Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Really Expensive Beers

I was wondering what was the most expensive beer out there, and to be perfectly honest with you, it is not easy to find a straight answer. Even with all the powers of the internets combined! One site would list the price at $525 the other at $52, or $600 and $400. It took a lot of winding my way through these series of tubes that make up the internet until I could finally come to some sort of conclusion. Here is the list:

1. Carlsberg Jacobsen Vintage no.2 - MSRP $396.00
If you're wondering why the price difference between Vintage No.1 and 2 is only $1.00 (it's actually closer to 20 cents but I rounded up because I felt like it) it is because its actually price is 2,009 Dansk Krone. Since that is the year this barley wine was born. The No. 1 was price at 2,008 Dansk Krone for the same reason. The Vintage No.2 is a 8.7% Baltic Porter of which only 600 twelve ounce bottles are brewer per year.

2. Carlsberg Jacobsen Vintage no.1 - MSRP $395.00

I remember first learning about this beer on the Denmark episode of Three Sheets. This 10.5% Barley Wine is barrel aged for six months leaving it with a very cognac-esque taste. Each bottle of Jacobsen Vintage No. 1 is labelled with an original hand stilled lithographic print made by the Danish artist Frans Kannik (making the empty bottle worth $100) depicting Sif, the wife of Nordic god Thor.

3. Samuel Adams Utopias - MSRP $130.00

This is something. A 54 proof beer. There are hard liquors with less kick than that! At one point it was the strongest beer in the world, but has since slipped into the third place spot following Südstern XXL coming in a 27.6% and Schorschbräu Schorschbock weighing in at 31%! That is only 9% off whiskey. Personally I think the bottle alone is worth the money, look at that beauty. Production is limited at 3,000 bottles per year.

4. La Vielle Bon Secours - MSRP $795.00 / 9 = $85.00 per 24 ounce serving

This 6 liter bottle goes for £500. I could not find any explanation for why this beer costs as much as it does. It is only sold at the Bierodrome Restaurants in London. I really could not find anything on this beer, I know it's an abbey-style brewed in Belgium.

5. Tutankhamen Ale - MSRP $76.00

This beer is based on a archeological find in Egypt by the University of Cambridge. A brewery was found in a section of the Queen Nefertiti’s Temple of the Sun, which was presumably built by King Akhenaton who is King Tutankhamen’s father. From that find they were able to look at the residue on an old brew kettle and determine the ingredient list. This one remided me of Anchor Steam's Sumerian Beer Project. Where pretty much the same thing was one only instead of a 3,500 year old Egyptian temple brewery, it was based off of a 6,000 year old poem from Mesopotamia.

I did not include beers that were auctioned off for charity since that would not really be an accurate reflection of their price, if I did the winner would be a six pack of Stella Artois that went for $14,850, but was signed by various celebrities to support Wild Aid.

MSRP vs. Market Price
The question all this brings to my mind is whether those beers are worth the price of admission? The Carlsberg Jacobsen seems like it is artificially expensive since it's not too hard to find barrel-aged high gravity beers. While the Utopias seems more reasonable since it is such an unusual beer that weighs in at 27% ABV and only costs 1/8th the price per ounce of the Jacobsen. La Vielle Bon Secours seems a little gimmicky too, especially since there is really no other information available other than you can only get it at one restaurant in London. The Tutankhamen Ale just seems like a cool deal to support your local archeologists. I'd like to get my hands on the Sumerian Beer Project beer too.

I did a little sleuthing on eBay to see what the market was for unusual beers from some craft breweries. There are many "collectible" bottles for sale, they are not selling them for the liquids inside of course since that would be illegal. The highest asking price I could find was for a 4 pack of Dogfish Head for $400.00, the next closest was a Stone Vertical Epic 04-04-04 that was priced at $65. Still, it is not even close to the price people are willing to pay for wine.


  1. Talk about expensive beers, this restaurant on Catalina was asking $5.50 for a bottle of Bud! If you factor in the miniscule amount of beer that is actually present in a bottle of bud, that's gotta rate pretty high on your list...

    You're right though, there's a natural ceiling on beer; The 99.99 percentile price of one beer in any restaurant around the world is probably what, $10?

    Maybe you can use Hess Brewing as a vehicle to bring beer the same kind of price curve as wine currently enjoys...

  2. $5.50 is expensive for Bud considering you can get it for less $0.75 per can at any grocery store. I think I've seen worse at MLB games though.

    There are some pricey craft beers emerging. Who knows if it will ever get as crazy as wine though. I've seen bottles of Old Rasputin for $21 at Whole Foods. Still, a far cry from a bottle of Screaming Eagle which run from $1,400 to $12,000.