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Brixton pub selling ale for £107 a bottle – but no one’s buying it

The Independent logo The Independent 20/06/2022 Gwyn Wright

A London pub is selling what is believed to be Britain’s most expensive beer at an eye-watering equivalent of £80.15p a pint.

The Craft Beer Co chain has the imported American craft ale on sale in Brixton, south London, at £105 for a 75ml bottle.

Reforged 20th Anniversary Ale is made by the AleSmith Brewing Company, an “artisanal” microbrewery in San Diego, California.

If beer lovers want to take away a bottle of the ultra-strong ale to enjoy at home they get a one-third discount.

The 11 per cent ABV beer is dark brown in colour and has a thick, syrupy consistency. It is aged in a bourbon barrel for 18 months.

The dark sour ale contains roasted malts and hops, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and barley wine.

It is a fusion of three other beers brewed by the same company- Speedway Stout, which sold on tap for £22.50 at the same pub chain in 2018, Wee Heavy and Old Numbskull.

But the beer is proving less than popular with the pub’s hipster clientele so far.

Just one bottle of the ultra-expensive ale has been sold so far, to a group of six men who “absolutely loved it”, according to pub staff.

Beer lover Ben O’Neill, 22, who manages The Needle and Pin pub in Loughborough, said even he would not pay so much just for one bottle of beer.

Mr O’Neill, whose favourite ale is Speedway Stout, wasn’t overly impressed with the £105 a bottle brew.

He said: “Compared to most other Imperial stouts it is a bit on the thin side. I would not pay £70 for a pint of that. It has a tiny bit of smoke and oak on the back of the palette.

“I pretty much drink anything, but my favourite is Speedway Stout. Without the price I would rate this as an 8.2 out of 10. With the price factored in it is more like a four out of 10.

“I would definitely expect more from something that is so expensive. The most I would pay is £45 for a pint.”

The Craft Beer Co in Brixton, south London (Rory Milner / SWNS) © Provided by The Independent The Craft Beer Co in Brixton, south London (Rory Milner / SWNS)

His friend Chris Anagnostopoulos, 27, a software engineer from Bath, said of the £105 a bottle booze: ‘’It surprisingly light, it tastes of leather with a hint of chocolate.

“It is a good beer, but I would not pay that much for it. It does grow on you, but I would not pay that much for it even to have it once.’’

Video: Brixton (Evening Standard)


Banker Elliott Clark, 26, of Brixton, said: “It is not what I want from a beer. It is very syrupy and the taste is quite overwhelming.

“It is not something I would want to drink a pint of. If it was a shot or a cocktail, yes. I like a taste of it.

“It is more like a winter beer, maybe it would be nice in a warm cosy pub in winter. I would not pay to buy that. I have spent a couple of hundred pounds on a bottle of wine before but I would not buy that.”

His friend Dan Jones, 25, an assistant radio producer from Clapham, south London, said: ‘’It has got a coffee taste and you can really taste the alcohol in that.

“It tastes like a mixture of liquorice, coffee and alcohol. You can taste every single bit of that 11 per cent alcohol.

“A pint of that would really sit in your stomach for a long time. I didn’t think it was a beer when I first looked at it.

“I don’t dislike the taste, it is really intense and rich, but there is no chance I would pay that much for it. “I would maybe pay £8 for it and that is accounting for the alcohol percentage.”

Hospitality worker Agata Chudziak, 27, from Bristol who was visiting the capital for a gig at the O2 Academy Brixton said: “It is tasty, but I would pay no more than £8 for it – not £70, you just can’t.

“I like wheat beer and pales. I would pay as much as £12 for a half of an 8 per cent beer.

“You would never pay as much as they are asking.”

Jacob Evans, 29, a carpenter who is also from Bristol said: “What I would pay depends on what it is. A lot of these beers are like wine, they are aged in stupid expensive barrels and people will pay stupid amounts of money for them.

“People pay a lot of money for these beers but I would never pay that much for it. It tastes like a strong stout. When the weather is so warm you just want a lager.”

The pub’s general manager Andrew Barton said: “We have only ever sold one before to a group of six guys who absolutely loved it.

“They really loved the sourness they got from it, combined with the sweetness of the bourbon.”

The Brixton pub’s next most expensive tipple is another American ale called the “Brewery Out of the Lunch Box”, which is cheap by comparison at just £45 for a 750ml bottle.

Mr Barton added: “We like to highlight the different breweries around the world and selling these sorts of beers has given people the opportunity to try things they would never have tried before.

“People will have heard about a beer on the internet or social media and they come to us to get the chance to try it.

“We campaign for small craft breweries and we try to help them by buying them. We understand the cost of living at the moment is very expensive.

“With the beers we have on tap, we try to make craft beer very accessible and we try to be cheaper than other pubs nearby – we sell one IPA for £6.50 when they sell it for more than £7.

“It is not all about charging people these crazy prices. We charge what we charge because the cost of a keg is very expensive.

“We could raise our prices further, but we want to make this accessible for people.”

The Brixton bar’s most expensive beer on tap costs £11.


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