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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twelve Twelve Westvleteren Twelve

"But even without the whole story, if you take your time and pay attention to it, then you notice the difference," says Theijs van Welij. "And you really think, this is really one of the few quality beers that you should have tried in your life."
--NPR, "A Sign From Above"
A portion of the Westvleteren grounds open to the public.
Today, in what is likely a once-in-a-lifetime chance, you can go down to your local bottle shop and pick up a "brick" of Westvleteren 12.  The geeks are going crazy!  The cost is dear ($85 for six), but it goes to the monks at Sint Sixtus as a part of their capital fundraising effort to build a new roof.  So you could think of it as a donation in which the monks give you a token for your support.  I would strongly urge you to consider that when weighing the question of "worth."  (You might also compare it against the price of a plane ticket to Brussels.)

But if you do want to descend from the heights of the spirit, I have done a blind tasting of quads that included Westvleteren 12.  You can see how the august beer faired here.  Based on the results, you might think, nah, not worth it.  But wait!  Don't descend too far: there is more to consider when assessing "worth" than mere sensory data.

At eighty five bucks, you probably have a decent shot at getting your own brick, but you best scamper on down to the store with haste just to make sure.  At $14 a bottle, they're at least as cheap as you'll find them online, and you get the glow of knowing you're not dabbling in the gray market.  So go, spend profligately, and feel good about yourself.  You're helping monks.  In Oregon, these are your locations.  (A full list of all the retail outlets in the US is here.)

Corvallis Beer Supply, Corvallis
Market of Choice, Corvallis
Bier Stein, Eugene
Market of Choice, Eugene
16 Tons Beer & Wine, Eugene
Belmont Station, Portland
Beer Monger, Portland
Saraveza, Portland
Hop & Vine, Portland
John’s Market, Portland
Market of Choice, Portland
Market of Choice, West Linn

Oh, and happy 12/12/12.  You won't be celebrating another date like this for another 89 years, so enjoy it.


  1. "Quad"? God save us from beer geeks.

    Not only that, but since Ratebeer named Westvleteren the "best beer in the world", then sent out press releases via, the price of Westvleteren in Amsterdam has increased 10-fold and the monks have had to institute complex distribution system in Belgium.

    And perhaps you'd also like to explain why Americans are paying $85 for a product that I bought locally for €25? I'm guessing the answer is: because they will.


  3. This is not a bad deal for a six-pack of Westy 12. Let's do some Six-Pack Equivalent comparisons:

    Hair of the Dog Matt: $90.00 for 12 oz. at $15.
    2012 Cascade Blueberry: $56.78 for 750 ml at $20.
    Westy 12: $91.41 for 0.33 l (x 6) at $85.

    On the high end, but you also get two chalices. It's not a bad deal, seeing as how it saves you either shipping costs for a trade, or a plane ticket to Belgium. When I was at Westvleteren, I paid €23 for a 4-pack of 2 blondes, one 8, one 12, and one goblet: that's an SPE of over $50, and only one of the bottles was a prized 12.

  4. I agree, Bill. And with the monks at Westvleteren, the limit on supply isn't artificial. They've decided how much they can afford to make without losing focus on their much more important mission, and that's what drives the rarity. It's not an affectation.

  5. Bill, when you said you bought beer in Westvleteren, I believe you bought it from "In de Vrede", a pub over the road from the abbey.

    The monks sell beer directly to private customers at a very different price. You can see those prices on the abbey's site (in English) here:

    They only sell by crate, which would, of course, be difficult for someone travelling by plane. The pub offers convenience, but, at a price.

    Buying directly from the abbey, bottles of Westvleteren 12 would cost €1.63 each, or a bit over $2.

    Since the Ratebeer press release, the entire means of distribution has changed. Previously, bottles were available at a small surcharge at drinks shops around Beligum and even as far as Amsterdam, where I live. The bottles, as I recall, cost €1.80 at Belgian drinks shops and around €2 here.

    The beer is now very difficult to find in Belgian drinks shops and here the only bottles are usually several years old (not a bad thing, but much more expensive).

  6. Am I right in assuming that today on 12/16, there are no bricks left?