Beer lovers buy up rare Belgian brew

For the first time in nearly 175 years since Trappist monks started making beer at the Westvleteren brewery, a special blend of 10.2 per cent suds was released beyond the abbey's steps.

A rare Belgian beer previously available only at the abbey doorstep of the monastery where it is brewed was released in very limited quantities in Ottawa today.

Local beer lovers lined up at the Rideau and Hunt Club/Merivale liquor stores to get their hands on one of just 1,404 six packs of Westvleteren 12.  The rare beer was made available to selected LCBO outlets across the province.

"It’s one of the rarest beers around and it’s one of the top rated too," said beer aficionado Robert Schmidt. "So it’s an opportunity to get a 12 and try it and stand in line with a lot of other people that were hoping to try it too."

Even at $76.85 per six-pack, the Trappist beer managed to sell out in minutes.   The beer is named for the monks who brew it and hails from the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren, which began brewing beer in 1838.

The particular ‘12’ brand that went on sale in the province Thursday was first brewed in 1940 in copper tanks. The monks managed to keep the copper tanks from the pilfering hands of invading Nazis. It was the only Trappist monastery to retain its copper tanks during the Second World War.  

"I just heard about this beer and all the hype behind it, so it’s just a chance to try it." said Igor Grebenkov, who was able to get one of the limited Trappist six-packs. "But it’s a style I’m really fond of … very yeasty, lots of fruity flavours.

Asked when he planned to drink his expensive suds, Grebenkov said likely after his exams.

"So once I’m finished I’ll probably crack one open as a celebration," he said.

The beer is being sold internationally to raise funds to repair the monks’ crumbling 19th Century abbey.