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What’s a Westy?

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Last night I had the pleasure of drinking Westvleteren 12, thanks to one of DRAFT’s panel tasters who picked up the gift pack at a local BevMo here in Phoenix. This is about the fourth time I’ve had the Trappist Belgian dark strong ale and, like previous tastings, it was phenomenal.

For most people who venture out to score the limited-release beer—the proceeds go to help the monks renovate their abbey roof—this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After all, the beer’s usually only available at the brewery, way far away in Belgium. So, regardless of what you think about the beer, this is a big deal. Naturally, the release is getting some national media attention and it’s interesting to read the mixed responses from media consumers. Yesterday, I was pretty impressed with the Facebook comments on NPR’s story, “A Sign From Above? Needing New Roof, Monks Sell Rare Beer in U.S.” While some readers couldn’t understand what the fuss was about, NPR’s Facebook followers proved they know beer. Here are some of the unedited responses.

*First, the naysayers*

Crazy Monks
“What? Who would pay that? Crazy monks. Lol”

Where’s Ravi?
“and npr, why you post about the beer thing and not a segment on ravi shankar? fail”

How Much?
“Sorry, but no beer on earth is worth $14 a bottle…”

“Anyone who pays $85 dollars for a six-pack of beer should be ashamed of themselves. You should be forced to drink while staring at starving children.”

Shame on you, NPR
“ok, so for these monks, shipping to the USA is done only when they need extra money to fix their roof?! WTH??! I say boycott, if we aren’t good enough to get shipments like the rest of Belgium, then we don’t need to help them fix their roof. Let their fellow Belgians & other customers step up & fix their roof. I am not for using Americans monies to finance their roof when we aren’t good enough to even get small shipments regularly. Don’t show us your back until you need us financially. & shame on NPR for supporting us being used.”

“Get the fuck outta here. talk about a marketing scheme for your ass!!!”

* Now, the beer lovers*

Domestic Beer
“I used to really like Chimay and the other Trappist brews, back in the ’90s; some of the best beer you could find at the time. Now? Much like wine, the best beer is now brewed domestically, in Northern California. Give me my Racer 5, Russian River Blind Pig or Mendocino Brewing Company IPA, any day of the week. The only reason I would buy this beer, now, would be to help the monks (which is a perfectly good reason); I think it’s great that they brew beer, rather than distill hatred.”

Home Pickling Kits
“If you think that $85 for one of the rarest and most intriguing beers in the world is outrageous, I feel bad for you. I work hard for my money and spend it on the finer things in life, this beer included… I got my sixer this morning. No one is keeping you from spending your money on whatever it is you like, home pickling kits or hosting for your commune’s blog or needlepoints of your cats or whatever.”

Shut-Up, NPR
“Hey NPR…how about you shut up about this? There’s barely enough to go around for beer geeks, we don’t need competition from the unwashed masses.”

Distribution Sucks
“If your State is NOT getting this beer anywhere (remember it’s in limited quantities, and as such so will locations who were lucky enough to get to sell the Abbaey de Sint Sixtus “Westveleteren” beer) the problem lies within our distribution laws in America. Check out the documentary “Beer Wars”. Then, after you understand why distribution sucks, look up and the contact Shelton Brother Improters out of MA, and ask why they don’t distribute to your state. I’ve been asking them to return with their amazing portfolio of European (and American) craft beers.”

Growing Culture
“Can’t deny a growing culture of craft brewing and an appreciation for microbreweries”

“Everybody knows the best beer in the world is made at the Redrock Brewery in Salt Lake.”

Try This
“If you really want to try this beer, and you don’t want to spend $85 for a six pack, go get St. Bernardus ABT 12. They contract brewed Westvleteren for years. You will not be able to tell the difference.”

Price Comparison

“It is amazing and worth the price. Before this you had to go to the Abbey to buy it (officially) and It seems a hell of a lot more expensive to take a trip to Belgium than to go to the store and spend the $90”

New Roof
“Wish they’d need a new roof more often!”

What reactions have you witnessed as this beer hits shelves?


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.


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One Comment

  • JWatson says:

    An older lady looking to buy some for her son(in a much bigger state than mine) offered me $20 for a bottle as I walked out…

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