Belgian monks to sell their beer online

Posted by Christi Nortier on 27 June 2019

Belgian Trappist monks, who brew one of the world’s most coveted beers, have gone digital to make sure their brew goes to enthusiasts, and not resellers.

Despite being able to buy the Westvleteren XII beer online, customers will still have to make the journey to the abbey to pick up their orders.

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Travelling in the van has its perks. Best beer in the world Westvleteren 12 This Trappist, also referred to as the Flemish Burgundy, has a dark amber colour, a stable, strong lacing and a white head. Westvleteren 12 is a masterpiece in its complexity but wonderful in its simplicity. The exquisite smooth taste of caramel and chocolate goes perfectly well with the sweet raisin and nutty notes in the aroma. Together with the firm alcohol percentage, it results in a pleasant full-bodied, long-lasting and warm aftertaste. #trappist #trappistbeer #westvleteren12 #westvleteren #sintsixtus #flanders#beer #belgium #campervanlife #campervan #motorhome #thebeeralwayswins#beeroftheday#craftbeer#beerporn #fieroponsbier #bier#blitzed

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The monks of the Saint-Sixtus abbey in Westvleteren have been brewing beer since 1839. They began selling it in 1878 with limited production and controlled sales.

They did this to make sure that their monastic lifestyle was never overwhelmed by the busy business and that they earned just enough to cover the annual costs of running the abbey.

Up until the end of WWII, the beer was sold at local cafés. After the war, they decided to sell the beer only from the abbey gates.

In 2005, the monks started a telephone reservation system to directly receive orders with customers who could only order two crates for collection at the abbey at a time, and could only make one purchase in 60 days.

However, resellers would use different numbers to buy more than allowed and would often resell the beer at inflated prices.

Reuters reported that in Brussels, the monks’ beer could cost at least R190 and that the monks had heard of a single bottle selling for R4,000 in Dubai. The monks themselves sell the beer for R40 a bottle.

The Guardian reported that at peak times, the Saint-Sixtus monks’ hotline would have 85,000 callers an hour.

‘Instead of car jams we got jammed telephones as well as the spread of the grey market, people selling on our beer sometimes at vast profit margins,’ said one monk, abbot Manu Van Hecke.

Last year, a Dutch supermarket stockpiled over 7,000 bottles of the beer and sold them for R160 each.

This was the final straw for the 19 monks. ‘It really opened our eyes. It was a sort of wake-up call that the problem was so serious, that a company was able to buy such volumes. It really disturbed us,’ said Godfried, one of the few monks who also drinks the beer.

Now, customers will have to register with the online reservation system to buy Trappist Westvleteren XII and those who have waited the longest since their last purchase will be given preference. Although this system might not keep profiteers out completely, it will at least make it harder to buy in bulk and there will be a record of which bottles have been bought by whom.

‘We want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to purchase Trappist Westvleteren at the correct price. Anyone who does not adhere to the sales rules and abuses the system will be denied access to the online store,’ said another monk, Brother Manu van Hecke.

Customers from around the world will also be able to choose a mix of beers for the first time. They can create a mix with the abbey’s three beers – a blond, an ale and a dark ale.


Featured image: In De Vrede Cafe.

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