The Secret of Westvleteren’s Success

It was something that the monks at The Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren, Belgium, had never expected. About ten years ago, RateBeer.com named their dark, quadrupel-style ale, “12”, the best beer in the world. Demand for the beer skyrocketed, and that created a problem for the monks. They brewed beer, but strictly to cover the expenses of running the abbey. They weren’t in the brewing business, and had no intention of doing so.

Westvleteren 12 is still highly regarded—it currently ranks second on RateBeer.com—and it remains hard to find. Annual production is just under 4,000 barrels. The beer’s scarcity is a major factor in its appeal. Not only is it rare, but there are only two places to get it legally: at the abbey’s cafe, or at the abbey’s drive-through pick-up gate, provided you’ve made a reservation at least 60 days in advance—and good luck getting through. The only practical way to get to the abbey is to rent a car; it’s a 90-minute drive, provided you don’t get lost on the country roads leading to it.

A case of Westvleteren 12 sells for 40 euros (about $45), or less than $2 a bottle. Some customers resell it on the black market, and get $50 or more per bottle. The monks discourage this practice, and RateBeer.com polices its user forums and shuts down illicit sales.

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The Friday Mash (Social Security Edition)

Today is the 80th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of the Social Security Act. More than 50 million Americans, most of whom are retirees, receive Social Security benefits. That number will grow as members of the Baby Boom generation reach retirement age.

And now (can I see some ID, please?)….The Mash! 

We begin in North Korea, whose government is looking for foreign investors for a brewery in Wosnan. The country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, wants to turn the port city into a tourist attraction.

Jim Koch, the CEO of Boston Beer Company, blames high U.S. corporate taxes for acquisitions that have left foreign firms in control of 90 percent of America’s brewing industry.

The oldest known receipt for beer is a more than 4,000-year-old Sumerian tablet in which a scribe acknowledges receiving approximately 4-1/2 liters of Alulu the brewer’s “best beer.”

At New Belgium Brewing Company, Kim Jordan is turning over her CEO duties to another woman, Christine Perich, the chief operating officer. Jordan will head the brewery’s board of directors.

The Los Angeles Times’s John Verive decodes seven words—clean, dry, phenolic, creamy, hot, soft, and light—that are often found in reviews of craft beers.

White Bull beer, a symbol of South Sudan’s independence, is on the endangered list. Armed conflict has left White Bull’s brewer short on foreign currency it needs to import fuel and materials.

Finally, “Biscuit,” who works at the Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis sneaked “Tom Brady Sux” next to the “born-on” date on 20,000 cans of Wee Mac Scottish Ale. His future work will have to be approved by his higher-ups.

The Friday Mash (Lamont Cranston Edition)

Eighty-five years ago, the radio drama The Shadow debuted. The title character, who know “what evil lurks in the hearts of men,” became a major influence on later comic book superheroes, Batman in particular.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Kabul, Afghanistan, where non-alcoholic beer is popular, and costs only 30 cents a can. Alcohol is banned in this Muslim country–but there’s a thriving black market in beer and spirits.

Lululemon, the yoga pants company, is using beer to attract male customers. Curiosity Lager, which features hints of lemon drop and Chinook hops, will soon be available at select locations in Canada.

Heavy Seas Brewing Company will mark the 20th anniversary of Cal Ripken, Jr., setting a new Major League Baseball consecutive-games-played with a retro lager called Fielder’s Choice.

Vault Brewing Company invented a new way of canning nitro-conditioned beer. Vault adds the nitrogen when the beer is canned, bypassing the famous Guinness “widget.”

“Session beers”—those with less than 5% ABV—have gained a following among Colorado drinkers. The trend has spread from India pale ales to other styles, such as sour beers and saisons.

Producers of the zombie drama The Walking Dead have teamed up with Terrapin Brewing Company to make the show’s official beer: a Red India pale ale brewed with blood orange peel.

Finally, not all Utahns are Mormons, and some stage an alternative to the Pioneer Day state holiday. It’s called called “Pie and Beer Day,” and celebrants are invited to gather friends and family. Beer is optional.

The Friday Mash (Liberator Edition)

On this day in 1783, Simon Bolivar, “The Liberator,” was born. Bolivar was instrumental role in making Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela independent of Spanish rule. Toast him with a glass of Polar beer, “The People’s Beer” of Venezuela.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Milwaukee, where Pabst Brewing Company is returning to its original location. Pabst’s owner, Eugene Kashper, says the brewery will new small-batch beers, based on Pabst’s archived recipes, while staying true to its roots.

