But is this what the world needs? A recent news item from Bloomberg:
Carlsberg Will Sell $400 Beer, World's Most Expensive
By Christian Wienberg
Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Carlsberg A/S ads say it's "probably the best beer in the world.'' At $400 a bottle, it's now the most expensive.
The brewer, Scandinavia's biggest, introduced a beer today that costs 2,008 Danish kroner ($396.47), the price being based on the year of its introduction. The Vintage No. 1 brew will be sold at three Copenhagen restaurants, including Noma, a holder of two Michelin stars and the world's 15th-best restaurant in 2007, according to S.Pellegrino.
The product, costing 357 times more than Carlsberg's main Danish lager brand, has been developed to challenge luxury wines in the gourmet restaurant market and capitalize on rising individual wealth. Denmark, a country of 5.4 million, has 16 dollar billionaires, according to a list published this month by Berlingske Nyhedsmagasin magazine. The number of billionaires worldwide rose 21 percent last year to 946, Forbes magazine said.
"We can feel that there's an increasing market for this type of product, as some of our customers order extremely expensive wines without blinking an eye,'' Lau Richter, restaurant chief at the Noma restaurant, said today by phone. "Ten years ago, it was a rare event selling a 1,000 kroner bottle of wine at a Danish restaurant, now we do it every day.''
Carlsberg has produced 600 bottles of the 10.5 percent proof beer, each of 37.5 centiliters (0.8 pint). Another version costing 2,009 kroner will be introduced next year and one for 2,010 kroner the year after, the company said today in an e-mail.
The number of Danish breweries has increased ten-fold since 2000 with the opening of about 90 microbreweries and brewpubs specializing in gourmet beer. Carlsberg, whose Danish market share has declined from a peak 81 percent in 1971 to 63 percent last year, in 2005 opened the Jacobsen microbrewery in Copenhagen to tap increasing demand for specialty brews.
"We're trying to raise the bar for what a beer can be,'' Jens Eiken, the brew master at Jacobsen who developed the product, said today by phone. The beverage is "cheap'' considering the amount of time the brewery spent developing it, he said.
Eiken wouldn't disclose how long Vintage No. 1 took to develop, saying only that the amount of time spent on it was such that the company doesn't expect the project to be profitable.
The beer contains hints of prune, caramel, vanilla and oak tree from the French and Swedish wooden casks in which it is stored, Eiken said. It has a chestnut brown color, little foam and goes well with cheeses and desserts, he said.
Noma will have "no problem'' selling the "small amount'' of Vintage No. 1 it ordered, Richter said. "We expect they will all move,'' he said, declining to specify the restaurant's order.
Carlsberg, which sells more than 150 different beer brands in as many countries around the world, has no plans yet to export Vintage No. 1. Some bottles will be offered for sale next week on the brewer's Web site.
"There are people at restaurants paying 20,000 kroner for a bottle of wine or port, and why wouldn't they pay the same for a beer of exceptional quality,'' Eiken said.
Vintage No. 1 will be the world's most expensive beer, according to Eiken. That title is currently held by Boston Beer Co.'s Utopia, which costs about $100 for a 72 centiliter bottle, according to the Web site Most-expensive.net.
Bierodrome, a London bar, sells Belgian beer Vielle Bon Secours for 635 pounds ($1,260) per 15 liter bottle, which is 12 times less than the liter price of Vintage No. 1.