$400 A Bottle Beer

Carlsberg ASA is marketing an upscale beer so expensive, at $398 a bottle, that it's reserved for those with a champagne budget.

The Danish brewer claims to make what is "probably the best beer in the world." The company on Tuesday said its new Vintage No. 1 beer is also probably the most expensive beer in the world.

Brewmaster Jens Eiken, of Carlsberg, told The Associated Press that only 600 of the eight-tenths-of-a-pint bottles will be made, and most will be sold through three of Copenhagen's most exclusive restaurants. The first 52 bottles were sold last week, he said.

"We believe that there are people out there who are willing to part with this amount of money just so that they can taste an amazing beer or to keep it on their mantelpiece," said Eiken.

Eiken said part of the secret of the 10.5 percent alcohol beer is the way it's stored -- in special Swedish and French oak casks in a dimly-lit crypt 50 feet under the company's old brewery. The expert said the taste of the brew hints of prunes, caramel, vanilla, oak and cherry port bitterness, and was best consumed with gourmet blue cheese or on its own with "a very special friend."

Early Show personalities gave "Vintage" a try Tuesday. To see their reactions, .

Some Copenhagen residents, despite the Danish capital's high standard of living, expressed doubts that any beer would be worth that much.

"Only showoffs will buy this beer," said TV journalist Marie Grundtvig Buss. "There can't be any justification for such a price for a single bottle of beer."

Eiken insisted that even though Vintage No.1 costs about 400 times as much as a normal beer, its special ingredients make it "400 times tastier."

There is another incentive for those finding the beer's price a bit hard to swallow. Each bottle is labeled with a hand-stenciled original lithographic print by Danish artist Frans Kannike, making the empties worth $100 apiece, said Eiken.