To be blunt, the likelihood of never trying Westveleteren isn't something that keeps me awake at night worrying about what I am missing. I fear I will never make a great beer tourist, perhaps that is because I work in a brewery almost every other weekend, and thus have no need to do brewery tours ad infinitum.
One thing which I am fairly sure of is that I have too much respect for the work of the monks of Sint Sixtus to buy their beer in a shop in Brussels or anywhere else for that matter. It is a fair bet to say that most beer lovers are aware of the conditions placed on the sale of beer by the Sint Sixtus community, but just in case (no pun intended) here are the restrictions:
- Every customer promises not to sell the beer to any third-party
Oh dear, there is only one condition of sale, all the other hoops to jump through are just process. Now, I don't know about you, but I find the kind of people who make promises that they have no intention of keeping, despicable. A tad strong of a word perhaps, but I guess I am overly moral in having problems with people who lie in order to make a commercial profit. Please don't consider me naive though, I am sure many a corporation bends the truth about their products in order to increase revenue, but the lack of respect for a community which is supported financially through the products it sells I find galling.
As I say though, I am not losing any sleep over the probability that I will never try the supposedly best beer in the world. I have blogged several times about keeping one's integrity, and this is another area where I feel that any integrity I may have would be flushed right down the toilet were I to buy Westveleteren from any other source than the monastery, or at In De Vrede, which I believe is the only cafe allowed to sell the beer by the monks.
So people, at the end of this rambling, I can say just one thing. Respect the monks of Sint Sixtus, and don't buy Westveleteren form any other source than the monks themselves.