Outside St. Sixtus Abbey (Picture Courtesy of Chicagoreader.com)
What would you do for 6 bottles of an ultra-rare beer that’s typically only available in Belgium? Would you pay $85 and stand in line for a few hours? Well, depending on where you live, you might have had that chance.
The Trappist monks that make Westvleteren 12, commonly known as "Westie 12" are, for the very first time, allowing their beer to be sold legally in the US. The beer is made at the Westvleteren Abbey, also known as the St. Sixtus Abbey, and until recently, the only way to get it was to travel to the Belgian countryside and buy it directly from the monks who live there.
The 21 men who inhabit the Abbey live a rigorously abstinent lifestyle where their days are centered around prayer. Between their seven prayer sessions – the first starting at 3 am – the monks are busy with groundskeeping, various other chores, and brewing.
Their lifestyle calls only for the very basics, and cash flow is low. So when they found out they needed some work done on the Abbey, they made the tough decision to sell their beers overseas in an effort to fundraise for the project.
For $85 you get 6 bottles and two special glasses in the packaging they call a "brick," which represents the brickwork needed at the Abbey.
Since 1945, the monks have brewed roughly the same amount of their coveted beer each year – about 3,800 US barrels, which is the amount needed to preserve the Abbey and the monks’ meager lifestyle. They’ll go through that quick if they let all the beer geeks in America get their hands on it.
Have any of you tried it yet? We’d love to know what you think.