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The Westvleteren Project

Sint Sixtus

Sint Sixtus

We didn’t know what to expect when we received a message to our general email account purporting to be from the Abdij Sint-Sixtus, offering a chance to help distribute their famous beer for a special, one-time project, but we were curious.  It turned out that the Abbey needed to build a new wing, which would mostly consist of the monks’ cells.  They decided that a special gift pack of their most famous beer, the 12°, would be sold outside the monastery walls for the first time (at least the first time with their explicit authorization).  They selected over a dozen countries to participate in this special one-time project.  Despite the fairly ubiquitous availability of some Trappist beers (many of which are brewed and marketed by other companies hired by the monasteries), Trappist monks themselves are decidedly non-commercial.

The order is one of contemplation.  Work is part of the Rule of St. Benedict, which Trappist monks follow.  Monasteries also strive to be self-sustaining, which has led several to brew beer.  Achel produces the least beer of all the Trappist breweries, followed closely by Westvleteren.  Both of these breweries’ production is a tiny fraction of the other Trappist beers commonly found in the US.  There are other Trappist monasteries that produce wine, jam, bread, and crafts of various sorts which help to maintain their respective cloisters.

Initial plans from the Abbey were for two US importers to handle this one-time shipment of specially produced gift packs.  The gift packs (or Bricks) would consist of six 33cl bottles of the famous 12° beer and two specially designed tasting glasses.  The Abbey wanted the gift packs sold as such: gift packs.  They were not to be broken up to be sold as individual bottles.  There was a strong desire to follow the pattern established in Belgium as much as possible with concerns about minimizing consumer price variation and “gray market” profiteering as well as a strong desire for consumers to know where they should turn to find the Bricks.  In Belgium, there was a single special release done exclusively through the Colruyt grocery store chain.  The theory was that it would be easy for consumers to know where to look for these special packs.  Colruyt also agreed to work without profits on this project.  93,000 gift boxes were sold in Belgium (a country with a population similar to the State of Maryland) in just a few days.

Plans change.  Delays have occurred.  The other importer backed off after initially agreeing to handle half the US and half of the total of 15,000 bricks (3750 “master cases” each with 4 bricks) destined for this blessed country.  We decided to accept the unenviable task of spreading this small amount of an extremely sought-after beer around the country.  We had already committed to half, figuring that we’d have a colleague to absorb some of the brunt.   We believe that our approach has always been in-line with the Abbey’s conception: this was a one-time special project, not an attempt to establish continued distribution or score marketing points.  We have sought an approach that would dovetail with the Abbey’s wishes and intent and one that the Abbey has approved.

We have known from early on that there would be no possible way to undertake this special one-time project in a way that would satisfy every enthusiast, seeker, retailer, zealot, proselytizer, salesperson, marketer, consumer, truck driver or distributor.  This is, in many ways, a “no-win situation”: quite the opposite of the coveted “win-win” that business-types so often espouse.  To parlay the inferences a bit further, we’ll readily admit that we aren’t perfect, but we think we’ve done as much as we could have been expected to do to make this very small amount of an extremely sought after beer as available as possible.  If we’ve upset you, no matter what your station in life, we ask your forgiveness.

The Abbey did not view this as a something that our company had earned nor as a reward of any kind.  Similarly, we have not viewed this special one-time project as a reward for any given distributor or retailer.  There also isn’t much profit involved here, as most everybody working on this has agreed to either donate back or forgo profits to help maximize the money going to the Abbey.  No store that gets this beer is cashing in on it; at least we hope they aren’t   Our mission is simplicity and charity.  It would do no good to divide the tiny number of packs we were to receive across every store selling our beer.  Consumers would be sent on a scavenger hunt.  Prices would vary wildly.  Our hope is that these packs are selling for the same $85 in each location and that in as many places as possible sales begin on 12/12/12.

Now, here we are, almost a year and a half after that original email about the project, on the eve of the first legal and widespread sale of Westvleteren 12 in the US.   We are happy to have been able to help bring this beer to the United States.   We hope the beer finds its way into your happy homes.

If you would like to learn more about Trappist monks, please consult the Trappist website: http://www.trappists.org/

It could be a beer calling you…but maybe it could be something else…

Retail Locations For the Westvleteren XII Brick

westvleteren12

On December 12, 2012 (12.12.12) the Westvleteren XII “Brick” (gift packs) will be available for sale in the US for the first time.  Below is a list of retail locations where these Bricks will be for sale.  Each Brick contains six 33cl bottles of  Westvleteren 12º beer and two special tasting glasses.  This is a special one-time only release.  It might sell out right away on December 12th.  No advance reservations are accepted via this website.  This list is only to help make the search easier for those that wish to purchase a Westvleteren XII Brick.  Suggested Retail Price is $85.00 per Brick.

