Westvleteren 12

Beer…By the Numbers

  • U.S. brewery count halfway through 2016: 4,656.
  • Increase over last year: 917.
  • Approximate number of breweries in planning: 2,200.
  • Corey Bellemore’s record-breaking time in the Beer Mile, set July 29: 4 minutes, 34.4 seconds.
  • Bellemore’s previous world record, set the day before: 4 minutes, 4 minutes, 39.6 seconds.
  • MillerCoors’s water-used-to-beer-brewed ratio in 2015: 3.29 to 1.
  • MillerCoors’s water-used-to-beer-brewed goal for 2020: 3 to 1.
  • Calories in a 12-ounce bottle of Molson XXX: 212.
  • Calories in a 12-ounce bottle of Budweiser Select 55: 55, of course.
  • U.S. craft beer exports to Belgium in 2015: 1,560 barrels.
  • U.S. beer imports from Belgium in 2015: 1.61 million barrels.
  • Westvleteren 12’s average score on RateBeer.com: 4.43 (highest on the site).
  • Natural Light’s average score on RateBeer.com: 1.06 (lowest on the site).
  • Number of beers poured at this year’s International Berlin Beer Festival: 2,400.
  • Countries represented at this year’s International Berlin Beer Festival: 87.
  • 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.

    The Friday Mash (Carnaval de Quebec Edition)

    Today is the opening day of Carnaval de Quebec, the world’s largest winter festival. The signature events of this 17-day celebration include nightly parades, the Ice Palace, and a lovable mascot named Bonhomme. If you can’t make it to Quebec City, feel free to uncork a hearty Quebec-brewed ale and mock winter.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in New Brunswick, Canada, where 17 people got a rude surprise. They got busted by the Mounties for bringing home cheap beer from Quebec. Not only was their beer seized, but each offender faces a $292.50 fine as well.

    In the Czech Republic, beer is cheaper than water. That prompted the country’s health minister to propose that Czech bars offer at least one nonalcoholic drink at a lower price than a like amount of beer.

    Once again, Westvleteren 12 won top honors on RateBeer.com’s list of top 50 beers of 2013. Rounding out the top five were Russian River’s Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout.

    A fan attending the Winnipeg Jets-Boston Bruins hockey game got a big surprise–namely, a puck that flew out of the rink and ended up in his beer.

    Douglas Brown of the Denver Post sat down with Kim Jordan, who explained how her Quaker upbringing and social work background prepared her to run one of America’s most successful microbreweries.

    Author John Holl gets us caught up on nitrogenated craft beers. He also explains why these beers have such a thick mouthfeel. It’s because nitrogen is largely insoluble in liquid.

    Finally, a Class A baseball team in the Portland, Oregon, area plans to offer a variety of craft beers this season. Fittingly, the team’s name is the Hillsboro Hops.

    The Friday Mash (Winter’s Tale Edition)

    Winter is here! The southern solstice occurred at 11:12 am Greenwich Mean Time. Both ancient and modern cultures have marked the first day of winter, and the lengthening days that follow it, with rituals and celebrations–and the liberal consumption of beer.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Nashville, where country singer Thomas Rhett has stirred up a hornets’ nest with his new single, “Beer With Jesus.” It stands at number 21 on the country charts.

    The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal will hear a complaint against Earls Restaurants, which serve Albino Rhino beer. Earls says the name is derived from an animal, not people suffering from albinism.

    Why did St. Sixtus monastery allow Westvleteren 12 to be sold in the United States? The monastery needed a new roof, and the monks knew American beer geeks would pay big bucks for their ale.

    One of the beer world’s trends of 2012 is nanobreweries. These pint-sized breweries (pun intended) require less than $100,000 to start, and their product serves as “a liquid business card.”

    From the Odd Couple Department: in La Crosse, Wisconsin, City Brewery is turning biogas into electric power, then sending some of it to Gundersen Lutheran Health System, which is aiming to achieve energy independence.

    Ever have problems transporting multiple growlers? Now there’s a solution: Growler on Board, which not only holds three growlers, but also keeps them from bumping into one another.

    Finally, the Brewers Association’s definition of “craft brewery” didn’t sit well with the August Schell Brewing Company. The 152-year-old brewery blasted the BA for excluding it because its grain bill includes a small amount of corn.

    This just in: Ludwig wants you to know that he’s going on vacation for the Christmas holidays. The lion limo will arrive Sunday, and he doesn’t expect to get back until after New Year’s. In the meantime, keep quaffing those holiday ales.

