It’s just this one time. I promise! Bargaining with your wallet. Running the figures on your monthly budget. Praying this investment will pay out greatly for your tastebuds and not leave you a profligate pauper riddled with regret.
When is a beer TOO expensive? At what point does the satisfaction per dollar spent scale tip into the unsatisfactory region, making you wish you had allocated your hard earned dollars elsewhere? These are questions I pondered when given the opportunity to buy and then subsequently drink Anchorage Brewing Double Oaked A Deal With The Devil (ADWTD), one of the most sought after and subsequently most expensive beers on the market.
Let’s hop in our time machine for a brief history lesson. Around 10 years ago in the early 2010’s $20 for a 750 mL bomber was A LOT of money for a beer. Didn’t matter what kind of beer it was: stout, barleywine, sour, anything barrel aged. No matter how good you knew that beer on the shelf to be, you were hesitant to pull the trigger and plop down a Jackson for the right to buy it and drink it. Of course there were some exceptions, but in general $20 was the upper end for store prices of a bottled beer.
Fast forward to today’s craft beer market where bottles regularly cost $40+. Horus is known to charge $50 or more for 500 mL of their barrel aged beers. Craft beer has become more of a luxury item and its prices have followed along, often mimicking the cost of fine wines. A lot of this is driven by the increased popularity and desirability of beer. Greater demand increases prices for beer that is either in markedly short supply or is massively sought after.
ADWTD seems to fall in that latter category. It can be occasionally bought on Tavour, so the supply cannot be astonishingly low. People want this beer, and Anchorage knows that all too well. And what do they charge for this bad boy? Around $90. RETAIL! That’s not the price Bob’s Specialty Beer Store sets for this bottle – that’s the price Anchorage slaps on it as it departs their frozen Alaskan facility. Perhaps the remoteness of Anchorage accounts for part of that price, but I imagine it’s just ECON 101: a business knowing they have a desirable product and charging as much as customers will willingly pay for it.
I’m a sucker who willingly paid that $90 price and lived to tell about it. Am I now subsequently living on the streets? Thankfully no for both myself and my family who relies on me. Was it worth it? Subjectively hell yes! 2022 ADWTD was my #1 Best Beer of 2022, besting over >1,500 competitors last year. This beer hit all the perfect notes for me: massive barrel complexity, monstrous ABV with a pliable body, caramel and dark fruit flavors imparted by oak aging. “The platonic ideal of what a barrel aged Barleywine should be” as I so eloquently gushed in my article.
So would I do it again? In the right circumstance, yes. Here I knew that ADWTD was an amazing beer from having drunk previous vintages in the past. The quality would undoubtedly be high, and this was a beer I probably would not have the opportunity to drink by any other means than buying a bottle for myself. The reality of the upper end of today’s craft beer market is that you have to be willing to drop some serious money on some of the best beers. While it’s not for everyone and $90+ is not a price I will be willing to pay on a frequent basis, the expense is worth it for the right beer. That perfect beer that you really want to try, that you’ve been thinking about an unhealthy amount – open your wallet and be rewarded. Hopefully.