ALABAMA

Hop City, Birmingham
Piggly Wiggly, Homewood
The Nook, Huntsville

ARIZONA

Total Wine, Gilbert
Total Wine (Arrowhead Gateway), Glendale
Total Wine, Goodyear
Total Wine (Desert Ridge), Phoenix
Total Wine (Camelback Rd), Phoenix
Total Wine, Scottsdale
Total Wine, Tempe
Total Wine (The Corner), Tucson
Total Wine (Park Place Mall), Tucson

CALIFORNIA

Total Wine, Brea
Hi Times Wine Cellar, Costa Mesa
Davis Beer Shoppe, Davis
Holiday Wine Cellar, Escondido
Total Wine, Folsom
Total Wine, Huntington Beach
Total Wine, Laguna Hills
Stearns, Long Beach
Total Wine, Northbridge
Trappist Provisions, Oakland
Bruery Provisions, Orange
Total Wine, Rancho Cuacamonga
Total Wine, Redondo Beach
K&L Wines, Redwood City/Los Angeles
Total Wine, Roseville
Pangaea, Sacramento
Total Wine, Sacramento
Best Damn Bottle Shop, San Diego
Bine & Vine, San Diego
City Beer Store, San Francisco
Healthy Spirits, San Francisco
Ales Unlimited, San Francisco
Total Wine, Tustin
Total Wine, Thousand Oaks
Øl Beercafe, Walnut Creek

COLORADO

Liquor Mart, Boulder
Coaltrain Wine and Spirits, Colorado Springs
Argonaut Liquor, Denver
Wilbur’s Total Beverage, Fort Collins

DELAWARE

Total Wine, Claymont
Total Wine, Milltown

FLORIDA

Total Wine, Boca Raton
Total Wine, Boynton Beach
Total Wine, Clearwater
Total Wine, Fort Lauderdale
Total Wine, Fort Myers
Total Wine, Jasksonville
Total Wine, Miami
Total Wine, North Miami
Total Wine, Naples
Total Wine (Colonial Plaza), Orlando
Total Wine (Millenia Plaza), Orlando
Total Wine, Palm Beach Gardens
Total Wine, Pembroke Pines
Total Wine, Plantation
Total Wine, St. Petersburg
Total Wine, Sarasota
Total Wine, Stuart
Total Wine, Tampa
Total Wine, Village of Wellington

ILLINOIS

Binny’s, Bloomington
Friar Tucks, Bloomington
Binny’s (Downers Grove), Chicago
Binny’s (Marcey), Chicago

INDIANA

Keg Liquors, Clarksville
Crown Liquors, Indianapolis
Village Liquors, West Lafayette

IOWA

Benz Beverage Depot, Cedar Rapids
Royal Mile, Des Moines
Schera’s Algerian American Restaurant, Elkader
John’s Grocery, Iowa City

KENTUCKY

The Party Source, Bellevue (Cincinnati)
Wino’s Depot, Bowling Green
The Beer Trappe, Lexington
Louisville Beer Store, Louisville
Sergio’s World Beers, Louisville
Roof Brothers, Paducah

LOUISIANA

Whole Foods, Baton Rouge
Aquistapace’s Grocery, Covington
Whole Foods (Veterans), Metarie
Stein’s Deli, New Orleans
Whole Foods (Arabella Station), New Orleans

MARYLAND

Corridor Fine Wine, Laurel
Beltway Fine Wine, Towson

MASSACHUSETTS

Craft Beer Cellar, Belmont (Boston)
Provisions, Northampton
Redstone Liquors, Stoneham
Julio’s, Westborough

MINNESOTA

Heritage Liquor, Minneapolis
Andy’s Liquor, Rochester
West Side Liquors, St. Cloud

NEVADA

Total Wine, Henderson
Total Wine, Las Vegas
Total Wine, Reno

NEW YORK

DeCicco’s, Ardsley
DeCicco’s, Brewster
Breukelen Bier Merchants, Brooklyn
Brouwerij Lane, Brooklyn
Beer Street, Brooklyn
Beer Table Pantry, Manhattan
The Cannibal, Manhattan
City Swiggers, Manhattan
Good Beer, Manhattan
New Beer Distributors, Manhattan
Top Hops, Manhattan
Whole Foods Bowery, Manhattan
DeCicco’s, Pelham

NORTH CAROLINA

Total Wine, Cary
Total Wine (Park Towne Village), Charlotte
Total Wine (Grand Promenade Phase II),Charlotte
Total Wine (Promenade on Providence), Charlotte
Total Wine, Durham
Total Wine (Battleground Square), Greensboro
Total Wine (Oakwood Square), Greensboro
Total Wine, Huntersville
Total Wine (Brier Creek), Raleigh
Total Wine (Triangle Plaza), Raleigh
Total Wine (Six Forks Road), Raleigh
Total Wine, Winston-Salem

OHIO

Lizardville, Bedford Heights (Cleveland)
Jungle Jim’s, Cincinnati
Belmont Party Supply, Dayton
Lizardville, Rocky River (Cleveland)
Anderson’s, Maumee (Toledo)
Vintage Estates, Youngstown

OREGON

Corvallis Beer Supply, Corvallis
Market of Choice, Corvallis
Bier Stein, Eugene
Market of Choice, Eugene
16 Tons Beer & Wine, Eugene
Belmont Station, Portland
Beer Monger, Portland
Saraveza, Portland
Hop & Vine, Portland
John’s Market, Portland
Market of Choice, Portland
Market of Choice, West Linn

SOUTH CAROLINA

Total Wine, Charleston
Total Wine, Columbia
Total Wine, Greenville

VERMONT

Hunger Mountain Co-Op, Montpellier
Beverage Warehouse, Winooski (Burlington)

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