“Oh, that seems a fair price for such a delicious…*chugs entire bottle* *runs the fuck out*”
~AFFotD staffer when presented with one of America’s most expensive beers
The 21st century is a great time to like beer. While America spent the 1970s thinking that managing to score a case of Coors was something to actually be excited about, and we had to blindly choose between “Bud” or “Miller” at most bars before deciding, “Fuck that, I’ll just chug some Listerine instead, it’ll get more drunk and tastes a little better” we now live in a nation where there are enough distinct and delicious varieties of beer that even people who swear they “hate beer” can find a style they love.
Now, much like there are still people who believe that the Earth if flat, or that Little Fockers is the best movie Ben Stiller has ever made, some drinkers hopelessly cling to Budweiser and Miller as “what a real beer tastes like!” If you dare to point out that Budweiser tastes like someone put a handful of straw in a wet sock that they poured a bottle of tonic water in, they’ll ball up their fists and shout, “I like this beer ‘cause it’s cheap! It’s refreshing when you make it cold enough that you can’t taste it that well! Something negative about IPAs!”
While we might be being harsh in saying that these people are troglodytes, we do know that they just Googled the word “troglodyte” and said, “Hey, fuck you too assholes!” to their screen as if we can hear them (we cannot).
We love it when beer commercials make our point for us.
However, the main point that people who defend inferior beer (“mer mer that’s elitist I like my beer cold and my mer mer mer”) make is that Budweiser, Miller, and Coors are all, well, very cheap. Granted, there are cheaper beers out there that taste better, but that’s not saying much—you can have a very basic, cheap lager that will do the job to get you drunk, and people can rightfully point out that a twelve pack of cheap shitty beer costs about the same as a six pack of okay craft beer. We don’t dispute this, but we should point out that the shitty beer tends to be about 4% alcohol per volume, while you can get that okay craft beer at around 8% or 9%, meaning you’ll get drunker faster on better beer, so why the hell are you so desperately clinging to your macrobrew?
That being said, the boon of microbrewing and homebrewing in America means that now, more than ever before, we’ve had an almost infinite options of great beer at our disposal. Unfortunately, with that boon in popularity comes gimmicks, and one of those gimmicks involves limited release beers that cost you more than you can really justify spending on a beer. These are beers that cost $50 or more, and even at that price, require you wait in line and fight off hundreds of other craft beer nerds, desperate to taste a forbidden fruit that really probably tastes about as good as a $10 beer of comparable quality.
So we’re going to throw a bone to those of you reading this shouting (again, we can’t hear you) “Fancy beers are for sissies! They cost too much! I like Coors Light and being punched in the dick, you know, manly drinks!” by addressing the one negative side effect of the craft beer boon. Obnoxiously expensive beers. And so, we present to you…
The 6 Most Expensive American-Brewed Beers
When we went into researching what qualifies for our most expensive beer list, we ran into a surprising amount of pitfalls. First of all, while there are dozens of “most expensive beers in the world” articles, most of them are awkwardly awfully written, and wrong, and bad. Like, so bad. And, most importantly, they tend to only list one or two American beers.
We don’t fuck with that. This is not about beers that not-America makes, because as far as we’re concerned, America makes the best beers in the damn world (okay, Belgium, you’re pretty good at it too. You too, Germany). But that means that a lot of prime candidates for this beer can’t make the list. Vielle Bon Secours is $1,000 but you can only get it in London, which doesn’t meet our criteria and, honestly, doesn’t seem worth it. We would have to recommend against traveling to a foreign country just to drink an unreasonably expensive beer because it’s far easier to just chug a six pack of stout and leave whiny voice mails for your ex because you swear you’ve changed, baby, you hardly drink at all anymore, seriously, baby, just come back you’re sorry like you do most weekday nights.
That also means we have to pass on every “look how crazy we are?” beer from Scotland’s Brewdog Brewery, who like to charge incredible amounts of money for novelty beers like the 32% ABV Tactical Nuclear Penguin, or the 41% Sink the Bismarck, or, hell, for $830 bucks you can get a 55% alcohol beer that’s put in dead animals, because apparently when you let Scots brew their own beer they go absolutely batshit insane.
Other brewed-in-America-like-God-intended beers also have to be scratched off this list, like Pliny the Younger, which is obnoxiously difficult to get, but isn’t ever sold in bottles. And frankly, you’d be surprised how few rare and exotic beers actually jack up their price that much. For example, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout is one of the most hyped beers out there, with massive lines forming on Black Friday where the national supply pretty much is guaranteed to sell out as beer nerds get into fistfights over the last bottle of barrel-aged goodness, but even that only sets you back $20 for a four-pack if you can find it.
The point being, most breweries charge for higher alcohol and better ingredients, which is why a six pack of good beer costs so much more than a six pack of shitty beer, but even with breweries selling flagship beers for one day only through brewery-based festivals and other craziness, the beers still tend to not creep over into “absurdly expensive” territory. That is, except for the following.
