I did it! I had Westvleteren! My friend Brian arrived and brought me and my friend and fellow beer chick Hallie two unlabeled green capped Westvleteren Blondes.
Apparently, Westvleteren is the only Trappist brewery in the world where the monks actually still do all of the brewing. And they take it even further. This brewery has only FIVE monks that run most of the brewery. Five monks. I think that they hire a couple of secular people to do some of the grunt work, but its mostly the monks doing their monky thing and making the beers all special and stuff.
I must say that this beer was delicious. I almost can't describe it, and you know that says a lot. The balance of the beer is absolutely amazing and so delicate, yet rich in flavor and spices. I wanted to say pepper - but it was so fragile that I amended the description to 'white' pepper. I do wonder though, if the hype of the Westy (as those in the know call it) made me love it more or if this beer was really as good as it seemed. I am a Los Angeles girl, after all, and greatly influenced by such things as hype. But, no.... I think it was a damn fine beer (Sorry for the cursing monks.)
I will say that because of all the hype - and I'm probably contributing to - and because of the rareness of these beers, the abbey is totally against the resale of their beer. (I didn't buy this beer - a friend brought it from the abbey.) It is there sincere wish that the beer is only available for sale at their abbey or at the small shoppe in town. No bars or pubs are supplied with this beer. And actually, monks at the brewery have explained that they are not trying to increase production to meet the demand of this beer. Westvleteren 12 was named "Best Beer in the World" in 2005 by ratebeer.com.
In fact, the monks have stated that they have "a desire to live a peaceful monastic life," and that "We are no brewers. We are monks. We brew beer to be able to afford being monks." And even though that makes this beer ridiculously hard to get, I respect and dig that philosophy!