If you’re like many beer aficionados, you’d love to buy some Westvleteren 12. No one can say they’ve sampled the best until they’ve tasted this Belgian creation and without tasting it, you’ll never truly appreciate the potential beer can reach. However, the challenge with trying to buy Westvleteren 12 is that it’s not just the best beer in the world, it may also be one of the rarest.
The source of Westvleteren 12 is Saint-Sixtus Abbey. This beautiful monastery dates back to the 13th century, though religious orders had been calling the location home for hundreds of years before that.
Here at Saint-Sixtus, a Trappist order of monks live lives dedicated to praying, reading and working, with most of their days spent in complete silence.
Like other Trappist orders, these monks are expected to be as self-sustaining as possible. Amongst other things, this means that many of them create beer, cheese, coffins, clothing, and other items they can sell to pay for their necessities.
While they are all quality goods, their beers are by far the most famous and none can compare to the popularity of Westvleteren 12.
The Unique Aspects of Westvleteren 12
It’s tough to pinpoint any one thing that makes Westvleteren 12 so unique. For one thing, Trappists produce a number of beers, all of which are well-regarded. Although Westvleteren 12 is considered the best in the world, many top ten lists consist of at least one or more other beers made by Trappist orders.
Aside from the fact that they have higher alcohol contents than other typical beers, people often look to buy Westvleteren 12 because they improve with age too. Although it certainly wouldn’t hurt to drink a Westvleteren 12 fresh from the monastery, letting it sit for years is said to improve the overall taste.
The challenge for those who want to buy Westvleteren 12 is that it’s made in such small amounts. Even after all the international attention the monastery has received, the monks refuse to create any more of the beer than is absolutely necessary. This means roughly 160,000 cases a year.
Further challenges face those who wish to buy Westvleteren 12 though. For one thing, you can only purchase five cases at a time. If you wish to drink the beers at the monastery’s café, you’ll generally be limited to three or so.
On top of that, buying the beer is no easy task once you get there. You need to call a special hotline, get through (which can, reportedly, take thousands of tries), give the monk who answers your car’s registration number along with your name and then show up within a designated period of time to receive your beer. You are also sold it with the understanding that you will not be re-selling it to others.
Although this no doubt seems like a lot of work, those who have tasted Westvleteren 12 seem to agree it’s worth it. Why else would people continue to go through this process, year after year, unless it was?