Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Would you pay half a million for a bottle of beer?

I'm a man of modest means, and sometimes I cringe when I pay over ten dollars for a bottle of beer, even when that is a deal compared to expensive bottles of wine. Well, ten dollars is certainly a bargain compared to this $500,000 bottle of beer sold recently on ebay. Of course the skeptic in me thinks this may not be a real bid, but the bottle is certainly special. Allsopp's Arctic Ale was brewed in 1852 for an arctic expedition by the same brewery that is partially credited for brewing the first IPA's, beers strong enough to last the long harsh travel conditions to India from the British Isles (incidentally, beer blogger and author Pete Brown is recreating this trip for a new book). The beer must have been huge, both high in alcohol and with enough hops to survive the long trek (although certainly not as highly hopped as todays West Coast IPA's). A small brewery in England even went so far as to try and recreate the beer, and it went on to be a Champion Beer at the Cambridge Winter Ale Festival.

I am sure that the person who bought this bottle is a collector, but I have to wonder what the beer would taste like. It would not be the first time such an old beer was sampled. Last year, an 1869 Ratcliff Ale was discovered among a few other old beers found at a brewery in England. That beer was opened, poured into a glass, and the beer tasted "absolutely amazing". Now that was a once in a lifetime sip of beer. I wonder if our big spender will do the same?

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