‘World’s Rarest Beer’ comes to Shrewsbury Market Hall

Craft beer aficionados proclaim it to be both the world’s ‘rarest’ and ‘best’ beer. Now bottles of the elusive Westvleteren 12 beer, brewed by Trappist monks in a tiny Belgian monastery, are on sale at a French Crêperie in Shrewsbury’s indoor market.

Les Crêpes De Sophie is one of just a handful of establishments in the UK that are currently selling the sought-after 10.2% ABV strength quadruple dark ale.

Sophie Carron and Mathew Hocking, who opened the crêperie less than two months ago, selling a range of specialist craft beers and ciders, have been lucky to get hold of a consignment of Westvleteren 12 through a contact who lives close to the famous Abbey of Saint Sixtus on the Belgian/French border.

“It’s extremely difficult to get hold of,” said Mathew.

“It’s only available to buy in person at the Saint Sixtus Abbey once every 60 days and this itself has given it a legendary status in the eyes of beer drinkers. But it’s absolutely worth the effort. It’s an incredible beer.”

The monks produce limited quantities of the beer, just enough to financially support the monastery and charitable causes.

Due to its demand prospective buyers must call the abbey’s so-called ‘beer phone’ for the right to purchase no more than two crates. Those who get through - reportedly only two per cent do – then queue up in their cars outside the monastery on a designated day to receive their allotment from the monks themselves. 

The monastery lies just a few miles from Sophie’s childhood home, just across the border in France.

“To be able to bring something special, from the area where I grew up, to my business in Shrewsbury Market Hall is wonderful,” she said.

   Westvleteren 12, one of three craft beers produced by the monastery, is regularly rated by beer rating websites and magazines as the ‘best in the world’. It has repeatedly been named the best by the Amerian website Ratebeer.com over the past six years. It took the title again this year.

Shrewsbury Market Hall, including Les Crêpes De Sophie, will be open late for Christmas shopping on Wednesday December 18 until 8pm. The market will also open for extra festive shopping on Sunday December 22, 10am to 4pm, and Monday December 23 until 6pm. It will be open Christmas Eve until 4pm.

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Pete White Pete White

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