A Drinker’s Guide to 9 of the Rarest Beers in the World

Sampling Belgian’s finest beers, from Westvleteren to Cantillon, considered by many to be the best brews in the world.

Henry Phillips

From Issue One of the Gear Patrol Magazine.

Named for legendary Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx, The Cannibal is New York’s only first-rate purveyor of beer, meat and cycling gear. Some come in for a spread of lamb liver pâté, smoked kielbasa and steak tartare; others come for a post-rode debrief and a cocktail on the patio (owner Christian Pappanicholas’s primary aim is to “foster the NYC cycling community”). We went for the selection of more than 450 beers from around the world, in particular the selection of Belgian beer, which is one of the best in the city. Hard-to-find bottles line the shelves and a private cellar houses a treasure trove of once-in-a-lifetime brews.

“When I think about beers that will end up on my ‘five beers to take to the desert island’ list, a lot of these beers would go in it,” Pappanicholas said, referring to his collection of Belgians. They were on ours, too. During our tasting, Pappanicholas oroduced a rare and wonderfully aged bottole of Cantillon Classic Gueuze from 2012 — a bright and delicious beer from the producer of the best Belgian lambics in the world — as well as Pannepot Reserva and Trappist Westvleteren XII, two of the best Belgian quadrupels to hit a bottle. We drank them with chef Francis Derby’s duck rillettes and the chicken liver pâté and vowed to put in a few extra miles on the weekend ride.

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In the Cellar

A Flight of Belgium’s Finest

Brouwerij Westmalle Westmalle Trappist Dubbel

Style: Dubbel
ABV: 7%
Tasting Notes: Plum, raisin, biscuit, some caramel notes

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De Brabandere Petrus Aged Pale

Style: Belgian Pale Ale
ABV: 7.3%
Tasting Notes: Light on the palate, fresh, sour

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Brasserie d’Orval S.A. Orval Trappist Ale

Style: Belgian Pale Ale
ABV: 6.2%
Tasting Notes: Some dark fruit, balanced sour note

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KleinBrouwerij De Glazen Toren Saison D’Erpe-Mere

Style: Saison
ABV: 6.9%
Tasting Notes: Bright, Spice, Clove

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Brouwerij Westvleteren Trappist Westvleteren XII 2014 Vintage

Style: Quadrupel
ABV: 10.2%
Tasting Notes: Sweet chocolate, hint of hops, alcohol warming

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Brouwerij De Ranke XX Bitter

Style: Belgian IPA
ABV: 6.2%
Tasting Notes: Slight hoppiness, hint of sour

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Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V. Bacchus

Style: Flanders Oud Bruin
ABV: 4.5%
Tasting Notes: Hint of sour, dark fruits

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De Struise Brouwers Pannepot Reserva 2008

Style: Quadrupel
ABV: 10%
Tasting Notes: Plum, cherry, warming alcohol, some barrel notes

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Brasserie Cantillon Classic Gueuze 2012 Vintage

Style: Gueuze
ABV: 5%
Tasting Notes: Bright, slightly tannic, green apple

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