Bottle of Bzart Lambiek going for $125 in New York bar

Summary

The brewer of the beer, Oud-Beersel in Flemish Brabant, is unhappy that an outlet would gouge customers so much for one of their specialty beers

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While we won’t pretend that Belgium is perfect, we would like to offer this reminder for you to thank your lucky stars that you live in the country where the best beer in the world can be had for a pittance.

Het Laatste Nieuws has reported that a bar in New York is charging customers – some of whom appear to be paying it – $125 for a 75cl bottle of Bzart Lambiek. While the current political administration is not doing the dollar any favours, that’s still €113.

Bzart Lambiek is brewed by Oud-Beersel in Flemish Brabant. It is a fact that lambiek – spelled lambic in English – is special. The name is protected, meaning only beer brewed in the Pajottenland region of Belgium, just west of Brussels, can be called lambic.

It is made through a process of spontaneous fermenting, meaning the vats are left open so that bacteria found in the local area can ferment the brew. This means that the vats must be either outside or in a room with the windows wide open.

You can sell your product anywhere, but what happens to it after that is out of your control

- Gert Christiaens of Oud-Beersel

It’s a good story, all right, and one that New Yorkers are paying through the nose to be a part of. But the master brewer at Oud-Beersel isn’t amused.

A 75cl bottle of Bzart Lambiek can be had for €14 in Belgium. When outlets abroad set the price so high, fewer customers buy a bottle. If the prices were lower, more bottles would be sold to more people, but the profit would be the same for the bar, so they don’t bother.

“That bar is making a huge profit, but I’m selling fewer bottles,” brewer Gert Christiaens told Het Laatste Nieuws. “You can sell your product anywhere, but what happens to it after that is out of your control.”

He’s not planning to change his export methods, however. “We’re not going to deny people the beer just because someone is asking extortion prices for it.”

He also graciously explains how his prized lambic is produced. “It is fermented for a year in wooden vats and then bottled with champagne yeast,” he says. “After nine months, we turn the bottle and freeze the neck so that the yeast freezes at the top of the bottle. When we open the bottle, the block of ice shoots out and then we cork it back up.

And all that for €14.