I came across a couple of beer-related news items the other day that reminded how serious(ly expensive) this hobby could get.
The folks at Serious Eats reviewed two whiskeys which got their start as beer. The folks at Charbay Distillery took 6,000 gallons of Bear Republic Racer 5 and distilled it down into 590 gallons of IPA-flavored whiskey. They also aged some of the whiskey in oak casks. Because I'm very familiar with the base beer, I'm intrigued by the whiskey. However at $54 and $75 dollars a bottle it's might not be something I'd take chance on just to try. Though I'd surely buy a single drink if I saw it offered at the local pub.
See "Distilled Beer: New IPA Whiskey from Charbay" for the reviewer's thoughts on the hop-based whiskeys.
The beers brewed by the Trappist Monks of the Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in Belgium are highly sought after by beer fans. Until recently, about the only way to get them in the U.S. was via the online auction "black market." When I reviewed Trappist beers for a Lenten celebration a few years back, Westvleteren was the only brewery I couldn't include. But, tough economic times call for drastic measures, so the monks have loosened some of their distribution restrictions. In order to raise much-needed funds to rebuild their abbey, they've partnered with Shelton Brothers Imports to bring Westvleteren XII to parts of the United States. A special package of 6 bottles and two glasses will retail for $84.99 at Total Wine stores in limited states. Virginia isn't one of them, though neighboring states of Maryland and North Carolina are listed.
Even though I have been somewhat cynical of the awe in which Westvleteren is held, wondering how much if that is influenced by the hard-to-get factor, I admittedly would be tempted to make the Westvleteren purchase.
See "Westvleteren XII Sees Mainstream U.S. Distribution" for more on the distribution area.