Westvleteren is the “Holy Grail of Ale.” Founded in 1838, the beer is brewed by Trappist monks at the St. Sixtus Abbey in Belgium. In 2014, Westvleteren 12 was named the best beer in the world on ratebeer.com.

Westvleteren is a strong example of the Pink Goldfish of Withholding. Withholding is about limitations, boundaries, and constraints. That sounds somewhat negative. Shouldn’t the best organizations be everywhere all the time? Even if we don’t serve everyone, we certainly want more customers don’t we?

Withholding is deliberately doing LESS of what is considered normal by others. By reducing options or completely eliminating them, brands can stand out and differentiate themselves. Let’s look at how Westvleteren withholds:

– No labels
– No marketing
– No wholesale distribution
– No bulk orders
– No production increases since 1946
– No interviews (except to warn about re-selling the beer)
– No regular business hours
– No deliveries (all beer must be picked up from the abbey)

The brewery is unapologetic about all the restrictions. Father Abbott, a St. Sixtus monk, explains, “we are not brewers. We are monks. We brew beer to be able to afford being monks.”

Takeaway: Bigger isn’t always better. Do more by offering less. Because different is better.