The 40b40 dared to confront potential anti-climax, moving from yesterday’s Westvleteren 12 to today’s Westvleteren 8. How do you go from a beer that is life-changing to a beer that is merely excellent? A dilemma indeed.
The 8 is not the 12, no question about it. It is not as smooth and well balanced. It’s “fruitier and sharper”, said JC, with some melon. Seb found “black bread and granny smith apple”. I found molasses and hop, not as rounded and mouth coating at the 12. Both Fiona and Seb noted a bit of metallic aftertaste, though I didn’t find that at all. I did think it was slightly fizzier and thinner than the 12.
All of us agreed that the 8 had a lot of great tastes in it, but compared to the 12, it is not as balanced. The 12 is fusion cooking, with a mix of 30 mind-stunning flavours that somehow work great together. The 8, by contrast, is classic cooking, a five-flavour stew in which each taste is noticeable and identifiable. Interestingly, the alcohol seemed more noticeable in this 8 with 8% than with the 12 with 10.2%.
This analysis is slightly unfair to the 8, however, which really ought to be judged in its own right. The truth is, against nearly every other beer I’ve tried in the 40b40, the Westvleteren 8 is fantastic -- in the top five or six easy. As long as you approach this beer with no expectations of the 12, there is no way you can be disappointed.
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