The 12th day of the 12th month of 2012 is not a day of deliverance but of delivery for devout American fans of Westvleteren 12, brewed by the reclusive Belgian monks at St. Sixtus Abbey.
The celebrated beer — often called the best in the world — is usually only available for sale at the abbey, located in the Belgian countryside. But starting Wednesday, buyers in the U.S. and other countries can purchase the beer at select retailers for $84.99 for six bottles.
Why this sudden blessing for beer lovers? The abbey happened to need an expensive renovation recently. But its 21 monks live an austere life — which means, among other things, that they purposely lack cash reserves. So the monks reluctantly made the decision to export small amounts of the precious nectar overseas for the first time.
And, says Mark Bode, the longtime spokesman for the Westvleteren Brewery, "I think it will be the last." Bode is one of very few people privy to the monks' views, as no visitors are allowed inside the abbey.
"They say, 'We are monks, we don't want to be too commercial. We needed some money to help us buy the new abbey and that's it,' " Bode explains. "Back to normal again."