The power of a Belgian Trappist beer
donderdag 03 november 2011 14:49

What to do when you are the abbot of a Trappist monastery in Belgium with  old buildings that have to be renovated and  you have no money but you brew one of the best beers in the world which is not commercialized in the shops, only on sale at the monastery (and only after reservation by telephone) and with a limited production?

You must be creative.

The monks of the St. Sixtus abbey in Westvleteren found the answer in a great PR action. The past months they brewed and bottled an extra 1800 hectoliter of their Sixtus XII beer and made a partnership with two media and the store chain Colruyt (about 200 stores). A specialized packaging company also joined the club and the Westvleteren building stone was born, a  box with six bottles and two special Trappist beer glasses, labeled Ad aedificandam abbatiam adiuvi i.e. “I contributed in the renovation of the abbey”.

One of the characteristics of the Sixtus XII is the fact that you can store it for years and the taste only improves. At its best, it almost tastes as a great port wine but still with the trappist flavor.

The two media partners, the daily newspaper De Standaard and the weekly Knack published a voucher on Wednesday November 2 with which people could buy this exclusive box for 25 € in the Colruyt store on November 3. The revenues will entirely be used to pay the bills for the renovation of the monastery.

93.000 boxes were for sale and buy noon, they were all gone. In the 8 o’clock radio news warned for  long queues at the Colruyt stores which opened their doors at 8.30.

The action was launched weeks ago in the media and today it was in news on radio and television and covered by the news websites. I guess De Standaard and Knack sold a lot of extra copies yesterday and the Colruyt stores received quite a lot of new customers. The monks have their funds and the amateurs of good beer have their favorite drink for which otherwise they have to travel maybe hundred or more kilometers. Everybody happy.

In case you want to know: I have my two ‘building stones’ and I will enjoy my Sixtus XII during the Christmass period with a good book, nice music in the background and the idea that I helped the monks to restore and renovate their ancient abbey.