Skinner Inc., the Bay State auction house best known for decorative arts, jewelry, wine, and other high-end objects, has gone into the beer business. Last month, Skinner sold a bottle of beer for nearly $1,600. The 2008 Cantillon Don Quijote, made at the famed Brussels brewery, was one of only 240 released. Prized for its musty fruit notes, the Don Quijote is acidic enough to be aged like fine wine.
The auction house is the first brick-and-mortar business of its kind to offer boutique beers, a category that encompasses labor-intensive brews released in small batches. Skinner debuted beer last fall with a bottle of Samuel Adams Utopias, released every year or two, and aged in casks that once held scotch, bourbon, port, or cognac. The high-alcohol brew retails for close to $200. On the auction block two bottles brought in $488. Michael Moser of Skinner sees this market nowhere near its potential. “I envision it being explosive,” he says.