A new Indiana law classifies retirement communities as homes, so they no longer need a liquor license to serve alcohol to residents. One problem not likely to occur: underage drinking.

Mark your calendars. Next year’s Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference will be held at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. The dates are July 8-10.

Jackie Speier, a congresswoman from California, announced on her Facebook page that she’s introduced legislation that would allow the U.S. Postal Service to ship alcoholic beverages.

The clever folks at Printsome.com have designed beer labels to match the personalities of Facebook, Google, Nike, and 14 other highly recognizable corporations.

Yes, you can get an India pale ale—along with a host of other craft beers—in India. The subcontinent’s first brewpub, Doolally in the city of Pune, opened its doors in 2009. A slew of others have followed.

Finally, the Buffalo Wild Wings in Tacoma displays a bottle of Corona with a lime slice underneath an American flag. An unidentified woman ordered the Corona and placed it in front of an adjoining seat in honor of her brother, who was killed while on duty in Iraq.

The Friday Mash (Magic Kingdom Edition)

Sixty years ago today, Walt Disney unveiled his theme park, Disneyland, on national television. The “Magic Kingdom” has attracted more than 650 million guests—more than any other amusement park in the world—since it opened.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Asheville, North Carolina, where the sold-out Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference is taking place at the Four Points Hotel. Ludwig couldn’t attend, but he’ll be there in spirit.

21st Century Fox, which owns The Simpsons franchise, has licensed Duff beer. For the time being, Duff will only be available in Chile, where bootleg versions of the brand have been turning up on store shelves.

Lawmakers in a number of states passed beer-friendly legislation this year. Mike Pomeranz of Yahoo! Food explains what happened in Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and West Virginia.

Oh, the agony of defeat. Australia’s cricket team was so frustrated by its 169-run defeat at the hands of England in a Test match that it refused the host country’s offer of post-match beers.

Illustrator/animator Drew Christie has created a four-minute-long history lesson titled “The United States of Beer”, in which he offers a modest proposal: a cabinet-level Secretary of Beer.

Here’s another reason to book that trip to Honolulu. Maui Brewing Company will open a brewpub in Waikiki. It will be located in the Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki Beachcomber.

Finally, Kathy Flanigan and Chelsey Lewis of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel take you on a beer tour of Wisconsin’s Driftless Region. It includes plenty of history, and features a visit to “The Troll Capital of the World.”

The Friday Mash (Baseball Hall of Fame Edition)

On this day in 1939, the Baseball Hall of Fame opened in Cooperstown, New York. Currently, 310 people are enshrined in the Hall. They will be joined this summer by Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martínez, and John Smoltz.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Bavaria, where President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel rankled traditionalists by drinking non-alcoholic weissbier during the G-7 conference of world leaders.

Collaborative brewing has taken off in the past few years. One notable collaboration is the one between San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing Company and Belgium’s St. Feuillien.

Snoop Dogg has filed a breach of contract suit against Pabst Brewing Company. He contends that the brewery’s sale of Colt .45 triggered a clause entitling him to part of the purchase price.

You’ll have to wait to buy a bottle of Founders Breakfast Stout in New Hampshire. Citing the state’s underage-drinking problem, Governor Maggie Hassan vetoed legislation that would allow children to be depicted on beer labels.

Tech Times has assembled a list of 13 beer apps for Android and IoS that are generally rated at the top of their category:

Hard cider sales have skyrocketed in Central Europe, the home of the world’s heartiest beer drinkers. Global brands like Heineken and SABMiller are trying to cash in on the trend.

Finally, Josh Noel of the Chicago Tribune hosted a panel of beer experts headlined by Randy Mosher at the famed Map Room to discuss the state of craft brewing. There are more than 60 breweries in Chicagoland.

America’s Top Beer Cities

This “Top” list is a cut above the ubiquitous Internet slideshow article. Thrillist’s Andy Kryza has drawn up a list of America’s top 16 beer cities. For each city, Kryza gives a short description, along with its major breweries, beer bars, and “tradition.”

For the record, the top five are Portland (Oregon, that is; its Maine namesake ranks 14th); San Diego; Denver; Seattle; and Chicago.

