Late last year it was announced that one of the most sought-after beers in the world would be legally available for the first time in the United States. The news was that the brew would be put into limited release in April. Well, April has come and gone, but the beer – Westvleteren 12 – did not materialize. To beer drinkers who were salivating at the opportunity to get a hold of this legendary brew, that was a big disappointment.
The good news – according to a news release from Shelton Brothers, the U.S. distributer of the beer, on Friday, June 16, eight cases of the brew will be available for tasting at their beer festival next week on June 23rd and 24th at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts. The icing on the cake is that attendees at the Festival will be given the opportunity to purchase a Westvleteren 12 gift pack.
The rest of the beer-loving population of the U.S. will have to wait until September when the distributers expect the rest of the Westvleteren release to be available for purchase.
Users of the website BeerAdvocate.com rate this brew at a perfect 100 out of 100. To many, it is the epitome of the beer experience, it is a rare beer, it is an exceedingly well-made beer, and its complexity satisfies in a way that other beers simply do not. One reviewer described the beer, “This was a fantastic beer that definitely lived up to its hype. Definitely by far the best Quad I’ve ever had. The beer was very complex, while everything balanced perfectly into a great beer.”
Westvleteren 12, as the reviewer above notes, is a Belgian Quad brewed at the Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren) by Trappist monks and is a certified Trappist brew by The Vatican. According to the Shelton Brothers press release, “The Abbey of St Sixtus, located in the far west of Belgium, is home to 24 monks, and the Trappist Westvleteren brewery that they have operated since 1838. The brewery is one of only six Trappist breweries in Belgium, and is the second-smallest of them. (Only the Achel Trappist brewery is a bit smaller.) It produces about 50,000 cases of beer per year, which is sold only at the gates of the Abbey, one case per customer only. It makes only three beers – Westvleteren Blonde, Westvleteren 8°, and Westvleteren 12°. About half of the brewery’s production is of Westvleteren 12°, the most popular of the beers and, as every beer aficionado knows, the highest-rated beer in the world.”
This brew is so rare because of how difficult it is to obtain. The Abby’s website states that in order to purchase Westvleteren brews you must first check when the reservation lines will be open, obtain a reservation to pick the beer up at the Abby, and then arrive to line up and wait. A place in line, however, does not assure that you will get 12, only that you have a place in line to get what is available that day. To make it even more difficult, purchasers are limited to only one reservation every six weeks. Further, purchasers are prohibited from reselling the brew to any third party – though it often is. Two bottles of the beer routinely sells on Ebay for $450 or more.
But, just because the brew will be available for purchase in the United States legally in September, do not expect to get your hands on it. The release will be extremely limited and a check with local Jacksonville distributers revealed that they do not expect to get any for the north Florida market. Some outlets on the Internet will let you pre-order the gift pack, which will include six bottles of the beer and two logo chalices. However, be wary of these sites and only do business with dealers you know and trust.