In a perpetually expanding global craft beer market, any brewery worth its hops must find a solid hook, a way of distinguishing its products from every other brew out there. Sometimes this goes wrong, but often it’s what helps a brewer take that crucial next step. As hooks go, a beer made by Trappist monks, in a brewery dating back to 1838, is a pretty strong one.
Westvleteren Brewery, a part of the Saint-Sixtus Abbey in the Flanders region of Belgium, has come to be considered one of the great purveyors of Trappist beer, or beer specifically prepared by Trappist monks. For years, the only way to get hands on their acclaimed work was by making a personal appointment with Saint-Sixtus by phone, and picking up an allotment of two crates in person.
Now, however, The Guardian reports that Westvleteren will be opening its doors for increased business, at least in digital form. Starting on Tuesday, enthusiasts looking to get in on one of the world’s most reputable beers will be able to make appointments through an online portal for purchases, although they’ll still have to voyage to Belgium in-person to pick it up.
The brothers and brewers of Saint-Sixtus, who’ve dealt in recent years with their beer being sold illicitly through third parties, are opening the online portal in order to continue to meet an ever-growing demand for their work. In 2012, the beer was briefly sold as a $85 gift pack in the U.S., with funds going towards an abbey restoration project.
Abbot Manu van Hecke observes that they intend to keep selling their beer on an individual basis only through the service:
The new sales system meets the needs of many Westvleteren enthusiasts. We have thought long and hard about a good and customer-friendly alternative. Beer sales at the abbey will remain exclusively aimed at private customers. The web store is therefore only accessible to consumers, not to professional buyers. We want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to purchase Trappist Westvleteren at the correct price.
So there you have it, folks. If you’re thirsting for one of the world’s most renowned beers, you’re now just a formal online registration and a trip to northern Belgium away.