What is Dry-Aged Beef?
Long before dry-aged steaks became a hot-ticket item on steakhouse menus, people had been dry aging beef for centuries, often hanging joints of the stuff in cheesecloth or a burlap sack to keep it edible longer. The dry-aging process pulls moisture out of the meat, creating a beefy and very tender bite.
But by the 1800s, if not earlier, it was clear that preservation wasn't the only thing dry-aging was good for.
Some people began to notice that, not unlike what happens to cheese when you let it sit in a cave for some time it seemed to do something strange and magical to the taste of beef. It became much more tender, and its flavors got nuttier, mustier, much more complex.
Why is a Dry-Aged Steak More Expensive?
Well, think about it: It's losing moisture as it hangs there for days on end, and water loss matters if you're selling by weight (which all butchers do). To recupe the money he or she could've made by selling it unaged and heavier, they have to up the price per pound. Plus, time is money! It's expensive for the butcher to let it sit in their refrigerator room for weeks, unsold.
Lots of people feel the cost is well worth the added benefits, rather like the difference between a Bordeaux of prime vintage compared to its just-juiced cousin.