Samuel Adams Utopias
Boston Beer (SAM)
Style: American Strong Ale
Alcohol by volume: 27%
Unlike most of the beers on this list, Samuel Adams Utopias is usually released every two years or so. Also unlike the other beers on this list that can be had in the low two figures, a copper kettle-shaped bottle of Utopias goes for $100 to $150 right off the bat.
Batches of 15,000 bottles or less were released in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and last year. If buyers were hoping for a quick return on their investment for last year's vintage, Boston Beer founder Jim Koch just dashed it by announcing the release of a 10th Anniversary Utopias this fall. The new release was aged in single-use bourbon casks and spent time in port casks from Portugal and rum barrels from Nicaragua to add dark fruit, fig, chocolate, raisin and vanilla flavors.
Is it worth high-end bourbon, port or even champagne prices? It all depends on how much a buyer wants the bottle long considered the Broly Grail of beer empties.
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
Goose Island Brewery/Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD)
Style: Imperial Stout
Alcohol by volume: 14.5%
How do you get people to pay $10 for a 12-ounce bottle of Anheuser-Busch beer? Take a stout, age it in bourbon barrels, limit it to one per customer and just watch the resale prices balloon to $80 for a four pack.
Style: Imperial Stout
Alcohol by volume: 11%
Elections? Thanksgiving? Amateur hour. If you're a beer lover, you're looking forward to November for only one reason: this beer. The normally reserved don't-call-it-retirement enclave of Bend, Ore., unleashes this dark force on the beer world each November as Deschutes releases it from its pinot noir and bourbon barrels and sends bottles home with a few fortunate souls. There are great hints of molasses and licorice in the first sip, but this is one beer that actively dissuades buyers from opening it immediately. The label explicitly states that Abyss is best enjoyed a year from its purchase date, which makes cellaring a must and only increases its resale value. Considering how tough it is for a true beer lover to part with a bottle, that cost can get pretty high in a hurry. Dark Lord
Three Floyds Brewing
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Alcohol by volume: 15%
This is about more than the beer. Each year in April, Dark Lord Day floods Munster, Ind., with bands, beer lovers and bundles of cash. Folks looking to buy a bottle of Three Floyds' trademark imperial stout pay $15 just for a ticket that allows them to do so. If they're from out of town, they kick in another $110 to $150 a night for a hotel room. When they finally get to buy some original-recipe Dark Lord, Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Lord, Vanilla Bean Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Lord, Cognac Barrel Aged Dark Lord and Cognac Barrel Aged Dark Lord de Muerte, it costs them $50 per wax-sealed bottle. That's $65 to $215 by the time that Dark Lord finds its way to a cellar. Is it worth it? Given that the event's popularity has only increased since the 2004 vintage, there are a lot of dedicated drinkers who think so.
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