If you know anything about the beer industry, you know it’s not easy to brew and sell this popular beverage, especially if you’re not part of a huge conglomerate. Seeing your beer fly off the shelves, then, should be ever brewer’s dream come true. However, back in 2005, people started to buy Westvleteren 12 in droves and the men who craft it were largely indifferent, if not a little annoyed.
Saint Sixtus Beer
Before you go out and try to buy Westvleteren 12, you should understand what this will entail and why the beer is so well-regarded.
When you buy Westvleteren 12, you’ll soon be tasting a recipe that is centuries old. Although this exact recipe was only first used in 1940, the lineage of the Trappist monks who brew it goes back hundreds of years.
The monks originally began selling their beer to locals back in 1878. However, even before everyone on the planet was trying to buy Westvleteren 12, the brothers kept production low to ensure it never overtook their monastic duties.
In fact, after World War II, they dabbled with having a truck that could take their beers to local businesses. However, they thought this became too much of a distraction and so got rid of the truck, allowing people to buy Westvleteren 12 and their other beers only at the abbey gates.
Trappist monks live by a code known as “Ora et Labora”, Latin for “work and prayer.” When you buy Westvleteren 12, then, it’s only because they have to sell it to maintain their modest lifestyle. Like other Trappists, they also dabble in ceramics and soap. Others make things like clothing, coffins and cheese.
Again, though, no matter how many people wish to buy Westvleteren 12 and no matter what the quantity they desire or price they’re willing to pay, Trappist monks won’t budge.
The World’s Best Beer
This dedication was put to the test in 2005, when RateBeer named Westvleteren 12 as the best in the world. While many had enjoyed the Belgian beer up unto this point, it had never been exposed to such a large audience. Practically overnight, orders came in from every corner of the globe. The street the abbey sits off of had to be converted to a one-way just to handle all the traffic in an orderly manner.
Still, you could only buy Westvleteren 12 if you had made a reservation with the monks and shown up on a specific day. Even then—and still to this day—you were only allowed five cases of beer. With only about 160,000 brewed every year, this made it incredibly difficult for most people to buy Westvleteren 12.
The closest the brothers ever came to breaking was in 2012 when they needed additional funds to fix and renovate their abbey. For this reason, they allowed their prized beer to be sold overseas, though still in incredibly low amounts.
While you may wish to buy Westvleteren 12, the monks who brew it actually don’t make it easy. However, if you plan ahead or know someone who’s headed to Belgium, it’s possible to get your hands on a bottle.