The Westvleteren 12 might just be the world’s best beer, depending on who you ask. It is certainly one of the hardest to get. It isn’t available on shelves anywhere—in fact, when a supermarket in Belgium tried selling it for £9 a bottle last year, it was soon taken off the shelves by its angry brewers—but not before the first batch quickly sold out. Only 5,000 barrels of the Westvleteren 12 are produced per year and no more, because the sales netted provides just enough for its brewers to get by. And it’s all brewed by just 19 Trappist monks in a tiny village in the north of Belgium.
The Saint-Sixtus Abbey have been brewing and bottling the Westvleteren 12 on abbey grounds since 1839. And to cater to increasing demand—as well as to stamp out any middlemen trying to profit off the brothers’ hard work—they’ve just launched their own site to sell their heavenly hops.
Available in English here, the site allows customers to order a maximum of two crates of their highly coveted beer. It’s only open at specific times of the month, and enthusiasts will still have to make the trek to the Abbey in Westvleteren in person to collect their prize.
Like many other Trappist monks, the brothers of Saint Sixtus abbey brew not for any commercial gain, but purely to support themselves.
The tradition of monastic beer-brewing dates back centuries. Monks would often produce their own spirits to offer travellers seeking refuge, or to trade for supplies and other necessities.
And despite the lengthy journey involved in acquiring a bottle of Westvleteren 12, the ambrosial brew—which has been described as fruity and almost bourbon-like in its taste, with a brow-raising 10.2% ABV—seems well worth the cost. But one would probably have to wait in line behind the thousands that are already ahead.