Monks out of beer?

No - Westvleteren still has top-rated beer for sale in its cafe

Aug 12, 2005 - Have the monks at the abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in Belgium run out of the beer that a popular Internet website ranked No. 1 in the world?


The headline on a story from Reuters UK reads: "Belgian monks run out of the world's best beer."

A headline from the Ananova news says, "More beer? Not a prayer!"

And the Telegraph in India is as dramatic: "Oh God! No beer!"

The Reuters story reported a message on Westvleteren's beer phone told callers: "Our shop is closed because all our beer has been sold out." That's not the same as being out of beer, because Westvleteren 6, Westvleteren 8 and Westvleteren 12 all remain available at In de Vrede, the cafe the monks own across the road from their West Flanders monastery.

A story in England's Independent indicated that shortages were a result of members of rating Westvleteren 12 the best beer in the world, but that's not really new - and it's been more than 60 years since the abbot at Westvleteren decided that too large a brewery would disturb the monastic spirit.

Mark Bode, co-ordinator of the Claustrum (an exhibition room) within In de Vrede, told the Independent, "They (the monks) are worried about the publicity, about the hype around the beer. This is double-edged. It is a problem."

He made it clear that the monks don't plan to boost production because demand has increased. Last summer they also halted direct sales at the monastery during the busy summer season, then reinstated them when stocks were sufficient.

Westvleteren, one of six Trappist breweries in Belgium, produces about 4,750 hectoliters of beer per year. That's far less the Chimay and Westmalle, which sell about 120,000 hectoliters apiece, but still more than Achel, the newest Trappist brewery (2,000 hectoliters brewed in 2004).

Read a report from inside Westvleteren.

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