Liquid Gold

Jan 5 2013 @ 6:35pm

Christian DeBenedetti tracks the rise of a black market for craft beer:

It’s illegal to sell beer for consumption without a license, but thousands of beer auctions on eBay have successfully closed. Their vendors have managed this by listing Beer their wares as "collectible containers" lacking any valuable contents, an obvious dodge that infuriates many brewers. The deals have seemed to flout both U.S. law and the site's own guidelines, and have often resulted in eye-popping prices—like this $1,300 sale of a single 12-ounce bottle. In one of the most galling recent examples, a seller in Vermont resold a magnum of sour beer blended by Belgian Lambic master Armand Debelder for Debelder’s wedding (starting bid, $90; winning 20th bid, $1,322). …

Are some brewers merely aping the outrageous price hikes and marketing-motivated affectations of wine? Perhaps. But many beers are worthy of the cellar; as [Kirk Kelewae, service director of New York’s Eleven Madison Park] says, "Aged beers can be a remarkable experience." What’s more, a move toward extravagance isn’t so much a modern fad as a return to beer’s high-society past. (Catherine the Great of Russia, for instance, commissioned age-worthy, English-brewed imperial stout for her court.)

(Image: Beer under a microscope, from the series Fingerprints of Drinkable Culture, by photographer William LeGoullon, via Petapixel)