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But the world of beer (collectively and geographically) has exploded in the past two decades alone. The once novel concept of the microbrewery has allowed and even encouraged any average Joe to take a shot at brewing his own at-home batch. Almost every country from Germany, to the US, and even Japan has gotten into the brewing game.
Which means it can be all the more difficult to stand out these days! These beers take the crown in one way or another, as we look to the world’s most extraordinary brews:
#1: World’s Strongest Beer (Scotland)
From the same brewery that created a 65% ABV beer in 2012, Scotland’s Brewmeister brewing company outdid themselves last year with Snake Venom. At 67.5% ABV – stronger than most scotches or any other hard alcohol for that matter – we can’t imagine it’s all that drinkable. According to Paste, the recipe calls for “peat-smoked malt (common to Scotch), beer yeast and champagne yeast, as well as an ice fermentation process””all of which help provide the brew’s extra kick.”
Cost: A bottle will run you about $80 USD on eBay (assuming you can find one).
#2: World’s Smallest Commercial Brewery (Wales)
Whether or not the beer itself is extraordinary, this brewery certainly is. The Bragdy Gwynant in Capel Bangor, Aberystwyth, Wales, UK, has a maximum brewing capacity of just 40.9 litres (9 gal) per batch. Travelers looking for a taste can head to the adjacent Tynllidiart Arms as the brewery supplies the pub exclusively.
Cost: Varies – depends on what and how many you’re drinking
#3: World’s Most Expensive Beer (Perth, Australia)
Sure, this award’s a bit subjective. But … we think Perth-based Nail Brewing takes the crown of “most-expensive beer” with their Antarctic Nail Ale. The concept is simple: charter a helicopter to Antarctica to collect water from the most pristine icebergs in the world, melt it in Tasmania, then transport it to Perth for brewing. All of which also perhaps makes it the “world’s most extravagant” beer as well. Bonus: all of the profits directly benefit the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (the same folks who brought you Discovery Channel’s Whale Wars).
Cost: Only 30 bottles were ever produced and the first one fetched more than $800 at auction. So … good luck with that.
#4: World’s Oldest Brewery (Bavaria)
We can’t speak to the quality of the beer itself but, for sheer historical value, Benedictine Weihenstephan Abbey is a must-visit. Founded in 725 AD, it is officially classified as the oldest still-operating brewery in the world. That’s far longer than many countries have been around, folks. And they still brew millions of bottles every year using a time-honored recipe and distribute them to over 120 countries around the world.
In 2010, salvage divers off the coast of Finland discovered a true “brewer’s bounty” among a shipwreck south of the autonomous Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea. The origin and intended destination of the ship are somewhat unclear – it’s thought to have been sent by King Louis XVI of France to the Russian Imperial Court. The wreck is believed to date back to the early 1800s and yet the culture in the beer is (was) still alive! This makes this extraordinary find the “world’s oldest still (technically) drinkable bottle of beer”.
Cost: Experts estimate Champagne found among the same wreck to be worth tens of thousands of euros per bottle. The value of the beer has not been determined. So, for now: priceless!