Since yesterday was the first day of the year I decided to open one of the six bottles in the Westvleteren 12 Brick Pack. I was a little surprised when the first taste of the foam was a strong bitter characteristic. You see I have had this beer before and while it has been a few years, this elixir has always been malt centered. Now the very first bottle I ever tasted of Westvleteren 12 back in November of 2004 I actually penned a review of the beer. Here is what a young man had to say:
The beer poured into the chalice clear deep amber brown and then the sediment decided to crash the party and ended up with a cloudy and chunky mess. The head was very, very low, but what little was there was persistent and tried to lace the glass. Alcohol most likely impaired the head retention.
The aroma was deep, deep, deep dark caramel maltiness with a huge biscuit and aromatic presence. The fruits present were dark and were raisins and prunes. Some alcohol presence enhance the deeply malty and deep dark fruits that comprised the aroma. The alcohol gave the aroma a vinous complexity.
The flavor was deep dark caramelized maltiness with dark fruits or raisin and prune. The beer contained a slight spiciness that was enhanced by alcohol flavors and fruity esters. The biscuit and aromatic aromas carried over into the flavor and enhanced the complexity along with the malty, fruity and spicy flavors.
The finish was malty with dark caramel, biscuit and dark fruits lasting long into the aftertaste and alcohol warming adding to the complexity but never detracting. The body was full, slick, and viscous with carbonation only impaired by the alcohol content of the beer.
33 cl bottle. Date code of 30.03.02 on cap. No price on bottle, but I seem to recall $8 as being the price. With the higher alcohol in this beer you could not drink a ton, but the smooth viscous nature of the flavors and the deep maltiness makes you want to try.
Now I just noticed the date code on the cap I had in November 2004 was 2002. Westvleteren date codes their best by date as three years out which would have made that beer at least five years old when I had it. Perhaps I was drinking the beer last night far too young and that is why it was so bitter. I know one friend who should know says they prefer it at two years. My date code on the bottles in my brick was 10.02.15 so the bottles are approaching a year old. I think it may be best to sit on the rest for at least a year or to perhaps have an annual tradition for celebrating the new year for the next five years.
Anyway, if you were lucky enough to get some, let it ride for another year or so. I think it will only get better with time.