The holy trinity of Belgian Quadruples, Rochefort 10, St. Bernardus Abt 12, and Westy 12, were submitted to the blinded taste-off. Knowing the Trappist brewing process, I expected this to be one of the more difficult varieties to distinguish between. Upon the first sip of each brew, my expectations came to life. Subtle differences did become more apparent as the beers warmed and the tasting wore on. The Rochefort 10 has a nice amount of raisiny sweetness in the nose and up front. Belgian beers often get too sweet for me, but this one achieved a nice level that was kept in check. A bit of heat followed and really took the edge off of the sweetness. A late burst of spiciness in the back rounded out the profile. Again, something I am usually not a huge fan of, but this one kept everything together nicely. The St. Bernardus was by far the most mellow of the whole group. More of a boozy than sweet nose, but the flavors just didn’t come to life. This is one could have benefited from some sweetness in the front. The back end had a touch of spice, but was just odd in general. The Westy 12 followed a path very similar to that of the Rochefort, but just a bit more muted. Some sweet and booziness in the nose, which were the first two flavors of the mouth. The most notable difference is this beer finishes more roasty than spicy.
1. Rochefort 10 – 8 points
2. Westy 12 – 7 points
3. St. Bernardus – 3 points
I will admit that my opinion of each beer changed pretty dramatically as the beer warmed. The St. Bernardus, which I have always enjoyed, was easily the worst of the bunch. It felt unambitious with so little life. If you have ever considered cellaring this beer I would strongly discourage it because the mellow flavors would fade even more. Even still, I am surprised it was the consensus worst beer. I was the only person that preferred the Westy over Rochefort. I think it boils down to the fact that I am not that biggest fan of the spiciness common to Belgian brews. I preferred the roasty flavor of the Westy. With that said, Rochefort really was amazing and we all seemed to agree about that. The moral of the story is pick up Rochefort instead of St. Bernardus the next time you are trying to get your Quad fix. And if you really have the itch to try to obtain Westy, which is quite difficult, I would just grab the Rochefort.