dsc01586Dear readers, I sit before you a very grateful man.

Since I’ve gotten interested in craft beer and familiarized myself with the more hard-to-find offerings out there, one name has consistently popped up amongst the beer geek circles as the most desirable and treasured of them all. I’m talking Westvleteren.

Well, through a stroke of luck and good timing, I am now the proud owner of Westvleteren 12 (quadrupel) and 8 (dubbel). Two of the most rare and sought after beers in the world, thanks in large part to its extraordinarily limited distribution…as in you can’t get it unless you literally call the monks at St. Sixtus ahead of time to make an appointment, drive to their monastery in rural West Flanders, Belgium, and after the proper credentials have been verified humbly take your ration of two cases allotted to each person only once per month.

As you may have guessed, “Westy” has earned a mystique and lore arguably unmatched by any other beer on the face of the Earth. It’s been the #1 ranked beer in the world according to Beer Advocate for countless years running. The Wall Street Journal did a piece on the monastery in 2007, noting that the monks of St. Sixtus still use the same recipe they’ve kept quietly to themselves since the 1830’s. St. Sixtus is the smallest of the seven Trappist beer-producing monasteries, and unlike the others, all of the brewing is solely managed by the monks themselves. They do have a handful of secular employees, but only for bottling and other manual labor. And they don’t look to turn a profit, either. From our friend Wikipedia:

“Whilst the brewery is a business by definition (its purpose is to make money), it does not exist for pure profit motives, and they do no advertising except for a small sign outside the abbey which indicates the daily availability of each beer. The monks have repeatedly stated that they only brew enough beer to run the monastery, and will make no more than they need to sell, regardless of demand. During World War II, the brewery stopped supplying wholesalers and since then they only sell to individual buyers in person at the brewery or the visitor’s centre opposite. These methods all go against modern business methods, however as stated by the Father Abbott on the opening of the new brewery, ‘We are no brewers. We are monks. We brew beer to be able to afford being monks.'”

Frankly, I can’t think of a higher calling than that.

So how did I come by said beers? Well, a very generous local Twin Cities beer afficionado agreed to a nice little trade for a handful of hard-to-find offerings that I had in my cellar. While my stock was noticeably depleted from the transaction, I think we both walked away feeling like we got a pretty fair deal. He even threw in a bottle of Troeg’s Nugget Nectar and their Scratch Beer 16. Incredibly nice. 

Not sure when I’ll review these. I may just stare at them in awe for the next couple years while they mature.

Huge thanks to Mr. Biniek.


It’s been an eventful several days. First, I was up in northern Minnesota over the weekend trying my luck at catching some walleye with my dad, and we were pretty successful. Growing up in Minnesota, most of us are naturally drawn to the north, like a magnetic compass. Many go to recharge, connect with nature, get centered again. It’s why I like spending time there. But when it’s butt ass cold, you’re not so much interested in taking in the autumnal leaf changes, but rather trying your best not to slip into a hypothermic state as you whip across a barren lake at 6:30 a.m. in a boat. Such was the case with me and my dad. The thermometer read 27 degrees when we put in Saturday morning, and it didn’t break 50 until high noon. Not that those temps are that cold for us true, hardy Minnesotans. But when you’re on the water, and there’s a slight wind, and the clouds give a little overcast cover, things can get interesting pretty quickly.

After a solid fishing trip, I spent most of Sunday out in the garage making a nice little IPA. Used 2-row pale, a bit of medium crystal, and plenty of Cascade and Simcoe. Interestingly enough, during the boil a huge spider came crawling up the side of the pot, and I took it as a sign. So this one is going to be The Captain’s Spider IPA. Or maybe ArachnoPalia. Cheesy names aside, everything went pretty smoothly, and I was able to pitch the yeast and get the wort fermenting before the Sunday night football game. And it’s been bubbling away very nicely ever since. The sharp hop smell coming out of the air lock is fantastic. I’m debating on whether I dry hop with some Cascade to give it a little extra aroma, or toss in some Simcoe for a crisper bite. We’ll see how I feel when racking day comes.

Which brings us to this evening. I’ve been anxiously awaiting a nice little package from my friend Joey at South Bay Drugs and Liquor in San Diego. Some really nice beers I’ve been looking forward to trying. The Fedex guy tried delivering it over the weekend, but since I wasn’t here, and it required an adult signature, they had to postpone the drop. But it was waiting for me tonight. I ripped open the box, and found an expertly packed set of some of the coolest beer bottles I’ve ever seen. You might say I have my work cut out for me. Here’s what’s chilling in the beer fridge: 

Allagash Curieux
Russian River Damnation
Russian River Pliny the Elder
Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal
Stone Arrogant Bastard
Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard
Stone Cali-Belgique
Stone IPA
Stone Levitation Ale
Stone Pale Ale
Stone Ruination Double IPA
Stone Vertical Epic Ale 08.08.08

Yeah, so there’s alot of Stone. I’ve just heard great things about the brewery and wanted to try a wide variety of what they have to offer. Look for the reviews in the coming weeks.