The Most Expensive Beers: Top Shelf Brews

by Alyssa Oursler | July 23, 2013 10:49 am

Top Shelf showcases luxury vacations, goods, restaurants and more that you can indulge in after your investing pays off.

TopShelf (3)[1]There are lots of ways to track stages of life. Some stick to simple numbers — 20s, 30s, 40s and so on — while other judge it by events — the weddings phase, baby shower phase and, sadly, the funeral phase.

Personally, I prefer to use beer.

When you’re young (read: in college), you likely settle for … well, whatever you can get your hands on, or whatever is cheapest. That leads to Friday night after Friday night of sipping on near-water Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (BUD[2]) Natty Lights.

Then you get older. You graduate. You get a job. But you still don’t want to break the bank on booze, so you settle for the next rung of the beer ladder like, say, a Blue Moon courtesy of MillerCoors. Ask any recent graduate, and they’ll tell you it’s high-class stuff. Ask any real beer-lover, though, and they’ll say Blue Moon is low-rung.

With that in mind, if everything goes as planned (fingers crossed), I should be sipping on some fancy — or at least expensive — booze by the time I’m near retirement. And while it might seem silly to use alcoholic beverages as a goal to work toward, it’s just as symbolic as it is satisfying.

Let’s take a look at a couple of the most expensive brews you can enjoy when you reach your golden years.

Samuel Adams Utopia

My beer of choice this summer has been Boston Beer’s (SAM[3]) Samuel Adams Summer Ale but one day, I’ll hopefully be able to snatch up a bottle of Samuel Adams Utopia[4] and think nothing of it.

I know, I know. Sam Adams hardly sounds special, but this beer is different. One bottle of the brew — which is released approximately every two years in limited quantities — cost $190 as of last year[5]. That’s because it’s an incredibly complex, small-batch beer with ingredients that come from across the world … and sports a whopping ABV of 27%. (For context, your typical beer will be between 4% and 5%).

If you’re looking for some ice-cold ale, though, you’re in the wrong place. The dark, uncarbonated beer is “meant to be sipped and savored at room temperature,” according to[6].

Trappist Westvleteren 12

If you don’t want to spend extra money for extra alcohol content, how about extra money for exclusivity?

Westvletern Brewery’s Trappist beer, including the 10.2% ABV Trappist 12, is sold exclusively at The Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvletern in Belgium, meaning that the 40 euro pricetag per 24-bottle crate is a bit misleading. Just getting there would likely empty out my pockets at this point.

And even once you’re in Belgium, there are hoops to jump through. The brewery won’t allow the same car or telephone number to pick up or reserve beer within 60 days of the first order. And the site notes[7] callers trying to get some of the brew will often get a busy signal.

No wonder, according to The Brooklyn Brewshop[8], the popular and rare beer has been sold at auctions for anywhere from $85 to $625 … just for a six-pack.

According to the brewery, the key to getting some Trappist Westvleteren 12 is “having a lot of patience as well as a lot of luck.” Considering the travel or high-bidding needed, a little money wouldn’t hurt either.

In the end, though, it’s less about the booze itself — for me, at least — than for what it means: That I’ve come a helluva long way from sipping on Bud Light Limes at summer concerts and occasionally “splurging” on a seasonal Sam.

As of this writing, Alyssa Oursler did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

  1. [Image]:
  2. BUD:
  3. SAM:
  4. Samuel Adams Utopia:
  5. cost $190 as of last year:
  6. according to
  7. And the site notes:
  8. according to The Brooklyn Brewshop:

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