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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.'"

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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!" (Read more beer stories.)

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