It’s a good time to be a beer drinker. It would appear that we are living in the golden age of craft beer, with more than 8,000 breweries in the United States alone. No matter your tastes, there is a good chance there’s a perfect pint for you. And while you may think that expensive brews don’t have quite the same prestige as liquor or wine, the purveyors on this list may convince you otherwise.
The average cost of a beer in the U.S. is around $5, but more complex and refined taste buds may be interested in these pricey offerings. Here’s a collection of rare and expensive beers that are definitely worth the investment.
Side Project’s Oude du Blé Vintage 2020
This selection from Missouri-based Side Project Brewing is not outrageously expensive, but when’s the last time you spent $40 on a bottle of beer? Oude du Blé — with its classy black label — may have your taste buds thanking you. Made from Missouri wheat saison and aged in French oak for 13 months, this beer has a deep complexity and a nuanced oaky flavor.
Pro tip: If you need to manage your money but still want to enjoy a good beverage, this beer is the least pricey on our list.
Samuel Adams Utopias
The appeal of beer isn’t usually the design of its bottle, but this selection from super-popular Massachusetts-American brewery Samuel Adams is one exception. Packaged in a beautifully ornate canister, this beer offers 28% ABV and contains notes of tart Balaton cherries. Coming in at just over $200 dollars, this highly-rated beer is aged up to 28 years in a variety of barrels which gives it a unique composition.
Pro tip: If you’re really wild for Sam Adams, you could invest in their beer stocks, which may be rising in popularity.
Carlsberg’s Jacobsen Vintage
Carlsberg is a Danish company renowned for their light beer that’s sold in distinctive light green packaging. The company tried its hand at the luxury beer market in the 2000s with the launch of their Jacobsen Vintage line. This beer is aged for more than six months and contains notes of vanilla, caramel, oak, and prunes. It’s exclusive to Denmark and contains 21% alcohol proof. Each bottle is a work of art itself, containing one-of-a-kind lithographs by Danish article Frans Kannick.
Pro tip: Decorative bottles with beautiful art can also be seen on many expensive tequilas, notably, Clase Azul Reposado bottles that are hand-painted by indigenous artisans from a small Mexican village.
Sapporo’s Space Barley
Sapporo is a beloved beer company from Japan, but their Space Barley brew is nothing like anything else they offer. Although this one does seem like an obvious marketing gimmick, there is no denying that it’s an incredibly cool offering. The barley that is used to make this beer spent five months aboard the International Space Station.
For a brew to be this outworldly, $110 may seem like a bargain, but it is very hard to get your hands on this cosmic beer. It was only sold in Japan with its proceeds going to charity.
BrewDog’s The End of History
Belgian blonde ales are renowned for lending themselves to easy-drinking, but there’s nothing easy about this brew’s price tag. Then again, most blonde ales aren’t 55% proof either, and that’s exactly the ABV rating of this particular beer choice which is made from nettles and juniper berries from the Scottish highlands.
This beer isn’t for those with a weak stomach. For one thing, the bottle is made from taxidermied animals, all of which were once roadkill. At the time of its first production in 2010, this beer was touted as both the world’s strongest and most expensive. Its original run sold out in only four hours and consisted of only 12 bottles.
The company reissued the beer again in 2016, this time with a much higher price tag of $20,000. You can’t buy it on their website anymore, but it’s worth keeping your eye out for auctions and private sellers (or for another re-issue of this iconic beer).
Lost Abbey’s Cable Car Kriek
This San Francisco brew is pretty hard to come across, but if you do, you can expect to pay around $1,000. Its prestige is largely due to its status as a single-run brew, which means that its unique flavor is only available at one time only. It’s brewed in the American Wild Ale style and features juicy cherry notes. Notably, it is one of the rare beers to hold the distinctive 100% rating on beer-rating website BeerAdvocate.
Pro tip: If American liquors are your thing, Coppersea Bonticou Crag Straight Rye Malt Whiskey made in New York is on our list of expensive whiskeys worth splurging on.
Brasserie Caulier’s Vieille Bon-Secours Ale
This illusive Belgian brew comes in at 8% ABV and can exclusively be found at a single bar in London called Bierdome. Heads up before you buy that plane ticket, though — this beer was only made in very small quantities, so there’s a good chance the bartender might be sold out or has raised the price if there is only a small stock left. This dark beer, which contains notes of anise and toffee, is aged for ten years before serving.
Crown Ambassador Reserve
From Australia, the Crown Ambassador Reserve is rumored to be the country’s most expensive bottle of beer, and rightfully so as there is so much to rave about.
This dark 9.6% beer comes with notes of amber and caramel and offers a fruity, hoppy taste. Its retail price is about $73 dollars, but if you’re intent on buying this beer you should expect to pay even more.
BrewDog’s Sink the Bismarck
BrewDog is at it again, this time with their imperial style Sink the Bismarck. With an alcohol rating of 41%, it makes sense that this quadruple IPA is sold by the bottle. According to the brewers, this beer offers a spicy, fruity taste, and interestingly a “full attack on your taste buds”. If that’s the kind of thing you’re into, you might be able to pick up a bottle of this for around $100.
Allsopp’s Artic Ale
Imagine owning a bottle of beer that has gone on more adventures than you have? That’s likely the case with this particular brew from Allsopp which famously went on a 19th century Arctic expedition. This beer, which was brewed in 1875 for a Welsh naval officer, is rumored to taste “sweet” with “hints of tobacco”. It’s hard for us to say ourselves, though, because there is only one bottle out there and it sold for $3,300 British pounds ($4,350 US dollars) at an auction.
Your refined taste for alcohol may be satiated by some of these expensive beers, whose purveyors took great care to produce. Whether you are imbibing or collecting, beer lovers may also be interested in the producers as an investment avenue. Though sales were slightly down in 2020 — likely due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic — the market is worth a staggering $94.1 billion dollars. If you’re searching for a smart investment, looking into beer stocks isn’t half a bad idea.
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