'Five times the price of regular beer': Is this New Zealand's priciest pint?

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 20 Dec 2020, 11:52AM
It comes with an outrageous price tag - but experts say it's more than justified. Photo / Supplied
It comes with an outrageous price tag - but experts say it's more than justified. Photo / Supplied

'Five times the price of regular beer': Is this New Zealand's priciest pint?

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 20 Dec 2020, 11:52AM

An Auckland pub is pouring a beer that will set you back $25 for a small 200ml glass, and beer experts say the price tag is more than justified.

Anagram is a Blueberry Cheesecake Imperial Stout, by Omnipollo and Dugges, aged for nine months in Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrels and cold shipped all the way across the world from Sweden to New Zealand.

At 15 per cent alcohol, it's one to be sipped, not smashed, and The Fridge and Flagon in Auckland is selling it in 200ml glasses only.

The price tag means the beer costs $60 a pint, possibly making it the most expensive beer in New Zealand.

Jet black in colour and with thick, syrupy consistency, Anagram might not be the beer for light lager aficionados, but it's got a clean 100 per cent score on global rating website RateBeer, making it one of the best beers on the planet.

The Fridge and Flagon's beer curator Matt Eats says Anagram is "an incredibly rare and exciting beer like nothing you've ever tasted before".

For Eats, this glass of beer is much better value for money than most average glasses of wine people pay for at restaurants: "People don't blink at paying $25 for a glass of decent wine at any given wine bar but for that price you're getting to experience something really special," he said.

"It's one of the best beers in the world, it's just as strong as wine (stronger even), it's made with equal love and care and way more interesting ingredients. Wine's basically just old grape juice anyway, where's the fun in that?"

Kiwi craft beer experts agree that, despite the hefty price tag, this beer is a worthy investment.

Cold shipped all the way across the world from legendary Swedish flavour wizards Omnipollo and Dugges, the beer, called Anagram, is a Blueberry Cheesecake Imperial Stout. Photo / Supplied

Cold shipped all the way across the world from legendary Swedish flavour wizards Omnipollo and Dugges, the beer, called Anagram, is a Blueberry Cheesecake Imperial Stout. Photo / Supplied

Beer Jerk co-founder Luke White says he sees this kind of beer "in a similar way to cake".

"I don't eat cake every day and when I do, it's in moderation. I'd never waste $25 on a box of mass-produced garbage like Heineken but I'd certainly drop $25 of a glass of beer that has been perfectly crafted by masters using ultra premium ingredients and processes," he added.

For White, the problem is that beer is seen by a lot of people as a "commodity product that they buy in big boxes along with toilet paper and bleach".

"We sell some beers that cost $3 and others that cost $60 and, like every product, some things simply cost more than others. I drive a Honda moped and would never dream of spending $100k on a car but I wouldn't begrudge others doing so," he explained.

White says he would love to see "people in New Zealand spending more money on drinking less alcohol".

"The ingredients that go into good beer are simply very expensive. 'Cheap' beers like Heineken and Corona are actually way more profitable for the brewers because they are mass produced and use exponentially less ingredients, especially hops," he added.

Michael Donaldson, author of "Beer Nation" and editor of "The Pursuit of Hoppiness", says "not everyone will see the value in a beer like this".

"But, if you're the sort of person that savours flavour and enjoying unique experiences in good company, go for it! Obviously don't buy it if you can't afford it," he added.

Beer Jerk co-founder Brent Grove believes that, if you're going through the trouble of importing beer into New Zealand, it might as well be good beer.

"I don't see any point in importing beers that taste like Steinlager or Lion Red. If we're going to the effort of importing a beer it's going to be unique and world class," Grove said.

"This certainly isn't a case of 'rip-off New Zealand'. This is simply a very expensive beer to produce and we're selling it for the same price as bars in Britain and Sweden, despite the large cost of shipping it here and NZ's notoriously high alcohol excise rates. The real rip-off comes from the people charging $14 for a bottle of Heineken on the waterfront," he added.

"Sure it's five times more than a regular beer," Says Fridge and Flagon regular Dave Sanderson. "But it's about 100 times as good so I reckon that's a great deal."