MONTPELIER, Vt. — Fancy a pint of Pliny the Elder or Heady Topper double India pale ales, but can't find it in your neighborhood? Get out your wallet.
As craft brews gain an intense following, a black market has bloomed in which some opportunists are selling for hundreds of dollars top-rated beers that are hard to find, in short supply, expensive or illegal to ship.
In Vermont, a Burlington woman was charged recently with selling five cases of the popular Heady Topper beer for $825 on Craigslist, which brought about mixed feelings for its brewer.
"It's a compliment in an odd way," said Jen Kimmich, owner of The Alchemist brewery in Waterbury, which produces Heady Topper. The hoppy concoction, which retails for $3 a can and $72 a case, was recently ranked No. 1 by Beer Advocate magazine out of the top 250 beers in the world.
"But at the same time," she added, "we don't want to see the consumer being cheated by paying too much and getting a product that hasn't been taken care of properly."