The History of Westvleteren Brewery

The Westvleteren Brewery was founded in 1838 at the Saint Sixtus Abbey by Trappist monks. The monks travelled from the French Catsberg monastery in 1831 and upon founding the new Sixtus Abbey they commenced the brewing of beer seven years later. The brewing continued through both world wars, however it was the only Trappist brewery that managed to retain the copper drinking vessels from the Germans, who took the copper from the others to use in the wars. In part, this was down to the fact that the monks of Saint Sixtus offered care for allied troops rather than German soldiers in World War II. The Westvleteren beer was not available for sale and was only consumed by visitors to the abbey.

Many years later in 1931, the Trappist monks allowed the Westvleteren beer to be sold to the public, and so anybody could buy Westvleteren beer. Fifteen years later, a licence was granted to St Bernardus Brewery to brew beer under the Saint Sixtus name. In 1992, this licence expired however the brewery still brew similar types of beer using their own trade name. That was also the year that the abbey had a new brewery opened to update the brewing equipment.

Today, the brewery has three labourers at work but the majority of the brewing tasks are done by the 26 Trappist monks. It is the only remaining brewery where Trappist monks still do the brewing of the beer.


Trappist is the name given to those who worship and belong to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, which is a religious order within the Roman Catholic westvleteren trappistreligion. The name given to nuns following the religion is Trappistines. Trappists follow the Rule of St Benedict, and live by the rules that guide them to live a monastic life. In the religion, the values and benefits of living life in such as way are pointed out, hence the setup of monasteries like St Sixtus Abbey. There are Trappist monasteries all over the world, from the UK to Africa and even India and Japan. The name ‘Trappist’ comes from the name from La Trappe Abbey in Normandy, France. In 1664 there was a reform following a discovery that many monks and nuns had ben relaxing their practices, which was not tolerated.

Almost all Trappist monasteries produced (and some still do) goods of all kinds, including cheeses, bread, clothing and of course, beer like Westvleteren. Their beers are renowned for being unique and unlike any other as they contain live yeast and residual sugars, which is not common in beers.

Buy Westvleteren 12 trappist

Although it has previously been difficult to buy Westvleteren beer, it is possible to buy Trappist Westvleteren beer online. Currently, the brewery limit their productions to around 60,000 cases per year of Westvleteren XII, which has remained unchanged since the mid-1940s. The beer is also sold in the café opposite the brewery by the bottle. Buyers of Westvleteren 12 are limited two cases per car and purchasers are able to pre-book an order via the brewery’s ‘beerphone’, and only one order is allowed to be placed every 60 days per licence plate and telephone number., and only one or two cases at a time depending on which of the beers you are buying.

And it is no wonder this Belgian beer is so popular. The flavour is outstanding with a nutty, yeasty aroma and taste, and hints of coconut and caramel. The exceptional taste of the beer coming out of st Sixtus Abbey is largely down to its unusual content of live yeast, which is uncommon in beer, but seems to work well. The beer also contains residual sugars, which is responsible for causing the sweet caramel flavours.

You can’t go wrong with Westvleteren beer when you want to buy Belgian beer. Buying beer isn’t easy today as there are so many varieties to choose from, and everybody has different taste, but the verdict on this wonderful Westvleteren beer seem unanimous. It’s the best beer in the world according Ratebeer and Beeradvocate.

Westvleteren Abbey

The Sint Sixtus Abbey is located Donkerstraat 12, 8640 Vleteren, a small community in West-Flanders, Belgium. During World War I Westvleteren was 8 kilometer away from the frontline, resulting in a few militairy cemetries at Westvleteren.

The name ‘Trappist’ is legally protected and should only be used if it meets certain requirements, these requirements imposed by the International Trappist Association. Trappist beer must be brewed by monks belonging to the abbey and must be brewed within or in the vicinity of an abbey. The abbey allowed to sell Trappist have no profit, the proceeds are paid to the livelihood of the monks and the upkeep of the abbey. The surplus is donated to charity. Currently there are 11 Trappist beers which can carry the logo “Authentic Trappist Product”.

Chimay, Engelszell, Rochefort, Westvleteren, La Trappe, Tre Fontane, Achel, Spencer, Zundert, Westmalle, Orval. Other products such as cheese and wine or food can also wear this logo.

In total there are 12 beers that may be called “Trappist”. Mont des Cats then will be added to the previous list.