Three Floyds Barrel-Aged Dark Lord: $50
Three Floyds Brewing Company ranks among the best breweries in the nation (some go as far as to say world) by most accounts. Based in Munster, Indiana, they brew a variety of libations that are often described as “one of the best beers out there” and “oh fuck you asshole I don’t live in the Midwest so I can’t find this anywhere.” While people flock to their brewery to buy anything from wheat ales to double IPAs, their rarest and hardest to get beer is Dark Lord, a Russian Imperial Stout that clocks in at about 15% ABV and is brewed with coffee, Mexican vanilla, and Indian sugar. The beer is only produced in limited quantities, and can only be purchased at the Three Floyds Brewery on the last Saturday in April during Dark Lord Day, which is an event that forces you to buy a ticket in order to buy a beer.
For the most recent Dark Lord Day, you could buy an entry ticket that included the cost of a bomber of the beer, or you could buy a general admission ticket that allowed you to enter the grounds, and buy one for yourself. Either way, you could get the standard Dark Lord Stout at around $15 for a 22 ounce bottle, which is expensive for a beer, but also not that expensive considering it could get you more hammered than a full bottle of wine.
However, people have the option of going hog at Dark Lord Day and securing a Barrel-Aged Dark Lord, which comes aged in a variety of different barrels each year, ranging from Pappy Van Winkle barrels to Port barrels and will set you back a whopping $50, which costs more than just getting three bottles of the non-aged beer. Apparently, it’s very good, but, you know. It’s $50. It better be good. If you’re spending $50 on any food or drink, it better be goddamn spectacular. If we’re buying a $50 steak, it had better be a mind-blowingly good steak, and hopefully, there shouldn’t be a very similar steak available for $15 on the same menu.
Three Floyds Murda’d Out Stout: $50
The Three Floyds Murda’d Out Stout was basically a Frankenstein creation birthed from the collective orgasm of a thousand obsessive beer fans. In 2011, Three Floyds celebrated their 15th anniversary by brewing the “Baller Stout” which blended four “impossible to find and buy” beers into one massive stout that some beer nerds would legally marry if the damn government weren’t so controlling. The Baller Stout, which “only” cost $30, mixed Dark Lord with Surly Darkness (which is basically the “Dark Lord” of Minnesota’s Surly Brewing Company), De Struise Black Albert (which invented the style of Belgian Royal Stout made specifically for a brewpub in Lovell, Maine), and the Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch (which, sigh, uses those coffee beans that they pilfer out of the poop of the Kopi Luwak, sigh).
After selling most of the Baller Stout, Three Floyds took all of those, barrel aged it, and sold the result for $50. It’s probably fine. We’re just, you know, kind of bummed that pooped-out coffee beans had to be brought into this whole thing. Come on, Three Floyds, why you gotta do us like that?
(Note- to all beer connoisseurs who read this section and are ready to defend Mikkeller’s beer, remind yourself, no matter how good it tasted when you tried it, you still drank fermented poop kernels. Dogs probably like how their poop tastes, which is why they keep going back to that damn well, but they at least have the decency to look ashamed afterwards.)
The Bruery Papier and Partridge in a Pear Tree: $100
The Bruery is a Placentia, California based brewery that…ohhh, brewery, bruery, ohhh, we get it now. Cute name. Neat gimmick. Anyway. We mentioned their Chocolate Rain beer back when we wrote about America’s most alcoholic beers, and we didn’t stop ourselves from making an increasingly-obscure-as-time-passes Tay Zonday reference then either. They also were responsible for making two rare beers that were most recently doled out in 2013 for $99.99, with proceeds going to charity. Part of the reason for the high price tag was the limited amounts available—only 24 bottles of the Papier, an Old Ale, and the Partridge in a Pear Tree, a Belgian quad, were available for purchase.
Also driving the price of the beer is the quality, which seems to be, given the reviews they get, somewhere between “pretty good!” and “yeah, no, like, not the best beer of the style, or anything, but yeah, pretty good!” on the scale of things. And hey, that’s neat. We’re not going to poke fun at you for spending a hundred bucks on a beer when that money’s going to charity. That’s a charitable donation, with a free beer to go with it. So, you know. Just film yourself chugging it real fast and post it on YouTube and watch beer collectors explode in a fiery rage, that’ll definitely give you your money’s worth.
Moody Tongue Shaved Black Truffle Pilsner: $120
You might not have heard of the Moody Tongue brewery in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, probably because they’ve barely been around and don’t have a reputation yet because they’re not even particularly widely distributed in the immediate Pilsen area, much less the rest of the nation. What we’re trying to say is, of all the beers out there to put an exorbitant price tag on one of their beers, Moody Tongue probably has done the least in its short history to earn that particular brand of hubris. Actually, in just about every way, they’re being assholes about this beer.
