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Rare Belgian Beer Sold in San Diego

Westvleteren 12 was available at three stores in the county

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A few lucky beer connoisseurs snagged a rare brew in San Diego Wednesday.

Surprisingly, it’s not a local beer. It’s Westvleteren 12, which is brewed by monks at a Belgian monastery and is considered one of the best beers in the world.

Until recently, this elusive brew was only available abroad. But the beer was released to the U.S. for a limited time, since the abbey needs a new roof. So the monks decided to raise funds by sending some cases to the U.S. It was released on 12/12/12 nationwide to a handful of stores.

Only three shops in San Diego managed to obtain Westvleteren – Bine & Vine in Normal Heights, Best Damn Beer Shop in downtown and Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido.

But the day the beer was available, it sold out.

A line formed at Bine & Vine Wednesday afternoon, where only 40 six-packs were available. Each pack was sold for $85 and also included two glasses with the Westvleteren logo.

“The phone keeps on ringing,” said Mike, who works at Bine & Vine. He said they were able to get the elusive beer because of their good relationship with the Westvleteren brewery.

It was a similar situation at Holiday Wine Cellar.

“Before we opened we had a line around the building,” said James, manager of the store.

Best Damn Beer Shop tweeted that they, too, had sold out the shortly after it hit the shelves.

If you can’t get your hands on any Westvleteren, don’t worry. We hear San Diego has some pretty good beers, too.

Melani Gordon, founder of the popular beer website Tap Hunter, said San Marcos-based Lost Abbey makes beers comparable to the monk-made brew.

For those who couldn’t get their hands on the beer, Gordon recommends trying St. Bernardus Abt 12. The strong Belgian ale is available on tap at a few San Diego bars, including Neighborhood and Hamilton’s, and can also be bought in bottles at BevMo.

Gordon says she’s not surprised San Diegans lined up for Westvleteren.

“It’s something fun for people to believe in within the beer community,” she said. “It’s a cool thing to get your hands on this beer.”

Gordon, who tried the beer on her last trip to Europe, described the beer as a Belgian-style quadruple at 10 percent alcohol by volume. She said the dark beer tastes fruity and almost plum-like.

“It’s super special. Year after year it’s been rated as the best beer in the world,” she said. “It’s a delicious, tasty beer.”

Would you buy a $85 six-pack of beer? Tell us in the comments below.

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