There are a few beers that can be considered the greatest in the world. One rater at Beer Advocate called this beer "the daddy of all daddyies; the penacle of all fermented malty beverages; the beer that carries the biggest kahunas; the most elusive and sought-after beer of all. Can a beer possibly live up to it's legendary status?"
I happened to be gifted a single bottle of Trappist Westvleteren XII late last Summer. Upon reading up on the legends surrounding it I set it aside and promised myself I would save it for a special moment. At the time I thought Seattle Sounders FC had a damn good chance at the Supporters' Shield or the MLS Cup of 2013. So I said "self, let's save that beer for a major trophy."
Seattle did not win that MLS Cup, nor that Supporters' Shield, but last night they did win the 2014 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
So tonight I celebrate with what is possibly the greatest beer in the world, a quadrupel Belgian with an immense reputation. Later, the SaH team based in the Greater Puget Sound will get to have some beer that we won from the Brotherly Game.
Opening: Immediately a sweet, malty aroma wafts from the bottle. I'm going to keep the cap and bottle. It was a gift, I want to remember it.
Pour: The head billows forth, carrying more of the aroma. The sound of sparkle sits in the background. It is not skunked from improper storage. Already tonight seems amazing.
Nose: Have you ever smelled gold? It smells like gold should smell. It has bass and treble. High notes and deep both play across my sinuses.
Fist sip: I slurp/sip that first time. There is no acidity, nor salty, mildly sour, but the dominant notes in the mouth are sweet and luxurious mouthfeel.
The effervescence is like champagne. It makes sense for this to be a celebratory beer.
Continuing to drink: One could search for imperfections, but they would be a fool. It would be like trying to defeat a hydra by cutting off heads. Instead the goal is to pull out the flavor notes, for there are many. There could be candies with these flavors, maybe something you'd find at a boutique shop along a ocean-front boardwalk. Caramelly things, but not the ones you know from home, caramelly things with meaning and depth.
There's a dark rum note in this. It's the dark rum that you can not get at the store, but the one when you left the guided tour and wandered into the hinterlands. It's the dark rum of natives and Bourdains.
Some sort of exotic spice is carried across the dark rum, something like cardamon and cinnamon and nutmegs, but with a value like saffron. It is the spice that a magician uses to cast high-level spells.
I'm finding a candied berry note now. Dark berrries, like you'd find tucked around a corner off the trail and you'd have to check with your Ranger-buddy to see if they won't kill you. Then you take them back and do something divine to them, something with rare sugar and fire. Only Alton Brown could tell you how it is done. Someone bottled that.
There's a bit of fire from the alcohol, but more like the final embers of the burning log that once kept you warm, but now only reminds you of heat.
Final Thoughts: This is the type of beer that should celebrate history. It forces things like poetry from your mouth, because it is flavor poetry. I made a wise choice waiting, not just until there was a trophy, but waiting for a bit of recovery from the revelry of the Cup win.
Victory should taste like this - rare, sweet, wonderful and mystical.