Beer Lovers, Rejoice: Monks Export Rare Brew

Westvleteren 12 sales will pay for abbey renovation

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 15, 2012 4:33 PM CST

(Newser) – Beer fans, meet the monks of St. Sixtus Abbey. The Belgian monks are temporarily exporting their world-famous brew, Westvleteren 12, to pay for a pricey abbey renovation, NPR reports. The monks lead such a spartan, devout life that they lack cash reserves, so they're selling the beer at select retailers outside Belgium for $84.99 for six bottles. "They say, 'We are monks, we don't want to be too commercial,'" says a spokesman. "'We needed some money to help us buy the new abbey and that's it. Back to normal again.'"

But is it worth the money? NPR talked to connoisseurs and idle tasters at the abbey, which has brewed about 3,800 barrels a year since 1945 and tightly controlled sales. "It's the holy grail of so many beer connoisseurs," says a Belgian beer blogger. "This is it." Tasters describe Westvleteren 12 as a once-in-a-lifetime experience that's heavy, dark, and sweet. But then, "it's easy to be famous and popular when you're working on the mild and sweet side," says a pub owner. A drinker at the abbey is more effusive: "It's like a sweetie, like a bonbon. Oh, yes!"

An aerial view of St. Sixtus Abbey.   (Wikimedia Commons)
The three beers of Westvleteren.   (Wikimedia Commons)
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