COLORADO SPRINGS — By noon, about 25 people, some who traveled from as far away as Bernalillo, N.M., had lined up outside Coaltrain Wine & Spirits in Colorado Springs, hoping to snag a six-pack of the much sought after Trappist beer Westvleteren XII.
The liquor store, renowned for its selection of craft beer, is one of just four spots in the state to get an allotment of what's been billed as "the world's best beer" that will sell on a first-come, first-serve basis starting at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The first person in line at Coaltrain, who declined to give her name because she skipped work to stand in line, planted herself at the store's doors at 7 a.m.
The shop has fielded hundreds of phone calls, from as far away as Mexico City., owner Jim Little said.
"We had no idea the monster this was creating," he said. "We hope this shows people we have an unbelievable selection."
Little said he can't be certain how many six-packs the store will receive, but he's been told by his distributor to expect between 30 and 40.
Argonaut in Denver and Liquor Mart in Boulder sold out their shipments of 36 six-packs in minutes Wednesday. Another shipment will be sold starting at 9 a.m. Friday at Wilbur's Total Beverage in Fort Collins.
Isaiah Aguilar, 23, was playing the video game "Call of Duty" a little after midnight Thursday when a buddy decided to rally friends in Bernalillo to drive four hours to Colorado Springs.
Someone's dad, a collector who has tried some of the Westvleteren XII, tipped off the trio to the arrival of the beer that has never officially been sold in the U.S. before.
"It's rare. That's why we're here," said Aguilar, who admitted his tastes typically run toward Leinenkugel.
Pizzas were being delivered to the line, as some sipped self-spiked soft-drinks from 7-Eleven cups.
The six-packs of "Westy 12" are priced on the shelf at $85. The box includes two special tasting glasses.
Westvleteren XII has been brewed since 1838 at the abbey of Saint Sixtus in Belgium. A leaky roof — and the need for money to repair it — prompted the monastery to get into the export business.
The four Colorado stores were among the roughly 150 retail outlets selected nationwide for distribution.
Wilbur's Total Beverage managing partner Dennis Dinsmore estimated the store had received 400 phone calls checking on availability. Wilbur's is planning to hire security in preparation for customers camping out in advance of the store's opening, a la Black Friday sales.
"It will be a fun but troublesome deal," he said Wednesday. "No matter what we do, we're going to upset somebody."
A brewery spokesman is on record saying this will likely be the last time the beer is sold commercially.
"I think it will be the last (time)," Westvleteren Brewery spokesman Mark Bode told NPR. "They say, 'We are monks, we don't want to be too commercial. We needed some money to help us buy the new abbey and that's it,' Back to normal again."