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Brewer puts $400 beer on menu

Carlsberg A/S will start selling a bottle of beer in three establishments in Copenhagen to challenge luxury wines in the gourmet restaurant market. Carlsberg A/S will start selling a bottle of beer in three establishments in Copenhagen to challenge luxury wines in the gourmet restaurant market. (Bloomberg News)
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Bloomberg News / January 26, 2008

COPENHAGEN - 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 yesterday that costs $396.47. 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 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 Noma, said by phone.

Carlsberg has produced 600 bottles of the 10.5 percent proof beer, each four-fifths of a pint. Another version costing just a bit more will be introduced next year and again in 2010, the company 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 from the French and Swedish wooden casks in which it is stored, Eiken said. It goes well with cheeses and desserts, he said.

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 website.

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