10 of the World's Most Expensive Beers

filed under: alcohol

If you like sampling new beers or hate having money, you might want to try one of these.

1. Sapporo's Space Barley

Price: $110/six-pack
ABV: 5.5%

In 2006, Japanese and Russian scientists tested how well barley could grow in space. They rocketed barley seeds to the International Space Station and planted them aboard the Zvezda Service Module. After spending five months in orbit, the fourth-generation of barley was brought back to earth, where Japanese brewer Sapporo fermented it into the world's first space beer. A six-pack costs $110—not bad, considering it was imported from the cosmos.

If you'd like a cheaper space brew, try 4pines Vostok Space Beer. The stout is the first zero-gravity beer. Not only is it drinkable in space, but it's cheaper, too: $20 for a six-pack. It's perfect for anyone who's dreamt of imbibing where no man has imbibed before.

2. Crown Ambassador Reserve

Price: $90/750ml
ABV: 10.2%

If Foster's is Australian for beer, then Crown Ambassador Reserve must be Australian for expensive beer. Aged in French oak barrels for 12 months and packaged in a champagne bottle, Crown pitches Ambassador as an alternative to wine. The Australian brewer has produced four iterations since 2008, each batch limited to 8,000 bottles.

3. Tutankhamun Ale

Price: $75/500ml
ABV: 6%

In 1990, Cambridge archaeologist Dr. Barry Kemp unearthed Queen Nefertiti's Royal Brewery. He found ten brewing chambers buried beneath the Egyptian sand. Each contained traces of ancient beer residue. With the help of an electron microscope, fellow scientist Dr. Delwen Samuel analyzed the residues to quantify the 3,250-year-old recipe. The researchers then teamed up with Scottish brewer Jim Merrington, who made 1000 bottles of the Queen's brew. The first sold for $7,686, but the price tag eventually dipped to $75 per bottle. Years later, Merrington's breweries closed down. Did Tut's curse strike again?

4. Brewdog's Sink the Bismarck

Price: $80/375ml
ABV: 41%

Named after Nazi Germany's largest battleship, Sink the Bismarck was Brewdog's attack on Schorschbräu, a German brewery that held the record for strongest beer. Not only did Bismarck beer briefly steal the record, but it also redefined brewing. Brewdog calls the beer a "quadruple IPA": It was freeze-distilled four times, has four times as many hops as a conventional beer, and is four times as bitter. It's also forty times as expensive. Also from Brewdog: the slightly cheaper Tactical Nuclear Penguin.

5. Samuel Adams' Utopias

Price: $150/700ml
ABV: 27%

Weighing in at $150, Samuel Adams' Utopias is America's most expensive beer. Released every two years, each batch is aged in sherry, brandy, cognac, bourbon, and scotch casks for up to 18 years. (Each installment also contains a touch of maple syrup!) Thanks to archaic ABV laws, Utopias is banned in 13 states. If the price tag makes you wince, just remember you may be able to get a nickel refund if you recycle the bottle.

6. Schorschbräu's Schorschbock 57

Price: $275/330ml
ABV: 57.5%

Released in 2011, Schorschbock 57 claims to be the strongest beer in the world. According to Master brewer Georg Tscheuschner, a higher proof beer would violate Germany's 500-year-old Beer Purity Law. Schorschbräu only made 36 bottles, and each carries a price tag of €200. Tasters say the 115 proof bock is smoky and nutty, with hints of raisins and, obviously, alcohol. The folks at ratebeer.com gave it a paltry 20/100.

7. Carlsberg's Jacobsen Vintage

Price: $400/375ml
ABV: 10.5%

The Danish company launched "the vintage trilogy" in 2008 to challenge the luxury wine market. This barley wine is matured in Swedish and French oak barrels for six months and supposedly tastes like vanilla and cocoa, with hints of peaty "tar and rope." Sold at upscale restaurants in Copenhagen, 600 bottles were made annually from 2008 to 2010. Each bottle boasts an expiration date of 2059, which means you have another 47 years before that smoky "tar and rope" taste goes bad.

8. Brewdog's The End of History

Price: $765/330ml
ABV: 55%

With the beer to end all beers, the gang at Brewdog mistakenly thought End of History would end the ABV arms race. At 110 proof and a staggering $765, it is the third strongest and second most expensive beer on the planet. This blond Belgian ale was mixed with nettles and juniper berries from the Scottish highlands and then freeze distilled multiple times. Only 12 bottles exist, and each is made out of taxidermied roadkill: seven weasels (stoats), four squirrels, and one hare. I like to think of them as fuzzy koozies.

9. Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844

Price: $44.00/720ml
ABV: 6%

In the USA, Pabst Blue Ribbon is one of the cheapest beers you can buy. But in China, it is the Mercedes Benz of Beers. At $44 per bottle, Chinese PBR costs 44 times more than what's sold stateside. That’s because it’s not the same blue-collar swill. PBR 1844 is made from German caramel malts, is aged in uncharred American whiskey barrels, and even comes in a fancy glass bottle. Masterbrewer Alan Kornhauser designed the ale to compete with higher end wines and brandies. It is not sold outside of China.

10. Nail Brewing's Antarctic Nail Ale

Price: $800-$1815/500ml
ABV: 10%

Not made from animals, this pale ale is made for animals. Concocted by Nail Brewing in Perth, Australia, 100% of profits go to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. (That's right, the Whale Wars people.) The Sea Shepherds landed a helicopter on an Antarctic iceberg, dug up some ice, melted it in Tasmania, and flew it to Perth for brewing. Only 30 bottles were made, and the first sold for $800 at auction.

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June 21, 2012 - 7:11pm
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