Westvleteren in Colruyt?
The monks of the abbey of Westvleteren, makers of what many claim to be the world’s best beer, are in talks with discount supermarket chain Colruyt to sell the beer in supermarkets, breaking with a long tradition in which only visitors to the abbey could buy the coveted drink.
In recent years, following the beer's consistent rating on the website Ratebeer.com as the world's best, the abbey has been forced to introduce tighter sales measures. Officially, it is only for sale at the abbey and in Café De Vrede opposite the abbey.
A strict telephone-only reservation system was developed whereby customers must book a time and day to pick up their purchase, which is limited to one to three crates, depending on supplies. The abbey always maintained that, despite the beer's success, they had no desire to increase production beyond their usual modest limits.
Now, however, planned renovation work on the abbey appears to be costing more than expected, and the monks are in need of income. The decision to increase production and commercialise the beer in the shops is a "temporary" one, a brother said.
Colruyt refused to comment, except to say that reports of an agreement being reached were "premature". It has been reported that the plan is to offer a special box of three bottles and a glass. How long the cooperation will last and whether the abbey will decide to temporarily farm out a portion of the brewing of its fabled beer to an outside licensee, are questions which will only become clear later.