Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Westmalle Extra

This is my first-ever review of a Westmalle Trappist beer. The "Extra" is their traditional "Pater's Bier" (beer brewed for the monks' personal consumption) and is only sold at the monastery on Friday mornings! It was sent to me by a fan in Belgium named Bart (thanks for the beer!). Peter of http://youtube.com/TheMasterOfHoppets joins me via Skype to review this beer as he was able to get a bottle sent to him by a new sponsor of his show.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (624) - Albany, USA - JUL 16, 2011
I poured a 11.2oz bottle into a Trappist chalice glass.

Appearance: Amazing bright yellow color with an almost lime green tint to it. Most of the pour is crystal clear until the yeast from the bottom of the bottle makes its way in, giving the beer a very cloudy lava-lamp appearance. It forms a surprisingly large, bright white, foamy head which retains well for quite a while, but eventually does dissipate completely as most Trappist beer heads do.

Smell: Lemon and white grape seem to be the most predominant scents here, although I would not classify this beer as strongly aromatic. There’s a light flowery fragrance, but a noticeable peppery aroma from the Belgian yeast.

Taste: There’s a difference between sheer intensity and true robustness and Westmalle Extra is a great example of this. As soon as the beer hits my lips and the tip of my tongue my entire mouth is overwhelmed by the presence of energy. The palate here is very dry and bitter up front with a spastic, peppery sensation to boot. It takes a few swigs to get used to and then the genuine flavors start to develop, most notably white grape and lemon with some residual green fruit in the finish and some spices in the aftertaste.

Old World beers like this derive their taste from their yeast rather than their malts and hops, as neither component is really evident in this beer. Like other beers from the region there is some banana and clove-like flavors, plus lemon and a very dry white grape not unlike white. The taste is pleasing while it’s in the mouth as it’s actually quite sweet and tastes of organic fruit, but the finish and aftertaste are extremely dry. A good comparison might be Sprite made with saltwater.

Drinkability: This is my third Trappist "Pater’s bier" (beer intended for the monks’ personal consumption), and I’m still surprised at just how energetic these beers are. The mouthfeel is very peppery; the body is highly effervescent; and the aftertaste is mostly clean but does leave a slightly dry aftertaste. I would not consider this a smooth beer until well into the drink after the carbonation has died down (as has the flavor). It’s only 4.8% ABV which seems about right, but I can’t imagine sessioning this beer.

Overall, this is what I’ve come to expect in a Trappist Belgian blond and while it’s not my favorite style of beer, it is quite enjoyable for what it’s worth.

Grade: 7/10

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