Paul’s favorite line: “Like a breakdown of Jimmer Fredette’s college stats, it’s impossible to NOT talk about Asheville’s size in a conversation about its beer scene.” He loves obscure sports analogies.

The Friday Mash (Pac-Man Edition)

Thirty-five years ago today, Namco released the classic arcade game Pac-Man, which became a staple of 1980s popular culture. Over the years, Pac-Man machines have gobbled up some 10 billion quarters, making it one of the highest-grossing video games of all time.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in the Atacama Desert in Chile, where the Atrapaneblina brewery relies on water collected from fog nets to make its Scottish ale. The brewery’s name is Spanish for “fog-catcher.”

Better late than never for this article. John Hendrickson of Esquire magazine had an interesting interview with Blue Moon brewmaster John Legnard at this years South by Southwest.

With summer just around the corner, Meghan Storey of CraftBeer.com has assembled a slideshow of the best seasonal beers in your part of the country.

Yet another reason to consider San Diego for a beer vacation: craft breweries are opening south of the border in Tijuana.

Kalamazoo has so many breweries that the city and a tour company have teamed up to offer downtown craft beer walking tours.

Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon.com says that beer ads are becoming less sexist. SABMiller and Heineken want to broaden their appeal beyond young men getting sloshed on Saturday night.

Finally, the shape of your glass can influence whether you wind up having too many. Straight glasses and those with the amounts marked are less conducive to over-indulging than curved and unmarked glasses.

The Friday Mash (Coke No Pepsi Edition)

On this day in 1886, pharmacist John Pemberton first sold a carbonated beverage named “Coca-Cola” as a patent medicine. Pemberton, a wounded Confederate veteran who became addicted to morphine, developed the beverage as a non-opium alternative.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Rochester, New York, where North American Breweries is putting Genesee beer, Genesee Cream Ale, and Genesee Ice in retro bottles. The packaging hearkens back to the 1960s, the heyday of the “Genny” brand.

Sad news from North Carolina. Dustin Canestorp, a 20-year veteran of the Marine Corps, has closed his Beer Army Combat Brewery. He blames state franchise laws that effectively tie a brewery to a distributor for life.

Executives of the nation’s big breweries are getting worried about the amount of discounting going on. The beers you’re most likely to find on sale include Bud Light, Budweiser, and Shock Top.

Craft beer has been susceptible to “the next big thing” mentality. According to Allen Park of Paste magazine, trends that “have more than overstayed their welcome” include waxing bottles, session IPAs, and adjuncts.

Craft brewers are scrambling to comply with a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” which requires breweries and restaurants to disclose nutritional information, including the caloric content of their beers.

City officials aim to make Toronto the world’s craft beer capital. Measures include creating a craft brewery culinary trail and lowering regulatory barriers to brewery start-ups.

Finally, a growing number of craft breweries are making their recipes available to the public. Some, such as Russian River Brewing Company and Rogue Ales, are working with supply shops to develop kits for homebrewed versions of their beers.

The Friday Mash (Diet of Worms Edition)

No, this isn’t an episode of Bizarre Foods. The Diet of Worms was an assembly that, on this day in 1521, put Martin Luther on trial for heresy. After the trial, a supporter offered Luther a silver tankard of Eimbeck beer, which he gratefully drank.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Durham, North Carolina, whose minor-league stadium, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, will soon have a brewery. Fans will be able to buy beer and watch the brewing process.

Delaware’s liquor store owners are worried about losing business if Pennsylvania loosens its restrictions on beer sales. As it is, the Keystone State offers a wider selection of beer.

Carlsberg Breweries, which is known for offbeat advertising campaigns, put up a giant beer-dispensing billboard in London’s Brick Lane. Stay tuned: the brewery is planning more promotions.

Despite heavy taxation and domination of the market by the Singha-Chang duopoly, craft beer is making inroads in Thailand. However, home brewing is still against the law.

Sexist marketing isn’t just an American phenomenon. A Japanese brewery has it marketing a beer called Precious to women. It contains two grams of collagen, a protein that makes skin look younger.

If your beer is boring, a company called Hop Theory is here to help with flavor-enhancing teabags. Their first product, Relativity, contains orange peel, coriander, and Cascade hops.

Finally, Tricia Gilbride of Mashable.com picks the best beers to drink in the shower. She prefers IPAs because “it makes sense to select a hoppy beer when you hop in the shower.”

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