This month, on December 12, they participated in a sale that put even their exceptional tap list to shame: the one-time-only release of what many consider to be the world’s best beer, the Trappist abbey Westvleteren’s XII.
Long story short, this stuff is usually only available by making the trek to the abbey in Belgium. The monks needed a new roof for the abbey, and financed it with a one-time international sale of their already world-renowned beer.
Naturally, even before the beer was actually sold it was the subject of many a column-filling news piece. I was lucky enough to run into Erik Olsen, of Brouwerij Lane, at the Greenpointers Holiday Market this year and place an advance order for a gift set.
He told me what the process was like to distribute one of the world’s rarest beers.
Erik was contacted by one of his distributors a few weeks prior to the December 12th sale date and offered the chance to distribute the beer. Most interesting were the restrictions placed on the sale: although the beer could definitely have retailed for much more, distributors were prohibited from selling individual bottles and encouraged to only sell a single six-bottle gift set to each customer for $85.
While this might seem pricey, stores like Brouwerij Lane aren’t making a profit off this – they paid $82.50 for each box and were limited to between 16 and 80 gift sets. Of the 20 they ended up buying, they had pre-orders for every one of those before they released them on the 12th. That hasn’t stopped beer hunters from calling them non-stop about it – three calls just in the time it took to answer my questions. This has also fostered a thriving resale market in flagrant violation of the monks’ wishes for the sale. Sadly, none of the beer scalpers responded to my emails so I can’t say if people actually pay this much, but the asking price seems to be at least $400 for the set and as much as $1,000.
Even if you didn’t manage to get your paws on a Westy, Brouwerij Lane is a great spot to pick up bottles for your co-workers and a fresh pint for yourself. Many consider the Westvleteren to be highly regarded more for its rarity than flavor, so there’s plenty of other Trappist beers on their shelves if you’d like to see what all the fuss was about.