The world's rarest beers
25 September 2015, By Jonny Garrett
Beer is not like wine. No one is blowing a nurse’s monthly salary on one bottle, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t beers sought the world over. Your mate's homebrew aside, here are the rarest beers and most sought after beers in the world.
Apart from a batch that got shipped to the US to raise money when the monastary’s roof fell in, Westy 12 is only legally sold from the gates of the brewery. Which is in the middle of Belgian-bloody-nowhere. It’s two boxes per person maximum, and only if you’ve prebooked and brought proof of ID. So is it worth it. Hell yes – amazing rum, raisin, coffee and date notes hit you on the nose, as well as a tiny medicinal hop note, and all those flavours greet you on the palate too. A stunning, complex beer.
3 Floyds Dark Lord
Released on one day a year, the queues for Dark Lord are legendary, and still the people at the back sometimes miss out. 3 Floyds are one of the world's greatest and most sought-after breweries in the world, so in the UK any of their beers are rare as unicorn hairs. The beer is a 15% imperial stout brewed with coffee, vanilla and molasses, and I can almost taste it as I write that. Thick, liquorice-sweet and dark.
Pliny the Younger
As the bigger brother of the world famous Russian River Pliny the Elder, the hype around this beer is phenomenal. But then by all accounts it’s an absolute stunner. Much like Dark Lord the queues can be a bit insane, but who wouldn’t want to try a 10.25% mega-hopped triple IPA from the guys who make the world’s best double IPA?
In early springtime every year, tonnes of incredible aromatic US hops are shipped from Yakima Valley in Oregon to the UK. To celebrate this wonderful annual event, Magic Rock decided 3 years ago to brew a beer that basically used all of them. The resulting triple IPA is different every year (2014 was the best so far) but always has a huge tropical fruit and dank pine aroma, while being surprisingly smooth considering an IBU count well into the hundreds.
Cantillon Fou’ Foune
Pretty much all the Cantillon beers are gold dust. Widely recognized as the world’s best sour brewery, Cantillon refuse to grow any faster than they do simply so they don’t risk changing the delicate flavours of their beers, which all come from wild yeasts, carefully cared for barrels and local fruits. Fo’ Foune is our favourite. The sour gueuze beer is aged over apricots to create a gorgeous sweet peachy smell, mixed in with the white wine acidity and deep cider notes. Beer Merchants get it in around twice a year, but it sells out in a day.
De Dolle Arabier
Arabier is by no means the hardest De Dolle beer to get hold of, but it is probably the best Belgian strong ale in the world so makes the cut. Head brewer Chris brews twice a month, always on a Saturday using kit from the early 1900s. Beer Merchants gets it in once or twice a year in small batches, and sometimes we even put some on sale instead of drinking it. It has a stunning spicy, sweet bread aroma and a smooth silky mouthfeel that leaves you begging for more.
Buxton Yellow Belly
What started as a one-off collaboration between Buxton Brewery and Omnipollo has become an obsession for many beer lovers as they wait for each annual release. This peanut butter and biscuit imperial stout is even better than it sounds, with an amazing Ovaltine and peanut smell, then sweet raisins and rum on the palate. This year we were treated to an even more delicious bourbon-barrel aged version which was like a beer ice cream float.
Another beer you can only get from the brewery and some VERY friendly people on Instagram, Julius represents the next step in IPA brewing. Rather than partaking in the arms race towards the bitterest beer ever made, Treehouse add all their hops at the end of the brewing process, leading to loads of aroma and a lot less bite. They also use a special yeast that adds lots of stone fruit smells to make the nose of this beer absurdly sweet and heady. It used to be on tap in the local area, but it's all come back in house until the new 130,000 barrel brewery opens. The world waits. Literally.
This article was amended on 24 May 2016 to make the title more accurate and to add Julius because beer is always moving.