10 of the world’s most expensive beersBy Lauren Eads
Usually it’s fine wines and Champagnes which hit the headlines for their high cost, but as this list proves beer can also pack a pricey punch.
From beer produced according to an ancient recipe uncovered in an Egyptian Queen’s tomb, to a beer produced with Antarctic ice, there are all manner of unusual beers to have collectors racing for their wallets.
Judging from this list the main factors contributing to a costly brew is its exclusivity and unique selling points which will make a brew stand out from the crowd.
Take BrewDog’s End of History beer of which just 11 bottles were produced, or Sapporo’s unique Space Brew. As such many of these beers are now only available to the determined collector.
All beers are arranged irrespective of size, and instead based on single bottle value.
Scroll through to see some of the world’s most expensive bottles of beer…
10. Tutankhamun Ale, Scottish Newcastle Brewery, UK – £31.83 ($52), 500ml
This ancient brew came about following the discovery of a 3,250 year-old recipe found in Queen Nefertiti’s Royal Brewery in Egypt. The discovery was made by Cambridge archaeologist Dr. Barry Kemp in 1990 and led to just 1,000 bottles being made according to its recipe.
Ten brewing chambers were found buried beneath the Egyptian sand, each containing traces of ancient beer residue. An electron microscope was used to complete the ancient recipe paper with researchers then teaming up with Scottish brewer Jim Merrington, who made just 1,000 bottles of the Queen’s brew. The first sold for £4,616 ($7,686), but eventually fell to around £31 ($52). Merrington’s brewery later closed down.
9. Space Barley, Sapporo Brewery, Japan – £58, ($96), 6 x 355ml
Sapporo’s Space Barley was made with barley grown from seeds which spent five months on board the International Space Station in 2006 as part of a joint project between the Russian Academy of Sciences, Okayama University, and the Sapporo brewery.
Six packs of the “space beer” were sold in a lottery system at a price of 10,000 yen.
8. BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin Beer, Scotland – £106 ($176), 375ml
BrewDog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin was released in 2009 and was, at the time, the strongest beer ever produced at 32% abv.
This Imperial Stout is produced using an intensely cold process called “chill and skim”, and is then kept in an Arran whisky cask for eight months after it has been brewed, before a further eight months in a cask from and Islay distillery resulting in a double-casked beer.
It has an average selling price of £106 a bottle.
7. Samuel Adam’s Utopias, US – £143, ($238) 750ml
Samuel Adams’ Utopias, brewed by the Boston brewing Company in Massachusetts, is America’s most expensive beer.
First released in 2002, Utopias is made with caramel, Vienna, Moravian and Bavarian smoked malts, and four varieties of noble hops; Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, Tettnanger, Spalter, and Saaz hops.
Each batch,released every two years, is aged in Scotch, Cognac and Port barrels for up to 18 months. A limited number of bottles are released every two years, sold in a ceramic bottle resembling a copper-finished brewing kettle.
At 28% abv, it is banned in 11 US states.
6. Schorschbock 57 by Schorschbräu, Germany – £165 ($275), 330ml
Released in 2011 Schorschbock 57 claims to be the strongest beer in the world at 57.5%. Only 36 bottles of this super-strong beer were made by Schorschbräu, each costing on average around £165.
It is an Eisbock style beer made by freezing off a portion of the water, and removing it from the beer which increases the beer’s body, flavour, and alcohol content.
5. BrewDog – Sink the Bismarck, Scotland – £195, ($324), 375ml
Sink the Bismarck was released in 2010 and was an attempt by BrewDog to take the title of world’s strongest beer from Schorschbräu. Sink the Bismarck did hold the title briefly before it was lost to the German brewery.
BrewDog describes it as a “quadruple IPA” that contains four times the hops, four times the bitterness and freeze distilled four times to produce a 41% abv.
4. Jacobsen Vintage by Carlsberg, Denmark – £224 ($374), 375ml
Danish brewers Carlsberg released its vintage three in 2008 with less than 1,000 bottles of each variety made.
Just 600 bottles of Vintage No.1 were made Swedish and French oak barrels.
Jens Eiken, head brewer at Jacobsen, said of the project: “[It] started as a wild idea and a wish to create a new type of beer that had never been seen before.
“During the ageing process in new barrels, lots of chemical processes take place. Not all reactions are known but they taste wonderful.”
Each bottle is labelled with an original hand stilled lithographic print by the Danish artist Frans Kannik. The beer is mainly sold to collectors and through three up-scale restaurants in Copenhagen, Denmark.
3. Antarctic Nail Ale by Nail Brewing, Australia – £480 ($800), 500ml
Antarctic Nail Ale is a 4.6% limited edition Australian Pale Ale made from water melted from a block of Antarctic ice. It was released in 2010 by Jarrah Jacks brewery in Pemberton from ice collected by the crew of the Sea Shepherd by helicopter from an iceberg in the Southern Ocean. Ice collected was then flown to Tasmania, melted and transported to Perth.
Only 30 bottles were produced with the first auctioned for AUS$800 (£433) on 3 November 2011, with a second selling, on 19 November 2011, for A$1,850 (£1,000) at a fund-raising event in Sydney.
More than 90% of the beer is water and so also lays claim to being the world’s oldest and purest beer.
2. The End of History, BrewDog, Scotland – £500 ($832), 33oml
BrewDog’s third entry in our top 10 of expensive beers is thanks the Scottish brewery’s 2010 release of its 55% End of History beer which came encased in a taxidermy squirrel or stoat.
Only 11 bottles of this blond Belgian ale, named after a book by philosopher Francis Fukuyama, were produced. It was made using nettles from the Scottish Highlands and fresh juniper berries and was said at the time to be BrewDog’s last high abv beer.
1. Vieille Bon Secours ale, Belgium – £700 ($1,165), 12-litres
This particular 12-litre bottle was discovered in the cellar of London’s Belgo restaurant in 2009 when it was estimated to have a price tag of £700.
A pint of this 8% Belgian ale will cost you around £33.