According to Wikipedia: Brouwerij Westvleteren was founded in 1838 inside the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in the Belgian municipality of Vleteren. Trappist monks from the Catsberg monastery, located in France, founded the St Sixtus monastery in 1831 and began brewing in 1838. The brewery was the only Trappist one to retain the copper vessels throughout the wars—the other breweries had the copper salvaged by the Germans for their war efforts. In WWI this was primarily due to the abbey not being occupied by the Germans, but instead was caring for wounded allied troops. In 1931, the abbey began selling beer to the general public, having only served beer to guests and visitors up until that time. In 1946, the St. Bernardus brewery in nearby Watou was granted a license to brew beer under the St Sixtus name. This agreement ended in 1992; St. Bernardus still brews beers of similar styles, but under their own name. The brewery currently employs three secular workers for various manual labor tasks, however the primary brewing is done by the monks only. It is the only Trappist brewery where the monks still do all of the brewing. Of the 26 Cistercians who reside at the abbey, five monks run the brewery, with an additional five who assist during bottling.
Thanks to a friend traveling in Amsterdam, I got the rare opportunity to try the #1 Beer in the World, Westvleteren 12.
Murky brown/purple pour with noticeable sediment. Very much like the 8, a thick off white to light brown head forms a nice cap atop the brew. Huge hit of dark fruits on the smell, more plums and the like than the caramel malts and raisins present on the 8. Boozy and malty. My word this is good. The flavor of the dark fruits is nothing short of spectacular. Robust, bold, big flavors. Malts, booze, fruits, all balanced together absolutely perfectly. Full body. Nicely carbonated. Dry finish. The mouthfeel really keeps you sipping on this one. No doubt one of the best beers I’ve ever had. I just can’t put the glass down. So drinkable, so delicious, basically perfect.