Unless you’ve beer toured Vancouver, BC in the past couple years, you have no idea what’s happening up there. The once beer-challenged city, that for so long lagged sadly behind Seattle and Portland, recently emerged as a legitimate craft beer destination. It’s a craft beer boom town, actually. The revolution was late getting there, but it hit the city hard and fast.
One of Vancouver’s oldest, best-loved and most-creative craft breweries just released a beer that some are calling “the world’s most expensive beer.” Glacial Mammoth Extinction, by Storm Brewing Company, sells for $1,000 a bottle. If you ask nicely, at the brewery you can get a one-ounce tastings for $5.
James Walton, the owner and brewmaster at Storm Brewing, created a strong sour beer and then froze it twice at -30 Celsius. He took the boozy liquid extracted from the ice and stored it in barrels for two years. Walton says the beer drinks more like a port wine than a beer, clocking in at 25 percent ABV. It is a labor intensive, time consuming process. Still, $1,000 per bottle?
What really adds to the beer’s price tag is the packaging. Each one-liter bottle is hand-blown by a local artist, Brad Turner, and fitted with a pendant made by another local artist, Richard Marcus. The pendants are fashioned out of ivory from the tusk of a prehistoric mammoth that the brewery says is 35,000 years old. Furthermore, Storm Brewing is only selling ten bottles of the beer.
Who’d Brew Such a Thing?
Among Vancouver’s breweries, Storm Brewing is the first (and perhaps only) brewery that you’d expect to do something so outlandish. James Walton is something of a mad scientist. Not only is he a skilled and respected brewer who opened his brewery almost 20 years ago, long before the craft beer boom hit Vancouver, but he is an eclectic, enigmatic character. He is a rock star in his own beery way, revered for his creative, unusual and often daring approach to brewing.
Here’s how I described Storm Brewing and James Walton in an article I wrote for Sip Northwest magazine last year:
“This self-fashioned brewery is the spawn of James Walton, who cobbled the brewery together using, in many cases, scrap metal and a welding torch. With spikey, bottle-blond hair, a ray-gun belt buckle, and high-heel platform boots that look like something David Bowie would have worn during his Ziggy Stardust phase, James is dressed for work (brewing) and not for clubbing. The beers are a reflection of the man; Storm Brewing cranks out some of Vancouver’s most imaginative beers. Local beer nerds rave about James’ sour beers, like the Imperial Flanders Red and the legendary Black Currant Lambic.”
You can read the whole story, Welcome to the Boom Town, here.