Remember Vintage No. 1, which Denmark’s Carlsberg Brewery — actually their Jacobsen Brewhouse — created a $400-per-bottle beer, for no better reason than to “challenge luxury wines in the gourmet restaurant market and capitalize on rising individual wealth?”
Touted as the world’s most expensive beer, due in part, at least, to there being only 600 bottles, each of which is a mere 13.2 ounces. But many of us wondered the most important thing about the beer, which is how it tasted. Barry Shlachter, of the the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, managed to have a bottle air-lifted into his hands, and he shared it with, J.B. Flowers, the head brewer at nearby Rahr & Sons, and Jamie Fulton, owner of the Fort Worth brewpub, The Covey. The results of the tasting he shared in his latest column, entitled How good is a $400 beer?
Here’s what the had to say:
The bottle of 10.5 percent alcohol, English barley wine-style ale had been allowed to warm to 55 degrees by the time it was poured into brandy snifters for the tasters: Rahr & Sons head brewer J.B. Flowers, Fulton and this writer.
And it was excellent.
All commented on the rich aroma, a bouquet that makers of artisan beers would envy. There were notes of oak in the nose but surprisingly few detected on the palate. Instead, the tasters enjoyed a wealth of sherry and plummy dark flavors in this remarkably drinkable and medium-bodied barley wine.
Flowers might have summed it most succinctly when he said: “It’s delicious … but at that price?”
Their ultimate conclusion on its value?
Fulton’s own Jack’s Reserve Barley Wine on draft, at $10 for a 10-ounce snifter, is a superb, cleaner take on the style. Though the ale, named for his newborn son, is one of most expensive beers sold in Fort Worth, it’s a runaway bargain compared to Vintage No. 1.
Other well-regarded ales in the category include Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and Anchor Foghorn, for those not financially equipped to journey to the Danish capital and crack open a bottle of Vintage No. 1.