As some of you may or may not know, I have just come back from a fabulous boat cruise through Amsterdam and Belgium. The trip was dedicated to beer. One of the prized locations we visited was the abbey of Sint Sixtus of Westvleteren in Belgium. Makers of one of the most sought after beers in the world, Westvleteren 12, a Belgian Quadruple ale that sits around 10% abv. Sint Sixtus is a Trappist monastery that makes beer to sustain their peaceful and quite lifestyles that they solely dedicate to God.
The reason the beer is so coveted is because it is not sold in stores. There are rumors that this will be changing for a few places around Belgium, but out of respect for the monks, they ask that the beer is not sold outside of the monistary. Unfortunately their efforts have gone in vain for some who seek to exploit them. Ebay, greedy restaurants who happen to have a stock pile, and other selfish for-profit traders have shone a bad light on this coveted beer. Now, there is a limit from the Abbey as to how much you can buy, sometimes they don't even sell it to you at all. Their intentions were to make a beer that would sustain their lifestyles, not create greed and fervour.
Other reasons are it's intensely rich flavors and strong abv content. Seems like a lot of hardcore beer geeks covet the abv factor over drinkability at times, but that's not to slight Westvleteren 12. It is a delicious beer. Their blonde ale goes largely ignored by the geeks as does the bruin which is a fabulous and rich beer in it's own right. They rate highly, but are never talked about or traded as fiercely.
Westvleteren Trappist is sold only to individual customers. Every customer agrees not to re-sell the beer to any third party.
In our case we were allowed to visit, buy beer in very generous portions, and even sit with the monks for a very special prayer service. This was most generous of them and a moment I will be forever grateful for. It was a Lou Reed-kind of moment with perfect weather, and a grateful group of tourists.
When we arrived, we sat in the cafe, In De Vrede (In the Shadow of Sint-Sixtus Abbey), located at the abbey to enjoy a little lunch and some free flowing Westvleteren beers from draft. They had a small gift shop where I found the truffles. They sell a variety of items such as gingerbread, Westvleteren washed-rind cheese, and pates.
We proceeded to have lunch and beers.
Westvleteren 6 or Blond and Westvleteren 8 or Bruin.
Pumpkin soup with fresh cream.
Ham sandwich and chicken sandwich. Belgian-style!
And of course the famed Westvleteren 12.
This beer has not been a particular favorite of mine. I have found the beer to be too big, too hot, and too sweet to be enjoyable. Maybe I have had improperly stored beers before. Now, I like it much better from the source. I always knew it would be different having it fresh at the source, but previous experiences with the beer haven't been that great. Today, I am happy to report it is a much better beer than I anticipated. It's much smoother and not at all hot like I had tasted before. Still not my favorite though. The blond is truly the underrated beer of Westvleteren. But the 12 is perfect for chocolate.
These were supposed to be opened and tasted on the beer boat cruise, but we had so much food and beers that no one really had room to eat it. I am reserving the post about the food served to us on the boat for my Pork Chops & Chicken blog. Unfortunately, while staying in Brussels at the end of the trip for one day, it ruined my Westvleteren Truffles. At least in appearance. The room we stayed in had no A/C and was overly hot. We couldn't even open windows to air the place out. It was miserable to even sleep in there let alone try and store chocolate. So the truffles melted a bit. I was able to recover them by putting them in the fridge as soon as I got home. They just aren't pretty anymore.
I have almost no information about these truffles except that they were made at the cafe and with the Westy 12. I have no idea what kind of chocolate they used or it's percentage.
The aroma on both is very boozy, sweet, malty from the beer. The plain or rolled in cocoa powder truffles have no characteristics of the chocolate except for some very slight nuttiness. Taste is like eating brownie batter with a bit of some heat behind it. Taste a little fruity too like some deep cherries hidden underneath the chocolate. Faint, but still there. Nice lingering beer taste on the finish. These are delicious and much like the beer, a very nice surprise in how different it tastes. I was expecting rich chocolate and overbearing beer tastes due to it's nose. It's quite the opposite. It's quite the surprise.
The coconut ones have a sweet and light aroma of coconut as well as a big boozy aroma too. The coconut adds a nice, sweeter flavor and richer note. Same brownie batter like taste with some boozy heat. But much softer and better with the coconut.
The texture has smooth chocolate for a the shell and a bit cake-y in the center which gave way to that brownie-like taste.
These are pretty awesome and very different than I expected. They will make a fantastic gift if you ever get yourself to Belgium to visit the abbey. Just make sure you store them right until you get home to eat them.