Westvleteren is a popular Trappist beer producer in Belgium for two particular reasons.
First, it is simply a damn good beer. Westvleteren 12, their Quad, is often ranked as one of the top beers in the world, sometimes called the best beer in the world even, and after tasting our way around popular Trappist Quads during our time in Belgium it was readily apparent that Westvleteren 12 was among the very best. The beer is perfect, and I hesitate to throw around that word with any beer.
Second, it is rare. The brewery is said only to make about 60,000 cases per year and, outside of a cafe next door to the abbey, does not distribute to stores. While you can find these brews sold at incredible markup in major cities, they're often done without the monks' consent.
As such, to get your hands on Westvleteren beer via sanctioned methods, you must jump through some hoops to reserve a case in advance, take a road trip across Belgium, and pick them up directly from Brouwerij de Sint-Sixtusabdij.
And this is exactly what we did.
So in this one, we thought we'd take a look at the steps you need to take to buy Westvleteren beer directly from the abbey, and talk about how we packed up our beers to bring home to the USA. This process is typically fairly straightforward, insofar as your airline actually delivers your bags on schedule, at least.