Who said monks weren’t crafty? In an effort to raise funds toward the renovation of their abbey, the Belgian monks at St. Sixtus Abbey chose the the 12th day of the 12th month of 2012 to offer devout American fans a delivery of Westvleteren 12, a beer that is brewed by the monks in small amounts and was exported for the first time.
According to an article on CNBC.com, the coveted Trappist Westvleteren 12–a dark beer that has been named the world’s best by beer aficionados–is typically sold exclusively at the abbey store and only after reserving a limited quantity of the beer through the “beer phone number.”
But last week, patient American customers were given a one-time chance to get their hands on six bottles of beer, each of which would set them back over $20. Just 15,000 packs of six bottles of Westvleteren 12, including two special tasting glasses, were sold in the United States at $85 each this week.
The monks live at the abbey in western Belgium’s countryside, and their days are focused entirely on prayer. They rise at 3:00 a.m. to start the first of seven prayer sessions and in between, they work in the kitchen and garden and perform tasks such as painting–and brewing. The monks have brewed the same amount of beer every year since 1945, said a piece on npr.org, which amounts to about 3,800 U.S. barrels, just the amount needed to sustain the abbey. Sales of the beer are tightly controlled.
One of the few people allowed inside the abbey, Mark Bode, the longtime spokesman for the Westvleteren Brewery, thinks this will be the first and last time the monks export their very popular nectar. “They say, ‘We are monks, we don’t want to be too commercial. We needed some money to help us buy the new abbey and that’s it,’ ” Bode explains. “Back to normal again.”