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A Westvleteren XII pack not bought

Westvleteren XII in Spain

The point is not whether six bottles of Westvleteren XII and a couple of glasses is worth $85. That’s $5 more than it costs for a National Parks annual pass.1 Pretty easy to tell which of those is a better buy.

The point is not whether it is the World’s Best Beer.2

It’s not that a story on NPR (if you are shaking your head at this point, wondering what I’m rambling on about, that’s a good place to start) has drawn more than 100 comments.

Of course, I can’t perfectly describe the point. If there is one, I do think context is involved. When you get the right bottle, it’s an amazing beer. At that moment, particularly if you are seated in the In de Verde cafe beside the monastery, it is hard to imagine a beer being better.

It’s that good in West Flanders because of the context. It can be elsewhere as well. Although Patrick Emerson provides perspective of value from the point of view of an economist, he also puts it in very human terms: “So is Westvleteren 12 worth $85 for six? Well that is for you to decide, for some it will not be and for others it will. This will be a function of how much enjoyment you’ll get from drinking it, how much you cherish the opportunity to try it and your ability to pay for it (among other things).”

And when you are in Toledo, Spain, there may be no context. That’s where the picture at the top was taken in August (I think I posted it on Twitter). The package was €50 (about $63 at the time).

It might still be sitting there.


1 Unless you are 62 years old. Then it costs $10 for a pass that lasts as long as you do.

2 There is no such thing.

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6 Responses to A Westvleteren XII pack not bought

  1. The Beer Nut December 12, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    I’m told by our importer here that €50 was set as the immutable price throughout Europe. Not that I haven’t seen unscrupulous mutation around the place here and there. Verily the Lord shall curse the gougers with eternally leaky roofs.

  2. Bill December 12, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Re: footnote 2 — well, there is such a thing, it’s just that it’s not the same beer from drink to drink! It’s mystical. It appears in folks’ glasses when most needed, and skips away, laughing at their attempts to recreate it by purchasing the same beer. So the Dark Lord I had with a friend talking over getting through a crisis wasn’t duplicated by the next Dark Lord… but it was reached again by Stone’s Tenth Anniversary brew the day after a Sept. 11th anniversary, and then again with an awesome homebrewed tripel (thanks for the written advice, by the way), and I know there’s been some Bigfoot and Bitburger and Celebrator that have reached that status. Just not every time.

  3. Philip Zanello December 12, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Meanwhile, in Brazil, the few people that get their hands on them sells one bottle for R$200 or R$250, which is around US$100. That´s it! They sell one bottle for 100 bucks just because there are some people that buy it. Horrible indeed!! And if a box of 6 + 2 glasses was beeing sold for that price here, it would be bought in less than an hour!!

  4. Stan Hieronymus December 13, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    Great headline on the NPR blog post following up on yesterday’s story:

    From Belgium To Piggly Wiggly: U.S. Beer Fans Snatch Up Elusive Ale

    Bill – Fair point.

    Philip – Can’t hide from economics, I guess.

  5. SteveH December 13, 2012 at 6:47 am #

    Damn — my local Piggly Wiggly is closing this Saturday. I don’t think they got any Westy. 😉

  6. Michael December 15, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    I recently saw the 6 pack/2 glasses and 4pack/1glass at whole foods. I went with the 4 pack and I think it was around $25?

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