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Waltvleteren 12 leads off a six-pack of Colorado-made, Belgian-style quads

Waltvleteren 12 was modeled after the mighty Westvleteren 12.
Waltvleteren 12 was modeled after the mighty Westvleteren 12.

For several years now, Westvleteran 12, which is brewed by monks at the Saint Sixtus Abbey in Belgium, has commonly been referred to as one of the best -- if not the the best -- beer in the world. And because it is almost impossible to get it outside of Belgium, Westy 12 has also created a cult-like status for itself (along with a black market).

Despite this lofty perch, however, not that many U.S. craft breweries make a similar Belgian-style quadrupel -- typically dark red or brown in color and loaded with malts and sugar that give it a high alcohol content and rich, sweet flavor.

See also: - Novo Coffee teams up with New Belgium for a Colorado nod to coffee cherries - Buffalo Bill, Belgium and a mysterious beer story at the Cheeky Monk - The ten best new Colorado beers of 2012

"They are expensive to make because of all the ingredients," says Walt Chleva, a brewer at Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora. "And it's a style that isn't really well-known."

But that could be changing, as there are currently four bottled quads and two draft-only quads -- all made by Colorado brewers -- now floating around Denver (see the full list below).

One of those is Chleva's creation, the cheekily-named Waltvleteren 12, which he first brewed in 2011; he's since adjusted the recipe to make it smoother. "I've always liked the bigger, maltier beers," says Chleva, who has been brewing at Dry Dock since 2009. "I've made an English barleywine and an Irish red. So when I had the opportunity to make one of my own, I wanted to go big."

Chleva modeled his beer off of several of the best-known Belgian quads, like St. Bernardus Abt 12, La Trappe and, of course, Westvleteren 12, which he got to try after buying a few bottles online (for more than $25 a pop). "I did some research and learned that they only use pale and pilsner malts and caramelized sugar," he says. So Chleva used similar malts, along with dark syrup and candied sugar, and a Belgian yeast strain similar to one used by the Trappist breweries.

Chleva has gotten good feedback on the beer, and is hoping to enter Waltvleteren 12 into the competition at the Great American Beer Festival -- "that is every brewers' dream," Chleva says -- and maybe even bottle it as a Dry Dock seasonal at some point.

Turn the page to see our list of six Colorado-made quads.

 

Brewing the Waltvleteren 12.
Brewing the Waltvleteren 12.
Dry Dock Brewing Facebook page

Waltvleteren 12 Dry Dock Brewing 11.6 percent ABV Draft only, seasonal Waltvleteren 12 is only made a couple of times a year. It has all of the sweet flavors of a traditional Belgian quad, but was boiled for a long time at a low temperature to keep it from getting too "hot" or alcohol-y tasting. Smooth, rich and elegant.

Waltvleteren 12 leads off a six-pack of Colorado-made, Belgian-style quads

Absconder Belgian Quad Renegade Brewing 9.5 percent ABV Draft only, seasonal Renegade made this beer earlier this year and is almost out of it. It describes it like this: "From the first whiff to the last sip, fruity Belgian esters take the stage...offers a full mouth-feel and a bubblegum finish. Sweet and fruity aren't the only flavors present. A subtle tang keeps the palate interested."

Waltvleteren 12 leads off a six-pack of Colorado-made, Belgian-style quads

False Summit Elevation Beer 11.1 percent ABV Bottles, spring seasonal Elevation released this long-anticipated beer just last week. Unlike Apis IV, another quad that Elevation released last year, False Summit was aged in Breckenridge Distilling bourbon barrels to give it deeper layers of complexity. Notes of dark fruit and vanilla.

Waltvleteren 12 leads off a six-pack of Colorado-made, Belgian-style quads

Cascara Quad New Belgium Brewing 10 percent ABV Bottles, one-time release Although New Belgium released this beer in January as part of its Lips of Faith series, you can still find bottles on some shelves around town, and it's worth a try. Much lighter than most quads, the traditional flavors you would expect are merely hinted at, rather than fully expressed. The beer has unusual tobacco and date flavors brought on by using tea made from cascara coffee bean husks along with dates.

Waltvleteren 12 leads off a six-pack of Colorado-made, Belgian-style quads
River North Brewery

Quandary River North Brewery 9.6 percent ABV Bottles, year-round River North's take on the Abbey-style brew was one of its first bottled offerings and is available at Denver-area stores that specialize in craft beer (and on tap at the brewery). It shows all of the raisin-y sweetness and malty warmth as true Belgian quads.

Waltvleteren 12 leads off a six-pack of Colorado-made, Belgian-style quads
Philip Poston

The Reverend Avery Brewing 10 percent ABV Bottles, year-round Avery has been brewing The Reverend for years, and it is a big, bold blast of a beer, typical of the kind of thing the Boulder brewery does on a regular basis. Made with imported Belgian specialty malts, it exudes a complexity that goes beyond the dark cherry, currant and molasses notes that the brewery mentions in its description.


Follow Westword 's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan

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Related Locations

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Dry Dock Brewing Co.

2801 Tower Road
Aurora, CO 80011

303-400-5606

www.drydockbrewing.com

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Renegade Brewing
miles
Elevation Beer Co.
miles
New Belgium Brewing Company

500 Linden St.
Fort Collins, CO 80524

www.newbelgium.com

miles
River North Brewery

2401 Blake St.
Denver, CO 80205

www.rivernorthbrewery.com

miles
Avery Brewing Co.

5757 Arapahoe Ave.
Boulder, CO 80303

303-440-4324

www.averybrewing.com


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