Written by Mr Ticker (@BradfordBeer)
The quality of the beer is not in question, @Filrd recently undertook an experiment involving the Westy '12 (http://beersay.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/trappists-laid-bare/) and surprised himself with the result! I have some Westvleteren bottles in my garage, not the kind I was talking about above no, mine is much more special. I got mine direct from the Abbey de Sint Sixtus.
We timed the visit to coincide with the journey to Bruges, I was due to pick the beer up at 14:15 which was immediately after the monks lunch, and I did the British thing and waited politely until a queue started to form and dutifully joined it. There was an exciting atmosphere. Being third in a line of twenty or so cars full of beer lovers from lots of different nations all in this tiny hamlet for one thing was amazing. There were the Belgians who were nonchalantly reading papers, presumably this would have been a more regular experience for them, the cars full of young blokes on a boozy trip, the dads dragging families along with them and us, the tourists having lots of pictures taken!
This is where the value for money argument is moot. Direct from the brewery a 24 crate of '12 will set you back €39 plus €9.60 for the crate and €0.10 per bottle a grand total of €51. At today's rate of exchange that's £41.20 divided by 24 = approx £1.70 a bottle (£1.40 for the blond and £1.55 for the '10) Can anyone argue that is not value for money?!
Part of the enjoyment I get from the beer is remembering that special day, I have enjoyed sharing it with fellow beer drinkers. The shops shouldn't sell the beer, then everyone who wants some will have to make the pilgrimage that will make the beer taste even better! The shameful mark up of bottles to £25.00 each is disgraceful. But that is not the fault of the brewery.