File - A trappist monk oversees the bottling of Trappistes Rochefort beer on February 19, 2014 at the Notre Dame de Saint Remy Rochefort abbey in Rochefort. (AFP PHOTO / GEORGES GOBET)
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Trappist monks leading a life of contemplation near the small Belgian town of Rochefort now find themselves in the global spotlight, under pressure to change as demand for their high-quality, home-brewed beer soars.This is a small, declining community of just 13 monks of the Cistercian Order, which was founded in France at the end of the 11th century on a commitment to "Pray and Work," to focus on the spiritual, not the material world.Traditionally self-sufficient, Trappist monks made enough beer for their own needs and then sold some to help fund charitable and other works. One hope is perhaps to attract monks from abroad, especially from France where their numbers have risen recently.Wesvleteren, widely reputed to be the best beer in the world, was put on sale at a Belgian chain of supermarkets for only a few weeks in 2011 when the monks needed funds to repair their monastery.
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