    Beer…By the Numbers

  • High bid for two bottles of Hair of the Dog’s “Dave” at a recent auction: $4,526.
  • Cost per ounce for the high bidder: $187.
  • Ontario craft beer sales this past year: $22 million.
  • Increase over the previous year: 45 percent.
  • Increase over 2004: 1,000 percent.
  • Beer Stores operated by the province of Ontario: 440.
  • Years since Pabst Blue Ribbon beer debuted: 168.
  • Years since PBR won the blue ribbon at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago: 119.
  • PBR’s average rating on RateBeer.com: 1.79 (out of 5).
  • Westvleteren 12’s average rating on RateBeer.com: 4.64.
  • Cost of a Westvleteren 12 gift set (six bottles, two glasses): at least $50.
  • Westvleteren 12’s alcohol by volume: 10.2 percent.
  • Days until the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Festival: 72 (tickets sold out in 13 hours).
  • Breweries represented at last year’s festival: 61.
  • Beers poured at last year’s festival: 452.
  • The Friday Mash (Road Rally Edition)

    One hundred years ago today, the first Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo took place. The race, which kicks off the annual road rally season, is a demanding test for automobiles and, especially, drivers, who have to face harsh weather and bad roads. Hey, that sounds like driving in Michigan, which is enough to drive anyone to drink.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in San Luis Obispo, California, where Cal Poly professor Raul Cano has brewed a beer with 45 million year-old yeast. Cano’s operation is, fittingly, known as the Fossil Fuels Brewing Company.

    Matt Goulding and Matt Bean did some beer traveling in Belgium. They sampled Cantillon’s gueuze, hoisted a few in Bruges, and visited the home of Westvleteren 12.

    Is warm beer is better for the environment? The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation thinks so. It found, for instance, that “cool zones” where chilled beer is stocked, contribute 15 per cent of the corporation’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

    Beer writer Josh Berstein got a big surprise in Mexico. No, not Montezuma’s Revenge, but hefty bottle deposits: the equivalent of 50 cents or more on a one-liter bottle of Sol.

    From the Better Late Than Never Department: the Russian Parliament is about to classify beer as an alcoholic beverage.

    With another Super Bowl fast approaching, Sports Illustrated’s Steve Rushin takes the brewing industry to task for beer ads that portray men as idiots.

    Finally, South Africa’s Kruger National Park is considering a ban on alcohol to cut down on drunk driving, disorderly behavior, and–something that really upsets Ludwig–abuse of animals.

    The Friday Mash (Monopoly Edition)

    Seventy-five years ago today, Parker Brothers acquired the rights to the board game Monopoly, whose street names are based on Atlantic City. Things in A.C. have changed a bit since 1935. Illinois Avenue was renamed Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd. in the 1980s. St. Charles Place no longer exists. And free parking? Fogettaboutit.

    And now…The Mash!

    You’ll have to pass “Go” four times to buy a bottle of Antarctic Nail which, at $800, has displaced BrewDog’s The End of History as the most expensive beer in the world.

    Ever wondered what beer goes best with KFC? Mark Dredge, who blogs at Pencil & Spoon, tried an assortment of brews with KFC, as well as a Big Mac.

    Pete Brown has been blogging by video, and the second in his video series was shot in Wales. Brown’s travels included a brewery in Brecon and pubs in Cardiff and Abergavenny.

    Is Westvleteren 12 about to appear on Belgian store shelves? The answer is yes…and no, according to Stan Hieronymus.

    Oceanside Ale Works got business advice–in person–from Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company. It’s part of a new series, “The Mentor,” which debuts today on Bloomberg Television.

    Finally, “Puck Daddy,” the hockey blogger at Yahoo Sports, compares the cost of beer at NHL arenas. The costliest brews are served in Montreal. And no, they don’t accept Monopoly money.

    Beer in Bon Appetit Magazine

    Here’s more proof that the culinary world is taking beer more seriously these days. The May issue of Bon Appetit magazine has two beer-related articles. The first is an introduction to New York City’s beer scene. The nine selections run the gamut from a beer-cuisine restaurant with a Michelin-starred chef to an Asian-style beer garden.

    The second article, “The Quest for the Holy Ale,” recounts food blogger Heather John’s quest for a few bottles of the legendary Westvleteren 12. (Plot spoiler: she comes up empty, but finds plenty of other unusual Belgian beers–and establishments to drink them in–to write about.) The article isn’t yet available on the magazine’s website, but chances are it eventually will.

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