May 15, 2020 - 12:07 AMT
Belgian monks restart exclusive beer production

Belgium is only cautiously beginning to emerge from its coronavirus lockdown and its bars and restaurants won't open until next month at least. But the prayers of a lucky few drinkers have nevertheless been answered, with the release of a new batch of perhaps the world's best and most exclusive beer, AFP reports.

The monks of the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus only sell their holy brew by appointment, to individual consumers, and until Thursday, May 14 their outlet was closed.

Belgium has had one of the highest per capita death tolls from the global coronavirus pandemic in the world, and rules for social distancing have been strict.

St Benedict's rules, however, say the monks must work to support themselves, and the Trappist Westvleteren beer is regularly voted among the world's best by fans.

On Thursday, aficionados who reserved a slot online -- and were willing to observe safety rules -- were able to pull up to the monastery and pick up their quota.

Brother Godfried, of the order, explained the rules.

"At the red light they have to stop, so that there are only two or three people active here where the transaction takes place," he told AFP.

"We also work without cash and there's plexiglass."