Hyperbole? Perhaps. Do I believe it? You better believe it. Westvleteren has been consistently ranked the best beer in the world for years. I wanted to try it and complain about how all those people were wrong. I don’t typically buy into the hype when it comes to people rating beer. Especially the folks rating it now. And especially the folks on the worst site around for craft beer – beeradvocate. I’ll write about that site one day if I ever feel bored enough to give the the time of day. It used to be a decent site…but I digress.
I have enough of this beer to last me a while, but I’d like to nail down a quasi-accurate clone before I run out of it. So I decided to do just that. Oh, you might be asking yourself; WTF beer is this guy talking about? Westvleteren 12 of course. One of the best beers I’ve ever had the pleasure to imbibe. I thought it was just the atmosphere whilst drinking it at the cafe, but after drinking it at home and with family and friends, it is still one of the most pleasurable beers to drink.
This iteration is certainly not likely to be spot on, but one has to start somewhere. I scoured the internet, my library, and anyone who had information. I compiled a recipe from all the research and decided upon this one, from HBT. It looked as good a place as any to start. Most of the trial and error were worked out well in advance of me trying to make it. They used reputable sources like Brew Like a Monk (excellent read if you haven’t read it already). They made it multiple times over the years and came up with what was presented in this thread.
I made this one the same day I made the SMaSH, so I won’t add any other pictures of the brew day, as you get the idea of how ridiculous a 5 gallon batch looks in a 45 gallon pot. Same problems occurred during this brew day; too much boil off, and poor extraction. But I hit my target after diluting with some pasteurized water to top up. My starter was made a few days in advance since it was a bit old. I ramped it up once and got almost a gallon of liquid that I discarded most of before pitching the yeast.
It’s been in the fermentation chamber for a little over a week now and is still chugging along. I ramped up the temps a few degrees a day over the last week to get it up to 80F, just like the thread mentions. I’ve since been dropping it a degree or two the past couple days with the intention of dropping down to 60F within ten days. I’ll take a gravity reading/tasting midway to see if it’s done. If not I’ll let it sit at that temp until it hits FG. Once it’s done I’ll condition it for a month at 50F, just like the recipe says. After that I’ll bottle it up in some old Trappist bottles for that authentic look. Let it age for a few months and begin sampling it.
I’ll update then…