On my birthday three years ago, I was at my favorite downtown bar for a few beers with close friends. Little did I know I would be enjoying one of the greatest beers of all time and would never get to try it again.
The Birthday Story
I didn’t want a big, fancy party that year. I was more interested in spending quality time with good people. I picked my favorite tap house downtown, with 69 beers on tap, and piled into a booth with seven of my closest friends.
With 69 beers on tap plus another hundred or so in bottles, I knew I would leave happy. I made my way through the IPA list for my first couple of drinks. When my glass was yet again empty, my friend Jacob made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Jacob told me that, for my birthday, he would get me any single beer I chose available for sale in the establishment. Our waiter was one of the owners, so I asked him what the single best beer available was that night.
He said, “you’re gonna need to take a look at the other menu.”
The Other Menu
I knew Falling Rock Tap House was constantly bringing in new beers on tap, but, until that moment, I had no idea they had a separate cellar list with high quality bottles from around the world, primarily Belgium.
The owner brought us the list, which was more of a soft binder than a menu, and we perused the available options. Beers on that list ranged from $6 for a 12 oz bottle to over $300 for bottles larger than 3 gallons. My friend realized his promise might cost him more than the $10-$15 he expected.
So we perused the menu and found a few Abby style beers that piqued my interest, as well as some Belgian ales and trappists that sounded fantastic.
The Other Beers
The owner had a trick up his sleeve. He wanted us to get a good look at those options before mentioning an off-menu list that he had to just tell us about from memory.
One of those beers was called Proximus, one of the very few beers to have ever received a 100 score on Beer Advocate. At $60 for a 750lm bottle, Proximus was one of the more expensive beer options. Jacob, however, said he would be true to his word and buy any beer at the restaurant. Proximus it was.
Proximus – The History
Brewed by Lost Abbey in San Marcos, California (between San Diego and Los Angeles), Isabelle Proximus is a very limited edition beer. If memory serves (I couldn’t find any stats), they made 2000 bottles. Ever.
Of those 2000 bottles, a few cases made their way to Colorado’s premier beer drinking establishment, the Falling Rock Tap House.
Proximus has an illustrious back story. Its history began years before the 2008 release to the public, and it was one of the most anticipated beers in United States brewing history. Possibly not since the end of prohibition in 1933 were people so excited about a beer.
The limited cases were shipped out. The bottles were drunk. One of those 2000 bottles is still sitting on my mantle as a memory of that amazing beverage.
The American Wild Ale, bubbly, light, fragrant, and full of a wonderful flavor, journeyed across my tongue with a sensation similar to a high end champagne. The sweet and sour flavors mixed to create a beer drinking experience truly unique to any other I have experienced in my life.
The beer was a collaboration made by top brewers in the country, and they had it just right. The brewers included Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, Adam Avery of Avery Brewing, Rob Todd of Allagash, Vinnie Cirulzo of Russian River, and, of course, Tomme Arthur of The Lost Abbey.
I was back in my favorite watering hole this last Wednesday evening with my favorite bicycle riding friends, and I struck up a chat with the bartender, a 20+ year veteran of the beer industry. I reminisced of my evening with Proximus.
To my surprise, I was told that they still have one case beyond their cellar door. It is sitting, chilled, waiting for a close friend of the owners to make its way back out.
To his knowledge, only three cases remain in existence in the world. The approximately 36 bottles are the holy grail for beer aficionados, and getting a bottle is nearly impossible. In fact, the last bottle that sold made the beer industry news wire. It sold for $800. That makes my $60 bottle from 2010 look like a bargain.
Of the last case at the Falling Rock, the bottles are not for sale.
A Beer Can Make a Memory
Of course, no beer is so good that it changes my life, but it is a great memory. I’ll never forget sitting around that table with Jacob, Jakob, Ori, and the other friends who were with us that night to enjoy the most expensive beer I’ve ever tried.
I think we got our money’s worth.