The St Sixtus Monestery in De Vrede in Belgium is home to the Westvletern Brewery which according to some produces the world's best beer. While that is undoubtedly bollocks, no matter how good they might be, one thing not in doubt is that they are some of the hardest beers in the world to find. And some of the most sought after. They can only be bought (in theory at least) direct from the brewery, using a complicated and convoluted appointment system, or, by purchase in the cafe opposite.
The beers are a blond, a "10" and a "12" with the 12 being the rarest and at 10.2% abv, the strongest. They are sold by the monks for personal consumption only, though many specialist bars in Belgium offer their beers for sale. The receipts that come with the purchase at the monastery are blunt. In upper case letters they say "NIET VERDER VERKOPEN" (Do not resell). In the USA these bottles change hands and are sold in pubs, illegally for as much as $50 a bottle. I say illegally, as they are not labelled which is illegal in the US and they are neither registered with the local authorities, nor with the all powerful Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. A peculiarly Yankee institution.
Why am I rabbitting on about this I hear you ask? Well at the Foreign Beer Bar of the Winter Ales Festival, we have a small number of each. Sorry Brothers. You now know where to look, but you'd better be quick! The 12, by the way, is a mere £4 per bottle. PS - Ignore the green bottles. They are intruders. The other 32 are the real McCoy
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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