$85 for a 6-pack? Beer fans shell out for rare brew

Westvleteren XII is brewed by a small group of Trappist monks in Belgium. The unusual sale of the beer in the US drew crowds this week.

By Bruce Kennedy Dec 14, 2012 5:45PM

Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Caption: A customer holds a six-pack of Westvleteren 12 at Ales Unlimited in San Francisco, CAFor American beer lovers, word that a very limited amount of Westvleteren XII would be on sale this week was like a visit from Halley's Comet: a once-in-a-lifetime situation.

The event brought out thousands of beer fanatics -- all competing for a beverage with a suggested retail price of $85 per six-pack.

The world-renowned beer is brewed by a small group of Trappist monks in Belgium, and usually can only be bought at their abbey. But the monks' home needs some restoration and renovation work, so they announced the sale of 15,000 "brick" gift packs (a six-pack and two commemorative glasses) for sale in the U.S. for the first time on Dec. 12.

"This is a special one-time only release," the monks warned on their website. "It might sell out right away on Dec. 12th. No advance reservations are accepted via this website."

If you missed your chance, well, hope you have a plane ticket to Belgium handy. There may not be any Westvleteren XII available at U.S. stores in the future after the reclusive monks use the sale proceeds for some needed home improvement.

"They say, 'We are monks, we don't want to be too commercial,'" a spokesman for Westvleteren Brewery tells NPR. "We needed some money to help us buy the new abbey and that's it. Back to normal again."

And of course, small supply plus great demand equals craziness. Retailers in 21 states had limited supplies of the beer by Wednesday -- much of which was sold out within minutes of becoming available to eager consumers.

"None of the retailers, distributors or importers are getting any money off this either," Craig Wathen, owner of City Beer Store in San Francisco, told KCBS TV.

Beer connoisseurs in Colorado lined up for 12 hours before a store in Colorado Springs stocking the legendary brew made its meager stock of 36 six-packs available on Thursday. Another store in Colorado, Wilbur's Total Beverage in Fort Collins, sold out of "Westie 12" in 15 minutes, The Denver Post reports.

And by Thursday afternoon, according to the Post, the six-packs were going for as much as $750 on eBay (EBAY). Even the box alone that held the six-pack and glasses was being auctioned for $100.

"It’s going to make a fantastic Christmas present and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Las Vegas, N.M., resident Dan Smith told the Colorado Springs Gazette. "I'm giving it as a gift but I hope to get a sip though."

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Dec 15, 2012 11:09PM
You complainers are sickening so what if they pay 85 dollars for a six pack of what is considered the worlds best beer?  No one seems to complain about 300 dollar bottles of wine or champaign do they?  But beer has negative connotations that only rednecks drink it right?  Get over yourselves people will always pay more for premium items
Dec 15, 2012 8:40AM
In WWII, Nazi SS officers posted guards in front of the Belgian Monesteries and told them to brew as usual. Some Yeast strains cultivated by Abbey Monks are over a thousand years old. I brew Belgians but they are nothing compared to the incredible product like that featured here. Some Trappist styles are treasured well-beyond what most people know or can grasp. By the way... enjoying some in the proper glass is critical to the overall experience!
Dec 14, 2012 7:43PM
Reminds me of when my roommate who could fly on military standby went home and came back with some Coors which you couldn't get on the east coast.  I took a 6 pack down to North Myrtle Beach and had a lifeguard come up to me and tell me I couldn't drink on the beach and then he said "Is that Coors?"  I said "Yeah".  He said "Can I have one" and " "Just keep it covered up and you'll be OK."
Dec 17, 2012 12:15PM
That's about $14 a bottle if you don't count the glasses.  Considering I've paid up to $8 for a glas of piss beer at venues, it's not that bad.
Dec 17, 2012 8:38AM
Some dolts  are paying that much for cartons of cigarettes  lmao...
Dec 17, 2012 6:13AM

I spend that on a bottle of good single malt scotch. So if you are a beer coinsure it may be worth it, and it goes to a good cause. Most beer drinkers here in the states could care less about flavor they just want a brew that is tasteless, and that they can drink like water on the weekends. Anyone who would buy this is buying it to savor, and enjoy not guzzle.

