I finally completed the Westvelteren troika last night, drinking a Westvleteren Blond for the first time. Of course, I wasn’t expecting the dark richness of Westvleteren 8 or Westvleteren 12. As a blond, this is a completely different style. But since it carries the Westvleteren name, I was expecting greatness.
It pours a lovely golden colour, and the first taste is creamy.It’s far less alcoholic than other blond ales, 5.8%, and that reveals itself in the taste, which isn’t at all marred by fumes like many blonds.
I do sense something of the Westvleteren in there, too -- a combination of spices. “Spiciness”, says Bob, and yes, that’s it: the warming spices of the other Westvleteren beers are there, if hidden in the background.
But it also has a strong bitterness in the aftertaste that’s a bit overpowering for me. Too bad, that.
Overall, I’d say it’s good, but not in the “great” category. I certainly won’t be adjusting my list of top ten Belgian beers on its account.
At least this experience has helped to dispel the accusation by some (read: Fiona), that the legend surrounding the Westvleteren name, and the extreme hassle in obtaining it, somehow psychologically predisposes everyone to praise the products unquestioningly.
POST SCRIPT: Bob tried the Westvleteren 8 last night and exclaimed: "Shit, this is a chocolate bar!"