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Trappist monks turn to e-commerce to sell beer

Belgian Trappist monks who brew one of the world’s most sought-after beers are launching an online reservation system to prevent people from selling their bottles on at inflated prices.

The monks of Saint-Sixtus abbey in Westvleteren close to the french border, have been brewing beer the 19th Century under limited production to ensure that selling beer does not take over holy duties.

The monastery started using a telephone reservation system in 2005, and visitors are able to purchase the beer directly on-site. However, thanks to the rising craft beer trend the monastery’s 19 monks have now had to resort to e-commerce after discovering their beers have been sold at “vast profit margins” for hundreds of euros, reports Reuters.

A crate of Westvleteren XII costs €2.50 (£2.23) per bottle, but has been known to sell for much more, with bottles fetching €12 in Brussels.

Brother Godfried told the publication that the monastery decided to act after discovering a Dutch supermarket had stockpiled the bottles and began selling them for €9.95 each.

“It really opened our eyes,” he said.

“It was a sort of wake-up call that the problem was so serious, that a company was able to buy such volumes. It really disturbed us.”

The monastery is now implementing an online reservation system ensuring that beer fans can only order two crates every 60 days.

Priority will be given to those who have waited the longest.

The reservation system also means that beer lovers can select from three different styles.

The abbey produces three beers; a blond, a dark 8% beer and dark 10% beer, priced respectively at €35, €40 and €45 per case of 24.

Each case then has an additional deposit of €15 which is redeemable by customers at any time upon return of the case and empty bottles.

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