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How far would you go for the world’s most unique brew? Maybe Boston, Copenhagen, or London? Available only at select locations and in limited quantities, craft beers come with hefty price tags. Forget swigging – these call for sipping and savoring.
The “Extreme Beer,” Samuel Adams Utopias, continues to win international awards and break records – including its own. The Boston Beer Company limited its latest release to 12,000 numbered bottles worldwide with a suggested price of $120 to $140 per copper-colored 24- ounce bottle.
Brewer/founder Jim Koch hand-selects the Bavarian Noble hops for this beer, aged up to13 years with an alcohol content of 27%. He calls Utopias the ideal after-dinner drink and suggests serving it at room temperature in two-ounce pours. Sans carbonation, this strong, rich beverage with distinct cinnamon, vanilla, and maple notes should be savored slowly, just as a fine cognac or port.
Moving forward with its Vintage trilogy, Danish brewer Carlsberg has released 600 bottles of Vintage No. 2, just as for Vintage No. 1 (which sold for about $400 per bottle in three Copenhagen restaurants). Jet black with flavor notes of vanilla and cocoa/mocha, Vintage No. 2 pairs perfectly with oysters, shellfish, proscuitto, and cheese plus chocolate and cr me br lée. Each bottle features a labeled, hand-stenciled lithographic print by artist Marco Evaristti, so don’t recycle your empty bottle.
To sample Vielle Bon Secours, a Belgian beer that costs more than $1,000 per bottle, brew buffs might book a flight to London. Then head to Bierdrome in Islington, north of the city’s financial district. For the record, Vielle Bon Secours comes in big bottles. How big you ask? Each bottle contains 26 pints, and it takes two waiters to pour pints from the weighty glass bottle.
“It’s a novelty, a rarity to find beer of that size and quality,” said Mack Plumpton, who’s sold several of these gargantuan bottles to groups and specialists. By the way, Bierodrome pays the cab fare home for both buyer and bottle.
Speaking of rare, it’s hard to top a beverage inspired by ancient Egypt. The bottle’s label reads “Tutankhamun Ale” with “The Beer of His Majesty” written above in hieroglyphics. To replicate the pharoahs’ liquid gold, archaeologists from Cambridge University’s Egypt Exploration Society and Scottish and Newcastle Breweries analyzed sediment from brewery jars excavated from the Sun Temple of Queen Nefertiti, wife of King Tut’s father, Akhenaten.
After gathering and growing the required indigenous ingredients, the crew came up with enough raw materials to brew 1,000 bottles of Tutankhamun Ale. Specially numbered and hand-labeled, the bottles sold through London’s Harrods. For this Egyptian archaeology fundraiser, the first bottle went for $7,686 with subsequent ones priced around $76.
Connoisseurs, raise your Riedel glasses to some serious beers.