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Is There A Market For A $120 Bottle Of Beer In Chicago?

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Nov 7, 2014 4:40PM

Photo courtesy Moody Tongue Brewing Company
We’ve been (incorrectly) predicting a bursting of Chicago’s craft beer bubble for years. In fact, the brewing scene here only seems to be getting stronger with new entries like Rude Hippo, Begyle, Dryhop, Spiteful, Marz Community Brewing, Off Color and Moody Tongue in the past couple years.

Moody Tongue has proven to be the next step in Jared Rouben’s ongoing marriage of brewing with cooking techniques, bringing a chef’s sensibility for flavor and balance to the kettle with spicing ingredients normally reserved for the kitchen. And the proof is in the mix of malts and hops Rouben and his crew turn into suds on a daily basis.

Rouben has been toying with odd ingredients in his brews since his days as Goose Island Clybourn’s head brewer and he’s only become more emboldened at Moody Tongue. One of Rouben’s more highly anticipated beers (or derided, if you prefer beers with simple flavors) is a session pilsner brewed with Australian black truffles, hand-shaved by Rouben. Australian black truffles are expensive and a limited number of bottles of Moody Tongue’s beer will retail for $120 for a 22-ounce bottle. Gourmands regularly accept shaved truffles on pastas and salads but would they turn away from having them in a beer? And would people buy it at $120 for a beer? The demand could determine whether Chicago’s craft beer scene truly is heading toward a bubble bursting moment.

Rouben and retailers, for what it’s worth, believe there’s a market for it and Rouben may be right; there’s always a commotion over Three Floyds Dark Lord Day and Goose Island’s annual “Black Friday” Bourbon County Stout release, though those beers sell for far cheaper than this one.

Rouben and Moody Tongue are offering beer drinkers an opportunity to get their hands on this beer through a lottery. On Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. people interested in buying the beer can register at this website for a chance to be chosen to buy the beer. Once the registration ends, 500 people will be randomly chosen for a chance to buy the beer at Binny’s Beverage Depot’s Marcey Street location (1720 N. Marcey St.) between Dec. 1 and Dec. 5. Those lottery winners will also be eligible for future bottle releases of the beer.

“When creating this beer, we understood that we would only be able to produce a limited quantity given the nature of the ingredient we are showcasing,” Rouben said. “That said, we spent a good amount of time focusing our efforts on finding the most fair system for sharing this beer.” Moody Tongue brewed only 40 barrels of their shaved black truffle pilsner and most of it will be earmarked for restaurant accounts.