winter ale,1,Winter Ales and Cask festival,3,winter lager,1,winter solstice,1,winter spirit,1,Wit,1,witty fella,2,wj kavanagh.,1,wobbly boot,1,woolpack,4,woolpacker,1,wordpress,1,world beer awards,1,world market,1,worlds best beers,1,wort,1,worthingtons,2,wrasslers,1,wynkoop,1,xx bitter,1,xx strong ale,1,yamamori,1,yardsman,2,yeti,1,york,1,young's,2,your local,1,yule ól,1,zero degrees,1,zeus,1,Zlatý Bažant,1,Zunbeltz,1,
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The Tale Of The Ale: A Novel Approach - #TheSession 68
A Novel Approach - #TheSession 68
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The Tale Of The Ale
http://www.taleofale.com/2012/10/a-novel-approach-thesession-68.html
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