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
An aerial view of St. Sixtus Abbey.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(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!"

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Showing 3 of 8 comments
Dec 17, 2012 2:19 AM CST
Should try their specially grown chronic....boom.
Dec 16, 2012 7:47 PM CST
Reminds me of when I was stationed in Germany back in the mid-80’s. Playboy Magazine did an article on the top ten beers of the world. Come to find out that the top beer for that year came out of a monastery which was located about 20 kilometers from one of the major NATO training areas. While we were out training in that area we took up a collection and bought a few cases of the stuff. We’d made sure the beer was properly cooled and made a big ceremony of sniffing the beer, making sure our palettes were cleansed, took the first sip swished around our mouths (like wine drinkers) and then gulped it down. Mind you, we were just a bunch of unsophisticated GI's. Anyway, no one had an orgasm but we all agreed that it was smooth, but not worth all the hype. I’ll save the expense since a good German export beer will do me just fine.
Dec 15, 2012 7:07 PM CST
"they're selling the beer at select retailers outside Belgium for $84.99 for six bottles." For that price it better knock my socks off and place them in the laundry hamper....:-)