It’s silly to declare any one beer the best in the world—but there is a beer that is the rarest: Trappist Westvleteren 12 by Brouwerij Westvleteren. To get your hands on a bottle, you must travel to the remote hop-growing region of Belgium, visit the abbey where the beer is brewed, and buy it directly from the monks. That is, until recently: A one-time shipment of Westvleteren 12 arrived in America, which caused an unprecedented frenzy. Pangaea Two Brews Cafe (2743 Franklin Boulevard) got a few cases, and on the day it arrived, all the employees looked frazzled. They had fielded more than 250 calls from as far away as Japan, including one in which the caller claimed that his father’s dying wish is to drink bottle of “Westie.” Owner Rob Archie joked that he was going to sell them to the people with the best hard-luck stories. Here’s my own sad-but-true: I traveled to this area of Flanders by bus, only to discover that the abbey had closed for Easter. (Sad trombone noise.) Can I buy a six-pack now?
Beer: Rueuze (barrel-aged lambic)
Brewer : The Bruery
Where : Corti Brothers, 5810 Folsom Boulevard; (916) 736-3800; www.cortibros.biz
Beer: Old Rasputin XIV (barrel-aged Russian imperial stout)
Brewer: Norfth Coast Brewing Co.
Where : Nugget Markets, various locations; www.nuggetmarket.com
Beer: Big Brown Beaver (barrel-aged strong ale)
Brewer: Berryessa Brewing Co.
Where: The Davis Beer Shoppe, 211 G Street in Davis; (530) 756-5212