Thursday, 10 July 2008

Profile of the St Sixtus' Brewing Monks

An article from The Wall Street Journal features the trappist monks of the St Sixtus monastery, famous for brewing the "world's best beer," which can fetch upwards of $20 for a single bottle. Despite their success,

...the monks are doing their best to resist getting bigger. They don't advertise and don't put labels on their bottles. They haven't increased production since 1946. They sell only from their front gate. You have to make an appointment and there's a limit: two, 24-bottle cases a month. Because scarcity has created a high-priced gray market online, the monks search the net for resellers and try to get them to stop.

"We sell beer to live, and not vice versa," says Brother Joris, the white-robed brewery director. Beer lovers, however, seem to live for Westvleteren.

The most prized Westvleteren brew is their quadrupel, Trappist Westvleteren 12, perenially ranked #1 on BeerAdvocate's list of the world's best beers. I have not yet had the opportunity to sample this famed brew, but the reviews speak for themselves. Some question, however, whether the beer's fame is partly a result of expectations, bred by scarcity:

"It's a very good beer," says Jef van den Steen, a brewer and author of a book on Trappist monks and their beer published in French and Dutch. "But it reminds me of the movie star you want to sleep with because she's inaccessible, even if your wife looks just as good."

I look forward to having the chance to judge for myself. Thanks to Howard for the link.

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