These ultrapricey brews can cost as much as your beer budget for an entire year … okay, an entire month.
Call them visionaries, maniacs, or people with drinking problems, but brewers all over the world are brewing beers that have absurdly high alcohol contents, or that come in bottles doubling as works of art, or that are derived from ancient recipes and ingredients dug up from graves. They all have one thing in common: They’re ridiculously expensive.
Thirsty yet? Then grab your wallet and check out the priciest brews money (well, maybe not your money) can buy.
End of History is pretty much the Holy Grail of the quest to brew the world’s most alcoholic beer. BrewDog’s first attempt, conducted in an ice-cream factory to help keep the beer at about -4 degrees Fahrenheit, resulted in Tactical Nuclear Penguin — a beer that was 32 percent alcohol — and took nearly two years. Not satisfied, the BrewDoggers then churned out the 41 percent Sink the Bismark. Apparently still not wasted enough, they’ve now released the 55 percent End of History. Believe it or not, the name is inspired by the philosopher Francis Fukuyama, who said the Western Democratic paradigm marked the endpoint of blah blah blah. All you really need to know is that it’s more potent than most bourbon and is bottled within taxidermied roadkill.
Brewed by a team of archeologists and scientists and based on a 3,250-year-old recipe unearthed during an archaeological dig, the first bottle of Tutankhamen Brew, or Tut’s, was priced at a cool 5,000 pounds (about $7,500). The recipe was discovered in the remains of an ancient Egyptian kitchen in Tell el Amarna — the city where Pharaoh Tutankhamun is thought to have been born around 1350 BC. To recreate the beer in the most authentic manner possible, archeologists and brewers grew a crop of the rare ancient Egyptian grain emmer, then augmented its flavor with coriander — an herb common in the Nile region; the whole project took more than six years. These days, you can find one of the remaining samples selling online for about $75. But be careful, much like King Tut’s tomb, they’re cursed!
One bottle of Vieille Bon Secours ale has been stored at the London restaurant Belgo for the last 10 years; for some weird reason, nobody’s forked over the $1,000 for the massive 12-liter vessel containing about 20 pints of beer. Executive chef Muir Picken has said he’s thinking about donating the beer to his most loyal customers to prevent its being wasted on “city boys who sometimes walk in and say ‘give me the most expensive beer that you have.’”
When it debuted in 2003, Utopias was named by Guinness — the world record people, not the beer people — the world’s most alcoholic beer. Although it was unseated by BrewDog’s procession of increasingly boozy brews, Utopias remains a trailblazer. In fact, as the brand proudly advertised, its alcohol content made it technically illegal in 11 states whose laws allowed only for mortal beers. Today Utopias still contains a variety of malted barleys and a smidge of maple syrup, and is fermented in scotch, bourbon, port, and cognac casks. Drink it at room temperature like a brandy — but do it in Iowa, and you may be thrown in the slammer.
Limited to a run of about 1,000 tasty bottles, this “pale barley wine” is the result of a collaboration between six brewers from four different European countries. Brewmaster Morten Ibsen claims the beer “tastes as wonderful as the angels sing.” We’re not sure about that, but we do know the full flavor and body is similar to a dessert wine. The bottles themselves aren’t just meant for breaking over the heads of street toughs — they’re commissioned works of art that represent what the city of Carlsberg will look like in the future, just as the beer itself is supposed to represent the future of brewing. We just hope that doesn’t mean the future will consist of $2,040 six packs.