[3/30 Update: Part II one the Webshop vs. eBay can be found here.]
[3/30 Update: Coutteau's response should end any doubt that Struise has not received permission from Westvleteren to sell its beers online. More Westy just sold out this morning after I posted so keep checking back.]
(Oostvleteren, BELGIUM) – Struise has not started an eBay account for you to buy Westvleteren though they (apparently?) have an agreement with the abbey of Saint Sixtus to sell it on their webshop.
The first allotment of Westvleteren went on sale on Sunday afternoon and sold out in 13 minutes. More was added to the site on Monday and as of Monday night, there were bottles of Westvleteren 12 to be had though they have sold out. The best beer in the world (sorry, Pliny the Younger didn’t last long at the top of Beer Advocate) was listed for only 4 euro at a two bottle limit. Note that prices are only viewable after creating a free account. Instead of listing a product as sold out, the site lists de-lists the product altogether. There is a way to subscribe to product updates though I don’t know how effective it is and the link only to subscribe only comes up after completing an order. If anyone has a better idea for being notified as to when more Westvleteren is added, please post in the comments.
The brewery charges 26 euros for every six bottles shipped so it makes sense to order in multiples of six (in other words, whether you order one bottle or six, your shipping will come out to 26 euros). Because of the limit on Westvleteren 12, you would have had to fill in the rest of your order with Struise beers and there are several good options there. A six bottle order is likely to come in at $60-75 USD after shipping, a relative bargain compared to the prices that you might find for Westvleteren and Struise beers listed on eBay.
And that is what this is all about.
Says Struise’s Urbain Coutteau on RateBeer, “Westvleteren does need help. We were able to ruin the Ebay market in just two months. ‘Help thy Neighbour’ has always been our philosophy. And if we are right, we, and we only will be able to stabilize Westvleteren beers. My hair comes up right when I see a crate of Westvleteren beer being sold at 670$ at belgianshop.com and/or at 12 euros a bottle at the crackedkettle.com or 250 euro a six pack on ebay.
Gentlemen, besides brewing drinkable beers, I’m at war, and I will rest once I have beat all those opportunists, and you can help me, by buying at a reasonable price at our place.”
It is unknown as to when the next bottles will be available in the store. It is also unclear as to whether there is an actual agreement in place with Saint Sixtus.
Part II coming in a few hours . . .