Beer was once used as currency in ancient Egypt. It was used to buy slaves, food and even pay wages. Nowadays people don’t use beer as money anymore; people use money to buy beer. What was once considered currency or a means to a reward is now the reward itself.
Have you ever stopped to consider how much you are paying for your beer? How much would you be willing to pay to enjoy the world’s most expensive beers? Here is a list of the current most expensive beers in the world available today.
10. Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844 (China) – $44 per bottle/720ml, Alcohol By Volume: 6%
In the U.S.A. the PBR is one of the cheapest beers available, but in China it’s the other way around. Why is this? The PBR 1844 is different from the standard PBR lager brewed and available in both countries. It was brewmaster Alan Kornhauser who came up with the idea for the 1844 by brewing German caramel malts and American cascade hops then aging it in uncharred whiskey barrels. It also comes in a bottle fit for wine. This is because Kornhauser meant for the 1844 to compete with fancy wines and brandies. Unfortunately, this beer is not for sale outside of China.
9. Tutankhamun Ale (United Kingdom) – $75 per bottle/500ml, ABV: 6%
If you’ve ever wanted to sample how ancient Egyptian beer tasted then this is your chance. In 1990, a Cambridge archaeologist found what was later known to be Queen Nefertiti’s Royal Brewery. The brewing chambers contained ancient beer residue and he was able to analyze them and ascertain their ingredients with an electron microscope. He then contacted Scottish brewmaster Jim Merrington and together they were able to reproduce the recipe of the ancient beer. The first bottle sold for $7,686 but the price eventually dipped to $75. Years later Merrington’s breweries would close down. The only good news is that any remaining bottles of the beer may become valuable since they are no longer in production.
8. BrewDog Sink the Bismarck (Scotland) – $80 per bottle/375ml, ABV: 41%
Aside from referring to the German WW2 battleship, Scottish brewery BrewDog also considered it as their attack on German brewery Schorschbräu that held the record for the strongest beer. So how do you sink the Bismarck? You put in four times more hops, distill it four times and freeze it four times. The result is a beer that has four times more kick, is four times more bitter and has four times more chances of sending you under the table. By then you might be so buzzed you will have gotten over the fact that you also paid forty times more than the normal beer. With that ABV you better be careful how much you drink, lest you want the ground beneath you to feel like a tossing, turning deck.
7. Sapporo Space Barley (Japan) – $110/six-pack, ABV: 5.5%
This beer may just leave you spaced out. In 2006 Japanese and Russian scientists had barley planted on the International Space Station just to see how they would grow. It was part of an experiment to see if humans would be able to grow plants, hence food, in spaceships like what we see in so many sci-fi movies. After five months in orbit the fourth generation of the barley was sent back down to earth where Japanese brewer Sapporo turned it into the world’s first space beer. It’s not the only space beer available though, the Russians brewed their own 4pines Vostok Space Beer available at a cheaper $20 per six-pack.
6. Samuel Adams Utopias (United States) – $150 per bottle/24 ounces, ABV: 27%
It comes in a copper bottle so fancy you think it should be containing WWII cognac exclusive to the army top brass. Utopias were brewed using traditional ingredients including four types of noble hops for that slightly herbal taste. The mixture was then matured in barrels meant for fine wines for more than half a year. The taste has been described as “fiery.” “Pours ultra muddy, ditty dark brown, with some particles floating in it. Aroma is phenomenal, no alcohol at all! Raisins, dried fruits, some port notes, slightly woody. Taste is immediately warming, but with signs of booze again. A lot of sweetness, dark fruits, cherries, plums, slight tart cherry notes in the end. Aftertaste is alcohol tickling, with lovely sweet prunes character. A beer to drink on very special occasions, for sure,” one taster comments.
5. Crown Ambassador Reserve Lager (Australia) – $90 to $800 per bottle/750 ml, ABV: 9.2%
Marketed as an alternative to fine wine, Crown brewery started brewing their Ambassador Reserve Lager in 2008. There are only 8,000 bottles per batch to keep it pricey enough, yet give many beer lovers (at least those who can afford it) a taste of refinement. Each beer comes in a bottle fancy enough to pass for a wine bottle complete with box and velvet casing. The brew is made from the finest ingredients with the addition of handpicked green Galaxy hops. It is then aged in French oak barrels for a year until it is ready. “Pours a beautiful deep red/amber. There is a fair bit of yeast suspended. The nose has a beautiful toffee and biscuits. The taste has loads of treacle and nuts, I guess praline. The palate is rich and full with a lovely elegant and restrained finish. A lovely beer, probably the best beer I’ve had from Australia,” one taster said.
4. Schorschbräu Schorschbock 57 (Germany) – $275 per bottle/330ml, ABV: 57.5%
The Schorschbock 57, can claim to be the strongest beer in the world. The 57 is the German brewery’s answer to BrewDog’s End of History, which has an ABV of 55%. Schorschbräu only made 36 bottles of the beer. Aficionados who have tasted the 57 describe it as “smoky and nutty, with hints of raisins and, obviously, alcohol.” In producing the 57, the Schorschbräu flaunted with the Reinheitsgebot or the German Beer Purity Law, which prohibits proof a little higher than what they have now. This law is only valid in Germany; Scotland may not have any such restrictions.
3. Carlsberg Jacobsen Vintage No. 1 (Denmark) – $400 per bottle/375ml, ABV: 10.5%
Exclusive only for sale in Denmark, the Carlsberg Jacobsen Vintages by the Jacobsen Brewhouse have made a name for themselves, with the 2008 Vintage no. 1 being the most sought after. The brown colored brew is made of only the finest hops and caramel and aged in new Swedish and French oak barrels in old wine cellars for six months. The taste has been described as “malty with notes of wood, caramel, dried fruits and a weak hint of smoke.” The first vintage only has 600 bottles, many of them now sought after in only the finest restaurants of Copenhagen. Diners suggest pairing the beer with cheeses and desserts.
2. BrewDog End of History (Scotland) – $765 per bottle/330ml, ABV: 55%
After Sink the Bismarck, this was BrewDog’s latest attempt to one-up the guys at Schorschbräu. This ale was mixed with nettles and juniper berries from the Scottish highlands, then freeze-distilled multiple times to bring its alcohol volume to this insane level. For a while it was the world’s strongest beer until Schorschbräu shot back with the Schorschbock. It also has the distinction of having the most unusual container in beer history. This is because the beer bottle is stuffed in the carcass of a taxidermied critter, usually a weasel, a hare or a squirrel. While some found it adorable others said it was outright repulsive. Only 12 such bottles were ever produced, which is probably good considering how many more critters might need to be killed for the design of the container.
1. Antarctic Nail Ale (Australia) – $800 to $1,815 per bottle/500ml, ABV 10%
The joke is that this brew by Nail Brewing in Perth, Australia, was made for animals, not humans. How so? All profits go to the Sea Shepherd Conversation Society. Yes, that controversial group featured on the Discovery Channel’s Whale Wars. What makes this beer so expensive is that it was brewed with water from an Antarctic Iceberg. The Sea Shepherds flew to Antarctica in a helicopter, dug up the ice, melted it in Tasmania then flew it to Perth. We’re talking about pristine freshwater that can be found nowhere else in the world. It is also likely that the water has been locked in the ice since the dawn of time. Only 30 bottles of the brew were ever made, with the first one fetching $800 at an auction. Save the whales; grab a beer.