The severely limited release of a rare Trappist ale has irked some specialty beer store owners, including Julie Atallah of the popular Bruisin’ Ales beer store in Asheville.
The NPR blog The Salt picked up on the controversy, and picked up on a tweet by Atallah. Here’s the set-up from The Salt regarding the Westvleteren 12 beer release:
To many beer fans, the arrival of the Westvleteren 12 Trappist ale in American shops today is a chance to try a beer they’ve only read about on beer-geek blogs and sites — where it’s often given a “world class” rating of 100.
But finding the beer can be tricky — it’s not available in all states, and some stores sold out of their allotment within hours of opening Wednesday.
As NPR’s Teri Schultz reported on Morning Edition today, the beer is being imported by Massachusetts-based Shelton Brothers. And although a relatively large shipment hit U.S. shores, the beer made by Belgium’s St. Sixtus Abbey is still not widely available.
And Atallah’s mention and Bruisin’ Ales tweet:
Still, not everyone is enthusiastic about the new Trappist on the block. Some folks seem to miss the veil of exclusivity that had separated beer connoisseurs from mere dilettantes. And the abbey’s requirement of a single sales price means that most of the rare ale went to mainstream retailers, rather than the more fractured market of boutique and specialty stores.
For instance, on Twitter, Bruisin’ Ales cited “More Westy nonsense… in Alabama, Westvleteren is being sold by PIGGLY WIGGLY. Good lord. This beer belongs in specialty shops. Period.”
Atallah has gone on to tweet more of her thoughts about the controversy. A selection:
No? That’s not what exclusivity means. It’s one retail outlet in the state. It should be available to ALL retailers.
@ncbeerguy It’s not entitlement. I was speaking of fairness. Small shops support that portfolio, too. To be cut out is a slap in the face.
@ncbeerguy Not in NC, no. I have said for years that we need a Retailers Association in the third tier. No one speaks for little guys.
@freethehops I lived there. I know. It was an example. But everyone should have access. I respectfully disagree with exclusives.
The fact that stores like Bruisin’ Ales were left out of distribution, and places like Piggly Wiggly get it… Bad. Westvleteren 12 is one of the top top beers in the world. Just ask anyone who has been luck enough to try it. Westvleteren 12 belongs in the specialty shops only. This is the first and last time it will be available outside of the abbey. The only reason the monks agreed to distribute this time was so they could fund repairs and improvements at the abbey.
The fact that stores like Bruisin’ Ales were left out of distribution for what is one of the greatest beers in the world is very sad. Westvleteren 12 belongs in the specialty shops. This is the first and last time it will be available in the USA.
PBR For All!