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For some, this Belgian town is beer heaven

NBC's Ned Colt traveled to Belgium in search of a rare brew: Trappist ales, made by monks since the Middle Ages in a small but devoted operation with  sparkling spring water as the essential ingredient.
/ Source: CNBC

Beer and Belgium. For many the beauty in this pint-sized country lies in the vast variety of brews. You could try a different one every day until 2007.

“It’s like the top 10 things you want to do in your life. It’s like going to the Great Wall of China,” said Gordon Strong.

Gordon Strong works in computers, but beer is his passion. He and other American beer judges, brewers, beer geeks and hopheads are on their dream vacation. A week of lambics, pilsners, blondes and browns, getting up early to sniff and sip their way through Belgium, crisscrossing the country on a liquid pilgrimage.

This is Belgium’s King of beers: Trappist ales, brewed by monks since the Middle Ages. A small but devoted operation and sparkling spring water the essential ingredient.

Brother Xavier oversees the famous Orval Brewery, where monks are driven by reverence, not revenue.

“We celebrate God with the care we put into our work,” said Brother Xavier.

The beer voted the world’s best is brewed in the tiny village of Westvleteren, and the camera-shy monks who make it limit quantity to ensure quality.  A beer so rare, there’s a thriving black market. The lucky ones with bottles of St. Sixtus jealously guard their hoard.

We've missed it. We finally find two bottles in the trunk of a car. A beer so good, it doesn't need a label.

But our beer judges say it's the taste. Centuries of care and tradition, no wonder aficionados call it The Holy Grail of beer.