So, Jared Rouben, founder and brewmaster of Moody Tongue, decided to make a beer using rare Australian black truffles. Truffles, of course, are a gourmet delicacy that adds a rich flavor to meat, fish as well as risotto and pasta dishes, which you might recognize as all being “things that don’t taste like beer.” Black truffles are the second most valuable form of truffles which, again, is a flavor profile exactly zero people have ever wanted to combine with beer before the year 2014. Now, because this ingredient is rare, Moody Tongue felt it would be best to set up a lottery for 500 “lucky” assholes beer connoisseurs to be afforded the chance to buy a 22-ounce bottle of a truffle pilsner for the low low cost of $120 dollars, or, as we like to think of it, roughly 11 bottles of Rochefort 10, one of the top 10 beers in the world.
That’s right, a brewery with zero name recognition decided to shove an ingredient that doesn’t belong in beer, charge $120 a pop for the “privilege” of drinking a truffle beer, and assume that so many people would be lining up to buy it that they had to set up a lottery system. So you have to win and get lucky to buy this beer, which we should also point out, only has 5% ABV, which means it’s not even enough to get you drunk after.
We rarely take it upon ourselves to insult a craft brewer, because being able to make water into drunk juice is the closest thing to being a God on Earth that we can think of, but as this is our first exposure to Moody Tongue, we might actively start boycotting it, just because there are way too many great breweries out there to waste your money on the kind of place whose brewmaster says pretentious shit like, “Shaved truffles on pasta, you eat in three or four minutes and then move on to the next course. This beer you can swirl and sip as long as you want.”
Ugh. First of all, who the fuck eats pasta that fast? How the fuck are you eating pasta if you’re finishing a plate of that in three or four minutes? Also, God, shut up. For those keeping score, this is the one beer over the $100 mark that gives exactly zero dollars of the price to charity. This is greedy and stupid and bad. Don’t support Moody Tongue.
Samuel Adams Utopias 2013: $199
Samuel Adams sometimes doesn’t get the respect it deserves in certain circles because most of their widely available beers fall in the category of “just fine, at least this bar has one decent beer amongst all these macrobrews.” Which honestly boils down to basic beer snobbery—just because you can find Boston Lager in every bar doesn’t mean that you should conflate the brewery with Miller and Budweiser and do that hipster, “Ugh, they’re too big now” thing. Samuel Adams, more than any other brewery, is responsible for the current boon of microbreweries and craft breweries out there. They support the little guys when they get on their feet, they encourage everyone to think about beer differently, so if you’re the person that rolls their eyes when given a Sam Adams Winter Lager, well, guess what, you’re a douche, get over yourself.
Now, in the course of their existence, Samuel Adams has released, and we’re being very exact here, roughly a million thousand different types of beers. Of those, the most expensive (and most alcoholic, as we’ve covered before) is the Utopias, an extremely strong, extremely complex, extremely good rare American Strong Ale that has been released sporadically at irregular intervals since 2002. After Samuel Adams released 3,000 bottles of their Millennium beer, a barrel aged Triple Bock, they increasingly fine-tuned the recipe, with each batch generally ending up stronger than the last. This is the one beer that’s available commercially (though less than 15,000 bottles are made for each release) so of any beer on this list, you have the best chance of chasing down and trying this one.
You’ll of course have to shell out the suggested retail price of $199 for it, but at least it’s going to taste better and get you drunker than that damn truffle beer.
Hair of the Dog Dave: $2,000
The number one most expensive beer also happens to have been our number one most alcoholic beer, which we support because honestly, who tries to price gouge you for some random beer that’s got the same amount of alcohol as any random pilsner you’d find on the street *glares at Moody Tongue*? Now, this 29% ABV barleywine gets more expensive each time it’s sold, and back in the late 1990s, when it was first brewed, it cost about $80 a bottle. Since then, the last batch has continued to age, with bottles being occasionally released with a percentage of profits going to charity. The last time this occurred was in 2013, when 12 bottles of Dave (which, as we’ve established previously, is still a dumb name for a beer, sort of like naming your dog “Steven”) were made available for $2,000 each. It sold out almost instantly.
We can’t get too high and mighty about people spending as much money as you’d pay for a shitty car for a single beer since, you know, some amount of 24K was given to a charity to provide guide dogs for the blind. But we can mentally imagine what would happen if one of the people to shell out two grand for a single bottle of beer took it out of their cellar (if you’re spending that much on a beer, you’re the person who has a beer cellar, otherwise what are you even doing?) and having it fumble out of their hands and smash to the floor. They’d just stand there, looking at the puddle of broken glass and $2,000 beer, painfully debating if it’s worth it to just lick a little off the floor. Just to know how it tastes.
What do you do, guy who just shattered his super unnecessarily expensive bottle of beer. What do you do?