Dec 15, 2012 2:15AM

This beer is even difficult to get over here in Belgium. You must make an appointment at the Monestary and notify them of the amount you are going to purchase; and they have a limit.


Personally I find many other beers in Belgium to be just as good, but it's a matter of taste. With so many to chose from I would go with something different. This one is not worth the price American's are paying for it.

Dec 16, 2012 9:24AM
It’s going to make a fantastic Christmas present and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
Dec 14, 2012 7:17PM
I'd never heard of it. Guess I don't get out much.
Dec 17, 2012 12:43PM
Idioys at NFL games pay upwards of $8.50 per beer. Times that by six and that's $51 for Bud. The foaming at the mouth fanatics who attend these lame  games seem to care not. In fact, I'm betting they stadiums could raise the price to $10 and not feel a loss of sales.
Dec 16, 2012 12:12PM

Well I guess....

Considering what we have spent money on...

Tips we've left at Casinos, would have bought some of these...


Guess I would buy TWO....One for relative, and one to keep for a "collectible."

We still have an 8 pack of the "old" Coca-Cola, in bottles, that we bought years ago.

One bottle was drank for a special occassion....The rest are full.

yeah, PT was right.

Dec 17, 2012 2:40PM

"Pop a Top Again!" "Chug-a-lug-chug a-lug, makes ya wanna holler Howdy-Ho, burns your tummy don't cha know?" "There stands the glass, it's my first one today."


Like Non Picker Eater said..."Get over yourselves!" If someone wants to spend that amount on a six-pack, what the Hell does it matter to you?

Dec 17, 2012 1:33PM

Living in the socialist commonwealth of PA.....we didn't even get the chance to buy any. The State firmly controls (owns) the liquor industry and beer distributor licenses are like gold.


So it looks like PA didn't see enough profit margin to make it worth their time and effort.

Dec 17, 2012 6:49AM
Sadly, it's the retailers making a killing.  The price from the abbey is 39 Euros per case (24). 
Trappist Westvleteren Blond (5,8 vol.% ABV) 30,00 euros
Trappist Westvleteren 8 (dark) (8 vol.% ABV) 34,00 euros
Trappist Westvleteren 12 (dark) (10,2 vol.% ABV) 39,00 euros
Dec 17, 2012 4:02PM
Maybe I should quit my job and become a monk...
Dec 17, 2012 3:28PM
Most sports fans pay more than 85 dollars a six pack at stadiums for really bad beer.
Dec 17, 2012 3:11PM

I don't know why people complain. 

Anyway, people overpay for stuff all the time like wine, cars, electronics and many other things. 

When I was in basic training for the Army we would only get candy in our MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat.)  Our drill sergeants would order us to throw all candy away, we weren't allowed to have stuff like that during basic training. 

Some soldiers wouldn't of course and sneak the candy back to the barracks.  I remember little bag of skittles, reese's, m&m's, etc., were selling for 20-50 dollars.  That to me was ridiculous.  I though have never had a much of a sweet tooth.

I do enjoy my beer though.  I can get tipsy of some cheap milwaukee best or natural ice. 

But to me drinking is not just about getting drunk. I love the taste, I love it with a nice steak.  I love it during live sporting events, or over a game of pool or poker. 

For something I value I'm willing to pay more if its of a better quality.  Not all beer is the same.  I can totally understand why someone would pay $85.00 for a six pack.

Dec 16, 2012 12:37PM

Found "one" on line for $320....now.

Wait a few weeks, probably go over 500.

Dec 17, 2012 4:48PM
I searched all over my area for it. The store carrying it sold out with in 20 min of sales. Sucked because I had to be a responsible person and go to work that day. I was hoping someone would sell it on craigslist. they did at $250 a brick. I love beer but not that much. Too bad.....
Dec 17, 2012 8:00PM
I honestly thought they were just at the airport bar
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