Did you know that you're currently sipping lager in the midst of an all-out beer war? It's true. Brewers all over the world have been in a no-holds-barred competition to see who can brew the highest alcohol-by-volume (ABV), best tasting beer, creating concoctions for the past four years that contain more alcohol than whiskey while still retaining that earthy yeast flavor that beer lovers crave.
Prior to 2010, the beer world was pretty tame, alcohol-wise. The strongest brews hovered around 20 percent and that was mostly relegated to barley wines, a niche market among beer connoisseurs. All that changed when Struise, a brewing company out of Belgium, began its Black Damnation project in which they used Black Albert, their Russian Imperial Stout, as the base for some increasingly dangerous brews ranging from 13 to 26 percent ABV.
No, that’s not a transcription of the Swedish Chef’s latest recipe; it’s a limited edition German beer that once held the title for strongest brew in the world. Schorschbräu is serious about the quality of their beer. This bottle (which you can still order online) comes in a ceramic flagon and wooden crate signed and numbered by the brew master. Photo Credit: Kleinbrauerei Schorschbrau Click Here to see more of The World's Most Alcoholic Beers
In 2009, Brewdog smashed Schorschbräu’s world record for strongest beer with this bold offering. They began with an 18 percent ABV imperial stout, then aged it for 16 months in two different whiskey barrels. Three weeks of freezing got this brew to it’s record-breaking alcohol content. Photo Credit: tacticalnuclearpenguin-BrewDog
Touted as an IPA but sold in a moonshine jar, this beer/spirit hybrid is another Brewdog innovation that tests customers’ perceptions of what a beer can be. Brewdog’s website explains that this beer is uncarbonated and meant to be enjoyed as a spirit. The company invites buyers to have it neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail. Photo Credit: wattdickie-BrewDog Click Here to see more of The World's Most Alcoholic Beers
Currently the highest ABV offering from the German brewer, this honey colored concoction is potent enough to burn your nostrils. This is not a relaxing, kick back after a long day beer; it reportedly tastes like alcohol-soaked marmite. Photo Credit: finiscoronatopus-Kleinbrauerei Schorschbrau
Yikes. Another Scottish brewery is giving Brewdog a run for its money with this dangerous beer. There’s even a warning on the bottle that consumers shouldn’t drink more than 35ml in one sitting. Buyer beware, the smoky sweet flavor is rumored to mask the high alcohol content. Photo Credit: snake-venom-beer-Brewmeister Click Here to see more of The World's Most Alcoholic Beers
You see, the water in beer has a lower freezing point than the alcohol, so freezing the water and occasionally scooping out the frozen chunks allows the remaining unfrozen alcohol to concentrate, thus creating hard hitting mega beers.
Soon, Scottish brewers Brewdog got in on the action, and the results rocked the world of craft beer. By freezing their beer in a local ice cream factory and slowing the fermentation process, the cheeky geniuses at Brewdog were able to create a beer they dubbed Tactical Nuclear Penguin. What began as a respectable 18 percent ABV imperial stout was aged in whiskey barrels for 16 months, infusing the beer with a tart whiskey flavor and higher alcohol content to boot. After three more weeks in the ice cream freezer, the result was a 32 percent ABV bombshell that launched dozens of boozy counterattacks.
The craft beer industry is ever growing, but as demand for beer grows, so does the need for innovation. The newest generation of beer drinkers doesn't want their dad's watery old standbys. They're looking for something invigorating and tasty that also packs a punch. And as the beer wars produce ales hovering around the 70 percent mark, consumers have also proven that they're willing to pay top dollar for these spirit-like brews. A bottle of Sam Adam's Utopias will set you back $200, but by most beer tasters' accounts the carefully brewed concoction is worth every penny.
- Emily Alford, The Daily Meal
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