How much do you expect to pay for a beer? If you’re talking about a cheap American lager like Budweiser, probably a couple of bucks at the most, right? Head into craft beer territory, and you’re going to pay more, maybe up to $10 on draft.
For most people, that’s close to the upper limit of what seems reasonable. But there are, in fact, beers that cost well beyond that range, into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Many may feel it’s ridiculous, but the prices are driven almost entirely by the fact that these beers are produced in extremely limited quantities, essentially created as limited-edition concepts meant to inflate value.
We’ve rounded up a few of the most expensive beers that have been released in recent years. Some of these you can actually get your hands on, but good luck finding most of them. Still, if you scour the secondary market, you just might be lucky enough to pay twice the original price so you can sample it yourself (or hold on to it for a few years and then resell it for double what you paid).
1. BrewDog The End of History
This Scottish brewery first released this collectors' beer a decade ago. The ABV was 55% (stronger than most whiskeys), a bottle cost close to 700 pounds, and each was stuffed into a unique piece of taxidermy such as a squirrel or hare. In 2016, the beer returned, priced at a jaw-dropping $20,000 per bottle. The point was to raise funds to open a BrewDog brewery in Ohio, ultimately a successful endeavor. If you can still find a bottle from the original release and feel like coughing up the astronomical funds for it, expect a blond Belgian-style beer made using nettles from the Scottish Highlands and fresh juniper berries as flavoring agents.
2. Sam Adams Utopias
Sam Adams is best known for its easy-drinking, affordable and somewhat ubiquitous Boston lager, but over the past decade, the brewery has also released expensive limited-edition barrel-aged beers, with the most recent release priced at about $210 per 25.4-ounce bottle. Utopias is a blend of batches of beer that are matured for up to 24 years in a variety of barrel types, including aquavit and moscat in the most recent release, according to the brand. The ABV clocks in at 28%, high enough to cause it to be banned in certain states. Expect a drinking experience that’s more on par with brandy than a beer, with a viscous and almost syrupy mouthfeel and deep malty flavors in every sip.
3. Sapporo Space Barley
Back in 2009, Sapporo released a beer made using barley descended from grain that spent five months on the International Space Station’s Zvezda Service Module. According to Sapporo, the point of this experiment was to study “the purpose of achieving self-sufficiency in food in the space environment.” The beer was released in Japan in a run of just 250 cases, which sold for 10,000 yen each, or about $100, with the proceeds donated to charity. There are likely still some unopened bottles floating around in the ether somewhere, but expect to pay a hefty premium if you locate one.
4. Schorschbock 57
At 57% ABV, is this really even a beer anymore? Well, yes, it is. The German brewery’s website makes it clear (in German, of course) that this is indeed “the strongest beer in the world.” Schorschbrau made this eisbock-style beer as part of a back and forth with the aforementioned BrewDog, resulting in an extremely limited-edition release (fewer than 40 bottles) that’s best sipped by the ounce instead of in a pint glass. Expect to pay at least $300 per bottle if you can still find one.
5. 3 Floyds Dark Lord
3 Floyds is an Indiana brewery that produces a variety of different barrel-aged beers with interesting names like Robert the Bruce and Bully Guppy. But one in particular stands out. To get your hands on a bottle of the brewery’s Dark Lord, you’ll have to attend the annual Dark Lord Day and endure hours of heavy metal and beer drinking. If that sounds appealing, prepare to shell out $150 to $200 for three bottles of this Russian-style imperial stout, along with one or two vintage releases and a tote bag. But you have to act fast, as tickets sell out in minutes. The 2020 Dark Lord Day was supposed to take place in May but has been postponed until further notice due to the pandemic.
6. Westvleteren 12
Belgian monks are well known for devoting their lives to spiritual matters in quiet monasteries during a life of philosophical reflection. Another important skill they possess happens to be brewing truly delicious beer. The monks at the Westvleteren brewery make beer in genuinely small batches. According to the brewery, the beer is a dark amber color and has notes of caramel, chocolate and raisin. To taste it yourself, you’ll have to order directly from the brewery, as part of its effort to limit skyrocketing prices on the secondary market.Cases have been known to command prices approaching $1,000 in the U.S.