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Demand for Belgian Trappist Ale Soars After Coronavirus Lockdown

  • Consumers flood abbey’s online store for rare Westvleteren ale
  • Four times the number of shoppers crashed the computer system
A monk poses by crates of Westvleteren beers at the shop at the Saint-Sixtus abbey, in Westvleteren, Belgium, on May 14.

A monk poses by crates of Westvleteren beers at the shop at the Saint-Sixtus abbey, in Westvleteren, Belgium, on May 14.

Photographer: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images 

The Roman Catholic order that created the Saint-Sixtus abbey in West Flanders has overcome two world wars and other hardships, but it wasn’t prepared for the flood of interest from beer buyers as coronavirus lockdowns ease.

Like many businesses in Belgium -- site of the world’s highest per-capita death rate from the coronavirus -- the abbey had to shut down sales of its fabled Trappist Westvleteren 12 ale, ranked one of the all-time best on the ratebeer.com website.