Westvleteren XII repeats as RateBeer’s Best Beer in the World, Pliny the Elder hits #2

westvleteren xii gift packWestvleteren XII won the title of RateBeer’s ‘Best Beer in the World’ on Monday, possibly ending speculation that ratings for the beer could suffer due to perceived loss of ‘rarity.’

In mid-December, the beer went on sale ‘widely’ in the U.S. for the first time ever as well as Canada and a few other markets. Earlier in the year, it went on sale outside of the abbey in some locations around Belgium and France.

Some beer drinkers have posed the idea that its availability outside of the abbey for the first time on such a wide scale could mean that it loses a superficial boost to its rating. Because the beer was released so late in the year, we may not know for sure until next year’s awards though the 100+ ratings it has received over the past several weeks appear to be reinforcing the 2,300+ ratings that came before them.

Westvleteren XII maintains a dominant lead in the top 50 all-time list which is available to peruse year-round. The beer has finished in the top spot on the annual list several times and has finished in the top three spots for the past eight consecutive years. RateBeer started tracking top beers annually in 2005.

In other news, Russian River Pliny the Elder rose to the second spot and took the title of ‘Best Beer in North America.’ In third place right behind it was Russian River Pliny the Younger. Younger is released annually on a limited basis while Pliny the Elder is available year-round though also on a limited basis.

Bell’s Brewery also had two beers among the top ten with Hopslam and Black Note Stout.

RateBeer is in the midst of a week-long announcement of winning brewers, beers and trade members across a number of categories. Expect a couple more posts over the next 24-48 hours regarding other winners.

7 thoughts on “Westvleteren XII repeats as RateBeer’s Best Beer in the World, Pliny the Elder hits #2

  1. Whatever floats people’s boats I guess. It may be good for the style but I did not enjoy it at all. Some people would strangle me for saying this but me and a friend actually had to dump some of the one we opened…

  2. It’s pretty amazing how beers that very few people have actually had because of their scarcity can get called the top beers. In blind taste tests St. Bernardus 12 beats out Westvletern regularly and many double IPA’s easily beat out Pliny in blind taste tests. Heaven forbid that anyone on that rating site ever say anything bad about Pliny or Westvleteren without being called blasphemous. Pliny hasn’t won a medal at the GABF since 2006.

  3. Just because a beer is rare, does not mean it is good.

    Ratings should not change due to a ‘rarity’ factor. Ratings should be based on the beer itself, not hype.

  4. @M.R. “Should” but IIRC there was a study or multiple studies that suggest that superficial factors factor into taste. Things like the experience of visiting the abbey in Belgium, for instance. Blind tastings exist for this reason, in part. To take some of those factors out of the equation.

  5. Blind tasted Rochefort 10, St. Bernardus Abt 12 and Westvleteren 12. While all were quite good (probably the best representations of the style), Rochefort was hands down number 1 for me. Followed by the Abt 12 in 2nd and Westy 12 a close 3rd. All three were bottled around the same time, FWIW.

    Also concur with Alan regarding PtE. Many others easily top it in blind taste tests that I’ve been a part of. The Alchemist Heady Topper destroyed it, IMO. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine beer, but I think the rarity hype alone is pushing it to the top.

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