Canadian Packaging

Best beer in the world screwed by label laws

No use waffling, Belgian monks trapped by new EU labeling laws and must use labels.


August 27, 2014
by Canadian Packaging Staff

If you are a beer aficionado, chances are pretty good you have sampled the beers made by the Westvletern brewery (founded in 1838) of a monastery in Belgium, often voted the ‘best beer in the world’.

Brewed by the Trappist monks of Saint Sixtus Abbey, and on a very limited basis, Westvleteren’s three beers have been available in unlabeled bottles since 1945. Yes, unlabeled.

The logo is only printed on the distinctive wooden crates.

However, it’s the lack of proper labeling that has it under the boot heels of European Union labeling laws.

The three beers are a goldilocks Blond 5.8% ale (green cap), the dark 8 8% (blue cap) and darker 12 10.2% (gold cap) beers, with the 8 and 12 considered to be ‘bottle-conditioned’ with a long shelf life, which means that like a wine, it can be stored and aged for a better taste.

The main ingredients in the beer are  yeast, hops, malt, sugar, caramel and water—but these ingredients ARE listed upon each bottle cap.

But, starting in 2015, according to the new EU laws on product labeling, the beer MUST note the place of origin for each ingredient…

So, unless the monks can make a bigger beer bottle with a bigger bottle cap to accommodate all this new information, the ingredients list will have to be placed upon a label on the bottle.

The beers, however, sometimes do appear with in other countries with labels… as, for example, importers of the beer into the U.S. are aware that labels must be on the beer bottles to comply with regulations… though that does not mean that the ingredients list was added.

With no other choice, the Trappist monks have said they will add a label to their beer.

Apparently nothing is sacred anymore.


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