Galen McQuillen of Cambridge arrived at Craft Beer Cellars' front door at 7:30 a.m. to stand in line for an opportunity of a beer enthusiasts lifetime.
And he wasn't even the first in line (McQuillen was second.)
Dressed warmly in a heavy-duty parka, McQuillen joined approximately 40 people waiting at the front door of the two-year-old business (an additional 10 were at the back door) at 51 Leonard St. to be given a number to purchase one of the great and rare beers brewed around the world.
Westvleteren XII, dubbed the "Holy Grail of Ales" by the Los Angeles Times, is being sold today (that would be 12-12-12) at 12 noon at Craft Beer Cellars, one of only 150 locations around the US and three in Massachusetts.
And the Cellars were provided a precious 80 cases from the American specialty beer importer Shelton Bros.
Until recently only available at the Trappist brewery in Belgium, the beer – which received at 100 rating on ratebeer.com and named best beer in the world by Beer Advocate – are being sold in gift packs containing six 11.2 oz. bottles and two Westvleteren goblets.
The price for the six pack? $85.
"What? Does that come with Santa Claus?" wondered a passing resident.
"I've never had it but it's supposedly the best in the world," said McQuillen.
The rarity of the supply is due to the monk's intention to make only enough beer to run the operation. Monk Mark Bode, in an interview last year in the London Independent, explained that the abbey had no intention of increasing its production, despite demand: "We make the beer to live but we do not live for beer."
Once the doors were opened just after 10 a.m., the store's "monk" (store employee Elizabeth Lay-Mandala) took down names and handed out cardboard squares with numbers – "It's to beer what a golden ticket was in Willie Wanka," said McQuillen – and within a half hour, 79 tickets were distributed. The 80th number took five extra minutes to be picked up but that was gone by 10:30 a.m.
The distribution of the gift sets began just after noon with the final lucky customer leaving the store just after 1 p.m.