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10 of the World's Most Expensive Beers

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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Courtesy New District
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Food
Say ‘Cheers’ to the Holidays With This 24-Bottle Wine Advent Calendar
Courtesy New District
Courtesy New District

This year, eschew your one-tiny-chocolate-a-day Advent calendar and count down to Christmas the boozy way. An article on the Georgia Straight tipped us off to New District’s annual wine Advent calendars, featuring 24 full-size bottles.

Each bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine is hand-picked by the company’s wine director, with selections from nine different countries. Should you be super picky, you can even order yourself a custom calendar, though that will likely add to the already-high price point. The basic 24-bottle order costs $999 (in Canadian dollars), and if you want to upgrade from cardboard boxes to pine, that will run you $100 more.

If you can’t quite handle 24 bottles (or $999), the company is introducing a 12-bottle version this year, too. For $500, you get 12 reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines from various unnamed “elite wine regions.”

With both products, each bottle is numbered, so you know exactly what you should be drinking every day if you really want to be a stickler for the Advent schedule. Whether you opt for 12 or 24 bottles, the price works out to about $42 per bottle, which is somewhere in between the “I buy all my wines based on what’s on sale at Trader Joe’s” level and “I am a master sommelier” status.

If you want to drink yourself through the holiday season, act now. To make sure you receive your shipment before December 1, you’ll need to order by November 20. Get it here.

[h/t the Georgia Straight]

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Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Food
A Brief History of the Pickleback Shot
Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It's sour. It's briny. For some, it's nauseating. For others, a godsend.

It's the pickleback shot, an unusual combination of drinking whiskey and pickle brine that has quickly become a bartending staple. Case in point? Kelly Lewis, manager of New York City's popular Crocodile Lounge, estimates she sells at least 100 pickleback shots every week.

Pickleback loyalists may swear by it, but how did this peculiar pairing make its way into cocktail culture? On today's National Pickle Day, we hit the liquor history books to find out.

PICKLEBACK HISTORY, AS WE KNOW IT

As internet legend has it, Reggie Cunningham, a former employee of Brooklyn dive bar Bushwick Country Club, invented the shot in March 2006. He was half bartending, half nursing a hangover with McClure's pickles, when a customer challenged him to join her in doing a shot of Old Crow bourbon whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice as a chaser. As he nostalgically tells YouTube channel Awesome Dreams, "the rest is history."

Cunningham went on to introduce the pairing to more and more customers, and the demand grew so much that he decided to charge an extra dollar per shot, just for the addition of pickle brine. After that, the mixture spread like wildfire, with bars across the world from New York to California and China to Amsterdam adding "pickleback" to their menus.

THE PICKLEBACK'S UNCLEAR ORIGIN

Two shot glasses topped with small pickles.

Neil Conway, flickr // CC BY 2.0

Sure, Cunningham may have named it the pickleback shot, but after reviewing mixed reports, it appears pickle juice as a chaser is hardly novel. In Texas, for example, pickle brine was paired with tequila well before Cunningham's discovery, according to Men’s Journal. And in Russia, pickles have long been used to follow vodka shots, according to an NPR report on traditional Russian cuisine.

Unfortunately, no true, Britannica-approved record of the pickleback's origin exists, like so many do for other popular drinks, from the Manhattan to the Gin Rickey; it's internet hearsay—and in this case, Cunningham's tale is on top.

SO, WHY PICKLES?

Not sold yet? Sure, a pickle's most common companion is a sandwich, but the salty snack and its brine have terrific taste-masking powers.

"People who don't like the taste of whiskey love taking picklebacks because they completely cut the taste, which makes the shots very easy to drink," Lewis told Mental Floss. "Plus, they add a bit of salt, which blends nicely with the smooth flavor of Jameson."

Beyond taste masking, pickle juice is also a commonly used hangover cure, with the idea being that the salty brine will replenish electrolytes and reduce cramping. In fact, after a famed NFL "pickle juice game" in 2000, during which the Philadelphia Eagles destroyed the Dallas Cowboys in 109 degree weather (with the Eagles crediting their trainer for recommending they drink the sour juice throughout the game), studies have seemed to confirm that drinks with a vinegary base like pickle juice can help reduce or relieve muscle cramping.

WAYS TO PARTAKE

While core pickleback ingredients always involve, well, pickles, each bar tends to have a signature style. For example, Lewis swears by Crocodile Lounge's mix of pickle brine and Jameson; it pairs perfectly with the bar's free savory pizza served with each drink.

For Cunningham, the "Pickleback OG," it's Old Crow and brine from McClure's pickles. And on the more daring side, rather than doing a chaser shot of pickle juice, Café Sam of Pittsburgh mixes jalapeños, homemade pickle juice, and gin together for a "hot and sour martini."

If pickles and whiskey aren't up your alley, you can still get in on the pickle-liquor movement with one of the newer adaptations, including a "beet pickleback" or—gulp!—the pickled-egg and Jägermeister shot, also known as an Eggermeister.

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