The closed gate at the entrance to Abdij Sint-Sixtus in Westvleteren, West Flanders. This is about as close as most visitors ever get to the birthplace of the holy grail of beers - Westvleteren 12.
In 1831 a hermit, Jan-Baptist Victoor, was joined by a prior and a few monks in the woods near current St. Sixtus, this group developed into the later Trappist abbey of Saint Sixtus in Westvleteren.
The history of brewing at the site dates back to 1838, when the Westvleteren Brewery was founded inside the abbey precinct. While many other Belgian breweries lost their copper to the forces fighting the two world wars, St. Sixtus continued to brew Westvleteren until 1946 when the monks gave the recipe to the secular brewery St Bernardus and gave them the license to brew Westvleteren for them. This continued until 1992, when St. Sixtus took over the brewing again, to be allowed to use the Authentic Trappist logo.
In 1850, a group of monks from St. Sixtus founded Scourmont Abbey on the barren plateau of Scourmont near Chimay, today the biggest Trappist brewery in Belgium.